Sunday, April 29, 2007

The truth in the game

What if you were mine? What if I could be with you again? What if you loved me still?

But for tonight, I would love you.

But for tonight, I would stay with you.

I would believe in you.

But not forever, just for tonight.

I would lay here with you.

I would believe in you.

But when the sun hits your eyes, I'll be nothing and nowhere.

Just for the night.

Give me this, won't you?

Give me this night. You. Me. Us.

Let me pretend, just for tonight.

No throwing balls in the house!


Friday, April 27, 2007


The first words I set my eyes upon this morning were those in Emily Dickinson's Poem 572.

Delight - becomes pictorial -
When viewed through Pain -
More fair - because impossible
Than any gain -

The Mountain - at a given distance -
In Amber - lies -
Approached - the Amber flits - a little -
And That's - the Skies -

I don't know what this day has in store for me, what I discover or what I'll see, but reading this little poem is a very nice way to begin.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oh baby, yes yes YES

Dear guy who is staying in Room 509:

Pardon me for being intrusive but I have to ask you, why pornography at 5:00 in the morning? And was it really necessary for the volume to be that loud? Do you realize where that led my dreams and where I thought I was when I woke me up? Well, I'm not going to tell you but it's not a place I've been before. And who was that guy? And whose truck was that? And why was that coke bottle in the middle of the road?

If you are staying here again tonight, and planning on watching more adult entertainment an hour before dawn, please could you at least keep the volume down? I don't know if I want to go back to where I was when I was awakened this morning. But I do know that I have a feeling that everyone I cross paths with today will know, they'll just know from the blush on my cheeks what I was doing in my dreams last night.


The embarassed-by-her-dreams girl in Room 507

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oh Chicago, won't you marry me?

Finally. Finally you are warm enough to approach. Okay, truth be told, you were warm enough last September but my head was a substantial mess at the time and although with you, I couldn't get outside of me enough to really appreciate you. Timing is everything, isn't it? But seriously, now? Now, not only are you being superbly lovely, but I am open to what you have to offer. And even though it is raining at the moment, outside my window, your downtown skies of sulking grey clouds falling like draped cotton upon your buildings is actually a nice view -- though my feelings about it will no doubt change when I set out to the office shortly.

I can take today's rain though, because Monday and yesterday you were sunny and exciting. Staying downtown allowed me to get out on your streets at the break of dawn yesterday, walk along the river bank and stand at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in the same spot as in the turn of the century photo that hangs in my hotel lobby. Only for me, the scene was in color and there wasn't a horse to be found.

Last night, I walked your magnificent mile known as Michigan Avenue. What impresses me more than the array of stores from Tiffany's and Neimans to Ralph Lauren and Bloomingdales, is the art project. Lots of cities do this, in Houston we have boots or those cows, all purchased by local artists and corporate sponsors, but you, you have bicycles, and your artists are children. I've never seen bikes quite like these, painted in bright colors, wings attached, taken apart and re-assembled into something that would never roll, and otherwise individually interpreted, all by inner city kids. Nice touch.

But what really stopped me on my walk is where you bared your soul with those blue trees in front of the church, the art project with the message that found me frozen still on the sidewalk, save for the tears falling from my eyes. Each blue ribbon tied to the tree is for a child, a child who has suffered abuse. There are way too many blue ribbons there -- a single ribbon would be sad enough. And yet, the tree as a whole somehow stands for hope. I think that was your intention. I hope one day there's no need for a blue tree project, but for now, that the trees are there, that the church is there, well, you've quietly stolen a piece of my heart with that one.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Some of the days sparkle, some do sparkle

On Saturday morning, I picked up my nephew from his school and we headed towards my friend Phil's place in a part of Texas broadly known as the Brazos River area, a lazy sort of dreamy place where the hills roll, the grasses wave, and Live Oaks spread their branches low and wide. A handful of Texas Longhorns were there, which made it feel surreally like last weekend, except for my nephew was there and Paso Fino horses, two llamas, and goats. Lots of goats.

Your father came out here one time, he called me and said he needed to practice shooting before he went to Argentina for a dove hunt. I set up the clay pigeon course and he nailed every single one. I don't know why he thought he needed to practice.

Phil shakes his head and laughs at the memory. I laugh too. Hearing stories about my father, stories I did not know, is a sweet thing. I close my eyes and picture him.

As soon as we arrived, Phil took my nephew under his arm and within five minutes, a serious fly-fishing lesson was taking place. And darned if the boy didn't land a Striped Bass during his first attempt at fly fishing. I was all hooting and hollering with excitement, knowing how good he felt at that moment of connection with the fish. Watching them, for a moment the emotions went roller coaster on me and I was catapulted back in time thinking of my father, who taught Phil how to fish when Phil was just a boy. For that moment, I watched my father and a young Phil remove the fish from the hook and return it to its watery home.

Later, I rode a Paso Fino named Primero, bare foot and bareback through a field of thick green grass, through the woods, and down along the banks of the lake. It felt as comfortable and easy as it always has, my body formed around the horse's, gripping my legs when we cantered, my hair waving behind me. Beside me on a Paso Fino named Mondo, my friend Phil. The first time we rode horses together, I was no more than nine and he eleven. The horses have changed and we have grown, but there we were again, two friends riding together. It was as natural as breathing.

At one point in the late afternoon, the three of us were trekking across a pasture to feed the goats when I felt the breeze pick up and whisper through the trees. My father was there and I said as much. I have a feeling that Dad is right now looking upon us and is very pleased with our day. Phil on my left, and my nephew on my right, they both agreed. Then we walked on in silence, all three of us smiling. And those smiles were oh so good.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday, Yellow Lab Sunday

Because he's a Ranch Dog who is as handsome as handsome can be, because he's strong to his credit and sensitive to a fault, because he has perfect nails that never need cutting, because the cows put their big wet noses through the fence to sniff his mug, because he's a good boy but my friend's father refers to him as farthead, because I love to refer to him as strappingly handsome and I don't know what that means exactly but I know it's him, because he answers to Sue, because he saved my girl's life six years ago, because he's a natural blond, and because he makes it easy to take pictures like this, he's the perfect dog.


I know you wish he was yours. But you can't have him, he's theirs. And he's Cheyenne's. And some weekends, he's mine. We all love him very much. Look at him! How could you not love him?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Thirty-three questions, and for you too

I found this meme on Velvet's site. The hitch is the answer must be three words only.

01. Where is your cell phone? In my ear.
02. Boyfriend/girlfriend? Not right now.
03. Hair? Too thin. (Sigh)
04. Your mother? In my prayers.
05. Your father? My heart's light.
06. Your favorite item(s)? One great camera.
07. Your dream last night? Not recalled today.
08. Your favorite drink? Champagne, bubbly champagne.
09. Your dream guy/girl? Out of sight.
10. The room you are in? Opens to light.
11. Your fear? Never ending nightmares.
12. What do you want to be in 10 years? Content, employed, inspired.
13. Who did you hang out with last night? One lovely dog.
14. What are you not? Still for long.
15. Are you in love? Not right now.
16. One of your wish list items? Peace of mind.
17. What time is it? Morning, Nine ten.
18. The last thing you did? Read this question.
19. What are you wearing? Sweats and t-shirt.
20. Your favorite book? One that inspires.
21. The last thing you ate? Eggs and cheese.
22. Your life? Loving and hopeful.
23. Your mood? Up and down.
24. Your friends? A fine bunch.
25. What are you thinking about right now? Necessary expense reports.
26. Your car? In the shop.
27. What are you doing at this moment? Obviously this list.
28. Your summer? Travel and fun.
29. Your relationship status? Oh so single.
30. What is on your TV screen? Lots of dust.
31. When is the last time you laughed? Just this morning.
32. Last time you cried? Sunday April 15.
33. School? Miss those days.

I'm going to tag a few: Ghost, Jackie's Garden, and Reading.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Two weeks in June

When I picked up the phone last night, this is what she said:

We are booked. We have seats. We are going.

Where are we going? We are going to Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), France (on a train, through the night), Italy (where we'll pick up a car in Milan and head to Venice), Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. When we get to Split, Croatia, we'll board my Personal Hurricane's sailboat where we'll sail through the Adriatic waters and island hop for a few days.

A large part of the enormous and excited grin on my face is due to the fact that the air portion of this trip was completely purchased with air miles.

Having to travel for work? It pays off nicely.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pioneer Woman has some kindred spirits here in Texas

Head out I-10 West, turn south where the Smokehouse stands, wind your way through a few towns seemingly unaware and visually unaffected by progress or time, follow some lazy bends this way and that and you'll find yourself at the JTW Ranch, where this awaits you.

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Talk to me about the green of that grass. No Photoshop here. That, my friends, is the real deal from the divine hand.

JTW Ranch is all about Texas Longhorns. Fat, sassy, lumbering, happy, grazing, ever-hungry Texas Longhorns. Did you see the picture of that big-ass bull I posted on Monday? My friend's father looks at that big-ass bull, aka, Fatty Lumpkin, as a sort of cuddly pet he can call to when he wants some company, or when he wants to scratch the head of an 1,100 pound barrel of fun with an enormous stretch of horns that can pierce him in any minute. Some people live on the edge. I was taught this weekend that if the ear of the beast you speak to recognizes your voice to mean food, then the lovin' is yours to receive. And it's perfectly fine to hand-feed a devil as long as he's acting like an angel.

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However, if the ear of the beast you speak to hears vaccinations in your voice, well, all promises are broken and it will take containment.

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As a matter of fact, they get a bit fussy if it's anything at all that does not have to do with hay or food. I learned last weekend that there is a whole lot going on behind the idyllic scene of cattle grazing in green green pastures. There's vaccinating and worming and protecting them from something called Black Leg. There's straws of semen, and, as it would go, artificial insemination. There's estrogen and progesterone and hoping for heifers and getting bulls. There's butt plugs that just the sight of make your own butt clench in horror but the mention of will send you and your friend into giggle fits. There's even horn conditioner.

Do you think that these creatures sit still for any of this? Hell no. That's why there's the chute. And even when they're contained there, there's still no guarantee. And that's where the cursing come in. It goes hand in hand, working the cattle and cursing. One minute, the little beauty in front of you is Butter Cup, and the next minute when she's squashing your arm against the rail, she becomes YOUDumbSumBITCH. The cursing sent us into giggle fits as well.

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All cattle-speak aside for a moment, I learned last weekend that I can give a cowboy named Ray my phone number on a Friday night and he'll call me on Sunday and awe shucks apologize for not calling me on Saturday because he couldn't find my number. And I learned that after such a phone call, taken in the back of a truck while we were looking at the property and trying to count the pastures, I feel completely honest when I say to my friends, I still got it, and snap my fingers. And they are completely honest when they laugh at me.

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Can we go back to the property again? Seriously people, look at that land. I sat outside on the porch and watched the sun rise Sunday morning. It was 39 degrees outside and as quiet as an untold secret. Slowly, the land, the grass, the sky, even the fencelines were illuminated by the sun. Long shadows stretched across the pastures. It was quite a show.

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The whole of Sunday was like that. Beauty, colors and life everywhere.

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But then again, the beauty of the weekend was not only what nature showed me, but what my friends showed me, what they gave, what they shared and what I thank God I am lucky enough to experience.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A moment of silence

Morning silence.

The telephone rings through. My niece is on the other end of the line. Awoken to a frantic knock on her door that there's a bomb threat and the dorms and other school buildings are being evacuated. Ladies, this is serious, she hears. Classes are cancelled.

Copycat business but her school reacts as it should. There are monsters among us, very troubled and powerful individuals.

We wonder, Why?

Flags at half staff, heads bowed, prayers for the victims, families, friends, and students at Virginia Tech.


Monday, April 16, 2007

For the time being

Right now I'm going to give you this:


And this:


Later, I'm going to tell you a story or two about my weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A fine example of why no one ever uses the word graceful to describe me

In the elevator at work this morning, the normal morning lot of us are riding. Rather than stand shoulder to shoulder and face the closed doors, six of us are two by two against the three walls, facing each other. There's no conversation, just the ride. I take a sip of my coffee. And here's where my tale of woe begins. Because I had polished off eight ounces of Pelligrino sparkling water in one giant chug before getting out of my car two minutes prior, right when I took the sip of coffee, I needed to burp. I rarely burp out loud even when I'm alone so of course in an elevator I would do my best to hold it down and keep my mouth shut. Only this burp was backed up by eight ounces of carbonation and therefore would not be suppressed. There was coffee in my mouth, remember? And the burp forced a bit of that coffee to SHOOT OUT OF MY MOUTH, as if I was spitting water between my teeth like the neighborhood boys used to do when they were swimming in our pool when I was a kid. Except I'm an adult and this was coffee. In an elevator. With co-workers.

All I could do was say out loud, "Okay, that was embarrassing."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Right now, the words of other women

One kind of love for the way he loved me, and one for the way he left me. Still, there was a time when he called me angel. I remember that. Circling around my mind tonight is the song that first was ours:

There I was with the old man
Stranded again so off I'd ran
A young world crashing around me
No possibilities of getting what I need

He looked at me and smiled
Said "No, no, no, no, no child.
See the dog and butterfly.
Up in the air he liked to fly."

Dog and butterfly
Below she had to try.
She rolled back down
To the warm soft ground, laughing
She don't know why, she don't know why
Dog and butterfly

Well I stumbled upon your secret place
Safe in the trees you had tears on your face
Wrestling with your desires, frozen strangers
Stealing your fires.

The message hit my mind
Only words that I could find

See the dog and butterfly
Up in the air he liked to fly
Dog and butterfly,

below she had to try
She rolled back down to the warm soft ground
Laughing to the sky, up to the sky
Dog and butterfly

We're getting older, the world's getting colder
For the life of me I don't know the reason why
Maybe it's livin' making us give in
Hearts rolling in

taken back on the tide
We're balanced together ocean upon the sky

Another night in this strange town
Moonlight holding me light as down
Voice of confusion inside of me
Just begging to go back where I'm free
Feels like I'm through
Then the old man's words are true

See the dog and butterfly
Up in the air he liked to fly
Dog and butterfly,
below she had to try
She rolled back down to the warm soft
Ground with a little tear in her eye
She had to try, she had to try
Dog and butterfly

The lyrics are from Heart. The year was 1978. He called me angel. I wondered then where in the world he came from and where he was headed. I'm still not sure the answers, but I'll never forget the questions. And really, not knowing, that's okay.

This is for my mother. And children. And my skin.

My father at times would begin his response to something my mother said with Be that as it may..., and then completely refute whatever it was she said. Drove her nuts, it did. Which was his goal. She couldn't stand that phrase and had long ago expressed that one of his friends said it all the time and how much his doing so bothered her. He was a bit of a needler, my father was, and he'd serve me up a big grin and twinkling eye combo as Mom launched into a rant on how she did not know why my father would say that when he knew how she felt about it. I found high amusement in their exchange.

But lately I understand my mother's point. A few word strings are most definitely giving me a nervous, angry twitch these days because I hear them all the time and think that the only thing that would be more frustrating to me would be if I heard them spoken in baby talk.

My British boss and colleagues oftentimes say, Having said that, and they'll follow with a statement that is at the opposite position of what they just said, while pointing out that they said it in the first place. Case in point from yesterday: We need to be sure that each person in the company updates their own information on the site. Having said that, we really cannot force anyone to do it. Maybe it's a way to lessen the impact of the initial statement but still the phrase, having said that, is really just using three words to replace the conjunction, but. I don't mind hearing it from my boss because she's been saying it for the seven years we've worked together, but it seems to be coming at me from all over the place these days, from people who never used to say it. It's disruptive to my ears when spoken in American English. Each time I hear it, which honestly is about five times a day, I twitch uncontrollably and want to jump out of my skin.

Same story for At the end of the day. As in, We gave plenty of notice but, at the end of the day, only a few people signed up for the class. Sadly, also overheard yesterday. Using At the end of the day in your speaking is unnecessary filler which translates to unnecessary static in my head and unnecessary feelings on my part to depart from my own skin. It doesn't make you sound authoritative or worldly or anything at all beyond someone putting trendy filler in their speech. So just stop it, okay?

While I'm at it, another cringe-inducing pet peeve is very unique. That one is not only overused, it's just plain wrong. There is no such thing but still I hear it and read it on a daily basis and I worry about the children. The children who are unaware of how wrong this is, the children who will unwittingly go about their lives trying to qualify something that cannot be qualified. Yes, it's true. By its definitive nature, unique cannot be qualified. Something either is unique or not. Period.

I work with a guy who was born in Tennessee and is well-traveled globally. He signs his emails with Cheers. The problem is that no matter where he's been in the world, he was still born in Tennessee and lives in Texas and should only be using that word when making a toast or talking about what re-run he'd like to watch on TV. He also uses a' la regularly when he references something, and if you were standing beside me when he does that, you would see me flinch because he's not French and he's not ordering pie with ice cream but he is making me feel that I want to jump out of my skin.

Each of these is like that to me, unnecessary and flinch-inducing. Except very unique, of course, which instead of unnecessary is just flat wrong no matter where you're from, where you've been, where you are currently.

Seriously, can we ban these from usage right this minute? Can we? For the children, understand. And my skin. I need my skin.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Traditionally speaking

On the phone this morning, placing an order, giving the sales representative my credit card information when this little exchange took place:

First name on the card?


Is that traditionally spelled?


So that's two Ls.

No, one L is the traditional spelling.

No, I actually believe that two Ls is traditional.


Well, according to my mother who selected the name and the spelling and who knows much more about these things than you or I ever would, the spelling of Alison with one L is traditional for first names, and Allison with two Ls is traditional spelling when it's the last name and this comes all the way from Canterbury Tales, which, by the way, was not published yesterday, so I think I can safely say that my first name is traditionally spelled, with one L, whether you actually believe it or not.

[or something like that]

Interesting. And your last name?

We carry on. But when we get to the name of the person I was ordering something for and I spell that out, here's what I heard:

Hmmmm. That's a unique way of spelling that name.


Okay, seriously, quit your job and go to work for the next update of the Book of 10,000 Baby Names or something. Do it. Please.

Update: I didn't want to mention earlier in case she read this post before receiving the delivery, but the above conversation was with a florist as I was sending my friend a congratulatory bunch of flowers for passing her Series 7 Exam. My friend called earlier to thank me and laughing, she said, After all that, on the card your name is spelled incorrectly with two Ls. But mine is spelled right.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Numbers I like

A good friend of mine just called with the news that she passed her NASD Series 7 Exam with an 87. That score translates to flying colors. I believe that something like only 65% of those who take the exam pass the first time, and the majority percentage of those do so with a score of 76 or thereabouts.

So my friend was on the phone grinning away with the fact that she not only passed the exam on her first try, but also has discovered that she is above average.

I never had any doubt she'd do this. She's been studying for this exam for the past six weeks and by studying, I don't mean casual reading, I mean face buried in the book, highlighters and note cards and practice tests. A couple weeks ago, she read me a paragraph, a single paragraph, from her study guide and I wanted to run out of her house and keep running until I reached my own house where I could shut the door and lock it against that string of sentences pounding in my ear and furrowing my brow. I understood the meaning of every word, but together, I had no idea what the paragraph meant.

So, yeah, based on my single paragraph experience with that exam, she's above average to be sure. And, congratulations to her.

There's that, and the fact that I just read the back of the bag of lettuce I chomped through for lunch. Twenty calories. For the entire bag.

File this under: Happy days!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

Serenity is found in acceptance

Each week on Tuesday evening, I go to therapy. It's good medicine, therapy is. I sought it last October for myriad reasons, but all falling under the category of Didn't think I'd be here and not at all sure how to handle it. Therapy is not cheap and insurance doesn't cover but a small part of the price, so it's a gift to myself -- one that keeps on giving, to be sure. It's also a commitment, because sometimes I don't at all like what comes from my mouth and I am not comfortable with the challenges, but little by little the tenseness fades and I'm able to dismantle the issues and rebuild new comprehension and behavior. When I leave, I feel drained but I also feel a bit empowered and able to carry on. Every time I walk into his office and an hour later walk out, I take a breath and tell myself I am in the right place. It's the truth.

Towards the end of February, my therapist suggested that I refrain from writing about a certain someone in this space for the month of March. When he said that, I pulled my head back and looked at him with more than a little hesitation. I wasn't sure I could do what he was asking me to do.

I wasn't sure I could do it because I've gotten accustomed over the years to writing out or at least about some of my issues right here on this site. But what he knew and I couldn't see at the time was that I was hanging onto my pain by focusing on it. If I could shift my focus, I could heal and move on.

And so I stopped writing about the certain someone. And what that did was make me look beyond my pain and outside of myself. I found my inspiration again. I found laughter. I found myself among the living and the caring.

Earlier this week, I spent some time in my archives. I went back to October when the whole romantic shift began and I not only read what I wrote but remembered the writing and recalled what was between the lines as well, recalled what I did not write. And like shifting through shards to find the shape of the whole, I saw clearly the signs. I saw the caution I did not want to admit, I saw the fear, and I saw the clinging to belief not because I believed but because I wanted to believe. I also saw myself pushing the doubts down and charging ahead. I saw a slow unraveling and a stiff upper lip attitude. Most of all, for the first time, I saw in my own words clear signs that it was not going to work. I saw him being careless with my heart. I saw instability put roots in my life and I saw the undoing. I saw myself learning the lesson of what could be doesn't necessarily mean will be or is.

Reading my words did not give me sadness or anger. In fact, reading my words gave me a certain peace. I think in the end it's not our actions we regret but our stillness. I have peace in knowing that I tried, that I opened up and loved. I also have peace in how things turned out. I could have done without the pain, that's a given, but I have stability back in my life and fear out of my life. And sitting here on this beautiful Friday morning, I realize that I am free of the burden of having instability in my life. It's a very peaceful feeling.

From our walk this morning. Freedom looks good, doesn't it?

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