5.20.2009

"You are a realist masquerading as a cynic who is secretly an optimist."

So... absent for a while. Yeah. Well, you know. Busy. Busy being really pissed off about a whole bunch of shit that is beyond my power to control so I just decided not to let it get to me anymore. And yeah -- it's that easy.

So, today it has been two months since my grandfather passed away just shy of 85, and he was my last living grandfather. My dad's stepfather passed away a few years ago; I never knew my maternal grandfather either because he died before I was born or my mom wasn't speaking to him up until he died. I'm a little sketchy on that part. In any case -- dead, never knew him, and my dad's stepfather used to scare the living shit out of me. He was just a big, BIG dude. He was, like, eight feet tall. Okay, I probably made that up, but as a kid that's how he seemed, and even as an adult he was way taller than me; and when he stood up his hands hung to his knees. I think he may have been part gorilla. My point is that we weren't close. Fear is kind of an inhibitor to intimacy, if you're me.

I was close to my pop-pop though, and I never stopped calling him that, even in my thirties; even now, in my head, with him gone. The other day I was cleaning the living room, and as I was dusting the coffee table (handmade by Gorilla Granddad, no less) I knocked out a couple decks of cards that I have in there. One of them is a well-worn Bicycle deck, and I held it for a moment, took out the cards and flipped through them. Pop-pop loved his cards, he loved the casino -- he was a gambling man. I think that's one of those things that will always stay with me, as the years fall away and my life moves in whatever inevitable directions it takes. That and raisin bread.

I heard you just go "what?" in your head. Stop thinking so loud.

When I was a girl Pop-pop worked for Pepperidge Farm, and we always had loads of freebies around: Milano cookies, Goldfish galore; but raisin bread was always my favorite -- toasted, with butter. It's one of those comfort things for me, when I'm down or I feel lost a couple pieces of toasted raisin bread brings back that childhood feeling of simplicity. Of home.

Some people choose to remember the dead with memorials, with flowers, with some god-awful bullshit display that's really about the living putting on a pity show than celebrating the life of a loved one who's died... but not me. Instead, I'm going to go have some raisin bread.

I know you're all thinking about the other elephant in the room. Like I said, you're all thinking too LOUD.

What I will say is this: the universe has a sense of humor and irony. I, like the universe, am laughing my ASS off. And planning a very nice vacation for myself (maybe Mexico, which is pretty crazy cheap right now). I can do that, you know, since I haven't "tied" anyone "down" with "marriage and kids." Shame, that. Good thing that poor guy got away from me and found that "adventurous" chick who was going to travel around the world with him.

Tee hee hee.

Good luck to Smaug and Smaug Accessory -- you will need it, because I know for a FACT that one of you couldn't even handle a dog. A dog! A little furry thing that you can put in a kennel when you travel and let someone else take care of. A dog that doesn't need anything out of life except a couple of walks a day, some affection (preferably in the form of fetch), water, and food (which you don't even have to cook). A sweet little dog who wants nothing more out of life than to please me. A dog who is right now asleep at my feet because being near me makes him happy. A dog that I'm taking on a walk in a minute, because being with me while being outside is like having all the greatest things in his universe converge. So in case you didn't figure it out yet, sweetheart: I GOT THE BETTER END OF THE DEAL.

2.08.2009

"Poor Buffy. Your life resists all things average."

There are some days when I'm literally walking around in a daze because I just cannot BELIEVE how dumb some people are; and there are times when all the stupidity converges into a fine point of ignorance.

Last week was such a time for me, because I had three different men I went to high school with prove that there's just no cure for stupid. First, some history:

Behind door number one we have Spanish Class Loser (SCL). About ten years ago I got in touch with someone by chance who put me in touch with a bunch of other people, and he was one of them. Now, I went to a tiny, tiny high school (there were 62 people in my graduating class, including me) so you pretty much knew everybody. So, when SCL rather enthusiastically emailed me I thought it was awfully nice of him, even though I barely spoke to him in school. And when he started IM'ing me all the time I figured that the passage of time had just served to bring him out of his shell. I really thought it was just friendly banter. One night he kept after me to meet with him for coffee, so to shut him up I finally agreed to meet him at the local diner nearby (R.I.P. Dynasty). We get a booth and start talking about what we've been up to. At least I did. SCL spent most of the time talking about how he was obsessed with me in high school, and how he used to spend all his time in Spanish staring at my ass. Okaaaaay... ewww. I started to realize that he had some kind of idea in his head that now he'd found me after all these years and we were going to ride off into the sunset together. Again, ewww. So you can imagine that when I mentioned my boyfriend, his face just FELL. It was SO obvious. I couldn't wait to get away from him. He actually berated me for coming to meet him when I had a boyfriend that I had never mentioned. I'm sorry -- it was NONE of your business! He spent weeks harassing me via email and messenger. I had to block him, and then he created a new ID for himself so he could harass me some more. I was actually looking into getting a restraining order, it was that bad.

Now, behind door number two we have Basketball Star (BBS). I had an enormous crush on BBS for most of high school. About six years after graduation I had lost a bunch of weight and ran into him somewhere. Suddenly, he was very into me. Some very strange things happened and we never really hit it off. He probably shouldn't have taken my real mom's side in shit he didn't know anything about. I probably shouldn't have slept with his roommate (hey, nobody's perfect). Anyway, time heals all wounds and a couple of years ago he friended me on facebook and we were very civil to each other. I never really talked to him after that, but he was still my facebook friend.

Behind door number three is the real winner, who we'll call Soccer Star (SS). We'll call him my first boyfriend, although I was seventeen and all we did was sleep together for a couple of years whenever he was in for the weekend (he moved out of state after graduation). I fancied myself in love with him. Whatever. I was a kid, what the hell did I know? I thought: sex=love. Still, I was pretty upset when I called him at home one day and he said "I can't talk, my fiancee is here." Um, wow. Didn't even know you had a GIRLFRIEND. Nice.

As you can imagine, our relationship did not end well. Years went by. 9/11 happened. And then, like a couple of other exes, he found me online. He wrote me a very sincere apology, so I wrote him back. I don't think I'd ever really gotten over him; it was one of those things that was always a "what if?" to me. We started talking online a lot, as he was stationed overseas. Most of it was very nice, grown-up conversation. He told me all about his wife and kid, I told him all about me. Sometimes, and I'm not proud of this, but sometimes the conversation went a little... awry. That's the problem with the internet, I guess. It's easy to be naughty. In any case, I never took it seriously. Actually, talking to him occasionally is what made me finally GET over him after all those years. I think I had put him on a pedestal when I was very young, and now that I was much older he was just a guy. So we would email off and on, and thanks to him I got back in touch with a lot more people we graduated with through the infamous Class of 91 blog.

The thing about SS is that he's like a dirty old man. He takes EVERY conversation in that direction. EVERYTHING. It's ANNOYING. Not to mention uncomfortable for myself and any other girl he talks to on the blog or in private. It really started to bug me. He would email you out of the blue with something like "how's it going?" and you'd say "fine, what have you been up to?" and his response would be something akin to "just thinking about your naked body pressed up against me." Okay, again, ew. It would especially piss me off while I was dating Smaug, because he's proposition me and I would be like "how dare you disrespect my boyfriend" and he'd play it off that he was just kidding. Bullshit.

Anyway, as you can imagine his behavior got WORSE after Smaug and I broke up. He came back to my parent's house after my bon voyage party and once he realized they were away he used every angle he could think of to either get me naked (hey, let's play strip pool) or stay at the house so he could jump me later (hey, I'm too drunk to drive the four blocks to my house). I mean, SERIOUSLY. I told him point blank that I don't appreciate him still treating me like I was 17 and stupid. Like I'm just going to drop to my knees and blow you because you think you're cute? PUHLEEZE. I finally got rid of him, and then he tried to insinuate himself in my plans for the rest of the weekend (hello, no one invited you.) He'd given me this whole sob story about him and his wife heading for divorce. Yeah. RIGHT. Told me he'd be haunting me here in Maryland every weekend. Oh joy. I can't believe I even still talk to this person who treats me like a whore at every given opportunity despite being told EXACTLY how much I dislike hearing that shit out of his mouth. Face it, you're MARRIED. And even if you weren't, I'M OVER YOU.

Now, just to update the scorecard we have:
1. SCL, who I've not spoken to in about ten years after getting seriously scared of him and having to finally threaten restraining order
2. BBS, who I've hardly spoken to in two years and then only about very mundane things like weather
3. SS, who I've managed to avoid entirely since I moved out to Maryland

So, a couple weeks ago SS posts on Facebook that he's in DC for a month. So several of us post comments about "where are you taking me on the company dime, ha ha" including me, because for the last several years I've tried hard to stay friends with him on a platonic level. Sometimes I give people WAY too much benefit of the doubt. So I should have expected the text message asking me if I was interested in "me naked with lots of grain alcohol and sex" without provocation. And you know what? THAT WAS IT. That was the FINAL straw for me, and I just let him have it by basically suggesting that he go fuck himself, and that I was done. So his response was the usual "oh, you're in a bad mood and I was just kidding" but you know what? NO ONE is being fooled by that. You're feeling the waters my friend, and believe me, they are fucking COLD. I ignored him. He obviously didn't read my earlier post about not accepting anything less than I deserve. If you want to be my friend and hang out, fine, but you don't. Why else would you suggest that you come here to Hagerstown, where there's NOTHING, when I could come to DC and we could find fun shit to do there? Because you're hoping to get into my apartment where you can wear down my resistance with liquor, that's why. Seriously, do you really think that shit is still going to work almost 20 years later?

This is where shit starts to get weird. The very next day I'm on Facebook and I get a chat request from BBS. Which is weird, because he's never chatted with me before. He starts off with where do you live, are you married, do you have kids, are you dating and moves right into "how about I come out to Maryland and make love to you?"

What?

My response was "thanks, already got that offer from SS and is there some kind of a bet?" He said maybe they could both come, and was that a yes or a no?

Again, what? I mean, I could understand all this if I was some smoking hot broad, but I'm a goofball with a fat ass. What is the attraction here? I know my blowjob is good, but this is RIDICULOUS.

My response to that was "why don't the two of you go fuck each other while I file my nails?" That pretty much got rid of him.

SS was back later that night asking if I was in a better mood. What does it take to get RID of these assholes? I told him to get lost and grow up. THAT got him. He started crying "WTF I thought you were my friend but you can kiss my ass" and did he miss the part the previous day when I told him to fuck off?

So now I'm just shaking my head, wondering how men can be so FUCKING STUPID as to think that what's going to make a woman swoon is to have a married man come on to her with such lines as "let's get drunk and fuck". Wow. I mean, am I still wearing that sign I had on in high school that says "Cheap and Easy"?

You're wondering where SCL is in all this, aren't you? Yeah. The very same day he tries to friend me on Facebook. Twice. ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID???? You creeped me out ten years ago and I couldn't get rid of your ass fast enough -- DO YOU REALLY THINK I'M GOING TO FRIEND YOU? Seriously -- IS THERE A BET ON FACEBOOK ABOUT WHO IS GOING TO FUCK ME FIRST? Ewwww! Ewwww! Go away, you maggots!

And people wonder why I can't find a nice man and settle down. It's because I'm surrounded by little boys who don't know how to grow up, and everyone I meet does nothing except sweep me back onto my feet.

I don't think Maryland is far enough away. Perhaps I should move to Paraguay.

2.01.2009

Cleanse Wars Part II: Attack of the Colon

Boston is one of my favorite places on earth. I absolutely love this city and need to go and spend more time there, since I’ve only ever been on business and your free time is limited. Maybe I love it because when I’m there on the company tab I get to go to all the best places, but so what? Like you wouldn’t?

It’s an old city, but amazingly clean. My first time there I actually saw someone vacuuming the sidewalk on Boylston Street. No kidding. I gave a bum some change outside of Starbucks, and he called me back because I accidentally threw in a ring that was in my pocket, and he gave it back to me. It’s the kind of city Philly wishes it could be. That being said, it’s too fucking cold there and it snows too much for me to consider making it my permanent home. But I still love ya, Boston!

While I was last there I got to go to a great restaurant, Stephanie’s on Newbury Street. If you are ever in Boston, you have to go and order the macaroni and cheese. Get it with the prosciutto and the truffle oil. You will thank me, but I warn you: you will be ruined for any other macaroni and cheese for all time. I can never be satisfied by the blue box again (I mean Kraft, not the Tardis). Oh, get the onion rings, too. Bring an appetite. Listen to the fat girl when she points you towards the food – I’ve eaten plenty, so I know when something's really good.

So I know you all want me to shut up and tell you if I pooped my pants; well, I didn’t even have the urge to relieve myself while I was there. Probably because I put a mojito on it. It’s amazing how much shit can be fixed with a liberal application of alcohol (you thought I was done with the puns, didn’t you?). I even managed to get through the worst customer visit of all time the next day without incident. I think it's safe to say that colon cleansing has done nothing more than make shit easy on me (AND I'm done. *rimshot* Okay, I had one left.)

Moving on... so I discovered the most incredible place, and it's only forty minutes from here. There's a town in WV called Berkeley Springs, the site of a natural hot springs that was once frequented by George Washington and other historical figures of note (but now is only visited by hysterical figures like myself, ha ha ha). Mame came in for the weekend and we took a day trip there. The area has four different spas that use the springs, one of which is state run and therefore cheap as hell. If you can live without a lot of ambience, you can get a relaxing soak in the spring water followed by a half hour massage for the bargain price of $45.

Now, when you think spa you probably think: scented candles, fluffy pink bathrobes, soothing tantric music softly playing in the background... ahhhhh. Soothing. Well, I'm too cheap for that crap. That kind of mood lighting costs money. The state spa at the springs has this kind of atmosphere: you walk into the locker area, where they direct you to a little stall with a curtain and direct you to strip, wrap yourself in the sheet provided, place your belongings in the battered locker, and then take the key on the handy rubber cord and place it around your wrist. By the way, if you're in the end stall and happen to be visiting on the COLDEST EFFING DAY OF ALL TIME, it might be wise not to lean your naked ass against the stone wall. It will be extraordinarily cold and clammy. Just a tip.

Now that you are toga'd out in a giant sheet a little old lady will march all of you to your next destination. Mame got the roman bath; I turned down their offer to put us in the same one and chose the relaxing bath. I mean, I'll sleep next to Mame when she visits, but I'm not getting naked with her in a steaming bath.

This is where it helps to not be bashful. Once you get to the bath, your "attendant" will hold the sheet while you step bare-assed into the tub. Let's face it, this sheet is the thickness of tissue paper. They put me into this GINORMOUS bathtub filled with steaming spring water. It was so huge that I could completely submerge myself. I'm a big girl, so in a normal bathtub the top half of me will be completely dry while my back and ass are submerged. I have to flip over and let my butt dry to soak the front of me. Plus, there's always the possibility that I might drown in this position. Well, you get the picture. So huge bathtub with a little inflatable pillow for my head = niiiice. For the sake of propriety the attendant covers the front of me with a little towel that's just big enough to hide your boobs and bush. My boobs, however, are so large that they just flop to either side of the towel anyway, so that part was pretty useless.

After an undetermined amount of time (hey, I'm naked, it's not like I brought my watch), the attendant comes back to take me to my massage. Seriously, she could have left me in the tub for hours. But I stand up while she "hides" me behind the sheet, wrap it around my wet ass (now you DEFINITELY are going to see through this sucker) and pad after her to the massage area.

If you're the type of person who doesn't like to be touched, this is not for you. Despite the decorous way your masseuse tucks the sheet around you and only exposes the part she is massaging, let's face it: you are buck naked under there, and a total stranger is rubbing your exposed flesh. For me however, it was GLORIOUS. Touch-a touch-a touch-a tooooouch me... ahem, sorry, where was I before I burst into song? Oh yeah. Touched By A Stranger. I especially love when they work on my hands. I don't know why, but that relaxes me SO much.

So now that you've been soaked and rubbed like a prize turkey, you can go get dressed and spend your day walking around this adorable little town with its antique shops and galleries. All I can tell you is that I did my part for the American Economy that day. I bought paintings from a local artist. Mame and I ate in this adorable cafe that's also a gallery. I found something for my brother in an antique store, and then Mame and I both fell in love with these abstract prints with phrases on them by another local artist. I bought one mounted under glass that just spoke to me. The abstract is blue and purple, and it says "she built her cathedral from the splinters of her shattering."

And so I have. Welcome to my church.

1.18.2009

"You have the voice of an angel. Your voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus. "

I can’t believe it’s more than three weeks into the new year! I’m pretty sure most of you have blown your resolutions to hell already; you might as well get that over with now so you can move past the guilt and proceed to have fun with your life again.

I’ve been having a blast with life these days myself. I am now officially 35 years of age (do NOT listen to Motu when he tries to tell you how good I look for 40. He’s evil and he must be destroyed.) It’s true that I’m a crazy, wild and fun-loving gal, but you might all be surprised to learn that I didn’t do a damn thing for my birthday. I had just returned from Texas less than a week before, drove 185 miles on New Year’s Eve to hang with Magic Man and Feisty, drove 185 miles back on New Year’s Day, AND was sick with the worst sinus infection/cold/black plague I have had in years. Because I was so sick, I had opted not to go into work on Monday, which meant I had to work my birthday on Friday (and I was still sick anyway). Suffice it to say, I was mother-effing TIRED on my birthday. Plus, I missed Puppy, who had been kennelized for two weeks at this point (yes, I just coined the word “kennelized.” Tell your friends.) Mame had planned to come out that weekend, but she was sick, too, so we postponed.

So for the big three-five I got out of work at one, went to the mall, bought myself some slippers and a George Carlin day-by-day calendar (both at half price, of course) and then took myself out for a fabulous steak lunch and warm chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream. Then I picked up Puppy and curled up with him in my favorite chair with a mug of hot tea and a movie. If any of you think that’s sad, believe me when I tell you: it was the BEST birthday I’ve had in years, even with chapped nostrils and an end table littered with tissues.

Last year I had Smaug get indignant at having to take me out to dinner (he was very annoyed that I didn’t make other plans and now he had to spend his own money on me), then get irritated at some completely innocuous comment at dinner, which turned into him screaming at me in the car on the ride home and then him freaking out and leaving the house for several hours. This was pretty much SOP for him anyway, but for my birthday it was just so special (the birthdays prior to that were similar, but that was the worst one thus far). If you’re wondering what he freaked out about, it was this: he commented that he could take bigger risks at his job because he had no family to support, and I kidded him that he’d never have that problem to worry about. Which made him blow up at me for suggesting that he was never going to propose to me. Which is really funny, considering that I ended up being RIGHT about that. My point is, for any of you who were thinking “oh, that’s so sad how she spent her birthday” – don’t. I loved every single drama-free/watch whatever the fuck I want on TV/listening to Puppy snore while I rubbed his belly minute, believe you me. Then I spent the entire weekend and the week following doing a 1000 piece puzzle of Times Square in New York. After books, puzzles are my bliss. I hope this lovely, peaceful birthday has set the tone for my entire year. Four years in a row of stupid bullshit that leads to me crying by myself on my birthday is OVAH.

In the interests of starting fresh, I thought it would be a good idea to do something that my doctor and some other people suggested to me but that I couldn’t bring myself to try before. I’m warning all of you now: the following content may make you uncomfortable. I am planning to talk about my pooper, so if you don’t want to hear it then skip the rest of this post. There will also be a lot of puns. You have been warned.

So… I decided that I would do one of those colon cleanse things. This is something that had always struck me as kind of gross. In my head I pictured it would be like that scene in Dumb and Dumber, and I would spend an entire week glued to the toilet as though I’d drunk a gallon of Mexican tap water. But, since I’ve cleaned a bunch of other shit out of my life, why not do it literally?

I started by researching online, which I do for everything (I love you, Wikipedia. You are my bible. Not for this research, but still). First I looked at the remedies that promised the fastest results, but in all honesty it didn’t take me long to disregard them. I mean, I spent 30+ years polluting my body, and the idea of cleaning it in seven days or less sounded… a little bit uncomfortable. Imagine that you spent the last 30 years throwing all of your garbage into the basement, and now you’ve sold the house and you have exactly 7 days to clear all that shit out… and the punning begins.

So I started looking at more natural remedies, and settled on the one that was most highly recommended. It also had a free trial, and I live to get shit for free (ha ha, there’s another one!) A week later my all natural, Acai Berry based cleanser was there in my mailbox. Instructions: take three pills daily in the evening. Day One, take one pill; Day Two, take two pills, Day Three, take three pills from then on. That seems logical. It is going to be so easy to do this shit! (That’s number 3, if you’re counting. It’s just too simple.)

I decided to start on Monday night. One pill, no problem. Can’t say I really noticed any difference the next day, but I was out having fun at the Hibachi grill with a bunch of coworkers from the old Pennsauken plant and didn’t really think about it. Got home, took two pills, packed for Boston…

A word now about proper planning. Even if you’re going to use the most mild, gentle cleanser on the planet, you probably shouldn’t start it the Monday before you take a business trip to Boston. You just never know. I mean, here it is, on Wednesday, the day I’m flying out, I only took two pills the night before, I’m taking my third dump and it’s not even noon yet, and I can’t help thinking “when is this shit going to stop?” (#4)

I have to pause for a second to mention that, aside from the new concern about pooping opportunity, I felt great. In fact, that third movement I had was so amazing that I actually turned around and gave it a salute before I flushed it on it’s merry way. Seriously, I was positive that I could whistle with my sphincter after that, and I can't whistle with any of my other lips.

So now I’m thinking ahead, and I realized that I could get stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. Or I might have to go again on the plane. What if the urge hits while I’m on the plane and there’s a really cute guy sitting in the last row next to the tiny little airplane bathroom that I am about to defile? It’ll certainly rule out any invitation to the Mile-High Club. Hmmm.

By the way, you can all thank my cousin Dancer for this entry. She had to listen to me talk about all this while I drove to the airport, and the only feedback she gave me when she finally managed to take a breath was “you have to write about this on your blog.” So all this shit is her fault (ding, #5).

Anyway, I managed to fly all the way to Boston and get to my hotel without incident. Now, a dilemma. I’m in the hotel, on the top floor, gazing out at my incredible view of Boston Harbor at night (I love my job), juggling three pills in my hand. I am about to head out for a night of food and drink and debauchery with a couple of customers I’m really friendly with, and I have a very important design meeting at a different customer site the next day, followed by lunch. I’m not so much worried about the folks I’m going to dinner with (let’s face it, these are people I would hang out with in the normal realm, which is why I asked them to go out with me. They are, therefore, completely unfazed by anything I say or do and would just laugh their asses off if I left the table in the nice restaurant to go blow up the bathroom). It’s more that I have a schedule the next day, and don’t know when I’ll have bathroom opportunity. Did I want to abandon my quest for a cleaner me in the face of professional obstacles and start over some other time? Hmmm.

I took the pills. Fuck that shit (#6)
(to be continued... I just LOVE cliffhangers!)

1.01.2009

"We accept the love we feel we deserve."

Finally, finally, FINALLY the new year is here and all I can say is that I look forward to it like a fat kid and cake. I have had some pretty bad years in my life, but 2008 had, for the most part, a degree of suckage unlike any other. So last night I rang in the new year with a very old friend who we'll call Magic Man, and a very new friend: his fiancee, Feisty. We spent six hours leading up to the ball drop talking about everything you can imagine, and a couple of hours after, too. Magic Man and I reminisced about the past, Feisty got to hear a lot of funny stories about things she hadn't been there for, we talked about our old lives and where we were going with the new. I thought about what an interesting thing it was to be at this turning point in my life and be spending this moment with the old and the new; and I hope the entire year to come is like this for me. I hope I spend quality time with all my old friends, and quality time making new ones.

A couple of months ago I had absolutely NO idea where my life was going to lead. I'd had a plan, and I liked it, and I had worked really hard to bring it to fruition. I loved someone so much that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and have his babies (I know, I know. Shut up). He was frustrating and miserable and had absolutely no idea how to enjoy life without enhancement of some sort -- but I loved him nonetheless, and to me love is something that you stick around for. You try to help get over the bad times, you try to be supportive, and sometimes it gets hard and even you get frustrated and take it out on the other person. I mean, nobody's perfect. But when two people love each other equally they can equally overlook and forgive and move on.

The problem is when people DON'T love each other equally. And sometimes what happens is that the person you love doesn't love themselves very much. There is nothing you can do for a person with self-loathing. It's been my experience that loving people like that does nothing but burn you -- the more you give them, the more you look like an idiot. They feel they don't deserve love, and because you're willing to give it, there must be something wrong with YOU. I remember, towards the end, that Smaug said to me "why do you want to marry ME anyway?" It occurred to me then that he thought I was crazy for loving him. And you know what? In that moment, I realized that I WAS.

Love, like any other emotion, is an uncontrollable thing with many faces. Anger can be slow and simmering, or boil over suddenly and be done in a flash. Sorrow can follow you for ages like a pale ghost hovering at the edges, or grab you by the throat and leave you shaking with violent sobs. Love is like a jungle cat: sleek and silent and creeping unseen through foliage most of the time, deceptively beautiful and powerful. But love has claws and teeth, and can attack in an instant and leave you in pieces. It acts of its own will and desire, it wants what it wants. Sometimes it wants to sleep in the sun and stretch its limbs, and curl up against another warm body for comfort. Sometimes it is cruel and dangerous, and it cannot be forced.

You cannot make someone angry about something that upsets you. You cannot force logic on people or make them see common sense. You cannot convince people that they are worth loving by loving them more. They will resent you for it, and they will never benefit from your affection by waking up whole someday and realizing that they love you that hard in return.

I joke with people all the time that I make the same resolution every year: I resolve nothing. But this year I think I will make a resolution. I resolve to accept nothing less than I deserve. I resolve not to give more of myself than what is given to me. I resolve to dream great dreams and see great sights. I realized that in this world I've been pretty high and pretty low, both figuratively and literally. I have visited caves hundreds of feet below the oceans surface filled with blue, blue water so clear that you could see how the caves went on and on as though they were infinite. I have climbed to the top of an ancient Mayan ruin and looked at the splendor of the world for miles in every direction and realized how very, very small I was in comparison. I have loved and lost, and loved and lost, and done it again, and maybe once more for good measure... and it didn't kill me. I think about people who are afraid to take that risk, or any risk to LIVE LIFE, and all I can say is that I'm so glad I'm not one of those people.

What I would wish for all of you is to do the same. Fear nothing that has the same chance to be as painful as it does extraordinary. If I had feared the rough-hewn and rain-slicked stone steps of a monument, I would have never stood atop the ruin. If I had feared dark and close places I would have never seen the caves (actually, I can be claustrophobic sometimes -- but I don't let it stop me). If I had feared heartbreak, I never would have loved, and if I hadn't I might not be as tough as I am now. That's the thing about scar tissue folks -- it's much stronger than the regular stuff. Let's all resolve to go get scarred. Let's all resolve next year to "drink to our legs" (if you don't get it, go watch Jaws. I'm tired of having to explain everything to you people).

See you next year!