Broken Promises

imagesI am usually not one to ask for anything; or to believe somebody when they tell me they are going to give something to me, I simply did not have the kind of life where silly dreams and fantasies turned out to be true.  Promises, to me, were something somebody told you to get you to do what they wanted you to do; perform a task, have sex, stay with them, it didn’t matter, it was all the same to me.  I typically did as I was asked, I was compliant and submissive.

One year, after reuniting with my ex-husband, he wanted me to lose 90 pounds; he told me I was fat and it was unattractive.  Acceptable; I was fat, and, it was unattractive.  However, it was painful to hear; and incredibly difficult to lose the weight. I had packed on the pounds through a variety of bad habits, unhealthy eating, too much alcohol, and four years of 27 different medications to control my multiple diagnoses of mental illness.

Finally quitting the prescription meds, since I was more suicidal than ever, I thought I might be able to get control of my weight.  It didn’t hurt with Hitler as my coach; I had to weigh myself in front of him every day, and email him a food journal of every calorie I ate.  Additionally, I started a rigorous schedule of working out beginning at 4:30 every morning, on my lunch hour at work, and then again after work.  All sans gym membership.

Day by day, I saw my weight drop; and in less than a year, I was down 90 pounds and had surpassed his goal for me by 15 pounds.  Along the way, he had offered me little incentives to help me.

The biggest one was a “boob job”; not as if I had ever thought of one before, but when he presented it to me, I accepted.  He always complained about my “too large” breasts; I had 36DDD, and he preferred an A cup.  Even when I weigh 120 pounds, my chest is far larger than it should be for my frame; as a runner (before the unfortunate period of the 11 foot surgeries in 3 years) it was challenging, to say the least.

He offered a reduction if I met a goal of 135 pounds; apparently believing I would never meet the goal.  When I exceeded his goal by 15 pounds, I asked him about his promise, his response was a flat, “I was never going to spend that kind of money on you.  It was just a way to get you to lose weight.”

So it goes, so it goes.

Never mind the fact that I made at least as much as he did, and I believe about $10,000 more; or the point that he had bought a motorcycle for $8,000, wrecked it one day at a “track day”, bought another the day he was laid up for $8,000, (all cash), and spent 10’s of thousands of dollars day-trading, all lost.  I never said a word.

Broken promises.  Needless to say, I am not a fan.

 

The Swim

index

She stood beside the ocean ready to jump in

Her lover called behind her,

“But, you don’t know how to swim.”

***

She leapt from the rocks high into the air,

Her lover staring in disbelief

Ready to cry out in despair.

***

Her body strikes the water with perfect grace and form,

The lover almost faints not watching what happens next,

She moves slowly with the ocean, swimming back towards shore.

***

His eyes are teary as he confesses,

“I thought you were going to die.”

She turns to him in her reply, “Silly boy, I’ve been taking lessons.”

The Apartment

indexI love old black and white movies; I suppose it’s because I have always felt I was born years too late.  I would have been more comfortable in the 1940’s or 50’s when it was acceptable for women to stay home and cook, and clean, and they didn’t have to make excuses for not wanting to compete with me.  I think having dinner at 9:00 PM and wearing dresses and heals is glamorous, and I just recently stopped cringing when I saw others wearing white after Labor Day.

One of my favorite movies is “The Apartment” with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine; it was touted as a comedy, but the premise is actually quite sad and dark, probably why I like it.  The plot is quite simple, C.C. Baxter, played by Jack Lemmon, is a tiny fish in the big sea of workers in a huge office who wishes to be promoted.  He soon discovers an interesting way to get ahead, they key to his apartment.

The top-level executives at his firm take turns using the key to his place to have illicit dalliances with their secretaries or other women they meet.  The nearby place is a perfect hideaway for the married men to whisk away their lovers for an evening of romance.

While the movie may seem as if it has the makings of a typical rom-com, there is a dark side; Baxter’s boss brings a girl there one night and when he leaves, she attempts suicide.  Upon his arrival home, Baxter finds Fran Kubelik, played by Shirley MacLaine, a woman he has a crush on from the elevator, passed out in his bed from a sleeping pill overdose.

Baxter saves Ms. Kubelik’s life, and the two spend Christmas Eve together as she recuperates from the trauma.  As he stays awake with her, they play cards, talk, and fall in love.  However, she is not over the man with whom she had her original fling, and by New Year’s Eve, he has left his wife after telling her of his infidelities, there have been many.

By this time, Baxter has quit his job, is moving from his apartment and is ready to leave the city, when Ms. Kubelik realizes it is him that she loves and she runs to his apartment to tell him.  Of course, the movie ends on a happy note.

Still, the most poignant moment for me is the night of a Christmas party in the office when Baxter is in his office with Ms. Kubelik; he realizes then she is the one his boss has been bringing to his apartment.  She had left a compact in his apartment once; he had seen it but had returned it to his boss.

On this night, she dropped it, he picks it up to hand it to her, looking at the glass and noticing the crack down the middle, he recognizes it and gets a quizzical but knowing look on his face.  Ms. Baxter mistakes the look when he says to her, “The mirror… it’s broken.”

She straightens herself, “Yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel.”

For years, I carried a broken compact in my purse; I have no idea how it broke.  It was just a cheap, Cover Girl compact that came with some makeup; I could afford to replace it, but didn’t.  Every time I looked in that mirror and had to look beyond the cracks, I would think of her, and the line she said, “It makes me look the way I feel”.  I know I am cracked.

 

The End of the Rainbow

Rainbow, Asturias, Spain

The pot of gold always out of reach

There is no sand on a warm beach;

Just a demonized leprechaun protecting the pot.

 ***

Brightly colored rainbows streak across the sky

Fading into black as the evil leprechaun screams for all dreams to die;

The gold always out of reach.

***

Fairies dance around begging for the dreams to survive

Just a chance for something to thrive;

The wicked leprechaun casts his spell denying life.

***

The gold continues to grow in the pot

Unimaginable wealth of dreams that cannot be bought;

The vindictive leprechaun protecting the gold.

Believing in Myself – 10 Things I am Really Good at; Another Challenge

smileI have been challenged by another reader to come up with 10 things I am good at, and then to take them to heart and believe in myself.  I have been staring at a blank screen for more than 20 minutes; it feels like being at a job interview, or as if I am writing a cover letter.

I do not want to come up with a list of sterile facts like “I’m good at the computer” or “I’m a loyal friend”…

My penmanship is horrible; I cannot read my own writing.

I am a terrible driver; once, my boyfriend at the time was driving behind me said, “You look like a drunk-driver from behind, what were you doing up there?”

I am reading several books and do not seem to have the ability to concentrate to finish any of them; even though I read East of Eden in three days.

I am a picky eater, I cannot stand for my food to touch on the plate, often requiring more than one plate for my meals; I even sometimes put ketchup on fish.

I am a horrible dancer, I have no rhythm.

Likewise, I am a horrible singer.

So, being good at something is entirely different from things that are good about me; I think I am stalling.

***

ONE

I am a good cook; I won a gourmet pizza contest once when I created a buffalo wing style pizza with blue cheese and buffalo wing sauce.  I think I was a quarterly finalist; I won a cappuccino maker and 104 pizza crusts.

TWO

I am a good homemaker; I can cook, clean, sew, and am more than happy to do the laundry, dishes and housework.  I have never been one to expect my other to come home and help if I am not working but they are.  However, if I need to work outside the home, I am fine with that as well; I can still come home and take care of the house.

THREE

While I have many shortcomings, I am willing to continually work on them to improve.  I can recognize what is wrong, and if not, am willing to listen to others; I progress and evolve through the years trying to become my better self.

FOUR

I am an excellent student.  I have always enjoyed learning; while I love school and the academic environment, I am a student of life and appreciate gaining knowledge through various means, reading, social connections, travel, or anywhere I can gain a little nugget of wisdom.

(This is getting to be quite a challenge…)

FIVE

I have an excellent memory; members of my family actually tease and make fun of me when we are together reminiscing about things.  The big joke is about how I will remember the event, but in particular how I will always remember what I was wearing on the day it happened.  Apparently some idiot savant quality.

SIX

My capacity to forgive is infinite; I have had more than one person comment about how angry they would be over this or that.  Yet, I truly do not hold grudges or feel anger about things that have happened in my past.  I feel hurt and sadness and I have deep scars as a result; but, mostly, I blame myself for things that have happened to me and I do not direct anything I feel onto anybody else.  I am not certain if that is forgiveness exactly, because I never actually blamed them in the first place…

SEVEN

I am intelligent; I feel cocky writing this on here, but I am.  Sometimes I make errors in my grammar and writing style, so you may not get the exact picture of my intelligence, but it is true.  There was a time I had wonderful potential to do many things; however, life happens.  I will just leave it there.

EIGHT

I suppose I am good at making others feel comfortable; I will give two examples.  When others tell me stories, and they tell the same story they have told me before, I have never said, “Oh, you mean the story of XYZ that you just told me the other day.”  When you say those words to somebody, it hurts, they feel as if you have burst their bubble to a degree, or you are impatient listening to them.  It just happened to me the other day; who among us has not repeated a story?

Apparently, I am a good listener and people feel as if they can say anything to me; when I worked, co-workers would talk to me about everything, their troubles at work, at home, and about their personal lives.  But, the best example I can think of is one evening I was out to dinner alone and then stopped off at the country club for a drink.  A man approached me and started talking to me; he sat at my table and we started to chat, when I asked him what he did for a living, he responded, “I sell pornography and sex toys.”

We continued talking for a while, and then he said, “I have never told anybody that; I usually just say I sell computer supplies, but you are so easy to talk to. I have no idea what it is about you.”  Later, I told my boyfriend about the experience and he reflected what many others have said about me, everybody seems to want to spill their secrets around me.  I would never tell another soul anything they say, it is safe with me, and I would never judge.

(Oh my gosh! Two more to go… You try it… not so easy.)

NINE

Each day, I feel like I am good at writing.  I know the difference between your and you’re, their, there, and they’re, our and are, and it’s and its.  It seems as if I can evoke responses by what I write and sometimes inspire people to think.

TEN

I do not procrastinate, and I finish the things I begin; such as this list.

Three Things I did Right as a Mother – the Challenge

imagesRecently, a reader posted a challenge to me to write about three things I did right as a mother; I honestly did not think it was going to be so difficult, however, I can think of two things fairly easily, but the third one is going to be a challenge.

As my children have fairly unique names and I would not want anybody to read this allowing it to get back to them, as they are already embarrassed by me enough, I will call them X and Y; X being 15 months older than Y.

***

One

When X and Y were around 2 and 3, I took a part-time job working two days a week for a manufacturing plant working in their company store.  The plant was extremely progressive boasting an on-site daycare or I never would have taken the position since it was mostly a wash on my salary.

Both of the girls hated going to the daycare; they were used to our days together of playing in the parks, water coloring, or going to the library or free museums.  I took advantage of anything free in our small community; as we lived on an incredibly tight budget.

A few months into my new work experience, the receptionist was terminated; the plant manager asked if I could step in while they looked for a replacement.  This would mean full-time daycare for X and Y, but it also meant a full-time paycheck; at least for a few weeks.  I had not worked since I had been a teenager, so I was excited but apprehensive; still, I accepted.

My two-week stint as the replacement receptionist turned into a full-time gig and I became the receptionist permanently.  The girls were miserable; frankly, we all were.  The extra money turned out not to be very much by the time daycare was taken out of my meager entry-level salary; and, I missed so much work because the girls were constantly sick from the daycare exposure.  I still had to pay all of those days, though.

I was exhausted, too; I worked all day and then still came home and prepared full meals from scratch every night for the three of us, and sometimes four if my husband was home.  I was still responsible for the cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping as well; not to mention the entertainment schedule for X and Y.

One day, while driving home from work, I was just too tired to make dinner; Y was a little older than three by then.  I decided to stop by McDonald’s and buy the girls the famed Chicken Nuggets; they had never eaten there.  Take-out was a luxury we couldn’t afford, but I decided we had a little extra money by then, so what the heck.

When we arrived home, I spread the food out on the table and tried to make it exciting for the girls with the tiny plastic toy that came with their meal.

Both girls just glared at me; however, it was Y who got up from the table and got a cookbook out and brought it to me begging, “Mommy, can’t you please just make a recipe?”

Their entire lives we rarely ate fast food; even years later when I remarried and we could clearly afford to.  I cooked for them every chance I could, trying to teach them it was better for them, and showing them I loved them with what I made.

Years later when X and Y were 19 and 20 and I lived thousands of miles away, Y called to tell me she was helping X move to a new apartment.  “Mom,” she spoke into the phone, “I just looked into X’s freezer.  She has all kinds of frozen meals in here.  Pizza, all kinds of junk.  Do you know she eats out at fast-food places all the time?”

I was stunned, I didn’t know what to say, “Y, I am thousands of miles away, and she is an adult, what do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know, Mom,” she replied, “Talk to her, we weren’t raised this way.  It’s wrong.  I make everything from scratch.  I could teach her if she needs me to.  She is just being lazy.”

I had no answers for her and she finally hung up the phone on me.

***

Two

When X graduated from high school, I took her on a trip to Minnesota to go to the Mall of America; everybody said, “Oh, you have to go, once in a lifetime shopping trip.”  Wrong.  Basically, it is a huge mall with several of the same stores over and over again.  Besides, I have no idea what I was thinking, as we are not really people who shop for no reason; I do not window shop, and I did not raise my children to aimlessly mill around if they were not purchasing something.

Still, we were there for five days; so we made the best of our time in the area.  We did go to the mall twice.  Once we were there for four hours and another time we went back for three hours.

The rest of our time in the area we went sight-seeing; we went to an old historic battleground, Fort Snelling something or other; we went to a castle; we went on a Mississippi River boat cruise; and we went to several museums.  Our days were filled exploring the city.

One of the best nights we had was going out to a fancy dinner where we delighted in paying $8 for a glass of tap water, and $10 to park our tiny rental car blocks away from the restaurant.  We enjoyed each other in a way we hadn’t in months.  She had been a pain since turning 18 and deciding she no longer had to follow the house rules; needless to say our home had been tension filled.

There was a lull during our trip when I turned to her and apologized for the trip not being as exciting as I had hoped; it seemed it was a little more boring than expected.  I was happily surprised by her response, “Mommy,” she has always called me Mommy, “You raised us to never be bored.  Only boring people can be boring, I am having a great time, thanks for bringing me.”

We went on to talk about what life was like when she was little; how I often times had to do so much with so little, making everything from scratch.  We laughed about how I would buy sheets from the thrift store for $0.50 and make matching outfits for her and Y.   We talked about how I made Barbie Doll clothes one year for them for Christmas, and how challenging it was to sew them because they are so tiny.

She seemed really appreciative, until our flight was cancelled; then she flipped out and became hostile at the airport, but that is an entirely different story.

***

Three

On December 31, 1994, X and Y’s dad came to me and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  I don’t want to be a dad or a husband.”  With that, he took two boxes of his things and drove away.  I later found out he had a 17 year-old girlfriend who was pregnant with his baby; he was 27 and we had been married for 7 years.

I moved in with my parent’s two states away; I immediately got a job and applied for college.  Other than my brief foray as a receptionist, I had not worked since I was a teenager; but I did not have a choice now.  My future ex-husband never sent a dime to support X and Y from the moment he walked out the door.

A few months after he left, he called and wanted to reconcile; we had gone back and forth as teenagers, but I was done playing games, I just couldn’t do that now that X and Y were in the picture.  As soon as I declined, he started to get nasty; the police showed up at my parent’s with a warrant for my arrest for kidnapping my children, and I had to get an attorney to defend myself.

As the months wore on, the fight got uglier, but I continued working and going to school; all the while, trying to maintain as much normalcy for X and Y as I could.  When their father would call, he would start to curse and tell them ugly things about me, so I would gently take the phone and hang up; leaving them in tears.  They were still very young, Y was just turning 5 and X had turned 6 by the time our divorce was finalized.

By the time everything was over with him, he never voluntarily paid anything for their support.  As soon as the child support order went into effect, he quit his job; so his unemployment was garnished and the kids did get something until it ran out.  After that, they would get checks for $2 to $0.32 for the next few years; then three years after the divorce, he finally terminated his parental rights.

My second husband adopted the girls and their biological father rarely saw them afterwards.   He simply was not a very good father; he did not provide financially, and when he saw them or spoke to them, he was high and belligerent.

However, during all those years, I never spoke one demeaning word about him.  I always believed the girls had a right to determine who he was on their own, that it was not my place to run him down.  I felt if I had issues with him because he was not right for me, I did not have to burden them with my bad feelings; that would serve no purpose for them.

I think that is something I did right.

Why Aren’t I Afraid of Guns?

imagesI have had a gun held to my head twice, and I feel as if should be a traumatic event.  There should be something defining about somebody holding a loaded weapon to your head and you facing your own mortality.  However, somewhere there is disconnected wiring in the innermost mechanism in her mind that did not bond; she came through these two experiences unscathed.

When I was 17 years-old, my second job was at a Payless Shoe Source at a mall; it was one of the stores with the doors on the outside of the building, so to access the store you didn’t have to go inside.  The store had a total of 4 full-time employees and there were usually only two of us there at a time.

Our manager had told us there had been news of a man robbing Payless Shoe stores in the local area for the past few weeks; he had a pattern of robbing them every Monday night.  On a Monday night, I was working with my co-worker Rich; it was around 8:30 when I started talking with a customer as I was putting away shoes.  “Do you like it here,” he asked me, pimp hat pulled down over his eyes.

“Oh, sure,” I answered happily, picking up the scattered shoes customers had strewn across the floor, “I love shoes and I get a discount.”

“The customers sure make a mess,” he opined as he watched me pick up the shoes.

“Yep,” I replied, “But, that’s just job security.”  We both laughed.

I walked away from him and took some shoes to the stockroom; when I returned, Rich was bent over the safe and the customer I had been talking to was leaning over the counter.

I asked Rich a question and he didn’t respond; I asked him again.  Nothing.  Finally, the customer stood up and pulled his arm out of his jacket, pointing his gun directly at me, “He’s busy,” he said, “Go lock the front door, then lay down at the back of the store.”

Just as I got to the front of the store, a group of shoppers came in; I tried to ask them to leave, “No, no, we just shop for shoes,” they responded to my pleas.  They did not understand English.  I turned to the robber, shrugging my shoulders.

“Get them to the back of the store and tell them to lie down,” he demanded pointing the gun at me.  I could see Rich as nervous and still struggling with the combination on the safe.

“Ma’am,” I said, turning to the woman as she walked down the aisle with her children, “We’re being robbed; I need you to come to the back of the store and lay down.”

“No, no, we just look at shoes,” she said in her thick accent.

Once again, I turned to the man directing the gun at me; clearly I was not going to get these shoppers to comply.  He must have been an empathetic robber, “Just forget them, go lay down in the back.”

As I lay down on the carpet, the shoppers obliviously looked for shoes; Rich finally joined me and started counting to 100 per the robber’s instructions.  The second the man left, Rich and I stood up and rushed the customers to the door; the whole time they were saying, “No, no, we just look at shoes,” as we closed and locked the door behind them.

***

The second time I had a gun held to my head was just a few months later; I had just turned 18 years-old.  I was in Nye, Montana, with my younger brother and sister for the summer where my father was working in a mine.  He had been up there all year, but since my mother had long since tired of moving, we had all stayed back in Nevada.

My father still drank a lot during his time in Montana; and, with my mother not there, he turned his abusive tendencies towards me.  I spent the summer either hanging out and partying with him at the local bars, or back at the single wide trailer with my brother and sister avoiding my dad’s physical and emotional jabs.

One weekend, he was on a particularly abusive kick; I cannot recall what his rant was about, but it has no bearing on the outcome of the event.

Dad came home from the bar one Sunday afternoon; he was drunk and in a total rage.  He began picking on my little brother for riding his four-wheeler in the neighbor’s pasture while it was still wet, something he had been told not to do.  The criticism escalated until my brother was in tears; things got out of control to the point of no return.

Soon, my dad had a gun and was threatening to kill himself for being such an awful father, a terrible husband, and a wretched drunk.  My 13 year-old brother, 8 year-old sister and I spent hours that afternoon talking him out of shooting himself.  He was waving the gun around wildly and talking about all of the horrible things he had done as a father and husband.  We did our best to refute his claims, though; it was difficult to come up with arguments to the contrary.

By the evening, his anger and rage turned towards me; he had hit me and eventually pinned me up against the dryer, holding the gun directly on my temple threatening to kill me.  My brother wanted to call 911, but earlier in the day my dad had already ripped the phone and wires out of the wall.  I spent hours begging and pleading for my life; one hand curled tightly around my neck, the other on the gun, his finger on the trigger, I finally demanded my brother and sister go outside.

Around 10 that night, he had to leave for work, he finally let me go and left for work.  My brother and sister came back in the house and we cleaned up the mess that had been made during the mêlée.

***

I don’t know why I am not more affected by gun violence.