Saturday, December 10, 2011


Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…Here it is, the return to the beginning. It was little more than a year ago I wrapped up my life in an oversized suitcase. And now, I am once again wrapping up my life in a series of suitcases and a flood of red tape. The documents have been signed and filed, the hearing date has been set, but we begin the waiting game once again; for a court date, for a home buyer, for a job offer. Everything was so much simpler at sea, simpler and much less gratifying. Am I making the right choice though, always choosing the more difficult path? I could be quite well off in a few years; have enough money even to make the way easier for myself, my dad, my family.

I’m terribly behind in my writing as always, because this year is so jam packed. It feels as though I’m working non-stop and making no traction at all, but perhaps I just can’t recognize the baby steps because I’m so focused on the revolution. I am not feeling particularly profound lately because I’m just treading water trying to keep my head up. But here’s the thing. Yesterday, I took a little time (under strong encouragement from my boyfriend) to clean my car and set up my room. I was tired, I was reluctant but I also had cleared the evening for this task. Well, through a set of circumstances he ended up having the evening off and came to help and the job, which felt at first a herculean effort got done. Admittedly there was some wine involved and an unfortunate bit of hilarity resulting from my mistaking cat antihistamines for prednisone but the result is that I have a tidy room, a clean car and a rather new lease on life. I couldn’t have done it without help. Well, that’s not exactly true; I wouldn’t have done it without help. Or maybe I would have, but until this point, I hadn’t. I am so terrible at asking for help and yet, the help is there but for the words. Why is it we are programmed to be so giving and yet, when we are in need, we would rather falter to the point of collapse than say, “someone, please f*cking help me!”? Perhaps that is just me projecting, but I don’t believe so. I think it’s in our genetic makeup.

You know what made the difference? He offered, he insisted and he cajoled. He would not take no for an answer to offering aid. I think there might be a lesson in that as well. I do too much, but I am not gracious about it. But perhaps too, efforts shouldn’t be wasted upon those who ask but do not do for themselves. Perhaps it is better to offer aid to those in need too proud to ask for it. Because we want to ask, we just don’t think we can or should. I know I feel like I should be strong enough, I should be old enough, I should be independent enough to handle all this myself…but I’m simply not. And I guess it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that that is ok.

It is funny how simply stripping away a bit of the physical chaos and clutter can have a similar effect upon the mental. I know this, though it has still always been difficult to put into practice. Too little time, too many excuses. But now I've no scapegoat of a husband upon whom I can foist the blame. I am more peaceful today than I have been...well...since I returned from the Mediterranean..another place where I was entirely uncluttered.

So now I have a clean slate. Whatever shall I write upon that tablet? I cannot wait to see!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ten, make that Twelve Things I Like About...Me

1. I like my little elfin ears…and the fact that now you all want to see if it’s true. It is.

2. I like my eyes; that they can shift from a deep brooding blue when it’s dark or I’m thoughtful to gray when I’m angry. And they are startling in the sunlight (and crazy if I look directly at the camera).

3. I like my small hands which mirror my spirit. They are fragile and delicate like a child’s but weathered and scarred having seen labor, love and loss and they are surprisingly strong.

4. I like my sense of humor and my robust laugh. It is as is so much of me too big, too loud and often out of place, but still it is an asset and an infectious one at that.

5. I like the little mole on my nose which looks remarkably like a piercing rendering it inherently cooler, especially since it cannot be removed without causing more damage. I call it my witchy wart and the source of my power.

6. I like my smile. It is crooked and gummy and not in any way classically beautiful. But it is genuine and mine and is an open invitation to the world to celebrate joy. And best of all, most of the time the invitation is accepted.

7. For several reasons, I like my sexy little mole which resides right at the crook of my left hip. One, it is a trait shared by all the women in my family and as I resemble no one in my family, I always like that we had that commonality. Two, it is tucked away, a bit of mystery which makes me feel sensual and feminine. Three, few have gazed upon it, even fewer have pressed their lips to it and of those afforded that privilege, I have no regrets.

8. I like that though I have been hurt over the years, intentionally or un, I have chosen to forgive those who transgressed against me and in doing so I have made misery a decision not a state of being. I also pray that those I’ve transgressed against offer me grace.

9. I like that I’m smart…and articulate…and yet cannot seem to master spell check.

10. I like that I am a muse; that I see in others the potential they may not see in themselves and that once reflected back, they become this greater self they never even knew they had in there. And I like that they give me credit for it, though I was nothing more than a catalyst for what they were already meant to be.

11. I like that I see the world as I would have it be, not necessarily as it is. I see my parents not just for who they are but who they strive to be and how far they came and it makes me admire them all the more instead of blaming them for what I am not. I like my spirit of adventure. And I like that I can find romance in the most mundane of events.

12. I like that I’m fallible because if I was perfect, I’d have nothing to talk about.

This is who I am; the parts of me that make me the happiest, the proudest, the most inspired. As we head into the dark, take a page from my book. Take a moment to reflect upon all that you are, all that you wish to be and how much you have already done to get there. It is Samhain, the time of the harvest. It is the time to reap the bounty of all that you have sown.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Kingdom for a Staircase

So there was this one lovely day when I had a long break as did my lovely British companion, we had an amazing port of call, and permission to walk about together without breaking any rules. Glory be, what shall we do? I really wanted to take him to Eze, this staggering cliffside medieval village. We go to the tour office and they map out the multiple buses we will need to take to reach our destination, but after about 30 minutes of waiting for the first bus to arrive, we decide this is a futile exercise seriously cutting into the limited time we have together so we decide to ditch the idea of Eze and simply explore on foot the beautiful, picturesque village of Villefranche.

“What would you like to do my friend?” I query.

“I’m up for whate’er, so long as it is not too taxing.”

Okey doke. So off we set on our grand adventure. Cut to, we are now lost in the French Alps, climbing uphill from the same village for the second time. I fear we shall soon require repelling equipment. My companion is still friendly but fatigued and at some point I am certain I shall just have to mount him to my back like a Sherpa. We are walking along a stone wall which seems to continue well beyond the horizon line yet I am certain that around each corner we shall find the end and an exit but all we seem to find is more wall.

We come to a little one lane road, hedged with bright pink flowers; beautiful to behold and the scent is intoxicating. There are four cars parked in the lot of nowhere, and even stranger, two police officers ticketing the forgotten vehicles inhabiting this desolate paradise.

One officer looks up, hearing our footsteps and with a look of confusion on his face exclaims, “What is it you seek? There is nothing here?”

What is it we seek? Shelter…sustenance…stairs that go down…any of these things would suffice.

My companion, the more level-minded of the two of us thinks to ask directions and we set out in the direction in which they point. Yes, they are correct. We can see the ship. It is so close it appears we could nearly touch it. Wish we hadn’t tendered* that day!!

*For anyone not familiar with this term, tendering is when a ship drops anchor in a port rather than tying to a dock and guests take a smaller boat to and from shore.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pause Button

Three years ago I lost my mother, the final chapter in a year of loss and everyone said to me, “Don’t make any major life decisions for a year.”

Then, a year later someone I thought would forever be in my life, the person I truly thought my soul mate walked away and my husband and I separated and everyone who knew said to me, “Don’t make any major life decisions for a year.”

Now a year later I am filing for divorce and everyone is saying, “Don’t make any major life decisions for a year.” At what point does my life come off the pause button? Now, it comes off now. We can’t rewind, we can’t fast forward, so it is time to spend some time on play. And play we shall!


(Although this has passed, I wrote this long-hand when it happened so here is the original transcript)
Today’s tale is not the lighthearted, “oh-you-silly-thing” sojourn which usually occupies this space. Today I experienced my worst flying experience ever. It wasn’t bad food or turbulence or even cancellation frustration, it was apathy. I arrived at the airport 3 hours ahead of my flight boarding time, spent the first 30 minutes finding the terminal from which my discount airline departed. I know now why my flight was to be so short. I had walked half the distance by the time I arrived at the check-in. My venture required a shuttle bus and a trip outside to get to the terminal! I finally entered tired but invigorated as I am heading to England to see two and possibly more of some of my favorite people in the world! The riots have subsided so my vacation was to be hopefully without incident. Now when I went to check-in at my knock-off airline, the misnomer Easyjet not lost on me, I was already filled with a sense of foreboding. I knew not why not one person warned me before I booked at the nightmare that awaited me, as they were all too willing once I’d paid the money to relay their horror stories. Well, no matter, forewarned is forearmed. I had paid the extra fee for my bag and the “nominal” convenience fee of 16 euro, approximately $22 US to use a credit card. I had carefully packed my computer bag in my carry-on as it is considered separate luggage. I was a bit concerned I was overweight-my bags-how rude! But no worries, only 2 kilos. I can manage to move 2 kilos. How much is a kilo, anyway?

“…and then you’ll need to pay an additional 12 euro for the extra 12 kilos-144 euro…”

Now wait, that makes no sense. He explains, “You can only carry on 20 kilos on this airline.”

Right, but I’m not carrying on, I’m checking. So apparently this airline has different rules from, well, everyone, and in order to rip off their customers, they have lowered the weight restriction for checked luggage, something had I known ahead of time, would have precluded my booking with this airline. My one hour fifteen minute flight is now bordering around the $500 mark. Right, no, I will not be doing that!

Ok, I need to cancel my flight and get my money back, so off to the office I go. I explain my predicament, at first angry and then I begin to break down as the full weight of the situation starts to sink in. I may be trapped. I don’t have this money. My option is to leave my luggage in the terminal. The pretty, inefficient woman behind the glass tells me there is nothing she can do, then sits down and begins counting the money drawer; no doubt overflowing now with the ill-gotten gain from other weary travelers. I stand there for about ten minutes waiting for her when I realize, she’s done. She has nothing more to say or do and she will not be coming back. Tears start to well in my eyes.

“Is there a manager I can speak with?”

Reluctantly she confirms there is and makes a quick call. Moments later, two other officials for the airline come over. I explain what’s happened, that I have only 50 euro total on me, meant to last the week and that I don’t know what to do. I am openly weeping now, partly to draw attention to myself to cause a scene but mostly because I am now genuinely frightened.

“Do you have a credit card?” they inquire.

No way, Jose. I pull out my 50 euro note, secreting my credit cards and 20 euro note away. They say I will have to pay something for my indiscretion and agree to all me to pay for 4 kilos-48 euro so that I will have 2 carry me through the week. D*mn, why didn’t I pull out the 20 euro note instead? I agree, reluctantly. But…they want me to get rid of some weight. We have all heard the stories of people weeping as they throw away their material goods at the airport but I always thought it an apocryphal tale. Today, I was that woman. Bags open, trying to shift things and throwing away my own things; nothing of great import, lotions, sunscreen, vitamins. But they were mine. I actually went back and dug my vitamins out of the trash. It is not that I needed those things. It is not that I even would have had trouble parting with them. I left many things behind on the ship, jokingly telling my fellow crew members to go “shopping”. It was that I felt violated. I had to throw away my things in front of an audience of gawking, apathetic spectators while openly weeping because by this point, it was not put on, I was legitimately bereft. It was just such a horrible feeling to be on the receiving end of other people’s unfeeling distain because I couldn’t afford to do otherwise, and because I couldn’t stand the thought of allowing myself to be so ripped off. But violated I was. I saved 100 euro but paid a heavy price. I know we cannot always afford to help everyone in need, but maybe we can take the time to acknowledge them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Surreal Life

I just unfriended my husband's girlfriend's mother. Now how many people can even say that?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Movie Is Never Just a Movie

Ok, so I feel like I am returning home an entirely different, improved and somehow younger person. So since I think I have completed a chapter of my life (with just the epilogue to write) I will now not worry so much about linear time and just write about what is in my head. There are stories, amongst my time at sea and even before which I have not yet written about because, well, they are just f*cking embarrassing but the fact is they are also funny and so, here goes. This has become a cautionary tale upon the sea…amongst those I was willing to share it with. There was a certain gentleman with whom I had a rather, I thought, innocent flirtation, not really even a flirtation, just stupid banter between friends. But apparently it struck a chord because he asked me to go out. Cool, what did you have in mind? A movie…nice, that sounds fun. I put on some comfy clothes to hang out with my new friend and off I go. I show up to his room and we pick a movie. He has a lovely cabin, much bigger than mine, which isn’t difficult since I live with a roommate in a broom closet; he even has a small porthole so we can see the ocean a bit. We choose a movie and he invites me to snuggle up next to him…awww, nice. Now, upon my original invitation, I did mention that movies are nearly Pavlovian for me and it is a guarantee that at some point I shall fall asleep, but he seemed agreeable and even invited me under the blankets to get comfy! We start to watch the movie, actually a series of British comedy shows and his arm finds it’s way around my shoulder. Snuggles. Yeah for friendly snuggles. Ok, this might be more than friendly snuggles. He turns to kiss me on the cheek and then his hands begin a bit of unexpected exploration. Ok, didn’t anticipate this but I’m leaving myself open to new experiences so I just sort of go with it. His mouth finds mine and his hands find the bottom of my shirt, ripping it from my person. Ok, now this is all a little surprising. My breath is coming fast now as his hands continue their expedition of my undiscovered country and I realize we are now skin against skin; not sure when that happened; he was wearing a shirt when I arrived, wasn’t he? I start to protest and pull away a bit and he pulls me towards him and tries to remove my remaining undergarments; his fingers exploring deeper into my mystery. I begin to audibly resist, saying things are moving a little fast for me but he does not seem discouraged. Now, to be clear, don’t worry, this is not a rape situation; I was never in danger and I could have stopped at any time, but as I said, I was leaving myself open to new things and I was just a little fascinated to see where this was going, but when it became clear that things were going too far for my comfort level, I put the brakes on. But apparently I was just a bit too late, he couldn’t stop himself and, sorry to be graphic, but he came on me. Not my finest hour! And then he got up, walked away and…started brushing his teeth. Um, what the f*ck just happened? I sit for a moment waiting for my head to clear, then look up say, “So, what just happened?”

“One night stand, like you wanted.”

Um, what? Now, I’m a bit intrigued. Ok, first things first, “Can I have a towel?” Practicality was overriding curiosity. I was feeling kind of cold and vulnerable…and trapped.

Handing me a towel, “Yeah, you wanted a one night stand.” I don’t recall this. “I did?” “Yeah, all that flirting…in the bar…your etchings.”

So now I’m just fascinated by this weird misunderstanding and me being me, I fall into reporter mode. “So, is this your thing?” “Do you ever have relationships or is this what you do?” I’m kind of wishing I had a note pad or my laptop because now I am truly fascinated. He assures me this is unusual but I am skeptical.

“Um, what are you going to say about tonight?” he queries. Now this is revealing. I mention that I like to keep my personal life personal, especially on the ship which seems to be staffed entirely by rejected tabloidists and paparazzi.

He says it’s up to me but it is clear that there was a plan forming. Now, not going into too much detail because I’m already quite embarrassed as it is, I was pretty sure based on some up close and personal interchange that I was not actually the first person he’d been with that day. So I was certain I didn’t want to relive, over and over this humiliation amongst my colleagues.
“Look, I’m married.” Wow, the word hits him like a brick. I won’t go into the full story but the evening did not go well from there. I try and reassure him that the marriage is failing and he’s done nothing wrong. Next day, I send him a text asking if he’s alright. Nothing. I write him a little note of apology for the misunderstanding saying I’d like to take him out for a drink to clear the air. No response. I am concerned maybe it has such impact because he is young but over the next few days it becomes clear that he is not distraught that he has sullied a married woman, he is distraught that he cannot tell anyone. He is upset that he has lost bragging rights. I’m worried about having shattered this young man and he is vexed that his numbers are off. I was a one-night stand with a sloppy second who is offended he can’t tell the world. My last night aboard, he refuses to even make eye-contact. What a douche! Lessons learned. 1) A movie is never just a movie 2) A one night stand is just a sticky back and a walk of shame. 3) I’d much rather just hold out for love...or two stripes!

A Return to the Beginning

It is my final La Spezia and I have returned to this place that has meant so much to me. FIRENZE. Though I have spent little time here, you have left a mark blazoned on my heart forever and with each footstep upon these dark, cobblestoned streets I am drawn back into reverie of a wonderful, magical time when I conquered a giant, found love in a foreign city and witnessed the magical transformation of a city in lights. Twice before I have been to this beautiful city by the sea; once with my husband and once with Mr. Darcy. But this isn’t just about remembering the past. Today I forged a new milestone. I have achieved Florence as an independent, self-sufficient, confident woman. I didn’t even need a map to traverse these streets; just the heart and soul of an adventurer…and a romantic. This is the perfect end to this sojourn, not a final destination but a rebirth. What better place to celebrate my renewal than the very birthplace of the renaissance? In a few minutes I shall return to the bus and the small crowd of willing followers who shall shadow me back to the ship. I know it has been but a few hours in this amazing place but I know I return transformed by my brief holiday. I love life. I love myself. And I love the bittersweet melancholy of this new, single existence. I put a coin in the mouth of the “little piggy” and twice it misses the grate before landing. I suppose it means I shall return but not without a struggle. That’s ok. It will simply mark the next chapter. Read on, my friends.


It’s funny now how I can drift so rapidly from nostalgia to anticipation and back. I have had such a wonderful and healing experience here in the Mediterranean; lost a love, lost myself, found myself and rediscovered love in the most unexpected of places. He said something to me which was so powerful and so true. “It’s nice being with you because we’re not working things out or sorting through issues with each other. Everything that we have been through has led us to this moment. And when I’m with you, I’m just with you.” I feel it so viscerally I wish I had said it myself. I don’t think I’ve ever truly been with anyone where I wasn’t sorting things out-not since many years ago, at least. And though this may be fleeting and finite, the impact of it shall be my lifetime; and it just might not be so finite as I thought. Whatever happens, we shall forever be in each other’s lives and hearts in some capacity and forever there will be the memory of one lovely month and one amazing week, unblemished by time or toil. In our memories we will always be in love, young and vibrant and romantic. Perhaps that is better than the reality. I suppose it remains to be seen. But for now, I am once again inspired by romance and beauty and love. And there is no looking back! Was she here, I think my mother would be proud of how I have embraced this grand adventure of a life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Power of Misery

Attempted “Return to Spring” for the first time since probably February. A little late in the season, I know, but despite my lack of memory for the movements, the chi was a-flowing. The time has come for me to return to spring. I must return to the start knowing a new beginning and a new start awaits. I have a spontaneous beach trip today, which my team complained endlessly about and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve one week left in this wonderful, healing sojourn before my brief English holiday and my return home. The time to sever ties has come. No, that’s not right. There are no true endings. Not like a book or a movie where everything is tied up neatly in the last 20 minutes or the last 50 pages. No, I shall remain in the lives of those I’ve known just as they shall remain in mine. They have shaped the person I am today and though the options for my future are now endless, I don’t wish to diminish the impact nor the influence of the past. But the time has come to be truthful about it. I told a friend I don’t wish to be seen as lost or broken. His response? “Then don’t be.” So typical of a man and yet so truthful. I don’t have to be anything. I’ve proven that. We are what we choose to be, influenced by our experiences and the people around us but what we choose to do with these experiences, how we choose to interpret them and who we choose to be as a result, well, that’s up to us. Of course sometimes achieving the level of honesty needed to change, well, that’s tough. It’s funny how all this time I felt so badly about how I had wronged my husband and Mr. Darcy that I could never be honest about how they had hurt me. Because I wanted to put things in the best light and think the best of them yet the worst of myself. At some point, it does become healthy to just realize we are all human and fallible and it’s ok to acknowledge someone else’s jerkiness because until you do, you can’t assess the impact and you can’t find forgiveness. So now I say “ow” and “I forgive you.” And most importantly, “I forgive me.” Cause I deserve the best! We all do. We just have to find that place where we can at last recognize what is the best for us. I spent so much time thinking that I couldn’t ask for what I wanted because it was selfish. But now I have people in my life who only want to see me happy. Yeah, they were always there, I just couldn’t see it. So you know what is really selfish and self-indulgent? Misery! It’s cr*p meant for a lesser being. No, it’s cr*p meant for no one. I don’t know why we are so wired to seek out misery but I know that to seek it out is about the most selfish, thoughtless pursuit anyone can undertake; your misery had impact. So now, I know my job in the world is to be happy, inspired and fulfilled…for everyone’s sake!

Years ago I went through this phase where I was determined to say exactly what I meant. I had read an article about how the word “hate” was losing impact due to its overuse and that it was actually taking a physical toll on people. So I determined not to use it unless I meant it. I didn’t “hate” the front door, but rather, “it made me angry and it made me sad, and when I pulled up to the house, I felt unwelcome.” “I don’t care for this food because there is an aftertaste that is off-putting and it reminds me of a fight I had with my mother…” Drove my husband insane. But it got me to really think about what I felt and what I meant. I think this is sort of the same thing. Words have impact, physical, psychological, even chemical impact. I remember once there was this woman who had really hurt me, systematically, intentionally hurt me and I didn’t want to give her any more power over me or the satisfaction of knowing that she had an effect on my life. So when she came to me, looking forlorn about leaving the club with the man who had been my boyfriend and turned back and said to me, “Please don’t hate me forever.” What utter cr*p. Bitch. My response? “Oh, forever is a long time. And I don’t hate you. I nothing you.” “What?” “I nothing you. You don’t exist to me.” It was weird, she had no response. It was like I had cast a spell on her, a curse and she did cease to exist. I mean, obviously not completely since I’m writing about her here, but I took away her power to hurt me. Only I could hurt me now, if I chose to revisit that awful moment in my life and not just look at it, but touch it, be in it.

As I said, one of the things I had to do while I was overseas in my quest to change my life in a better direction is, I had to get really honest; about everyone, including my family and myself. My sister’s response to this divorce has not been good and quite frankly has been all about her. How hurt she is that she was the last to know, how hard it is on her that we are breaking up, how my unwillingness to talk about it hurts her. Last night, she called drunk and things did not go well. She was crying and I had to go. Today she called our relationship toxic and asked me not to contact her anymore. Maybe she’s right, but not for the reasons she thinks. My relationship with my family is toxic. I am the quintessential enabler; they ask and I give. I have spent years letting my family take advantage of me, giving them money, time, love, support, and even staying in this area and married just so that their lives weren’t disrupted. No, it isn’t their faults; I did it, out of fear of success or failure or whatever. But I’ve stripped away everything else. I am on the cusp of getting everything I ever wanted and if I fail that’s all on me, but WHEN I succeed, that’s all on me too!! Sometimes changing that internal voice, that natty little sabotuer isn’t just about changing the words we say to ourselves, but changing the words we say out loud and more importantly, to whom we say them.

Reader, I am very happy now. I have amazing friends who support me without pause, I have a new love in my life who IS NOT married, gay, a furry, desirous of being a woman (hmm, I really do need to look at my life choices), IS successful, funny, and on the cusp of greatness, DOES want to dress me occasionally as Wonder Woman, a fetish I can get behind, AND says kind things, holds my hand in public, introduces me to his friends and thinks the world of me. We could all use more of that in our lives. So, enough about me. I want to challenge you, dear reader just as I am challenging myself. I am changing my internal talk and reshaping my experiences. I am saying things out loud. I am telling the world what I want; putting good things out into the universe to see what comes back. Maybe once I have what I want, those who I have had to leave behind to get it will understand. If not, perhaps I truly am better off.

Ah, but don’t worry dear reader. I’m still a clumsy nutball with tales of my foibles to share. I just am perhaps a little happier these days in the retelling.

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Unexpected Gift

Behind as always but I’ll try to catch up. Firstly, you should know, despite my best efforts I have begun a relationship of some sort with a lovely man who sadly lives 4000 miles away so it is likely finite but exceptionally cool. He is funny, smart and seems to think the world of me, me being part of this mutual admiration society as well and we have a ball together. It began as so many things do over the simplest of circumstances; lost luggage. But there was something there, a commonality worth pursuing. On an evening in one of my more romantic moods, I happened to have a break and decided as the ship would be passing the Isle of Capri to don a dress and wonder the top deck, the wind in my hair, my dress fluttering tantalizingly in the breeze. Well, that was my vision anyway; in truth it probably was more me holding down my skirt and pulling hair off my lip gloss, but I was a goddess in my mind, when for some reason my thoughts turned to him and I really hoped to run into him. Silly, stupid notion, I know. But I did. I looked up and there he was, looking out across the deck at the island; its twilight time lights on the Cliffside like Christmas. I walked up next to him and leaned against the deck and when he turned and saw me, he started and said, “I was just thinking about you.” I laughed, not truly believing it and he continued, “No, I was just wishing you were here and here you are.” Ok, now he had me. That was a bit of magic. So we stood on the deck looking at the island and his hand found mine, his arm found its way around my waist and we stood like this until the sun set and I had to return to work. Now, here’s where the story gets a bit tricky. Of course, we both have been hurt and are immensely cautious at first being that we are both going through some stuff and we live in different countries and I wasn’t really sure what the rules were so we would hang out together as friends, trying not to appear awkward or get caught on surveillance cameras, pretending nothing was happening between us, meeting for walks on the deck and coffee after work. However we always seemed to time it perfectly to walk in on an officers’ meeting or sit in the parade path of the entire steering committee. Finally one night he just said “F*** it” and laid a kiss on me that made me melt.

It is my final week on this ship and my final week in the Mediterranean; I’ve made a new friend here, well, more than a friend. I’ve met someone who I think it clear I was meant to meet if for no other reason than I needed to know I’m whole again and now I know I can return home to close this chapter of my life and begin a new one. I said goodbye to my new friend but one week ago and it feels like a year; time moves so strangely here. I came to the Mediterranean under duress, not even sure I wanted to be here, secretly hoping that I wouldn’t be medically cleared to travel and now I just keep thinking, “What the hell was wrong with me?” Thank you, Universe for this time. Thank you for bringing me to this magical place and for renewing my soul and returning my inspiration. “What the hell is wrong with me?” Apparently, nothing!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

That's Amore

And so another adventure begins…under the most unassuming of circumstances. I set out to find internet and instead find a treasure. I leave the ship intent on spending my break in the port terminal where internet is free but for the cost of a cappuccino, which is of course overpriced since the internet is free. However, for some reason, my computer won’t connect despite the triumph of all those around me. I take this as a sign. “Right,” I say to my friend who is happily skyping away in Romanian with everyone he knows on the planet, “I am off.” He looks at me quizzically asking if I am still unsuccessful. Nonsense, there is no failure here, just a change in purpose. So off I go, heading on foot towards the pizzeria I have heard has amazing food and free internet, but without an actual map or sense of direction which will make this a bit more of a challenge.

This is my first venture into the mean streets of Napoli as I have always been told it was a bit of a sh*thole but I am immediately entranced. I start to walk past the castle which dominates the landscape and then think to myself, “What am I doing?” I am not going to become so jaded that I put on blinders and miss such a sight. So I throw my hair into a loose braid and make my way up the hill towards this landmark which I come to find out is the Civic Museum. Well, truth to tell, I don’t feel like going to a museum but I do have a lovely view of the interior from the arch entrance and in the center of this egress the wind catches little wisps of my hair and they drift romantically across of my face. I take a moment to let my eyes lock ever so briefly with the two attendants then look away, slightly embarrassed that I am so caught up in this moment. In my mind I am the most intriguing being in this sphere, lithe and statuesque, though the fantasy is a far cry from reality. “Ciao, Bella.” Perhaps not so far from the truth as I thought. I shyly walk away to continue my adventure.

What a beautiful place, intriguing and exciting, not dissimilar to New York in spirit but with the look of a long and rich history. As I walk along, still with no real sense of direction, I cast my eyes to the street and the array of Pr*da, G*cci and D*lci and G*bbana bags which line them. I really do need a new purse. So I zero in upon one and allow myself to be pursued until at last I break at 15 euro settling reluctantly on the small polished leather Pr*da bag. Don’t worry, I know it is not Prada but it started out at 45 euro and it is quite pretty so I still feel victorious…and I really did need another purse as the only one I have brought abroad is too big and quite literally falling apart at the seams. I briefly consider buying a second one for a lark, but as my funds are limited, my time is short and the risk of buying knock off material great, I move on.

Now there is a moment in movies which you often see but which I have never experienced when a person walks into a place and is quite literally stopped in his or her tracks by the beauty of it. I have never experienced this until today. I came around a block and encountered what I believe was an open air shopping mall under the cover of a great cross shaped archway so breathtaking that I had to stop to take it in. I take a moment to walk through this beautiful place, enjoy the peace imparted by the flying buttresses above. It’s funny, it reminds me a bit of Grand Central or Union Station (perhaps their very designs were mirrored after this place) but the effect is completely different. You go to GCS or US to meet everyone in the world, to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city and the excitement of a thriving metropolis, but it seems here, you come to breathe and to slow down, even if it is, as with me, a fleeting moment. I try to take a picture with my I-Pod only to discover it is dead. Perhaps that is best, I shall just enjoy this moment for myself, a private respite undisturbed by the need to capture and covet it. I think sometimes cameras are a nuisance; a device you feel beholden to. So often I have seen people so fixated on getting the perfect picture, they miss the action around them. There is a woman, crippled and bent in the doorway begging for money with the face of an angel, sad and beautiful.

I do notice though that upon my departure, my pace has slowed and I seem so much more aware of the beauty of these narrow cobblestone streets with their lights strung delicately between the buildings since I am now forced to make only mental note of all I see and experience. Little gifts from the universe abound all throughout the city, wrapped in bright colored paper and delivered to my doorstep, like the woman on the Vespa, from behind a lovely and vivacious twenty something but come round the front and she is a hard-faced forty with a cigarette and a senior who jumps on the back. Husband or father? They kindly give way as I pass and I’m happy to have seen them. Or the bull-faced bouncer in the café who angrily tosses his cigarette across the counter onto the floor as he makes some dismissive comment to his companion, yet when I catch his eye and smile he grudgingly breaks the moment, face never changing with, “Ciao……..Bella.” The incongruity of the moment makes me laugh out loud. I catch sight of a narrow little alleyway and a restaurant with faux gaslights out front. “Restaurante Cucciolo a Bohemien” a bohemian pizzeria. Perfecto!

I walk in and immediately, I am struck by the photos on the walls of celebrities and artists of the theatre, opera and movies. OMG, I have come to the Neapolitan Sardi’s. There is Pavarati, smiling down at me as if to say, “Well done Laurel, you found us!” I am not even sure that the restaurant is truly open as I am alone here and the server actually closes and locks the door behind me.

“Are you open?” I ask timidly, to which this kindly Italian man with a generous face lined with years of service and laughter responds, “Yes”. “Do you have internet?” “Yes.” Wow, ok, I am doing quite well. He goes to get me a menu and I take out my computer. “How do I get on the internet?” “Yes.” Whoops. Ok, perhaps not as well as I thought. Nope, no internet access at all. Screw it, who cares? I peruse the menu which is entirely in Italian, which of course, I do not speak. It is of no consequence. I recognize the word insalata, know how to cobble together enough Italian for house red wine, and ask for a recommendation from the server who can say the words meat and fish in English. We shall go with the fish.

Oh, before I order, “Do you take credit cards?” “Ok.” I pull out a credit card to show him and he smiles reassuringly, “Si, si”. I return his smile, knowing that I now have no idea what I have ordered nor what it will cost and that I am likely paying 1 euro for internet I cannot use, but it is small price to pay for the joy that I am experiencing in this moment. This is a moment no one else will ever have, encapsulated for me. The salad comes and it is a thing of beauty. The fish comes and it is of course, amazing!

I end with a cappuccino and the “special cake”. It is not the best thing I have ever experienced, but it is wonderful. Everything in this moment is wonderful because I am so filled with the joy of it all and I feel especially brilliant for this adventure, knowing that soon I shall return to the ship, filled with people who never left because Naples was too hard or too hot or too ugly. Or that it was easier to nap or take a taxi or that they’d been here before and had nothing new to see. Please oh please, let that never, ever be me. Thank you universe for reminding me that I am special and that romance, beauty and yes, even magic exist in the world, if you just take the time and make the effort to find them.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"O" the Places We'll Go

Strange things go through your head as you are walking along in Italy trying not to get mugged. Is it wrong that I acknowledge the workmen’s whistles, turning around to see them gesture, most likely inappropriately but I don’t speak Italian body language, I turn back, shaking my head, but smiling knowing they are watching my swagger, confident that I am the most desirable pasty faced Irish American to walk by the last minute and a half. But in my mind, I am a siren. Sometimes it’s those little moments of pleasure we have to accept and savor; the twenty something who takes just a moment to check out your chest…and then returns to your eyes before calling you Ma’am. Ok, maybe that one wasn’t quite as good but the blue eyed guest who connects with your eyes and for whatever reason makes you lose your words…just for a moment…that one was good. Or the guest artist who gets so flustered when you’re around that he blurts out, “I think I’m a little bit in love with you,” after your second meeting. Am I a terrible person for enjoying these little tributes to my greatness? No. None of us are. Sometimes we have to fill in the blanks ourselves, remind ourselves of all the cool things that make us the rock stars that we are and sometimes we just have to open our eyes and see it for ourselves. I once read an article in O Magazine (don’t judge me, I was at the hair dresser) about ten women interviewed who each named a feature they liked about themselves, one liked her strong shoulders, another, her brown eyes, etc. The title of the story was something like “Changing Body Image” or some such. And as I pondered this tripe, I was struck by two thoughts. One, how sad is it we as women, need to find one good thing about ourselves to change our circus mirror body images and two, I have way more than one thing that I like about myself. I started mentally ticking off the amazing features that made me me, things that perhaps no one but me would even appreciate. I love my eyes because they are blue like my Dad’s, the only one of us who inherited that, I like my tiny feet because they were not the claw feet of a dancer, I liked that my shoulders were broad and strong, that my round little face looks good in any wig and my pale skin good in any jewel tone-who wants to wear pastels anyway? I left the salon with a fab new haircut, a new lease on life and a mission. I wanted everyone around me, ok, I wanted every woman around me to feel as amazing as I did; the men were on their own.

I bring this up now because I kind of forgot about that list until recently when it was brought to my attention, the torture we women put each other through with the constant critical comparisons, forever fishing for compliments while highlighting our least favorite attributes. I realized as I walked along that I had started quite a lengthy mental checklist of all the things I once again liked about myself, the things that had gone away during my brief hiatus from mental health. And the more I embrace those traits, the more appealing I become. There are those people you meet who are inherently, classically, undeniably beautiful…and then there are the rest of us. But I know as I strolled along, conversing silently with myself about my coolness factor, basically laying out my good and bad to my imaginary companion; my obsession with food, my outrage at not being grandfathered as average height when they changed the standards (I still maintain 5.4 should be average height for anyone born before 1985), my complete inability to stay sane in any kind of relationship and burning desire to meet someone, fall in love, marry, have children and grow old together absent of the knowledge that I’m in a relationship, even my complete defiance of gravity by being able to flip completely vertical without the aid of a sports bra…take that Victoria’s Secret!; all the cool, silly, neurotic and unique things that make me special, I realized that it didn’t matter if I was growing more beautiful to others. I was growing more beautiful to myself. Actually I was suddenly beautiful with no input from anyone. Not a huge revelation, I know, but for me, and probably for so many others who feel they walk through the world making no impact, effecting nothing and going completely unnoticed, it was tantamount to triumph. I was not only on a date with myself, but entirely smitten again. My husband has noticed it. He told me he just realized how much my friendship means to him, especially now, said I’m the tops and called me "Doll". My co-workers have noticed it. The construction workers noticed it…well, probably my *ss but I like to think it was my spirit first. The point is, my mission was to fall in love with this amazing person I kept hearing about, and suddenly, I get it. That amazing person is me. The person you have followed, read about, probably got annoyed with for a while but in the end, want to and never truly want to be.

The setting sun is reflecting off the blue-green ripples of the Mediterranean Sea casting a bright orange glow across the water and a pale pink haze which beautifully backlights Mt. Vesuvias. I feel the romance of this moment envelope me like the strong familiar arms of a good friend and I decide to take myself on a twilit walk around the deck. Standing in the glow of all this beauty I enjoy the vision of my hair lustrous and gleaming like a halo round my partially lit face. Who cares if the vision is real? There are no mirrors here. In this moment, I am magnificent. So where will you find your sunlit romance? F*** it, turn off your computer and go be a vision.

The Affliction

It is an interesting journey to wake up one day and realize you’ve been play acting in your life. Not the first time I’ve had the realization by any stretch and I am positive not only am I not alone but most certainly it is a common occurrence which most people don’t know how to or do anything about, but perhaps the most surprising since I thought I was finally at the stage of recognition. But I suppose each new hurdle, encounter, experience, what-have-you affords you yet another opportunity to slip up and this latest was just so much that I thought for sure this time drama and suffering must be the correct course of action, the emotions most appropriate to the situation. It had to be, right? I mean, every young girl dreams that she will one day grow up, fall in love with someone who loves her and well, a bunch of other people but she’s in the top five or so, marry into bankruptcy and live happily ever after until that joyful day she hears the pitter patter of little feet…from the undersized Keebler lawyers she’s hired to settle her divorce. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! Compound that with the relationship gone array and I thought for sure this was time for a full on emotional tempest. But after a couple of months it just grated on me and felt false…and stupid…and pointless. Hey wait, don’t I usually approach my problems with aplomb? Didn’t I put the fun in funeral? Didn’t we put the fun in dysfunction? So what happened that I’m suddenly putting the “y-because I feel like being” in crazy and the “me” in meaningless outbursts!?! Ok, regroup. Instead of acting like I’m a victim in some Greek tragedy it’s time to be my own Deus Ex Machina. I’m not a victim! I’m…the my own VERY dark comedy! Yup that seems to fit better. Yes, this feels familiar, comfortable, way less self-destructive.

It’s tough at times being in these beautiful places having no one with whom to share them. I remember my final day in Cozumel my first contract; I had the most delightful day to myself. I took myself out to lunch where I was serenaded by two mariachi, one of who, either a mid sixties or a very rough lived fifties, lost his place in the middle of the song and at the end he professed, “Seniorita,your eyes-I could not look away.” Smile…yes, I took it as a compliment. My eyes are very striking in the right light. I walked around the city, past the crystalline blue-green water, ripples of radiant diamonds in the noon-day sun. I crept up side streets and down alley ways, dancing through the dappled sunlight shining upon the bright fuchsia petals of bougenvelia. I was so overwhelmed with the romance of it all that I really just wanted to find a stranger with whom I could seal this experience with a kiss. The romance of a city sealed with the kiss of a stranger…my own singular fairy tale that required no prince, no slipper, no pumpkin and no lifelong contract.

But back to reality. So in my current efforts to take back my life, I sent out a message to all of my family and friends regarding the divorce. I was worried we would do this all wrong. You see, I think I may be a bit addicted to convention. Like an alcoholic or sex addict, I crave the thing that hurts me most. I yearn for convention, seek it out, thinking somehow this time it will feel good and make me whole, that this time I can handle it, just a little; I can stop any time. But it’s bullsh*t. Many people are conventional; they want the house, the picket fence, the nine to five, the 2.5 kids and that is in no way a bad thing because they never even question if there is anything else. But the truth is, that is not who I am, it is not my destiny. It sounds arrogant, but I’m special; I’m meant to be the person other people live through, vicariously, I’m meant to be an inspiration; I’m meant to be the one that makes other people question the convention of their own lives. Cool, but a bit unsettling. It doesn’t mean there can be nothing traditional in my life; I love my family and defend them furiously, I crave love and a legacy to leave behind. But I’m friends with nearly every ex, I am acting as my husband’s wing woman, and I don’t adhere to the “When Harry Met Sally” legacy of man-woman interaction that says men and women can never be just friends; conventional wisdom unfortunately shared by the wives and girlfriends of some of my closest acquaintances. So to clear the air, I sent out a message not of sadness or pain, not of anger or guilt but of laughter and support. I asked that our friends not ask us to take sides just as we ask them not to. I asked that they support my husband until I return home and then afford me that same encouragement. And mostly I asked not for punishment, not for forgiveness but mostly for humor. Because that my friends, is who I truly am. That’s what makes me so much cooler than the rest! And that is what I hope inspires you, my (hopefully) avid reader. Here is an excerpt from my message:

“Now before you get all “hugs” and “love you” understand we are still friends and colleagues. We have been together well, my entire adult life, still love each other and are better friends now than we’ve been in years but our life goals and career goals have just diverged and we are happier apart than together. So to recap:

1)No, we are not pregnant, we are divorcing. The baby bump is nothing more than too many pastries and the three pizzas I split with one co-worker.

2)We are remaining friends.

3)That is not a euphemism

4) Ladies, we are divorcing. That was not just a pick up line.”

I was worried my husband would be mad but instead he thanked me and called me doll. We’ll get this divorce stuff right yet! I just hope I don’t have to change the name of blog. Singlesinglegirl just doesn’t have the same ring.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


So I sit down at my computer feeling very excited, happy and upbeat. I have a small window of time to send my husband an email, congratulating him on his trip cross country and to finally broach the subject of going public with the divorce. We are both feeling good and closer than ever, having agreed to no longer keep each other at arms’ length, preferring to write and talk to each other as though we were going to attempt reconciliation despite the fact we shan’t. But this new-found joy could lead to false hopes and I’ve grown so tired of living a duplicitous life so the time has come to put it out to the world that we are no longer a “we”.

So I grab an email he sent to me, and hit reply, write him a very chipper message letting him know how proud and excited I am for him, how happy I am and that I am so glad because it feels like we are better friends than we’ve been in years, I’ve transferred money into his account to pay a bill, and I was wondering if he thought it might be time to go public with what was going on between us. After all, I’m on a boat full of strangers who’s opinions I could care less about, but he is home, living it every day with no one to talk to. “Anyway, give it a ponder.” I conclude with, “I love you and I can’t wait to talk to you again. Laurel.” Send.

“Message Sent”…

To my entire web ring. You see, I replied to what I thought was a message from my husband about his show since his email address appeared in the sender line. However, what I really replied to was an advertisement he sent out to all our friends asking them to come to Cinderella. Oh cr*p!! I quickly and vainly search the help center of hotmail looking for a retract button but I know it is a futile exercise. I’ve been down this road before. I start to sweat and look at the time. Ten minutes until I must return to work. I reread the email. Optimistic, friendly, loving…wow, so now my friends shall very likely think that we are pregnant. I suddenly flash to a vision of my welcome home dinner which thinly veils the surprise baby shower, images of my friends scanning my facebook photos looking for the tell-tale baby bump, speculating on our consception and my due date, fooled by the weight that has actually resulted not from nuptial bliss but rather from too many pastries abroad. I take a deep breath and dash off a quick “Hey guys disregard blah, blah, blah” message, knowing this fruitless task will only insight them to read more voraciously though at least they are less likely to issue a response. I look at the actual email address for my husband. Work…and it’s Saturday. G*d, he won’t even know about this until he gets to work Monday. I have to tell him, in case someone, any one of our friends who, though well intentioned, are often very thoughtless and shortsighted and would want to be the first to the finish line of friendship offering support, effectively blindsiding him. So I take my now remaining six minutes and email him, at home, explaining what has happened, apologizing profusely knowing this will go one of two ways. One, he will be really, truly and, let’s face it justifiably p*ssed, or two, he will, as I am now doing, laugh at my innocent and typical mistake. Perhaps you are thinking, “How could he laugh at that?” but you must remember there was no malice in my action and more importantly, he has known me a VERY long time. It is comic stupidity such as this that first attracted me to him. It’s the one constant in our relationship.

Anyway, I finish my email, now picturing fully the saga that is unfolding back home and thinking I need to do some creative image editing to my photo albums. I take another breath, maybe only my fourth in the last five minutes, wipe away the tears that have now formed at the ridges of my eyes not from sadness but from laughing at my own foibles, and remember a passage which just seems to resonate to this situation as well as to all aspects of my life. No, it’s not from the Bible. I thought you knew me better than that by now. No, it’s from the Rules of Improvisation as explained by Tina Fey in Bossypants. “Rule # 4. There are no mistakes…only opportunities.” Yes Tina, I have created an opportunity. A great big, huge pile of …opportunity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Day I Realized I Was a Racist

I was raised a happy, chipper, blue-eyed blonde haired porcelain skinned all American girl. Not remarkable in appearance but blissfully unaware of that fact; in my mind, I was amazing. I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood, surrounded by some pretty messed up friends thus rendering my whole home situation unexceptional. Everyone there was a new family, we were all around the same age, struggling to make the jump from lower to middle, then middle to upper middle class, 2.5 children, dog, picket fence, etc, etc. Except for the latchkey years and the dysfunction, violence and alcohol abuse, we were as Rockwell as you could get while living on crabs, microwave popcorn, grilled chicken, and mac and cheese. And I was especially proud of the fact that I lived in a “covenanted community.” That’s what the sign said. I think I didn’t really know the difference between covenanted and coveted but either way, I loved looking at the sign each time I passed by, just outside the volunteer fire station which held the yearly Christmas celebration and marked the starting point of the fourth of July Parade. We had only one church in the neighborhood which housed three different sects of Christianity on Sundays and held Saturday Sabbath. And being raised by two reformed hippies slash recovering lapsed Catholics I was a fairly open-minded child, though it wasn’t until middle school that I finally made note of the serious wash of white in my elementary school and finally understood that our one black (pre-African American) family was not actually surnamed “Token”. By high school, I had gone from pride to shame having finally discovered that “covenanted” translated to “no blacks, no Jews, no gays”, though it appears the Jewish population had made it completely under the radar and as I discovered in high school, I was the out queen for the gays. No, I never outed anyone; they just seemed to realize after dating me that they were gay, but I like to think it was just my comfort level and not actually my…um…abilities.. which made them ready to come out. I was more the star-crossed, “if only I was straight, you would be the one” gal. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but it still lacks the right physiology. Ironically, I found out at my own 10 year reunion that I too was on the gay-dar in high school. My best friend and I did the whole Romey and Michele thing because she was still single and my husband had a prior commitment. As we entered, arm in arm as we often were in high school, a girl we had known only peripherally timidly approached, assessed us for a brief moment and with a smile that grew like a flower blooming at the first rays of morning, said, “It’s so great to see you two are still together.” My friend was oblivious to the whole thing but I sensed the subtle overtones of comradery and with no real desire to shut her down said something innocuous like, “Well, sometimes things just work out.” Who cares, I wouldn’t see these people again until the 20 year and let’s face it, Hollywood has paved the way for the on again off again married, gay, straight, bi-lifestyle anyway.

Truth to tell, one of my first real fights with my mother was over a lesbian. When I was fifteen and a naïve, ok more so than now, freshman, not yet even in high school because ours was a three year, I worked at a Renaissance Festival. Now something to know about the renfests of old is that they were a huge hormone fest, rather a plethora of untapped sexual tension that my young, nubile self could neither comprehend nor handle. I didn’t know it at the time but there was an entire network of people enlisted to ensure my virginity stayed intact and had I ever looked back while traipsing the grounds I would likely have seen ninjas fall from the trees behind me. They did actually fail in their quest, but I’ve no regrets because that was the start of Mr. Darcy and we had some wicked times on that fairground! But I digress. One of the people most avidly involved in the shoring up of my innocence was a wonderful woman, and an extremely talented actress in her mid to late thirties; a teacher and as it turned out, a lesbian. She acted as my mentor that first year and a better instructor and friend I could not have asked for. But one day as I was regaling my mother with tales of her greatness, she caught wind of the fact that this woman, this muse to my unrefined talent liked women and my mother freaked out. It was the first time I had ever seen my mother discriminate against anyone and it cut me to the quick. I couldn’t wrap my head around it because she had always been an advocate for everyone, she worked in public housing, she worked in theater, she loved anyone who wasn’t an *sshole. But faced with the prospect that I was being mentored by a woman who loved women, she freaked. I realized she didn’t make a distinction between lesbian and child molester and I took issue. It was a very difficult time and for the first time, I saw my mother for the human that she was, fiercely defending her child, tilting at windmills. I was a child, not a woman and this woman was merely my friend; she had no interest in me. My mother said we couldn’t hang out together anymore and I said no. It was to be the first of only two times I really ever said no to her.

So my racist moment came a couple years later. I was performing regularly by now and was quite popular as a leader of the disenfranchised when it came into my head to take a trip to Romania. My then fiancé and I had attended a convention where they were promoting a Dracula tour through the Carpathians. Well, I was fully engulfed in my nerdom, having embraced my dorky side thus transforming it to cool and was carrying a full course load as a theater and English double major with a focus in performance and Victorian Literature. Yes, a clearer career path was never carved so deep. Anyway, without a doubt the epic adventure appealed to my Victorian aesthetic and the gothic geekout appealed to my husband’s. So after some creative budgeting and preplanning we booked the trip and flew to New York to meet the rest of the tour group which was comprised of twenty one adventurers and two tour guides, one US and one local. We arrived in New York, paperbacks and vampire teeth in hand and fairly floated to the counter, so excited we were to be going. And there we encountered the shock of a lifetime. Awaiting the arrival of our guide was the most mismatched band of miscreants; tattoos, piecings and enough manic panic to demand sponsorship. I clung to my companion and we began the discussion of whether we should use our spending money to book the flight home when a young man, blond, about our age approached, wide-eyed and fearful. “Are you here for the tour?” “Yes.” “Thank g*d, I think I’ll stay with you guys.” “Ok, who are you?” “I’m the tour guide.” Great, that bodes well!

Our tour ended up comprised of two distinct groups, the Goths & Punks and the Historians with the two of us strangely bridging the gap between. I was for a time freer than I had been in years, breaking into cemeteries, playing hide and seek with local kids in Dracula’s castle, eating some amazing and some amazingly bad food, and really letting out my dark side. It was the first time he ever saw who I really am and what he saw he didn’t like. By the end of the trip he regarded me as some kind of nymphomaniacal kleptomaniac. It was the last time I would ever let him see that side of me, the side that bridged the gap between Punks, Goths, Historians and a sweet, blond Jew from Connecticut. It was also the side that realized she had judged a group of people solely on appearance and was ashamed. Because in the end, they were just people; some lovely, some jerks. And me, the siren muse of the ostracized, I had prejudged and nearly fled. I was no better than my mother. I was..human. It was a life lesson that discrimination wears many faces, some more accepted than others but none truly acceptable.

My Discount Day

I have one very good, very lifelong friend on board, who has I fear been growing weary of the woe-be-gone me that has returned to this ship. I can’t blame him; I’ve grown weary as well. But because he is my friend, he is giving me a few free passes which I am gratefully accepting because I don’t generally know what else to do. I’ve never been in such a state and I never expected for my world to be so completely turned upside down but I think sometimes you just hit a saturation point of how much loss you can handle in any given time and I did and it changed me. But today was a day to let those things go. It was not a romantic day hanging with myself, which is good because I really wasn’t ready for a romantic day to myself anyway. What I was ready for was a non-romantic day with my dear friend. So off we went, two peas in a pod of sublime ridiculousness. You see, he is one of the people who I know I am blessed to have found, another likeminded soul who finds adventure in the everyday though our everyday currently resides on the ocean so it is perhaps not as mundane as could otherwise be. He is indeed one of my most treasured friends.

Now our port of call is known for a few things. First is the cable car ride which I was up for but he was not being that his fondness of heights rather resembles a day in the pits of hell at the cost of eighteen euro a piece, second is the basket ride where you travel down a huge hill pushed in a basket by men in silly hats rather like a toboggan sans the snow, ice and toboggan, which he was up for and I was not, not because I was afraid but rather because I am cheap! So we compromised and skipped them both for a negotiated narrated taxi ride around the island during which we would stop at the various locations to take pictures of ourselves doing the things we refused to spend money to do. Our cable car was a swing set we happened up and our basket ride a wooden crate we pinched off a pier, building the stories in our minds that we would later retell of the “discount” tour we had happened upon. I laughed until my face hurt and I was again for a time my old familiar self; scratch that, my young familiar self. I suppose it is all about the people around us and the adventures we discover, not the things we leave behind. The past shapes the present, the present sets the stage for the future. We just have to leave ourselves open for a future of opportunities, not regrets. Perhaps I will be ready for a romantic date with myself sometime sooner rather than later but for now, I’m just giving myself permission to live in the moment and let things go.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Misadventure to Miss Adventure

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything since Malta. I am so behind because I am slammed right now and trying to fit in any number of adventures while still not getting fired or collapsing from exhaustion. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, which has led to a series of unfortunate but somehow grounding setbacks of late. The first of course was the realization about my camera. The second, the loss of my ID card and the third, was the morning I woke to the buzzing of my phone when my supervisor called me because I had turned off my alarm by mistake and was now thirty four minutes late for work. Can’t claim traffic, I’m on a ship. So I dress in a record six minutes, including makeup and hair, and rush upstairs but in my haste, I am so frazzled I make rather a mess of the entire morning. I had to comp to everything and confess to my manager, make apologies all around and of course there is the punishment to be had. The problem is at this point it is a punishment because I was late. I didn’t make some mistake I can learn from or grow from or make better next time other than adding a second alarm as a backup. At least, that’s what I thought. But something really strange happened. I went in to talk to my supervisor, and asked what next I should do. His response? “Process it, compartmentalize it, learn what you can from it and then let it go.” Really, my manager said this? Now, my usual response would be to analyze it, beat myself up about it, get depressed and defeated by it and make myself generally miserable and crazy while I mourned the thing that I had done that I could not undo. So, in short, a rather typical female response. Sorry ladies, but you know it’s true. But instead, I took what he said to heart and decided to let it go. I just didn’t fret. And it was much easier than I thought it would be. Maybe that’s what Heath and so many others in my life have been trying to tell me. I can’t change what has come to pass and in some cases, I can’t even learn from it. I can only move on; something that doesn’t come easily to me, so I have never understood why it comes so easily to others. I always thought it was because I must not be worth holding onto. But maybe it really is because nothing changes when you hold on, except your own level of misery, which seems to become greater the longer and tighter you draw that fist. It’s weird that I needed to hear my supervisor say the words, to have his permission to let it go. Ironically I realized that every breakup was really just permission to move on whether I chose to accept it or not. Not always the most pleasant of permission or dressed in the most beautiful finery but an opportunity none the less. The choice to end it may not have been mine, but the way I felt about it, how hard I fought against it, and how miserable I made myself and how I responded was. So, now it is time to give myself permission NOT to mourn and suffer and to not create my own punishment. There is no merit in it. It will not change the past…it may only taint the memory of it. I may have actually changed the past to something bad and regrettable because of my need to hold onto it. I hope that with time the memories will as they so often do, filter into only the good, for everyone, not just for me. Who knew that I would gain so much from my fouled alarm.

The greatest irony in all this was in looking realistically at what happened, the actual event was an hour of my life. Not a horrible year, not a terrible month, not an impossible day but one lousy hour. From there, it was up to me how far-reaching the impact would be. I noticed my posture had changed, my facial expression had changed; everything had changed because I started to let that one stupid hour get to me. And guess what? I’ve been doing it for months, letting something short-term and small effect every other aspect of my life. Ok, not everything is small and compares, but the analogy is accurate and in some small way, it makes me feel better about everything that has transpired, good and bad. Maybe I’m off base but since I’m alone, who cares. The idea that it wasn’t worth fighting and making things worse, well, it makes me feel better. And feeling better is my new goal. Better, best, amazing!!! I suppose in the end, it’s about judging when the fight is more detrimental than the resignation and about keeping an open heart to the world, even to those who may not know or care that they still hold a residence there. If my alarm hadn't been silenced, this siren song may never have sounded.

Ironically, as I sit in a café in Villefranche writing this, there is a slow melancholy version of Sexual Healing playing quietly,plaintive and serene in the background. Funny and somehow appropo.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


What an amazing day! I don’t know how these things happen, how one day you just feel ok and everything aligns to aid you, but today was one of those days. It didn’t seem like it would be, though when first I looked out the portholes at that beautiful walled city, my heart skipped a beat, but upon getting to work I discovered nothing was ready and upon returning from work, I discovered my camera was missing…that’s ok, I think it was turned into guest services…and offloaded in Barcelona! Oh noes!!! Don’t panic, they assure me it is in a box in a warehouse in a storage area in an undisclosed location in the city, waiting for me to send the specs via email. No need to worry! Boy do I wish right now I could remember the make and model of that camera. Oh well, I’ll have to send an email to my husband and ask; not going to be able to hide this one. So what to do? I know, I’ll use my camera phone. Ahh, pretty pictures….which have to be emailed…from Europe! Nope, that won’t work either. But wait, I have an I-Pod. It doesn’t currently do anything but I have one. So with great determination, I locate a WIFI sight, plug my I-Pod into my computer…and nothing happens. I try again. Nothing. One last time, like Clark Griswold, lighting the good ol’ family Christmas, I try a third and final time. Suddenly as if by magic, my screen comes alive with activity and a little camera icon appears in the upper right hand corner. Success!!

Now I am sitting at an outdoor café and all I want is a cappuccino but I can’t use my debit card for less than 10 euro. I start to leave, slightly defeated but turn back and ask, “How much IS a cappuccino?” “One euro fifty.” And low and behold, I have in my pouch a one euro and a fifty cent piece. It is meant to be.

After a time of catching up and enjoying the act of sitting, leisurely drinking my cappuccino I decide to head out on my sojourn, armed with my new I-Pod camera and a renewed sense of wonder. Pictures cannot capture nor can words describe the beauty of this land, nor the supreme joy I experience treading upon these sun bleached streets of marble and stone. I felt as though I was floating rather than walking and the smile on my face might have bordered on grotesque so permanently plastered there was it, yet never anything but genuine.

I let myself wander, taking in the sights, sounds and scents around me, meeting the people who are as warm and friendly as the land they inhabit. I let myself get lost down side streets and alleyways confident not only that I would find my way back, but that around each corner some new adventure lay waiting for my arrival, another new acquaintance waiting to be met. I play in a fountain and find a shop full of delicious goodies. Pointing out one in particular, I ask, what is that? “Cheese Puff”. No ordinary cheese puff but a light, flaky pastry filled with ambrosic, unpasteurized, unspoiled dairy manna. “How much?” “Forty cents.” There are two unidentified coins in the bottom of my pouch. I turn them over to discover they are in fact two twenty cent pieces. What, you can’t be serious? “One cheese puff please.” “Heated?” Oh, you betcha! I see the most delightful sights and one of my favorite signs of all times. At a museum, one of the exhibits is closed and a handwritten sign in English states, “We excuse ourselves for the inconvenience.” Lost in translation or just honest and efficient? You decide.

In my final hour before I had to return, I met an older gentleman, a local bus driver, who asked me about America and chatted on about his country. I bid him farewell, jokingly remarking that I’d see him again in eleven days when my ship is due to return to this delightful port and he assured me he would look for me. As I left, I turned back quickly and asked for his name.


Hmmm, interesting. Perhaps, in a day of signs and “meant to be”s it is a sign the time is nigh to put the “I” in my own salvation.

Back on Track...Kinda!

I am currently rotating between Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day (of which I visit maybe twice a week), reruns of 30 Rock, a book given to me by an ex-which makes me both sad and nostalgic but is, independent of my past, quite enjoyable and a self hypnosis positivity CD. I adopted a policy of “fake it ‘til you make it,” trying to trick myself into feeling happy and relaxed by wearing the joy physically in my body until my mind gets on board. It’s an acting trick that works for very emotional scenes so I’m taking it for a spin in real life; putting my training to use in the “real world”, as it were. I can’t stand Debbie-Downer mopey me and I’m starting to get on my own nerves. The transatlantic crossing was very demoralizing but I’ve decided instead of giving notice I’m going to refocus on my work and see if I can move ahead. If not, I’ll leave but for now, I’m setting new goals that don’t have to do with home or men or children or even necessarily reality. No reason to dream small, right? Now that I know I can reach home when I need to, I don’t need to so much. And the stress and urgency of my life is starting to lessen. I’m also starting to question how committed I was to making the long distance thing work if I wasn’t even willing to spend the money on the means to keep up contact. It is tough knowing that I have this huge hurdle to overcome when I get home but it will be there whether I go home now or at the end of the summer and in the meantime, if I progress professionally, it won’t feel so much like my life is on pause, even if it is, or that this job was a huge mistake, even if it was.

In a cruel twist of fate I’ve developed a mean case of reflux just in time for the Mediterranean which I’m currently combating with a steady diet of bread, Maalox, some tablets from Spain as yet undefined and more water than any human should stomach in a day but I am hoping to stave off the ill effects long enough to be able to indulge in a few Tuscan lunches even if my morning and evening meals resemble Alcatraz.

Under the Tuscan Sun is playing on the crew TV but I’ve yet to catch it and I’m afraid it may hit too close to home. I need to maintain my positive mind frame, each time stretching longer and longer until I spend more time happy than sad or morose. In the interim, a steady stream of self-affirmations has become my mainstay mental supplement; vitamins B, C, D and “I’m a rock star not meant for the mundane,” a bowl of Wheaties and eight glasses of water.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tempestuous Mistress

So this is a very brief post because instead of spending the day out in Gilbraltar, which I have admittedly been to before, I spent the day in bed catching up on a pretty serious sleep deficit. But at 1:45 pm I made myself rise and head out the door to enjoy lunch and sunshine for but a brief hour before heading back to work. And boy am I glad I did. I step off the boat, out of the terminal and immediately am witness to the following exchange. A very nervous tourist fresh from one of the other ships walks timidly up to a stranger returning to the port and asks meekly, "excuse me, do you speak English?" Um,we're in Gilbraltar. Thank you universe, sometimes it is worth getting out of bed.

Enjoying some delightful lamb tapas and contemplating the Mission for Seafarers I passed upon approach. "Open to all with special services for Seafarers." I had never thought about it before but I am, for all intents and purposes, a Seafarer, at least for the time being. No, I'm no fisherman and I'm not running freight, I'm not risking my life for the love of that tempetuous mistress the sea. Instead I'm playing with plastic fish and running trivia on a big floating city center but I think I still apply. And I grew up around the sea-creeks, streams, lakes, bays and oceans which actually seems a bit unique among the shipboard crew. Anyway, I just got me to thinking how much my life has changed and yet come a little full circle. Currently the husband and I are exchanging emails with a far kinder and more loving tone than my first contract because I just couldn't take it anymore that everything sucks. So since my life is in a holding pattern anyway, no need to edge ever closer to the precipice of meanness. Instead, we speak in tones which indidcate an attempt at reconcilation which I know we shall not actually make but it is better than the alternative. Living off the grid again but at least we are being honest about it. I just want to be kind as long as it doesn't create a false sense of reality which will just cause more pain in the end. But maybe that's life. A series of exchanges which stave off pain until the threat is past. I hate to say it, but that's really what I need right now; to stave off pain.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Land Ho

Well, we survived the Rapture and at last made landfall and not a moment too soon. I am so grateful right now that I do have some wonderful people around me, one of whom happens to be a long-time friend from before my shipboard days. He, another friend and I all headed out and had a delightfully fun-filled day ashore doing relatively nothing. Taxi tour and taking really silly stupid pictures and suddenly, I was me again. Yes, I’ve a long way to go, but for a few hours, I wasn’t just someone who screwed up her life again. I was happy tooling around the world with friends, being silly and stupid and not caring what anyone else thought. And for a moment, I had once again touched my inner awesome. I didn’t have time to write. I was too busy doing. I need more of that. No more thinking. It does me no good anyway.

I have decided to stop calling myself a dirty ho and adopted the nomenclature Land Ho. No, not really; truthfully I'm back to practicing saying only nice things to myself about myself and have taken up a casual policy of leaving little love notes for myself. But I still do want to be a Land Ho for Halloween!

Day Five Without a Net

Day four sea day and day five of no internet or phone access is really starting to take a toll on the morale of the crew. Yes, we know we are at sea and internet it always tricky but as it is, we are all walking around decks like a bunch of zombies in a permanent altered state and feeling completely disconnected from anything familiar is depressing. I see it in myself, though I have been so depressed lately it doesn’t feel that different but my coworkers are short and cranky and very brash with each other, rather to the point that I am starting to take issue with it, despite the fact that I know I’ve been nothing but a pain in the ass since I came on board. I really just want to go home at this point which in a way is freeing because I’m rather fearless about everything now. I’m not rude with the guests or crew but I’m also not worried that if I make a mistake, they’ll send me home. It’s rather liberating. I am taking time out of each hour and each event to just breath and focus on opening my heart again, and releasing all the darkness and poison currently residing there, the aftermath of which is making me slightly woozy and a little nauseous, rather like the lingering effects of a really good deep tissue massage. Note to self: must remember to drink more water. I’m waffling between running on deck four and napping. Yesterday the nap won out and I missed seeing humpback whales by about 20 minutes but I’m kind of delirious and working until midnight so I think a nap might be in order again. Though running has a tendency to rejuvenate and free my mind as well when I’m this tired, sometimes I just end up crying. Perhaps that will be a challenge for tomorrow when we don’t have another time change. More and more, I realize I don’t really want to come back. Though there are infinite opportunities for me here, I don’t think a life at sea is for me. I like being able to see my friends and talk to my family and though they tell you that the crew are your family and friends now, I kind of learned the hard way my first contract that that is not really the case. Relationships of any kind are fleeting on a ship; you grow close to a person, take him or her into your confidence, your inner sanctum and then the contract is over, that person leaves and you swear to stay in touch and never do. It isn’t that different landbound and in theater, but at least there, you can be a little more selective about choosing realistically. I mean, am I really going to stay in contact with my friends from the band when they return to England or that shore excursions girl who goes back to Denmark or the guest services rep from South Africa? No, probably not. Our circles are too small and I have always preferred it that way. I don’t like letting people in and when I do, I need to know there is a reason and that they will be a good steward of my confidence. And I don’t want to be responsible to other people if it is just too hard. I suppose that is selfish, but I think perhaps it is also self-preserving. I only have so much to give and sometimes, I have to be sparing with it.

Calm Blue Ocean

We are halfway to Madeira, the sea is a glass table with an impossibly beautiful view to the horizon; we’ve spotted humpback whales, sea turtles, and birds and it couldn’t be more lovely. So why can’t I just be happy? Heartbreak sucks. The current theory from my friends, male of course and by vast majority gay, that’s my comfort zone, is that the universe and my mother are working together to strip away all the ties I have accumulated over the years to hold me down and hold me back. My gays include Heath in the mix though I didn’t view him as a distraction. I saw him as a new path, though I think my fear was that he was another distraction and therefore I sabotaged it all. Boy do I wish I had a time machine, a recall button (for my email) and well, while I’m wishing, I’d also like a puppy.

But wishing isn’t going to change the past, the present or the future. I can only act and hope that things will work out as they should. I just hope they work out with me being happy and at some point, maybe not alone. For now though, I suppose I shall just have to muscle through until things start to feel better.

So I was staring out at the beautiful, calm blue ocean (not a cliché, it really has been a calm blue ocean) and thinking that I really needed my mom. I kept wishing she would come, would give me a sign that she could hear me, that she understood and that everything was going to be alright…and I saw dolphins, three dolphins. They weren’t breaching or dancing or signing autographs but they were there and that was enough. I stood at that window for thirty minutes willing my heart to open, willing it to unravel and release all the hurt and shame and pain of the past few months. Willing it to start to heal and forgive from the inside out. And I felt…something. It wasn’t a voice from beyond or some bright light of knowledge, but warmth and a loosening of all that tightness in my chest; deep breaths that filled my lungs and cleared my head, a softening of the crinkles which have taken residence on my forehead.

I don’t know why this is so much harder than before. You know, I was with Mr. Darcy for ten years and yes, it took a year to get over him, but it was still different. I saw all the signs, I knew where it was going and in the end, though it hurt like a b*tch, I knew it was over, definitively and there was a part of me that was relieved. And with my husband, it was similar. I knew our marriage was not really salvageable in its current state and I was just biding my time asking for a divorce so that it wouldn’t be ugly or awful and though I am scared and sad, I’m also still cautiously optimistic at the possibilities that lay before me. But with Heath, everything just feels wrong. You know how sometimes you have someone in your life where it feels like things aren’t done or they resolved themselves wrong, well, that’s how it feels. And maybe it is just wishful thinking but it just feels wrong trying to move on when I’ve no desire to and when I already know I’ll spend the next part of my life wondering what could have been. I have to trust that what is meant to be will be so I’m focusing a little on happy memories until I can make some new ones.


Worry, this is slightly out of order but I forgot this one. I left early Saturday morning to get the few things I needed before heading overseas. I ran a few errands in the morning before heading back to the ship and by the time I returned I was already running late and nearly forgot to leave my key for the person who will be driving my car while I’m gone so I bolted back to the ship, noticing an excessive amount of bugs in the air. These flying nemeses I later learned are called Love bugs, little lightning bug-looking things that fly around in pairs, mate for two weeks and die. So I quickly changed into my work uniform and headed upstairs to discover that we had been invaded. These little suckers were everywhere, all the way up the gangway. In fact we had to close two decks and postpone a deck party. Sweaty guests who’d mortgaged their homes and saved for years to be part of this once in a lifetime transatlantic passage arrived flustered and angry, swatting at the air and we had to hold back our revulsion and (ok, my inappropriate amusement) because several guests still had the interloping fornicators crawling across their faces. One guest actually attacked me and started hitting me shouting, “they’re all over you, they’re all over you, they’re on your neck.” Please stop hitting me!

As we were still debating how we were going to sing without swallowing at the sail-away and the proper usage of streamers as flyswatters, the skies grew dark and the waters began to swirl and foam. We were overtaken with a storm that drove the bugs southward to the ground where they continued their gruesome love dance as they drowned in a mass insect orgy. I told our security staff if the waters turned red and started to boil, I was heading down the gangway. I offered to set an impromptu confessional…you know…just in case anyone had anything he needed to get off his chest. No wonder we had so few children…tradition dictates the slaying of the firstborn male so…and of course, we were approaching the Rapture.

But of course, all this happened before the coast guard required outdoor guest drill. I have never been so happy to be in the interior auxilliary overflow area. Who has two thumbs and is thrilled for the inconvenient indoor space? This girl! I didn’t know it at the time but I learned we did have a third plague of brush fires in the parking area.

The Dream

So I had just the loveliest day yesterday and went to bed, very tired, slept through the whole night and woke up in the best mood after a beautiful, sensual dream, still warm and happy feeling his arms around me, his breath still on my neck, his skin against mine and…it was just a dream, I was alone and he wasn’t coming back. Why is my subconscious plotting against me? My current theory is that my subconscious and my GPS are conspiring together. You know how she has it in for me and GPS is satellite so they’ve no trouble staying connected, unlike me and my struggling ocean bound internet connection. It made me question whether I’m really getting over this and moving on or whether I really have made a huge mistake in not just going for it when I had the chance. Please tell me that this will not be my life’s regret forever. I have imprinted on him in a way I didn’t think was possible. And it sucks. Is it wrong to enjoy the dream? To indulge a bit in the memory, is that just picking at the wound forcing it open; not letting it heal?

So how do you change the filter? My first time onboard, I was so happy, after a time, knowing that I was having an amazing once in a lifetime experience that I was then going to take home to another once in a lifetime experience. I know intellectually that there are infinite combinations of completely suitable partnerships and that partnership is not even necessary for happiness and that quite frankly romantic love is irrational and monogamy goes against the natural order. These are arguments I made to Heath early on which he later parroted back to me when things went south. So why is it my heart says, no Laurel, you’ve made a mistake. A mistake you need to work to rectify. And is it possible? As Heath said, a relationship will never move forward if only one person wants it. How is it so possible for him to so completely have moved on and yet I am still in love with him? Am I forgettable, pathetic, just not worthwhile or am I, as he first teased, truly nothing but a dirty ho? Is the universe just cruel? I have to stop drawing inpriation from movies like "The Holiday" and "Chocolat". I mean, Kate Winslett is brilliant and all, but if I hadn’t assumed my love was unrequited, would it have been in the end? And will I have to spend my life wondering what could have been? When does pain end? How do we speed up the process so it feels manageable? And is it possible truly to stay friends with an ex-love? I have to stop living my life like I’m in a movie or some terrible Victorian novel, seeking out the most painful outcome possible. Or if I’m in a movie, can it have a happy ending?

And then there is my poor husband, whom I have fallen so far out of love with, and who has fallen so far out of love with me, yet we both question if there really is anything better out there. Maybe it’s just better to settle for the devil you know, being that we are good friends, fantastic roommates, great travel companions. Maybe that’s enough since love seems fleeting and tempestuous anyway. The man I love is gone, why look for another? Yet, being on this ship, surrounded by newlyweds, new families and octogenarian couples who youthen in front of you when they hold hands and smile at one another; who push eachother around in wheelchairs and assist eachother in their hardships, it seems impossible to think that it is all so unattainable. Maybe that is the dream, to be so happy with another that a hardship, a burden, a sacrifice seems fleeting and meaningless in the face of the joy you share together. I have one couple whom I have truly grown found of and look forward to seeing each night, he's in a wheelchair and she aids him nightly with a smile that would light up an eclipse. I mentioned to her one night how great her smile was and she said, "we're just happy to be here. I mean, still here." G*d I long to find that solace, to be happy just be happy to still be here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No More Crazy B*tches!!

So just to warn you, now that I don’t have regular internet access, these posts will be grouped together, but understand time has passed between them. That is important.

So time moves in mysterious ways on the ship, a good week can feel like a day, a bad week can feel like a year. Yesterday I spent the day in mourning, longing for someone to hold me and comfort me and let me be vulnerable, and then last night when I said it out loud, I realized I didn’t need it anymore. I am a very capable woman who has been far too self indulgent of late and I am just getting really annoyed with myself. I got a wake up call from a dear (and very blunt) friend of mine last night who said that I am not a girly girl and that I am starting to get on his nerves because my self-doubt is entirely unfounded especially on the cusp of one of the coolest experiences of my life. I have been feeling bad and responsible for everyone of late and really indulging in the crazy but I know this crazy is not me, so I’m just going to let it go and stop feeling bad about not feeling bad. Time for an attitude adjustment…again. I even talked to my husband today and asked him if he was ok with my just letting this go for a while and not feeling bad anymore. His response? “Yes, please.” Why is it so hard to just move on? I guess I felt like with as many mistakes as I have made, I shouldn’t just be able to walk away but, what’s done is done and I can’t change it. I can only learn from it and strangely enough, the people who have been directedly affected by my rabid swath of destruction all just want me to move on and be happy because, despite my best efforts to be a horror, they all still appear to love me, and perhaps, after a time, even still like me. So, time to love and like myself. Time to find the fun again and laugh at my foibles. Au Revior, Mon Ami. Mark this day. Today starts a new life for Ms Laurel Spears. No more feeling bad, or holding tight to what has already past. No more crying in electrical closets. I'm free! I'm forgiving myself and moving on. And now I'm going to the Med(iterranean).

Day One Without a Net

So today was a rough one. I feel awful because I keep lashing out, making the same painful error as before. I seek approval from those who would withhold it, and I lambast the ones who would until they can’t even remember what they liked about me in the first place. I have of late been equally hard on both myself and Heath who has entirely moved on despite my desires to the contrary. And somehow, I seem to think if I just keep pushing and prodding and denigrating that somehow he will come to his senses and realize what a prize I am!! G*d, what is wrong with me? And in the meantime, I am trying to find the fun again. I have taken up Spanish and am reinstructing myself on juggling and belly dancing and finally after seven weeks recovery I am able to run again. One more breakup and I’ll be able to start my own circus school.

Here’s the sad thing I’ve realized in retrospect. When I went home, what I really wanted more than anything was for Heath to hold me and stroke my hair and tell me that everything was going to be ok. And I didn’t want to tell him because I wanted to respect his wishes and I was conflicted about my own feelings and I didn’t want him to see me weak. So instead I let him see me crazy. Really, really crazy! Not really better. I have gone from my first shipboard experience feeling happy and secure and for the first time in my life, beautiful, looking forward to starting a new life, to spending these first few weeks crying in the middle of sail away parties and hiding in electrical closets, racked with supreme blind terror that not only have I no idea how to be alone or even happy, but that I have ruined three lives with my indecisiveness, over analysis and misguided caution. I think maybe I was so worried about losing myself in another man and making sacrifices that it never occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t making a sacrifice at all. Maybe it’s ok to change directions if you are heading towards something better. I have made so many sacrifices over the years because what I wanted and who I actually was didn’t align with what my partner wanted. But here’s the great irony; this time, it didn’t feel like a sacrifice. I was ready to just walk away from this if Heath had asked me and because he loved me, he didn’t ask. Holy cr*p, maybe that’s what love really is. It’s making compromises not sacrifices because ultimately the reward is so much greater than the loss. Boy do I wish I had understood that before. And maybe, it jsut was what it was, a moment in time we both needed. And it's ok that it wasn't more than that, because that was still a lot. I think somehow I thought if it wasn't forever, it wasn't real. I don’t know if there will ever be another beautiful Demon in my future. There will be others but I’ve now had three great loves in my life; each unique and each I think perhaps an improvement and compliment to the previous, I don’t know if you can really ask for another. Now if I can learn to love myself again, perhaps I will have a chance in the future of finally getting it right if I ever meet someone who wants only me. For now though, I need to change focus.

You know, people say to me all the time, “I wish I was like you.” Or “I want to be you when I grow up.” But you know why people want to be me? Because they aren’t…and they shouldn’t be. People envy me because they see what they want and they see a better sense of themselves reflected back but they haven’t experienced what it is to be a muse. People think I’m funny and interesting, cool and most of all, untouchable. But the truth is, it’s lonely and kind of pathetic unless I can share it with someone else. They don’t understand, what I want is what they already have. I want love and babies and holding hands in public and I want to find a musician who just wants to sing stupid love songs with me and cabaret around the country in little dives while our four year old sits playing in the back with the babysitter and we laugh at all the little foibles in the world because we notice them even if no one else does. Ok, maybe that’s not exactly the American dream, but it’s a close proximity. And it’s what I want. I thought that was going to be my life with my husband. Now I don’t know what to think. He would reconcile if I would agree but my g*d, I am so tired of living a lie and we both deserve better. I don’t want the double and triple and quadruple life anymore. If I’m in love, I want the world to know, and if I can’t have that kind of love, then I suppose I’d rather be alone and just love, wait, that came out wrong. Though I gotta say, right now, alone sucks an awful lot.

Right now, I’m just white knuckling my way through my life and trying desperately to find my sense of humor again because that has carried me through so many times before while not wearing out my friends. I have become a drama queen, something I can’t abide in others and something that doesn’t actually sit well with me either; it’s not who I am but I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the effort of trying to stave off the fear. I thought maybe just embracing the crazy for a bit would be helpful-it was something new to try but it isn’t for me. And for the second time since my mother died, I don’t know what to do and I can’t ask for her help. I’m out of resources and I’ve depleted my reserve. I don’t know how much deeper I can dig before I hit China. And now, back to work. Smiles, everyone, smiles!