Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Sophomore and The Precipice

In an average tarot deck, there is always one card that is marked as Zero, also known in most decks as “The Fool.” Here’s the deal with the fool, he’s often pictured like he’s about ready to step off of a precipice.

According to Wikipedia: When The Fool appears in a spread, he is a signal to strip down to the irreducible core, and interrogate whether the Querant’s self-vision is obscured. It may also be a warning that significant change is coming. Another interpretation of the card is that of taking action where the circumstances are unknown, confronting one’s fears, taking risks, and so on.

Now, as we know, “Sophomore” in Greek means “wise fool.” Two years and almost 200 posts later, here I am, ever the fool, about to step off of the precipice.

You may ask, “Why do you think that Sheri?” Well, to be honest, change is coming whether I like it or not. Over the last four months, I’ve made an incredible journey discovering the sunlight that has enabled me to grow again. It’s been a long path, full of ups and downs, lots of Kleenex, lots of little meltdowns and lots of breaking through the barriers that have held me back for a long time.

Now we get to the point about the precipice. As most of you have been reading over the last two years, well, I’ve not wanted to date. I’ve not really wanted to be around a man for any reason and I guess the hard truth is that I’ve been really afraid. Like Doc Cat has told me so many times, the reason I get stuck on stuff is because I fear how I will react to things, therefore I don’t deal with them which leads to anxiety. I’m always afraid I’ll react badly to a situation and hurt someone, or worse, I’ll end up hurt. Given the number of years I’ve been hurting, to actually face it and make the critical step of trusting myself enough to take a risk is daunting at best.

Ok, hold onto yourself, here’s the step off of the precipice…

I think I’m finally ready to start dating.

And that’s followed by the sound a death wail from a person that just fell off a cliff and plummeted to their death.

Behind me on the DVD player, Eat Pray Love is playing. It just passed the part where the Balinese woman looks at Julia Robert’s character and says, “You’ve not had sex for a long time.” At hearing that I looked up and hollered out a crass variant of “no kidding.” But, that’s the thing, sex and sexuality have been my core issue that’s given me such trouble over the years. I won’t bother relating the horrible experiences of my past, it’s not worth it. I’ve taken it for a spin, I’ve looked at it, examined it and truth told, tried to just put all of the judgments of others behind me. I have to deal with what I’ve done, what I’ve not done and all of the things I’ve had a hand in because that’s mine to own. The rest? Well, that’s someone else’s baggage to carry and I’m definitely not an emotional baggage bellhop.

Now, you may ask, “So why did you talk about sex first?” Well, because you have to be secure in your mind, body and spirit to even begin to attempt to date and try to create a healthy relationship. You have to be secure in your sexuality and desirability before you can even begin to think about dating. Am I pretty enough? How do I look? Will someone else find me appealing? And the questions keep going round and round in your head and you can either go one of two directions…you either look in the mirror, accept what you see and decide to be daring and take a risk, or you can shut down, shut yourself off from the world and give up.

After I posted 723, where I asked myself if I was just lying to myself about wanting to be around a man, I realized that I had become afraid of love. Me? Afraid of love? The woman who spouts every two minutes that “love is the only truth that’s worth sharing every day” afraid of love? Well, yeah. Considering that my history of romantic relationships is aptly symbolized by a huge trail of emotional wreckage, I think I have a right to be terrified of it. Nothing is worse than the feeling of your heart breaking. Admit it, remember the last time you got stomped into oblivion by a relationship going south…were you really ready to jump into your next relationship with both feet without the slightest bit of hesitation? Probably not.

But, here I am, after 730 days of being alone and I’m thinking about dating again. I must be crazy. For those of you who are perplexed by my usage of the “730 days” consider this, I’m an addict, we mark the successful passage of time being clean in days and years. It’s our way of reminding ourselves how far we’ve come. Considering I’m 11 years into sobriety with only a few hiccups along the way, yeah, I’ll convert those 730 days into years eventually. However, what those 730 days tell me is that I’ve successfully lived on my own and flourished.

A few months ago, my pal Raj told me that I needed to get out and date for the simple reason that I needed to learn how to be around real people again. I told Raj that I had plenty of people around me, my friends, my family, my online family…well, he stopped me in the middle of my self-justification for fearing love, he just said, “Sheri, you need something to love that will love you back. What about getting a dog?” At that point I started laughing because well, I’m allergic to animal dander, my world tends to crumble at the slightest tremor and I’m in no mood to clean up dog messes. Besides, my apartment complex doesn’t allow dogs and I’m just not a dog person. Then Raj suggested a cat and I laughed saying, “Raj, cats don’t need anyone…it would just sit and look at me as if to ask, ‘What’s wrong with you?'” So a big ‘no’ to getting a pet. Besides, I really don’t want a pet, not even a goldfish. However, with that, I’ve also cut myself off from love again.

A couple of nights ago, I was laying in bed with my books and my 34-year-old Teddy Bear and I turned and looked at Teddy and said, “I wish you were a real guy. You’ve seen how I’ve hurt, you’ve seen everything that’s happened to me, why can’t you be real so I could have a chance to live happily ever after with someone who I want to be with.” But that’s the thing, I want to make sure that dating is a choice I consciously make, not one arbitrarily decided upon out of loneliness or desperation.

I’m often teased by people who read my writing and later tell me that they’ve had to break out a dictionary to get the definition of some of the words I use. Well, the other day, I was reading an e-mail from someone I met a few weeks ago, and well, I had to look up one of the words that he wrote (which that e-mail included an invitation to go for coffee). I looked at it and said, “It’s a sign.” Then, I sat back for a while and pondered the reasons why I’ve not been dating, asked myself why I was waiting for KP, a guy who it seems has so much life in the way that well, I’m not even a speck on the map. He’s a great friend and all, and I do love him dearly, but there comes a point where you have to ask yourself how long you’re going to sit on the bench instead of putting yourself in the game. I think there was a good reason I hid behind KP for so long. He was there at ground zero and he picked me up when I was down, he taught me how to build a bridge and get over things when I didn’t think it was possible. Some days he’s literally had to give me a verbal kick in the pants to get that one foot put in front of me so I could follow it with the other and keep moving forward. To be frank, he’s the reason I’ve gotten as far as I have in the last two years. But, at 2500 miles away, what are the odds he was ever going to pick me up to go see a movie? What’s the worst he could have done to me? Aggravate me? Make me laugh? Have me in a perpetual state of pining? Again, I think the distance was my way of hiding from the fact that I was really afraid of love, that I wasn’t ready to go out on a date with a real person. I’m grateful for KP. He was there when the world fell down and has been a constant source of support, but when it comes down to it, the odds that I’ll ever meet the guy in the flesh are about a million to one. I can’t blame him. He’s not a millionaire, and it’s not like I can jump on a plane for Hawaii either, so it’s an impasse, a stalemate. It’s one of those things you wish you could have taken out for a spin, but life just didn’t want to cooperate. Then again, you never know if he’ll someday have the impetus to actually get here just to give me a hug and say “hi.” Meanwhile instead of guessing and leaving my fate to someone else, I’ve decided to take a risk.

But then again, I’ve not even been asked out yet except for an obscure non-committal invitation for a cup of coffee. The risk I’m taking is considering saying yes if I ever do get asked out on an actual date, not just for a cup of coffee.

You’ll have to admit, that’s a pretty big risk for me to take. It’s a part (thank you Doc Cat) of being self-authored, having a life plan and executing it. Let’s cut to the chase. I know I’ll be okay if I’m alone. I have no issue with it. What I’d like is someone to see a movie with, to sit and have dinner filled with wonderful conversation, who wants to be around me because they find me pretty and charming, not because of some other ulterior motive.

I’ve definitely decided if I do start dating, I want to make sure it’s a slow and steady process. No big moves, just the natural evolution of a relationship over time without pressure or expectation. When I was young and dumb (wait, when did I grow up?) I was under this screwed up notion that you HAD to get married, that it was the whole point of entering a relationship. OMG, how wrong is that? The point of a relationship is not to reach an end goal. Dating and entering into a relationship is about the time you spend sharing real life experiences with another human being.  It’s the memories you make (not all of them will be good, we have to accept that sometimes there will be bad ones) with a person who you find as an equal, as a friend and as a trusted confidant. It wouldn’t hurt at all if he were taller than me (not by much though) and gave me a run for my vocabulary’s money. Someone who respected being well-written and my need to keep posting my adventures in my blog, who accepted me as the technophile who loves video games but wants someone nearby to play video games with or against. Personally, I would really go for someone who would lay his head on the pillow on my lap and just relax as I read to him and played with his hair. I’d like to be around someone that loved to savor and enjoy meals, not just wolf them down; someone who lives life at a steady pace that finds no reason to rush anywhere, especially down the aisle. But that’s my perfect world, I have to temper that with the caveat of ‘when is life ever perfect?’

However, I can’t help but think about the guy who made me use a dictionary just because he uses bigger words than I do in an e-mail. I enjoyed that. You know me, I always love to learn new words, new things and be the ever-constant fool who accepts the changes I inevitably symbolize.

For the song of the day, I’m going to go with one that makes me (as Katut would say in Eat Pray Love) smile with my liver as I wait for a guy to tell me that I don’t need a man, I need a champion. It was featured in the film “Point of No Return” as Bridget Fonda’s character of “Maggie” decides she wants to start dating. Like Anne Bancroft’s character “Amanda” teaches Maggie in the film, “All you need is balance. We have to find your feminine strength. Some moon to go with your sun. A bit of the poet to balance the warrior. ” To my Amanda…the amazing and wise Doc Cat, I thank you.


This semester I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my IMC class, my Global Media class and had a ton of posts about my Personal Growth class.  The one you’ve heard next to nothing about is my history class.

If you recall, I started out the semester rather dismayed about my history class.  What I didn’t understand then, but know better now is that the exotic character that is “Cleopatra” is truly only one of the more fascinating characters in history and as much as I’d like for it to be all about equality and female empowerment, it’s not, it’s about how we came to our present state of being.

Dr. B has taken me on a whirlwind trip through history, not so dissimilar from the one I took with Doc T two semesters ago through world literature.  It’s on the same kind of parallel, both classes started with the Epic of Gilgamesh and has wound through history like a very selective snake looking for prey.

Being a selective snake through history is a good thing.  It lets you take in tasty, exciting morsels while still getting the good nutritional value of what’s there, leaving the not-so-savory on side.

The one part I enjoyed most was the trip through classic Greece and the Roman Empire.  Greece was a hoot.  My favorite lecture (which I gave Dr. B. an apple for…yes, I actually had a really good apple in my bag that I was intending to eat during my break between classes), anyhow, my favorite lecture was about the Athenian navy.  Yes, that’s right, Dr. B. characterized them as Athenian shake-down artists.  I could just imagine an Athenian Eddie Izzard getting off a boat after landing on a small Greek city-state and saying, “We’re here for your contribution to the great Athenian democracy…what?  You don’t want to pay us?  Well, we’ll just put your babies on spikes!  With the little city-state guys going, “No!  Wait!  We’ll pay you in…monkeys and…jam.”  Ok, if you’re not a fan of the big Iz…oh you have to see this…

Ok, now it doesn’t hurt that Dr. B. is a huge fan of Eddie Izzard.  He and I both go bonkers over his sketch in “Dress to Kill” called “Empires.”

Now imagine me sitting in class while Dr. B. is lecturing about Greece, the Spartans, Rome, listening to the lecture but hearing Eddie Izzard in my head.

Then we moved on to the America and the American Revolution.

But the title of the course is “Citizens and Slaves” meaning that if you take a walk through history, slavery was at the root of democracy.  Crazy right?  Yeah I didn’t get it at first either until we hit Sparta and most of classical civilization where these slave societies (not based on race…Dr. B. was adamant that we remembered that fact) were built on the idea that citizenship is built on freedom, meaning that you have a say in how things go, you feel more inclined to take part.  Ok, stop for a minute…does that mean we’d be more involved in politics if we actually FELT we could make a difference?  Ponder that for a minute while I wind us back on topic.

Anyhow, as Dr. B. would say, “We’ve read our Plutarch,” (who by the way was a great storyteller).  Remind me one day, I’ll tell you about Marc Antony and the whole Cleopatra thing.  Yes, she spoke seven languages and was one of the first women to have political pull, but Marc Antony was the real story, did you know he used to dress up as a beggar and run around the streets just to have fun?  Yep and he was a drunk too.  Big story with Marc Antony is that he was the ultimate failfest when it came to judging character.  He’d give away power to people who didn’t even begin to deserve it or have the common sense to use it wisely.  Because he was such a twit, Marc Antony got his not-so-happy ending in a very famous way.

While we were looking at all of the Roman guys with Plutarch, there was a fella he wrote about named Tiberius Gracchus…his whole deal is that he came back from war and found slaves working the Roman fields and tried to put the kaibash on it by bringing new land reforms in the senate.  Remember, the Roman army back then was filled with farmers who would buy their own gear and trudge off to war; when they got done being soldiers, they’d go back to the fields.  Well, where’s a soldier supposed to go if he comes home and his farm has been taken over by a greedy senator and his job has been outsourced to slave labor?  Yeah, that was Tiberius’ whole point.  What were they supposed to fight for if they have nothing? Well, his grand oratory in the senate didn’t go over very well.  Ever tick off a senator and have them feel like you’re taking money out of their pockets?  Well, that and a combination of bad hand signals marked the end of poor Tiberius Gracchus, he got his in the middle of an assembly hall.

After those guys, we talked about Augustus.  You know that Octavian guy that Roddy MacDowell played in Cleopatra (you know, the one with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton), right?  Ok, well, it seems as ol’ Augustus was a pretty brilliant guy, and not half as wormy as Roddy MacDowell played him in the movie.  Augustus was actually pretty cool if you go back and look at the historical accounts.

(Side note, I watched all of those big historical epic pictures with Mom when I was a kid.  Thank goodness I did, because when we talked about Marc Antony, I saw Richard Burton in my head…ironic casting being that Richard Burton was an alcoholic too…)

Then after the classical world, we had to go through Christianity.  Here’s the only thing I’ll say on this:

We went through ancient Sumeria…looked at their gods…marked them off as myths.
We went through ancient Greece…looked at their gods…marked them off as myths.
We went though ancient Rome…looked at their gods…marked them off as myths.
We went through the hebrews and so forth…looked at Christianity…marked it off and said, “Oh look!  There are the dark ages!”

I’ll pause for a moment for you to stop laughing…

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Ok, better now?  As the Big Iz would say…

“Um yeah…”

After stumbling around in the Dark Ages, we headed off to the Renaissance.  Great thinkers like DaVinci and the whole gang of really great guys…who said, “But wait!  There’s more to the story besides what Christianity says…” as they run away from the gang trying to burn them at the stake…”oh wait, maybe we should play nice…”

Then came early modern Europe…and more Eddie Izzard as he asked…”Do you have a flag?”  Yes, it was lots more of that combined with me and mom spending weeks talking about Martin Luther and his views and things that can only come from actually growing up in Lutherville.  Yes, my mom grew up Lutheran, makes a nice bonus for understanding why ol’ Martin nailed that document to the church door.

Then came the British Constitutional Revolution also known as “The Glorious Revolution.”  As we wound around and looked at the politics of the day, it all resulted in the moment where we got ol’ King John signing the Magna Carta (remember my post on Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood?  There ya go…Magna Carta time).  Watch the movie again and look at the big picture.  Girls, don’t stare at Russell Crowe, he’s over.  Move on.  Basically, Robin Hood Begins is also known as the story of how we got the Magna Carta on the books.

Then we started Colonial America.  Ok, I’ll only say one thing.  Did you know that George Washington was basically the Cary Grant of his day?  Yes, believe it or not, and he had a thing for uniforms, seems as he designed his own and showed up to an event dressed in it…now I’m sure Eddie Izzard would love to jump in here and call George an “Action Transvestite” considering George wore a wig…but I digress.

We spent part of one morning looking at the grand estates of the founding fathers, from Mount Vernon to Montecello and all of the Greek Revival architecture of the day.  Yep, oh so fun.  Pretty houses really.

Up to then, I was understanding how the whole slavery thing in the classical world worked.  Ok, not great, not happy about it to begin with, to be honest I was overjoyed when I read the account of a slave uprising that basically chewed up and spit out two very cruel slave owners.  I was all about that.  I cheered when I read that.  No one is cruel to another human being without being held accountable in my book.  Being cruel to another human being should come with a “stupid should hurt” clause at the bottom.  If you’re dumb enough to be cruel to another person, it should hurt like hell when karma comes back around to bite you in the keester.

After the whole classical world and it’s slave systems, I really didn’t want to deal with it anymore, but what’s the title of the course?  “Citizens and Slaves,” so guess where we headed to next…slavery in the colonies.

Ok, not happy about that.  I’m sorry, I’m one of those people who looks at another human being and SEES them as another human being.  I can’t look at people like they’re nothing, I’m far too empathetic for that and on top of that I believe everyone has their own nutritional value so why wouldn’t they be valuable human beings to empower and help them reach their potential?  Alas, I had to read horrifying accounts of what happened to African-Americans on the slave ships.  I nearly lost my lunch a couple of times.  I’m aware of what happened to them from previous history classes, but the graphic detail we got was a little too much for my very weak stomach.  The whole idea of not valuing another human being as a unique individual really made, and still makes, me ill.

Then, after that, we got a treat…Dr. B. is awesome…now I already described him as a hybrid of Stephen Fry and George Harrison, right?  Wrong…think Stephen Fry and David Bowie.  LOL!  That’s right, Dr. B. has a soft spot for David Bowie as he started our lecture on the founding fathers with THIS on the huge lecture hall projection screen.

Hit the button to play the tune, you’ll need it in the background for the rest.

I literally was sitting in my seat jamming down to David Bowie at 10 a.m. on a Thursday morning.   Is that cool or what?  AWESOME!  I sat in my seat happily jamming down, singing along and bouncing to the beat because, come on, who DOESN’T love David Bowie in one incarnation or another?  Personally my favorite David Bowie moment was him in the yellow suit in the video for “Modern Love,” but Dr. B. says Bowie looked too skinny in it.

And for the last two weeks we’ve been doing just the American Revolution, which I found out today that Dr. B. has a soft spot for Ben Franklin while my fave is Thomas Jefferson because he was a great writer.  We, of course, revisited during lecture the fact that George Washington was a great dancer, that John Adams (his day was started with a clip of Paul Giamatti’s version from the mini-series on HBO) was a bitter guy who just wanted to be remembered throughout history for his thinking (don’t worry John, you made it), Thomas Jefferson had a serious lack of a sense of humor, Ben Franklin had a way with women and diplomacy, Alex Hamilton wrote with the Classics in mind and little Jimmy Madison was a master of committees.   What’s funnier in all of this is that Dr. B. stressed that the founding fathers weren’t demi-gods and we shouldn’t think of them in that regard, that they were men that were of a unique time that just rose to the top.  Personally, I think it was all a matter of the right guys at the right place at the right time.  I think it’s a unique temporal event, almost like someone went back in time and pulled those guys together on purpose.  It’s bizarre and something that is eerie as hell to me.  But, with George’s charisma, John’s drive, Jimmy’s ability to handle committees, Alex’s eye on the past and Thom’s angelic prose styling, it enabled a bunch of pissed off guys to clearly say what they wanted out of a government.

Anyhow, today we did “The drafting and ratification of the Constitution” which is outlined in my textbook written by a guy named Morgan…who by the way writes history like a romance novel.  Once you get started on Morgan, there’s little to no chance you can put him down.  So I get to spend what little waking time I have left tonight reading so I can get in on the discussion on Thursday.

Sufficed to say, I’ve had a blast with history.  Andy, as I like to call Dr. B. when he’s not looking, is so sweet.  He really is a nice guy and I get up every Tuesday and Thursday saying to myself, “Ok, time to go listen to Andy.”  However, it’s kind of tough sometimes.  He’s got the exact same rich timbre and soothing cantor of speech as the Ex did, and for those of you who have ever heard my Ex speak, oy, you’ve really got to want to listen and learn if you’re going to stay awake, and it’s not because the material is boring or his lecture is bad, he’s a really wonderful teacher, but because his voice is so calm and soothing that you feel comfortable and safe, it’s like a warm and fuzzy blanket, once you get curled up in it, odds are you’ll be out for the count in no time flat.   So what I do is pack an extra granola bar in my bag for during lecture.  If I feel myself slipping off, I open up the granola bar and start munching because here’s the thing…I want to learn this stuff, it’s fun (when you can find the fun parts) and more importantly, what is history if we don’t observe it and try to learn something from other people’s mistakes so we don’t have to learn the hard way?  On top of that, Dr. B. is a really great guy and he deserves for me to pay attention, so I’ve sat many a morning just waiting for him to break off into some funny historical antecdote, cheering him on in my head, thinking to myself, “Come on Andy!  You can do it!”  and sure enough, he breaks into something funny and I’m right back in the action.

So, there it is, my semester in history.  While it might not be the world’s most eye-popping subject matter, it really is worth it to understand it.  Besides, it’s fun to imagine all of the movies, the comedy bits and all the other stuff during lecture because people have taken the time to learn their history and are wise enough to record it and make fun of it so we can laugh but learn at the same time.

By the way, my favorite historical person, Marcus Aurelius (who by the way is known as the last of the “Five Good Emperors”) got a whole day devoted to him and his fellow stoics in lecture.  YAAAAAY!

As Socrates said, “The wisest man in the world knows that he knows nothing.”  We covered him too.  hehe.

But, the one thing I’ve missed out on telling you about is the fact that every semester I try to at least go and see each of my professors during office hours once a semester.  It tells them I want to learn and I’m interested in what they have to say.  It also makes it so I have an easier time asking questions.  Well, today, I stopped in to Dr. B.’s office during office hours to visit with him.  He’s really super sweet, we talked about the Myst Universe and the relyimah (slaves) of Terahnee (which I thought he might want to know their story is out there and relates to what we’ve been studying all semester), one of my favorite games, Caesar IV (it’s a city builder that I relax with) which I think is a must for a guy who has his doctorate in the Classics, and Schoolhouse Rock’s “America Rock” which features The Preamble, Shot Heard Around The World and so forth.  Ok, well, you and I remember Schoolhouse Rock, we’re American kids who spent every Saturday with a pillow and blanket in front of the television.  Dr. B. didn’t get that as a kid, he was raised in the UK, which I found out they didn’t get Saturday morning cartoons back in the 70’s.  So I had to tell him all about how cool Schoolhouse Rock is.  But, he did know Blind Melon’s version of “Three is a Magic Number.”

In total, I sat and visited with Dr. B. for a good hour, which was cool because I was glad I did because he said, “No one ever comes to see me during office hours.”  Awwww!  I felt so bad for him, so it made me doubly glad I went to talk to him.  Maybe I can persuade him to help me study for my final.  hehe.   See what I mean?  Everyone deserves to share their nutritional value and no one should ever be neglected or denied the opportunity.

So, just for Andy, today’s song of the day is “Heroes” by David Bowie.  Thanks Dr. B.!  I’ve had a blast.  Anyone who can pull together Bowie, Izzard and Athenian shake-down artists into a semester of work is aces in my book.

For all of my Crackmores…we’re headed into Finals Week along with the finales of my Global Media presentations along with the culmination of a semester’s worth of Ad/PR learning,  the big show, my presentation of my ad campaign for IMC.   After we deal with IMC, it’s going to be time for the big Personal Growth paper that I’ll be posting for you to see.  It’s been a long road in Personal Growth this semester and I want all of you in on the finish with me.   During the second week of May I’ll be wrapping up the semester in my usual style, expect it around May 10.  Until then, I’ll be posting more good stuff, so stick around.

One more time, give a cheer for Dr. B., he totally deserves it, he’s the hero of the day.


As I was laying on the couch for a moment, watching Sex and the City 2 on HBO, I watched in dismay as Carrie and Mr. Big were in their bathroom and talking about expectations and Mr. Big’s overall feeling that he was disappointing Carrie. When it came to the point where she put her arms around him and said, “No, you’re not disappointing me,” I realized that I am at day number 723 since my ex hit the door.

723 days, 34 credit hours, three adventures outside of my apartment and it’s still just me.

As I watched Carrie throw her arms around Mr. Big, I whimpered and thought aloud, “Oh, I wish I had that.” ‘That’ being a nice guy to hug anytime I wanted.  Especially shirtless and fresh from the shower with a towel around his waist…smelling of after shave or cologne.

723 days, no dates, lots of time on the computer and lots of studying.

These are the days when it seems as my solitary nature abandons me and says, “Yeah, I know you say you don’t need a boyfriend or consort, but come on, are you just lying to yourself?”  To be honest, it’s a 50/50 proposition.  I don’t mind breathing in and out and enjoying the silence without being annoyed by another human being, that’s good, but it’s nights like these when I’m stressed about school projects coming due, finals week coming up and the rest of the gamut that is all of our everyday lives, that I wish, for just a moment, that a well-built, smiling masculine presence would come into the room to make me smile and reassure me that everything is going to be fine.

I already know everything is going to be fine.  If I apply myself, everything always works out fine.  However, it’s just that one person in the universe that smells like cologne that really sells the whole proposition better than just me.

Am I lonely after 723 days?  A little.  I’ve not been spending the much-needed quality time with KP, but let’s face it, he’s 2500 miles away and I’m beginning to seriously doubt he’ll ever come around the corner in my apartment, fresh from the shower wearing only a towel and smelling like after-shave anytime in my lifetime.   It doesn’t mean I wish that he wouldn’t, I just know that he can’t, praying it’s not because he won’t.

The last couple of weeks has seen the Sophomore in rare form.  One of my dear friends is having her marriage disintegrate.  She’s right where I was 723 days and 195 posts ago.  Angry, upset, and outright confused.  Lucky for her, she’s got me right behind her telling her how it happened for me, blow by blow, ugly detail by ugly detail.

When a relationship goes south, especially a marriage, no one tells you that the first six weeks out of your relationship is the hardest.  It’s six weeks where you’re sleeping gets thrown off, your appetite goes south, you run on 100% adrenaline 100% of the time until your body comes to the point where it says “STOP!  No more,” and lands you in a huge heap in what I call “The Crash.”

Yep, the crash is ugly.  Everyone who has ever gone through relationship separation has gone through it.  It’s normal.  My crash happened right after my birthday in 2009.  It took four months, from the time my ex left in April to right after my birthday for everything to come crashing down.  I threw some things, I yelled, I screamed, and I unintentionally broke a few things until finally landing in a heap in the middle of my living room floor, crying my eyes out.  It took about three hours of laying there in the middle of the floor to stop crying.  Then, I rolled over on my back, watched the ceiling fan spin for a while, then finally got up, realizing I couldn’t lay there forever because I had things to do and no one else to ask to do them for me because I was feeling cruddy.

That was 608 days ago.

Here at day 723, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.  I’ve tackled the issues that lead to the day I crashed, I’ve killed spiders, I’ve moved, I’ve been out a couple of times, I’ve accrued a ton of A’s on my transcript, but the most important thing I could have ever done was take my personal growth class.

For the last four months, I’ve tackled the very scary skeletons in my closet.  I’ve done things I never dreamed I would ever do:  I’ve journaled out all of the abuses and atrocities that have been visited on me; I’ve learned that the one person that I needed to trust to help my trust issues go away was me.  I figured out what my core issue was that lead to all of my erratic behavior, now I’m tackling that.  I’ve really started to like myself and who I am, and I’m proud to say that I’ve done it without a husband, without a boyfriend, just with the wonderful support structure of my real family, my online family and all of my friends all over the world.  You know what, for the first six months of 39, that’s not bad.

But, let’s get back to my friend who’s having her marriage crumble down around her ankles.  I told her that she wasn’t going to sleep, that it was normal because she’s so stressed out.  I’ve begged her to eat even though she has no appetite, in which I told her after a while, her appetite will come back even though food doesn’t seem appealing right now.

Then I told her about how I had to look really hard in the mirror when my marriage came crashing down around my ankles.  How KP told me how important it was that I took stock and was honest with myself about my part in what happened, after all, it does take two to tango, it can’t be all one person’s fault.

That’s the thing about looking in the mirror and admitting your mistakes, how you allowed things to happen that you didn’t like, how you go through the guilt and shame spiral like it’s some kind of ride at a not-so-fun amusement park from hell.  But then you realize you have to put down the cross because someone needs the wood, that you can’t blame yourself forever for what happened.  You have to accept yourself and your mistakes and hope that you’ve learned from them so you can move on with your life.

We also talked about how separation and divorce are classified in the same way as death.  You’re watching the relationship that you built with someone else die.  You have to mourn it.  You go through Kübler-Ross’ model of the “five stages”: the denial that your relationship is over, the anger at the circumstances that brought you to that point, the bargaining to try to keep your relationship alive, depression over how you got to the point of the relationship dissolving, then finally, the acceptance of what’s happened.  After all that, KP’s bridge is just waiting for you to take the steps to just get over it.

The thing is, no one goes through those five stages in the same way, like Doc Cat said this week in class, “It’s not linear.  Everyone goes through different stages at different times.”  I told my friend about how important it was that she realize that when something ends, something new begins, so she just has to keep breathing, take the time to quiet her mind so that the stress of her situation doesn’t make her sick.

I remember when Nan went through her divorce.  I remember the night she arrived in Vegas, completely disoriented and really torn up.  Then she watched me go through the same thing.  I remember calling her to ask her if what I was going through was normal.  I’d ask her, “Nan, I’ve not slept in two days and I don’t have an appetite,” and she’d reply, “Yep, that’s normal.  It’s going to get better, just keep busy and keep moving forward.”  Sure enough, Nan was right, so when I looked at my friend this afternoon who also hasn’t eaten or slept and has lost some weight, I looked at her and said, “Sweetie, this is normal.  But, you have to remember to force yourself to eat, even if it’s just nibbling on something.  Your body can’t hold up if you don’t feed it.”

Then, I told her about Cranium Command at Disney World.  I used to bring up this video to remind me that the stress that was going on in my head, real or imagined, was going to take a toll on my body:


It’s like what General Knowledge said at 16:43 into the vid, “You’re just worrying yourself sick.  Real stress or imagined stress, it doesn’t matter beans to your body crew.  They can’t tell the difference, only you can.  Take charge lunkhead! Be calm, cool, collected, serene, balanced, centered and relaxed, like me!”

Every time I watch that vid, I have to laugh, I used to sit through the show at Disney every afternoon practically, and well, if I can remember that section from the show, I think it did me a pretty good service because I have the constant reminder not to let my stress get away from me.  That’s what I told my friend, that when I feel like I’m getting out of whack, I look up at the gorgeous blue sky and breathe.  Remember the part in Sleepless in Seattle when Tom Hanks’ character of Sam is describing what it was like to live without his wife and he said, “Every day I have to remind myself to get up and breathe in and out.  Maybe after a while, I won’t have to remind myself to keep doing it.”  That’s what you have to do, you have to look up, realize that the sky above you is filled with air just waiting to rush into your lungs and help you silence all of the noise and stress that’s happening in your head.  When you still your mind and you get focused on just ‘being’, you’ll start to feel better.  Then you take the time to realize that the sun will still come up tomorrow, chores still have to get done and responsibilities have to get taken care of; just those things alone will keep you busy enough to keep your mind occupied and centered on what you have to do.

In all, when you go through a troubled patch of life, it’s all about being grateful for what you have and remembering to love yourself enough to take care of your mind, body, and spirit along the way.

And it took 723 days for me to get to this point.  After I told my pal all that, I gave her a hug and said, “You know, individual results may vary, check with your doctor…” and we started to laugh.

723 days, just seven days shy of two years and I’m fine.  As a matter of fact, I think I’m doing great.

One more quick note…welcome to all of my new readers.  Glad you’re here.

Keep breathing…and remember, tomorrow is a whole new day.

Pipi de Chat…

Ok, for those of you French speakers out there, I know you laughed immediately when you saw the post title. Now, let’s clue in the non-French speakers as to what it means.

It’s Wednesday and since I’m in a good mood, it’s time once again for a brand new comedy post. It’s an old story, but it’s new here to the Sophomore.

Ready? Here we go!

Let’s set the way back clock for seven years ago. I was living in Montreal, everything around me was in French and let’s face it, I was far from home, bored and very lonely. My only joy in life was doting on the ex-husband. From his favorite wine (Pinot Noir) to a new pair of obnoxious argyle socks, I had fun trying to surprise him with cute little gifts.

On a blustery September afternoon all those years ago, I was faced with a quandary, what was I going to give the ex for his 40th birthday? I went through all of the mountaineering shops (because he was a mountaineering nut, he has climbed Orizaba in Mexico four times) and couldn’t find anything there, then it was off to the clothing stores and of course, nothing came in the right size to fit his 36 inch waist and inseam. Remember, most inhabitants of Quebec are 5’5, if they hit six feet they’re gigantic and with the ex being 6’4, he might as well have had a tattoo on his forehead that read “Freak of Nature.” So, after a very depressing trip to the mall, still nothing.

So, I decided to get a little avant garde with my gift. He loved wine, so why not get him a wine tasting kit? I must have scoured every single specialty store in Montreal and after a week of searching, I found his gift.

It looked like this:

Cute, right? Here’s the description that comes with it:

The Wine Discovery is an illustrated tasting method with 40 wine aromas and 50 tasting sheets that helps any wine lover discover the vintage, region of origin or the appellation of a wine.

Included in the kit were instructions on how to appropriately use the kit, what different kinds of flavors and scents to look for, even down to describing the imperfections in a glass of wine. For instance, if you can smell a hint of leather, that’s an imperfection. Remember though, everything has little imperfections, that’s what gives it character and makes it memorable. Also in the kit were 40 different scents that you can pick out in almost any bottle of wine.

So, with gift in tow, I got on the subway, made my way home, wrapped the gift, then commenced decorating our apartment for the ex’s birthday party.

Being as he was turning 40, I figured I’d go all out. I had the great gift picked out and I had spent a whole week planning the party. I turned our apartment into Everest Base Camp with a sign on our front door that read:

Welcome to Mount “Ex”
Elevation: 40,000 ft.

Along with the mass of mountaineering gear that put people in the mood for the party, I also decorated the doors, inside and out of the apartment with cute little national parks signs. My office, which was the smoker’s lounge, was marked with a fire symbol and named “The Fire Pit”, the bathroom had the men’s and women’s bathroom signs on it, the kitchen had a sign posted with a knife and fork on it and designated “The Mess Hall” and our bedroom was marked “out of bounds”. However, the living room was marked The Ex’s Nickname Base Camp, Elevation: 6’4.

I had moved the furniture around so that in the corner of our living room had his single person tent set up, all of his ropes, his crampons (not to be confused with tampons, crampons are actually used for ice climbing, you attach them to your shoes and you get an instant set of spikes on the bottom of your mountaineering boot that let you traverse ice…), I found his ice axe, lantern, cooking stove, you name it, if it was in his mountaineering gear, it decorated the apartment.

We packed that little apartment to the gills with 20 people including his sister and her boyfriend, his two best friends and their girlfriends, his brother and brother’s wife, his criminal buddy, his personal training partner, two marathon running buddies and a slew of other folks.

The ex and I had been working hard in the kitchen while everyone was arriving, we made lots of food for everyone to nibble on while they were hanging out and we had a great little dinner party (which included several of my specialties along with my famous Crab and Hearts of Palm salad.)

After we finished eating, then came the gifts. New mountaineering books, movies, gear, you name it, all of his friends brought him something wonderful, and as a cherry on the proverbial cake, his pal Mike gave him a bottle of 21-year-old scotch.

Then came my gift. The ex smiled at me when he opened it and I was thrilled he liked it because it gave us something to do together. Trust me, when you have no one else, you try to find interesting activities for the two of you to do together…if I hadn’t, he would have just ignored me as usual….but enough of all that, let’s get into more details.

When he unwrapped the gift, he immediately went into looking at all of the neat little scent pots, the instruction manual and everyone got into more conversation while sniffing at all of the different scents in the kit. Well, back then, I was new to the French language. I knew hello, goodbye and a few numbers along with all of the swear words. You know that’s how it works right? When you learn a new language, you always learn the cuss words first. So at seeing that all of the scents were labeled in French, I immediately knew that this would be a good way to learn new words.

Here’s the list of scents (in French) that are in the kit:

  • Ambre
  • Pommes
  • Abricot
  • Banane
  • Cassis
  • Beurre
  • Caramel
  • Pipi de chat
  • Chocolat
  • Cannelle
  • Liège
  • Détersif
  • Figue
  • Baisse de fruit
  • Pamplemousse
  • Foin
  • vert de paprika
  • Noisette
  • Miel
  • Chèvrefeuille
  • Cuir
  • Citron
  • Réglisse
  • Litchi
  • Moule
  • Champignon
  • Pêche
  • Poivre
  • Arbre de pin
  • Pruneau
  • Coing
  • Framboise
  • Rose
  • Fraise
  • Soufre
  • Thé
  • Tabac
  • Truffe
  • Vanille
  • Violet

Ok, so already you can see some that are easily decipherable…”Banane” is Banana, “Vanille” is Vanilla, and so on. Well, there were some I didn’t recognize and didn’t know, so I went through and tried to figure them out at the same time as learning new words…I sat with the box opening vials and muttering to myself, “‘Champignon’ is Mushroom. ‘Thé’ is Tea. ‘Poivre’ is Pepper. ‘Vert de paprika’ is Green Bell Pepper,” and so on.

But then came one that I sat completely perplexed by, the label read “Pipi de chat.” The ex was heavily involved in conversation with his two pals, and every other French speaker in the room was focused on each other, so I was left on my own, odd man out as usual. Trust me, when you live in a foreign country and don’t speak the language, you get used to being the odd man out. So, looking at the vial, I figured I’d do what I had been doing, open up the vial, take a whiff and figure it out.

When I opened the vial, the reaction was instantaneous. I lifted the lid and immediately closed it with a yelp of “OMG.” Everyone stopped dead in their tracks to find out what I had freaked out about. My ex looked at me and said, “What’s the matter Sher…,” I looked at him and handed him the vial saying, “What does that mean?” You could tell he was doing everything he could not to laugh saying, “Sher, ‘pipi de chat’ means ‘cat pee’.”

My mouth hung open. I looked at him and said, “What? Why the hell is that in there? Who puts cat pee in wine?” Everyone started laughing at that point. But here’s where it gets really funny.

I get an out, I didn’t have the dimmest notion what a lot of those labels said or meant, but sure enough, all of the people who DID know what it meant insisted on opening that dang jar of “pipi de chat” and smelling it. What I did was on accident, what they did was intentional.

Do you think they would have known better? I sure as heck would have avoided it if I would have known what it was…but that dang vial of “pipi de chat” went around to all 20 noses in that room. Forget the raspberry, apple or peach, oh no, they just had to get their hands on the “pipi de chat.”

Some friends and I were talking about blooper reels yesterday and how when accidents happen, people just HAVE to stop and look. Well, to illustrate my point, I got onto YouTube and found one of the great morbid fascination moments of all time, the skier wiping out in the old “ABC Wide World of Sports” openings. Here, take a look:

Do you know I went through 5 of those ABC WWoS openers and EVERY SINGLE ONE had the ski jumper as “The Agony of Defeat.”

Upon further research…I found this on Wikipedia…

Bogataj’s mishap is also commemorated in Rich Hall’s book Sniglets as “agonosis,” which is defined as “The syndrome of tuning in on Wide World of Sports every weekend just to watch the skier rack himself.”

It was the same damn thing with that vial of “pipi de chat.” People just couldn’t avert themselves from it. They would open the vial, take a whiff, have a reaction of revulsion, then pass it to the next person to do the same thing! I sat there thinking to myself, “These French people are really screwed up,” but then I thought for a moment, it wasn’t just those wacky Montrealers, no no, it was a human reaction.

I now can say I know about morbid fascination first hand…by the end of the evening of my ex’s birthday party, the entire apartment smelled like cat pee and we didn’t even own a cat!

Yeah, and I thought I had come up with a great gift for my ex…

Just FYI, the English names for those scents were:

Amber, Apple, Apricot, Banana, Black Currant, Butter, Caramel, Cat Pee,  Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cork, Detergent, Fig, Fruit Drop, Grapefruit, Green Bell Pepper, Hay, Hazelnut, Honey, Honeysuckle, Leather, Lemon, Liquorice, Lychee, Mold, Mushroom, Peach, Pepper, Pine Tree, Prune, Quince, Raspberry, Rose, Strawberry, Sulphur, Tea, Tobacco, Truffle, Vanilla, Violet.

If I would have only had that list to begin with…
Happy Wednesday everyone!

Loneliness and Solitude.

Ok all of my Sophomores!  Guess what, you get to go to school with me for the day.  Well, ok, not really, but you get to see the journal I had to write for Doc Cat for this week’s assignment.

Here we go:  The homework assignment is pretty awesome.  Doc Cat has cancelled class for today and instead we were to spend 45 minutes alone and see what it told us about loneliness and solitude.  We were supposed to do it during class time, but as you’ll see, me making it from Greenspun Hall all the way home wouldn’t give me the correct amount of time for the exercise, so I did it Sunday night.

So, without further adieu, for your reading pleasure, my homework for Personal Growth…one that I wish I would have titled, “My Life as a Cat.”


Lonliness and Solitude

When I was a kid, the loneliness and solitude exercise was a daily happening from 3:30 in the afternoon until about six o’clock in the evening. I always counted myself lucky for those two and a half hours because it meant quiet time without the incessant, destructive noise of my usual world. Other times when I would be alone because I had no one always ripped me apart. I understood what being lonely meant, after all, you can be alone in a very crowded room, and I often was, so I know what loneliness feels like, but I also know that the solitary, quiet moments are ones that are worth savoring.

I took my 45 minutes Sunday night. I know my assignment is supposed to be done during class time, but there was no earthly way I could drive from UNLV to Summerlin after my Global Media class in time to have the entire exercise span and then write my paper, then expect to turn it in on time. I knew it wasn’t a feasible time frame, so I’ll beg forgiveness for jumping the gun and doing the assignment early.

For my exercise, I sat down on my living room sofa and just looked around the room.  I then lay on my back and stared at the ceiling fan for a while.  As I sat, I laughed to myself.  Just three short months ago, I would have been wigging out without some kind of distraction or something to take my mind off of its usual racing. No, I didn’t have anxiety as is the norm, instead I found a very peaceful place inside, which let’s face it, that’s shocking for me.  I breathed in and out, and I was ok, thinking to myself, “Hey, this is normal!”   I live alone, I go to sleep every night alone, yet I’m not lonely. I spent ample time with my family over the weekend and part of the week previous with my sister in the hospital getting her reconstructive surgery done post-breast cancer. I laughed to myself, “I’ve spent good, quality time around good people, so I’m definitely not lonely.”

I’m very comfortable with silence.  I actually welcome it when it comes.  I love hearing the sound of my own breathing, gently reminding me that I’m alive.  I actually like to listen to the silence and listen to what it tells me.  The buzzing of a light bulb and the hum of my computer break up the silence, maybe even the ice cubes dumping into the tray in my freezer. Total silence is hard to find in our very sound-polluted world, the passing of cars, the beeping of a car alarm that says even when we seek silence, we rarely find it, but when I do, I revel in it.

I’ll admit I did watch the clock tick the minutes away.   I looked out of my patio door to see distant palm trees rustling in the breeze.  In all of this, I wasn’t lonely.  Ok, when you’re in a place you feel safe and you’re just in a state where you can just “be”, you really don’t need anyone else around.  It’s the moment where you sit back, take a breath and be grateful for what you have, remembering things could be far worse.

I live a very solitary life.  I quite enjoy it actually.  But in the time I’ve lived alone, I’ve learned that there is a vast difference between “solitary” and “lonely”. Lonely is when you just have to have someone around, that you go bonkers without another human being in close proximity. Solitary, I think, is being ok with being alone without the need of someone else around. I think “lonely” is more of a term of desperation and “solitude” is a term of choice. I choose to be alone, hence solitary. I am not driven to companionship out of loneliness. If I want people around, trust me, I know plenty that would jump out of the woodwork if I’d just ask.

Cats. Cats are solitary. Cats are just fine that way and I always laugh when I see one perched up high, looking down at the world as if to say, “What? I’m happy up here,” as it flicks its tail to shoo us away like so many flies. I considered cats as I lay on the couch enjoying my solitary time with no worries, no phone, no computer, just happily being in the ‘now’. I guess I am one of those big, fluffy housecats who love nothing more than to look out the window and watch the world go by. One other thing, have you ever noticed that cats, when they need attention, seek it out? I thought that was pretty profound; we never see cats as lonely, we see them as solitary. I thought that was pretty darn cool. I am a housecat; it could be far, far worse.

Then I thought about dogs. I’ve personally never cared for dogs, I’m more of a cat person. However, my sister’s dogs are a great study in loneliness. Wrecks and Reese (the two Dobermans from hell) along with Zoe (a wire terrier who thinks she’s a Jack Russell), are the biggest (excuse the expression) attention whores I’ve ever seen. Those animals look at us like they’re so abandoned and so lonely, with the big brown eyes that plead with you to pet them and love on them when they’re already given constant attention. Wrecks is by far the worst, he was beaten and abandoned before Carl (my brother-in-law) adopted him. At first he was skittish and was very withdrawn, but over time exposed to my sister’s unending supply of love for animals, that 150 pound dog will now sit on your lap if you let him. Reese however, loves nothing more than to sit peacefully on his own. He doesn’t need to be handled, he doesn’t need to be pet all the time, he just chills out and could care less, Zoe and Wrecks will hang around your neck if you let them, Reese just looks at you like “What’s up?” and goes about his business of just relaxing.

In my exercise, I definitely pulled a “Reese.” I got over being lonely a long time ago. I don’t need people around me. When it’s time, I embrace my social nature, but I don’t need it all the time. Solitude is a good thing when done in moderation. I think there is such a thing as being too solitary. (Trust me, my friends Raj, Michelle, Josh and Tony along with my parents and my sister have told me just that many a time.) To be honest, all during the exercise it never occurred to me that I was lonely, simply because I can pick up the phone or I could get into the car and there are lots of people around me who love me that will spend time with me if I just ask.

I spent the final 15 minutes of the exercise looking at the poster on my mantle; it is just four letters spelling “L-o-v-e.” There have been moments where I’ve stared at that picture and felt lonely, but it’s been a while since I’ve felt like that. I then thought about how far I’ve come and I shrugged, saying to myself, “Love is everywhere, it’s loving the time I’m alone and enjoying the silence and peace, but it’s also there when I take the time to love being around people and in extension loving the people around me for their unique and wonderful nutritional value.”

I used to be lonely, now being alone doesn’t bother me because I’m secure enough in myself to be okay with it, I’m perfectly fine with being by myself.

Someone wise once told me that I had to trust myself enough to let go and deal with my very suppressed emotions, trusting I’d make it through okay. Doing the exercise, taking the time just lying there, it gave me the moment to take some emotional stock and realize that it really does take solitary time to enjoy the triumph of waking up one more day, achieving one more goal and embracing the feeling of a foot firmly planted on the ground.

Have a great week everyone and do me a favor…it’s feedback time…tell me, giving yourself 45 minutes with no computer, no TV, no sleeping, no nothing, what would you be, lonely or solitary?

Nan and the Hospital

We left off with me heading out the door to go to the hospital to see Nan after her first re-constructive surgery…

When I got to the hospital, I realized I had committed one of the world’s worst faux-pas.  I wore flip-flops to a place with nothing but tile floors.  Hearing the incessant “click, clack, click, clack” of my flip-flops made me want to turn around and go home to change my shoes, but I didn’t.  Nan was up in her room and I needed to be there, so I click-clacked my way to her room.

Pushing on the creaky door to her room, I walked in to see Nan asleep in the bed.  If I’ve not said it before, she’s a beautiful woman, even when she sleeps.  As I walked towards the bed, I looked at Nan and before I could say “Hi” to Mom, Dad and Carl, Nan just had to say “hi” first with this HUGE snore.  I mean she let such a snore rip that it startled me!  I looked at my father, who is usually the culprit behind such noises in our family, and made a mental note, he didn’t do that, he was standing awake and in front of me.  As I hugged him to say hello, sure enough another HUGE snore sounded in the room.  Not believing that this incredible noise was coming from my gorgeous Nan, I walked over to the bed, looked down at her and sure enough, her mouth opened up and SNORE!  My eyes became large with disbelief…my sister snores!?!?!  When did this happen?

I looked at my mom and said, “But, but, she sounds like Dad!”  Mom gave me a gentle smile and said, “She’s really sleeping deep,” as we watched her chest slowly rise and fall.  It was at that point that my brain had gone out to lunch, instead of worrying about her safety, I was giggling that my Nana snores.

(Ok, I’ve got to get you up to speed really quick.  “Nan” is not my sisters real first name.  An infant Sheri trying to pronounce “Linda” came out with “Nana.”  There, now you know why I call her “Nan.”)

By how she looked in the bed, with just the I.V. leading into her arm and the Ace bandage around her chest covered by her hospital gown, she looked for the most part like nothing really huge had happened.  I guess it was just my way of being relieved that she got through the surgery in one piece because any time Nan is in the hospital it severely freaks me out.

You have to understand, I’ve seen my sister in and out of hospital beds ever since I was, I’m guessing, around 9 years old.  From the moment a boy dove into the pool and landed on her to cause the blood cot on her spinal column all the way up to her re-constructive surgery on Wednesday, much to my dismay, she’s frequented quite the few hospitals as a patient.  I guess I’ve never really gotten used to the fact that my sister, however strong she is on the inside, has such a fragile exterior.  It always breaks my heart into a thousand pieces to see her in a hospital bed.  As you recall, I couldn’t even bear to go to the hospital when she was going through the mastectomy because it hurt me so badly to see her going through it.  However, on Wednesday, I remembered that it was a positive day, Nan was looking forward to getting her re-construction started, so I wanted to be there to cheer her on.

So, there I am, sitting in the chair next to her bed and listening to her snore.  I didn’t care if the 1812 Overture was coming out of her face, the fact she was snoring was a sign that she was all right and that she had bravely taken a first step to get to where she wanted to go post-cancer.

About 20 minutes after I got there, a nurse came in with antibiotics for her to take.  Ok, let’s just remind you that Mom had told me “She’s really sleeping deep.”  How on earth was the nurse going to wake her up to take a pill?  The nurse came in, raised the bed so Nan went into a more seated position than the sleeping position and said in a fairly loud voice, “Mrs. B., I’ve got some antibiotics for you to take.”  Nan didn’t move, she didn’t moan and she most certainly didn’t flinch.  In response to the nurse Nan just laid there and gave the her a snore.  I looked at the nurse and said, “She’s not going to answer to that, her name is Linda, you’ve got to call her by her name,” to which the nurse hollered in Nan’s ear, “LINDA!  Wake up!  You’ve got to take your antibiotics.”  At that point, Nan moaned and her eyes came open for just a moment.  You could tell she was disoriented as all get out.  She smiled at the nurse and then promptly closed her eyes again.  The nurse tried in vain again and Nan just wasn’t having it.  It was as if Nan’s subconscious was telling the nurse, “I’m sleeping, can’t you see that!”  But the nurse persisted long enough to get the pill in Nan’s mouth and wake her up long enough to get a few swallows of water down so the pill would go down her throat.   It was a moment everyone was praying that she’d wake up just long enough to make sure she didn’t choke on the pill.  After seeing her swallow a few times, the whole room sighed a breath of relief.  Personally, I want to know what genius thought that giving a pill to a sleeping person was better than giving it to them through their I.V.  Yet, she got the pill down.  Thank goodness.

After the pill situation, everyone sat down and relaxed, resuming our duties as sentinels watching over Nan.  Mom stood next to the bed on her left, I was in the chair to her right, Carl was sitting between me and Dad with their backs to the hospital room window.  We listened to her snore and I think every time she did it, we all relaxed even more.  I had taken two of my history books with me so that I could read while she slept, so I sat back and started reading about the beginnings of the American Revolution while Carl played with his iPhone, Dad sat looking at Nan and Mom read my other history book.

We sat there for a while until Mom looked at Nan and saw that her mouth was really dry, so Mom started to wake Nan up so she could drink some water.  I have to give Mom kudos, she really hung in there trying to get Nan to drink.  Nan would wake up, her disorientation apparent, take a few sips and fall back out again.  On and on it went over the next hour.

Then, like a splash of cold water to the face, one of Nan’s co-workers came in, a nice nurse from the hospital Nan works at, to check on Nan.  She was really sweet as she took Nan’s water pitcher, filled it with ice and water, poured Nan a new drink then promptly woke Nan up to say hello.  At this point, I think Nan’s sleeping was all but over for the moment.  Everyone and their dog was waking her up and I sat there thinking to myself, “Geez, hasn’t she been through enough?  Can’t you just let her sleep!”

Nan became conversational, albeit disoriented, while all of this was going on.  She kept her eyes closed and at one point she let us all know that she wasn’t ignoring us, quite the contrary, she was trying to meditate to ease her pain a bit.  It was at that point, I hot-footed it to the nurse’s station and let them know she was ready for the pain medication she was supposed to have an hour earlier.

As I got out to the nurse’s station, I smiled at them, trying desperately not to do a Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” and said, “Hi, I’m Nan’s little sister.  She’s awake now and in a lot of pain, can you please give her her pain medication?”  It took everything I had not to scream at them, “Nan’s in pain!  Move your ass and give her the shot!”  No, instead I did the sugary sweet bit that I’m so famous for, but let me tell you I was doing my best impersonation of a duck swimming on a pond…calm on the surface, paddling like hell underneath thinking there was no earthly way those nurses could move fast enough to ease my sister’s pain.

I’ve never handled Nan being in pain very well.  When she hurts, I hurt.  It tears me up inside that there’s nothing I can do to stop it.  However, the one thing I can do is be understanding, supportive and positive while she goes through it.  That’s what I can give her, which is a good thing.  Better yet, I can write about it so she can laugh at it later on.

The nurse went into Nan’s room and asked her, “On a scale of one to ten, one being no pain, ten being the worst, how bad are you hurting?”  Nan was still disoriented, and with Carl repeating it to her so she could understand, Nan answered, “Definitely a ten.”  Then the nurse asked Nan, “What kind of pain medication would you like, you can have either Morphine or Lortab.”  Nan answered, “Morphine, please.”  I mean look at how fantastic Nan is…she’s in the worst pain of her life and she tells the nurse “please,” I mean are you getting how extraordinary this woman is?  Anyone else would have barked or screamed or acted horribly.  No, Nan, being who she is, was sweet and gentle even though she was in pain.

Mom, when the nurse had returned and was injecting the morphine into the I.V., asked Nan, “How bad is it, worse than childbirth?”  Nan replied, “Definitely worse than childbirth.”  When the nurse had finished the injection, I asked her, “How long will it be before it takes effect,” to which the nurse replied, “It’ll take about 15 minutes.”  At hearing that, I gave an internal sigh of exasperation that it wasn’t fast enough for my liking, thinking, “Nan is in pain, she needs relief now, not 15 minutes from now.”  But alas, that’s the way it goes and there’s nothing on God’s green earth I could do about it.

By the time 8:20 p.m. came around, it was time for me to go, I have homework and projects that have to get done whether I like it or not, so I went home thinking to myself, that I was right, before the parade of backless shirts and dresses make their way into Nan’s closet, she’s going to be in a LOT of pain and it breaks my heart that she’s having to go through all of this.  But I keep in mind a few things:  She has had a double mastectomy, she has gone through chemo, lost her hair, had her hands be burnt to kingdom come from the treatments, she’s had an injection port embedded under the skin at her collarbone because her veins just couldn’t withstand the needles from chemo (it was removed when she finished chemotherapy).  Cancer has just beaten her body to kingdom come.  It has and I’ve seen it all and it has just broken my heart to watch it happen.

However, Nan wanted to do the re-construction.  She found it necessary and she knew what was going to happen, so what I can and what we all can do is just take a moment and think of her, send prayers, positive vibes and do what you have to do to make sure she feels loved.

She just called as I was writing, so I’ve got to hurry up, do my stuff and get over to Nan’s house.  Excuse our dust, Nan’s under reconstruction.

Reconstruction Begins

I’m going to deviate from my last several posts to cover a very special topic: Nan.

As you may know, my childhood idol has gone through the trials, tribulations and the heart-wrenching process of having breast cancer. My sister is an amazing story all of her own and today, at the time I’m writing this, she’s in surgery again, but this time instead of a mastectomy, my gorgeous sister is getting her breasts back. That’s right, it’s reconstruction time.

How many 44-year-old women do you know that would love to walk around with a bit more buoyancy up top? Well I guess, as usual, the line of jealous women standing behind Nan will grow just a bit longer as her kickin’ curves are about to get a bit curvier, and eventually she’ll get to wear what I’ve only dreamed of, backless shirts and dresses. But before the parade of new backless fashions goes into Nan’s closet, she’s got to go through the process of reconstruction. It’s not going to be painless, actually it’s quite the opposite; to be blunt, she’s going to be sore for a while. But here’s the upside, after finishing the process, she’ll no longer have to worry about sagging, drooping or even have to worry about wearing a bra at all. As I like to term it, “Nan will be gravity-resistant.” But however lucky Nan will seem to those of us still having to put on our bras every day, she’s going to have to go through quite the ordeal to get there.

Breast reconstruction is not an easy process. Here’s what I know so far:

The surgery that Nan is going through today is just the beginning. As I understand it, they are putting tissue expanders beneath her skin and pectoral muscle tissue, effectively beginning the process of making room in her chest for her new breast implants. It’s going to take time for her body to change to fit everything, they just can’t go in there right now and slap implants in, there’s just no room, so today’s surgery team is starting the whole process. As to the incisions the surgeons are making today, they are going through her mastectomy scars to do the work.

The expansion process is going to take a period of months. After they put in the tissue expanders (which are balloon-like receptacles), they are going to begin pumping saline into them to slowly expand the skin to allow room for her new implants. The doctor will fill the expander a little bit today, then Nan will have to wait as her skin and tissues stretch and change to the new dimensions. After she gets to a certain point, they’ll go in and add more saline to the expander. On and on it goes over a period of months until her chest has reached the appropriate size to accommodate the new implants. Finally, she’ll go in to surgery one more time and she’ll come out with a new set of breasts.

So, today, Nan is under reconstruction. Personally, if you’ve ever seen my Nana, you know that, breasts or no breasts, she’s fabulous inside and out, from head to toe, and beautiful in every single way someone can be beautiful. Her soul is even more beautiful with her unwavering kindness, love and generosity that she hands out like someone tossing beads from a Mardi Gras float. So sufficed to say, I love her just as she is boobs or no boobs, bald from chemo or with her flowing mane of gorgeous hair, bad mood or good, she’s my Nan and I think she’s perfect however she comes. But, she wants to be reconstructed and have her boobs back. Fine. If Nan wants them, then Nan gets them. She deserves every good thing this world has to offer and then some.

If you’d like to hear the story of someone else that’s gone through the same process and get a better understanding of what I’ve tried to convey today, go to:

So for all of you keeping track of what’s going on, the artistic surgeons are working on restoring one of the great works of our time, my big sister Nan. Cheer for her and please, keep her in your thoughts and send her all of the good vibes you can muster.

Again, one more time (and as Nan would insist I tell you), “Keep current with your mammograms!  Early detection saves lives.”  I can attest to that, early detection saved Nan and however uncomfortable getting a mammogram may be, I’m grateful for those mammogram machines every day because they gave me more time with the greatest big sister in the world who subsequently married the guy who is world’s most awesome big brother (in-law)!  (Sorry, gotta put in a cheer for Carl, he’s the awesomest!  I love my big brother, he’s just so dang cool!  That’s right, be jealous…we’ve got Carl, you don’t…pbbbbbbbt! lol.  Go Carl!  Go Carl!  Go Carl! hehehehehe.)  Both of them are so great!  As Dash in The Incredibles would say, “I love our family.”

I’ll be back with a follow-up post when I get back from seeing her in the hospital this afternoon.

Searching, Fighting and Hoping.

Today was a normal Tuesday.  Up in the morning and to school on time.  Surprising to say the least being that I’m still feeling quite raw about yesterday.  And the day before that, and the day before that.

The 90 cents in the bank miraculously multiplied itself and gratefully became enough to pay the rent.  By some miracle the Ex actually put enough in the bank to a good majority of the rent, but I had to pull $250 from my college money account to make sure the rent check cleared.  So at least there’s a roof over my head for another month which I’m very grateful for, but to be honest, I’m still scared.  I’m dwindling fast.

I’ve been on my second interview with an ad agency to be their afternoon receptionist, but I’m not sure that the pay and the part-time hours will be enough to keep me afloat over the summer, so I’m still trying to deal with the fact that I’ve had to tailor my resume to become devoid of my AA, hoping someone, somewhere will not say that I’m overqualified and give me a job that pays enough so that I can pay my rent.  However, it doesn’t tackle the core issue, there are just no jobs right now.  The horrible economy in Nevada has made it so that finding a job that pays enough to cover bills is next to impossible.

But, that doesn’t cover all that I’m coping with.  Yesterday’s Personal Growth topic was still plaguing me when I woke up this morning.  I woke up hearing the taunts and sneers from kids that tormented me all those years ago echoing in my head.  I could hear and see them clear as day in front of me; the torments, the things that happened, everything flashing through my head at light speed. I thought I was going to come unglued.  So, after history class this morning, I decided to be more aggressive with getting rid of those nasty little beasts once and for all.  If yesterday’s topic was at the core of all of my issues, then it was high time it became a non-issue.

I went and saw Doc Cat at her office.  She sat with me and handed me tissues while I cried and she looked at me amazed after I had told her what was bothering me and how I had done my best to push them down and out of the way, and giving it everything I had to live my life in the present.  I told her that I made great strides trying to understand where the abuse in my life came from; in my case it was a lot of stuff snowballing down  hill that reached gargantuan size and plowed straight into me with a loud and painful thud.  Then we got to the truth, most of what’s happened to me I didn’t deserve.  However, it didn’t stop me from wanting to understand why all of those horrible children went out of their way day after day to bully and torment me, that I would never hear an apology for all the horrible things they did to me.

I went out on a limb and asked Doc Cat if I was being my own guest of honor at a personal pity party or if I needed to be told “get off the cross, someone else needs the wood,” to which she said that in no shape or form was I pitying myself, rather it was amazing the amount of compassion I was showing and it was amazing that I was trying to understand and process what happened to me without being angry or bitter.  I went on with my questions.  Were those kids dealing with a snowball effect in their own lives, were they growing up in violent environments that made it necessary to have them exact that behavior on someone else?  What drove them to do such horrible things to a human being?  I told her how much I wanted to put this behind me, how I have struggled for years trying to push them out of my head to get on with my life.

After drying myself up a bit she told me that what I was doing wasn’t quite right.  It was so sweet when she told me that I didn’t realize that I was standing in my own way by pushing down and ignoring all of the torments that have been haunting me for the last 30 years.  She said I had a right to be angry with them and to not like them, but what surprised me is that she said I was expressing more compassion towards the people who bullied me than they deserved.  She was amazed that even though they put me through the mill and then some, I was willing to forgive them for what they did because I don’t want to carry it around anymore.  Doc said that they didn’t deserve the leniency and compassion that I was willing to give them and that they didn’t deserve to be understood.  (Personally, the thought did flash through my mind that there is a special place in hell for those people, they just don’t know it yet.)

The point was is that Doc Cat thinks that I’m afraid of how I’ll react if I let go, let their voices in my head get loose, give them a voice and let them do their worst to me, effectively getting into the mental ring and going toe to toe with them.  She said that by pushing all of those memories down that I wasn’t giving them a chance to come out and be done with, and I think she’s absolutely right.  Those bastards don’t deserve the love and compassion I have, it’s too pure and precious to be wasted on the swine who lived to bully me all those years ago.  But alas I have to, according to the doctor’s orders, take time, get into a moment where I feel safe and let them rip.  After I do what it takes to let them loose and let them do their worst, here comes the fun part, after they’re done, I get to give it right back with both barrels.  I have permission to throw things, kick, scream, and yell, say the horrible things they need to have said to them and finally exorcise them from my consciousness like so much trash ready to be taken out to the curb.

It was at that point that I confided something to her, that I’ve gone on Facebook and reveled in the fact that I’ve seen photographs of all of the people who bullied me back then that now have exteriors that match their childhood interiors, and all truth be told, outside of one or two, they all look like holy hell, ugly and there is no amount of eye bleach that can remove how ugly they really are as adults.  Ok, let me be blunt.  These are people I would in no way, shape or form would be seen dead with at  Spago for a Creme Brulee.  Ok, if I’ve pulled out the Spago big guns, you know I mean business.  That’s the highest insult I can dish out on anyone.  Seriously, they are the dregs that take ugly to a whole new level.  Doc Cat thought that what I did was great, that I could actually confront them that way in a manner which was safe for me.  It was a good first step.  But now comes the next step, I have to let them loose and let them do what they did so well, throw damaging taunts, spread rumors, and do all of the horrible things that have marred my soul for the last 30 years.  They’re directly part of the reason that I’ve shoved drugs in my body and engaged in self-destructive behaviors, but fact remains, they get one more shot and then it’s katy-bar-the-door because I finally get to bring the hammer down.

After my meeting with Doc Cat, I felt better knowing that all of the anxiety I was feeling was, as Doc Cat pointed out, just due to the fact I don’t trust myself to be able to handle how I’ll react to letting them loose.  She looked at me and said, “I trust that you can handle this.  I trust you more than you trust yourself, you’ll be ok.  I know you will.  You can do it.”  She gave me the big hug I’ve needed for a while and sent me back onto campus.

As I walked toward the Student Union for lunch, I felt better just in the fact that I talked about what had happened to me.  It was the first time I had ever spoken about the bullying I went through with another human being.  No one has ever seen me talk about it in the way I told Doc Cat about it, mentioning names, what exact atrocities were visited on me (to which I saw her flinch a couple of times) and describing in exacting detail the torment that I endured every single day during adolescence.  I’ve never expressed it verbally until today.  I guess it just needed to come out to someone I trusted enough to talk about it with.  To be honest, it’s been inside me festering for so long that I’m not so sure it’s not become some sort of emotional gangrene.  I’m still weepy about it, but I will say this, it feels good to know that I’m not crazy, that I’m not pitying myself and that those bastards who hurt me really do deserve to burn in a hell 1000 times worse than the hell they put me through.  As Sherrilyn Kenyon would put it, “The oven temperature is set at ‘extra crispy.'”

To be quite honest, their 15 minutes are up, even though it did last 30 years.  I’ll make sure I write about it when I get to the point I let them loose, but let’s get on with the rest of the day.

After lunch and a quick IMC class, ended early because we have a grad student substituting for our professor that’s out of town, Haley and I were on our way to the cars.  On the way out, I spied something that stopped me.  On the bulletin board in Wright Hall, a flyer with a familiar logo gave me pause.  It seems as that Disney recruits students for their College Program at UNLV.

Grabbing Haley by the hand, I pulled her along with me to the Student Union where we took an hour and sat through the Disney College Program presentation.

For me, it was old hat.  For goodness sake, I can still name my seven dwarves without even breaking a sweat.  Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, Sleepy, Happy, Grumpy, Bashful.  Two D’s, two S’s and three emotions, it’s the easiest way in the world to remember them.  But, the dwarves aren’t important.  What is important is that it would be a job that pays sub-minor ducats but would allow me to live near a Disney park, enjoy free admission, along with getting college credits with minimal living expenses for the summer and through the fall semester.  Nine months of trying to figure out what to do but the ability to save money during the time.  Ok, it’s not even remotely close to a lot of money, in truth it’s barely enough to survive on, but given what hours I would get at the ad agency, I’d be moving back in with my parents before I could speak the company’s title when answering their telephone.  I look at it this way, at least I’d be living in a different location, do what I know how to do, taking classes while working along with taking an online class or two for UNLV to keep my student status.

Ok, is this going a bit far?  Probably, but I’ve yet to see a publisher come out of the works and offer me an advance on the book that is my blog.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the ad agency.  Cross your fingers, huh?

Ugh, I really do hate having to struggle like this.  I’m worth a lot, I know I am.

Working the Obstacle Course

I have to admit, Mondays and Wednesdays are my hardest days of the week.  Global Media followed by Personal Growth is, I think, one of the hardest combinations I could have possibly come up with.

Global Media is a lot of research, a lot of finding small little details about the country my group has to work on this semester, Guatemala.  All I can say for that little country is that it’s a perpetual black hole.  You really have to dig hard to find even the simplest information, such as the subscription fee for a newspaper.  So, the last couple of days have been spent digging and digging and finding things, but not the informational quality that’s required for the class.  So, the digging continues there.

Then after Global Media, I walk the mile and a half it takes to get from Greenspun Hall to White Hall.  The walk is never very bad, actually I enjoy it a whole lot, it allows me to clear my brain and switch gears along the way.

Which brings us to today’s topic in my Personal Growth class.  It’s not one I’m willing to name because most of the rats in my hometown would love nothing more than to hear me lament on the topic, giving them cannon fodder to torment me with.  Two words.  Not happening.  However I will say this, in all of the hard work I’ve been doing over the semester on the details I feel I need to work on, this is the one topic I felt wouldn’t trip me up.  Oh, how I was mistaken.  Trip?  Hell no, try a giant belly flop into a pool of anxiety.  I started crying right in my seat.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to overcome obstacles.  The Ex, malicious people, the whole gamut of folks who have incessantly wasted my time that I’m now coming to grips with, and in the process, taking charge of my life.  I’ve been in stressful situations lately that, according to my friends, I’ve come through with flying colors without a shred of the reactionary tone I’ve had in the past when dealing with people who aren’t nice and who aren’t aware of how their actions affect others.  To that, I’ve taken two by fours to backsides in an effort to wake them up, and in the process exercise my own patience and fairness, being mindful of how my actions are affecting everyone around me. As a result, everyone around me is doing much better for me standing up, holding my ground and working through the problems with serenity and grace.

Today was horrible.  Of all of the things I’ve overcome, the topic covered in Personal Growth today was bar-none the hardest because I realized it was at the core of all of my issues.  Now at this point, you may think I’m being vague.  Yes, I am, but it’s for a good reason.  Everyone has a core issue that they’ve not tackled or realize that it’s the thing that drives them to their habits, good and/or bad.  Whether it be a horrible childhood, issues with your sexuality, love and relationship problems, it all boils down to one thing, we all have our demons that spur us on and they won’t let go or give up the fight easily.  When you’re faced with them, you’ve got two choices, you either consciously realize that your issue(s) have been the underlying source of your problems or you just remain ignorant to them.  I’d love to say I live in blissful ignorance, but for me, hyper-vigilance and all, I notice things like that straight away.

Here’s the thing.  I sat there with my face becoming its own irrigation system, leaking from the face pretty good.  Doc Cat, gods love her, saw me struggling and dismissed the class, just letting it go for the day.  I walked up to her after class and said, “I’m sorry Doc, but this is just a really hard topic for me,” and she let it go telling me that it was all right and that she understood where I was coming from.  Now what you all don’t know is that during the semester, I’ve been having to write journals for her.  From family influences to relationships, she’s been getting a very up-close and personal look at the Sophomore, warts and all.  She’s heard the stories that I won’t ever dare tell to the public and she’s aware of each and every last skeleton rattling its’ bones in my closet, so sufficed to say, like the excellent practicing therapist she is, she understood me completely.  I have to give her kudos, she handles me really well and by far this semester her class is the one that is worth the money I paid for it and then some.

After class let out, I wept all the way to the car, holding myself together by a thread.  I walked along wishing that some guy was waiting for me to hold me and make me feel safe.  As we know, I don’t get that, so I had to tap into a resource that, while it seems trivial at times, really helps out in the roughest hours because I’ve come to realize that it’s me that has to pull me out of the hole, no one else can do it for me.

I got into my car and started it.  When the radio came on, it was playing a song that definitely would have put me in the depression hole, so I hit the “next” button on my CD player and “Marchin’ On” by One Republic started to play.  I remembered that it’s the theme song to this blog so I pushed my tears back, singing at the top of my lungs, “For all of the wars we fight, for all of the things we’d like, with what we have I promise you now, we’re Marchin’ On.”  It was at that point that instead of feeling sorry for myself and letting those old memories tear me up, I reminded myself that I’ve survived a lot of crap, and no matter what, I’ve kept marching on.  I’ve had things done to me that no one should ever go through and well, I’m still alive and kicking.  Yes, today’s topic may have shook me up, but I remember that I’m still here and I’ve navigated those obstacles, but like someone who barely makes it through the obstacle course the first time, sometimes you have to go back and do it again until you’re strong enough to traverse it with ease.  That’s what today taught me.

By the time I got onto on the 15 freeway, P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass” started to play and at that point, I stopped crying because I was singing at the top of my lungs, “So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways, all my underdogs, we will never be anything but loud and nitty, gritty, dirty little freaks.”  What got me at that point was the song serving as another reminder that I’ve survived a lot and for all of my perseverance, I deserve to have a glass raised to me for making it through it all.

By the time I got home, I had stopped crying. As I parked the car, The Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” played with the lyrics saying, “won’t stop until it’s over/won’t stop to surrender.”

Perseverance.  It’s a good thing.  It helps you traverse the obstacle course and while you may get blistered, bruised and fall repeatedly, when you get to the end, you know you’ve accomplished something.  Have perseverance, your heart and mind will thank you for it.  It’s KP’s ever-constant reminder to keep working on those bridges.  We can get over them if we try.

So, for all of my fighters out there today, I dedicate to you the song of the day, The Temper Trap, “Sweet Disposition.”