the printed thoughts of a woman on a journey towards awareness, truth, acceptance, clarity, and forgiveness...with some fun and fearlessness thrown in

Friday, November 25, 2011

in no particular order

Po-boys, crawfish, Cajuns, rivers, plantations, strawberries, catfish, Zydeco, the Saints, my sister, Bert, Lexi, Lucy, satsumas, King cake, Doberge, alligators, sugar cane, old friends, new friends, closer friends, bridges, kudzu, Mardi Gras, City Park, Camellia Grill, gumbo, magnolias, snowballs, streetcars, Mr. Bingle, the Moonwalk, St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, Lee Circle, the Audubon Zoo, the neutral ground, beads tangled in tree limbs, pine needles, oyster dressing, Oktoberfest, shrimp, shrimp, and extra shrimp, levees, lagniappe, beignets, cafe au lait, Acadians, Lake Pontchartrain, the Causeway, Abita, bonfires, festivals, Zulu coconuts, Voodoo, Spanish moss, live oaks, bayous, outdoor kitchens, pecans, big copper kettles, Blue Dog, Brees, St. Charles Avenue, parading zombies, ghosts, hot air balloons, horses, returning to roots, new beginnings.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

cyberstalker or just the natural result of 10 days without television?

I cyberstalked you today.  OK, well, not you, but several other people.  People from my past to be more exact.

I don't know why I do it, but today definitely wasn't the first time and most decidedly will not be the last.  It almost always starts out the same way....looking for a former friend.  This friend, whom I will call Rachel, and I were very close once upon a time.  We even lived together for a short, ill-fated period, which makes her the only roommate that I ever had outside of school, live-in boyfriends, and my sister when we were kids.  Rachel and I had a very abrupt, very public, and very contentious break up.  I would have to say that it rivaled my divorce and may have, in fact, been worse.  We haven't spoken in over 10 years.  Yet, every so often, I try to find her on the Internet.

I'm not really sure what I want to know about her.  Where does she live?  Did she ever get married?  Have kids?  What is her career?  Maybe.  I think, though, what I really want to know is why.  Why?  And how?  And have you done it to others?  I want to see how someone can be so mean and evil, yet still carry on.  Actually, that's not really true, either.  I don't think she's evil.  I do think that she treated me meanly and acted cruelly towards me.  But, I don't think she's evil.  I've been advised that others do and that I should, but I don't.  After all, she was my best friend for many years.  If she were evil, what would that say about me?

So, I look for her.  And I've found hints of her around the Web.  Something on MyLife.  A maybe on Zabasearch.  I think I even found a Facebook page once, but it has since been blocked or deleted.  I would never contact her....but still I look.

Looking for Rachel often evolves into looking for other people.  Usually my ex-boyfriends are next on the list.  I find them on Facebook or in the Whitepages.  Facebook is best, because a lot of people don't lock down their sites like they should.  I look at their walls, see who they're friends with.  I look at their pictures, and I imagine the lives they've gone on to live since knowing me.  I gauge whether their wives are prettier than me and if their kids look more like him or like her.  The kids are the weirdest part, really.  First, as a childless person, I think it's odd that people with children post so many pictures of them.  The ratio of child to self represented in photograph form for these people is like 20:1.  I know I post a lot of pictures of my pets, for instance, but I still post pictures of myself.  My identity outside of my pets is still intact.  I wonder about these parents when it comes to that.  Plus, doesn't anyone think about their children's online safety???  OK, on a tangent.  What really is weird about the kids is this--if this guy and I hadn't broken up, if he hadn't then gone on to meet his wife, those kids wouldn't exist.  That is kind of creepy to think about.  Of course, you could say that looking up your ex-boyfriends on Facebook is creepy.  I know.  I know.

There's really no rhyme or reason to the people I look up.  Sometimes, someone just pops into my mind and I wonder what they're up to.  The main thread that they commonly hold is that they probably don't want to hear from me.  In a few cases that may not be accurate, but in those few, I have decided that it is in the best interest of all that they don't hear from me.  Maybe it is the fact the these people have scorned me, have left me behind and still somehow prospered that bothers me.  Maybe I do want to see them wallowing in regret and begging to have me back in their lives.  Maybe I just wonder what it is that these people saw that made them decide that I was bad news.  And, maybe I'm afraid that everyone else will eventually see the same thing.

There have been a few searches of people with whom my bridges had not yet been burned.  I have found some former friends and co-workers and reached out to them.  I am Facebook friends with my first serious boyfriend, as well as with one of my last.  I'm not all the bad to all that many people.  Some searches turn out good, some turn up nothing, and some do not have happy endings.

Once, I found an old jar of homemade, home canned spaghetti sauce that an ex of mine had made.  I actually thought, "I should find him and ask him how long this stuff is good for."  So, I started searching.  He was never one to be on Facebook or to use email, so I figured I would be lucky to find an old phone number for him.  I found him.  And pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, it was in the obituaries.  My old friend, it turned out, had been murdered a few years earlier.  Even though it had been many years since we spoke, I cried like a baby.  I was angry, and I felt cheated.  He was a good man, and he didn't deserve to die the way that he did.  He had been one of the few men in my life who didn't use me and who would have done anything to help me.  He was the last man I spent time with before moving away from Indiana, and he had encouraged me to spread my wings and to find myself, even though it meant him losing me.


I just took a break from writing this and searched for Rachel again.  (I am truly sick!  Send help!)  This time, I found her mother's obituary.  I had always contemplated contacting her mother, with whom I had a good relationship, to tell her my side of our break up.  I never did, and now it's too late.  Maybe, I was giving Rachel some leeway and not putting her mother in a spot where she didn't have to say anything bad about her.  Her mother had actually warned against us moving in together.  Rachel, she argued, doesn't get along with roommates, and if we wanted to remain friends, we should never live together.  How right she was!  I just always wondered what she would have said after the fact.  I didn't go there.  I decided that that was the better thing to do. 

But, now I'm sad that I never got a chance to tell her what I wish I had.  I would have said, "Thank you" for all the times she filled in as a mother to me, including me in family Christmases and Thanksgivings.  I would have told her that I was sorry if what had happened between me and Rachel hurt her in any way.  I would have said that she was right, that I should have heeded her advice, and that I did all that I could to keep our friendship in tact, but that I couldn't take the way that Rachel treated me towards the end.  I would tell her that I'm happy today.  That I married the man that Rachel got jealous over, said mean things about, and never liked, simply because he liked me.  That she was a good mom.  That she wasn't to blame for Rachel's behaviors as an adult.  That it had nothing to do with her divorce from Rachel's father, or the fact that Rachel was adopted.  These were all beliefs that I knew Rachel harbored and held over her mother's head.  Her mother had been a victim of Rachel's meanness before I had.  Maybe that was why she had warned me.

I guess I'm done cyberstalking today.  Finding an obituary usually does that to me.  It feels so final, at least as far as the searching goes.  It reminds me that if I ever do decide that I want to contact Rachel, my time to do so could always be cut short.  I still don't think that I'm ready to open that can of worms, but I will probably keep peeking around the corner at it.

So, there it is.  My deep, dark secret.  My big confession.  I'm a cyberstalker.  I know I'm not the only one who does it, though.  I may be the only one here admitting to it, but that's OK.  I'll wear the badge of shame for the rest of you.  I will come out of the shadowy corner of the Internet to say that I peep into the online windows of my former friends and lovers.  I do.  And, I would imagine that someone has done the same thing to me...maybe even one of my own subjects.  It's human nature to wonder.  It's only natural to want to repair broken connections, especially when they, at one time, were the most important ones in your life.  There are far worse things I could do and far worse attributes I could have.  My motivation, at its core, is really just a desire to be liked, to be accepted, and to be a part of someone else's life.  What doesn't feel normal is the sting of rejection, the pain of reproof, and the loneliness of isolation.  That's what's weird, not me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

my birthday wish

NOT my birthday cake!
I turned 40 almost 365 days ago.  It was 358 days ago, in fact.  And, while in some ways much has happened this year, most of the past year was dedicated to one still unaccomplished, unresolved, ever-stressful, increasingly painful thing....selling my house.  It was just a week before that 40th birthday when we were given the news that we would be transferred.  And it was on that 40th birthday that, with paint-flecked hands, I ate takeout Chinese and allowed myself to dream about the new life we would soon be embarking upon....the new house, the new job, the graduate school possibilities, the new friends and renewed friendships, the new adventures, and the new me.

So, now, as 41 quickly approaches, I can't help but lament the last year lost.  I am nowhere near as hopeful as I was a year ago.  Already facing a loss of around $50,000 on our house, I can't see how we can afford to sell it in this market.  I'm worried about finding a new job.  I don't know how we will afford the graduate school program.  I'm no longer confident about finding our dream home and being approved for a mortgage now that we likely will be coming without the down payment we had counted on.  I even begin to question my ability to settle into a new place again and to make new friendships.  I've actually been in Connecticut now for slightly longer than I was in Chattanooga, yet I don't feel like I've developed friendships here that come anywhere close to the friendships I have from my time in Tennessee.

Like New Year's resolutions, though, we get a new birthday wish every year.  I'm making mine early.  I think I'll make it every day until it comes true.  (I'm nothing if not persistent!)  I'll wish, and I'll hope.  I'll even once again start dreaming of all of the new things to come....both internally and externally.  And, they will come.  I am sure of this.  I must be.  There is no other option. 

They may not come packaged in the way that I once expected, but they will still be the gifts that I most need.  Even if I don't find the job of my dreams right away, I will find something that teaches me and helps me to develop new skills.  Or I will have the opportunity to work for myself.  Even if I can't afford school right away, I will research grants and loans and take advantage of the extra time to put money away in savings.  Even if we can't afford the dream home, we can still find a great home where we can make our dreams manifest through our own hard work and at our own pace.  And, even if I don't make new friends right away, I will still be within driving distance of my sister and many of my dearest friends for the first time.  I can't wait to be able to see these friends more regularly.

The most exciting prospect still remains the chance to reinvent myself in a way, to become the next incarnation of myself.  No delay in time will prevent that from taking place.  There is no expiration date on that opportunity.  With every move I have made, I have gained new perspective, new insights, and new inspiration on the world outside my front door and on the world under my own skin.  Within my changed environment, I am able to experience a metamorphosis of my psyche.  This is the event I look forward to most.  Having to wait for this, my gratification delayed, is the probably what bothers me most about this past year. 

Perhaps I wasn't ready yet?  Maybe there was something I needed from this year that will benefit me in the next?  Of course, identifying it may be difficult, but who says that I have to?  I'm sure that I'm learning patience.  I know that I've learned to appreciate abundance.  I've also experienced gratitude for the support that I do have in friends here.  I've also realized how important it is to listen to my gut and to stand up for myself.  I've gone out of my comfort zone in many ways, and I've actually been impressed with my ability to adapt and to persevere.  I didn't always have the skills that I've seen myself using.  I will be better prepared for my next step because of them.

Helping Nanny blow out her birthday candles.

So, here I go.  From now until it comes true, I will be closing my eyes, making my wish, and blowing out the candles.