Things aren’t always what they appear

A little Valentine’s Day story for you.

All winter, I obsessed about a ski liftie who worked at the local resort to which I have a season pass. He was cute and about my age. I thought he was flirty. My friends thought he was especially flirty whenever I was around; they swore up and down he did not act the same way with them as he did when I was riding up the lift with them.

So friends to whom I confided this secret lust kept trying to get me to ask him out. Okay, it wasn’t so secret–all my Facebook friends and Twitter followers knew.  Still, I wasn’t about to go asking some guy out with knowing his relationship status beforehand. I don’t like to do anything where I have half a chance of losing before I even have begun. As working as a liftie is an “outside in the cold” sort of activity, he always had gloves on and so I could never see if he had a wedding ring. We did exchange names one of the weekends I was up there. It took four hours of skiing for me to work up the nerve to ask him even that.

Anyway, last weekend, I was at this local resort with my friends. They were egging me on to go ask the guy out to the Winking Lizard with us after skiing. The two girls were even willing to go so far as to go back outside–even though we’d been drinking beer for about three hours–to make one final run on the hill my liftie was working to ask him out. I flat-out refused, even though my two friends were half-way booted up.

Fortunately, one of my girl friends is braver. She instead started fishing around for information from the various employees. A little bit like high school? Probably. But there was no stopping her. She, as well as my other girl friend and their husbands, were convinced this guy liked me.

Anyway, of course, it turns out he’s married. Ha. Figures, right? All I can say is that I felt an utter sense of relief that I never took anyone’s advice and embarrassed myself by asking the guy out!! Can you imagine the humiliation? Now he’ll never have to know I was crushing on him and I can keep going to the resort without suffering embarrassment. This is why I play it safe always. And I wait for guys to ask ME out. I told everyone going into this situation that the fantasy is more fun to live with than the reality. I almost feel kind of sad because the fantasy is gone.

I think this story also goes to prove that no one really knows if someone really means more with their apparent flirting than friendliness. Or if they are even flirting at all (I have my doubts). Like I kept telling my friends, I didn’t think he was interested in me at all; he was simply a really friendly guy. Which is probably what contributed to making him so damned cute. Still. You just can’t go about mistaking friendliness for anything more than friendliness. This is always what got me into trouble when I was in school. I used to have these guy friends, and I would form a crush on them, and then as soon as I told them, they would back off, sometimes even stop talking to me all together. Because I always interpreted their niceness wrong.

But the same has happened to me too. Guy friends have revealed themselves as wanting something more to our relationship. I hate having to turn them down because I know what it feels like to be on the wanting side of the fence. We all get our wires crossed in this big wide world where we’re all trying to find a connection with someone. Most of the time, it just simply doesn’t work out for any of us. It’s very rare when both parties are both available and equally attracted to each other; it’s a mysterious science, an indeterminate chemistry. Sometimes when it all works out, life still has a way of taking it all away. Like what happened with Mike.

Fortunately, I have never felt I needed anyone. I still don’t. And the older I get, the more independent I become, the less I need anyone. I’m becoming set in my ways, less pliable to change. It may be harder for me to live with another person. But who knows. At any rate, it’s not happening any time soon. And I’m okay with that. It’s not stopping me from living.

Today, in memory of the last Valentine’s Day I spent with my one and only soul mate (thus far), I wore the last Valentines gift I received from him–a gold necklace with several little amethyst hearts. Diamonds are overrated, and actually kind of boring. But amethyst… ah, the beauty of purple is divine, royalty! And my husband knew that. I wore the necklace with the set of amethyst earrings my beloved Grandma H gave me some years before in memory of two very important people in my life who regularly indulged my love of purple… Love–romantic or otherwise–is sacred and must be remembered on a day like this. Even if  this “holiday” is just a marketing ploy to get people to spend more money…. We don’t need just one a day a year to declare our love for one another; we have 365 days a year to do that.

Of course a single person would say that.

Eh, well, I tried.

Between laughter and tears

Over the last year, I’ve noticed that I have this really odd tendency, when something really tickles my funny bone, to fall into an uncontrollable fit of laughter that then erupts into tears.  I’m not sad or upset. But suddenly, tears are tumbling out of my eyes as free as the laughter bubbling from my throat. My laughter intensifies as I try to stop the fit and I start to sound like I’m hyperventilating or something. It’s actually a little embarrassing. I really have to struggle hard to stop thinking of the catalyst that incited the laughter and try to force calm upon myself. Meanwhile, I’m wiping tears from my eyes that I’m trying to hide. And at the end of the fit, I feel the same as I do after a good cry. It’s very baffling.

An event like this happened just a few weeks ago at work. During a training class. It was a stupid joke that made me laugh. We were working on a lab, building a template in the software, which is one of the hardest things to do in our product, and so someone had named their template something I found intensely funny, even though it was a little dumb–“It’s not a tumor, it’s a [insert the type of thing we were creating].” For some reason or another, I just found this incredibly hilarious. And the floodgates opened. While a few people found the joke cute or slightly funny, they were baffled by my over-reaction to its cleverness. I was too.

Then, a week later, while conducting a demo at work, I started giggling about something else (I’m always getting playfully ribbed on by coworkers at my job), and it reminded me of the “it’s not a tumor” incident, and then I fell into that fit all over again. Once again, I was met with baffled faces, though everyone was slightly amused how easy it is to get me started on a fit. I had to calm myself down again, try to focus my mind on the task at hand, and relax. I managed to stop; however, I felt as though I’d had a good cry throughout the rest of the meeting.

These laughter fits, while entertaining, have got me thinking about how there seems to be a very blurry line between laughter and tears to our physiology. Both seem to come upon you at inopportune moments when you least expect them, sometimes just randomly out of the blue. You can never predict singular thing is going to make you laugh, nor can you often imagine what event will make you burst into tears. I think of this in terms of my widowhood, at least in those first years, where the littlest thing–a smell, a song, a place, or even the ghost of a feeling–could push me over the brim into a fit of fears. I still get spells like that, only now it’s more just a sweeping feeling of nostalgia or sadness.

I’ve noticed I laugh more these days. I’ve always been the kind of person to laugh easily, find humor in even the most serious situations where I was supposed to be somber, and so it’s not a huge change. However, more often than not my laughter easily evolves into these new laugh-cry fits. I’d like to think that it’s because I become swept up in the moment. Maybe a little too swept up in the moment, true. But at the same time, I went through periods of time for a while where I didn’t laugh for days. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps I’m just allowing myself to live in the moment and appreciate things as they are. Maybe I’m just a little more open to finding humor in life.

There is a line from the U2 song “Get On Your Boots” that has been ringing in my head ever since I started thinking about my laugh/cry fits:

Laughter is eternity if the joy is real.

It’s a really beautiful thought. Like a weight lifted off my soul. Finding even the smallest bit of joy in a moment–real, utterly honest joy–brings a relief of laughter that–though brief–can not only improve your day but significantly change your outlook about everything. It brightens your day, gives you hope, relieves the heavy tension that weighs on your heart from the darkest, toughest moments of your life. I like to laugh. I welcome laughter. When people see me laugh, I only hope that they view me a light-hearted person. I’d rather be seen that way than solemn and serious. I’ve had enough of serious, solemn, and sad. It’s time to laugh. Even if said laughter makes me cry at the same time. But isn’t that really a statement of life? Laughter and tears; tears and laughter. We’re always on the brink of one or the other. Joy and sorrow are so closely intertwined like the yin and the yang. We need both to appreciate life.

Googled

I just did a little Google search on “mars girl” to see if my new blog turns up in the results (and, alas, it does not) and I came across someone who claims to have a written a novel about me.

Put Karl Rove and Groucho Marx in a smoke-filled room, spin well on 24-hour news cycle, and you get Mars Girl.

I don’t think anyone has ever compared me to Karl Rove before! Or Groucho Marx. Except when I forget to shave. (I’m cursed by the German hairiness. Thanks, Grandpa H.)

Seriously, though. I think a law suit is in order. I am the only Mars Girl.

And, dammit, I just gave this author (potential competition) a plug!

Mystery of the Leaves

So last week, I bitched about all the coming yard work I had to do due to the immigration of leaves from the trees to my backyard. I thought I had a hopeless, daunting task to attend to this weekend… But something unexplainable has happened. I do believe the Mothership must have come down and raked my leaves for me. When I returned home from the Red Flannel Ride and “after party” at Michael’s, I pulled into my driveway to see piles of leaves in my ditches in front of my house. At first, I was furious at my neighbors–what right have they to put their leaves in my yard for the city collection when I had thousands upon thousands of my own leaves to pick up and put in the ditch.

Until… I happened to look in my backyard the next morning and saw that all of the leaves on the one side of my yard were mysteriously gone! As if they’d never been there.

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The mysterious clean backyard.

Hmmm. I thought. Surely my neighbors didn’t pick up my leaves for me? Is that even possible?

Well, I don’t know what happened to the leaves in my backyard, but there was basically just a small contingent remaining by a tree in the far corner. So today I chopped them all up by running over them multiple times with my lawn mower. I certainly was not about to spend hours raking them up. No way. Even if I had missed my morning bike ride and needed desperately to get some exercise before going out to dinner (and Don Giovanni) with my mom tonight. The sweat and frustration of rearranging leaves into a pile and then loading them into a wheelbarrow to move to my front yard for the city pickup is just too much work, even for a 64-degree day in November. There’s always much better things to do than yard work.

I mowed both my front and back lawn, chopping up all the leaves so that they can hopefully be used as compost for the lawn. Much, much easier work than raking the leaves.

But, still, I wonder if one of my neighbors was actually nice enough to help me out last weekend. Or maybe it was just a freak of nature–all the wind blew the leaves that carpeted my yard into someone else’s yard. Or maybe all the leave-blowers in my neighborhood created a giant vortex that swept my leaves off into another dimension where leaves are loved like diamonds. I don’t know. Either way, out of sight, out mind for me.

I now feel bad for ranting about my neighbors’ apparent dislike of me in an earlier entry. Perhaps one of them lurks on my blog? Ha, wouldn’t that be something? Confidentially, I’m hoping I have a handsome secret admirer out there who, knowing that I was on the Red Flannel Ride, came out and took care of my leaves for me. I don’t think it was my dad, though. He’s the one who told me to run them over with the lawnmower.

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The side of the yard where I mowed the leaves.

Cyclist Haters?

Okay. Looking at the poll results, I notice that the current leading answer is “Get off the damn roads, cyclists.” And I have to ask: Um. Why are you reading my blog if you’re a cyclist hater? Is it not stated clearly in the mission statement of my blog that this blog is largely about cycling and how said cycling relates to my recovery as a widow? In case you forgot, I’ve reprinted the statement below (which also remains banked on the info bar on the right side of the blog):

The intent of this blog is to outline my cycling and traveling adventures. My love of cycling has sustained me through some rough times in my life. I want to share my love with my friends, family, and anyone else interested. This is my story. This is how I learned to find a healthy way to deal with loss and depression. The high you get from exercise is legal and free. The endorphins it produces are better than any that can be given to you in a prescribed drug. It’s my drug of choice.

So… Um… Doesn’t seem to be much question here about what my blog discusses. If you hate cyclists, does it not follow that you would then not really be that interested in reading this blog? Now, being the type of person who assumes the best in all people, I have to think you’re selecting that answer just to irritate me and inspire a rant. If so, okay, cool. I realize I take myself seriously–sometimes too seriously. I get it; you like to piss off the blogger. I have been known to be a ravel-rouser myself online (as my Highpointer friends well know).

However, if you aren’t joking and you really harbor unabashed hate for cyclists, I don’t understand at all why you are reading this blog. Do you do it to aggravate yourself, the way I read fundamentalist gay-hating blogs and propaganda so that I can get fired up and battle-ready? (I only do this every once in awhile… and I’ve been good about not flaming these people on their own blogs.) Why are you here? I’m curious. Explain yourself.

Just so you know, I just have no patience for haters of any kind (don’t have much patience for even myself when I’m in a hater mode). I would also suggest that perhaps you need to buy yourself a bicycle or take up running or other exercise you find less offensive because it’s obvious that you’re spending a bit too much time at home on the computer without exercise. If you exercised, your endorphins would be flowing and you’d be so high on the energy that you just wouldn’t even have the capacity to hate anyone… or be in such a general hurry in your life that the thirty seconds it takes to maneuver around “slow” moving vehicle such as a bicycle peculates such venomous hate within you.

I would also ask you to revisit my TPL blog entries which explain in detail the reason I enjoy long challenging rides and how healthy these activities are for me (and could be for you too!). I’m sorry, but there just ain’t enough bike paths out there to please me. I ride 3-4 times a week and would get very bored if I confined myself to bike paths. Most bike paths are also generally flat and I’d never have the opportunity to burn the big calories trying to get my butt up some steep grade hill.

Frankly, I don’t care less if you hate cyclists. I’m not getting off the road. So there :P But feel free to express why you have selected such a hateful way of responding to my poll. Just keep in mind that if you’re too nasty, I reserve the right to delete your comments. I’m not about hate here. It’s all about love. I don’t have time to deal with your personal psychological issues. As my favorite bicycle shop says, “Define your life. Ride a Bike.”

Earth-shattering discovery about pooooh-etry

I’ve just became aware of some information about haiku that’s irrevocably altered my entire poetic universe: apparently, the 5-7-5 syllable format I learned years and years ago is not the standard. No, according to wikipedia.org, haiku in the English language is anywhere from 10-14 syllables!

I’m simply flabbergasted. Here I thought I knew everything about haiku and I come to find out that I know as much about haiku poetry as I know about every other form of poetry, which is, absolutely nothing. I just don’t know what to do with myself now. This totally eradicates my crippled attempts at BSG poetry and puts it back a few steps. Here I was struggling to throw hefty plot summarizing concepts into a 5-7-5 format only to learn that such was not necessary at all.

Of course, the wikipedia.org article goes on to explain just what rules do constitute “proper” haiku in English:

1. Three lines
2. Up to 17 syllables total
3. Use of a “season” word
4. Use of a “cut” (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to compare two images

Thus this example by Michael Dylan Welch (HSA Newsletter XV:4, Autumn 2000), ripped without permission from the aforementioned wikipedia.org article.

meteor shower…
a gentle wave
wets our sandals

This does unshackle me to use the free form sort of poetry to which I’m most accustomed (most of my poetry is free form, I’ve never used “iambic pentameter” a day in my life). I’m good with metaphors, usually. So this should expand my horizons more than limit them, no?

I should point out that “brevity” is not a word in my vocabulary. As you can tell from my blog entries, shorter length writings have never been my forte. One of the hardest things I ever had to write was a short story for a fiction class in college in which I was limited to one page. Can you imagine the frustration I had in that? I’m just not good at the whole “quick, brilliant idea” sort of writing. To be good in short form, you have to state a magnificent idea in as concise words as possible with the poetic genius of a writer. It’s very, very hard. I’m much better at slowly guiding a reader through a plot by dropping little bits at a time.

I’ve always thought this was a weakness of my writing. It’s so painful for me to be short and sweet and to the point that I truly must not be very good at my art. Even writing short stories–where you could have 10-15 pages–is difficult for me because my ideas are always huge and hard to confine. I used to write big 150-200 page novellas in high school. I loved doing that because I could get my idea out by a slow adventure of taking a character through a series of events.

I think writing shorter pieces is something I need to work on. I should make myself do some writing exercises where I force myself to write a one-page story or topic. You’d think my technical writing would have forced me to “shave the meat” off my writing, but it really doesn’t. You use two different parts of your brain to write creatively and technically and, hence, the two ways of working never cross. Or maybe I’m an extremely verbose technical writer.

I guess I’ll have to try this whole new haiku form out. My new BSG haiku will definitely be less restricted. We’ll see how it goes Monday. If I get a chance to watch BSG when I get back from skiing. (Yes, another long weekend at Holiday Valley. Bring on the snow!)

Conspiracy theories

A rocket to study global warming goes down after launch… hmmm… suspicious? I think not! Were I a conspiracy theorist, which I am not, I might say that this is a “Right-Wing Conspiracy.” I’m sure my husband and I would have had a secret chuckle about this recent installment of the Right-Wing Conspiracy. It was our favorite answer to anything that apparently thwarted a liberal cause.

We had a joke about this concerning birth control. He used to say that the Right Wing–in the form of my OBGYN–was lying to me about the effectiveness of my birth control in order to trap me into pregnancy so that I would meet their supposed agenda of reducing all feminists to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Because, you see, the Right Wing is obviously anti-feminist and all family-oriented.

Of course, he was joking. And I’m only being tongue-in-cheek about the rocket. But, still, I did watch The X-Files all throughout college, leaving me with a naturally suspicious mind. So I’m always looking for those Right Wing Conspiracies even if I don’t really believe in the conspiracies I, or anyone else, invent. But you never know. The truth is out there.

Rediscovering my own music collection

I ripped my entire CD collection to electronic media. Including disks I hadn’t touched in literally years. So as I’m playing on iPod in shuffle mode, I hear a song that sounds ever so lovely to my untrained ears, and I find myself asking, “What the hell is this?!”

I am surprised to find that I actually own this song, despite the fact that I can’t recall what album it came from or even what singer it is. Sometimes the memory of the song comes back and I’m excited–I haven’t heard this one in years! Why did I stop listening to this CD?! Maybe I over-listened to it at one point? But that doesn’t explain why I can’t remember the song at all. Even weirder is when I play something from a CD I do remember, but I don’t remember the songs sounding the way they do now. It’s very weird. Am I just getting old? Or has other information/music taken the slot in my brain that formerly held storage space for that song?

I’m getting warm fuzzies all over listening to music I’ve had for years as if it was the first time. It’s all very bizzare. Just today, I rediscovered the following songs:

  • “What Would Happen” by Meredith Brooks (remember this two-hit wonder who made the scene with her first song, “Bitch”?)
  • “Someone Else Not Me” by Duran Duran, and, well, pretty much the entire Pop Trash CD which for some reason I’ve not played while I have gotten thoroughly sick of their Medazzaland CD.
  • “Oranoco Flow” by Enya
  • “Hands Are Tied” by the Gin Blossoms
  • “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad the Wet Sprocket
  • My entire Peter Tork collection of folk music, even the stuff he did with James Lee Stanley

Of course, with all this rediscovered music floods memories about periods of my life that I’ve also seem to have forgotten–things I musta been doing when a particular song I don’t remember was played.

Is it possible I have had some tragic event in my life that occurred–besides my husband dying–that caused me to wipe out entire periods of my life? Ironically, though, I bought that Meredith Brooks CD while I was married so maybe that deletion is explainable. Seems to me I loved singing “Bitch” around my husband.

I’m a bitch, I’m a lover
I’m a child, I’m a mother
I’m a sinner, I’m a saint,
I do not feel ashamed
I’m your health, I’m your dream
I’m something in between
You know you couldn’t have it any other way

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s silly, but there’s something empowering to me in those lyrics. Meredith Brooks is just a punk-assed bi-atch singer. I love this Blurring the Edges CD, it’s so raw and angry, just the way I love my female vocalists. (Yes, I’m also a fan of Tori Amos.)

Now I’m remembering CDs that I thought I owned. I tore my office apart last night trying to find Duran Duran’s Liberty CD. I know I had it at one time. As well as Seven and the Caged Tiger also by Duran Duran. And Tori Amos’ Boys for Pele. Where did these CDs go? I suspect they might have been victims of the Great Car Theft of 2003. I can’t remember what all I lost in that epic event, but they must have been among the Missing. Along with my Siouxie and the Banshees CD and U2’s Unforgettable Fire, both of which I know for sure were in that CD case that got stolen along with everything else inside and including my car.

I could have had so much more music at the palm of my hands. Oh, how I mourn for the lost music, the lost memories!

Maybe every once in awhile, I should pretend to lose a CD so that I don’t listen to it for, say, 8 or 9 years, so that I can love it all over again…

Sore loser? Angry JW? Friendly Democrat cleanup service?

When I returned to my house after being away all weekend housesitting at my parents’, I found that my Obama sign was no longer on the front lawn, or anywhere. My Greg Bachman (who lost, by the way) sign is still up and I will remove it tonight. But the perplexing question is, what became of my Obama sign? Was it some angry McCain supporter taking his/her aggression out by removing signs from people’s yards? I would think, then, I would have found the sign in my ditch, ripped to shreds or something. Maybe the neighbor kids thought they were being funny? Was it the same Jehovah’s Witnesses who had left an End-Of-Days-Is-Coming-Come-to-Jesus-And-Forget-Celebrating-Your-Birthday-or-Christmas (aka The Watchtower) pamphlet on my door? (Sidenote: I contemplated putting up a sign on my door with JW written in it and one of those circle-cross signs that mean “No” but I thought it might encourage them.)

Not that I need it anymore. It’s just a curious mystery and I admit I feel a little violated because I didn’t remove it myself, which means someone else took it upon themselves to do so, which ultimately means someone removed property from my yard without my permission. Furthermore, it makes me feel like my freedom of speech has been imposed upon in some way. Or my right to gloat victoriously like a sore winner. Either way, I am a bit worried about this.

I tried to console myself with thinking the best out of my fellow citizens instead. I tried to tell myself that perhaps the local office of the Democratic party goes around removing signs from yards as an added service. But I’m guessing that’s not the case.