Monday, January 29, 2007

Post Rejection Weekend

Driving to work this morning I heard Donna Summers sing, "Last dance last dance for love yes, it's my last chance for romance tonight . . ." I grinned, turned up the volume and sang along.

"I need you, by me, beside me, to guide me . . . " That's when I checked out the view . . . What was "beside me" was a fantastic view of the Houston skyline backlit by a cloud-infused sunrise color burst. And I thought, "not a bad way to be guided!"

By the time the song concluded I laughed aloud.

Which pretty much sums up how I feel about my post-rejection weekend. I'm laughing. I'm smiling. I'm singing. I have no evidence that things are better but I know they are.

Kinda of like what my little community talked about yesterday . . . We have no evidence. We sometimes don't have faith. And yet, we keep going. I left that group grateful that I'm "going" but certainly not alone!

Here's some highlights from the way I would always want to deal with life after having been rejected by someone who didn't really know me well enough to do so:

  • I heard my favorite five year old play a violin before a crowd of 500 or more folks all supporting their Suzuki students.
  • I dined with a friend from California who always challenges me to be better at my profession and gives me hope that soul mates do happen. (She's certainly a woman in love.)
  • I exercised better and more than I have in a long time and could see the results.
  • I prepped, shopped and cooked for 22 people and the meal came out hot, delicious and was every bit the birthday celebration of my best friend that I wanted it to be. Plus, I was surrounded and assisted by other friends who serve to remind me how blessed I am.
  • I allowed myself to grieve, to rest.
  • I spent time with a community who doesn't push answers but definitely has something going on worthy of my attention.
  • I ushered at the theater.
  • And I remembered that I can't wait to see what happens next.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Because I Can't Let It End There

If you read the blog post I just made (see below), you'll know that yesterday was not the most fun experience. And since I relish fun I can't let the weekend begin with that entry highest on this space.

Plus, you have to hear this one.

As soon as I got in my car I checked on who had called during the "dumping chat." Through the sobs (which I readily acknowledge were less about losing Mr. Right Now and more about the idea of having to start over, of losing what I had thought would be some great adventures ahead for us, etc.) I heard a voice from my past and my present but not my every day.

A few weeks ago, I had told this guy (the one on the voice mail) that we would have to re-negotiate a consulting gig I was going to do for his church in New Jersey because I was choosing to go on a trip. Yep, I chose Mr. Right Now over a job, over a commitment to a friend who I felt I'd always tried to accommodate and for once I wasn't going to. I offered several options to Mr. New Jersey but he would have none of them. We concluded our conversation with my resignation from the gig, his stated and obvious distaste for what I was doing, and my sense that I had tried to find the win/win and, though I don't like disappointing, I had finally chosen a "me first" option.

So to hear Mr. New Jersey's short message to call him was startling. The course of our friendship would have suggested that it would be months before we'd talk again and even then, I knew I'd be the one to have to call and make amends.

I returned his call immediately. The receptionist apparently remembered me from last year when I spent a weekend at this church and with great enthusiasm greeted me. When Mr. New Jersey answered, I launched into what had just happened in the dump chat.

He waited while I cried. He then asked all the right questions, tried to lessen the blow by doing a bit of name calling (totally not necessary but somehow cute), and, even started checking airline specials to see if I could hop on a plane and come to the city (he's a boat ride from NYC) this weekend so he and other friends there could console me with great food, great music and great theater.

I thanked him but told him that my weekend was already committed -- I'm hosting a kickass dinner party for my dearest friend at my other dear friends' house with all my wonderful friends and his surrounding us. Then I asked if the church would still want me.

"Absolutely," he said. And proceeded to book my flight for the gig I'd declined. Without knowing Mr. New Jersey and the fact that he has never been plagued with my dilemma of putting self last, you can't totally appreciate what happened next.

"So let's talk about what you want me to do there," I offered, sniffing loudly.

"Not now. We have time for that. Let's concentrate on you," he responded.

And that was enough.

So I got him to answer a few questions. We made some sketchy plans and by the time the phone call was coming to a close, I had a paying gig to make up for the lost weekend trip and the promise of some fun in Manhattan!

With plans in place, I started to conclude the call when I realized he'd been the one to first call me.

"Wait," I said. "You called me . . . What did you want?"

"Never mind," he replied.

"No really, what was it?"

"You won't believe me so it's ok."

"REALLY, what was it?"

"Ok . . . I called to check on you . . . . "

(I hope he didn't hear the intake of breath I offered up in shock.)

"I knew you would think that I'd be angry with you for quite a while about what you did and I just wanted you to know we were going to be ok."

"Well, you're right . . . I figured it would be months and me to make this right. I gotta give you credit. You're growing up, aren't you."

"Guess we all are . . . uh, Karen, you do know I love you, don't you?"

"Yeah, I do. Thanks."

A much nicer ending, don't you think?

I Got Dumped

I had been playing with a possible blog entry on how I wish I had an on/off switch for negative thinking. My sense was that something wasn't right with Mr. Right Now and I was ready to chat but he wasn't so I made up stories about why. My buddies were great in listening and most of them tried to steer me away from my doomsday prophecies.

Sometimes it's a bitch to be right.

We met yesterday for "lunch." But as we drove to the restaurant he was uncomfortable and rambling. When a break in his verbal barrier-building appeared, I inserted why I had come. I wanted to know what he'd been hinting at for a week but hadn't yet said.

"You want to know now or do you want to eat first," he said, still postponing.

"Am I going to get indigestion?"


"Then tell me now. Not eating will be good for my diet."

So he launched into how he had thought he could do "this" and now he knew he couldn't, how there was another woman who'd entered the picture and she was influential and could really help him meet the right people who would help his business grow, how his good friend had suggested that he needed to get past his distrust of women or he'd just continue to push the good ones away . . .

Then he offered me a second chance at doing lunch.

I declined.

While rejection is never easy, I thought I handled myself fairly well. I listened. I responded. I didn't try to persuade, convince, convict or anything else. I simply let him know where I was. Ok, I did insert a zinger or two but really, they were subtle and he would have had to really be paying attention to get them.

Strange that I didn't play the usual tapes in my head. I knew that this wasn't about my big hangup -- my physical attractiveness or the lack thereof. For the first time in my life, I knew that what I looked like had nothing to do with his decision. He made it clear throughout the drive away from and back to my car with comments, looks, touches, etc. that physical attraction wasn't the issue.

Guess I should be more upset that he was explaining it in such a way that it really sounded like he was "trading up." Since he's in the car business, it was hard not to hear it that way. But, truthfully, I was the best I've been in a long time with this guy. I had embraced my desire to have fun and adventure in my life and was living large with him. We had good times. And now he wanted those to end. I wasn't in love but definitely "in like." And, grieving for what could have been was already taking hold of me.

When we arrived at our stopping place and he looked me in the eyes.

"Wish I had a good exit line," I said with a not too forced chuckle.

"Think of one while I come around to open your door," he said, continuing to prolong the inevitable.

As I stood beside him, he looked a bit lost and asked if a hug was warranted.

I accepted the embrace as well as the light kiss and then I began the trek to my car.

"Wow," he said with obvious admiration at what lots of miles on a treadmill are netting my backside. "That looks so good to me."

And for the first time ever I tossed a line over my shoulder, "And it's walking away."

The end.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sounds Good to Me

"Madame Speaker."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We're Walking . . . We're Walking

Check out my AIDS Walk info. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you didn't know yet, the details are here. If you can't give money, send some good thoughts my way on March 11, ok? And, if you know someone I don't know that might be a supporter, feel free to pass along the link.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Not a Good Day . . .

Last night was not a good night.

Today has been less than wonderful.

So I'm using others' thoughts to shake up my own. I'm trying to remember to be the woman I want to be and not the one circumstances make of me. So I'm relishing others' words today:

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” -- Jack London

And from a May issue of Newsweek on living a high velocity life (which is what I plan on doing):
"Every day you are confronted with new smells and tastes. Did you know what it tastes like to drink hot green tea in milk in February in Nara? Had you smelled the Namibian desert after a rainstorm? The high-velocity life not only rewards optimism, it demands it. If you get on each new flight thinking wherever you are going is worse than where you're coming from, then this life will empty you. And this is where a secret emerges: that the essential demand for a high-speed life is a kind of portable stillness. It's like that Taipei 101 skyscraper, which balances out too-frequent Asian earthquakes not by means of a deep foundation but through an internal damper that transmutes big shocks into small tremors. Stability comes from the inside."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cup of Cold Water . . . well, it was lukewarm

I slept very little on Saturday night. The idea that in a few hours I would have to pull myself out of bed nagged at me even during sleep. After checking the clock every hour, the alarm finally sounded -- 4:45 a.m. The marathon would start in less than three hours.

Ever ready for a new experience, I'd said yes when Roger asked if I wanted to help at the water table Houston Community College had volunteered to staff during the run. The idea of watching 15,000 runners pass by in a matter of only a couple of hours intrigued me. So I layered up -- the weather was foggy and cool -- and we headed down to Studemont and Washington.

The assignment was fairly simple and the old hands were more than ready to tell us the best way to fill about 1000 cups of water that would be layered on our 8 ft. table. Three stacks high thanks to cardboard separating each layer. We filled ours a bit too much which meant handing the cups off took a little extra maneuvering but we were more than ready when the first runners started appearing.

The action was fast and furious so I really only remember bits --
  • the questioning calls for "Water?" since Gatorade was at another table,
  • the relentless responses of some of the volunteers as they took to simply repeating the word over and over again "water, water, water, water"
  • the look of need in the runners' faces as they approached -- a need to grab the fluid without slowing their pace, a need to connect with my eyes to insure that I understood, a need to keep on going . . . no matter what . . . to keep on
  • the countless "thank you"s that came from the grateful runners -- this thing cannot be done without volunteers and they knew it
  • the incredible variety of body types and statements being made -- statements on health, battles against disease, friendships and more
  • the feeling of inadquacy when the table it had taken an hour to prepare was emptied in minutes and then I stood with pitcher in hand for another hour or more filling cup after cup like some sort of neverending faucet
  • the way those power packs of goo that runners love look so much like condom wrappers when they've been thrown on the asphalt and trampled
  • thousands of cups that had to be scooped up (along with everything else that got dumped along the way) and bagged by those very same volunteers who had filled cups, offered them up and now would dispose of them
  • and the best Mexican food breakfast I've ever had. Don't know if the follow up feast was so tasty because I was cold, wet and tired or because it was truly a great, cheap place to eat, but it was delicioso.

I did the half marathon a couple of years ago and felt afterwards that I had somehow been a part of something so much grander than a test of my endurance. This side of the excitement, I continue to feel that something more than physical tests were won that day. I love it when people prove we are not all out to surpass the next, but instead, we can run the race side by side and be grateful in the running.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mark This Down

Tuesday night I created the possibility in my life of being adventurous, ready to embrace the moments that come my way as opportunities to live life to the fullest. And by Friday I already had . . . committed to pump up the volume on my AIDS activism, connected with two new incredible women who will most definitely add to my life, heard some kicking blues where the sax sounded like pure sex, planned a trip to the Bahamas, committed to working the Houston marathon this weekend and handing out thousands of cups of water, and stood up for myself twice.

I'm liking this possibility stuff!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Senior Moments

The woman looked her age today. The folds of skin beneath her chin were couched on her shirt collar. Her skin was pale and she'd pulled her gray (not white and not silver) hair back with a band exposing wrinkles and splotches she hadn't bothered to cover with makeup.

Her husband sat beside her at the meeting. He had a bit more color on his face, but his coat and tie in the casual setting suggested a link to days of old that he simply won't release. His bad arm hung loose at his side.

So easy . . . dismissing them as two old geezers would have been so easy.

Then she reached up. (His back was turned so that he could see the speaker.) And she rubbed her hand back and forth across his shoulders. Slightly startled, he turned toward her. She smiled. He smiled and, with his good arm reached behind to gently tug at her foot, the closest available appendage.

Married for 51 years, they still have moments such as these. And in those moments, they are beautiful.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Am I the Only One Who Thinks . . .

  • If you're successful enough to be interviewed for an article on the status of something in your field you should come up with something better than "I'll be happy when we have more than just prom songs to Jesus sung by some effeminate guy on an acoustic guitar." Plllleeezeee . . . how much practice does it take to become that offensive? (see Relevant magazine's latest issue and certain Seatle pastor's response if you want details)
  • If 1 comment is left on a blog shouldn't it say 1 comment rather than 1 comments?
  • Rainy days should be deemed the same as snow days and everyone should get to go home early?
  • The spam folks using scripture in their subject lines are playing with hellfire?
  • No one has yet to replace the emotional impact (read that sex appeal) of Barry White singing?!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It's Juli's Fault

Juli tagged me. And only because I think she's an amazing woman am I fulfilling her request to tell at least five things about me that someone else might find amazing . . . (Since I sincerely doubt anyone who doesn't love me would give a hoot about what I'm about to say, I strongly encourage all mere acquaintances or friends who have not committed to longterm emotional involvement with me to skip this entry and read through my posts of the past or, better yet, link to some of my friends who are far more amazing and who you'll find listed on the right hand side of this page.)

1. I started working when I was 13 years old and haven't quit since. The Dairy Queen was my home away from home for five years and I spent many a late Friday night driving around Greenfield, TN with the windows down to try and eliminate the smell of french fries from my hair and clothes. I can still make that curly top on soft serve ice cream and practice any chance I get . . . usually at Jason's Delis and Chinese buffets.

2. I'm two degrees separated from the former pope. You know that six degrees of separation theory? Well, my former boss (in the 1980s) was a head honcho of a LARGE religious organization and she was invited to meet him along with lots of other head honchos. She went and did the meet and greet thing. Cool thing was the "souvenir" from the experience -- they sent our organization the chair in which she sat.

3. One book lists my name as an author. Another doesn't but was compiled and practically rewritten from other sources by yours truly. They are both rather boring pieces of curriculum and my own family (who own copies of the first) have acknowledged that they've never read them. Frankly, I don't blame them. (And having written this I think the so-called amazing part may not be that I'm published but that I can readily admit how boring an author I really am!)

4. I've gotten at least three standing ovations in my career. And, while I readily gave up that aspect of my work long ago and realize that I'm supposed to be humble and totally unaffected by such attention, I enjoyed every second of the experience.

5. I have incredible taste in friends . . . they are the best part of who I am. And "grateful" doesn't adequately cover how I feel to know and love them.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

He Asked, I Answered, She Made Me Think Further

Him: Do you think pastors do what they do because of passion or is it just a job?

Me: Depends on the pastor. Most, I'd even go as far as to say most all, definitely get into it because of passion . . . they feel God has called them. But it can become a job. The good ones do what they can to keep the passion alive.

Him: Hmmmm (with a look of some disappointment on his face)

Me: You'd be surprised at how the work of the church drains the passion right out of them.

After recapping this exchange to my boss and friend . . .

She: I think passion is overrated. Commitment may not be as hot, but it's to be valued.