Monday, October 18, 2010

Good for the Soul

I've been looking for articles on inexpensive (read: cheap, and even better, free) ways to reduce stress.

I don't really take baths, I can't afford a spa weekend and don't own a vacation home. So that leaves, ummmm, well, really what does it leave?

Well, I'll tell ya! It leaves laughter!

My friends and I all met at the diner that was the backdrop of our childhood and adolescence. The Kings Plaza Diner (KPD) is closing at the end of the month and we all decided to have a mini-reunion. There were 13 of us, including the 14 month old son of a friend. (Sidenote: this little boy is just too freakin' cute!!) Anyway, there were burgers (some with cheese, some without and one veggie burger), about 24,000 french fries, buckets of brown gravy (KPD's gravy tastes EXACTLY the same as it did when I tasted it when I was 14) and about a million laughs.

Oh heavens, did we laugh!! We reminisced about the old neighborhood, friends who couldn't join us, the weird stunts we pulled when we were fearless teenagers and the chocolate covered cheesecake.  The coffee still tastes the same and no matter which waitress we get, they never seem to bring enough half-and-half.

We're all parents now, we all have a few gray hairs (ok, a LOT of grays), we all have households that need out attention, and jobs that don't allow us to get together as often as we'd like.

I'm thankful for this group. With all the mental and emotional chaos that's been going on right now, I needed this night more than ever. I needed to laugh. I needed to be accepted for who I am.

We took pictures of the fries with melted cheese and we stole a menu. A friend who lives in North Carolina will get that. He couldn't drive 12 hours just for a cheeseburger deluxe, but he was with us in spirit.

Now, it's the end of an era.

The KPD is closing by the end of the month. Not to sound all corny and shit, but it really will live on in our hearts and memories together. When I couldn't agree with my mother about anything, we could agree on eating at the KPD. I went there to eat and drink coffee with just about everyone I've ever loved.

As we all split up to go to our separate cars, we promised to get together again soon. Maybe for a little pre-Christmas celebration. Maybe in the depths of January when there's not much to do.

Whatever we do, we'll have to find a new place to meet. It'll be ok. We're all aware that many things change, but this one thing made us all so nostalgic that we really wish that it could be one of those things that never change.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ok, No More Negativity

My new goal is to remain positive as much as I can.

I was on the phone with my 86 year old grandmother yesterday. This woman was raised on a farm in the South during the Great Depression, met and married my grandfather, converted religions, bore and raised her children in New York City (far from her own family), and lived a sometimes difficult life. Now, she is in the twilight years and she's made peace with all that has happened to her. She's still a force to be reckoned with, and loves to spend time with her family. She understands her limitations and isn't afraid to show her fears. She's intensely devout in her religion and still finds ways to laugh every day.

When I was telling her about the issues I'm facing right now, my grandmother told she'd start praying very very hard for a positive outcome. She wisely told me that although I might not get everything I want, I will always have what I need.

I realized that after everything my grandmother had been through, the lesson is simple: Pray for what you need, not for what you want.

Case in point: I was looking for some very important paperwork last night and I just couldn't find it. I even asked The Kid to help me look, that's how desperate I was. I prayed to God and to St. Anthony (patron saint of all things lost), asking for help. I wandered from room to room, doing the calculations about how much money it would cost to replace this paperwork. Then, I walked into my kitchen and there it was, staring at me, laughing its head off, pointing out my "blindness."

I needed that paperwork for today and I prayed. And then, God and St. Anthony delivered. 

I have been incredibly blessed in my life and the only way to honor those blessings is to smile, remain positive and pray for what I need. Once I have all that I need, what I want will fall into place.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Few Inalienable Truths

Now what kind of an attitude is that, these things happen? They only happen because this whole country is just full of people, who when these things happen, they just say these things happen, and that's why they happen! We gotta have control of what happens to us.

This is  a quote by a character played by Ethel Merman in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I swear, I crack up EVERY SINGLE TIME I watch that movie.

But, this post is not about laughing or movies or fun.

I'm usually not a person who just lets things happen. I try to remain pro-active and positive. I do unto others as I would like done unto me. I respect everyone until I'm given a reason not to respect them. I try not to judge others. I try to plan ahead: packing lunches the night before, starting Christmas shopping in September or October, buying clothing on clearance to wear the following year. I try not to just LET THINGS HAPPEN.

There is someone in my life who never acts, this person only reacts. And this person always reacts badly. This person always looks like an idiot and when this person tries to do the right thing, there is failure, in epic proportions.

I thought I was going to be able to reason with this person, but alas, this is not ordinary person...this is someone who is so spiteful and so angry and so bitter that cutting off the nose to spite the face seems like a logical idea. What this idiot doesn't seem to understand is that tickling sleeping dragons is NEVER a good idea. That's a lyrical way of explaining that pissing off someone who has dealt with a lot of BS is stupid. At some point, the dragon will wake up and be really really angry. Sometimes the status quo is supposed to be just that, the status quo.

I've made some pretty tough decisions lately. I've had the help and support of my family and friends but in the end, I am responsible for these decisions.

I, like the United States, have a few inalienable truths. Here are a few:

  • I hate be questioned about things of which I am sure. Just save us all some time and energy and believe me when I tell you that all's quiet on all fronts.
  • I am willing to help anyone who is willing to help him/herself.
  • I like to not keep my expectations too high; that way, I am always pleasantly surprised. This truth has served me well in the past and will probably continue to work for me.
  • I have the weirdest, the most understanding and the most loyal family on the planet
  • I believe in the power of prayer; I've seen miracles that can only be attributed to answered prayers.
I am a dragon. So, if you see me sleeping, leave me the hell alone. I tell you this for your own good, not mine.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Working It Out

I'm in the middle of some ugly emotional chaos and I have to keep it together in front of a very intuitive 8 year old. The kid seems to know when I'm sad or in turmoil and responds by getting cuddly or letting me nap or refilling my water bottle for me.

She senses what others feel. For example, my mom had MAJOR dental surgery last week and when we got home, the kid went to get her Grandma an afghan to keep her warm and offered to rub her feet. So, it's hard to keep things from her. You don't have to verbalize what you're feeling, because she feels it too.

The emotional crap I'm wading through has to do with her father, my ex-husband.

He seems hell-bent on making things as difficult as possible, not just for me, but for the kid. That's what really gets to me the most. He never learned that the biggest part of being a parent is accepting that nothing will ever be just about's ALWAYS about the kid.

I learned that lesson the moment they put her in my arms. I knew that nothing would ever be the same. Nothing would ever be straight-forward. Nothing would ever be all about me ever again.

I'm trying to do the right thing and work it out, be the better person. It's hard to try to do the right thing and be the better person when I'm already sure that I've done the right thing all along and that I am the better parent.

But I get credit for at least trying to work it out, right?