Friday, February 17, 2006

Handbasket Reservations

I'm going to hell, y'all.

I've been bad & I don't mean in that "naughty" way that guys like to hear described in detail over wine and soft music. I'm mean bad as in doing something my pastor would have a fit over if he knew about it. I'd be getting dunked in holy water and olive oil like that kid in "The Good Son" needed to be. Well, I would be if my pastor remembered me. I haven't been to church in so long, I'd need to Mapquest my way there.

See? Hell. I'm going to hell. And with my luck, the handbasket will probably be coach or steerage.

It's been a long while since I've been to church, but I was raised there. Matter of fact, when I was growing up, my mother had us in church so much we should have been paying rent. Bible Study, choir practice, YPWW, Sunshine Band, Tuesday Prayer Meeting, Thursday Night Worship... Don't even get me started on what Sundays were like. We were there at 9 o'clock (8 o'clock until Mama let me outgrow Sunday School), and the sign outside said "Morning Worship 9 - 10:30. That must have been there just to lure in unsuspecting newcomers. There was NEVER - not once in at least 4 years - a service that ended at 10:30 (not in the morning anyway). If we were lucky, we might actually stand to say the closing prayer at around, oh... 11:00...11:15... And every time we made it to the "Amen" and I felt my hopes rising - every. single. time. - Sister Somebody or Brother So-N-So would get a hit of the Holy Ghost. Usually it was this one lady - Sister Euletta Walton was her name. I'd be standing there, one eye shut for the prayer, the other one checking the nearest exit, and then I'd hear it: "Mmmmm..." Sister Walton would start humming. I'd go on and open my other eye and look over at my cousin. She'd sigh, shake her head, and we'd both sit back down. Might as well. Once somebody started humming, moaning, rocking, or swaying their hands in the air, it was on then.

The pastor's son (Sam), who played the organ, would get that glint in his eyes. Now, this boy was so ugly that he should have pitched a tent and charged admission, but he could rock that organ like Larry Dunn used to do for Earth, Wind & Fire.

The only reason Sam recovered from his Saturday night drunken comas and made it to church was so he could teach that organ new tricks. His favorite part of the service was at the almost closing. You know - when somebody (like Sister Walton) got that hum going? Sam told my other cousin that he knew just which note to hit at just the right time to get some shouting started. (He told Peaches this while I stood lookout so they could smoke cigarettes out behind the church.)

Sure enough, one sister or brother would start a hum going and another sister or brother would join in. Sam would pick the right moment to ease in a few random notes, then - when the timing was just right - he'd hit a high note. Just something kind of bluesy like to send a little thrill down the hairs on your neck.

At that point, you might as well forget going home. Evening services started at 6.

I stopped going to church when I stopped living at home. My mother never criticized my decision, but she'd drop "subtle" hints whenever she could. I would go by every couple of weeks to have dinner and she would make the grace into a ten-minute prayer for the salvation of my hell-bound soul. After she'd said "Amen," she would urge me to heap up on collard greens like she hadn't just scared me out of an appetite.

My mother passed away five years ago. I'd give just about anything for one of her dinnertime prayers now.

So, If you couldn't tell by now, I was raised among folk who other people called "Holy Rollers" and "Charismatics." In our church, it was easier to list things that weren't sins than to list what was.

Sins:
Secular music, dancing and singing, cussing, smoking, drinking, playing cards. Women had a few others: wearing pants, makeup, nail polish, skirts above the knees, elaborate hairstyles.

I think that whoever came up with the Sin List just copied another list called "Anything That Might Possibly Be Even Remotely Halfway Fun." The other things on the list came straight out of the Bible as read by the pastor. One of the big no-no's was astrology or horoscopes. This was not something you messed with if you didn't want the pastor to have to perform your excorcism.

Now, I've done my share of everthing on the "Sin List" (except for singing because, well... I can't), but until about a year ago, I never even paid attention to astrology. Until a friend of mine pointed out to me that I am "such a Cancer." She said, "You're so Cancer, the symbol should be a picture of you, not a crab."

Yeah. Right. Sure. Uh huh.

My friend brought over a copy of Linda Goodman's Sun Signs. She'd bookmarked the sections for Cancers.

I ignored it.

It was laying there on my coffee table for three weeks.

I dusted around it. Stacked mail on top. Hid late bills underneath.

My friend came by one day and put the book on my night table.

I hid it behind the lamp.

Then...

I think I had to take a peek - just so I could prove to myself that horoscopes are nothing but generic personality profiles. Then I could go back and tell my friend that she was wrong. But...Wow.

I am SO a Cancer. The generic profile thing just doesn't pardon how exactly that book describes my personality. Not only am I a true Cancer, but one friend of mine is a definite Virgo. This guy I dated a while back is Gemini to his soul, and I KNOW that my GWA is a Taurus...

Now, I wanted to toss the book out with the trash. Then I could find a church and convince a minister to bless and pray for me, but... I'm going to hang on for a minute. I need this book just for a little while longer. You know - for purposes of future reference when dating...

--Free

My words for the day:
"Thank God that forgiveness is not what we do, but what we are given." (Free 2/2006)

Music I'm listening to:
Rolling Stones - "Beast of Burden"
INXS - "Live, Baby, Live!"

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Photos & Memories

While packing my life into boxes this morning, I ran across an old Polaroid of my father and me. We are posing with our arms around each other - my dad looking down at me as I'm smiling toward the camera.

Surprisingly, I could clearly remember being taken by a neighbor. My family was going to be leaving the area & the lady next door had snapped that photograph outside in our adjoined yards. I remember that the moving van had already been there since morning & that right after we had our picture taken, I'd asked my father for permission to to Burger King to meet up with my friends. It was the last time for a long that I would call him "Daddy."

Wow. Memories and feelings hit me so hard that I had to sit down in the middle of all my packing boxes. I just couldn't stop staring at the Polaroid. I was so young then, wearing that curly almost-fro that had been so popular. My dad - always so handsome - just looked proud to be my dad. As I studied that younger face of his in the photo, I forgot about the time later when he was so sick, his body wasting away to almost nothing from lymphoma.

In 1975, when I was fourteen, there was a period of about 4 months that I still have no idea how I survived.

My father's job had taken him out of the country & he was to be away for several months. In the meantime, I was went with my mother and siblings to live near Mama's family in a very small town in the lower part of the States.

Things "back home" were great at first. I was meeting "ainties," uncles, cousins and old family friends that had known my mother as a "little fast-assed gal." My brothers were having a good time. They discovered that small town girls are some of the prettiest in the world. They just had to be careful about not plucking any fruit from a limb on the family tree. (Did I say "family tree?" In that little town, we were part of an orchard. Not only do you have all the blood relatives, but you have to keep track of the "play" cousins and such. Or, as Mama warned the boys: "Be done messed around and got with Uncle Jo-Jo's daughter by Maybelle"...)

For the first time in my life, I had a little bit of freedom because Mama stopped being so strict about where I could go & who I could run with. It wasn't like I could go very far or do too much of anything without someone watching and ready to report back. Once, when Mama called a friend back in the old neighborhood, she bragged that in a small town kids could be kids. "Don't have to worry about them getting into too much trouble round here." She had no idea the things I would manage to get into.

Have you ever met the one person who you just knew was your soulmate? Did you know right away - or did it take a while? For me, as soon as I saw T, I knew. So did he.

T was my very first love. Even after 30 years of other people passing in and out of my life & breathing a little bit of who they are into my heart, no one but T has ever found their way into my soul and become part of me.

I looked back down at the Polaroid. About two weeks after we'd posed for the photo, my father had gone away on the overseas assignment. He divorced my mother and never came back to get us. He kept in touch with me and my brothers and sisters, but it was probably 3 years before I saw him again.

Almost 8 eight years after he'd divorced my mother, my father walked me down the aisle at my wedding. Somewhere in a packing box there is another photograph of the two of us - him in a too-big tux & me in my wedding gown. We were grinning about something as the picture was snapped. I can't remember exactly what I said to make him smile, but I remember that I called him "Daddy."

--Free

I'm listening to:

"Never Gonna Let You Go" (Blackstreet)
"Pata Pata" (Miriam Makeba)

Words for today:

"Love is not subject to the laws of time, space, or matter."
(Free 11/2005)

Mammy-made Rant (Pt II)

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.(Elbert Hubbard)
You guys know by now that I like quotes & that one is one of my favorites. It's also a perfect start for the continuation of my previous post.
After our little falling-out, G (GWA - Girlfriend W/Attitude) and I fell back in - just like we always do. We pitch our little fits because our personalities make us almost complete opposites. BUT G & I will probably always be friends.
That's what I was thinking about when she called me up on Valentine's Day. She was at work. I was at home (and attempting to pack since I'm supposed to be headed to another state in a few weeks). I was busy, frustrated, and surrounded by my life separated into piles of "To Be Sold," "To Be Stored," "To Be Shipped," and "To Be Trashed." I snatched up the ringing phone without checking Caller ID, just ready to take out some of my stress on a telemarketer. The minute I heard G's voice, I forgot everything else. My G was having a crisis.
Like I said, she was at work & she was surrounded by other females who were all cooing over their delivered flowers, candy, and other Valentine's Day loot. Meanwhile, no deliveries had come for her. Not even one of those sweetheart phone calls that can have you floating through the rest of your day. G said that she'd even tried calling her boyfriend to see if he'd gotten the gift she'd sent (a cologne set), but he was either not at work or the receptionist was lying for him. He wasn't answering his home or cell phone either.
Talk about a crisis.
It's bad enough to be single & have to deal with Valentine's Fever at work, but when you're part of a couple... Wow.
Anyway, G and I (always at our best in a crisis) handled the situation. I ordered a delivery of what had to be the last flowers in the state, and when they arrived at G's office, she called me up and talked in such a way that everyone within earshot thought she was thanking someone named "Baby" and "Honey." After work, she came by with wine and cheesecake & we had a great time applauding our combined genius. Her heart & pride was pretty beat up, but I was able to make her smile.
And that's how female friendships survive. Most women don't bond easily with other females, but when we do bond, it's almost unbreakable. This is what I was thinking about as G and I finished the second bottle of wine. And I started thinking that if women had the same criteria for the men we let into our lives as we do for our girlfriends, we'd probably save ourselves a lot of heartache.
I explained this theory to G in that mellow and deeply philosophical way of a person not used to drinking so much wine. G - just as drunk as I - understood me perfectly. We discussed it for a while and I came up with a list of "Relationship Declarations":
I am what I am. I cannot & will not fake being some fantasy woman out of your unrealistic dreams. That's not consistent, healthy, or sane.
You is what you is. Relax and be yourself. I might not like everything about the "real" you, but at least I'll know what I'm getting. I can work with that.
Life is what it is. Life is not going to be one long, perfect, moonlit date with a Grammy-winning soundtrack playing in the background of our relationship. We have to be able to get through the good days and bad.
I finished ticking off these points, then looked over to see if there was anything G wanted to add. I guess not. She was sprawled across my sofa, dead to the world & probably dreaming about killer cheesecakes going after her now ex-boyfriend.
I pulled a blanket out of the "To Be Shipped" pile and draped it over her. When I stumbled to bed, I remained conscious long enough to thank God for the girlfriends in my life. Girlfriends who understand my silence and my words - even when I get on one of my mammy-made rants.
My words for today:
"If man & woman could switch places for a day, woman would explore the mind & man would explore the body." (Free 2/2006)
Listening to:
"You" (Earth, Wind & Fire - from the album "Love Songs")

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mammy-made Rant (Pt I)

Get your snacks, y'all. This is going to be a loooong one.

I had a little bit of a falling out with a friend. When I decided to do a blog, it was because I thought it would be a cool way to document this journey of mine into the new life I'm headed for. It's been even better than I thought. Since I get to let out all my wandering little thoughts, worries & stress moments in writing, I don't talk to myself as much as I used to. That helps cut back on the nervous stares of fellow Walmart shoppers. (I still hear some of the little voices in my head, but only the nice ones.)


Anyway, I'm a true techno-dummy & I was pretty proud that I was going to be blogging. (By the way, I'm still trying to get the hang of some things here, so everybody please be patient - or throw some useful tips my way!)

When I got my blog account all set up, I called my friend to let her know about Being Free (the blog), just like I have called her about Being Free! (the state of mind). She sounded a lit-tle bit skeptical. Until I quit the job a while back, my friend & I had worked together for almost 13 years. When she didn't throw a party at the news of my blog, I assumed she was remembering the times when, just by sitting down near a company PC, I could make grown Tech Support guys weep with frustration. (Those techies actually assigned a code name to me - you know, like the Secret Service does for POTUS & family. My name wasn't anything as cute as what first ladies get. Mine was "Target" - as in: "Guys, get ready to cover the HR Department. Target is logging on to Unit 1 in Station 4.") Yeah. It was kind of embarrassing that I could crash a PC just by opening Excel... Otherwise, I was so good at my job that, instead of being fired, I was given an assistant who handled all work on the PC. (The Techs started sending her roses once a week.)


But back to my GWA (Girlfriend With Attitude). It turns out that her concern was not that I would accidentally do something to crash the World Wide Web (is that even possible? Please god, tell me it's not), but that I would infect the web community with what she has the nerve to call my "old-fashioned, mammy-made values." Yeah - she actually said "mammy-made." Talk about showing her age. Old country-assed heifer...

"Now, girl, don't take this the wrong," she told me. "But..."

Pause that. You just know that when somebody says "don't take this the wrong way," they're about to tell you something that's going to make you mad no matter how you take it. And then, you notice, they always add the "but."

"But, Free, much as I love you girl, you know you got some strange ways of thinking when it comes to..."

I tuned out. I'd already heard GWA give this little speech many times over the years. She and I are roughly the same age & we had both his the court system around the same time to take back our maiden names. After divorcing my husband, I took a year off, but GWA had hooked up with a man she met in the courthouse elevator. Basically, she & I have really different ideas about relationships & socializing.

I let GWA finish her little speech about how since we're now in a dating pool with "younger fish," we have to "change our stroke. " Usually, I let GWA have her say & just be done. I always felt so guilty for my "old-fashioned" values that I could never take a stand about them. This time, though, some of my "mammy-made" southern girl fire flared up & I decided to stand hard & have my say.

"You always say I'm old-fashioned - like it's a nasty rash or something. I guess I got "funny ways" just because my idea of romance doesn't involve getting hot over some old-ass fool in a club who's trying to look 10 years younger & talk to me like we'll be sharing pillows in the morning." I said this all without taking even a little breath. Anger gives you strength. When I did take a breath, GWA tried to get a word in.

"Girl, I didn't-"

I cut her off because I was on a roll & my neck was working with it. "Yes, you did," I told her. Then I mumbled too much like I remember my grandma doing, "Just cause I like knowing what a man things about the economy, the war & the way his mama raised him before I know what he thinks about the beauty mark on my thigh..."

"Dang, Free. You ain't got to trip."

"Oh, yes I do. When good brothers & sisters out here got to wade through all the thugs & hoes just to try to find each other. Yeah, I am going to trip."

"I know you ain't calling me a-"

"I did not start the name-calling," I said. (And yeah, I did sound like I was six.) "I'm too old-fashioned for that."

There was this real long silence while GWA tried to decide whether ot not she had a right to be offended. Finally, she laughed in that silly way that some young dude told her was "cute" and said, "Aw, girl. You know I love you. You and your funny ways."

Yeah. Me & my funny ways.

- to be continued -
Oh, yeah - and I bet you thought I forgot this: My words for today --
"Nothing is as complex as the mind a woman - except the mind of a woman in love."
(Free 12/2005)
Song I'm listening to: "I Wanna Thank You" by Maze f/Frankie Beverly


Friday, February 10, 2006

Games Married Women Play

Now that I have your attention.
On a talk show yesterday, a couple discussed their sexless marriage. (Sexless. Marriage. That's just single & wearing a wedding ring.) In the case of this particular couple, after 4 years, the husband was no longer "turned on" by his wife. Now, I'm not going to get all up in their business - even if they did put it out there - but, basically, the more the husband rejected the wife, the more she let her appearance go. To sum up, in the past 2 years, they'd had sex 5 times.Okay then.

Now I know that marriage isn't all about sex, but sex is important & unless you have some medical issues, I don't think there's any excuse for not keeping the home fires hot.

As a single woman looking forward to a Mr. Right-For-Me, I can't feel sorry for any married woman who plays the game of keep-it-tight-just-til-the-wedding-night. So, to all the married women who think that getting the ring was the whole & only point, I have a few things to say.

Ladies, if you "get" your man & then stop courting him, that's not love. That's entrapment. One thing that being single has taught me is that the best way to keep a man is to keep up with whatever you did to get him. I know because we Singles have to work harder in a relationship.

The whole game of Get Him & Then Forget Him works in some marriages (if those kinds of relationships are what you want to call "marriages.") We've all seen couples in those situations - they're the ones who shlump around in public looking bored with each other. I can spot them from around corners. (And you can just imagine what their sorry sex lives must be like: a little roll-over in the middle of the night, then rolling back onto their side of the bed. See? Boring.) Whenever I see these folks out there, just broadcasting their lack of hotness, I feel a whole lot better about being single.

Newsflash for all the neglectful married women: Damnit! You got a man. If he ain't abusing your mind, body or soul, or neglecting his responsibilities - either treat him right or send him back out to the rest of us. You picked him, so if you ever loved him, then take some Do & Don't advice from this single woman who'll be waiting for you to throw him back.

DO...

...Keep yourself looking, smelling, feeling & tasting good. We can't all be in Ms. Halle's orbit, but your man must have loved something about you since he married you. All I'm saying is keep that up.

...Remember to look at him the way you used to when you were dating. You know the look: the one where you're talking nasty with your eyes & he likes what they're saying.

...What a good mother always taught her daughter: be his lady in public & whatever he wants you to be in the bedroom. The whole "public" thing includes not acting ignorant or embarrassing
(unless maybe you got a man who's into that kind of thing...I don't know what to tell y'all).
...Let him be as important to you as you want to be to him. Which is not to say you should lose yourself in his issues, but, come on girl, you remember how you used to bump something from the schedule to make a little time for him. And you remember how you loved it when he did the same for you.

...Have His 'n Her lives. You don't have to be all up in his space every time he coughs. You don't have to try sneaking yourself into all his plans with the "boys." And you do realize that this means you have to trust him? If you don't, you got no business together in the first place.

and now...

DON'T...

...Criticize so much. That's called nagging. Of course, you want to gently help him out with any minor flaws, but don't be pointing out his ashy feet if you got them jacked up never-had-a-manicure fingernails. Everybody has flaws. Work with it. If your man got ashy feet, then give him a massage with some oil or Eucerin or something. Maybe he'll treat you to a paraffin treatment.

...Forget that he's a man & that men just don't think the way we do. I know it gets on a nerve but, as one man told me: "I can't read your mind." You know what? Even if men could read our minds, they wouldn't know what to do with the information. So, the next time you're mad about something & he seems not to know why, either tell him why or drop the attitude. He ain't there.

...Get mad because he acts like a man. That's what men do. And I know, I know, I hate it when they do some of that guy stuff too - like like dozing off while I'm talking about my best friend & her mother having a crisis in their relationship. You should give your man a standing ovation if he even pretends to listen to one of these 2-hour monologues, because it's a wonder we don't bore ourselves sometimes.

...Forget that he is the man who made your heart stammer, caused your toes to curl & made you lose a little bit of your mind - and that was all just by looking at you the right way.

Most of all - don't ever forget that there are a lot of women out there with no morals, scruples, or self-respect. They won't even wait for you to throw your man back - they'll come all up in your house to get him.

You've been warned & if you've been slacking, you might want to make some Valentine's Day resolutions.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Liberation or Liberating?

These days when I fill out a survey or personal information card and get to the little boxes used to identify age demographics, I get to check the box for 35-45 year olds.

(Are you liking how I covered the age thing without giving away too much?!!)

Anyway, I have a friend who gets to select the box for 25-35 year olds. It doesn't seem like that's such a huge gap between the two of us, right? Well, that's what you'd think until it comes to the difference in our viewpoints on a few issues. Take sex. (I hear y'all saying, "Thanks, I'll have some." Just quit now.)

My friend (who would be closer to the 35 part of that age box) doesn't think there's anything wrong with "hooking up" with somebody and having no further expectations. I, on the other hand (or in the other box), can't see myself just getting with someone for what I KNOW is a one-time thing. It was bad enough the one time I found out after the fact that it was a one-timer-no-call-back-see-you-when-I-see-you. (Sorry bout that.)

Maybe I am old. I don't like to have sex with someone until I know what they might be about - until we have some kind of connection. (This is what may have run off the younger man I talked to you about once before.)


I think of myself as a "liberated" woman (I have to work for a living & If I do the asking out, I'll do the paying up), but maybe I'm not completely ready for everything that liberation brings?

So, what do you all think? Is this a generational thing? Are you all right with "getting with" someone just for the night when you know it's a one-time thing? I'd like to hear what anyone has to say about it (and don't forget to give me some idea of what kind of age box you'd be checking off!)


Later,
Free

Monday, February 06, 2006

Romance - It ain't for everybody

I already told you about my adventure with a younger man, right? Well, I was talking about it all with a friend after I did that post. I complained to her about Mr. Nintendo (aka: the "game man"), and she said she could top my story with one of her own. Where my man (not) was into games, hers was the opposite. Waaaaaaaay opposite.

My friend (let's call her "Rose") had a man in her life who was around her age (so no generation gap excuses) who not only wasn't into games of the romantic-playful-freaky kind, but was also kind of a bedroom cheapskate. Rose said his idea of being romantic was waking her up before sex. Now, Rose is a Danielle Steele-reading kind of woman. She lives for those "special moments" in a relationship. If a man cleaned out her bank account, charged up her credit cards & wiped Cheeto stains on her sheets before he dumped her, all he'd have to do to be forgiven is surprise her with a day-old rose from the supermarket.
(Maybe it's a good thing I'm not using her real name. I can almost hear some men out there ready to Google for her location!)
Anyway, for whatever reason, Rose really liked this romance-impaired loser. I think it was his teeth that turned her on (the man had some beautiful teeth, y'all). At any rate, Rose decided that she must be the problem & she needed to take more initiative in putting a little romance into this relationship. She went out & bought some, uh, goodies & then invited him over for a special evening. They had a nice dinner that she made (I'm talking stuff right out of a Martha Stewart cookbook, not that throw-it-together-right-out-of-the-box crap.) After dinner, she ran him a bath - with potions and oils and the Scent Stories going on and everything. Once she'd bathed his rusty butt, she took him to the bedroom and put on some mood music (meaning Marvin Gaye & Patti LaBelle - not somebody singing about popping and coochies). While she had him relaxing on her clean& perfumed sheets, she got out the little tray of "goodies": silk scarves & some strawberries, whipped cream, champagne & melted chocolate... You're getting the picture, right? Her plan - straight out of an advice mag - was that they would take turns blindfolding each other & having a creative taste test. I am not this creative or energetic when it comes to romance. I mean, it shouldn't take all this. 
(But I did tell you that Rose is a romantic? Girl been reading all them Cosmo articles & such...)
So, what happens? Do Rose & her man have a nice evening, deepening their relationship & becoming closer? Not even close.

First of all, by the time Rose got everything ready, Mr. Love Machine had fallen asleep & Rose had to wipe drool off his mouth. Next, he saw the edibles & started scarfing down the strawberries, talking about "that fancy dinner of yours wouldn't feed a two-year old." When Rose explained that she'd had something a little more sensual planned for the goodies, his eyes bugged. He said, "We gone waste good food on that? Girl, I ain't licking no chocolate off ya cha-chas when I can use it on some of that ice cream you hiding from yourself in the back of the freezer."

Rose - a trouper, yes she is - tried to tantalize him back into the romantic moment by saying how they could tie each other up if he wanted. Wrong move. Mister almost hurt himself getting out of bed & finding his clothes. "Aw, hell naw," he told her. "A woman tie you up, she liable to bust you with some hot grits or trim your Yankee. Just ask Al Green."

Rose said he left so fast he almost didn't have time to grab the rest of the strawberries.

Romance. It ain't for everybody.



**Disclaimer: Not only have some of the names been changed, but so have some of the facts. It wouldn't be as funny a story without a little embellishment!**


My word for the day is a little bit weak ("Bad days are like rainy ones - necessary every now & then"), so I'll toss in a little list of some songs I'm listening to for the day:

* "In The Deep" (Bird York)
** "Woman 2 Woman" (Jaguar Wright)
*** "Even If" (Amel Larrieux)

Introducing Free Being Free

This is Free here & this is the first post in what I hope will be a journey of posts. (Did that sound like I was trying a little too hard to be literate? I thought so.) Okay. All I meant is, my name is Free & this blog is new.

There. Keeping it simple for myself.

Seriously (for now), this is going to be a journal of my road to a new life in a new place with new people & new faces. For the first time in __ years (I'll let you fill in the blanks of your imagination because if I do, I'll give away more about myself than I'm ready to!), I'm unshackled and, well - free. I get to get out there and learn how to do all the stuff that I've forgotten how to: having a lot of fun, doing & seeing new things, dating... I'm a little bit worried about that last one, but I'm ready to see how it goes.

I hope that those of you who tune into my blog will be willing to give me a little advice every now and then. Like I said, I'm just getting back into the game of being Free & I don't care what you've been told - it ain't like riding a bicycle & even if it was, I was bad at that too!

What's really sad is that I haven't even met any of you yet & I already need advice. If somebody can please tell me what it means when you've known a man for less than 3 weeks (okay, I'ma quit lying - I knew him long before that, but I mean "knowing" as in knowing he was interested - and not that biblical kind of knowing that some of you were thinking about) and he wants you to play little mail & phone "games" with him? (C'mon people, you DO know what I mean by "games" right?) I'm not talking about we'd have a normal conversation for a while, then play the games - I mean, that's ALL he wanted to do. If I tried to talk about anything else - you know: life, the world, or how our day might be going - he'd find a way to get back to the "fun" stuff. (What's really crazy is that, in person, he was always so...reserved. A complete gentleman.) Now, I'm out of practice, but not dead. I did play along (and pretty well, I thought), but I don't suppose I wanted to play enough since I haven't heard from him in a few weeks. Hmmm... Keep in mind, this guy is a little younger than I am (mid-30's for him). Do you think I just need to loosen up? Is it asking too much or being old-fashioned to ask for a little courtship first? Help me out here.

Well, I'll take a breather for now & wait to see if there really is a world of people out there just waiting to read my blog and help me see my life through more than one pair of eyes.

Words to remember: "A bully is just a bold coward." Like that? Okay, I'll try to keep it up in the future.