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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

**REVIEW** Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012

With the new laptop I received for my birthday, Best Buy threw in a few freebies and discounts. I had a choice of anti-virus software. I chose Kaspersky because the clerk suggested it, saying that it had a handy desktop widget. (I had no knowledge of any of the other choices. I can't even remember which ones I was offered.)

I now wish I had chosen any other software but the Kaspersky. Having a widget on my desktop for software I don't  understand is completely useless. (Did that even make sense???)

I previously have used both the free and paid versions of AVG Antivirus. (It was not one of the choices offered.) I loved AVG. It told me when something was wrong and what I needed to do about it. It was simple and user-friendly.

Kaspersky might be really good, but I have no idea. The "dashboard" or interface was so confusing that I couldn't tell where to find information. With AVG, I knew when the last scan had been run, if there were any problems, if the problems had been automatically taken care of or if I needed to do anything. Then, dangit, it even told me what it was I needed to do. In language I could understand. This Kaspersky? I could barely tell whether or not it was running. I basically ended
up looking at a dashboard that made no freaking sense to me. I could tell that it scanned and found problems.


Pros: Talks a good game. If it does what it says, it would be pretty boss.
Cons: I can't figure out how to make it do all it says it can.
Suggestions: It needs to be more "Push & Click" friendly. Push to scan, update and 
see the results. I don't want to have to go through a fighter-jet checklist just to scan
 my computer for viruses. 
Bottom Line: Maybe it's just me, but it was a bit too complex. I want to spend time
 using my computer,  not playing around with security software.
Rating: 1 star of 5 (1 because it did scan thoroughly)


So, yeah. I uninstalled the software.  Pronto. At least that was easy.


I'm now trying out a trial of Avast! (because a friend went ahead and installed it
while he was over). I'm giving it a try, but I might be going back to my  good old 
AVG. How I have missed it. The Avast! is kind of cool. It's certainly a hell of a lot
 more user-friendly than that freaking Kaspersky.


Peace
--Free


Don't ash what the hell is wrong with Blogger right now. It's doing some weird crap so just
roll with it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

**REVIEW** L'oreal EverCreme

Okay, it's that time again.  I have tried a new product & here's the breakdown:





Once again, I love belonging to the Word-Of-Mouth sites which allow me to try so many different products. I really needed something for my hair. Like a lot of women, I have been at war with my hair from way back when Mr. Leon used to do my press-and-curl every week. (As a teenager, I went through a period of using weird things like body lotion on my hair.)

This month has been a horrible one for my hair. First, I tried that Keratin treatment (which bombed), then, when picking up my usual treatment, I grabbed the wrong one (and actually used it) and ended up stripping out my natural curls. Right now, I am having to baby my hair to get it back in shape and back to it's natural texture.

Yeah. I needed serious help.

This EverCreme is wonderful. It's being pushed by L'Oreal as being "sulfate free." I should probably care about that but I don't. All I care about is the hydrating qualities. The Nourishing Shampoo is super gentle but very cleansing. Even before applying the conditioner, my hair felt not-as-fragile yet very soft. Remember, I had done some damage with the other products I'd used.  Usually, a good conditioner will leave the hair soft while still damp; this Nourishing Conditioner left my hair soft even after I let it dry.

The Leave-in spray is amazing. For a looong time, I (like a lot of women with a natural coarse-curly texture) have searched for a spray that doesn't leave my hair sticky or with a slightly hair-sprayed feeling. This is it. I sprayed on just a little bit and my hair felt soft all day. I have previously used sheen sprays, oil sprays, curl sprays and on and on. All of those were just "Too" something - oily, stiff, wet, etc. The EverCreme is spot on perfect.

After using the products for two weeks (one shampoo & conditioning and the Leave-in spray every day), I can tell my hair is "healing." I know that the scientists all say that the hair we see is dead, but at least mine is now not dead looking. Since I am staying "natural" and letting my hair come back into its original texture, the EverCreme system is working for me. It's keeping my hair moisturized and breakage-free. My natural texture is normally very tightly curled and over-dry. I use a light texturizer every now and then to loosen the curls. (I've given up on years of bone-straight "Oprah" hair that I achieved with relaxers.) This lineup of EverCreme products is going to be my new weapon in the war on my hair!

By the way, the products I used smell really nice. They have a soft, clean scent.

As you can see, there are 7 products in this line . I want to try them all, but will have to wait a while. I really want the Deep Nourishing Mask (or, you know, masque if you're French or rich). The Creme line also includes the Cleansing Conditioner, Intense Nourishing Conditioner and an Intense Nourishing Shampoo. Along with that new wardrobe, all are on my "Wish List."

I think that for black women and others with a kinky-textured hair, the EverCreme is the way to go, while for those with relaxed hair, the EverSleek might be the best. You can check out all the systems here:

EverPure - Color-preserving
EverSleek - Frizz-control
EverStrong - Strengthening.

For anyone in doubt about whether or not L'Oreal's products are suitable for black hair (and I know some of you), keep in mind that the Soft Sheen products are made by the same company. So put that attitude away.

Finally, I rate EverCreme a 10 of 10.

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Not Cute

When I was young and staying in my birthplace for a couple years, I picked up a saying from my mom and her church friends. If they saw someone doing anything ignorant, "too-grown," they'd say, "That's not cute." What they were really saying, "You think you're being cute, but you're not."

It was never cute to disrespect anyone older than you by half a minute, chew gum in church, snap your chewing gum anywhere, dress inappropriately, act too "fast" or "mannish," and do anything else that a lot of people do when they just plain being stupid. My mother called it acting like you hadn't been raised right.

Some examples of what's considered "not cute" are: talking too loud in public, using "cuss word" in public, not saying "Please" and "Thank you", dressing like a video vixen (or a Kardashian), a woman smoking while walking down the street, bagging-sagging pants, popping and rolling your neck to make a point. The list goes on and on, but being rude - in any way, shape or form - is Number One in the game.


Some people do "not cute" stuff because they really don't know any better. Maybe they still have some maturing to do. Maybe they didn't have a mother like mine who would smack you on the ass until you learned. My mom was a talented ass-smacker. If I did something mean or rude, my ass would be burning before I even saw her hand move. She was like Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. And, when I got old enough where Mama felt like I needed a different deterrent, her method was public shaming. Instead of a smacking (or switching), I'd get a talking-to on the spot - no matter how embarrassing. Matter of fact, I think that was the point. One time, I got in trouble right in front of a boy I liked. I was probably 14 or so. Mama stopped what she was doing, turned and looked at me as if I'd lost my mind and used my first, last and middle name to tell me I'd better sit my little narrow ass down. (Notice I said this happened one time. That's all it took for months.)


Anyway, I had recently had an experience that made me think of people who do things that are just Not Cute.

The other day I was in a store, picking up a few groceries. I happened to pass by one of the tallest women I've ever seen in person (and there are some tall women in my fam, like my niece who stands at 5'11"). This heffa had to be about 6'3" and the reason I call her a heffa is because she had a stinky-assed attitude. She wasn't beautitul or anything, but she did have a "handsomeness," if you know what I mean. She had great skin and really nice eyes. Of course, her teeth could have been blue for all you could tell if you were waiting on her to smile.

Well, a lot of shoppers were kind of gawking at her. It was understandable, kind of. She was so tall, and about as big as a spindle. She had that walk that models (or really beautiful, really confident or really snotty people) have. The snotty wasn't evident at first.  I mostly noticed her outfit (gorgeous!), her shoes (gorgeous-er!) and her purse (sigh......). When she was in line right next me, one young family of four were practically boring holes in her with their eyes. I had stared a bit myself until I remembered my home-training. Staring at anyone who isn't acting a fool is, in my book, rude. Personally, it would have made me uncomfortable. So what do I do? I smile at her and say something like, "I love your outfit. It's really nice."

Now, please forgive me for just about wanting to leap up 3 feet and smack the shit out of this heffa when she looked down her nose at me and says, "Fuck you."

Okay. Those are not the words she used, but that's what her snotty "Thank you" sounded like. What. A. Bitch.

I turned back around and thought, "I hope you fall your bony ass over in those
Louboutin's." Or, at least, I'm pretty sure I just thought it. I don't know, though; the cashier was laughing about something and looking like he wanted to high-five me.

You know me. I hate rudeness. All the way on the drive home, I was shooting hateful thoughts toward the Towering Titless Wondergirl. I decided that her outfit wasn't that damn cute, her shoes were probably BOGOs from Payless with the bottoms painted red by her, and that I would never carry a freaking eggplant colored Chanel bag, ever. (The purse thing won't be a problem. Have you ever priced one of those bitches?)

Anyway. Once I got over my heatwave of temporary hatred for that cow, I did kind of feel sorry for her. First of all, her nasty attitude overshadows any physical beauty. Second of all, I've noticed that people with that kind of attitude are only that way because they haven't found a real personality yet. Besides, she obviously never had a mom who taught her what's just not cute. That right there deserves sympathy.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Homer, AK (post-trip)

Okay, I did it. I made the trip to Homer. It was great & I have checked it off my list. My niece is happy that we spent the time together (well, at least the time outside the car), and I have told her that I've done my family outdoor-camp-hike-rough it deed for the cycle. When she wanted to know what "cycle I was talking about, I reminded her that I give in to her and do something outside my comfort zone about every 3 years.


"Oh, really? When was the last time?" she wanted to know.


I did have to think hard, but I had it. "When we did that glacier cruise thing."

My niece is a sharp lady, but she was looking a little confused.

"With Wolf for his radio station. The Breeze Cruise, remember?"

Her jaw dropped three feet. "That was ten years ago!

I did some more thinking and, you know what? She was right. My, my, time just flies, doesn't it?

Give me some credit, though. I did the Alcan with the nutso Ex. That kinda counts, right? And, when I was in Arizona, I camped in the back yard with a couple of the little nieces and nephews. That should count for a freaking lifetime of roughing it. There are lizards, snakes, scorpions and all other kinds of yicky-crawlies down there. (Okay. I did sneak onto the deck after the kids went to sleep, but, still...)

At any rate, I made the Homer trip and made it back mostly sane. I will not be taking any more trips with this particular niece. She knows and she knows why. Now - for the beauty that is this cold-ass state I reside in:




I knew it was going to be around a five-hour ride. Somehow, when you are looking out at this....


 ...you don't think about time.



This was awesome.
 But I think we must have
 been a ways into the drive because
 the other people in the car were
 starting to hate me. There are reasons.



When we finally
 arrived at the "Homer Spit" (I dunno), even D.J. 
was kind of pissed at me. 
He went to my BFF and just kept looking 
me like, well... you can see that picture of him.



He really got an attitude with me when we put on his sunglasses! Thought he was cute, little booger.


The BFF was just eating all that attention from the Deej. It was probably kind of a pop in the jaw when he lost interest in both of us after a group of bachelorettes pulled in next to us. We called it the Party Mobile:

"Last fling B4 the bling!" "Honk 4 hotties!" (the rest NSFanything)

The girls came over to tell us that they'd been kicked out of their last spot for "being too quiet." They saw me trying to get D.J. down for a nap & promised to behave. And they actually did. (I posted the large image so you can see how the ladies decorated. They wore custom t-shirts with a similar theme. Made me and the BFF glad Deej can't read yet.) BTW - they were a bunch of super-sweet young gals. The one getting married hugged BFF and I when we were leaving (even though she was upset we didn't want to toast her good news with a drink) and I sure hope she has a good life.

***
Despite the chill, it was nice there on the Spit (?). Peaceful.

And that creature of the air you see up there, that's an eagle. Wish I'd gotten a better photo, but it was like, "Look! Eagle!" I just pointed and clicked. He was a sight to see.

It was cold as Hitler's heart, but, damn! This was pretty.


And, yeah, D.J. and I made up. I started calling him "Stinky-boo" because he had a case of the toots.

***

For this next one, I sincerely apologize. I know the quality is awful, but I was changing Deej's diaper when the BFF yelled for me to turn around and get a snap of this sunrise. We were afraid it wouldn't last long! A photo can't capture that glory anyway. Even D.J. was in awe.



The rest are just randoms. Hope you likey.






The "Salty Dawg." (I stayed sweet & left well enough alone!)
I have more pics, but my camera is having attitude problems. Will post more if they are pretty good.

Peace
--Free

Friday, July 13, 2012

Homer, AK (pre-trip)

After being in Alaska since the dawn of time, I am finally fighting some of my phobias and reticence to do a trip to Homer.

Yeah. Me. In a car, riding next to water. Going to a beach - where there is, obviously more water.

I got talked into this by my niece who wants my little grand-nephew to go. She need a baby-sitter while she and another of my nieces go out with some friends on a charter for halibut. She kind of made me feel guilty (since I broke my promise of going camping with her), and she made me curious. Apparently, Homer is supposed to be gorgeous.

One of the BFFs is going with me. Everyone undertands my phobias and other weirdities, so...

While the nieces are out fishing, BFF and I will try to enjoy this "beach" I'm hearing about and we will take D.J. into town with us to look around. A friend of the family has his folks up here for a summer visit with the motor home they drove up in. My group has been invited to hang with them if we want.

Should be good time, right?

Anyway, I will take a LOT of pictures (cos I'm pretty sure I will never do something like this again) and post about the trip. Right now, I have to try to pack for the trip using just a single backpack-sized bag. Yeah, right. I used to be good at economy-packing and made it through a two-month tour of England with just a backpack. Those days left as I got older. A few years ago, I travelled from Ft. Worth to Houston for a three-day stay and had two suitcases, a carry-on, laptop bag and a purse the size of Madea. But. I will try! LOL

(By the way, I am kind of looking forward to this.)

Peace
--Free


Thursday, July 12, 2012

This Kind of Ignorance...

I don't know how in the hell I missed hearing about this until now, but after reading Morgan Freeman's opinion of the blackness of President Obama, I know that there will never be a lack of ignorance in this world.

Because I don't want to twist anything the wrong way, here is a direct quote:

“First thing that always pops into my head regarding our president is that all of the people who are setting up this barrier for him [...] they just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was white — very white American, Kansas, middle of America,” he said.

And, yes, that is a little bit out of context - or at least, it's not all that he said. He does speak out about how badly he feels Obama has been treated. That's not what I want to talk about.



Let's get to this Black/White bullshit. 


First of all, Obama having a white mother isn't a stigma and doesn't take away any of what was so beautiful about his election. What was so amazing about Obama's election is that (in my eyes) it showed a maturity of the American people - not black people, white people, rose-colored people. I also loved the idea that young people got so into the fray. When I was young, I was a little bit of a radical. (Until I got crazy with all the Black Power madness. My mother shut my little ass down when she heard me using Eldridge Cleaver quotes about the "power of the pussy." She taught me about the power of willow switch on my butt. Good thing. I was the mis-informed kind of radical.)


Anyway...

I have no idea what the heck is going on with Mr. Freeman. Love him as an actor, but I sometimes wonder if he isn't a master asshole. This is the guy who kind of thinks he's God. Really, Morgan? Then why don't you create a world and go live there?

Sorry. I really am trying to stifle the bitch in me. I need to quit reading the news.

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crazy Beautiful

My Aunt Johnnie just sent an email with some of the most amazing pics. I have to ask myself why I am so phobic about all these breathtakingly beautiful things, but you all already know I'm a little bit crazy.


Oh, MY gosh! In spite of that huge pool (of water, people!), I covet this house shamelessly. Of course, I'd need a Valium before I went out on one of those sky-high decks, but... LOL! (Am I wrong, though? Is this not just sheer gorgeousness?)

***

When I call this "breath-taking," I'm serious as I can be. I love this picture. If I could, I'd have a huge, framed print of this one. (But all that water... Gives me screaming daymares to think about being within ten feet of it!)
***

Beautiful, right? Yeah, but I'd have to close my eyes and sing "Farmer In The Dell" to survive a drive over it. I figure there's got to be a hotel nearby where I could have a good, safe view...
***

Okay. Here's the deal with me and horses: They are huge and have those big teeth. I hear they can stomp the shit out of you if you get on their bad side. (I will check and see if I ever posted about what happened to me at one of the pony ride setups in the parking lot of a Safeway...) But - good mercy, this is one majestic animal.
***
Hope you enjoyed the pics. I sure did. (I have got to learn to do the reverse search thing so that I can give due photo credit.)

Peace
--Free

Getting, Being And Staying Real

One of the things I am re-learning as I try writing a book is what I first learned when I started blogging: it's hard not to edit out your real self.

We all do a little photoshopping of ourselves everyday. It's a routine, like brushing your teeth, shaving or putting on makeup. I believe every one of us has parts of ourselves that we are afraid to expose. (For the smart asses out there, I am not talking about physical exposure.)

I try to be brave here on the blog. I'm really trying to be brave with the essays I am writing for the book. Some of what is so painful, embarrassing and humiliating for one of us can be helpful for someone else. Maybe they can learn that you can survive almost anything. Maybe they can learn that some things just don't matter after all.

One of the things I have talked about (but probably not deeply or seriously enough) is the verbal and mental abuse I survived in a marriage. That's a hard one. Maybe when I finish surviving it, it will be easier to talk about.  The thing about that situation is that the damage one person does to us cannot be altogether undone by ourselves; we need a little of the healing to come from outside ourselves. I'm getting there.

There are a lot of topics that are tough to address with a straight face. A lot of us would rather make jokes, be hurtful or be as outrageous and shocking as we can imagine. As vulgar and "open" as some people (musicians, artists, actors) want to be, what a lot of them are doing is not really useful to anyone outside themselves. I think it's easier for someone to sing about giving out "the best p_ _ _ y" around (and, yes, that's really in a song) than it is to talk about what's real about love. I think it's easy for someone to cut their hair weird or dress in meat clothing (WTH is that  about) or perform an exorcism as part of a stage show. What's hard is to talk about why we hurt people who are different than we are.

Sometimes there is a meanness that comes with covering up what we feel. I've been mean to hide being vulnerable or confused. (Just go back to some of my older postings.) What I wish is that, in some of those instances, another person would have just confronted me.

I forget where the hell I was going with this post. (I'm going to blame the Sarc, like I always do!) Mainly, I guess I was just thinking about how we need to be kinder and more loving to other people. I might not be tolerant of everything, but I need to look deeper at myself before I condemn anyone else. That's going to take learning to be real and stay real - about me, my feelings, my flaws, my needs and my whole self.

Peace
--Free


Monday, July 09, 2012

Man Down...

(courtesy Clker.com)




Well, actually, it's our internet that's been down. I didn't ask, but I think this makes the third router we've blown through in a year and a half. Really?

Anyway, I am trying to catch up on answering my emails from you guys. And I am trying to write. Of course, I was the "man down" the last couple days. This freaking tooth problem... I hate taking pain meds, so I've been Aleve'd up and wearing ice packs (okay, not ice packs but bags of frozen veggies) on my face. I'm pretty sure this has been good for my complexion! lol

So, folks, I will be back up and running tomorrow. Thanks for checking in on me. You guys don't know how nice that makes me feel.

Peace
--Free

Sunday, July 08, 2012

"I Do That Too" (dot com)

If you are the least little bit down or just want to waste a few minutes' time, go over to I DO THAT TOO. It seems to be mostly for and by the younger crowd, so I don't know how juvenile it makes me that I literally sat down and laughed til I almost cried at this one:



"Untitled #5590" by i-do-that-too on Polyvore
It should be called "I've DONE that."

Peace
--Free

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Pain & Vanity & Missing Teeth

Sooo.... I went and broke a tooth. A front tooth.

This was not a little chip (I'd done that already and was trying to live with it), but a big ol' can't-miss-it-if-you-tried chunk. I mean, I'm already bucktoothed, do I need to buck-half-toothed?

~sigh~

Let me tell you how that made me just sit down and break into sobs... I mean, I haven't had such a good cry in at least two weeks! No, seriously, though. I really did have a little bit of a meltdown.

I had chipped this tooth some time ago. It was ugly but not horrendous. I was just dealing with it because there are so many more important things going on in the world, right? Okay. So I was used to the chipped tooth. (I'd even got into the habit of running my tongue over it.) Then night before last, I bumped the tooth with a drinking glass. No problem - I just felt clumsy for having trouble finding my mouth. I went to bed and woke up a few hours later to go to the bathroom. Ran my tongue over that tooth and something just felt different. Something was different all right. Where I'd had a little bit of a gap, I now had a space I that could be seen from anywhere in the world. Damn, damn, damnit.

I hardly slept the rest of the night. I was trying to figure out how the hell I broke a tooth while asleep. It's not like I was sleep-drinking or having real boxing matches. What did I do, piss off the tooth fairy?

When everyone was up, I went in to show my sister and that heffa just about fell out of her wheelchair laughing. That was about all I could take. I had a flash-sob attack like you wouldn't believe. It was one of those crying-til-I-couldn't breathe strikes. I mean, I have put up with getting fat and losing my hair and half my mind, but, damn-good-googly, did I need to look like a carjacked chipmunk?

Maybe it was that my breakdown-of-the-week was worse than usual. Probably it was that I looked so pitiful (I'm good at that lately) and UGLY don't forget ugly. Whatever it was, my sis got right on the phone and found a dentist that takes my "insurance" and could get me in first thing the next morning. (She apologized for laughing at me. She said that the minute she'd seen my missing tooth, she'd had a flashback of a "Roseanne" episode where Rosie lost a front tooth. Whatever.)

Anyway. Let me tell you something good: the folks at Glacier Dental are AH-MAY-ZING!! 


I am a big chicken when it comes to pain. Any kind of pain, but I have a special spot on my "Weirdity" shelf for pain with noise. Dentists always use drills. Drills make noise. You can't see exactly where they are using that drill, but you hear it. Man. That just freaks me out.

The dental techs did give me that "laughing gas" and the dentist did numb my mouth before inserting a needle big enough to be a Seattle landmark. They even gave me these shades to wear (to keep water and drill stuff out, I'm sure, but it helped that they couldn't see my tears of fear as well). They were all super nice, but, still - I hate going to the dentist (which is why I was there in the first place).

Now, this is a little bit embarrassing to admit, but it's been a looong time since I've been to a dentist. Back when I had some of the best insurance in the world, my teeth were just fine. When I moved to Arizona, those fillings that the military dentists practiced giving patients were starting to loosen and fall out. Of course, by this time, I had no dental insurance. Still, I wasn't too bad off.  Plus I had other things to worry about, like a mortgage, car note and insurance on that car... Then, while with the man who cannot be my ex soon enough for me, the only insurance I had was called Pray and Hope, and my teeth still weren't as bad as they should have been, But, somehow, in the past three years, my teeth were getting worse and worse. I was losing every filling I had and holes were appearing in my back teeth... ~sigh~

Yesterday, the dentist I saw was the essence of discretion and graciousness. I know this is true because when he looked in my mouth, he did not A) run yelling and screaming from the room or, B) run from the room laughing and wetting himself or C) start lecturing me about how I ended up in his chair. He did not even snicker. He did, however, calmly explain that I needed a root canal for the front tooth, "extractions" of three back teeth and fillings replaced for two (or three, I can't remember) top teeth. I will be damned if I didn't even have a hole or something in a crown I've had for about 12 years. Really, Trudy? Seriously, girl? The shame...

Anyway, I now have a (temporarily) fixed front chopper, three holes where pieces of teeth used to be and a big old hole in the Divorce/Bankrupty/Medical Fund I was just starting to feel good about. Sometimes, I feel like it's a half-step forward and 20 steps back.

(Side note about Glacier Dental: they are having a movie night for patients. If I want, I can attend a viewing of "Spiderman" in 3D next week, How cool is that? I'd even get a small drink and popcorn. That's just such an "Alaskan" thing for a business to do.)

But back to the story. Here's the real kicker: I didn't even know I had dental coverage (it's of a general amount for each year). Now that I know, I have learned that if I had gone in BEFORE July first, I would have been covered under the amount for last year. That way, I could have come back AFTER July first for the crown I'm now having to pay for. Yeah. I feel really, really stupid. On top of everything, I had to cancel attending one of the BFF's birthday smashes at Sea Galley tonight. What a freaking week this has been, right?

Depressed as the spirit behind all this is trying to make me, I'm smiling like a circus freak right now. Why? Because, damnit, I have my front tooth back!

Peace
--Free

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Wishes

This has been an interesting week. I've had some good conversations with friends and family - some conversations that surprised me and some that were just so very good to have.

One of those conversations has me doing a lot of thinking. It was with a guy I've grown close to. Men look at things so differently.

My friend celebrated my birthday with me a little late because he was out of town on the actual day. He brought me lunch because I just didn't feel like being out and about (it's this freaking gray sky/trying to rain thing). The gift he gave me was very sweet and interesting - or at least my reaction to it was. Funny that I can still surprise myself.

There was a time not really too long ago that if someone I liked a lot gave me a certain kind of gift, I'd get all analytical about what it meant. (Why this gift? What does it mean? Is he trying to tell me something? How am I supposed to react?) I guess I've either finally grown up or just grown calmer. Whatever it is, I just took the gift as it was. It's just a gift and it's nice and very thoughtful, very me.

My friend was so pleased by my reaction that he shared a "guy thought" with me. He told me that I had apparently learned something that it had taken him longer to learn: relationships are only as complicated as we make them. Ours is not complicated. (Well, it is sometimes, but only when I make it that way.)

Like I said, I thought about our conversation long after it was over. I started to think about how I really have changed. I thought about things I wish I'd known a long time ago.

One thing I wish I had known is that sex is not complicated, but feelings are. Knowing that could have saved me so much heartache and worry and maybe one of my marriages.

I wish I'd known that age has nothing to do with death and dying. Not to make light of it, but any one of us can drop dead at any second - whether newborn, middle-aged or elderly.

I really wish I'd known that some things just don't matter one damn bit. Things like walking around for a couple of hours at work with a poppy seed stuck in your teeth or a booger hanging half out of your nose. And I don't mean that it doesn't matter in that whole "in a thousand years..." way. I mean that if people aren't gracious and empathetic (there's that word again) enough to not make it a big deal, then fuck them.

I wish I'd known to be kinder to people when I was younger. I wasn't always un-kind, but I had my flip, selfish, dismissive and cruel moments - sometimes toward strangers. We just don't know the effect we can have on another person.

I wish I'd realized how much I meant to certain people at certain times. (I once had a girlfriend get married. I was invited to her small, at-home wedding. I was late. She'd held up the ceremony for me to be there. I didn't know how wonderful a gesture that was. I probably took it too lightly.)

I used to lay across my mom's bed and have long talks with her. Sometimes the talks were about nothing and sometimes they were deep and important to one or both of us. I wish I'd told Mom more of my secrets. I told her a lot, but not everything.

There is one wish that I could possibly make come true. I wish I could go back to some of the people who are/were in my life and tell them some things. I'd like to apologize to some of those people, thank some of them, hug some of them. I probably won't ever do this, so does that make it not a real wish?

I am learning from my wishes. I am trying to do more now so that I don't have to wish for later on. (I refuse to use the word "regret" because that would mean we all should be born not quite human and full of mistakes. Mistakes are part of living and make our moving from moment to moment real and interesting. Hope that made sense.)

There are so many things that I'm glad for that I can live with all those "wishes." I'm so glad for the people I know and love. I'm glad for the relationships I got right. I'm glad for today. I'm really glad that I got to see this age of 51, even though when I was 21 and 31 and even 41, I didn't even want to imagine being 50-anything. I'm damn glad that, so far, my 50's are not half bad. Not really bad at all.

I am 51 and happy most times because when I look up at the sky I still think, "Wow." Hell, I'm glad I'm still here to think it.

I'm glad I still giggle, snicker, laugh too loud and flirt and crush and have girlfriends and like junk food and love music and dream dreams and have hopes and want things and fuck up and fuck around and go ga-ga over babies and cry about weddings and movies and want to do crazy things with my hair and sit in the sun and have deep conversations about stupid stuff and have places I still want to go and things I still want to do and see and taste and feel and know about.

I'm still so glad to be alive and I sure hope God is listening.

Peace
--Free

Monday, July 02, 2012

Measuring Joy

I was up really early on my birthday, just thinking, thinking and thinking - like I guess everyone does on birthdays, anniversaries and some holidays. Nora Ephron had just passed and I had gone and re-read some of her essays and other musings. I was touched by the advice she gave to younger women and kind of amused by (but in disagreement with) some of what she had to say about aging. Thinking of her and other women who lived uniquely, or fully, I got to wondering about what it means to live fully. What I came up with is, it's not about having a busy or fabulous career or family or adventures. It's about personal and individual pleasures and contentments. It's about joy, or at least, that's what I believe.

So then, what is joy, and how do you measure it your joy?

Can't measure it by the money you have. Money is too easy to lose. Money buys things that can deceive you: power but not respect, respect but not love, fear but hatred... It goes on and on. Money is only as good as the person who has it.

You can't measure joy by the number of friends you have. Friends are as flawed as you are. If friends were the complete foundation of an individual's joy, then there'd be no despair or grief or suicide of a person with friends. Friends are pieces of joy, not the finished puzzle.

Joy isn't what you look like, who you love or who loves you. It's not sex or food or good music or theater.

Maybe joy is that thing that is only indescribably sensed - not by sight or touch or sound or taste or smell. Maybe it is a sense itself, except real and whole, like God. It exists and always has. It seems to be without a known beginning, like creation itself, but given a beginning, like the first breath to an infant.

I have joy just as I have faith. They are, I think, very alike.

And... R.I.P. Nora Ephron

Peace
--Free