The Little Engine That Could

Monday, April 04, 2005

Big Girl finds NOW

"i don't want to be the person who blindly shoots an arrow into the side of a barn, and paints a bullseye around wherever it lands."

I realize, after sorting through countless amounts of text, drawings, black ink on white paper, verse and prose, that this is my life. It is a road map of who I have become. Wow. This sucks.

I have a trunk at the foot of my bed that has about 25 journals in it. From highschool up till now. And in 2 of them, every page including the last page is filled. I had so much to say, the margins are filled, the pictures are drawn, and those journals are loved, they are creations of joy and celebration. Two.

So out of 14 years of journalling, I have a half a year of pure joy. Because I have been living as if tommorrow is a better choice than today. As if I will take what I can get is better than asking for what I want.

I once watched a man jump off the bridge-- not like an extreme sportist, but a guy at the end of his rope that bit the bullet and jumped. He lived in "Now". And I get that I don't want to do that. He chose NOW, and although sad (he ended up fine, in Bellvue, a couple broken bones and some therapy for a couple years) he couldn't wait one more second for life to end. Conversely, why not NOW to live my life. Why not say the "I love you" today, rather than waiting until the right time? Why not NOW? Why not.

Reasons are useless. Especially the useless reasons. Those are the ones that are bad bad bad. Those are the ones that say it is a better idea to buy a new journal and start over than to finish the one you have because it is not pretty enough, or it's a little messy or it's not right, or that poem is too sappy and it sucks, or your mom really isn't that horrible of a person, or your mom really is that horrible of a person and you are just being nice, or you sound like a fraud and snotty or you are not even dating the guy that you started the journal for, or you are dating the new guy and can't have the two of them sharing a space in the same bound book, or you forgot where you put that one. The reasons that say it is better to constantly start over than finish something as it meant to be done.

Okay, Big Girl-- it's time. Time like NOW to just make your life be it, be the thing you have wanted it to be. It's time to be the one. The ONE.

It sounds so 'and the force be with you' right?
Or is that 'peace be with you, and also with you'?
I get Catholic and Star Wars references screwed up-- sorry.

So what's the gap? Where can I put more cheese into my holey swiss cheese life? Where can I finish what I have started?

What I am taking on:

1)Being cause in my own life. I get what I want when I want it. I ask for what I want, what I need. I am all there is. Career, job, finances, fun, play, travel, relationships, writing, love, friendship, home, family, health, well being, fitness, spirituality, all of it. I say it, I create it, and it is so.

2)Take on my at stakes. Stop painting the bulleye around the arrow wherever it lands. Swing out, shoot for the target and then if, just if, it doesn't hit, own up to it. And when it hits, experience the victory. Do not, repeat, do not create spin-- false victories. Do acknowledge at least five victories a day. Create a victory journal-- and it doesn't have to be new. It can be in addition to one you already have, and it will house all the victories. Along with the relationships of past, bitchy conversations with people who are no longer around, and poems that really do suck.

3) No more gossip. If you can't have a conversation that empowers others, then it is a conversation not worth having. Other people don't walk around half dead, you just walk around killing them off.

4) No more deciding for other people what is to be shared or not. Walk around and share like your "Do I sound like an idiot?" filter is on backorder. Share even when your "they think I'm weird" filter sets off bells. Talk to people that are in your "no way, get out of my face" radar, and listen. Everyone has something to say, make sure they are heard, and you are heard.

5) Let yourself be squishy. Even if you just try it on for five minutes at a time, just be squishy. Let people love you regardless. No matter how much you want to puke. Just be loved.

6) Today is all I have.

7) No promises to look good. That means, no promises to make yourself look good when you have no intention of following through.

8) Be the person/coach/friend/girlfriend/partner you know yourself to be. Borrow someone else's eyes and look at yourself to remind yourself who you are. Bodacious, generous, loving (squishy), powerful, and the ONE. Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 03, 2005

At the bar. Big Girl, Big City. Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Big Girl finds Home

How Long 'till I go Home

During the dog days of summer, I wonder why I left the cool ocean breezes of San Diego, the pink into purple and then misty gray violet sunsets. I wonder aloud how anyone could have survived without air conditioning, in a tenement building during the turn of the century (when, as the news reports, it was the hottest). And often I pose this question to no one inparticular, How long 'til I get to go home?

I grew up feeling like I would never ever leave the Golden state of California, the ocean, mountains and desert all within an hour's drive (depending on traffic). That I would meet and marry my high school sweetheart, have three kids by 27 and own not only a house but a minivan/station wagon//SUV gas sucker. I would spend evenings carting around children to various play rehearsals, dance recitals, soccer and football practices. I would stand in the bleachers and yell when my kid hit the ball, knowing full well that he is just as scared of a 40 MPH ball being hurled at him as I am. I would celebrate accomplishments by driving to 31 Flavors and getting double scoops, just as my parents had done with me. Evenings would be spent barbeque-ing hot dogs and hamburgers as the kids swam in the pool, soon to be wrapped in towels fresh from the dryer.

Instead, my high school sweetheart never materialized, nor did the college sweetheart, not the 20-something man-boy. So I moved to follow my passion. I think. At the time it seemed logical, move to be closer to my parents (who, incidentally were forced from their bliss into CT, deperately searching for some kind of Mexican food to remind them of home), to become something in the theater, to be closer to NYC. The capital of it all. The cartoonish fantasy of having a job that made a difference, and being someone that people back home would be jealous of, was just that, a fantasy.

But I stayed.

I moved into the City, with the help of two friends, and became a New Yorker. Becoming a New Yorker is instantanious. It happens when you move in, and recieve your first piece of mail, with your name on it. It proves to someone that you live in this great Metropolis, that you are part of the living breathing machine of NYC. You now become the tour guide for wayward tourists, the flop pad for friends from back home, a reference guide for all things designer, coutre, or city-like. People, not from here, are in awe of you, your job is that much more exciting, your life is that much more fabulous, and you actually become even more glamourous than you thought possible. And you become settled.

After a while, peole get to know your face, and eventually your name. They recognize you on the street, and may mumble a "Hi" if provoked. You move into your apartment after three years of living out of boxes, actually paint the walls, and your furniture is bought, not dragged in off the street. You make friends, and they become your family-- you do weddings, birthdays and parties, and you get to intimately know the local car service drivers. You know the "best" take out places, the "only" 24-7 deli, and the great place to get coffee and Hummentasha (and actually know what that is) on a Sunday morning. You wear shoes that are comfortable to walk and stand in, and sometimes, with the right amount of cash, you can actually wear those "nice shoes" out to a bar, because you have enough to take a cab home. And you start feeling as glamourous and carefree that everyone back home thinks you are.

Every once in a while, the weather shifts into overdrive-- the blistery cold of the winter, the melting humidity of the summer, and you are holed up in your apartment, away from the elements, watching MTV or TLC or BBC and you think, what am I doing here?. All the bad stuff comes out, the garbage smells, you have no equity because you can barely afford rent, much less an apartment for sale, the guy downstairs is playing his cello again at 4:30am, the early morning subway crush with the guy that's going to play the saxaphone loud and out of tune, and the fact that you are alone, with no one to spend the time with because he's holed up at his apartment somewhere else.

So I wonder still, how long til I get to go home?

And the weather clears up, and the sun comes out, and the humidity dips or the snow melts. I walk outside to get a breath of fresh air, and say hi to my neighbors on the stoop, to Jack and Sammy at the Deli, and to the nice woman who sells me my paper every day, who yells "Hello Friend" (which are the only two words she knows in English) from her third floor walk up. And I discover something. The fantasy of California is just that, good memories with a big "what if". This is home, my home. With all the good, and all the bad. Being here makes me stronger, feel more alive, as I brave the elements and the City itself, constantly battling against something to get to where I need to be.


Never thought I'd say it, but I am home.

For now.

The misadventures of Big Girl at the End of the 80's

When I was sixteen ( I know, it sounds like a song), I had this friend named Hobbes. Well her name wasn't actually Hobbes, it was Christina, and actually she is still my friend, she has a little baby boy whom she loves loves loves, and lives in Southern California, not far from where we grew up.

Anyhow, this is about being sixteen, not about now. Hobbes was always a little more adventuresome than I was, she had crazy friends, not really crazy, just people on the periphery of life. Like almost groupies to bands struggling for record deals, guys that did tattoos out of their garages, girls that moved out of their parent's homes in the middle of the night, you know, almost like carnival folk. And then there was me. An overweight, 30-ish looking highschool student destined for college, listening to broadway cast recordings, perfectly fine parents, relatively stable homelife, never drinking or drug doing. And Hobbes and I were friends. I think because we were thrown together at some point by an old classmate of mine, and her step cousin, and well, see were just perfect for each other. She was the quiet girl who did wild things, and I was the loud mouth who did quiet things.

Let me set the scene, and the era. It is 1989, it is winter in LA. It is about 65, perfect blue skies when we begin our drive. Hobbes is wearing acid wash cutoff shorts and a black t-shirt of the band we are going to see, her hair is puffed up as much as fine Danish hair can be, the white blond complementing her frosted pink lipstick and purple eyeliner. I am sure there were black rubber bracelets all up her arm, and some kind of silver jewelry hanging out of her ears. I, however, am wearing the coolest shirt I could find, a big multicolored camp shirt with a blue tank top underneath and a pair of fuschia stirrup pants with my favorite black boots. My hair was big, as big as it has ever been, aqua net for days, to add to the frosted pink lipstick, hot pink eyeshadow and blue mascara. We had listened to the top forty countdown on Pirate radio, mixed in with some Motley Crue and some Van Halen (the Sammy Hagar years) and we were ready to go. And we thought we looked awesome, and we were ready to descend onto LA. Like virgins to the slaughter.

She was friends with the struggling LA band at the time, and she wanted to go up to see a show of theirs in Hollywood. Our plan was to go up to Melrose (because she said that was the coolest area in town) and do some window shopping, and then head over to see if we could get into their "all ages" show at the Troubador-- and still make it home before my 11:30 curfew. Now, my curfew wasn't really so, because my parents would pass out on the couch pretty much by 10pm every night of the week, but I didn't ever want to disappoint, especially since they knew we were headed up to LA for the evening, this may actually be the night that they would stay up and sober, and I would get busted trying to get in the door at 2am.

We get to Melrose somewhere around 7:30, including traffic and getting lost, and a burrito from Del Taco-- and we park. We walk into a shop-- looking back on it, it was the most exciting shop I had ever been in.

The shop. Ah, the shop. The women behind the counter had piercings not only in their ears, but in their noses and ON THEIR FACES. As Hobbes pawed the clothes and tried on shoes, I realized I was out of my element. I mean this shop was SEX. Pure unadulterated SEX, sexy sexy sex in the biggest way, and I was 3 months out of teaching Sunday school to Kindergarteners. This was evil, and I shouldn't be there at all. And I wasn't cool at all, I looked like a boozy 30 year old out for a night out. I was sixteen, for chrissakes, never even been kissed!

Hobbes tried on three pairs of black boots, all way too expensive, as I looked at the hosiery. I couldn't image what anyone would need with crotch-lessunderwear, fishnets with seams, edible panties, or thigh high white stockings with bows. I knew that I was definitely going to have to go to Church after this visit, because my mind was opening bit by bit, and it wasn't pretty.

This was the point that I realized I wasn't going to fit in everywhere, no matter how hard I tried. This just wasn't me. I was a good girl, a good student, junior class president, in all the school plays, volunteering my time at the Red Cross, and going to Church on Sundays. I was waiting for my first boyfriend to kiss me opened mouthed without asking. I was not ready for this reality where sex was something to be prepared for, dressed up for, and there was no way I could afford to have sex if I had to buy any of this stuff to make it happen.

That night was uneventful. I think we walked up and down the Strip after not being able to get into the all ages club. We looked at tatoos, we split a budweiser that one of the guys in the band snuck out for us, smoking cigarettes at the stage door, waiting for Spaz of Jazz or whatever his name was to come out. We made it home in time, Hobbes slept over, and in the morning my mom made French Toast with blueberry syrup. And I forgot all about the shop.

Years later, I bought my first pair of fishnets. Okay, so I didn't go into a store and buy them, and I had just turned 30, but nonetheless, I pranced around my apartment in the sexiest sexy thing I could dig up to go with the fishnets. I realized then that I didn't miss out on much in high school, that as much as I wanted to, fitting in will never be my style. However, fishnets are now part of who I am. Not bad for a Big Girl.

Big Girl in Falls in Love

FreeFalling by Tom Petty

I was in love with a boy. Not just any boy, but that boy, perfect teeth, sandy brown hair. He played football, her knew about politics, he had an opinion and shared it appropriately in class, not too much to be labeled a jerk, but just enough so we all knew he was smart and could hold his own.

And he may have loved me. In that 15-16 year old way, where everything is going to get better once you have your license, once you have your own car, and once you too can go out and get an after school job that will allow you to go to the mall and buy music without Christmas money, without washing cars on the weekend and without your parents saying no.

Most people didn’t like him. He could be arrogant, he could be a loud mouth, he wasn’t the best on the team, and he had a beautiful girlfriend who had moved that summer. So in the confines of high school, his ratings had climbed as high as they could be, and now he was on the downswing.

In our junior year, the administration tried out a policy of allowing walkmans in class during reading or study periods. It only lasted about 3 months, just into the New Year, and all the kids who begged their parents for walkmans for Christmas then had to hide them for before and after school use only.

Those three months were delicious.

One rainy-ish November, after establishing our hand off period between History and Math, he gave me the walkman.

“I cued it up to a great song, I hope you like it.”

In the first 10 seconds of the guitar, I knew. “She’s a good girl, she loves her momma, loves Jesus, and America too...” He was telling me that I was his girl. And this cued up tape spoke to me. With its ache, with its tinny vocals, with the whine that only Mr. Petty can master. It said ‘I love you, Kim Simpson, and I want you to be my girlfriend.'.

“And I’m Free. I’m Freefallin…”

Things never work out quite like they are supposed to. He went back to see the beautiful girlfriend that Christmas, and on his return, I waited for his proclamation of his undying affection for me. It took me another year to see that I wasn’t going to get it, that I was just a girl that he could share his music, homework and hopes for the future with. We met up again after college, and then again at the 10 year, politely asking about each other and what we were up to in our lives.

However, those chords at the start of that song always bring me back to acid washed jeans that are a little too tight, blue mascara, and a hall pass to heaven. With my not-really, kind-of boyfriend. Jeff Klaus.