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Friday, December 26, 2008

Rules, Wants, Needs and The Rolling Stones

In 1969, The Rolling Stones released “Let it Bleed” that contained the track, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I’ve loved and hated this song for as long as memory allows. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I was finally able to see some true wisdom that can only be achieved through a drug-induced drunken free-for-all that was rock n’ roll in the 60s. Whenever I hear this song now, my mind wanders down a clearer path of which I hope the song was intended, or at the very least, how I interpret it.

We all have rules. We all have the “must-haves” and “can’t stands” when it comes to relationships. Some people hide behind their “rules” and call them “standards” or “principles.” We dismiss people because they don’t fit these “rules” or don’t have all of your “must haves.” After the demise of Boyfriend 3 (B3), a friend encouraged me to throw out all my rules. I had volumes of rules, perhaps an encyclopedia’s worth. Hours of self-analysis later, like we all do post break-up, I ultimately was able to define what it was that I really wanted versus what I really needed. So I threw out the rule book. All the rules. Sure I had values that I wanted to maintain but the RULES were an entirely different application. Once I threw out my rules, B4 showed up out of nowhere. B4 rocked my world, broke every former rule and in the process broke my heart. Although our time as a couple was relatively brief compared to the others, my paradigm shifted more than it ever had. Had I not thrown out the rules I never would have experienced so many things, and for that I am forever grateful. I experienced adventure, romance, intimacy, laughter. I was intellectually challenged, spiritually awakened, and never felt more alive. Had I not let go of my rules, I never would have been available to receive so much. Had I held on to my rules, I never would have felt the realest sense of heartbreak, embarrassment, foolishness, and rejection on a whole new level. Had I never let go of my rules, I never would have been able to further define what my wants are versus my needs.

Now, I am a person “of no particular consequence” (hence the blog title) but I think if we can let go of our “rules’ and differentiate between wants and needs, could truly change the way of how we live our lives as couples, and ultimately as individuals. My list of “wants” in a spouse are as follows: I want him to be taller than me, I want him to be gainfully employed, don’t care what he does, but a job would suit nicely. I want him to like to go for long walks, enjoy good food, take care of himself, like to sit in front of the fire. I’d like someone who had a fairly decent grasp of the finer points of the English language and perhaps owned/read a book or two that weren’t textbooks or used for door stops or dust collectors. It would be nice if he wants kids, or if he likes to travel and enjoys foreign cinema. If he were moderately handy around the house and didn’t wince at spiders or the general great outdoors, that would be just super. And these are all great things. BUT when I look at my list of what I need, it is a vastly different picture: I need someone to come home to at the end of the long day. I need someone who challenges me and himself intellectually, physically and spiritually. I need someone who won’t judge me when I eat peanut butter out of the jar and then consequently love my ever expanding waistline because of such action. In the time of grief, sorrow, frustration, anger, fear or general moodiness, I need someone who knows what to say and when to just say nothing at all. I need to be with someone who will be there when I go to bed at night and will wake up with me in the morning.

Now, I understand that all of our need and wants are different. Maybe you do need someone who wants kids, or you do need someone that believes the same things you do or you need someone who is blonde, blue-eye from a distinguish family such as a Kennedy, a Rockefeller, a Vanderbilt, dressed in Polo, argyle sweaters and heinous tasseled brown loafers with matching front-pleated Dockers. Or maybe you need someone to take you to fine dining establishments, shower you with gifts and compliments and pamper you. And those are all FINE things to need. Really, they are. But perhaps, at the end of the day, that’s not what really matters. What matters is that in 10 years, when the house is a mess and the kids are asleep but the laundry isn’t done and the dishes are piling up, you are with someone who sees you near the breaking point, that in kindness and compassion will say, “That all can wait, come here, sit down,” and wrap his arms around you. What matters is that in 20 years, when the kids are gone, your sense of adventure is thriving and the world is still your oyster to explore with him. What matters is that in 30 years, when your hair starts to thin, and that extra 20 lbs you can’t seem to jazzercise off is stuck to your bones, and gravity starts to take effect and make up doesn’t quite cover the wrinkles and age spots, he stares at you like you’re the most beautiful person he’s ever seen because he loves you no matter what your shape, size or hair color. Maybe what matters is that after 40 years, you can sit on the front porch, talk about beliefs, current events, world issues and watch the time roll by while you challenge each other to think bigger, to love deeper, and forgive more because he sees the world the same way you do. Perhaps what matters is that in 50 years, when a flight of stairs looks like Chitzinitza and the tennis balls on the bottom of your walker legs and the shoe laces to your orthopedic shoes are wearing thin, he’s still there by your side walking into church with you and a Sunday morning because he understands how much that means to you. Maybe what one really needs is that through all of life’s trails, blessings, challenges, rewards and heartbreak, he’s made you laugh. I don’t mean just a chuckle, I mean a side-splitting, tear-rolling, knee-slapping, howling laughter. Maybe that’s all that matters. Maybe that’s all pie in the sky coming from a hopeless romantic. But maybe, just maybe, Mick Jagger was on to something, “You can't always get what you want and if you try sometimes you find you get what you need.” I hope he’s right.

In the Palm of Your Hands

As I stared out the window watching the snow fall on my first white Christmas, my thoughts drifted to Christmas pasts. One in particular came to mind where “White Christmas” took a different form and reminded me that this in fact was not in fact the first time I had been given a white Christmas. Nine years ago, my best friend/soon-to-be Boyfriend 1 (B1) gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received: A White Christmas Yankee Candle. Trivial, minimal and inconsequential to any observer but to me it meant the world. He knew how badly I always wanted a white Christmas and never had one, and there, like a Christmas miracle, I held it in the palm of my hands.

I hold that memory very near. He gave me something I never had and could never give to myself. It wasn’t the white Christmas I had pictured, or the white Christmas that displays in department store windows or is printed on thousands of greeting cards, but it was the best white Christmas.

We haven’t talked in over a year but I think about him this Christmas day and am filled with gratitude for all the he’s done for me. I still consider him to be the best friend I’ve ever had. This Christmas, may you be blessed with gifts of friendship, kindness, forgiveness, love and the capacity to receive it all. May you be so lucky to hold your “white Christmas” in your hands, whatever it may be.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Carrie Bradshaw Moments (aka CBMs)

Some may say I have a little bit of experience with relationships. I won’t go into the details here, but I’ve been through the ringer a few good times to have learned a couple (a lot) of things. If it weren’t for the guidance and wisdom of others who have been through other relationship hardships, I wouldn’t have fared as well as I have thus far. It is because of those bumps and bruises (and my very wonderful friends) along the way, I wouldn’t have the perspective I have today to pass along to my friends who too may be experience some heart hardships.

One friend in particular, Stacy (name changed to protect her identity), I would venture to say she was going through a rather confusing situation with one gentleman (if you could call him that) in particular over the course of about a year. Side note: If you were to combine my friend and I, we would be the quintessential Carrie Bradshaw. Stacy’s fashion expertise and my crash and burn relationships truly make us a duo to be reckoned with. I have my very own Mr. Big, she has her closet of treasures, ready for the runway at a moment’s notice. I have my own Berger and Aiden, she has her very own handbag collection. I tend to have embarrassing mishaps that involving falling, tripping, etc; she can spend all day in 4 inch stilettos and feel a sense of accomplishment. But, I digress…

After one particularly confusing evening, I received an email from Stacy detailing the night’s events and how she felt. She was on the verge on exploring online dating while also trying to figure things out with said gentleman, John (for our purposes). To her I responded to her the following email, that at the time I wrote it I had an amazing sense of clarity and only wish I could follow my own advice.

Dearest Stacy,

As much as I trust your judgment on fashion I take you recommendations with a grain of salt that best suits me. With that, I know relationships, so I can only recommend to you my experience and you can take what you will from it as a grain of salt. But…allow me:

This really isn't all about eharmony, or match, or any other online dating service. This is about you. This is about your ability or rather inability to set boundaries and hold yourself to the standard that you say you do. I think this is something more and deeper because I know you're actually much more complex than you let on to be. If you weren't, John wouldn't have stuck around as long has he has.

I've heard about this John guy for quite some time now. And I think on the very basic, simplest of levels you both are very fit for each other. But the two of you together combines more issues than any couple should have to start with from the beginning, but the issues can be resolved if both parties are willing to work on it. (These issues we can delve into later.) Are there things that he needs in a partner that you are giving him that you're willing to work on? Are there things you need in a partner that he's willing to work on? I think those are the questions you need to ask yourself. Maybe, even before that, ask yourself, What is it that I need or expect from him?

Please consider this quote from the recent crocs ad campaign (silly I know) but it is these mid-age women writing letters to themselves as younger teens and I came to a stand still when I read this woman's letter:

"When I peer into the looking glass that illuminates you, I see a shy quiet girl who is critically afraid. Afraid of failure, afraid of rejection, afraid of loneliness…and these fears are holding you back. If there were one lesson I could give to you it would be to stop letting fear keep you from living. Don't run away, for joy often lies just below the surface of uncomfortable. You will fail, but failure will make success a little richer. You will be rejected, but rejection will refine your inner strength. Be good to yourself: Practice self-reverence, self-discipline, and self-control. For in the end you are stronger than you think. The consequences of all that you fear are not nearly as bad as the regret of what is missed while standing on the sidelines."

Now, I'm not saying that is it fear that is holding you back, but at the root of most things that we do or don't do, that seems to be the reason. You have never been in a real relationship. I'm talking the realest of all real relationships. Where you let someone into your heart totally and completely. No walls, no boarders, no "if y, then x", no pretending, no all made up. Just real, honest, pure Stacy goodness. And maybe its because the right guy to make that happen for you hasn't come along and that's fine, but have you put yourself in that position to allow that to happen?

Stacy, I know what it like to really want to be with someone. I know what its like to have your phone buzz with a new text message hoping that its from him only to be disappointed that its not. Or what its like when you see something on the side of the street and you want to tell him about it because you know he'll appreciate it or at the very least laugh. I know what its like to hear a song on the radio and think, "That is so him" or "is he listening to this and realizing that I am the best thing that is ever going to happen to him". I know what is like to have a really lousy day and know that just to talk to him, the real him (no pretending) would make me feel better. I know what its like to have hopes and dreams and ambitions and to want to have someone encourage you and get on you to make those happen. I know Stacy…I know all these things in the most real, fresh and heartbreaking way. So please trust me when I say, that you've have got to do what you need to do to find someone who will show up, like a real person, every day. No texting, no games, no standing in the doorway waiting for him to kiss you after telling him he shouldn't kiss you. No more. It is time for real conversation, real relationship, real connection, because you deserve absolutely nothing less. In fact you deserve 10x more than that. If John can do that for you then ACES! If not, say thank you dear Lord for all He has given you through John and the experiences that John has allowed……and be done.

I know you are strong, independent, self-sufficient, hard-working, beyond fabulous woman who has so much to give to someone else and to the world. And I'm going to tell you the same thing IJ told me that changed my life: Throw out your rule book. Throw out the "he must do this, and must do that, and dress like this, and do this, and know that, and believe this." Once you do that, there is a whole new world of men out there. But you have to do the hard heart-work now to reap the benefits of the future. Please trust me on this.

Ok, I'm off my soap box. I could go on but that's going to be it for now. This might be my first blog. Thanks for letting me share, its been very therapeutic for me. But then again I've been awake since 3:30 so I could just be delirious. Again, take it with a grain of salt.


So there you have it. Take it with a grain of salt.


Death is inevitable. It also never happens. At least not to those that we love. At least not to grandmas. Grandparents seem to escape this reality. One believes this until the reality comes knocking. This reality came to me December 5, 2008, when my dad’s mom, Grandma Neoma Nelson passed away. Allow me to share this completely surreal experience with you.

It was the evening of our company holiday party. I was scheduled to leave on the first flight to Los Angeles the next morning so I decided to leave the party early in order to pack and sleep. It was a frosty evening and my black dress did little in the way of warmth (or coverage for that matter). I made a mad dash to the car and headed home. Noticing a missed call and a voicemail from home, I didn’t think much of it until I was driving along noting how peculiar it is for my folks to leave voicemails. So I phoned home to make sure everything was ok. Sure enough, mom sounded fine but in a very matter of fact way shared that Grandma Nelson had passed a few hours ago.

Now, death is something that I’ve never really been faced with. I’ve been to two funerals, both of family friends. When mom shared the news I wasn’t sure what or how to feel. Grandma had been admitted to hospice four days prior to her death, which was location less than a mile from my place. “Convenient,” I thought I would visit her when I got around to it. Getting around to it came too late. But, I still wanted to see her. I pulled up to the building, still decked out with my hair up, dress on, make up on the verge of being washed away via tears. I eventually made my way to grandma’s room, Room 5. I was little prepared nor anticipated what the night would have in store for me.

There was grandma. She was half the size I remember her being. Her hair was short and didn’t have her teeth in. The light in the room was dim, warm and quiet. I surveyed the room for any sign of others who may have been paying their last respects. No sign. No one. For a while I just stood and stared. Then approaching the bed, I reached my hand out to touch her arm, she was still warm. I took a seat next to her and merely stared. I kept watching to see if her chest would rise. I kept watching to see if her hand would twitch. I kept watching to see if she’d open her eyes. I kept watching for one last moment. I just kept watching. In the process of watching, I saw little bits of me in her. I noticed her nose was my dad’s nose, was my nose. I noticed her high cheek bones were my dad’s cheek bone, which were my cheek bones. I noticed on a genetic level, I was very much the physical descendent of my grandmother.

The room was very quite, very still. I had been able to keep it together for a bit until my phone rang. It was my sister. A wave of emotion inundated me and I began to tear. Sara, thousands of miles away, asked that I say good bye for them. She asked in a most heartbreaking way in that she wished she could be there herself to do it. I told her I would. Not sure how, but I told her I would. We chatted for a bit, really just crying. Then it dawned on me: I was the only one there, the only one there who could say good bye to her for them, and I knew I would be the only one there to finish out the night.

I resolved to stay until midnight, at least finish out the day with her so she didn’t do it alone. So there I sat with my grandmother, I was still dressed to the nines, make up certainly washed away at this point, alone in her room. It was all still so surreal. I prayed. I talked to her. I talked to God. Ask for His grace and to welcome her home with open arms. Time seemed to slow and race by at the same time. Before I knew it, midnight was a few minutes away. The day would officially come to an end, the day that would be my grandma’s last.

When it became officially midnight I got up, planning to say my good byes. Planning to walk out having prepared for it to be the end. Planning to be “ok.” I stood and approached her bed, touched her arm and she was cool now. Disbelief set in and I dropped to my knees asking one more time for the strength to do this, whatever “this” may be. There was something too final, too absolute, too inconsequential of me walking out. So I didn’t. I merely stood there.

If there was a moment of saving grace, it came at this instant. A man entered the room introducing himself from the funeral home to take her away and that I was welcome to take all the time I needed and to let me know when I was ready. I asked him what it all entailed and if I could stay while he did it. He went into detail of what he would be doing, to which I asked if I could stand outside while he did what he needed and retrieve me when he was done. He obliged and I excused myself to the hall. As left the room I entered the very empty hallway. At this moment, I thought, “This certainly cannot be happening. I cannot be the only person here to see my grandma off.” And most certainly, I was. In a heightened moment of clarity and self-awareness I looked around and saw myself standing on my own two feet (stilettos to be exact), draper in a long black dress, experiencing an overwhelming sense of solitude and aloneness to the depth I thought incapable of feeling.

The man rolled grandma out and motioned to the hospice worker that he was done. He rolled grandma down the hall, the hospice worker and I followed him in a slow, trance like procession. We reached the door way and the cold of the winter night sent chills through my dress to my bones. The gentleman, opened the van rear door and gently rolled grandma into the back. He closed the door, turned to shake my hand, quietly stated his condolences and got into the vehicle. With the start of the engine and the shifting into gear, he drove her away. No turning around. Out loud I spoke the words, “Good bye” but didn’t really mean it. Then, I, too, got in my car and drove my one mile home, back to a life that keeps going.

I close with these two sentiments: 1.) There will be a fury around the estate, the burial, the relationships between the siblings, etc. I pray that my grandmother rests in peace, I pray that her legacy is that of positive, if not immensely comical, memories and I pray for those she has left behind, forgiveness and love supersede all else. Because, the truth is, grandmas do die. And the truth is love and forgiveness is all that remains. 2.) In the times of need, God puts the right people in your life at the exact right times. A friend who you wake up at 1:00 am and while you rob her of her sleep, can still empathize and sympathize, say all the right things and tell you that you are never really alone while you cry together. He puts a friend in your life that will hop in her car and drive an hour and show up at the door with food, beverage and a warm and gentle spirit to hug you and help you pack to board a plane to Los Angeles in less than 6 hours. He will put friends and experiences in your life that you are made to endure and make your life’s experience full of the richness that life is meant to be lived.


I have a passion. My passion is generic and inconsequential to most. My passion serves no higher purpose. Like most passions it is a blessing and a curse all at once. My passion is words. I have always had an ingrained awareness and desire towards understanding language and words to the degree that I toil over the simplest phrases and sentences. I am by no stretch a grammatician, language savant, or human dictionary. In fact, quite the opposite. But my passion for literature, language and alike is very much a part of me as much as my eyes are brown, as much as I am my father’s daughter, as much as I know the sun will rise tomorrow. It just is.

For my final project in my last class at the University of Washington, I focused my energies that final quarter on self-publishing a book. Over the 3.5 years at the U, I had kept a running document with various quotes from movies, music, friends, teachers, boyfriends, etc. I was looking for a medium to capture all these tidbits in a more cohesive and absolute form. Here was my opportunity to do such a thing so I jumped at the chance. Fast forward approximately 6 weeks, I had in hand the final product. A book titled, “Just Right: A Collection.” The following is an excerpt from the introduction:

“Since the beginning of human language we have combined sounds, pieced them together into words, combined those into phrases which ultimately take shape as some form of communication. What we hear, read, or say to each other has an inexplicable potential to strike a chord within us that resonates beyond the intended meaning. Its baffling, that when you think that the sounds that come out of your mouth, are just that, sounds. Letters that are written on paper are just scribbles. But when you add meaning, interpretation, and action behind them, they become the most powerful tools in the world.”

It is that process and ultimately final production that inspired me to pursue my dream of working in publishing. Through the help of so many I truly lived a dream, often times a nightmare, of working in book publishing while living in Manhattan. Three and a half years later I have collected another 33 pages of quotes, quips, musings, mutterings, etc. It grows almost daily.

However, when it comes to writing, I generally shy away from it. Recently, I have been encouraged and been stewing over to blog or to not blog. I read a handful of blogs regularly to keep updated on the adventures of my friends who live far more inspiring/interesting lives than I do. But recently I have been ever so tempted to start. But before doing so, I present before you are a few arguments that have kept me from blogging:

1. I’ve always thought it was highly pretentious to think that whatever I had to say someone actually cared to read;
2. There are so many writers, lyricist, friends, etc., out there who have said what I’m thinking but far more eloquently than I ever could;
3. I’m not particularly a fan of writing. I am not a writer. I’m a reader and a collector. I collect many things: paper bags, old pictures, receipts, useless information, personal grudges, memories, buttons from new clothes that I know I’ll never use, recipes I’ll never cook, jars, the list goes on.

All these arguments aside, I’m here….blogging. How very 2000 of me.

In closing to my first bog entry, I will leave you with this final section from my book that I believe encompasses why words and language strike a cord so deeply in me that the feelings are impossible to ignore. While I make no great claims to be a writer, writing for me is an avenue to experience words and language. I hope a reader can experience similar sentiments, but ultimately, it is the connection to something larger than myself that I am continually in search of. Words and language are the vessel for me to do that.

“Some stem from great times in my life where love, happiness, and confidence reigned higher than anything. Others come from points in life where perspective was skewed, weakness was saturating, and anger was uncontrollable. Some of them made me laugh out loud, some challenged me, some made my heart stop and some took my breath. But all of them got through to some part that connected me. I can tell you where I was when I first heard or saw many of these quotes. Words have the power to engrave a memory that is stored in the back of your consciousness, always there - ready for recollection. That’s the amazing power of words: they can get to you deeper than any thing, power or person ever can. It gets to that spot inside that make you feel . . . just right.”