Tuesday, February 27, 2007

having said goodbye

I just got back from the funeral for my ex's (J) dad. It was a beautiful service - the words were profound and it was filled with love and forgiveness and celebration of life. J opened it up with two songs - he sang perfectly, I cannot imagine what kind of strength that took, and he maintained it throughout the service. A family friend gave the eulogy - a tribute to his dad's faith and the belief that he has moved on to a more peaceful place. A family friend read a letter he'd prepared before his death directed at each of his children and grand children that recognized their strengths, some of their challenges and the importance of sticking together and supporting each other as they all grow. J closed the service with some words about the last few months with his dad, what it meant to him and to the family - and read some lyrics he adapted to honor him. I was, and am, amazed at his strength.

I struggled when leaving to know whether I should go to the reception afterwards. I had the opportunity to see a number of family I haven't seen in ages at the service - and it would have been nice to have caught up a bit with each of them. But I couldn't stop crying, and I wasn't sure if J's "girlfriend" would be there or not. His sister has told me they don't really like her, and I didn't want to create a situation where she would feel any more uncomfortable than she might already (they didn't always like me when we dated - now they love me!). I only worry that his sister would think I didn't come because I had something else I needed to do (she said as much when I left the wake early yesterday to attend a dinner I had scheduled) - so I left messages for both her and his mom to send my love and hopefully convey my best wishes. I hate that it's so complicated for me to simply lend my support during this time - but I'm trying to respect the feelings of two people very important to me who likely have conflicting comfort zones. And at the same time, I'm trying to deal with my own emotions of having seen the absolute best pieces of the person I've loved most in this life, and know that he's going home with someone else.

My mom asked me if it made me second guess being apart - the only way I could respond is to say that if that was the J that I got to be with - strong and emotionally available - I could have never walked away. But somehow all those best pieces of him (and all the best pieces of me) only seem to thrive when we're apart. I can't quite wrap my hands or heart around that fact - so I'm left with the heart break that you only feel when you love someone that much, and you don't have license to show them anymore. I can send him all the messages of love that I want - but in the end, he's going through this on his own, with his new support system, and I'm just a bystander.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

if I could bottle this I would

The weekend has ended, and it's 21 days until I leave for Africa, and 6.5 until I see him again.

How did I manage this? To find myself smack dab in the middle of a cross-continental romance? Did I seek it out? Did I send some signal to the cosmos that sent me the most delightful yet locationally challenged beau? I'll try not to get ahead of myself - this is making it all sound as if the location is a problem. It's not, well not yet.

In the spectrum of a relationship we are still early in the getting to know each other process. We can talk for hours about where we've been, who we've been with, what we've done. There's an effortlessness to this - the bearing of that from where we come, that's pure refreshment. And in between the words and the shared experiences there's this softness, an unexplainable desire to know more, to respond to the hurt or the potential for joy with hurt or joy of my own. I want to think that this feeling is what love is built on - and yet I'm startled to find it so soon. But perhaps that's the benefit of distance - for the few times we've had together have been full to the brim of that which most relationships spread over many a dinner.

On Saturday I took him to a Chinese New Year party at a friend of a friend's. We made traditional dumplings and read our fortunes (I'm year of the monkey, he's year of the rabbit). We watched as my roommate had her Tarot cards read, and I decided to have mine done as well (for the first time in my life). I've never had anything against Tarot, but as a Christian I've always tried to guard myself against practices that could challenge the role of the divine. Watching the first reading I realized that tarot is very open to interpretation, and the person doing the readings was very careful to acknowledge and encourage the person's individual faith when relevant cards were drawn.
So I sat, with the Frenchman at my side, and informed the reader that I had recently made some major decisions and was looking at a variety of opportunities and possibilities for my life, and am looking for ways to make decisions and know in which direction I am to go.

The first card she drew was The Sun, and the last was The Earth. I don't know Tarot techniques but after she'd placed all the cards she had me draw one final card from a separate deck - I drew The Mother Earth. So as I looked at the cards in front of me I saw light and the big picture - and as she navigated what she said was one of the best reading she can remember doing, she said over and over, "you're in a good place. What can I say, you're in a great place!" She noted that while I will depend on my support system (and acknowledged my blessing in having one) this year, it will be a year of successes. There will be some disappointments factored in, but they should be looked at simply as opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade. Most importantly, she emphasized the importance of taking time for myself, of seeking guidance from God and being in touch with my faith to have the strength and the clarity to achieve all that is possible in my future.

When she was almost done, she came to a card, looked at the two of us and asked us what kind of a relationship we had. We giggled and informed her that we were just getting to know each other. Then she told me that card suggests the man in my life will be a very important encouragement and support to me this year. Interestingly enough, when the Frenchman had his reading done, he had a different card that she said could be interpreted one of two ways. Either it meant that the creative force in him (he's a musician) would be seriously impacting his life this year and guiding him in new directions, or a new woman would have the same affect of drawing out his creative side and helping him close certain chapters in his life.

All in all, we left with more than a little food for thought - which was more or less par for the course this weekend. In the most delightful of ways, of course.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007


I just received a call from my ex's sister - their dad passed away yesterday. I knew it was coming but now that it's here I have no idea how to support them. He didn't call and tell me, and he didn't answer when I called. I have a feeling it's easier for him if I don't go to the funeral, but I don't know if deep down he'd want me there. I know his sister would but she said she'll know I'm there for her if I can't come. I don't have the slightest clue how to navigate this. He has an on-again/off-again girlfriend so I imagine she will be there for him, but he's such an emotionally closed person I can see him pushing her away. It seems like there should be some protocol - like I shouldn't ask any of these things and I should just go and pay my respects, or I should just stay away, out of respect - but in situations like this the caution I choose usually ends up feeling like I have no social graces whatsoever (even though I'm attempting to respect the needs of everyone involved). I have so little experience with death - I hate that I don't know my way around it when all it should really be about is loving and supporting the people that have experienced the loss.



The drive home started with a wrong turn
around the road I wanted to take I came to the park I'd always wanted to see
with the subtle voices of song in my ear
I skirted this too

aware of the clouds that formed a textured seam between the brightness above and the muted rays below

I drove on taking it all in - the sights, the sounds - the changing light as a circle of birds danced above me
just ahead

Close to home I drove the row of trees that remind me of my true love
and set my site upon the lone palm at the end
in the spot where the birds were before


Monday, February 19, 2007

a tisket a tangent

I recently discovered the joys of my favorite programs posted online in full episode form. You see we have a t.v. to watch movies on but no cable or even local channels, and while this ultimately means I rarely watch t.v. - sometimes I just need my fix. Plus, I have a very small room, and a whole lot of stuff, and having never been the neatest person in the world this often results in many nights spent "cleaning my room," which can only be done with a good friend sitting on my bed to keep me company as I tidy up around them, or some sort of show on that helps me pass the time while I attempt to fit a houseful of treasures into one closet, one dresser and about three inches of under-the-bed space.

Lately I've been watching Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters because they are all available on abc.com. I think I'm up to date on all of them (like I said, I'm MESSY) and it never ceases to surprise me how most episodes bring me to tears by the end (well at least Grey's Anatomy and Brothers and Sisters - Desperate Housewives is much more mindless fun). While I do think both are good shows, neither are very realistic in the scheme of things - their characters are overly wordy and get to make out with unbelievably good looking people far too frequently. But there's something about how they have been portraying love and family that gets to me.

In addition to cementing my place in the cheese ball hall of fame, I find this surprising because part of the whole 'taking time for myself' kick I've been on for the past year and a half has been about getting into the mindset of being o.k. on my own. What I realize is that I've been translating this to meaning I should be satisfied to be alone - perhaps it's a defense mechanism to prepare for the 'what if Mr. Right never shows up?' scenario I think all women who are single and closer to 30 than 20 are shamelessly playing over in their head as they go about their happy and healthy independent lives. I'm subconsciously trying to convince myself that I shouldn't need anyone else to share struggles or even victories with - which, of course, is entirely contradictory to how every fiber of my being is made. Sometimes all it takes is a sappy scene in a t.v. show to remind me how ridiculous it is to try and talk myself around this fact.

The plain truth is, everything I do - everything that excites me, everything that inspires or offends or terrifies me - I want to share it with someone. What I'm not sure of right now is how significant it is that that person is a lover, versus a best friend, or a brother or sister or a mom or a dad. It's been so long since I've had a "boyfriend" that I struggle to remember what it was like to have him be my first point of contact for any of these things. I'm not sure if it would even feel natural to transfer what I've spread out amongst all my nearest and dearest (not to mention the blogosphere) back into one person. And again, I'm simplifying - that's not what a relationship is - dumping all of you onto one person and expecting an immediate return on investment. But having your "one" does mean that you have someone upon which to focus at least in part all those things you have to share.

As I go about my day to day life and pat myself on the back for enjoying it all as much as I am while doing the single thing, it pops up now and then just how much it will mean to me when I find my one, someday. What that means, I haven't quite figured out, but I think I'm starting to understand why it's so important to me.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Exit strategy

It's official, I am unemployed. As my boss was giving me my "exit interview" today one of the questions was, "are you currently pursuing other employment?" I can just imagine the HR analyst who reviews my interview and sees my answer of "no" and questions, "who is this idiot that quit and not only has no job lined up, but isn't even looking?" Allow me to quote the Spartan cheerleaders: "IT'S ME! IT'S ME!"

Today was a completely draining day. It put everything into perspective for me - my attempts to leave gracefully (almost achieved though I did leave my replacement with a few more piles of un-filed papers than I'd have liked to), the great people I feel like I've only started to get to know - the days of sitting and dreaming about the future that is suddenly here.

My final little going away shin dig this afternoon was totally Africa themed. There were animals on the cake, a leopard print background and loads of puzzle games and an electronic Texas hold 'em for the long ride over. My co-workers all signed a frame with well wishes and a lot of "good luck not being eaten by lions." I told them that if anything of the sort happens I'll be sure to get a picture as the entertainment value would be priceless.

As I sit here exhausted I realize that this is a lot like finishing college. Just as I sometimes have nightmares that I have a paper due or a final exam for a class I've never attended - it will take some getting used to that my job is no longer my job. The things I worried about, the skills I didn't quite have - the tasks I could never quite complete - I'm done with them all. And I got to leave on the best of notes - with many smiling faces and words of encouragement from people I truly admire. It does make this all more real, somehow. In my head I thought I'd already confronted this goodbye, that I was prepared for it. Perhaps I am, and yet still - I'm not quite sure I can wrap my head around it. Unemployed. Operating entirely on the fancy of none other than myself. Wow.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's: Not just a day for lovers

I got home last night from the mountains with bags full of ski gear and airline peanuts. My room is in shambles - in the last few weeks I feel like I've been packing and unpacking non-stop for various trips. My valentine's plans entail more of this, but I'll be fixing myself a Bellini cocktail with the last of my bottle I bought in Montreal to make the night more enjoyable.

I'm back in the office today for my penultimate day of work - after the final day tomorrow I'm grabbing dinner with a friend and then heading to L.A. to stay the night before flying to Dallas on Friday. When I set all these plans in motion I worried I was going to fill up this carefully planned for "free time" too much - and prevent myself from getting into the research and life planning I'd hoped to use these weeks for. Thankfully, it's all coming together. I've been reading, taking notes, contacting people - setting a schedule I can stick to in place before I head to Africa. What this means is that as I prepare to officially leave the security of my job (until now it's just been far off on the horizon - now it's HERE) I can do so with confidence. I know I'm doing the right thing - the synapses in my mind and heart and soul are on fire - the ideas are coming, the inspiration is coming - I'm excited practically non-stop.

So my sweetheart isn't here on Valentine's day (but I kinda do have a sweetheart - how did that happen!?) - but I have plenty to celebrate and embrace in the spirit of love as I fill the day with closing this chapter in my life and keeping the next-step wheels in motion. I wish you all the best whether you are with someone you love today or simply taking a few moments to love yourself and the life you're living!

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Tales from the road

I mentioned recently that my parents have passed on some wisdom in the arena of staying together (they'll be celebrating their 30th anniversary in June). I got this email from my mom today (and a second telling of the same story from my dad in a separate email a bit later). They're in New Zealand right now (oh how I can't wait to be retired!) and taking various day trips from their home base in Queenstown.

"Had a great day yesterday. Drove to Glenorchy, Routeburn trailhead and Paradise Valley. Got bitten by sand flies but it was worth it. Had to pee in the middle of the road because your dad made me laugh. We were looking for wildlife other than sheep and cows and all of a sudden he shouted "oh look there are some goats". I looked and thirty feet from our car were four horses! True they were oddly colored, but goats? I was so glad there were no cars coming cause I couldn't make it to the side. It really gave new meaning to "Why don't we do it in the road?"

Laughter: keeping families together since 1977.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

spilling the beans

It's taken me a long time to write this post - mostly because I'm trying to be a looker-before-I-leaper (this is the post that put Lemon Gloria in my blog roll). Further, on top of being more of a leaper than a looker, I fear I have an incredible ability to jinx things simply by allowing myself to get excited about them. So in this instance, this "thing", I have been taking it slow. And, I've had help - because this "thing" happens to involve a certain someone who lives in Paris.

I simply had to write about coming across the French boy the night I met him in San Diego. It was unexpected, fun, romantic and overall the type of evening that gives you hope in all things love related. And I knew, without a doubt, that it would not be the last time we saw each other. He was only going to be in San Diego for another week - but somehow it took us a few days to process it all and realize just how easy it would be to see each other again before he left. So, the Thursday night before he took off he came up to Orange County. I made dinner for him and my roommate (I wanted them to meet), he brought a bottle of wine and a load full of cleaning supplies that he didn't want to go to waste when he left his company apartment (which I thought was rather darling) and after dinner we walked down to the ocean. In the midst of a Southern California cold spell, the night was practically balmy. As we sat on the life guard tower at my favorite little cove we continued the getting-to-know-each-other-pouring-out-life-stories we'd begun the first night we met in San Diego.

I was struck more than once by the similar experiences we've had - and something about how he communicated and shared how things that have happened to him in life have affected his overall outlook really resonated with me. But perhaps more important than our somewhat shared histories - is where we're both at in our lives now. Much of what we shared had to do with what so many of us are confronting - how to build a career that's both gratifying, challenging and meaningful - while at the same time trying to figure out who might be out there for you and all the rest of life's most important pieces. I could tell he needed to talk - he needed someone to process this stuff with - and here I was, in the midst of taking those steps that release you from the confines of a not-quite-right career and into the great unknown in the hopes of finding what is meant to be.

Even as I write this I don't quite know what to make of the situation - since he's returned to Paris we've written almost every day - and while emailing has long retired as my favorite means of communication - his willingness to utilize it as the medium most readily offered is impressive. I suppose coming across a man who thrives on communication is a feat in itself - but one I've just met, who lives a world away - well, it's quite something.

I am too superstitious and trying too hard to be the looker rather than the leaper to relay some of the more bizarre signs that have popped up since I met him - suffice it to say that each time one happens, I wonder just how cautious with myself I need to be. When do you give in and allow yourself to accept what fate has put before you? But alas, there I go getting ahead of myself. So for now I'll keep mum on those things - but I will say that in two weeks, Paris' shadow will once again be gracing the shores of Southern California.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

rocky mountain high

I just arrived at my aunt's house in Colorado for a few days of skiing and time with family. My aunt is an extraordinary woman - she was a pioneer in the publishing industry and only recently retired from the last of the major corporate boards she served on after an early retirement from her corporate career. Her success in business has directly benefited our entire family - from her extreme generosity across the board to her love of travel and willingness to share that with us (this was the aunt who first took me to Africa so many years ago).

I have enjoyed spending time with her and her husband in the past few years now that I'm old enough to develop more of an adult relationship with them. For a few years after they married in 1992 (it was a second and third marriage for each of them), I managed to alienate myself a bit as I discovered how radically different my political views were from those of my uncle. This was before I'd learned the invaluable skill of finding a middle political ground and meeting people where they are at, and not where I'd prefer them to be (not to mention that I don't, after all, know everything as I thought I did when I was a teenager).

In the past few years my uncle's health has started to deteriorate (he's 83) and this woman who I have looked up to my entire life for her tenacity in business has taken on a whole new identity. She's now more or less a full time care taker, and learning to slow her own life down to accommodate the needs of the love of her life. That isn't to say it hasn't been challenging - it has. It turns out that even the most accomplished and brilliant among us can be thrown for a loop by unexpectedness of life's inevitable cycles. And as she learns how to handle this new role - perhaps more challenging than any corporate endeavor she undertook - my appreciation for her life and the way she's chosen to live it grows. I now realize that even she is as human as human can be.

Tonight at dinner as the three of us drank wine and sipped on cioppino my uncle interrupted numerous times to tell me how happy he is. "Meggie, will you tell your family how lucky I am to have married the most wonderful woman on this earth? Do you know how fantastic my wife is? I'm such a lucky man." Over and over he told me - sometimes when she'd gotten up to serve dessert or use the restroom, sometimes in the midst of our conversation. I know she's heard it a million times - but sometimes truth like that bears repeating.

My parents have always had a rocky relationship - growing up there were times when I wondered if I'd ever be able to manage a healthy relationship of my own given the example they set. My brother Tim reminded me at one time that whether or not our own parents set the standard for the ideal marriage, we had many wonderful couples in our family to learn from. Now, years later, I realize that regardless of the faults in my parents marriage - they've passed on immense amounts of wisdom and insight into what keeps people together and how to enjoy and approach life together. And as my brother said, I have other models as well - and none of them are perfect. This is never more evident to me than when I see one of these couples take on a challenging time - as my aunt and uncle now are. Life is changing for them, they know their years together are numbered - and while it's not a rock-less road, it's full of love - and you know no matter how hard it gets, they both thank God every day that they've had the time together that they have. In a word, it's lovely.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

mi nuevo masthead

I wrote a detailed post last night about my new masthead and how it happily came to be. Then I got trigger finger, accidentally clicked on one of my embedded links and lost the whole thing. Now, I'm operating on 3.5 hours of sleep and having just worked a local special election starting at 5:30 this morning...so here's to hoping the following is coherent...

I love this blogging thing. Ever since my ADD and my lack of interest in the world of budgets kicked into full gear last year I've counted blog exploration and now authorship as one of the highlights of my day. I absolutely love stumbling upon great writing, witty anecdotes, the pouring out of souls, or the day to day musings of people all over the globe. I especially enjoy those of you and your sites who have become a part of my blogroll and the commenting community here - the feedback I get ranging from basic encouragement to down right challenges brings a whole new meaning to the process of chronicling whatever journey I'm on. And when I need to get out of my head completely - I check out where each of you are at and the scene shifts in even more interesting ways.

One thing that I especially love about blogs though is just how visually unique every one's little piece of the Internet can be. I eagerly anticipate Dooce's new mastheads every month as she blends gorgeous brushes and patterns with her trademark humor and various symbolism from her posts. Of course she's a damn web design professional - and thereby fully out of my league design-wise.

But though I lack any (and I mean ANY) html or web design ability - I'm a creative gal and I have ideas that I've wanted to get onto my site, but didn't have the skills to do so. Enter Beth, a friend of a friend I met a few weeks ago at a Bachelorette party. She works for Hungry Girl as a producer but has a background in graphic design, and said she'd be willing to take a look at an idea I had for a masthead. Turns out she's beyond fantastic - I will show you the copy of the drawing I did for her in paint that she turned into the final product (I can't find it for some reason) - my version looked like it was drawn by a four year old.

Then - I turned to my trustiest of computer experts, my dear friend Eric who I met when he rescued me years ago from my first lap top that I'd managed to destroy within a week of purchasing - he's been by my side for technology needs and everything else ever since. Eric futzed around with blogger and got the formatting right - we'll probably still spend some time playing around with fonts and colors but at the very least - there's a bit of imagery to add to whatever randomness my so-called love life entails in the actual blogging department.

So thanks for the patience in the last few days and for reading this missive - and thanks Beth and Eric!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

da me un momento...

S'mat has made me rather self conscious about my delay in posting and replying to comments in the past few days! But - I'm really just trying to wait until I get my snazzy new masthead up (don't look - it's not up right yet but it will be soon!) and then give credit where credit is due. Plus, I'm at home at the moment having moved my first load of stuff home - mostly shoes and books (a girl's best friends, right?). I'm currently wearing my super-soft and cozy uggs and feeling quite blessed to be enjoying a weekend with my equally soft and cozy little nephew, Dexter. Oh, and I just had some ice cream - does life get any better than that? Apparently yes, as I'm about to make some cookies with my niece and nephew Hanna and Daniel and our little cousin David. So I promise I'll be back to my normal schedule soon and like I said, don't look because my new layout isn't ready!

Have a great Monday y'all!


Thursday, February 01, 2007


Last night I gave a presentation on The Africa Project at a local university. I thought it was to my benefit that there was a PowerPoint all ready for me to use - my aversion to PowerPoints aside - I figured I could more or less follow along. Oops.

It never ceases to amaze me just how bad I am at public speaking. Sure - I can give an off the cuff toast with a nice buzz on that will bring tears to people's eyes. But just me and an audience in a formal setting - no matter what, I always manage to futz it up somehow.

I thought last night that I'd be o.k. because I'm so passionate about this organization and the trip I'm planning with them. Talking to the two other speakers at the beginning of the evening I was able to articulate our mission and history so clearly - yet another confidence boost before I stood up. But as soon as I got to the front of the lecture hall I froze. My notes were blurred, my voice wobbly - I stumbled through the presentation, never finding a match between what I was saying and the slide on the screen. I think what was supposed to be about a thirty minute presentation was over in about five because I so completely panicked and rushed through the majority of the slides to get to the point where I the only thing I could remember to say was illustrated. It's making me queasy just thinking back on it!

Funnily enough a few hours later I was shopping with a girlfriend and girl in the dressing room next to me came out and asked if I'd been the speaker at the Aids symposium that night? When I mumbled through a "yes, and I should have been better prepared," I think she said something along the lines of, "no, your presentation was unique." What a "unique" way to put it.

Anyway - I realized that though I convince myself time and time again that when I get to the front of a room that I'll be o.k. - I'm not. And before I do something like that again - I need to actually do a run through or two to get the jitters out. That, or have a few glasses of wine.