Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Do You Love Your Mother?

I had dinner with Doug last night. I'm having dinner with Frank on Thursday night. I expect to see Bob on Saturday night. What do these men have in common? They're all severely gun-shy on relationships. What else do they have in common? Less-than-terrific relationships with their mothers.

Bob's mother was an alcoholic. He became her caretaker upon his parents' divorce when he was ten. Doug's mother was strict-strict-strict. When he was in college and didn't come home at the time she said he should come home, she threw him out of the house. Frank — well, that whole story isn't clear, but the entire family appears dysfunctional, from what I know. His mother died about a month ago and he heard about it two days later via e-mail.

Will any of these men ever be able to have a lasting, loving, nurturing, supportive relationship? I think all bets are on "No".

Then I look at the number of men I see on who have been there for years — yes, years. I wonder what results we'd see if we handed out surveys about their relationships with their mothers.

Wouldn't you think that someone who really wanted to find one wonderful woman (as most of them say in their profiles) could find her in two or three years?!

And that said, is it safe to say that anyone who has been on an online dating service for longer than six months is destined to stay there?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More on Dreams and Passions

I've been spending some of my unfocused minutes this morning thinking about arts and teaching and trying to figure out what has turned my brain in this direction regarding the future.

Doug (the Lemonade Tycoon) and I are having dinner this evening. He wants to pick my brain about warm glass. He knows everything about pottery and kilns and glazes, but thinks maybe he could teach a class in fusing and slumping glass, so wants to know what I know about that.

Todd, the attorney/real estate investor from two years ago, wants to talk to me about arts education in senior housing developments. Evidently he's working in a new development in Oro Valley and wants to find out what it takes to start such programs.

I must know more than I think I know, if these guys want to borrow my knowledge! Maybe I could find a way to make a living at this.

(Of course, Tyler and Jaci have been telling me that for years now.)
Following Dreams

I'm spending lots of time trying to figure out what comes next in my life. I'm feeling an enormous hole, a void that occurred when Ty and Jaci and the babies drove away from Tucson. I'm having a hard time finding focus.

I apply to jobs in Washington (and hear back that I don't have the requisite time-in-grade to be considered). I've had a preliminary interview in Charlottesville, VA (three weeks ago tomorrow and they still haven't gotten back to me, despite an e-mail and phone call on my part).

Yesterday I was again looking at real estate in Youngstown, astonished by the prices. I find myself thinking, "what's wrong with that house that the price is so low?" (Ty, these are homes on your side of the park!)

I have long had a dream of having an arts learning center where people could learn the skills for pottery, warm glass (slumped and fused), beading, sewing, picture framing, scrapbooking, quilting, maybe lampworking, definitely fabric dyeing, . . . . Does Youngstown have the disposable income that people will spend on arts classes? There's an art museum that holds a few classes — how could I find out how popular those classes are and whether there's room in the area for more. Could I achieve enough income to live? Could I achieve enough part-time income doing tech stuff to then devote the rest of my time to my love of learning and sharing that learning?

Anyway, that's what I'm rather obsessed with these days.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Women Are a Miracle

I think it's absolutely miraculous how women connect with each other and are not afraid to divulge personal facts. When we self-disclose, we learn more about ourselves and the women to whom we're disclosing learn more about themselves.

My new Sunday afternoon ritual is to print the crossword puzzle from the Washington Post Magazine and take it to Starbucks for a tall skinny mocha (no whip) and a baked goodie. When I sat down yesterday at the new S'bux on Broadway at El Con Mall, the woman sitting across from me was surrounded by papers containing musical scribblings. We started talking about music, then education, then children, and we ended up having exchanged cards. She's referring a friend to me for an accompaniment job that she was offered but feels she's not up to.

Do I think that exchange would ever have happened if we had both been men? No way! I think "how 'bout them [fill in the name of the team]" is about as far as any conversation would have gotten. (But any male readers are welcome to dispute my words in a comment.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007


My Beadmaker Buddy Bindy tagged me and I'll include my responses here for your amusement or amazement.

In no particular order...

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Promotion and public service writer at WDBO-TV in Orlando
2. Staff accompanist at Walt Disney World, Dickens Caroler at WDW
3. Bookkeeper at Condominium Management, Inc. in Sarasota
4. Programmer and tech writer at IBM

Four movies I could watch over and over:
1. You've Got Mail
2. Sleepless in Seattle
3. When Harry Met Sally
4. Joe Versus the Volcano ("I have no response to that")
Ummmm do we see a theme here?

Four places I lived:
1. Orlando, FL
2. Madison, WI
3. Ft. Worth/Dallas, TX
4. Washington, DC & environs

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Paris
2. Cashiers, NC
3. Hilton Head Island, SC
4 Hawaii

My favorite foods:
1. Bread - dark, chewy, seedy
2. Creme Brulee
3. Ben & Jerry's Coffee Toffee Crunch (or whatever they're calling it now)
4. Olive Garden Salad and breadsticks - no onions, no peppers
(I just said these were my favorites. I didn't say it's what I eat a lot of!)

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. With my grandbabies
2. Sitting in Cashion's Eat Place on Columbia Road in DC
3. At a concert in the Kennedy Center
4. Walking through England

Motivation, Interest, Passion

Oprah (along with many others) keeps saying, "follow your passion." Unfortunately, right now I don't feel like I've got passion for anything.

Normally I try to get a lot done on the weekends, always there are projects requiring my attention. Yesterday I stayed in my pajamas, doing Sudoku puzzles and watching old movies on TV until about 3:00 p.m.! Gotta break that pattern!

Jill and I had a lovely light supper at Caffe Milano on Broadway last night before the concert. I told her about the evening with Mr. Match and how I wish he'd either take me or leave me. How I wish he'd step up to the plate and have a relationship with me. I've had some level of involvement with this man since June 26, 2006. Jill's opinion is that if it were to be a relationship, it would have already happened. I have always thought Jill was a very wise woman, and I think she just displayed that wisdom again!

The concert was — searching for an adjective. Nice? Good? Chava Alberstein is very talented, is a creative composer (no, those terms are not synonyms), and has a lovely voice. But coming back to passion, there was not a lot of passion in this concert, nor did I feel a connection with the music. Those of you who know me well know that certain music can pull my heart out of my chest and caress it. This music did not. True, it was sung (all except for one song) in Hebrew and Yiddish, neither of which are my second language. I was glad when the concert was over, but also glad to get to spend some time with Jill. I'll see her again on Wednesday night when Gail Remaly and I are going to hear Denyce Graves.

When I started working at the Tucson Symphony, my butt was in a seat for every concert of every set of every series. After about six months that fascination waned and I started just attending one concert of every set. But that was primarily classical music, and there was something on every concert I loved. In her position with UAPresents, Jill has to attend every single concert. Ouch. That's a very varied set of programs and I feel for her, as there must be some real times of yawning (or discretely sneaking out after intermission).

My passion for today? Getting my taxes finished so I can turn them over to the accountant!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Eight Days a Week

Why are weekends so long? I do okay through the week. I stay pretty focused at work, and keep my evenings full with activities and commitments. But the weekends — I think about the things I could and should be doing, and I do nothing. And I sit and think how alone I am and then I feel like a dinghy bobbing on the ocean.

There's got to be a solution to this dilemma, but I absolutely don't know what it is or how to resolve it.

However, on the positive side, my dinner last night was a smashing success. The seven board members in attendance actually got a significant amount of work done, even though we went throught eight bottles of wine! After the meeting was over, Eric and I sat and played four-hand Mozart and Schubert and Schumann and Brahms. We stopped around midnight, and it was the most fun I've had in quite a while.

And in an hour I'll go meet Jill for dinner and a concert at the Fox. I guess it's not so bad. If that's so, why do I feel so empty?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sitting By the Campfire

I hated camp. I attended Camp Kulaqua in High Springs, Florida, every summer beginning when I was nine or ten. I hated it. Oh, I liked arts and crafts, and I liked swimming in the springs, and I liked horseback riding, but only if they walked, not if they trotted or ran.

But I hated the people. I was always teased. One summer Peggy Miller hid my underwear in the rafters of the cabin. One summer I got sick on arrival Sunday, and stayed in the infirmary until the following Friday. I always wanted to go home, but had to tough it out for the full week until Mother would drive the two or three hours from Orlando the following Sunday to pick me up.

I realized yesterday that's how I feel about my life now. My family, my heart's home, is in Youngstown. I want to be there with them. Here I am, toughing it out at Camp Tucson, singing Carmina burana around the campfire, cleaning my cabin, doing my chores, hating every minute of it. Just waiting for Sunday to come so I can go home. Would somebody please tell me when Sunday is?

On another topic, Mr. Match called and came over last night. Said he wanted to see me before he left for a week of teaching in Alaska. (Excuse me, what was his assistant thinking to schedule him for teaching gig in Alaska in February?! The client is an airline — they've got the resources to bring their pilots to Tucson just as easily as they could fly him to Anchorage. Something's wrong with this picture!) Anyway, we had a lovely conversation over a glass of wine and he didn't call me "friend" once. And said he'd call me from Alaska and see me when he got back. Longtime readers of this blog know how I feel about this man and the possibility of a future with him. Where's my stinking crystal ball?!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Was I Thinking?!

I agreed to host the monthly board meeting for Tucson Chamber Artists at my home tomorrow night. Oh geez. That means I have to clean house!! Would somebody just slap me upside the head next time I do anything so silly?!

On the brighter side, the music room/parlor/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is already clean, because Tyler and I hauled the Oriental rug out from under the piano to send to Ohio. Maybe if I just keep ridding myself of possessions, I would have nothing left to straighten and clean. Hmmm. There's a thought.

Oh, and thank you to my friend Jill Becker who keeps asking me to accompany her when she has UAPresents tasks. She's getting me further acculturated and pulling me out of my missing-the-kids depression. Saturday night we're going to hear Chava Alberstein at the Fox Theatre. I like most any music when there's talent involved, and I've been wanting to see the Fox. Thanks Jill!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Another State Heard From

I received a couple of text messages from Tyler this noon. He says the cell phone service is sketchy and they still have no Internet service.

When I spoke with him last Friday evening, he said they had gotten into Youngstown on Thursday evening but hadn't been to the house yet because the snow was so deep on the driveway.

Toto (and Zabu and Kika), we're not in Tucson any more!
Nobody Knows You're A Dog On the Internet

I received a very strange e-mail a couple of days ago. Some guy saw my photo on my Yahoo profile and sent me a "would like to get to know you" e-mail. Out of nowhere.

Now, this would be more believable if he lived in Tucson and had heard about me from friends. But this was a random pick-up. By a guy who lives in New Jersey. And is 44 years old!

What is it with men that a picture of a pretty girl can make them lose all sensibility? This guy doesn't know anything about me. He doesn't know whether I: like classical or rap, am a raging liberal or a head-banging conservative; am a druggie, smoker, alcoholic, teetotaler; dress like an elegant lady or a streetwalker . . . or anything in between those extremes. Doesn't know if the photo was taken in the past six months. (It wasn't.) Or even if the photo is of me. (It is.)

I'm too nice. I know I'm too nice. I sent him a note back and said I took issue with his age. He's 44 — I'm 56 and a grandmother (and proud of it, thank you very much). And even if I was interested in dating someone that much younger, I want someone at arm's length, not phone cord's length!

But really, let's talk about numbers here. Out of all the millions of people and profiles and photos and personal data on the Internet, how on God's green earth did this guy single me out? I'm all for serendipity, but this is ridiculous! I'm not buying serendipity on this one!! I think this one is more related to stupidity than serendipity.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The On Ramp

I'm newly addicted to "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip". It's my treat, my reward for staying focused for two-and-a-half hours at rehearsal on Monday night: I can come home and TiVo through "Studio 60".

Last night Jordan had a "play baby", a doll that simulates the functions of a live baby so prospective parents can practice before the real thing arrives and they screw him or her up. In reassuring Jordan about her abilities as a mother, Danny told her that the first year of parenting was the on-ramp. Basically, you get time to get up to speed before the baby starts walking and talking and remembers the things you do to it.

That made me start thinking about relationships. Is that the point of dating — it's the on-ramp of permanent relationships? But once you get on the ramp, don't you get a little chance to drive on the freeway before you hit the next exit and dive off? I feel like I've hit the guardrail every time I've been near the freeway for the past several years. The analogy to my car being dented would be my heart being dented. My heart ain't bouncin' back. I find my ability to believe is smaller and smaller, less and less.

Am I going to start being scared to get in the car?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Update on the Interstate Travelers

Ty, Jaci and the babies arrived in Youngstown on Thursday night after changing their route and timetable multiple times to dodge inclement weather. When I spoke to Tyler on Friday afternoon, they were on their way back to Y'town after dropping the RV off in Cleveland. He said they had not yet been to the new house, as the snow was too deep in the driveway.

I spoke to them again on Sunday and it sounds like they're doing the little things it takes to start unpacking — shopping to stock up on basics and essentials. I can't wait to go up and see the new home and witness how they're making it their own.

I'm thanking for our dear friends, Ron and Marcia Gould, who have been hosting them as necessary. Tyler was the fourth Gould son all during college, and it appears that relationship is continuing. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends in Youngstown.

Boston and Riah both left messages on my phone yesterday. Boston's was filled with "I miss you, Grandma". Oh, how my life has changed in ten days, how empty I feel. I'll be glad when I figure out what and where I want to be when I grow up.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Checking In

The PianoLady just chided me for not checking in for a couple of days. She needs her fix. So here's the account of my weekend.

Friday night I went [alone] to the Pi Beta Phi Beaux & Arrows cocktail party. (If you're not up-to-speed on such things, the Pi Phi badge is an arrow, so we works "arrows" into lots of things.) It was held in a magnificent house in Tucson Country Club. I mentioned to several friends that I am job hunting back east, and they were all shocked and saddened to hear I might leave. When I get that kind of feedback and support from friends, it makes me start to rethink moving.

Saturday I had a haircut and ran some errands, In mid-afternoon I called Frank to just say "I'm thinking of you." (He's got a lot of issues lately with his 16yo son, who has been involved in some drug use and unacceptable behavior. I'm trying to be a supportive friend to Frank, i.e. nonjudgmental listening.) Anyway, when I got ahold of Frank, he asked if I wanted to get dinner later. We went to Firecracker and had drinks and several appetizers, then wandered around La Encantada a little, and then to his house to watch a movie. He is such a sweet guy, and so much fun to be with. This morning he called me at 9:00 and wanted to go for breakfast, so we ran up to Ghini's, then wandered around the farmer's market at St. Philip's, then to an antique fair at Brandi Fenton Park, then to Green Things to look at the plants and the bobcat kittens, then to the JCC for an arts and crafts fair. I basically blew off the entire morning and had a ball.

This afternoon I finished two tote bags for the Art of Music, then met up with Cookie Pashkow to deliver them. Whew - I've been working on those stinking bags for three months - in between sleepovers with the babies.

The funny story re Frank: My timing was perfect. He was running errands with his friend Wendy (he'll accept any excuse to drive his new sports car around town). She had just gotten a call from friends asking her out to dinner. Three minutes later his phone rings and it's me. He grabs the opportunity to in-your-face Wendy by asking me to dinner. Doesn't matter to me - I got a free dinner and a fun evening out of the deal.

Now I'm off to Spa One for a mani and pedi and will post later about the kids' arrival in Youngstown.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I Am My Own Grandson

Boston's been very easily incited to tears lately, and now I have taken on that characteristic.

I went into La Salsa to grab something to eat last night. (Of course we have to remember that the staff there all speaks a bit of English as their second language.) I told the young man taking my order that I wanted chicken taquitos. When my dinner arrived, it was chicken soft tacos. I asked what it was, looked at my receipt, and realized he had misunderstood my order. Rather than sending it back, I chose to shut up and eat it, acknowledging to myself that it was healthier than the taquitos. And tears came to my eyes — for people not understanding me; for not having the guts or will power or backbone to send it back and get what I want; for being all alone in the world. (See how quickly I can get from 1 to 237?!)

And then my phone rang.

Let me tell you about Ellen Schuman. Ellen is the cousin of my (John's) beloved sister-in-law Lee Switz, who lives in Richmond, VA. I met Ellen in the late 80s at some party or other in Richmond or Wintergreen. You know how sometimes you meet someone and you feel like you've known the person all your life? That's how it was with Ellen. We don't see much of each other, but when we do we pick right up where we left off.

When I got the call from LexisNexis last week, I immediately called and left a message on Ellen's machine. You see, Ellen lives in Charlottesville, VA, where I would live if I got the job with LexisNexis. Ellen was calling to see how the interview went and express her excitement that maybe I'd move to C'ville.

I told her the interviewer asked if I knew C'ville, if I had been there before. My response had been that I would move to C'ville in a heartbeat. Ellen said, "You just tell her your best friend lives in C'ville."

Well, you can imagine that Ellen's statement absolutely made my day. My sadness didn't go away, but it sure lifted.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My New Favorite Restaurant

I've always wanted to be the kind of person who was known by name when she entered a restaurant. John had that at Hidden Creek Country Club. Then in the summer of 1996, Cashion's Eat Place opened on Columbia Road in Adams-Morgan. We ate there the first or second night it was open and fell in love with the place. We went the next morning for brunch. From then on we ate there every Thursday night. And when we drove past every day on our way home from work, if there was a parking space on the curb across the street, we said God wanted us to eat dinner at Cashion's. We'd sit at the bar, talk to Scottie Bennett, the bartender, and Johnny Fulchino, co-owner with Ann Cashion, share a couple of appetizers and a couple of vodkas, and cement this lovely relationship. When John died, Scottie, Johnny, and the hostess who had also been our tenant for a while all attended his memorial service.

A couple of weeks ago a new restaurant opened on Grant about 4 blocks from my house. Rio Café is "Latin fusion", a little white tablecloth establishment in a funky A-frame structure, about 12-15 tables. Last Thursday night when I was having my "the babies are leaving" meltdown, Frank took me there to eat. The co-owner, Richard, was circulating among the tables, and he reminded me so much of Johnny Fulchino that I felt like I was back home in Cashion's.

So last night on Valentine's Day, rather than sit home bemoaning the fact that I'm alone, I took myself to Rio Café for dinner. Actually, I just wanted the creme brulée, worked my way up to dessert with the crab cake appetizer and a glass of this fabulous South African chardonnay. I sat at the bar and talked to Richard and met the co-owner, Eduardo. What a delightful experience. I think this may be my new Wednesday night tradition.

Oh joy, another restaurant where they speak to me by name when I walk through the door.
Now I've Seen Everything

I drove by the McDonald's at Grant and Tanque Verde this morning and saw a sign that said "Happy Hour: 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Every Day". Happy Hour? McDonald's? Y'know, when someone says to me "let's go to happy hour", McDonald's is not what pops into my mind. (At McDonald's, Happy Hour means soft drinks cost 69 cents.)

What next? Speed Dating at Boston Market?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More Travel Thoughts

Tyler and Jaci's RV travel reminded me of my own RV travel. Wanna hear the tale?

It was June and Tyler was finishing his junior year at Interlochen Arts Academy. I needed to bring all of Tyler's possessions home from Interlochen as he would be leaving in a couple of weeks for the Congress-Bundestag Exchange Program — a year in Germany. I had been dating Bob Hendershot (who would become husband number three) for six months. Every time I had been out to Bob's house on the side of the Short Hill Mountain in Hillsboro, Virginia, I had noticed his Winnebago Brave. He told fond reminiscences of trips he and his late wife had taken with their kids in the RV.

And I had a light bulb moment. What if I drove Bob's RV to Interlochen to get Tyler and his things? We would have plenty of room to bring everything back in the RV, and I could sleep in it when I got to Interlochen, thus saving money on a hotel room. I asked him if he had ever had any problems with it, and he assured me it was sound.

The day before I was to leave, he drove it into the RV service place in Rockville to have the oil changed and other miscellaneous tasks attended to in preparation for my trip. He had a little trouble coming up one hill into Rockville, but downplayed that and reassured me I'd be fine.

The next morning I set out. My plan was to avoid the Pennsylvania Turnpike, instead driving west on I-40, then north around Pittsburgh, then across Ohio, north through Toledo, up to Bay City, northwest to Cadillac, and north into Interlochen. As I was driving out the Maryland panhandle, I noticed I was having to stop frequently for gas, so I started clocking my mileage. I was getting 4 miles to the gallon. Not 40. 4!!! And whenever I came to a hill, the vehicle would go slower and slower as I was climbing the hill. I got to the turnoff from I-40 to take me towards Pittsburgh. After driving about 20 minutes, I was feeling very tired, so pulled over in a truck stop to close my eyes for a few minutes. When I went to get back on the highway, I realized I had turned the wrong way at the turnoff, driving 20 miles in the wrong direction.

I made it to the Ohio Turnpike, still stopping about every 100 miles to fill up. At one point about two-thirds of the way across Ohio, I went in to the restaurant to grab something to eat. When I got back to the RV, the motor wouldn't turn over. It turns out the alternator was bad and the battery had not been charging. I had to call a tow truck and tow the RV into the nearest town, finding a hotel for the night while a new alternator was installed.

The next morning I got back on the road and pushed as hard as I could. I had hoped to reach Interlochen in time for graduation, but all the gas stops and the alternator problems had me way behind schedule. As I was driving north through Michigan, I started hearing knocking. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. All the dials looked like things were fine. About 20 miles south of Interlochen I started smelling burning oil. I drove up to the entrance to the campus, and the motor stopped, leaving me enough oomph to roll to the shoulder of the road before the engine died. I mean dead. Really dead.

The oil pump had died at some point along the road and I had burned up the engine. I had to again call a tow truck to have the RV towed to the Winnebago dealer, where they called Bob and gave him an estimate for what they'd pay him to buy the dead vehicle from him. And I then had to get on the phone and find a truck I could rent to drive back to Washington with all Tyler's possessions.

I had just lost my job a couple of weeks earlier due to an IBM cutback, and my credit cards were absolutely maxed out. I had to call Bob and ask him to let me use his credit card to rent the U-Haul. (I'm way too nice. That boy should have bought me a truck for all he put me through!)

Tyler always has a good attitude with the bizarre situations I sometimes get into. It was yet another road trip where we sang along to Billy Joel through multiple states and a district.

Bob and I married six months later, and this story became one of our funny tales to tell. But it always came across as my fault.

By the way, I've never asked to borrow anyone's vehicle since that episode!
Happy Valentine's Day

There is no man in my life to shower love and affection upon today or any day, but I am blessed to have children and grandchildren who love me and many wonderful friends. My friend Jill took the Girls' Night Out group to UAPresents last night to hear Ivan Lins, who writes and performs incredibly sexy Latin jazz. Thanks Jill — you're a great Valentine.

My plan for today is to take myself out for dessert at Rio Cafe tonight. If I can't find love, I'll find a great creme brulée.

And for your amusement, I share with you the Valentine's Day edition of The Writer's Almanac. Very cute!

I hope you all have a day filled with the knowledge that you are loved.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Planning for a move

I had to laugh when I saw the Quote of the Day on my personalized Google page:

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Don't you think the same can be said for preparing for a move?
Travel Memories

I'm keeping tabs loosely on Tyler and Jaci's cross-country travel. Yesterday I got to talk to both of my boys at once in Dallas. This morning I turned on the news and learned of the horrible weather in New Orleans, where they were headed. I SMS'd Ty to ask if he'd seen the weather reports, and he replied that they had changed their plans. Evidently they're having so much fun in Dallas they decided to stay there a little while longer.

All this travel made me think of the move Terry and I made from Sarasota to Ft. Worth when Scott was five and Tyler three-and-a-half. So here's a short short story for you.

We were living in Sarasota, the four of us in a 2br, 2ba condo of 1000 square feet. I was working as an accompanist for voice lessons at Manatee Junior College and finishing an A.A. degree in piano performance. Terry was Minister of Music and Youth at Kensington Park Baptist Church. He decided he wanted to go back to school to get his D.M.A., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth was where he wanted to go. (My reaction to that decision is a whole 'nother story that we won't go into here and now.)

We sold our condo and closed six weeks before we had to leave for Texas, so put one set of things into storage, left some antiques with friends, and had a subset of our belongings that we needed to live in a rental house on Siesta Key for the next six weeks. Just after Christmas we left Sarasota, went to Orlando to spend a few days with family, then took off for Texas. We were driving a Volkswagen Rabbit.

I don't remember where we stopped the first night. But the second night we went to Nashville to see friends. From Nashville we headed out I-40 towards Little Rock on a Saturday afternoon. The weather was cold and wet and you know what that can mean in January! As we were listening to the car radio, we heard more and more churches cancelling their Sunday morning services. As we passed Memphis and headed out over the river and into Arkansas, the rain turned to ice. We were in the middle of one of the worst ice storms of the century. We were driving in ice ruts on the interstate, crawling along at about 15 miles per hour. As we neared either Forrest City or Brinkley, we realized we had to pull off. Potty breaks were needed, Tyler was sick to his stomach, and we couldn't just keep driving at 15 mph.

We pulled off and into the parking lot of the only hotel in the area. We got out and walked into the lobby and were told there was no room in the inn. They told us there were a couple of nearby churches that were housing people on the floor of their auditoriums. As we turned to go back to the car, destined to sleep on the floor, a man and woman who had heard our situation came forward. They were traveling on business and had two rooms and were willing to give up one of their rooms for us. Talk about angels in human disguise!

We moved our things into the room and settled down for much-needed sleep. In the middle of the night Tyler started vomiting, and all I could think was what it would have been like if we were in a church auditorium, surrounded by sleeping bodies, trying to get him to the bathroom without spewing all over everyone around us.

My other memories of that trip were of moving the luggage from the back compartment to the front seat and curling up in the luggage space with two little boys, trying to get some sleep. I'm 5'8" and have legs that go all the way to the floor, so you can imagine that was one of the most uncomfortable sleeping experiences of my life.

Driving down I-40 toward Dallas/Ft. Worth on Sunday was visually lovely with all the trees encrusted in ice. But it was sobering to realize what we had been in the night before, and how ugly the situation could have turned.

Now you understand why I'm marking the kids' progress on maps and listening to weather reports. I just want to see them arrive safely in Youngstown.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I spent much of Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday morning sewing — finishing a tote bag I had promised to the Tucson Alumnae Panhellenic silent auction on Sunday. The retail value of the bag is around $50 and a lot of work goes into making it. My friend Maureen was the only person to bid on it and she walked away with it at $20. I'm also finishing two bags to give to the Art of Music event which benefits the Tucson Symphony.

But this sewing doesn't equal fun and I've pretty much decided with these last three bags that I'm not going to do this any more. I'm longing to sew for myself and there's no time to do so when I've promised so many goodies to other people.

I was nominated for the Athena Award for career achievement at the luncheon yesterday. I did not receive the award - the woman who won has focused her career on helping children. That always trumps any other career accomplishments! I really did not expect to win, so was fine with the outcome. I was rehearsing possible remarks in the event I did win, but truly was not surprised or disappointed.

As I was driving home after the luncheon, I was slapped upside the head with the realization that I'm now well and truly alone. I have been living my life around and for the kids at least since Boston's birth. Any time I wasn't needed by them, I would fill with sewing or pottery or girlfriends or whatever. But the most important facet of my life was helping my children and grandchildren have the best possible life. And now that's gone.

I feel like there's a vacuum inside of me, a big black hole. And I don't like that feeling.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Differences Between Tucson and Washington

I've got to watch out or I'm going to talk myself into staying in Tucson. First there was the realization, mentioned earlier today, of the number of good friends I have here. Then this evening I went to the 60th birthday party of the woman who sits beside me in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus. One of the women there, who is married to a tenor in the chorus (yes, there are some straight tenors in the world) is one of the attorneys for the University of Arizona. Another TSOC friend of mine, Brad Holland, who is deputy county attorney for neighborhood crime for Pima County, was at the party also. I spent the evening chatting with these people, and they treat me like an attorney. They don't care whether I've jumped the bar or not, whether I'm licensed or not. They know the training I've gone through and they know how difficult getting past the bar is.

My experiences in D.C. are so different than this. If you're not licensed in D.C., you might as well forget admitting you have the education. You're either a lawyer or you're not. If you don't have the license on the wall, you're not a lawyer. And you can forget about that "trained in the law" sh*t.

It's so refreshing to be here in the desert where life isn't all about impressing each other with your accomplishments.

Comfort Food

Weight Watchers can just kiss my grits. (I heard the definition of the acronym G.R.I.T.S. the other day: Girls Raised in the South. That's me, Darlin'.) Anyway, I've been in crisis mode the past couple of days and I'm enjoying every morsel I'm eating. Ordered pizza for the movers yesterday and had a slice. Went out to dinner with Frank on Thursday night and had a chicken and wild mushroom enchilada and creme brulee at this great new restaurant, Rio Cafe, on Grant, where Nonie used to be. Last night took the babies to McDonald's in Wal-Mart while Ty and Jaci were stocking up for the trip and I ate all Boston's French fries. (Oh, stop yelling at me. He doesn't like French fries.) Last night Mr. Match called while I was driving home and said he was coming over with coffee and Dunkin' Donuts. He felt I needed comfort food. (And that's so odd coming from him, as he is usually Mr. Martini. For him to come over bearing donuts instead of lemons is really out of the ordinarly.) Donuts at 9:30 at night — pretty decadent. This morning I ate the last half of a muffin from last night, then went to Tubac where I had a chicken salad sandwich and barbeque potatoes chips. Yum. I'm going to a 60th birthday party for my girlfriend tonight, and I'm going to throw caution to the wind. I'm sure I've regained all eight pounds I lost, and too bad. I'll start on Wednesday to take it off again, but I needed this.

The babes are gone and my heart has gone with them, but I'm okay for the time being.

Oh, the funny note from last night's visit from Mr. Match is that he referred to me as "Friend" three times! As in, "How are you doing, Friend?" "Nice to see you, Friend." I do believe the boy is trying to make a point: I'm here to support you, but I don't have any interest in a relationship with you. Ho hum.

I'm okay. Really. But please don't ask me how I am — that's where it gets dicey.

When I tell people I'm thinking of moving back East, and that the only thing I have in Tucson are some good friends, I don't give enough credence to my friends. Three of the four men from 2006 have been calling and e-mailing and double-checking to make sure I'm okay. And numerous girlfriends are calling and e-mailing. I will tell you quite confidently that none of my Washington friends have called or written to check on me. (And I am in frequent contact with them, so that's not the issue.) With the exception of four girlfriends of 30+ years' duration, the friends I have in Tucson are way above and beyond any friends in my entire life in quantity and quality.

I'm okay. Really.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Soul Mates - Continued

The PianoLady e-mailed me this morning to ask if she was my musical soul mate.

My earliest memory of Cheryl was at Florida Technological University where we were both piano majors. You might ask why someone would go to a university named "Technological" to major in music. Well, the teacher-student ratio was almost 1:1, so it had its benefits. I believe the first semester I was there, which was the second semester the school was open, there were four music majors. (BTW, Florida Technological University is now University of Central Florida, and they have many more music majors now than in 1968.)

Our piano professor was Dr. Leonidas Sarakatsannis, whom we both adored. He smoked, and we have fond memories of him sitting, playing the piano, with his cigarette dangling from his mouth. (It was a different world then, people.) He always kept a can of Sour Balls on the piano, and we'd always take one as we left to go to our next class.

But my strongest memory is of the first time Cheryl and I sat down at two side-by-side pianos. We began playing "If Ever I Would Leave You" from Camelot (her favorite movie). The arrangements we played, even though there was no music in front of us, were almost note-for-note identical, down to the tag we put on the ending. When we played the last note, we looked at each other and laughed out loud. A piano partnership had been formed.

We played a piano duet, either four-hand or two-piano, for probably every school concert from that point until I quit school and got married. I think if we hadn't been raised in the South with the expectation that we needed to get married and have kids, we'd probably be famous today with multiple recordings to our credit. We referred to ourselves as Ferrante & Teicher or Liver & Race (Liberace, get it?). We were good.

Yes, Honey, you are my musical soul mate. (spoken in my best Southern drawl)
Soul Mates — Myth or Fact?

I have said for a number of years that I don't believe in the concept of soul mate. But my definition of soul mate might be different than others'. I have defined soul mate as one person that is meant to be with you and you for him/her for your entire life. She who has been married four times and had countless other "significant" relationships would understandably discount the concept of "only one".

Dr. Laura Berman's enewsletter this morning contains a different definition:

Soul mates are people who change your life and the way you live it going forward. They fulfill a need for connection, which may be different at various times in your life. It's also important to remember that soul mates are not limited to romantic relationships. They can be a friend or family member — anyone with whom you feel an unexplained connection or sense of completeness.

By waiting for a person who feels right — one you have a deep spiritual and sexual connection with — you give love the best chance of all. But it's equally as important to celebrate all your relationships for what they've taught you and what they still have to teach you. Remember to enjoy the journey.

I'm assuming by "the way you live it going forward", Dr. Berman means in a positive manner. So those men who made me say, "I'm never going there again" would not be considered soul mates. Puhhhlease!

My life with John made me want people to be kind to each other. There was a lot of criticism during his illness from people who thought they knew better how to deal with the illness. They weren't living with it 24x7; they didn't fully understand what we were going through and had no right to criticize our management style. Likewise my time with Steve reinforced that sense. But with Steve, the need for kindness came out of his nastiness. Those were very different experiences. My time with John was positive while the time with Steve was negative. But the result was the same: a mantra of "Kindness spoken here."

But I reiterate that I'm not looking for a soul mate. I'm just looking for a good man who recognizes quality when he sees it and who thinks our lives would be better together than they are apart.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Semantics of Titles

As I move through my day, I realize I never really tied "patience" to the topic of my interview this morning. A few days ago I talked about my frustration with trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up. I think I said the perfect job, perfect residence and perfect man were all waiting around some corner and I just had to be patient. Then, three days before Ty and Jaci's departure, I receive the call that LexisNexis is interested in me. That fact gave me hope, and reinforced for me that if I can just be patient, my life will work itself out.

Well, at least regarding residence and job. I'm thinking maybe over-50 men are hopeless!

I know this blog was conceived around thoughts of the pain and frustration of dating when one is past the age of 50. But there's no dating going on in my life and, really, no hope for any dating action. So I talk about other things.

I had the first glimmer of hope on the job circuit yesterday. Someone at LexisNexis left a message on my voicemail saying they would like to set up an interview in response to my application for the position of Associate Director of Government Relations. Ah, a light in the tunnel!

I spoke for ten minutes this morning with Nikki Daugherty, the director of government relations. It was a screening interview, just to see what the skill and interest match might be before they move farther with the interview, before they spend any money on flying me in.

First she asked about my desire to move east and whether Charlottesville was within what I termed the Washington Metropolitan Area. I told her how I loved Charlottesville, have relatives in Richmond and friends in C'ville and have spent many lovely weekends in Wintergreen. I also said I'm trying to find something centrally located between Asheville, where my 93yo mother lives; Youngstown, where my son and his family live; and Washington.

She asked why LexisNexis and why that position. I said LexisNexis because of the prestige of the company. And that position — well, I don't fit into anyone's niche. I have a broad-based set of skills, including programming, writing and editing. When you put that together with the law degree, it takes a particular visionary to see that knowledge and experience in his or her environment. I said I thought I have ten or twelve years to retirement and want something I can master and do well in for the rest of my career.

She asked how I feel about travel and said they travel about 50% of the time. I said I'd welcome it. The only thing I have to come home to is a cat.

So she's going to present her thoughts to the VP to whom she reports and will get back to me in a week to ten days.

Fingers crossed, prayers said, good thoughts spun out into the universe . . . .

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Empty Nests

I've had a houseguest for a week. A lovely lady named Bindy Lambell is a glass beadmaker (lampworker) from Orange County, CA. I've known her for about six years and she's just a darling. She is generous with her knowledge and with her time. She loves working with glass and sharing her love of glass with others. We have dinner every year when she's in town for the bead shows. My gift to her this year was to save her several hundred dollars by offering her my spare bedroom when she was in Tucson for the Best Bead Show.

Bindy's gift to me was far greater than mine to her. She gave me the gift of another person in my home, someone to talk to when I got home at night, someone to bounce ideas off and just share life with for a few days. As I drove home from rehearsal tonight, I realized my house was empty again. It emphasized, as I'm counting the hours (<96) until Tyler and Jaci and the babies leave, how empty my life is/will be.

I don't like being alone. But I'd rather be alone than with someone incompatible with my lifestyle. The eternal dilemma.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Things I Learned Today

You know those great Crocs rubber shoes everybody's wearing nowadays? If you're cleaning up the yard and your yard is heavily populated with mesquite trees, Crocs are not the shoes to wear. Tomorrow is bulk trash day, and I was gathering some downed branches this afternoon. Every time I stepped on the tiniest little bit of mesquite branch, the thorns would penetrate the soles of both my shoe and my foot, and I'd shout out in pain. I'm sure my neighbors wondered what on earth I was doing. Oh wait, they were all inside watching the Super Bowl, so nobody heard anyway.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sucking It Up

I had drinks with my first-Friday Girls' Night Out bunch tonight. There were seven in attendance. Each time one of them asked me how I was doing, I got sadder and sadder. As I left the restaurant, I started feeling very weepy. At this time next week, Tyler, Jaci, Boston and Ridley will be on their way out of Arizona.

I can't stand it. I simply cannot stand it. My brain tells me I should just suck it up and adjust.

I'm happy for them. They have a wonderful new life ahead.

I can't stand the thought of life without them being within a 30 mile radius.

Friday, February 02, 2007

More Thoughts on Jobs

I may have mentioned that I have asked my Computer Task Group manager to propose to my IBM manager the possibility of my telecommuting from Ohio. The IBM manager said he'd think about it . . . .

But it occurs to me that if I am allowed to do this and move to Youngstown to be near les bebes, then IBM has yet another cutback, I would be out of a job and SOL. Jobs in Youngstown are few, and I'm not willing to work as a clerk/typist at the local hospital! I might have to commute an hour each way to either Cleveland or Pittsburgh to find a suitable job. So I think, absent one of my Powerball tickets paying off, I have to be careful as I ponder possible solutions to my loss of family.

And to those of you who wondered why I made this blog private: yesterday my team lead told us that two new people are joining the team next week after our loss of one developer in November and one in December. She told us the name of the woman in Tucson who is joining us, and of course we geeks immediately Googled and mySpace'd her. OMG. We know way more about this woman than you want someone to know about you before you set foot on a job. For example, she writes on one of her blogs about Tucson: "They have a great supportive queer community and pretty vibrant art/music scene." On another blog, her profile lists her hobbies and interests as "fencing, yachting, bowling, spitting, flying planes, salmon, tattered dresses, tango music, string quartets, 1920s Berlin". Spitting? And we've also seen her portfolio of graphic design, and we aren't impressed. But it was her or nobody, so the webmaster hired her. I hope that she is a fast learner and has a sense of humor.

But do I want future work colleagues pinging each other with things I've said in MySpace or Facebook or on this blog? No way. That's why you have to log in to read these words, my friends.

More re jobs: I've been looking on Monster and USAJobs and various company sites. Last night I went to CareerBuilder and was shocked to find a ton o' jobs that are not on the other two sites. So I'll be spending some time over the next week or so surfing through all that's available on CareerBuilder.

Yesterday I applied for two jobs at WETA, then went on to look at jobs in that zip code, the Shirlington neighborhood in Arlington, VA. My search parameters were $200K<->$350K, 2+br, 2+ba. There was one property. One! The price was $349K, and it was 1000 sq. ft. Great location, easy to move the grand piano into the living room, but I might have to sleep under the piano. Ah, memories of our condominium in Sarasota when the boys were four and two. That was 1100 sq. ft., two bedrooms, and hardly room to walk around for all the furniture, including six linear feet of piano.

<Funny story on>
As I write "Shirlington", I'm reminded of a story I heard on the radio in Washington about 20 years ago. There was a major snowstorm and traffic was at a standstill on 395. A couple, on the way home from work in their van, pulled off at the Shirlington exit to wait for the snow to slow and the traffic to dissipate. Nine months later they named their daughter "Shirlington". True story.
<Funny story off>

Repeat after me: This will work itself out. This will work itself out. This will work itself out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Living in Limbo

I've had several conversations with old friends over the past couple of days. I realize each time one of these friends asks "how are you", I'm answering in a rather depressed-sounding voice. I'm faced with decisions and have never had to make decisions like these before. I'm not enjoying this period in my life.

Most of my significant jobs and life changes have come about serendipitously. One of the best examples occurred about seven hours before John's death. A man who was the instructor of a Lotus Notes class I had taken two years previously called me out of the blue and asked if I'd like to come work for his company. That led to the highest-paying job I had ever had. I foolishly left that job to move to Tucson with Steve. Gotta love hindsight!

I scour Monster and USAJobs and various companies' web sites, but very little interests or excites me. I apply to everything that excites me or for which I feel my skills and experience are a good fit. One of the most significant of these, a solutions analyst for Blackbaud software, was a perfect fit, but Blackbaud responded, "thanks, but no thanks". Why couldn't they recognize me from my résumé?

I'm having a hard time not knowing where I'll be six months from now, and not even being able to project possibilities.

Patience. It's never been one of my long suits!