Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It could be worse . . .

This e-mail was sent to the Main Gate Building listserv at the University of Arizona this afternoon:

Please forward…

Good afternoon,

Please check if anyone in your area drives a little yellow car, parked on 2nd Street, next to the Church.

It got swept down the road and is now in the middle of the intersection.



Gotta love monsoon season.

I Hate When That Happens

My 10:10 pm flight out of D/FW last night was delayed so that we finally were wheels up at close to 11:30 CDT, which meant we got into Tucson at about 11:30 PDT. Fortunately my bag had taken an earlier flight, so I didn't have to wait for the interminably slow Tucson baggage handlers. I got home a little after midnight and finally got to sleep around 1:00.

This morning I woke up around 4:00 and thought it was awfully light for 4:00, but my bedside clock said 4:00, so who was I to argue? I then realized today was the deadline for producing the press release for the Tucson Chamber Artists 2007-08 season, which I had not yet started. But by the time I made this realization, it was only around 5:20, so I have plenty of time, right? I can crank this out in an hour.

Then I went into the kitchen to get a glass of iced tea and put on the steel cut oats for breakfast. The microwave clock was begging to be reset and I looked at the kitchen wall clock. Horrors! It said 7:20. How did that happen? How did it get from 5:20 to 7:20 in the blink of an eye?

Oh, right, my bedroom clock resets itself after power outages and doesn't bother to tell me there might be a discrepancy in what it says and reality.

As I'm pondering what to do, whether to call in sick after three days of vacation (actually 6.5 hours of vacation and 17.5 hours of leave without pay), I realize that July has thirty-one days and I can sneak time at work today to crank out the press release and get everyone's approval before sending it off to Cathy Burch (every Tucson musician's favorite person) tomorrow.

Note to self: when arriving home from trip during monsoon season, coordinate bedside clock with cell phone. Always!

Monday, July 30, 2007

On Having a Sense of Humor

Today's Real Simple Thought for the Day:
So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter.
— Gordon W. Allport

I'm writing this morning from the couch in a lovely room on the concierge level of the Marriott D/FW North. I spent the weekend with Tyler and Jaci and my babies and headed back to Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon for a 6:10 flight that finally left at 8:10. When I arrived in D/FW, I learned my 10:10 flight to Tucson had been cancelled. And because it was cancelled by the tower, rather than by the airline, the airline owed me no compensation. Thank heavens for my devotion to Marriott. I was able to spend 20,000 points and reserve a room, hop on the shuttle, and solve all my problems quickly. And because of my status with Marriott, they put me in this lovely room. And because I had no luggage, they gave me a free toothbrush and other necessaries.

Now here's the real plus of this snafu: I'm having lunch and dinner with TJ and will spend the afternoon hanging out at his new apartment while he works. He and I haven't spent that much time together since he left the Merchant Marine Academy — since he's been an adult. I am truly honored that he suggested this. What a nice way to spend an afternoon.

And fortunately I have a sense of humor, so I could keep laughing about every strange twist of my trip.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Follow-up on Job Situation

Regarding Ken, my PITA IBM manager who says I can, then can't telecommute.

I had a long discussion yesterday with Donna, my team lead and friend. She told me about matters that had been occurring behind the scenes, outside of my knowledge, and the fact that a higher-up manager wants me and went to Ken to ask him to transfer me to the other department. Ken refused. It turns out Ken is the ultimate control freak and throws a temper tantrum when someone tries to tell him what to do.

So even though there are other departments and other managers who want me, and it would be in the best interest of IBM for the transfer to happen, it appears it will take an act of God or an IBM vice president to make this happen.

I feel like a pawn in a very big chess game.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Love Those Monsoon Rains

For the first time since mid-May, I was able to open my window last night at bedtime. The weather forecast says maybe again tonight the temperature will fall to 75 degrees, then we'll be back in the nothing-under-mid-80s until late September or October.

My soul is fed by not listening to the air conditioning fan all night long.

The Dressing Room

I was thinking this morning about trying on relationships, as one tries on a new dress or, worse yet, a bathing suit.

I went to Camp-Professor-in-the-Foothills again on Sunday. With my travel to D.C. and his travel back to Fargo for his 50th high school reunion, we hadn't seen each other in ten days. It was wonderful to see him face-to-face again, after many e-mails, text messages and phone calls each day. It was great to feel his arms wrapped around me in one of those hugs he gives so well.

I had stopped at AJ's and picked up lunch - berries, lettuce, curried chicken salad, multigrain bread. As soon as I was somewhat sated with hugs, I set out in his kitchen to assemble lunch. Even though this was only my second time in his kitchen, it felt very natural to just whip around and grab a knife or spoon, or to ask, "where are the plates?"

Then we sat on the floor at the coffee table in the living room and ate our lunch, telling travel stories and listening to jazz off his iPod. Before we knew it, three hours had passed and it was time to leave for the movie theatre.

(This is a favorite summer afternoon pastime in Tucson — using someone else's air conditioning for a spell.)

We went to see La Vie en Rose, the story of the life of Edith Piaf. It was a fascinating but very sad story, and fostered lots of conversation on the drive back up to the foothills.

Then we had more salad and berries for supper, which we ate sitting on the back deck, listening to the wildlife and watching the Catalinas sink into blackness.

When I spend six or eight or twelve hours like that with him, I feel like I've been given an incredible gift of peace and comfort. And I want more.

I do hope I'm given the opportunity to try on a companionship with him again in the near future.

Monday, July 23, 2007

On Kindness

You've heard me say many times that all I want from my life is for someone to say, at the end of my life, that I was kind.

Today's Writer's Almanac was especially meaningful to me:


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

by Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. © Eighth Mountain Press, 1995

The Run for the Wall

When Lee, aka the Traveler, returned from his cross-country ride to participate in Rolling Thunder, I e-mailed Bonnie Henry at the Arizona Daily Star and suggested she interview him for an article. (She writes articles of local color for the Star.) The result of my suggestion appears here in today's Star.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back to Square One

My life for the past year has been a roller coaster. I've stated here before that I don't like roller coasters. About the riskiest I can get is the carousel I rode on the Mall with Riah, Boston and Tyler last week.

So today, after about two months of thinking I would live here three weeks of each month and in Youngstown one week, I'm again job-hunting. But in the interim I met Someone Wonderful. Someone who seems, after a month of dates and e-mails and phone conversations, to be wonderfully if not perfectly suited to me. Someone with whom I really believe I could have a future, a life again. Love in my life again.

So I skim Monster and CareerBuilder and Vindy.jobs and everyplace else I can think of to see what jobs are available, but my heart isn't in it. It's hard to get excited about an unknown job in an unknown city where I would have to commute an hour each way every day, or have two homes—an apartment in Cleveland or Pittsburgh and a home in Youngstown. Wait, I already have two homes.

You're tired of hearing this discourse. I'm tired of living it.

How much longer must I be patient?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Say what you mean; Mean what you say

A month ago I was told it would be okay for me to telecommute a few days a month. Yesterday my manager, Ken, went through the roof after I made a comment in team meeting about checking my mail and solving problems from Youngstown in my two upcoming trips. He called my contract manager and said to her, "We've had this discussion. I told you I wouldn't approve telecommuting for Jan. Nothing has changed. I will not approve her telecommuting."

Where's that winning lottery ticket?!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


She heard the denial of her dreams, and all she felt was sadness. Sadness like a cloak, like a cloche, like a foggy cloud on a cold morning.

She wanted to sit and sob. She wanted to rest her head in her hands and ignore the world for fifteen minutes. She wanted to rail against the Powers That Be for letting Life be so difficult.

Instead, she kept on keeping on. She put one foot in front of the other.

But the denial hurt. The sadness hurt. Physically hurt her.

That hurt forced her to remember other hurts, previous hurts. She could remember the first time she felt a hurt like this, a hurt that radiated down her right arm as if it were on fire.

She remembered living in the house of husband number two. It was his house, was always his house. She lived there five years and never felt she could hang a photo without asking his permission.

She rememberd the repeated times his daughter would tell him lies about her. Would tell him the horrible things Jan had said to her. But they were lies. All lies. And he never knew that truth.

He presumed Jan would say those horrible things to his daughter. And he would become depressed. Severely depressed. And he wouldn't speak to Jan. For day. After day. For five days. For five excruciatingly long lonely days.

She remembered going up to their bedroom and crawling into bed. Alone. With the pain of loneliness raging through her right shoulder and down her arm. Raging.

Alone. What had happened to that promise to love 'til death do us part? What had become of believing and trusting and loving one another? How had she become guilty until proven innocent?

Lonely. How did she happen to be 57 and alone? Brutally alone?

She hated that she did lonely so well.

She hated that life was so hard. And lonely. And sad.

Getting There is Half the Fun

I found today's quote on iGoogle rather ironic:

The saying "Getting there is half the fun" became obsolete with the advent of commercial airlines. - Henry J. Tillman

Let me tell you about my Sunday adventures:

I got to Dulles two hours in advance, easily checked in and got through security. Arrived at the gate with an hour to spare and noticed the flight was delayed half an hour. The equipment was delayed leaving JFK and would arrive late in Dulles. By the time we touched down in JFK, I had 25 minutes to get to my next gate.

As soon as the seat belt sign was turned off, my seatmate jumped up to allow me into the aisle. There were four of us standing in front of the door, ready to bolt. By the time the jetway was in place and the door opened, I had 15 minutes to lift-off on the next flight.

As I passed the desk for the arrival gate, I called out "Tucson?" as I passed by, and the agent called back "Gate 2" and pointed to the hallway down to the shuttle bus. As I approached the bus, the driver had just closed the door. The attendant opened the gate and the driver opened the door. I jumped on, the door closed, and we pulled away. When I reached the destination terminal, I jumped off and ran down the hall. When I got to Gate 2, I was told they had been calling my name, and the gate was already closed. The agent at the next gate radioed down to the flight attendant and then opened the gate door. I raced down, walked onto the plane, and the flight attendant closed the airplane door!

Someone was in my window seat and I asked that she move. I sat down and breathed an enormous sigh of relief.

And to my utter amazement, my bag arrived in Tucson right along with me.

Oh, by the way, although we were scheduled for 8:05 departure, it was really 9:05 when we achieved wheels-up!

Gotta love air travel!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home Again

No, I don't mean the fact that I'm back in Tucson, although I am. The title refers to how I felt being back in Washington for the weekend.

I took the Thursday midnight JetBlue redeye, arriving in Dulles around noon on Friday. I quickly got my rental car and pointed the nose toward the Washington Monument. Tyler and I communicated repeatedly by phone, coordinating our parking efforts. We ended up parking a block apart at the same time. I made my way up 12th Street and over to where they were on L'Enfant Plaza. As I was walking down the street to meet them, Boston and Riah saw me in the distance and started racing toward me, throwing their arms around me. Ah, the wonder of being a grandmother to these little beauties.

We made our way to National Air & Space Museum, where we had lunch and then explored. After three wonderful hours together, including a ride on the carousel on the Mall, we parted company. They headed back to Youngstown and I headed into my D.C. weekend.

I drove to Arlington National Cemetery, where I was saddened to see the number of new graves since my last visit in November. Then I made by way to Ballston for a drink and a bead exchange with my singing and beading and Europe-traveling friend Risa. After 90 minutes of catching up, I went down to Queen Street in Arlington to Polly's house.

Polly's husband, Brian, was still in Florida being Mr. Fixit for her mother, so we had the weekend to ourselves to catch up as we hadn't done in at least 30 years. We sat on the patio and listened to the crickets and sipped and talked into the night. On Saturday morning we got up and Metro'd into Dupont Circle to visit the American Impressionists exhibit at the Philips Collection. How fun to see the "Luncheon of the Boating Party" in person.

After getting our art fix, we went to Circa for lunch. After a quick visit to Beadazzled so I could see their new store, we headed back to the Pentagon and home to relax for the afternoon.

In the evening, I met my brother- and sister-in-law at my beloved Cashion's Eat Place for dinner. My drive over there included a run by my old Irving Street house and John's old Argonne Place house. How fun to see these beloved homes again. When I arrived at Cashion's, Johnny Fulchino, the co-owner, was sitting at a table on the sidewalk and welcomed me with open arms and great hugs. He told me he had sold the restaurant three days earlier to the man who had been their sous chef for twelve years. If I hadn't been in D.C. and at Cashion's this weekend, I wouldn't have known this. Don and Lee and I lingered over dinner for four hours, and later were joined by Don's cousin and her husband who had just driven in from New York. It was a wonderful reminiscence-filled evening.

Sunday I got up and visited with Polly a little more, packed, and headed for Knollwood for the party. John's daughter and son-in-law and namesake younger grandson, Ross, were there, along with Don and Lee's son Geoff, his wife and their beautiful four-year-old granddaughter, Megan. My mother-in-law has deteriorated greatly since I last saw her in November. She has severe macular degeneration and can hardly see. Her hearing is very poor, and she is confined to a wheelchair. But her brain is still in good condition, especially when you consider she's 100 years old. A lovely party and a tribute to a woman who has done a lot of good for a lot of people in her life.

And then I was in the car heading for Dulles and the long flight home.

I was so very glad I had gone, and had a wonderful weekend.

Oh, how I love Washington, DC.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Professor - Not Stodgy

The Professor read my post yesterday about my better-than-sex encounter with Mel Rivers. He responded:

Somehow the reference to "The Professor" make me sound like some cigar store Indian standing outside the tobacco store while dogs walk by and sniff my leg.

I don't know why. But that is the image I get. Paint a more fun picture of this guy.

So, lest you think this is a stodgy old guy with a paunch and ratty tennis shoes, let me tell you he is fit of body and mind and cute as he can be.

And sometimes he catches his dinner — in the British Virgin Islands, no less.

You May Be Right / I May Be Wrong

As I was driving in this morning and forming this post in my head, I slid right past my exit and had to drive several miles out of my way. So this had better be good!

Tyler and I are having an argument, in our own quiet, loving way, about the ACLU. In a simplistic nutshell, he likes them and I don't. I can't give him any concrete examples of why I don't like them, but these opinions were formed in law school. (I'm having the hardest time believing that law school began twenty years ago.) Things that were published in the 90s regarding the ACLU rubbed me the wrong way and ran counter to my abiding belief in taking responsibility for one's actions. As I recall, I felt the ACLU was litigious and jumping on controversy for controversy's sake.

The Professor agrees, of course, with Tyler. And in his own gentle, persuasive manner, is causing me to rethink my position.

As I've stated here in the past, my daddy, "Pakum" to the boys, would say "You may be right" when he was tired of an argument. Or when he thought the other person's argument was totally groundless. I always heard "you're full of beans" between the words of his statement. And I've used it in the same light with people I didn't want to argue with.

So that's not what I'm saying to Tyler. I'm not saying Pakum's veiled "you're full of shit." I'm saying, honestly and sincerely, "I may be wrong."

I'll keep reading. I'll keep studying. I respect your opinions wholeheartedly.

Aside to readers: Tyler has two blogs, both of them very well thought out. One is rather political in nature — that link is on the left navigation bar of this page. The other is about the beautiful renaissance of Youngstown.

Enjoy the writings of a man who learned early how to think for himself — unlike his mother.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Over the Moon

Better than Sex

I have to start with a little story. A thousand years ago, in my third marriage, Tyler had gone to Safeway with my [Mormon] husband and my severely learning-disabled [Mormon] stepson. They got what they needed in the store, then proceeded to the checkout line. As they were waiting, Tyler was perusing the candy display. He saw a Dove chocolate bar and suggested they get it for me, explaining, "Mom says these are better than sex."

Implicit in that story is the knowledge that I caught hell from my husband when he got home from the store for ever speaking to my teenaged son like that. He was horrified!

Well, Boys and Girls, I had an experience last night at Raz that was better than sex. Not that I remember sex. But I digress.

Does the name Mel Rivers mean anything to you? It didn't to me. This man walked into Raz last night and recognized what was happening on the piano, recognized the gift I have been given. He walked up, leaned on the piano and started singing along. You know I pride myself on being skilled as an accompanist, and within four measures, it was clear I had died and gone to musical heaven.

I don't think I can adequately describe what happened. It's just one of those magical moments, a lightning-striking-the-piano occurrence.

I've had a few of these in my life, this ultimate mutuality between pianist and singer. It happened the first time I played for Judy Sokal at one of her fabulous parties; it happened when I sat down next to fiddler-as-singer Lindianne Sarno; and, boy, did it happen last night.

When we stopped after two songs, I asked if I could take him home with me. Mel turned to the Professor to get my phone number, and told the Professor that he was in love. As we left at the end of the evening, the Professor told Mel he was afraid for a while that he was going to go home alone. (It's a euphemism, okay? He was going home alone, but only by choice.)

This morning during my shower I was thinking about being a pianist versus being an accompanist. The singer Marilyn Kaye came in last night and I asked if she'd like to sing a few songs. And even after the high of accompanying Mel, playing for her was torture.

And this morning it occurred to me. Marilyn doesn't know how to sing with an accompanist. She only knows how to follow. I follow her, slowing down to support her as she slows, and then she slows down because I've slowed down, and pretty soon we've spiraled down the toilet.

Mel, on the other hand, maintains incredible eye contact, has the confidence to just forge ahead, knowing his accompanist will continue supporting him.

It doesn't get any better than what I experienced last night.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Threats to One's Manhood

When Tyler was a teenager, I always said to him, "Be glad you're not a girl. You'll never have to wear a bra." and "Be glad you're not a girl. You'll never have to have a period." To which he replied, "Yeah, but you don't have to ask guys out and risk the rejection." (I told him I had asked guys out, but I didn't tell him they rarely refused me.)

As I'm getting to know the Professor and realize what an open man he is, I think he's very courageous. When he's fearful of something or hurting inside, he's not afraid to talk to me about it and display those vulnerabilities. And I think that takes an enormous amount of courage.

I think we women, who stride along and exhibit self-confidence and self-possession and all those other self- adjectives, must be enormously scary to men. We have all our women friends, with whom we discuss everything and anything, from the price of artichokes to the latest self-help fads. We're not afraid to talk about our feelings, and it's no big deal to do so. Displaying vulnerabilities is cause for support from our friends, not disdain.

Men must be in constant competition with one another — for jobs, for women, for the best tickets to sporting events. How exhausting!

So, Tyler, I guess you win. Even with bras and periods and, now, these damned hot flashes, I think my life is easier than yours.

Keep up the good work!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gutsy Moves

Yesterday's day at Camp Professor in the Foothills turned into twelve hours in heaven. It was the kind of day I needed: relaxed; quiet and musical; someone to talk to when I wanted to talk, silence when I needed silence.

We sat on the floor and ate berries and croissants; we had a photo shoot for my Raz gig; we sat in adjacent easy chairs with our laptops and shared an ottoman; we sat together on the piano bench and compared harmonic progressions; we stood on the couch to peek through the window at the quail; we laid on the floor and shared life stories. It was a perfect day.

The thing that struck me as the day wore on without either of us getting bored with or tired of the other was how gutsy it was to plan the date with no time-certain for it to conclude. I arrived at 9:45 in the morning; I left at 9:45 at night.

It was a pretty darned good 5th date.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Just Call Me Mary Ann

The Professor and I are going to hang out today, and I'm really looking forward to the experience.

I've had a tough couple of days at work (a confusing set of announcements coming on Tuesday, plus our offices being moved this week) and e-mailed him on Thursday saying how much I'd like a do-nothing no-responsibilities day. That, plus my stated desire to see the 20+ baby Gambel's quail that are toddling around his yard, led him to invite me up for the day.

I'm taking laptop, Photoshop manual and swimsuit, and will be stopping at Safeway for berries on my way up to the foothills. He has things to do; I have things to do. We're going to see how we like doing our things in close proximity to one 'nother.

I'm hopeful that this might be the start of a shared Sunday tradition.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dreams vs. Reality

The Traveler and I just had a nice conversation via cell phone while he was sitting in the Detroit airport, returning from spending the holiday in Northern Virginia. He went with high expectations to visit a New Friend. Shortly after his arrival, he had a "What the Hell was I Thinking" moment, and his expectations dropped to zero. But achiever that he is, he recovered his great attitude and had a marvelous time in my part of the world and met some wonderful people who understand Gracious Southern Living. The New Friend is not a Southerner (spoken with a drawl — can you hear it? — SUH-thuh-nuh). She's a transplanted Okie. Can't make a silk purse out of an oil derrick, or something along those lines.

He reminded me of my horrific trip to Virginia Beach and the laughs I've milked out of that story over the past couple of years.

And his story reminded me that he and I are dreamers. I truly believe there's Someone for everyone. I had one Someone; I want one more Someone.

The Traveler is such a nice guy. He's smart, he's accomplished, he writes beautifully, he's financially stable. He knows how to shave and brush his teeth and put on a clean shirt (unlike certain other men who have been chronicled here). He's nice-looking, appreciates femininity in a woman, likes nice restaurants and cute cars, especially restaurants that serve key lime pie and little red Hondas. He isn't afraid to live life. I truly believe there's just-the-right woman out there somewhere for him — someone that makes sense out of everything else in life.

But he is (as I am) not willing to settle for just-something, for less-than-optimum. He wants lightning to strike the table when he sits down across from her. And if he wants that, then he deserves it.

And someone, somewhere, some wonderfully deserving woman, will someday find her dream when they finally walk into the same room at the same time. The room may be in Northern Virginia or Southern Arizona or someplace far away from either of those places. But I think we get what we deserve, and this man deserves good things.

As do I.

I'm holding onto my dream.

More Cat Naps in the Heat

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Must Be Something in the Holiday Air

So I'm standing in the kitchen, slicin' and dicin' a carrot salad to take to Klaire's this evening, when the phone rings.

"It is!"
"This is Mike in El Paso"

Well, you could have knocked me over with a carrot stick. Remember Mike of the combover and nose hair and unruly eyebrows that stabbed me when we kissed? Holy Catz. I haven't heard from this boy in sixteen months!

He said he was just remembering the fun times we had together and missing me.

He did not ask if I had missed him. I haven't. Last year I told him he needed a haircut and to pay attention to his grooming, and I didn't hear from him for a week. We had been hot-and-heavy for three months (this was the first of last year's three-month relationships) and he was willing to throw it all away for a freaking haircut!

But that made me wonder how many hearts I've broken as I terminated this relationship or that for whatever egregious (or perceived-egregious) idiosyncrasy that appeared.

I could hear the loneliness and sadness in his voice. And I thought it ironic that on a day when I was also feeling sad and lonely, I receive this call from long ago and far away.

It's truly not my goal to break hearts. It's my goal to find the right heart to hold the future alongside my heart.

I guess hurt happens.

As he hung up, he said, "Well, I'll be talking to you." Then he caught himself, paused, and said, "No, I guess not."

113° in the Shade

And even hotter in the sun!

The forecast for today has, thankfully, been scaled down from 113° to 110°. And believe it or not, those three degrees really matter!

I thought you'd like to see where Rudi sleeps on summer desert days. Oh, and nights. When I wake up in the middle of the night and he's not in my bed, he's in my bathroom sink!

Holidays Are For Families

Happy Fourth of July

I start the day thinking I'm okay. The Professor is going with me tonight to my friend Klaire's party. That takes guts on his part, and I admire that. I can't tell you the number of men in my past who, having known me two weeks, would not go with me to a party of my friends.

This morning I ran out to Safeway to get the fixings for a carrot salad to take to Klaire's. And as I drive around, I'm aware of how alone in my Tucson life I am. I have friends, I have a date for tonight (Hallelujah!), I have my sweet little house, I have a decent job with a standard crappy Tucson salary. Compared to many other people, I'm great. But I feel alone.

Last night I received in the mail an invitation from John's brother and sister-in-law to my mother-in-law's 100th birthday celebration in Washington on the 15th. I had last night set aside to straighten my home office, and that got preempted by the need to figure out what to do. I called the Professor and left a message on his phone asking him to call me when he got in. He did, listened to my dilemma, and spent over an hour on the phone with me helping me figure out what to do. He listened, he asked appropriate questions, he offered suggestions, he helped me make a decision I was excited about. He behaved as if we were partners. I miss that, I miss having a loving partner in my life, more than words can say.

Fortunately, I had learned from Tyler that afternoon that he and Jaci and the babies will be in Washington that week. And my friend Polly had e-mailed just the day before asking when I was going to be in D.C. again and saying I always had a bedroom at their home. Putting all this together, I decided to take the JetBlue redeye through JFK to Dulles, arriving Friday afternoon. In speaking with Tyler this morning, I will rent a car and head for the Mall, where — by the magic of cell phones — we will meet up in one of the museums and have a few hours together before they head back to Youngstown. Saturday I'll have to myself to go by Arlington National Cemetery, then do whatever touristy things I want and have dinner with friends. I e-mailed Polly today to ask if she and Brian would be in town then. If they're not, I have lots of former Washington Chorus friends who have offered me space when I'm in town. And there's always my cousin in Gaithersburg. I've always been hesitant and shy to ask friends to put me up, but I'm going to spend $600 on this spur-of-the-moment trip, so shyness can just be damned!

I'll attend this party on Sunday, then I'll head for the airport and hunker down in my seat for the long flight through JFK back to Tucson.

But back to today and families. My whole life I have wanted to be included. I've wanted to have a family that loved me. How blessed I am that, through all my missteps as a mother, I have two wonderful sons, a miraculous daughter-in-law, and my two precious grandchildren, all of whom make me feel wanted and loved and cherished. If you're reading this, TJ, Ty and Jaci, thank you. And my family-of-choice — my brother- and sister-in-law and their children, who never forget me.

So why do I feel so alone today? I guess I want the whole day to be a holiday, to include togetherness and activities. I want to be part of a couple. Damn it. I want to be part of a couple. I'll go with the Professor tonight, and we'll behave as a couple would. He's affectionate and a toucher, as I am, and I love that. But I have no entitlements, I have no assurance that we'll have another date after tonight. (I have no reason to think I won't, you understand? I just have no assurance. There are no givens.)

And while I'm driving around, attending to life, feeling alone, I go into Safeway, where all the employees are wearing steel gray Prostate Cancer Awareness shirts. And my eyes well up with tears.

When the Professor came for dinner on Sunday night, he asked if I was still mourning John, still grieving. I don't think I am. I miss him horribly. I wish our life together had been much longer. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think of him. But I don't think I'm still mourning.

But on a day like today, I just miss being in a family, being part of a couple, having a connection, feeling like I'm home.

That brings to mind a favorite Billy Joel tune:

You're My Home

When you look into my eyes
and you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
it always comes as a surprise
when I feel my withered roots begin to grow.

Well I never had a place
that I could call my very own
but that's all right my love
cuz you're my home.

When you touch my weary head
and you tell me everything will be all right.
You say use my body for your bed
and my love will keep you warm throughout the night.

Well I'll never be a stranger
and I'll never be alone
wherever we're together
that's my home.

Home could be the Pennsylvania turnpike
Indiana's early morning dew
high up in the hills of California
home is just another word for you.

Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
but that's all right my love
cuz you're my home.

If I travel all my life
and I never get stop and settle down
long as I have you by my side
there's a roof above and good walls all around.
You're my castle, you're my cabin
and my instant pleasure dome.
I need you in my house
cuz you're my home,..
you're my home.

Happy Fourth of July. I hope you're basking in the warmth of family and loved ones today.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I went to the orthopedist yesterday to try to figure out why my upper arm and shoulder have been hurting so terribly since I hefted Ridley and toted her around the Cleveland Museum of Art. Oh wait. It doesn't take a brain surgeon or even an orthopedist to diagnose that cause!

<Personal note on>
Aside to Ridley: "You're four. Grandma's over 50. You can walk. Grandma can't carry you."
<Personal note off>

Ah, but back to today's topic. As I was describing my symptoms to Dr. Parseghian, I said, "I've just started dating a new guy and I can't even hug him." (This was, of course, said with the proper Southern belle pout.) Dr. Parseghian laughed.

But then as I sat there waiting for my X-ray and shot of cortisone, I was thinking about today's terminology. I couldn't say, "I'm dating . . . ." I've had four dates with the Professor, and the fifth will be at a 4th of July party at my friend Klaire's. He's too newly hurt by the breakup with previous girlfriend and doesn't yet know specifically what he wants. He's not a boyfriend, he's not a beau. Oooh, but he's a darling! I'm keeping a tight leash on my smittenness.

Then there's Frank. We don't date. We kinda hang out. He likes to go out to dinner with one lovely lady after another, or go for a ride in the BMW with the top down. I rarely say "no" when he calls for dinner, so he knows that when no one else on his list says "yes" to his calls, he can punch me on his cell. We're more than friends. We're dear friends, I think. We know the ins and outs of each other's lives. We each know how the other feels about all the others in his or her life. We know what makes each other happy and sad and pissed off. But we don't date. Dating implies an emotional connection, I believe, and that doesn't exist with Frank.

And there are others. Lee, Larry, Doug, Howard, Mike. These guys I occasionally "go out" with — coffee, breakfast, a game of cards, maybe dinner — but they aren't dates, there's no possibility of a dating relationship with these men. (Now that I look back at the list, I would say Lee and Larry are my friends, probably my good friends, but the others are just guys I know. I think. So hard to categorize!)

So what is the terminology for the 21st century? I think I'm "seeing" the Professor. But that's such an old word for a complex new century. I think I hang out with Frank. If the Professor started objecting to Frank, I would probably terminate the hanging out. Frank is constantly adding new stalls to the stable for the new fillies he finds. He doesn't need me, he just likes my looks and my brain and my style.

<Personal note on>
To Wendy and Susan: You may protest all you want that you're not one of the fillies. But if it trots like a filly and neighs like a filly, by God it's a filly. Shut up and enjoy it.
<Personal note off>

I end this note, a year after I started this blog, hearkening back to a very early post. "They changed all the rules." I may have to invent a new dating dictionary so we all know who and where we are.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I Clean House Once Every Six Months, Whether It Needs It Or Not

The problem with this practice is that when you finally get around to having a cleaning day, it is just that: a day. A day-long event. Eight hours of brutally hard work.

But now it looks fabulous and I'm more determined than ever to keep it that way. We'll see how long that lasts.

The Professor came over for dinner last night. I prepared my salmon and a salad and had raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries with lemon sorbet for dessert. He loved it. He played piano for me; I played piano for him. We're trying to learn from each other's styles. We play the same piece and the two renditions are so very different. But his is jazz piano and mine's piano to shop by. Background. Easy listening.

Then I pulled out my Singers Unlimited boxed set — only available in Europe, therefore a treasure in America — and we listened to cut after cut of their fabulous music.

What a lovely evening with a lovely man.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Life: Full Speed Ahead

My twenty-four hour period of constant remembering is over for another year. And I made my annual trek to a jewelry store to buy myself a little treat in his honor. (You remember in your way; I'll remember in mine!)

Turquoise Door is having a going-out-of-business sale and I got a darling bracelet, crocheted from thin gold wire with green gemstones and pearls. And a matching pair of little green heart earrings.

(Just tried to photograph them for you, as words can't aptly describe. But lack of adequate lighting also doesn't enhance the image, so you'll have to trust me. The pearls that look kind of beigy or gold are really regular pearls. And the little hearts really are green. But won't they be great with a black dress for playing the piano at Raz?)

Now, on moving ahead. I just want to say this about the Professor: He is fun and funny and his humorous e-mails make me laugh. And yes, I'm cooking dinner for him tonight. Eeek. I have one dish I can prepare well. He'll have to either like it a lot or be willing to be subjected to experimentation on subsequent my-home-cooked meals. That's assuming he wants to come back for more after tonight. I'm hoping.

And to close, a quote from the character Marin Frist in the pilot of "Men in Trees," which I'm watching this morning as I clean off TiVo and clean the house:

You can't always get the one you want. And sometimes the one you get may not be the right one at all. But if you have hope, the universe has a funny way of showing you exactly what you need. The challenge is to let yourself be alone until the right one shows up.