But the lightbulb has to want to change…

In the midst of a holiday weekend adventure, i’m out of town with a couple of friends.  Studley McRocklegs – not only an accomplished cyclist, but an ace pilot as well – flew us to the Carolina woods to spend the weekend with an old friend of mine, the brilliant and delicious Professor AB.

Having gotten her PhD in Engineering from a top-notch school by the time she was 25 years old, AB is a rock star in our profession.  While out and about farting around this morning, we attended a large outdoor charity fundraiser.  Mid-way through the morning, Professor noted that i had been working the crowd.  Commenting on this or that, asking them questions about stuff, and generally mixing it up with the random collection of strangers we encountered.

Back in the car, headed out for more farting around, we discussed the differences.

Professor AB:  I just don’t like people, until they give me a reason to.  You seem to really like everyone.

daisyfae:  Until they give me a reason not to like them, yeah, i kinda do…

Studley:  I’m an introvert, but I work at being extroverted, because I kinda like people.  And it helps if you are trying to get laid to be able to talk to people you don’t know.

Pic found here.  And by the way, solid state lighting is a bit of technological magic… compact fluorescents?  Well intentioned, but a little toxic…

* We are Ambassadors of Farting Around.  Flying out-of-town, on short notice, to hang out with a friend and teach her the art of farting around.  Which replaced her plan to teach herself the more esoteric details of Mathematica this holiday weekend….

Wargaming

A series of messages exchanged with a friend today, helping pass the hours as we both slogged through work stuff.  We kinda sorta almost briefly dated, but it quickly became clear that he likes small, attractive and normal women and i prefer men who are a little bitter, very twisted and somewhat broken we were both looking for different things. 

We remained friends, and spent more than a few happy hours commiserating about our troubles with persons harbouring opposing genitalia.

Our conversations included a lot of questions, ball-busting and throwing of the bullshit flag as necessary.  These kind of friends are invaluable.  Having an honest broker, representing a completely different point of view, who questions “Why?” can do wonders for your thought processes if you are drilling down to the center of your beliefs. 

Well, up until the point you want to slap him…

An attractive, intense and relatively conservative man, he spent a portion of his career in the cockpit of military jets as a weapons system officer.  Fairly messy divorce, with the ex-wife moving his kids to the east coast.  He left town a couple of years ago to get a job on out there, closer to his three teenaged children.

HotStuff:  Hey, daisyfae!  How goes it?

daisyfae:  Life is good!  How are things out east?

HotStuff:  Pretty good!  Building a house, closer to where the kids are.  Haven’t missed the associated yard work for the past four years, so it will be an adjustment.  How’s your collection of boy toys coming along?  Do you have a complete set?

daisyfae:  Entertaining, to say the least.  Two new ones since we last talked.  One?  About 60 miles east, and the other lives about 60 miles south!

HotStuff:  You don’t like those boys too close, do you?  Same town does have advantages, though.

daisyfae:  i get cranky when they get too close.  They get all up in my bidness and want to actually get to know me…  That’s when it stops being fun – for everyone involved.  Geography is my friend!  You still seeing that gal who works back here?

HotStuff:  Yes.  And we’re reaching a decision point soon.  The distance is making it tough.

daisyfae:  Committment is hard, but apparently can be worth the effort. So i’ve been told.   i hope it works out for you!

HotStuff:  Too bad I can’t wargame this…

daisyfae:  You can flow chart it.  Analysis of Alternatives.  Eventually, you can at least identify the options you can’t live with, and perhaps a few paths that get you closer to where you want to be.  But that relationship crap is smelly – people are the worst kind of unknowns.

HotStuff:  You aren’t serious, are you?  Flow charting won’t work with relationships.  It just gives you an excuse to get out.  It is only as good as your assumptions, so really all you end up doing is picking your answer and rationalizing it with science.

daisyfae:  i usually just work through a range of “best case”, “worst case” and “probable case” scenarios.  Until i get bored, or realize “Nah, i really don’t want to do that…” and quit.   You’re right, though.  It just provides pretense of logic.

HotStuff:  Wargaming. That’s far more rigorous!  Now, I just need to look up the parameters for a standard woman…

“… that doesn’t mean we have to eat it!”

i’ve written about my ‘breast cancer grannies’ before. “The 3B’s”, which stands for “Booze, Brie and Breasts”. Leontine and i drank our way through it, diagnosed within 2 weeks of each other, and meeting through an article written about me in the local paper. We’d meet up every month, drink a bottle of wine, bash some yummy brie, and just yak for a couple of hours.

Who needs therapy?  A support group?  We were doing our bit to keep the good folks at the Banfi Le Rime winery in business!

We added Doris two years later, when she got the bad news at 68 that she had acquired a pesky cancer nugget.  Susan joined us last year – she’d had cancer about 10 years ago, but mostly wanted to hang out with us because she’d heard we were goofs…

i’m the ‘kid’ as they are all in their late 60’s.  This minor fact has made exactly zero difference in the amount of fun we have together – or how much we all can’t wait to meet up.  On a dreary, rainy, chilly day in early March, we all couldn’t WAIT to get to the bar of our regular restaurant tonight.

Our monthly gathering. Susan’s husband just got the prostate cancer diagnosis, which got Leontine’s husband last summer. After our “happy hour”, the two gents were meeting up with their wives for dinner so they could walk through the details together… over a decent meal and better wine.

Our conversations are all over the map – a lot of travel, grandchildren, children, gossip, bullshit and whatnot. With the occasional mention of that thing that brought us together in the first place. Tonight was no different.

Doris had just returned from a trip to Sonoma, California, and was sharing her latest travel headache. Going through security at O’Hare airport, she was directed to the millimeter wave imaging system. With a mastectomy over under her belt two years ago, she knew what was coming when they asked her to step aside for the TSA grope.

She regaled us with the tale of the idiot TSA agent.

Doris:  So this woman is feeling me up, and asks if i have something metal in my bra.  I tell her “I had a mastectomy, and I wear a prosthesis”.  This idiot asks me “Here?”  I wanted to say “No, honey, in my ass!  Where else would it be?”

We laughed like schoolgirls.  Leontine went on to suggest that no one could be that stupid – not even a TSA agent. 

Leontine:  Maybe she thought you’d said colonoscopy….. I mean… colon….. colo… Shit!  What’s the word?

Only halfway through our first bottle of wine, we were all struggling for the word – but somehow found it simultaneously, shouting in chorus “Colostomy!”

One of those moments when the entire establishment had gotten preternaturally quiet a microsecond before.  We paused…

daisyfae:  Perhaps we should shout that a little louder – i think there were a few folks in the dining room who didn’t hear it!

As we snorted and hooted at our goof, it occurred to me that there are women who have been down this road, and consider themselves victims of cancer. 

There weren’t any of those broads at my table tonight…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post is dedicated to a lovely man, recently returned to the blogosphere.  His words get stuck inside my head sometimes and rattle around for days, sometimes weeks and months.  He recently told me “In life, at times, we all fall in the shite, but that doesn’t mean we have to eat it.”  Damn straight, brother Jimmy.

Cold comfort

Answering the phone in my hotel room at the Sheraton Harbor Marina.  About ten years ago…

daisyfae:  Hello?

DB:  I’m in the lobby.

daisyfae:  i’m in my pajamas.

DB: ….

daisyfae:  C’mon up.  i’ll call room service for some beer.

We’d been professional colleagues for a few years, and had grown to be friends.  Talking about vacations, grousing about life’s responsibilities, sharing pictures of our children.  Our business encounters were always pleasant – and something to look forward to in the often boring drudge of the day-to-day.

A change in his position at the company shipped him to the west coast, and we were in less frequent contact in those days.  We left it at “Hey, if i’m ever out in San Diego, i’ll look you up…”.  The week before i headed out west, i gave him a ring.  It was then that i learned that his youngest daughter was struggling.  Drugs.  Sucked into it when she entered a new high school.

As he shared a few details, i reluctantly said “Well, i’m going to be in San Diego, but if you’re not able to meet up for a beer, no worries – i certainly understand”.  But he would have none of that – and said any glimpse of normalcy in the midst of such a nightmare would be welcome… He said he’d call me after i arrived and we could meet for dinner.

Which is why i was surprised to get the call at 9:00pm at night – i had assumed that the family crisis trumped dinner with me. i’d already planned to just go to bed early.  Getting my bearings, i made a quick call to room service.  By the time i was off the phone, he was at the door.

Broken.  Tired.  And in need of a friend and a beer. 

Room service delivered, we took the ice bucket and beers out on to the hotel balcony – a gorgeous moon, shining over the harbor.  Sailboats rocking.  Lights twinkling, reflected in the water.  One of the reasons this has been a favorite hotel?  The balconies with the lounge chairs and the incredible view. 

But it was chilly…  i suggested we could go back inside, but he wanted that view.  i pulled a blanket from the bed and wrapped it around him, then sat in the chair opposite.  For over an hour,  he poured it all out.  Slowly.  Lifting each word as if they each weighed a metric ton. 

Still shivering, i brought him another blanket.  As he continued bringing up the words, he seemed so lost.  So cold. 

Listening.  Instinctively, i knew how to comfort him.  But couldn’t offer.  And he couldn’t ask.

The other’s gold…

We played together as babies.  We must have, because i simply don’t remember meeting them.  TAB and JLB were the two girls across the street.  Age-wise, they were snuggled neatly between me and my sister, T, making for perfect playmates.  TAB and i were in the same grade at school, with my sister, T, two years ahead, and JLB a year behind.
 
We became ‘blood sisters’ somewhere about eight years old, using a Boy Scout knife we hijacked from an older brother.
 
It was the era of “Lord of the Flies” parenting.  Once we reached school-age, we ran wild.  Dads went to work in the morning, and Moms booted us outside in the summer, expecting us to stay gone until lunch time or injury, whichever came first. 
 
In addition to the four of us, there were five other girls of similar age in our pack.  There were also several boys in the neighborhood, but they were clustered at the end of the street, and we only connected with them for “Girls vs. Boys” games of Capture the Flag, or the big neighborhood wiffleball and football games*. 
 
Adventures?  All the damn time!  Tree forts were made with construction lumber and supplies swiped** from construction sites.  We’d camp out in sleeping bags at least once a week during summer – often doing a bit of backyard pool hopping on the hottest nights. 
 
Winter months forced the adventures indoors.  The younger years involved hours of “playing Barbie”, where we’d transport suitcases full of Barbie gear to an empty garage or basement.  We’d set up complex scenarios, our Barbie dolls living out our projected lives as adults.  Oh, there were Ken dolls, too, but they were mostly used as props, or torture victims.
 
Rather than the four of us descending upon one household for sleepovers, we did something called “trading sisters” – asking parents if we could swap out a sister for the night.  This way, no parent had to deal with more than two squealing girls at a time.  The logistics were nearly perfect.
 
The four of us stayed pretty close until my sister hit high school and some of her friends had cars.  By the end of her freshman year in high school she’d moved on.  The remaining trio remained close for a couple more years, but over time, we found other friends, got our own cars, and our connectivity naturally declined. 
 
TAB got married right out of high school.  i remember going to her wedding – to a guy she’d been dating for over a year, but i’d never met.  Having left town for school, i felt a little out of place.  JLB went to nursing school in town.  The next time i saw either of them was six years later, at their mother’s funeral.  After that? Three years later when one of their brothers died. 
 
We vowed to stop meeting up only at funerals – and did manage a few fun gatherings of the old neighborhood gang.  But life, babies, jobs and the universe colluded to make such events rare.  TAB and JLB were both at Dad’s funeral.  When JLB, who remained single, adopted a son four years ago, i brought Mom with me to the baby shower. 
 
Last weekend, i was a little surprised to find TAB at the high school reunion – she was always shy in crowds.  As i fluttered around the room – mixing up visits with pleasant people and dodging a few whack jobs – i’d find myself seeking refuge in the corner, where TAB and another shy friend were hiding.  Snippets of conversation, family updates, pictures of kids…. But not much time to really talk.
 
Yesterday, i got an e-mail from TAB:  “It was so nice to see you at the reunion. I’m a fish out of water at those kind of things but you made me feel more at ease. Wish we could have chatted a little more… maybe next time we see each other.”
 
The memories i acquired with TAB and JLB are the ones that made my childhood idyllic.  In fact, it’s that idyllic part of my childhood that probably kept me from noticing that i lived in a trailer park.  The more i think about it, TAB and JLB may have provided the foundation that got me out of there, reasonably intact. 
 
It is my hope that my final words can echo those of my father – “I have no regrets. No unfinished business.  I can go now.”  If there was someone you grew up with that got away from you?  That’s the stuff regrets are made of… 
 
We’re looking for a free weekend in October…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
* Tackle.  Flag football was for girls…
 
** The ONLY word for this is “swiped”.  Not “stolen”, “misappropriated” or “purloined”.  There are a few other words that come close, such as “pinched”, “filched” or “ripped off”, but in the world of my childhood, the word was “swiped”.

Reunited

The 30th High School Reunion.  Great weekend – from quiet time at my place catching up with close friends*, to finding a connection with someone i’d only brushed by in my youth – the high school reunion flushed out memories, and helped me get ‘the rest of the story’ regarding long forgotten antics. 

It also provided an opportunity to dance like there is no tomorrow!  Through a mild hangover haze, here are glimpses…

- Was delighted that my re-discovered friend, DJ, was able to attend!  He had a stroke in February, and has made pretty good progress over the past seven months.  Now using a cane to walk, he has no use of his right arm.  Although tired from a long weekend of activities, he was having a good time – and i caught him cheering me from the side of the dance floor.  We managed quite a few giggles – and collected more than a few stares – when i gave him a “PG-13″ version of a chair/lap dance.  Seemed reasonable, since i couldn’t drag him on the dance floor with me…

- Hook ups?  You betcha!  With much of the reunion planning taking place via Facebook, the opportunity for transparent and clandestine booty call was right there on the ol’ keyboard!  While pre-gaming at the hotel bar in the early evening with a woman i’ve known since i was 6 years old, we were comparing notes on who was going to be hooking up with whom.  Post-game analysis in her room at 4:30am?  We were pretty sure we’d gotten it right…

- Hanging with my two gal pals on Friday night, i was struck by the wide swings in the conversation.  Some talk of the past, more talk about the present… and a surprising amount of time spent talking about professional lives as managers, supervisors, and the amount of adult daycare we provide within our respective organizations.  (sigh)  Face it.  We’re old.

- Invariably, there is the “In Memoriam” moment.  Despite the fact that it was handled in a mildly awkward manner**, it was necessary to go through the list.  Since my friend, JW, died a mere six years after graduation, he was there.  After we were kicked out of the hotel ballroom at 11:30 pm, we moved to another nearby bar to continue hanging out together.  i stumbled into a woman, SD, who’d worked with JW after graduation for a few years….  Since 1986, i have been carrying the notion that he died from an accidental fall from a railroad bridge.  From SD i got a different story – that it was suicide.  That he’d killed himself after finding out he “had AIDS.  Guess i’ll never really know…

- Further conversation with DJ regarding the status of his physical therapy led to discussion on some ‘interim therapy’ he can accomplish on his own while waiting for transfer to another rehab facility.  Was there with another friend, MD, the delicious dancing boy that i’ve developed a terrible crush on, as we asked what DJ needed to keep making progress.  Books, phone calls were at the top of the list – easy to manage on his own, and working his eyes and voice.  i asked if he had internet, or was allowed pornography.  Seriously, folks, what better way to get that right arm back in shape!  MD noted that i’m more of a “Physical Terrorist” than a “Physical Therapist”…

- For all the talk about “old times”, i realized that i still believe my best years are ahead of me.  Whether or not i’m being overly optimistic remains to be seen, but i can’t tackle it any other way.  After closing the second bar of the evening, we retreated to a hotel room***.  Waiting for the keyholder to find her way back, we decided to get on with it.   i’ve come a long way from drinking ‘forties’ on the porch step.  That would be a bottle of Glenfiddich…

this was a staged photo. mostly.

* And watching my friend JM-P chase her five year old daughter around?  Priceless!

** Two of the Senior Class Officers turned down the dance music, stood at the podium, and announced a slide show/tribute to those from our class who have died.  Other than me saying “What the fuck? When did HE die?” perhaps a little too loudly, the transition between the ‘moment of silence’ and ‘Ok, let’s all get back to dancing!” could have used a better segue.

*** As a survivor of countless conference ‘hotel room parties’, i know better than to allow drunks into my room.  Been there.  Cleaned that toilet.

Women of The Rock

An orgy of luscious, long-legged and lean lesbitarians – playful nymphettes mincing about in the sand and sea.  Pillow fights and pedicures.  Baby oil and back rubs.  Sexy secrets shared in the dark.

That’s the fantasy image nursemyra, dolce and i played up for our recent holiday on the sunny island of Lesvos.

As the birthplace of Sappho, the poetess, the village of Skala Eressos has a long history with estrogen.  In recent decades, it has certainly evolved into a pilgrimage location for international lesbians.  Not just a place of historical significance, but a place where same-sex couples can hold hands and cuddle in public, without even the hint of a sideways glance of disapproval from passerby. 

The locals – Grecian families who have lived on the island for perhaps hundreds of years – don’t bat an eye.  They run the super market, bakery and retail establishments.  The sexual orientation of customers is of no concern.

During our stay, we easily developed connections with other guests at the apartments – due to the hospitality of the property caretakers.  Every morning, around 1015, we saw Liz, another guest, riding a borrowed bike into the village, swim fins sticking out of her backpack.  She never failed to invite us to join the group of women who did a daily “Swim to the Rock” – a short swim from a local seaside restaurant to a craggy rock in the sea.  And back*.

i was interested.  i used to be a swimmer, but did my swimming in chlorinated concrete pools.  Without waves.  No fish or sea urchins, either.  Living in the landlocked mid-west, opportunities to swim in the sea are fairly limited. 

Scuba diving is entirely different!  i have a 75 pound tank full of compressed air attached to my back.  i can breathe underwater that way.  Swimming in the sea?  Without a regulator?  That’s a bit different…  As much as i wanted to try it, i wasn’t sure how it would work.

But Liz continued to invite us.  Every morning.  i bought goggles in town – having been warned that a mask would be helpful to avoid grabbing a sea urchin upon arrival at The Rock.  Liz offered loaner fins.  The weather wasn’t entirely cooperative, as we had a couple of stormy days mid-week, and the swim was called off for safety.  By Saturday morning, i decided to try it.

Prepped like an East German lady-swimmer from the 1970’s, i was ready!

Only three of us swimming that morning – representing three continents.  Liz, from Australia.  Annie, from Scotland. And daisyfae, from the USA.  It just so happens that salt water makes you very buoyant.  D’uh!  i could very nearly float there and back with a light boost from the fins.  Slightly against current on the way out, it took maybe 15 minutes before we were hauling ourselves out of the sea onto The Rock.

Although it was far more of a psychological challenge than physical, it felt great to be there.  Grinning like a loon, the sun starting to climb in the sky and beat down on us, the taste of salt water in my mouth, absolute quiet except the sound of the sea gently splashing us and the rocks. 

The view of the village was a little different from offshore.  Always good to adjust your point of view from time to time.

Due to the assistance of a gentle on-shore current, we made it back in under 10 minutes.  Nothing spectacular as far as a workout, but i sure felt like i’d just completed a triathalon as i lumbered out of the water that morning.  Up the stairs, where i joined the non-swimmers, already having coffee.  A round of cheers as i sat down – they were fully aware that it was my first time…

Returning on Sunday for another go, it was a larger group.  Maybe eight of us – including swimmers from Iceland, Scotland, England, Australia and the US.  Certificates of indoctrination were presented to all of the newbies upon our return.  i was officially inducted into the “Women of the Rock Group”.

Sure. We played up the “Sapphic Erotica” angle of our visit to Lesvos.  And naturally, we spent some time stripped bare, soaking up sun, and playing in the sea.  There were pedicures.  And oh, the conversation!  Would have stilled the hearts of many mortal men! 

The reality of our week on Lesvos was not a lesbian fantasy romp.  Sisters.  Not born, but acquired.  For a week, a month or a lifetime.  The reality of that week was far better than the fantasy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* She emphasized that to be a member of the “Rock Group”, one had to swim out and back.  Hitching a ride on a kayak or raft for the return trip was unacceptable!

Birthday Kyk from A Broad

Before i even started blogging, i was reading the blog of this weird guy in Cape Town, South Africa.  He was an engineering type, but had a history of doing community theater – and writing scathing observations on both…

He had a format change*, and has been writing a three-panel webcomic for the past few years.  And i am continually amazed at his efficient and scathing exploitaton of the english language .

Happy birthday, kyknoord, you sexy bitch…

* Not unlike a sex change,  i suppose… perhaps a teeny bit less messy.

Flat Earth Society – Redux

If anyone had told me a few years ago that i’d be packing up my knickers, jumping on an airplane, and meeting a woman from Cape Town, South Africa – whom i’d never actually met – and another woman from Sydney, Australia for a two week holiday in Greece?  i’d have said “you’re fucking out of your mind.”

But it’s 10:30 pm on a Sunday night in an Athens hotel room, and they are just tucking into bed in rather close quarters, as we pack up to head out to the island of Lesvos in the morning.

Although there is a natural amount of anxiety in a blogger meet up, there can be a tremendous amount of anxiety in actually camping out with people who – to the rest of the universe – appear to be strangers to you.  For two weeks.  In another country.

In practice? 

The. Most. Natural. Thing. In. The. World.

i got in first on Friday morning.  Dolce arrived later that day, and nursemyra appeared last evening after some travel complications.  We probably haven’t shut up – other than during periods of sleep or poolside decompression – for three days.  We are visiting a place considered to be part of the cradle of civilization – and it is tremendous – but it has been reduced to almost a backdrop for deepening personal connections.

We are three rather smart, strong, independent and incredibly fucked up women*.  And we are sorting shit out.  Through stream of consiousness conversations, laughs, tears and a bit of Mythos beer, gin and tonics and amazing food.

Three women, from three different continents, meeting up on a fourth…  If anyone had told me a few years ago that i’d be party to such a gathering?  i’d have found it incomprehensible.

Small world, innit?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* “Fucked up”?  Vastly different ways, nothing debilitating, but we are – as all humans are  – wrangling with a multitude of personal demons.

Singing

Everyone has a story.  Some are tragic, some are comic – most are some combination thereof.  As many stories as there are faces in a shopping mall, bodies in a bank queue, bellies up to a bar.

During my 10-day winter sojourn, i find myself among some delightful representatives of humanity.  First and foremost?  My hosts – inspirations to me on many levels.  Welcomed to their home, where i have been invited to partake of their hospitality, food, wine – and more importantly, friends.

Over a couple of bottles of Coors Light in a dive bar, buried in a valley in the heart of Mormon country, i spent some time with a woman that i’ve known for fifteen minutes, and simultaneously all of my life. 

She grew up in my neck of the woods, and we shared a frightening amount of common ground – despite being separated in age by a little more than a decade.  As we poked through beer and “Fry Sauce”, we talked about living life aggressively…

i mentioned my pending ‘motorcycle’ certification class, and she wandered through tales of her days with a bike.  And why she gave it up… And as the beer and conversation flowed freely, she mentioned a particularly harrowing journey across a large body of water on an open-grid bridge…

“Singing Bridge”. 

i haven’t heard this phrase for years, but with it came a flood of childhood memories.  Certain bridges were dubbed “singing” because the simple act of rolling an automobile across created audible vibrations – and the pitch could be varied via accelerator!

What sheer joy, when i was a little critter, to ride with the entire clan crammed into the Ford Falcon station wagon across a singing bridge!  Dad was masterful, playing the tones carefully, running scales, and certainly pissing off the guy behind him trying to get to the horse track before the windows closed…

A few more beers, and many laughs later, we called it a night.  It occurs to me that there can be artistry in the most mundane aspects of life.  Be it driving a car across a span of metal and cable, or taking the time to mine for the story of another human being…

Sing it, sister...