Hi, my name is Susan and I have a vacation prejudice

(This was written in November of 2016 and has noodled around since then but here goes)

Date: Monday, November Somethingth Three Days Before My Anniversary and Barely Into our Six Night Visit to Max and Nancy’s Home near Cabo San Lucas, Meburroxico…

My best friend sleeps with a white noise machine. So have I for the last 3 nights. It’s called the ocean. The experience has made such an impact that I wonder if I should pick one up – a machine, not an ocean – when I get home. Probably not. I suspect that there’s no way to replicate this sound. It’s not just the noise. It’s about letting go of the voices in my head.

I’m on an honest to god vacation. From my monkey brain and my fears.

Preconceived Notions and Insecurities…

Back in the late ’80’s, when I (and my shoulder pads) started climbing my peculiar corporate ladder, I had young women co-workers who dreamed of this kind of romantic – romanticized – escape to a seaside paradise. I never shared that wish. I was mystified by how fervently they dreamed of sitting by a pool or by the ocean, getting a tan, drinking margaritas from sun-up to sundown, and shifting from a bikini to a mini-skirt to go out partying all night. I condescendingly – and silently – saw it as a desperate grasp at being beautiful. Holy crap – stick a fork in my eye. B O R E D just considering it.

Of course, the fact that I would never look good – as defined in my 20’s – in a bikini or mini-skirt never entered my condescension. My incredible social awkwardness – which made me want to vomit at the idea of clubbing – never entered my keenly honed sense of distaste. Of course not. Of course, my current physical awkwardness of lugging around an unbalanced body nearly at it’s height in weight but now on 54 year old knees never entered my current trepidation of accepting the gracious invitation that led us here. Well, perhaps a little.

What to do? What to do…

My previous vacations – the Bucket List Biggies – were Europe. Or hiking. Or hiking in Europe. All perfectly brilliant optionhome-banners. Nearly always the kind of vacation where one needed time off between flying home and going back to the office in order to recover from the vacation. I’ve built those requisite days into the end of this vacation but my mellowed brain is instead pondering how to use those bridge days to hang onto this feeling. Should I buy that white noise machine?

Ever since I conceived of ‘vacation’ as something I could do myself, I clung to the belief that the days must be full, comprehensive and thoroughly planned. This current mind and body trip to stay with friends in their stunning home on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico near Cabo San Lucas and just barely north of the Tropic of Cancer isn’t about hanging onto anything except the stream of consciousness that whisks hours away watching the ocean do it’s thing before during and after a couple of sunrises. Plus dips in the infinity pool.

I’m sure there are some physics involved – science with an exceptional tan – that enables that let-it-go synapse I’m experiencing. Or, disables other synapses. Something I do every day with the right medication and something that I do every night in order to sleep at all. If I sleep. Which, I’ve managed to do quite easily – perhaps for the first time in my life – here.

In the social awkwardness category, my anxiety about this getaway was horror at imposing myself for so many days as a guest in someone’s home. Joyful and engaging pre-vacation get-togethers with Max and Nancy led to their kind invitation to visit. I didn’t want to jinx that magical connection by being the guest that would never leave. Our hosts are neat people and our dinners made me feel witty, curious, and relaxed. How in the hell could I keep that up for more than a 2-hour dinner, much less for almost a whole week? I’m so screwed.

Our hosts have pulled out their sure-fire menu of guest experiences and it’s working like magic.

Nancy asked what we wanted to do when we got here. I was clueless. The activities and sights are usually what drives me to visit a particular place. We came here simply because we were invited. Thank goodness she extended the invitation several times – often enough for us to plunge in and say yes. Blessed tenacity.

We contributed a few activity ideas. I wanted to sit and stare at the ocean, read my book and hike. Maybe do some writing. Fry wanted to snorkel, parasail, body surf, ride horses, eat hot peppers, snorkel, drink tequila, hike and snorkel. Nancy crafted the perfect itinerary.

This is the weirdest, freakiest c99fafd9c69abe86c38cd0eb83bd2ed03ombination of heart-palpitating experiences and the calmest atmosphere in which to experience them. Not only did I have no idea what to expect and pre-worry – but I released all control. I pretended to consider and choose among Nancy’s suggestions of what we should do at any given time but really, I just trusted her. She built in plenty of time for me to sit and stare. I have reveled in rolling with anything.

Their magic has worked miracles…

My goodness, my pathological concern about my inability to be enjoyable company for so long and to not be underfoot has evaporated. I don’t feel like I’m imposing.

My goodness. I actually can stare at the ocean for hours and never be bored. The sound of waves crashing outside my screen door – which we keep open all night long – does not drive me bonkers.

My goodness. I can walk into the sea up to my knees and get buffeted around and get scared I’m going to fall and not be able to get up and be okay. I can dunk my head under the water in the pool and swim 2.2 strokes before blowing my air and following the bubbles up 6 inches and be okay.

It’s only been 3 days. I have plenty of time to screw this up.


This extended visit is enabling our friendship vs engendering the horror I anticipate will happen when Nancy and Max realize that I’m a boring fraud. I’ve learned that Nancy and I share a similar criteria for calling someone a friend. It’s an honorific, heavy on the honor, that’s earned through shared experiences and enough of a world-view Venn diagram overlap. I believe we are friends.

I believe that Max and Fry share a similar criteria with each other for considering someone a friend. It consists of proximity and an innate delight in their humanity. That’s all the groundwork needed. Everything else is showing each other the electrical room for their solar paneled home and the website of their artwork and sharing exceptional tequila and a gorgeous sense of adventure. That and their respective devotion to their iPhones are all the Venn diagram overlap required.


For the first time in my memory I managed this trip with carry-on. Perhaps that primed the pump. My ‘must have handy’ bits and bobs have pared down dramatically. I started out with earrings, purse, antacid tablets, credit cards, nail clippers, eyeliner, and a variety of ‘spring into action / take immediate care of whatever catastrophe might strike’ supplies. It’s now my phone for pictures and posting. Lip balm, sunscreen, bottled water and… that’s it. Oh, and the sun hat that Nancy lent me is convenient. Right now, I’m using it for set deco on the table where I’m writing. I don’t need it. It just looks pretty sitting there. Like I’m ready to spring into action. Which I’m not.

I’ve been wearing my bathing suit, sandals and cover up dress in various combinations almost non-stop.img_0054

Living here started out as a dichotomy to my American-expect-smooth-sailing sensibilities. Their beautiful home built from plans they crafted with their architect contrasted with a bumpy, dusty, long, long, long adventure of a drive from the newly paved main road to get to their house. I would get righteously lost if I tried to find my way out.

They live in a town that at first glance looked to me like a bunch of large houses with lots and lots of space in between them and a bar and grill on the corner of the access road. I had an initial but brief Romancing the Stone: “This is a town?” reaction. It’s a town because Nancy and Max are so connected to their neighbors.

Flora and Fauna…

The flora is low, dense, gutsy, unpolished and dusty – except for the potted plants in colorful Mexican pottery that line their patio. The flora is also beautiful once you let yourself love it – which is easy to do as soon as you – meaning me – decide to drop the ‘but it’s not pine trees’ wistfulness. It’s beautiful. Especially the palms. And everything else.

There are no road signs but free-range burros roam around in the afternoons. I just looked up to see a hawk about 15 feet from their wrap-around windows facing the Sea. Flew parallel to the patio and my strategically placed writing table facing the sea.

The fauna are mostly the aforementioned free-range burros. We witnessed a mama protecting her baby from fellow burro marauders yesterday afternoon. It was quite the braying high drama conflict. We’ve also seen free foraging cattle ranging from Guernsey’s to Brahmas grazing at the side of the main roads. Can’t call them herds since it’s usually 2 to 6 of them at a go. Lots and lots of vultures. Great big ones. Hanging on the thermals – the vulture version of surfing – and keeping tabs to see if we’re feeling okay.

By the 3rd day here, it all seems perfectly natural. It’s just what you see and do. Time expands. There’s distance to cover between things. A trip to a waterfall and to a hot spring took all day. It’s a land of ‘you’ve got to want it’ and you do.


There’s nothing else to do and it’s more than enough. It’s not a compromise. It’s paradise. Not just because of the view but because of what it does to you. You can’t help it. Just try. You will fail. Why? It’s a mystery.

Yeah, you can get used to it but I get the rose-colored impression strife is more about the tribulations outside this world. Every home and life has it’s bumps like trying to figure out international health insurance options. The wind knocking down a glass and breaking the plate underneath it. The flock of birds looking for fresh water every morning who descend en masse to their pool and poop in the water regardless of how many twirly things you hung in the palm tree or the fake crocodile floating in the pool. You know.


Thank you, Max and Nancy. You changed my world.

This is about as introspective as I’ve gotten in and for the longest period of time – or 3 days, whichever comes first. I’ve chatted with Fry about observations but they’ve lasted as long as it takes for the next 2 waves to come in.

I’ve changed for the moment. Will I be able to hold onto it when I get home? No. Does it matter? No. Am I ‘all better’? No, but better. Has my world expanded in just 3 days in magnificent ways that I could never have imagined?



A week of cat hospice

Our cat died on October 26, 2015.

A week before Russell left us, he began a new phase of life.

His week  of hospice wasn’t a bad life. It was an odd mirror of his normal routines. Instead of making his way through his usual day, we simply carried him.

Russell Scot Fry adopted us in 2001 and was fully grown when we became family. Since 2008, Russell lived a fairly healthy life for an FIV positive cat. He’d even disappeared for 5 weeks once, during which time he went from a 20 pound Big Boy to a 14 pound, frightened little guy. He was a fighter and we nursed him back to health. Years later, hypotension, kidney disease meds were a daily fact of twice a day life.

He put up with it with relative equanimity – wriggling and hating it – but never holding a grudge. I finally figured out how to powderize the pills well enough for him to eat them in his food. Hiding them un-pulverized always meant a licked-clean pill rolling around on the bottom of his bowl.

We didn’t bother with the daily pills once he stopped eating and drinking.

This enormous, loud, handsome family member changed. Since I work from home, I was on daily cat duty. A visit to the big water pitcher we left on the hearth in the morning was cause for celebration. On the rare days he’d drink, I’d call my husband over and we’d clasp hands like our little one just took his first steps.

More often than not, he’d heave the water up soon after, but that became part of the day. I’d mop the mess and carry him to his cushy spot on the loveseat. Russell probably didn’t care, but it made me feel like I was doing something by fluffing before tucking him in.

When my husband would leave for work every day, he’d take a few minutes with Daddy’s Cat to explain that he didn’t have to hang out waiting for him to get home in case he decided it was time to go. He wanted to make sure Russell didn’t feel the pressure to keep going once it was no longer time.

During the day, I’d check in on him curled up in what became his afghan, his smelly afghan. A light hand on his flank just to see if he was still breathing. He’d look up at me like ‘whu? yeah, Mom. still here. zzzzz…’

He perked up when we’d take him outside. Before FIV, he was an indoor-outdoor adventure cat. Big game hunter. King of the neighborhood. Cock of the walk. Scourge of squirrels and bunnies everywhere. Outside was the magical place and he knew how to work it. Smart cat learned that if he checked in with us every once in a while, he could stay outside longer.

It made him so happy that getting carried outside became a regular event. On the grass and along the garden verges, he was once again Jungle Cat. Rubbing up against the yucca was cause for near delirium.

He crafted a bit of a routine, always ending up in the same corner by the base of the bay window. Sunny, perfect view of hid kingdom and just hidden enough. Russell kept an eye on things from there.

Routine was important to Russell. Mornings, downstairs for breakfast and evenings, upstairs for tv time until it was time for bed. At bedtime, always according to Russell’s clock, he herded us into our room, and hopped up on the bed into his spot. He would stand there, surfing the covers while I straightened the bedclothes. I like smooth sheets and Russell got very good about rolling with my tugs and tucks.

When going up and down the stairs got to be too much, I carried him. But, he was always able to get up on the bed himself.

There was a glorious nip in the air that late October. Russell’s greatest cat-passion was being on his cushion in front of the fire and the chill made a fire a delight. Truthfully, though, we would have cranked up the air conditioning and built a fire if it had occurred to us. We are those kind of cat parents. His cushion in front of the fire was always there. Always ready just in case.

One week after going into home hospice, I called our vet to check in. She was so caring and kind. She gave us some of the best advice and I’d like to share it. We all knew that it was only a matter of time. The one-day-at-a-time aim was to keep him comfortable and give him a good life. The one thing that could not be allowed to happen was for him to suffer.

All loving pet parents understand this. Never allow your pet to suffer. But, how do you know? Everyone offers the platitude “You’re cat will let you know when it’s time.” I find that to be specious bullshit. Nothing wants to die. Not a cat, dog or human. Your cat is not going to look at you with the expression that says “Now, please.” The best you can do is guess and then live with it.

Here’s our vets advice. Pick the day before the day it’s time. By the time it’s ‘time’, it’s too late. Your pet is suffering. So, we did. We called her that Monday morning to check in. We talked. We decided that that evening would be it.

Russell had a brilliant last day. Tucked into his afghan. Being Jungle Cat. Melting in front of the fire on his cushion.

It took 2 shots. One to relax him and one to make his heart stop. He died on his cushion in front of the fire.

My husband dug a hole in the garden in his corner – the spot he’d picked out. Just hidden enough and just sunny enough. Where he can always be Jungle Cat.12189264_10207967875864664_974061828700583590_o

To Tai Chi or not to Tai Chi – getting over myself

It takes me a while to figure out how to incorporate new things into my life. My typical practice is to muddle along with an idea wrapped in frustration until I have an aha that reflects how simple the thing really is. Yes, I try my damnedest to complicate things.
I’ve been taking tai chi for about 5 months now and have enough body memory to attempt a session at home but I have been unable to wrap my mind around the logistics. Where? When? Is anyone watching? Music? Silence? Will I do enough? Will I do it right? Will I get bored?
Where? In the front room.
When? Whenever I find the lull I seek.
Is anyone watching? Probably Ron Scot Fry, but he thinks that my movements are pretty.
Music or Silence? Yes.
Will I do enough? Yes.
Will I do it right? Yes.
Will I get bored? No.
This last question is the crux for me. I used to get bored, bored, bored training for my marathons. Last week, Sifu Kevin explained that tai chi is never boring. Today, I agree. There’s a wu chi space that happens after monkey brain stops flinging poo for a nanosecond. I’ve experienced it in class but never doing tai chi alone.

Benzo withdrawal for fun and profit

It slices, it dices, it makes mincemeat of your brain. And by ‘your’, I mean mine.

Lorazepam. Powerful, seductive, addictive. It also works miracles. It did for me, anyway. My Dr prescribed it about 2 years ago for insomnia. Over time, I developed a tolerance and had to slowly increase my dosage to achieve the same results.

As an adult child of alcoholics and having been exposed in a bad-touch-uncle kind of way to drug users over the years, I have a wary relationship with mind-altering substances. As a bipolar person, I will cut anyone who considers how funny it would be to take my lamotrigine from me. Trust me, I can tell if you even think it. Drug-dar. Violently protective. Perhaps I should up my dosage. But, I digress… which is something you should get used to.

Back to the point – that upping my dosage to achieve the same results thing. I did it under instruction from my Dr. I’d started with 1/2 a pill and had worked my way up to 4 whole ones. They’re teen-tiny but still. On the verge of yet another increase, it occurs to me that there may be no end in sight. I don’t want to need them. Like those tortilla chips coated in lime dust and fresh salsa. Don’t bring it into my house or it’s dinner. The sad thing is, I always run out of salsa before the bag is empty. What the correlation is between the deadly lime crack / salsa combo and lorazepam… I’ve lost myself.

When lost, I hit the googles. Interweb searches quickly fill me in on how life devastating it is to take benzodiazepines for more than a few months and I’m coming up on a couple years. Suspicions of doom, gloom, and psychosis lurk in the horror novel corners of my brain. Helpful articles describe the painstaking, equally horrid and drawn out process for titrating off. Sounds like a plan. Let’s do it. Here’s how it goes…

Down from 4 to 3 1/2… no big deal! I can keep this up for the chat room suggested 2 weeks before another 1/2 pill decrease.

Night two. Sleep? What’s that?

Night three. The googles say I should replace the decreased med with something over the counter. Ibuprofen PM doesn’t interact, so I’m sucking that little blue pill down like a man with a Viagra prescription and an expense account on an out of town business trip.

Night four. I have achieved dopey, frustrated, insomnia. The noise in my head is reaching a fever pitch. But, not just any noise. Music. One song. Loudly. The worst earworm you can imagine. I pretend that the white noise sleep app on my iPad helps.

Night five, the paranoia sets in. This is so ugly, I won’t admit to it.

Day six before night six. I’m terrified of the radio. I cannot listen to uptempo songs I know or one will haunt me until around forever o’clock in the morning. I start loudly singing Mama Cass’s version of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” throughout the day.

Day something, not quite 2 weeks in … I’ve lost the ability to count or feel my tongue …. I have a regular check-in appointment with my Dr. and tell him what I’ve started. He doesn’t physically assault me but does capital A-Adamantly explain that the googles will lie to you. Although delighted with my Mama Cass song choice, he’s speaking slowly and using small words because I’m obviously a naive idiot and should be treated thus. My brain and long stare concurs and I’m too whacked out to take umbrage.

Since my Dr. has met me before (read: knows I am an active participant and decision maker in my health care (read: a pain in the butt)) he prescribes a non-addictive anti-depressant to help me ween off the lorazepam.

Fast forward to today. Particularly appropriate since my vision sometimes looks like I’m jumping into hyperspace. In 3 days, I go down to 2 1/2 pills. The anti-depressant called Tori Spelling or something is helping and I don’t need it every night. The last 2 nights in a row have been good quality sleep. I still hear music in my head (currently “Go Ask Alice”) but some people I work with confessed that similar noisy brain conditions happen to them but they don’t admit it in polite company.

Don’t want to sound crazy, you know. Bless them.

This is better?

I’m not so numb.

Why was numbing was necessary?  Because it worked.

Why is it now not so necessary?  I’m guessing, because it’s not.

About a week ago, I spontaneously started to shed the need to numb.  I had a pleasant conversation with myself about this habit but I didn’t set out to change it.  It just did.  Or, is doing.  Happening.  Anyway, I’m assuming that the fall-out is detox.

Tell me again how this is a good thing?fidgeting

Detox = that totally fucked state of being where you are stuck between destruction and less destruction.  Where you kind of wish you could be destructive again but don’t know how to get back there.  Where you start scouting around for substitute destruction but nothing quite fits the bill.  Sigh.

It didn’t start out like this.  My initial decrease in numbness played out as an increase in my desire to show up and participate in my own life.  Okay, that’s cool.  It escalated to irritability, hypersensitivity and being generally critical of everyone thus making me a joy to be around.  Not so cool.

There is a lot of white noise and fidgeting involved in full-blown detox.  If you put your ear next to mine, you can hear the ocean.  There are people drowning in it, but it’s still the ocean.  The shrieking is seagulls.  And me.

Oh and the aforementioned fidgeting?  Joy.  Yeah.  Fidgeting as in tapping my fingers so hard and fast on the desk that the tips start to get numb – which is when I notice that I’ve been tapping.

My greatest fear is that this state of detox is my new state of being.  I can endure anything this horrid if it’s temporary.  Luckily, I have a best friend who told me that it is temporary and I believed her.  Because it’s better than not believing her.

I know!  I’ll distract myself by getting in the car to drive around and do errands.  Yes, that’s so smart, Susan.  Get behind the wheel of a massive chunk of metal filled with gas (as soon as I go get gas) and aim it at things.  And fidget.  Brilliant.

Poking fun at myself works.  A much better choice.

Significantly, SSF

Live in the moment. Be mindful. Meditate. Bullshit.

meditation1Live in the moment.  Be mindful.  Meditate.  Be open to the abundance of the universe.  The path is the journey.


I mean, really.  (I can hear my Mother’s voice right now.  She had this way of saying “Oh reeeeaaally” and rolling her eyes when I would make some statement obviously designed to provoke.  I do that myself now.  It’s really irritating.  Anyway…)

My mother was in the hospital the last few days.  She’s in advanced stages of dementia and blanked out more severely and for a longer time than usual so the family thought she had had a stroke.  After all the tests, it’s impossible to tell exactly what happened because her mind is so far gone but it wasn’t a stroke.  She’s back home now.

This latest episode has brought up all sorts of questions.  How do I want to die?  When is it preferable to die?  Why is her body so healthy when her brain isn’t?  What kind of ‘quality of life’ does she / can she possibly have?

After a lot of tough pondering, I’m mostly on the ‘quality of life’ question.  What does it mean?  Being honest with myself, I don’t like the answer.  Because I have to be honest with myself, I have to tell you.  In my heart of hearts, I Desire, with a capital D, the American puritan work ethic of grueling labor with no rest.  Extreme self sacrifice.  Hyper responsibility and drive.  One-ups-manship about how much more insomniac I am than you.  All that stuff.  That’s really who I am.  None of those efforts happen here and now.  They are all fear-based efforts to try to control the future.  They are also great at numbing myself right now.  Bonus.

I would love it if I never had to meditate, exercise or delegate again.  I meditated every day for a whole week and I hated it.  It was hard.  I preferred wallowing in chaos to suffering that kind of discomfort every morning regardless of the benefits.

I trained 6 months each for 2 marathons.  I should never have to exercise again my whole life.  I’ve done my time.

Okay, we’re approaching full circle so bear with me.  If I truly believe that living in the moment, that the path is the journey, that connection with something greater than myself is real, then my Mother may actually still have some quality to her life.  If I don’t, then I must believe that she is better off dead.

Go ahead and hate me for a moment.

Moving on.

There’s a prickly feeling in my reptilian brain that rejects all of this as wrong.  It’s not just wrong that we shouldn’t ever wish someone were truly dead.  Oddly, that’s less of a consideration here.  I’m saying that my intuition is telling me that that is incorrect.  That it’s warped.

My intuition being prickled like this is a call to action for me.  In a weird way, that feeling kicks in my desire to work hard at fixing something.  Perhaps – no commitments here –  a recognition that it’s time to evolve.

Much of my life has been lived in pursuit.  Safety.  Hope.  Boundaries.  Esteem of self.  Esteem of others.  Esteem of life.  My place in and a part of the universe.  In this pursuit, I’ve gravitated to concepts that struck me as true.  Taoist concepts that I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with.

I’d like to release the hate part.  Of course, my instinct is to do that by fighting and striving (read: American puritan work ethic above).  Yeah, yeah.  I know.

Am I ready?  I don’t know.  I do know that I’m readier.  I also know that I’m tenacious – in all ways.  I will hang onto the self-destruction and strive for peace in the same breath.  Phoo.

I know that there isn’t some threshold to cross into living a gleefully blissful existence.  I do know that every day is an opportunity and a choice.  Quite often, I choose poorly.  Sometimes, I choose well.  Some days, I choose well more often.  I guess that’s that evolution I was writing about.

Just like Mom did.

More accidental lessons my Mother taught me.  Damn her to hell.

Except, you know, not really.



Hi! I’m Crappy. How About You?

On the “Welcome” page that promotes a man’s audio books, the first sentence I read today was:  “I had wanted to issue a CD with this book, to illustrate what Shakespeare’s Globe called ‘original pronunciation’ (OP), but the production costs went against it.”

I was taken aback and had to look past this first ‘wah, wah, wah, poor, abused, misunderstood, unsupported, put-upon me’ sentiment to click on the links to his audio recordings – which I think are quite good.

Wow.  Who offers a welcome like that?  Uh-oh.  I think I may have done it once… or twice…  Yes.  Reading his intro bugged me but perhaps primarily because I saw something of myself in it.  Sigh.  Sorry.

It’s funny (not funny-ha-ha) but when I would begin a conversation that way, it was often about something that I thought was really cool, neato and groovy.  I am guilty of taking a person’s conversational “How are you” opening as an invitation to dump.  I assumed they really wanted to know what I was dealing with my life, how I was coping and how I was applying all those lessons to the cool, neato and groovy thing I was doing.

Mea Culpa.

Wait, I blame my mother.

Momma Culpa.

No, wait!  Really, it’s what I was taught.  My mother had no clue how to open a pleasant conversation.  She was consumed with so much ick and desperation to be cared for that her state of being (always horrid unless she had already been drinking that day) was the first thing out of her mouth.  To be fair, she was an unmedicated schizophrenic, so she was doing her best but that’s what I learned.

Oh, no.  TMI, right?

So, here’s where I am now – because you really want to know, right?  The coolness, neato-ness and groovy-ness of the things I’m working on are the driving forces in my day.  These things are great first, lots of work second and I generally feel happy and blessed to be doing this work.  Sometimes, I’m frustrated, tired and overloaded, but those are the ebbs and flows of life.  They aren’t my daily state of being.  My inexplicable flip-flop in perspective is probably the reason that I noticed the sideways bitchiness of this man’s first impression.

Here’s also where I am – as aptly illustrated by my Mother’s to Blame explanation above.  Mental illness and the uglier actions of people were an every day part of life for me as a kid.  My mother talked about them all the time.  It never occurred to me that most people don’t divulge their darkest, hardest and most harrowing experiences and challenges in the average course of conversation.  My mother used to do that.  So, now, I’m at peace with all that stuff but it still creeps into conversation.  When it does, I’ve started to see the horrified looks on people’s faces and quickly try to explain that it’s all okay now.  I’m fine, we’re all fine, everyone’s fine, I’m happy, doing great, blather, blather, gulp, try to recover and change the subject to flowers and sunshine.

Oh, Susan.  I love you, girl and you’re such a klutz.  Well meaning, delightful, funny, bold and (sometimes) a little intimidating, but a dear.  You mean well.

This is a sheepish morning for me.  Imagine that I’m looking up at you with a sideways smile and my chin tucked down just a bit.

Oh! Hey!  How you doin?!