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Archive for March, 2011

Eye Candy

There’s a post by Merissa over at the Immature Matron that I read a short while ago which inspired me to write. In her post she wrote, and featured pictures, of both males and females who she feels are ‘hot’.

Nothing wrong about leering over a photo or video or movie and taking in the refreshing scent of a few select beautiful people. Look no further than me to see a party guilty of looking over a lithe, waif-like model du jour. But that’s the problem for me – the vast majority of those female models and pretty boys are so quick to be deleted from public consumption and recent memory. They’ll survive on looks for a year or two, maybe more, survive a few more on cosmetic surgery and scandal, but for the most part, they last as long as a heat shimmer on a cool day.

Though I appreciated the media favorites, even as a little kid I appreciated even more the art form of someone who as an adult, looked great. Someone who had maybe done their time in a lingerie spread but is way over their ‘best if used by‘ date. Someone who had flashed a lot of skin for the cover of a sports magazine, but who has traded that in for the life of a parent. Someone who despite what flash in the pan the paparazzi happens to be zeroing in on today, has attained dignity and grace of spirit. Someone who has not only retained youthful beauty, but through gradual maturity, has somehow found a way to add to that beauty. “Someone who has aged well”, to borrow a phrase.

You can keep the flavor of the year. I want the mellowed blend that has gone from within impulsive easy reach, to classic top shelf.

Here are a few that I feel look better now than they ever did:

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The Amount Of Time – Turned

It’s mainly about grasping the gift.

Before I even turn the knob and open the door inward, before I pull the key out of the lock I have a smile that tightens my face. Stepping in I take note of the pugnent apple and cinnamon candle scent that remains still alive, drifting lazily throughout the apartment. She had brought it over with a red bow tied around its girth and placed it center on the table and lit it right away. Tonight there was a note leaning against it, a folded sheet of expensive parchment that when spread open announced “This weekend can’t come soon enough”.

The warm, illuminating lamp light revealed the scores of changes, many of them subtle, that she has made since we’ve been dating. Irregularly spaced framed photographs have been replaced or rehung in new locations in order to mix tastefully along with new artful prints, and a newly installed corner shelf holds an African Violet that she had saved, newly budded with red points and a tender, new ivy plant, its vines full and cascading. Bright and boldly ornate contemporary throw pillows have been strategically placed on the sofa, love seat and chair giving them a new look and a quick glance make them appear not my own.

The windows are graced with thin, white horizontal poles, newly installed also, upon which hang differing lengths of shepards canes that hold plants of all colors – some I had never seen before, a new rug centered and fixed attention to the living room with its red and light brown pattern and a green wire room divider had been chosen for the wide space of white, near the door, and had a leaf pattern that now hold additional hanging pictures, in framed lockets, of my children.

It had taken some getting used to, the orderly yet comfortable ambiance that had taken hold here. The new and inexpensive backsplash gazing from the stove, the countertop that was converted from a catch-all to a colorful and functional area of culinary inspiration, the bed was given additional height by the twelve inch posts put under each of its four corners, the shiny and satiny feel of six hundred thread sheets made me feel more comfortable with the fact that they were a shade of deep, heart red, and the wide-eyed astonishment that I first had as she laced and looped the multiple tails of a vividly adorned kite (of all things imaginable) between drop-ceiling tiles, was replaced with excitement and contentment at being led out of my stulted knowledge of decor as she tied tiny strings to the body, which let it hang and float just inches from their anchor.

The note, still held in hand, had a post script. It said “Turn on the TV and play the video”. I noticed that the disk player was open and a disk placed into it was labeled in black marker “Play Me”. I sat on the couch, the middle cushion, the one with the most comforting give to my frame, and with the remote control, pressed ‘Play’. She had turned the recorder to herself and I could tell from what she wore that it was recorded the night before. I could hear water sizzling in the background and knew that it was recorded while I was in the shower. She was giggling as she spoke.

“I want to tell you that I am so happy that we’ve met. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve laughed so hard and for that alone, I thank you. I find myself thinking about you all the time now – at work and at home. I guess that I simply want to tell you how much you mean to me and that I’m glad that we have each other. And I’m looking forward to seeing you this weekend. Bye!”

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The Amount of Time

It’s mainly about trying not being alone.

It’s tiring and deflating to walk in after midnight, open the door and see everything clouded in darkness. When the first light is turned on, the shadows around the disarray seem longer and rough edged. The stillness is loud and has a wry grin. The air is limp and never forgets that I will sigh loudly while I take off my coat and have an internal debate about whether I’ll hang it up in the closet or simply let it lie on the chair where I sit to take off my shoes.

The refrigerator light that engulfs me as I open the door seems the open eye of a witness who takes note of my late night slouch, my weary countenance and my disregard of civility as I pull out the gallon jug of iced tea and swig greedily.

I can look mere feet from where I stand and notice the dishes that need only to be placed within the grill of the dishwasher, the socks that make dramatic splashes across my bedroom floor, the unmade bed awash in wrinkles, the spot where a plant fell and still has beads of soil that need to be vacuumed up, the stack of pages, letters and mail that is opened, or needs to be opened, the shameful dust on the bookshelf, the stark white walls interrupted only briefly with photographs, the half filled storage bins with their covers scattered, the cabinet doors left open which look like broad wings in the darkness and the couch blankets that have been thoughtlessly tossed and are spread wide open.

The couch can attest to the lonely moments. I sit on the middle cushion, slightly hunched over and close to the edge so I will not sink in and stare at a random object. Not for the sake of study, or contemplation of some matter, but an effortless and blank gaze without the whirring of thought.

Sometimes the distraction of a TV channel causes mild focus and my mind blindly adheres to the chain of conversation or story on the screen and a half hour has gone by. A commercial interrupts the bland interaction between us and I stand, stretching out my arms, back and legs and the thought of lying down occurs. Not out of exhaustion, but out of boredom. Most nights it”s right there on the couch, the oldest inanimate object in my apartment – one that was given to me, where I surrender, without benefit of taking off my work clothes, to the loveless ennui and close my eyes not for weary eyelids, but for lack of emotional stimulation.

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Supporting Them

 

When I became divorced, there was never an issue of supporting my children. While I am aware that a lot of men have issue with paying, or the pay amounts, I chose the opposite. My lawyer gave me a figure that stated the amount that she was going for and because I didn’t know any better, I agreed to the sum. Later, I began reading online and found a calculator provided by the state as to general guidelines. I filled out the form and found to my astonishment that I could be paying more!

I approached my lawyer at the next meeting, provided her with the material and said that I wanted to pay the maximum amount by law. She advised me against it, but after all, they are my angels, my light, the reason for trying to achieve a better future for them and my only family on earth. Why wouldn’t I want to give them as much as I can? The order was changed to the maximum amount and I’m proud to tell anyone that I pay faithfully, and on time, each and every week.

When I was out of a job last fall into winter, I let the ex know what was happening and that I was struggling and would pay her what I could – even as I edged closer to homelessness without a weekly  paycheck. I did payed what I could – an over payment, an underpayment, but I tried to keep it going even as I was unemployed. Even as I went out on endless and unproductive interviews. Even as Thanksgiving and Christmas were creeping closer and becoming unavoidable.

Then, she notified Child Support and told them she was not getting child support. A further move by her that caused me heartbreaking grief and wrenching disgust, was that she decided to not tell them of the amounts that I had given to her by hand. As far as the ‘system’ had been aware, I had simply stopped paying anything at all.

One morning early last month, I woke up, fixed a cup of tea, and sat to check bank balances. I was stunned to find that my account was frozen – a lien had been enforced by the state division of Child Support. I could not even withdraw money to pay for gas which would allow me to travel to work 22 miles away. I don’t have sick time accumulated yet. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Without pay I can not meet any financial obligations – rent, phone, electricity, basic cable. Child support.

I declined to put up a post at the time about the tale of having my assets frozen. It’s humuliating having that done. It’s a desperate situation that stops your heart and has you thinking lunatic thoughts. It’s embarrassing knowing that you are unable to gain the necessary money to support your children. And mostly, it was a deepening of the chasm that seperated me and the ex because she had verbally said to me that she would be fine with repaying the back amount on a weekly basis as I could afford it while I was searching for employment.

Plans for children do not stop. There are sports to be paid for, gas for two and three times a week pickups and drop offs, groceries to be bought and entertainment for them. All while unemployed.

Then she notified child support.

I was devestated.

Thankfully, I now have a job. I have a paycheck that again has my child support taken out automatically, I have weekly taxes to pay and I have a new health plan that decimates my weekly check. All this on less money – much less money, than I was earning at my last position.

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OK, Half-Full

Among the many lessons I continually repeat to my children is the one of the glass being half-full.

Dad (after sadly looking at the time): I only have forty-five minutes left with you.

Son (smirking): Dad, it’s not half-empty! Look at it as you have forty-five more minutes with us!

Dad (stunned): ”                                  ”

Sure, I’m lonely as could be right now while writing this, doing nothing, but I received an additional forty-five minutes with my kids today.

And that’s made all the difference.

I Just Kept Writing

Is it uncool to admit that one is looking for love? The FWB thing is something that I’m simply not attracted to. Is it taboo to be actively seeking out someone who has taken care of themselves?  Have all the clichés been written out too many times to have meaning anymore? Going for walks on the beach, sitting by the fire with a book, watching my favorite movie, jeans to a little black dress, snuggling on a coach all seem unnecessarily mandatory when ads are posted and get glossed over quickly.

What happened to the stomach-tightening thrill of a second date with someone who actually matters and is elevated beyond a time-filler? The anticipation of perhaps touching hands over a coffee and a smile that, surprisingly to you, and unknown to her, gently warms the thin, brittle frost that has chilled your heart? The nervous preparation before seeing someone for a second time that includes taking a much too long shower, spending twenty rewarding minutes achieving a close and careful shave, taking out the barely used ironing board and remembering how to smooth out wrinkled clothes, going to the mirror more times than you can last remember to see if everything fits and matches, tentatively splashing on an expensive and stylish cologne, and inhaling deeply many, many times throughout the process to remain calm even as you feel your mind racing.

Is it unrealistic to seek out femininity? She that is comfortable with the graces of being a woman and does not at all feel the need to “fit in with the boys”? A woman who walks with dignity, confidence and agility, who speaks whole, articulate sentences sans curse words? A woman who loves herself first and knows that it is arguably the most attractive quality about herself? Is there a woman who is chic without bold pretentiousness and who has the realization that tastefully adorning her physique is among the strongest and most alluring of all items in the arsenal of love that she possesses? A woman who can remain distinguished even as she’s engaged in playful flirting, is there one who can claim that title?

There is not one among us who can successfully argue that they are a shining diamond. We have all done things that we are not smirking about anymore, we have all said things that have caused us shame in the aftermath, we have all been mired in wrenching heartbreak and we have all spent mandatory time and effort in a relationship that has long ago lived out its usefulness. But, are there among us, some that have taken the time, perhaps over a period of months or years, to meditate over our mistakes and who have consciously made the diamond solid decision that it is not the person we were meant to be and whatever the consequences, or the temptations, to never, ever, even for a momentary breath, allow ourselves to slide backward and downward to that disgraceful plateau? Is there no greater gift to humbly offer someone than the gift of unwavering respect?

Is there room in our heart for a relationship that doesn’t include ‘the fairy tale’? Is there a workable crevice somewhere in our soul that staunchly will not include a checklist of absolute must-have’s this time around? Are we committed enough to hope for symbiosis instead of doggedly holding on to the tenant that we are not going ‘to settle’? Is it mandatory that someone already have achieved all their dreams as a person, are they looked upon as stumblers, or are we willing to give of ourselves our vast, rich experiences and enjoy guiding another toward achieving that dream? Is there any joy left in a heart for the experience of joining as one in the hope of attaining a new, adjusted and common goal? Is there passion enough remaining in our thoughts that no list, banal phrase or ragged and misplaced sense of entitlement could overwhelm the ravenous hunger of brilliant belonging?

Is it impossible for a man to admit that he has made fantastic mistakes? Is it conceivable for a man to admit in conversation that the thought of endlessly dating in a stuttering stream of misguided relationships has made him not less, but more lonely? Can a man have a greater sense of being unfulfilled after the empty parade than to decide to be alone? Can a man adore without smothering, express tender vulnerability while retaining masculinity, admit acceptance of others without lowering standards and expectations and remain committed to only one while continuing to be independent? Is there a man who believes through painful lessons learned that no matter the cost, the penultimate prize is the person who will help brave darkened discourse, tumultuous events that are set into whimsical place, and haphazardly skewed ancillary views?

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When I Win

I mentioned before that I’ve teamed up with a woman who has been unbelievably lucky at the lottery. She’s won mid-level prizes in the past year which include a scratch for $10,000. It’s uncanny how often, and how much, she wins.

So I offered to go in with her. I’d pay the same amount as she would and we would split the prizes. I started off by giving her $20. I figured that we would play a few times a week and go from there. In total, I believe that since we started doing this at the end of January I’ve given her an out-of-pocket total of $60 – far more than I should be giving out.

As I think while sitting here, I am unable to come up with the total amount that we have won. But I can tell you that the two largest tickets that we’ve hit on are a $1,000 ticket and two $500 tickets! In between we’ve been playing constantly – daily … with money that we’ve won! Each and every day we win between $20 – $100 dollars. Each day! And we continue to play every day – with money that we keep winning!

When the amount of the daily winnings get to about $75 or so, we play smart. Half of the winnings gets split between the two of us, and we play the other half. So, for instance, two days ago we won $110, we split $60 between us, $30 apiece, and played the remaining $50. Every day I’m getting cash amounts ranging from $20 to $75 or so handed to me. Cash. Cash that I put away in a safe. A dollar amount that is large enough for me to pay cash for two items that I’ve long lusted after. A large screen TV to replace the old one that was given to me (which sports in the upper left hand corner a permanent splash of green from the aging picture tube), and a new computer to replace the one I use now that is slow, painfully slow.

She keeps saying that we are about to win a large amount. A really large amount. I’m excited within reason of course, but I occasionally let my mind wander.

People often ask each other what they would do if they ever won ‘the big one’. I already know what I’d do.

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