Thursday, May 24, 2007

Leaving less of a footprint

Published in The Long Island Advance
May 24, 2007

It’s difficult to live in the world today and not have heard the words “global warming.” You can’t open a newspaper or read a magazine, go online or watch television without seeing something related to this topic. I’m initially good at not paying attention to issues that seem far greater then I am. If our government refuses to see the light, what can I, one person do about it?

For me it’s become increasingly difficult to ignore this subject. Some would like us to believe that scientists are needlessly scaring us, but I’ve decided not to take that chance. That’s why I now own six reusable shopping bags that I take when I go to the grocery store.

Ever since grocery stores replaced paper bags with the plastic ones, I’ve hated them. My five or six reusable bags hold the same amount as 12 plastic bags, which would often spill their contents all over the trunk of my car. I do wish that my environmentally friendly shopping bags were just a little less flashy though. They’re a bit too bright, but no matter, I’m not trying to make a fashion statement, just an environmental one.

Often when shopping in local grocery stores I look around me to see if anyone else is using the flashy bags and I have yet to spot anyone. I’m very good about making sure those bags are always in the trunk of my car and ready to use should I need to make a run to the store. Sure, once in a while I forget them and have to use the plastic ones. (I still haven’t figured out what to put the cat litter in, so for now I continue to need a few.) Yet, I would love to see more people leaving the store with all their groceries in the flashy new bags.

Leaving less of a carbon footprint is important to me. There are huge political issues involved. More than I have the time, the space, or the understanding of to write about here. For me, this is about being responsible for what my impact here on earth is. I can’t help believe that if everyone gave just a little more thought to that, it might very well make a difference. I think being
environmentally responsible now might be an important gift I can give to my children and theirs.

You all know how I feel about my car. Although for me one of the biggest draws to moving to a more urban area is avoiding those car dilemmas that I’ve written about, another is the fact that I will further decrease my carbon footprint. I realize that it’s almost impossible to live in Suffolk County without one, so I’m not anticipating a mad rush of people to follow in my particular footsteps. All I would really like to do is to get you to think in simple terms about what you can do to help stop global warming.

The Inuit’s are falling through thin ice while hunting; Polar Bears are starving while their natural habitat melts before their eyes. The poorest countries in the world will suffer the most, and the riches, the least. Maybe those of us here today won’t feel that suffering, but it’s a sure bet that the generation that comes after us will.

Do something to decrease your carbon footprint. Even if all it is, is to replace your light bulbs or start to shop for local produce, or to make a fashion statement by using those fancy new grocery store bags.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A cyber flirt

Dane is probably the most gorgeous man I have ever seen……dark hair, dark eyes, amazing smile and just overall, a beautiful specimen of a guy. He contacted me on My Space with a message that had the word “Princess” in it. I’m not normally one to respond to the name “Princess.” Although I have to say, it was far different coming from a 32 year old, as opposed to reading posts by the 60 something men who are “looking for a Princess to spoil,” and they want her to be 21. To say that I was flattered would be an understatement.

Dane is a man who likes “mature women.” I am a woman who likes “mature men.” And although I like my men with some edges, his are just a bit more then I would be comfortable with. However, that did not stop me from cyber flirting with him for 24 hours. I did have to finally decline a picture exchange that would have included him sans towel. That was so difficult to do. I really would have liked to have seen that picture. The one with the towel was pretty incredible, believe me.

While caught up in my little bit of cyber flirting, it didn’t matter to me that we had not one thing in common, other than we both believe in the theory that “anything is possible.” It didn’t take me long to realize that I want to flirt with someone else that I have more in common with though. And once again I have come full circle, right back to Harry.

Dane was like “thinking about having a really crazy, calorie laden dessert,” and then making a different choice, one that is still decadent and delicious, but better for me. Of course that remains to be seen too……..

Stepping off a cliff

I cannot freakin’ breathe. On my way home from work tonight I called everyone I know (well, not everyone), looking for someone who could talk me down from the edge of this cliff I feel like I’m standing on.

There are two more days left at my current job. And, tomorrow really doesn’t count since it’s almost tomorrow, and since there’s a meeting in the morning and then I suspect, a much larger “good-bye” lunch than I’ll be comfortable with. So, really….it’s more like one more day left.

How did I get here?! Must have been that whole “putting one barefoot in front of the other” thing I was doing. Now I’m looking over the edge of the precipice and feeling like I’m on that “Sky Walk” that’s hanging out from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Not something I would enjoy doing. I don’t like standing too close to the edge, unless there’s a man involved.

Tuesday morning I’ll be on the 7:17 train to Jamaica. I’m leaving a job I’ve done for 14 years to take one that I have no experience with, although thankfully I was not foolish enough to leave my current nonprofit work world. I did come to realize that this particular nonprofit world is a good fit for me, and I really don’t think I have the personality to work in the “for profit” world anyway.

Moving to a more urban area is more profitable in the nonprofit world, if that makes any sense. And it looks like that’s exactly what I’m doing, starting a new job in Queens next Tuesday, with a move to follow. Stepping off a cliff, or if I want to be just a little less dramatic, walking through a new open door, into a world that’s the same, yet different.

I’ve written and now I’ll walk. It’s time’s like these that I wish I were a runner. I would be forced to breathe then……

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Strike of Lightning

Today I got my divorce papers in the mail. They were signed by the judge on 4/11/07....exactly two and a half years to the day that I left to start a new life........

A Strike of Lightening
November 7, 2006
Written for Adv. Creative Writing (Got an A in that class.)

When the lightning struck Emma the dagger like point entered through the top of her head and coursed through her body, discharging through the soles of her feet, and rooting her into the blacktop of the parking lot. Her blue Chevy Trailblazer shimmed in the summer heat as it reflected off the blacktop, making the truck look like a desert mirage sitting atop the flatbed truck.
A young male voice on the other end of the phone informed her that she would need to come out into the parking lot in order to remove her personal belongings from that very truck, as he was there to repossess it.

“What the fuck am I doing?,” Emma whispered aloud to herself as she stood there, the young man occupied with fishing her 500 bank deposit slips from above her sun visor, her CD carry case from the glove box and her umbrella from somewhere under the back seat.

Too shocked to even panic, Emma just stood there, hoping that no one from her office would choose this time to venture out to the parking lot. With that thought just barely complete a voice behind her said, “Hey, what’s the matter with your car? Why is it on a flatbed?”

“Ah…ah…I had trouble with the steering on my way in to the office this morning, so the mechanic sent a flatbed to pick it up,” replied Emma to Sara, the office receptionist, who often knew too much about other peoples business. Satisfied with that response, Sara went on her way, leaving Emma to glance uncomfortably at the repo guy, who was now standing next to her with all her car valuables in his hands.

“Here’s the number you can call if you plan to get your truck back,” he said, handing her his card along with her pile of belongings.

“Thanks. I’ve already called my husband and he’s taking care of it,” she replied, thinking back a few minutes to her hurried conversation with Anthony when she furiously whispered into the phone, asking him how this could be happening.

There was nothing left to do, but stand and watch the repo guy climb up into the cab of his truck and drive off with hers.

Emma could not allow herself to think about what had just happened. She knew that if she started to cry, she might never stop. In that short span of time, almost all her worst fears had manifested themselves in the form of a truck on a flatbed. Breathing deeply, she walked back into her office and pretended that nothing had happened. She realized that she’d become very good at putting things that bother her, away. Hiding them in dark corners of her mind, never to be exposed to sunlight or examined in any way.

“Are you picking me up from work?” she asked Anthony, calling him when she got back to her desk.

“Of course I am,” he responded. “I’m so sorry baby. I swear I thought I had it under control. I called the bank to arrange paying them. They never said anything about repossessing the car.”
Possibly in shock, his words were meaningless to her. It was almost as if he were speaking a different language, one that she no longer understood, nor realized now, that she wanted to invest any more time to learn.

Somehow, she managed to pretend that all was well and get through the rest of her day. If nothing else, work preoccupied her, allowing her not to think about what had happened. The lightning strike had numbed her. The flash, blinding her and making her feel as if she was no longer who she use to be.

At the end of her work day, she left at her usual time, walking out as if to get in her car, the one that was no longer in the parking lot. Instead, she got into Anthony’s car and could barely speak to him. He did nothing but apologize the entire way home. “I’m so sorry that happened to you,” he said, over and over again. Gazing out her window, not wanting to look at him, her only response was, “I know.”

What he didn’t know though, was that one of her greatest fears had come true, and she somehow survived it. What he didn’t know was that for years she worried about the possibility of loosing the house they lived in to foreclosure and in that one blinding flash of lightning, she realized that her house was just a house. It was a noose around their necks that just kept getting tighter with every day that passed. And what she also realized in that flash of light was that she no longer loved this man sitting next to her. That the years of constantly worrying about when the next shoe would drop had taken a huge toll on her and that she could no longer live this kind of life. A life of mortgaging, and re-mortgaging the house that she loved so much, of creditors calling so many times over the course of the day that no one in the house ever answered the phone anymore, and that his desire to never talk to her about money, or bills, allowing her to worry alone, had killed all that she ever felt for him.

Riding next to him in his car as he held her hand, all she could think about, was how she would ever end this. How would she walk away from a man she had known longer then she had not known him; leave this person who was the first love of her life, the father of her two children? How would she explain to others who never saw any indication of discord between them, that she was ending this 26 year marriage because she could not live the rest of her life, so desperately unhappy? How would she ever say the words, “I don’t love you any more,” or the words, “I don’t want to be married to you anymore?”

These were the thoughts that she had put away in that dark place inside of her. The thoughts that came spilling out, as if the door of an overloaded closet had been opened, letting everything fall out and onto the floor. Here they all were, scattered about the floor, only instead of things like old fishing poles, hats and gloves or shoe boxes, they were the random bits of her life over the past 26 years….laying there crushed and broken in front of her….shards of broken glass, reflecting her image back to her, an image that she no longer recognized.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Car dilemmas

As published in The Long Island Advance, May 17th, 2007

I dislike what I’ve come to refer to as “car dilemmas” and decided a while back that I don’t really want to be a car owner. Thankfully my car has so far been very reliable and overall has not given me much of a problem. That was until my most recent oil change though, when the mechanic had me stand underneath it and showed me that yes, I did indeed have an oil leak.

Cars are not my thing. I’m sure that if I wanted to be good with them, I would be capable of it. After all, I’ve reached a point in my life when I’ve decided that I can be good at anything I choose. Never having been one who liked getting my hands dirty other then in garden soil, cars are not something I would ever choose to be good with though. I can check my tire pressure and put air in if need be. I can check my oil and add that as well. Anything other than that, I’m not interested in knowing about. This is much to the disappointment of my father, who I’m sure would love it if I took more of an interest in my vehicle, and who will often say to me, “So, how many miles do you have your car now?” With me usually responding by saying, “Hmmm…I don’t really know.”

I want to say this is not a female thing but I suspect it might be. Most of my female friends do not have any great understanding or interest in how their vehicles work and I have yet to run into a female auto mechanic. Before you jump all over me, let me just add that I’m sure there are wonderful female auto mechanics out there in the world, they just don’t inhabit my particular corner of it.

So far I’ve had to get new brakes, tires all the way around and replace the driver’s side mirror. Not bad considering it’s a seven year old car that I’ve had for two years. Yet, add up the car payment, insurance, maintenance and gas, and in my estimation, I’m looking at half a rent payment.

My only concern regarding transportation is that I get where I need to go with the least amount of drama possible, hence my love of public transportation and my desire to relocate to New York City. All you have to know how to do is buy a Metro card, swipe it at the turnstile and be able to read a subway and bus map, or sometimes in my case, have someone reliable you can call who can give you directions.

Yes, I know that public transportation can be smelly and hot in the summer and in the winter being crammed into a subway car filled with germs may not appeal to some, and yet for me, it would a relief. No more having to pump gas using the slow speed because my particular vehicle does not like it when you pump the gas fast, causing the pump handle to click off every fifty-cents worth. No more having to look at the tires and wonder to myself “Does that one look low?” because I can’t find the tire gauge. No more having to think about replacing the timing belt when I hit 90,000 miles or having to get the book out to remember how to change the time on the clock.

Moving to the city is not something to do just because I want to avoid car dilemmas, but it is a factor. I drive, a lot, and I’m tired of doing it. I want someone else to do the driving for a while. I like the idea of sitting with a book or my iPod and arriving at my destination relaxed and well read.

Bargain books

I have got to stop buying books! Last year I donated about 40 of them to the local Good Will store, the same store that I just came home from and where I purchased a 20 lb copy of The Readers Digest Great Encyclopedia Dictionary for $1.99, in hard cover of course, and published in 1966.

All inclusive for $1.99 is Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary from A-Z, The Story of Writing, The History of English, Word Origins, Better Usage, Spelling, Punctuation, Capitalization, Grammar, Correspondence, Manuscript Preparation, and Pronunciation. Also inside are the Dictionary of Space, a Medical Dictionary, a Dictionary of Slang, Quotations from Reader’s Digest, First Names, Signs and Symbols, How to Find Information and Foreign Language Dictionaries in German, French and Spanish. How could I resist all that?

I wonder who this book belonged too prior to my coming along and finding it. Has it been sitting on a shelf in someone’s house for the past 40 years? How did it come to find its way to the Good Will store? Maybe in the same way that the Merriam Webster one that I donated to the same store last year got there, there was no more room on the bookshelf and it had to go. Or maybe something much more exotic happened…I might have to let my imagination run away with me at some future date while gazing at it on my book shelf.

In essence I have now replaced my old dictionary, with an even older one. I also have a new dictionary/thesaurus that I use too. It’s a desk version and does not weigh 20 lbs. When I’m not rushed for time I prefer to actually look up in the real book the word I need, as opposed to using the online dictionary. Tactile is so much more…. me.

Ever since my Costco membership lapsed I’ve been able to stop buying new books. Now I buy the old ones. I’ve substituted one addiction for another. I did however refrain from buying a copy of the Gulag Archipelago. I first tried reading that when I was 15. After leafing through it tonight I decided I probably wouldn’t like it any better almost 35 years later. But…….it was only $1.99. Bargain books, so very hard for me to resist.

I’m staying out of the Good Will store. After donating 40 books last year, I’m back up by more than half that. That said this really is a very cool dictionary.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Harry wants to know

This was published in The Long Island Advance - May 10, 2007

Well, Brian is once again vacationing in Arizona and I’m back for a few weeks. It’s been a while and I’m not quite sure where I left off. While thinking about what to write, I had a discussion with my friend Harry. Harry has repeatedly asked me why I don’t write about science, health, technology, politics or things of that nature, and then suggested that maybe I should write about why “I’m afraid” to write about those topics. I seem to be having a hard time convincing him that writing about getting a new life is the only kind of writing I feel motivated to do at this point, and that no, I’m not the least bit afraid to tackle other subjects. It’s just that currently I’m not doing so.

Reading about science, healthcare and technology are activities that I enjoy, and in no way do I feel qualified to write about them, other than from the view point of a casual observer. Since I am technologically challenged and would be lost without Mike, my computer guy, writing about technology is probably not going to be a topic I would attempt either, other then to possibly regale you with amusing stories about how little I know.

Right now I feel compelled to write about my observations of life from the soap box that currently belongs to me. That does not mean I don’t want write about Charlie Sheen narrating one of those conspiracy theory documentaries about how 9/11 was perpetrated by our government, or that I think about how prophetic Bruce Springsteen was when he said years ago at a concert, “Blind faith in your leaders will get you killed,” or that I love Stephon Marbury because his name is on basketball sneakers that cost $14.98 and are affordable for almost all kids. I have opinions about people like Condoleezza Rice and wonder why she has not been much of a supporter of women in general, let alone women of color, and I think about how much I like Nancy Pelosi because she is not a “well behaved woman,” and is in fact a great role model for all women. I think about a myriad of other subjects, but in this space I write about my own little world. And I write about it because other women have whispered their secrets in my ear and told me how they admire what I’m doing and how brave they think it is.

In some ways I feel as if I’ve become the poster child for middle aged women who find themselves in the position of having to create a new life from the ground up. Or even just for those who would never dream of taking a slightly different path to get where they want to go. And when other women tell me that they can relate, it makes me feel not quite so alone standing up here on my soap box and I hope, does the same for them as well.

Harry is good at throwing down the gauntlet and challenging me to reach a bit higher. Being challenged works for me. I have lofty goals and ambitions and I’m done being afraid to go after them. Actually, there isn’t much I’m afraid of anymore. I write as the spirit moves me. It’s not likely to be telling me that I should write about technology, other than possibly my new iPod, or about some science related topic. Right now these are the words I feel driven to write. Harry will just have to wait a while until I can get my act together enough to think about something other than what it’s like to stand on top of this particular soap box, and begin to write about new things. And I will, probably sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Poor Paris

Paris Hilton thinks the governor of California should pardon her. Oh, my freakin' God. I really want to curse right now.

Poor Paris. My heart bleeds for her. Heaven forbid she should be held accountable for her actions and have to live with the consequences of them.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A new job and a medical drama....

This is the first opportunity I've had to document in this particular space that I HAVE A NEW JOB!!

Yes, after months of sending my resume out into the darkness of cyberspace, it's over! I finally gave up doing that and decided what I needed to do, was network with people that I knew. And wah-la...a new position in Woodhaven, Queens. I am so excited. I do however wish that my current job were not quite so stressful. It's been so crazy that I'm having difficulty thinking.

Then there's the fact that next week I need to have my gall bladder removed. Like I need to add that little medical drama to my "to do list" prior to starting a new position. I was hoping to spend a few days in Florida visiting JoAnne....and instead I'm going to have to sit home for a few days and recover from surgery. I'm going to will myself to be one of those people who makes a fast recovery. Really....there is no other choice.

I can't wait to start apartment hunting......