Friday, June 29, 2007

My Birthday, last part

I say that because birthdays are parties, or at least thought of to be or have parties, and if there was a party on that day, it was waiting for me at his house.

Sandy had had a rough day. He’d woken up with the birds that morning, flew out for a business trip consisting of site visits on what was so far the hottest day of the year, flew back, and was upstairs in the shower when I arrived.

I walked into the house carrying my overnight bag and a bottle of sparkling French lemonade for later, which I’ve decided to make a birthday tradition. I walked into the kitchen to put the bottle in the fridge and saw, on the counter, a bouquet of a dozen white roses, and a yellow envelope leaning against the tissue and cellophane they were wrapped in.

Maybe I should have waited, but the giddiness bubbling inside me was too strong, and the smile on my face too big. I took the card out of the envelope but before I’d had a chance to read it properly some rectangular beige papers fell out.

Stores call them love coupons, but no store was selling these. Knowing my perfectionist Sandy he’d made these himself, and a quick glance at the top one confirmed my theory. He didn’t just scrawl them on scraps either, he’d *designed* them on AutoCAD, used different colours and fonts, then printed them out on the finest quality stock.

Crazy, nutty, beautiful man. I got a massage, a movie, two date nights with the works, and a shopping trip this weekend to get me a GPS. He would have gotten me one already, he said, but wanted me to pick out my own so I’d be comfortable with it when driving.

Yes indeed, I am the luckiest girl in the world. And written inside the card, besides all that great stuff (that I won’t be sharing, thank you very much), he’d put down “Oh, you wait! I predict a very good year…”

Oh, I think so too. I also predicted a very good next half-hour, after I’d run pell-mell up the stairs to pull my man out of the shower and smother him with hugs and kisses.

After Sandy was dried & dressed, he took us out for dinner as per my birthday Rule #5: One Special Meal. I didn’t tell him or even ask him to do that, but he thinks one special meal is a great thing for birthdays, too. I’m glad we see eye to eye on so many things. “Your choice,” he told me, and even though we’ve already been there dozens of times I asked to go to our favourite sushi haunt. Sushi is great summer food and as any decent sushi freak knows, you can only go so long until withdrawal symptoms kick in.

We had our shrimp tempura, California rolls, spicy tuna hand rolls, salmon, white tuna & surf clam sashimi, and even shared a honking bowl of soba just for kicks. When we were thoroughly sushi-ed out we got back into the car and back to his place, where he had more waiting for me.

My Rule #6 for birthdays, the last one, is that You are the Celebration of your Life. It is very important for us to celebrate ourselves, particularly on these special days, for the ups and downs of the year gone by, and the hopes and dreams for tomorrow.

Then again, how nice is it when someone else sees something special, and creates a celebration for you?

Sandy sat me down on the floor at his coffee table (where we usually eat dinner) and made me promise not to look. Next thing I know, all the lights are off and he’s approaching with a mini chocolate vanilla swirl cheesecake, covered in more chocolate and strawberries and alight with candles. He put the cake in front of me, sang the birthday anthem, and took the obligatory picture of me blowing out the candles, cheeks puffed out as if I were storing nuts for the winter.

I think the last picture I have of me in that pose was from my eighth birthday party. “Did you make a wish?” he said, after flicking the lights back on, and while I told him Yes, I don’t think special wishes are required ever since we found each other again.

While I was cutting the cake, Sandy ran back into the kitchen for yet more surprises: cannoli and sfogliatelle. Damn those Italians and their suberb pastries. We all know cannoli as those delectable crunchy tubes filled with sweetened ricotta, used by Talia Shire to bring about a fellow mobster’s demise in Godfather III.

Sandy knows they’re my favourite, but he also wanted me to try the sfo-lyah-tel-e, which look like clams, and are filled with flavoured ricotta. Move over, cannoli. And, a few laughs on the side. It turns out that before Sandy and I eat any pastry, we do the exact same thing: shake off the icing sugar.

It was late by then, Sandy was nodding off from his long day, and I was looking forward to some sleep myself… afterwards. Later on in his room, as we lay there enjoying the breeze from his ceiling fan being set to High, Sandy turned to me and asked, “Did you have a good birthday, Cheech?”

No no no. Not good. Not good at all. The best.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday to Me!

Mrs. Loquacious of Loquacious Musings saw fit to present me with this honour yesterday, which had me tremendously touched (and somewhat tear-streaked). A couple of days into 32 and I'm a Rockin' Girl!

I'm supposed to respond in kind, awarding this to five other Rockin' Girls. As hard as that was to do, not to mention going around those to whom it was already awarded, here are my picks (in alphabetical order):

1) Diary of a Diapering Madwoman is new to my world, but she rocks because she's hilarious, honest, a gritty writer and, new though she is, she comments here a lot. Any writer worth their salt knows how important feedback is, and I hope to do her justice in the way she's done me.

2) Once Upon a Day has had me in stitches for ages, be it about her day-to-day or snappy meme responses, authored by this fabulous chick who was truly born to rock. Seeing as we only live a stone's throw away from each other, I really hope to meet her one day soon, and that she never stops writing here.

3) The Cats Demand Answers is the sauciest of my group, a journal with a humourously raw approach to life, speckled with a sarcasm that only the truly sarcastic can totally appreciate. If I could pass some cupcakes through the bandwidth here, I surely would.

4) The Misadventures of (Mommy) Laural is the only one of my bunch where I personally know the author, a brainy sweetheart of a cool girl who makes great parenting look like a snap. As long as no one else from our classes reads this, we can always say we were the best thing that school coughed up!

5) The Torments of a Single Girl has been on my roll for the longest time, written by the sassiest of fabulous girls who never fails to make me laugh. She hilariously captures singledom for trench warfare that it is, and has great taste in gourmet snacks. I really hope our future martini date stands for that fateful someday.

Now, pass this on to five others, and live up to your titles with grace, style, charm and neverending wit. Rock on!

My Birthday, in two parts

My birthday didn’t start out on the actual day, but the day before. The 25th of June, 32 years after my mother lay screaming in agonized labour, my loved ones gathered together for my Rule #3 of birthdays: Friends and Family.

But why early? Because when you’re grown up, celebrating with other grown ups, schedules conflict. My birthday was Tuesday, but our party was Monday. Not that I’ve ever been one to complain for an extra party.

Oli and Corey came over to the house for the family thing, where I was showered with love, cards, gifts and cake. I got Ikea gift cards, bookstore gift cards, t-shirts with cute designs, nail polish and, believe it or not, the Method Mop I’ve had my eye on for the longest time. Wonderful family is wonderful to have.

Sandy came over a bit later, thoroughly delayed by work, but just in time for good food & conversation. Then as I was walking him out I saw a blue envelope sticking out of the mailbox, complete with card & coupon for a dinner and girl talk, courtesy of a friend I grew up with. Wonderful friends are wonderful to have.

The next day, my real day, followed beautifully in the steps of last year so that I can say now without a doubt: it was a good birthday.

Every morning is a great one with wet, sloppy kisses first thing in the morning from my baby boy Blue. And even though the weather was sucky in that hot, overly humid and (really) sticky kind of way, I fulfilled my Rule #1 birthday requirement with Going Outside. A ridiculous humidex is one thing, but then it’s definitely better than howling winds and mountains of snow dumped on your doorstep. No offence to all you winter birthdays.

The day went by pretty quickly, mostly taken up by errands with moms. She’s a busy lady and has limited to shop for her every this and that, so running around to shop for her every this and that we did. I still managed to apply Rule #3 by Gifting Myself though, with a gorgeous picnic basket and an iTunes card. I’ve always wanted a picnic basket and have plans for it in the month of July; as for the iTunes, to wax philosophical, the gift of music keeps on giving.

My Rule #2, Alone Time, came back at home and in the shower of all places. I usually like to do this part outside but I was in a rush and just so hot and sticky, that in the shower it was. Like I said last year, alone time is necessary because you’ve just finished a year of your life, and today is the first day of the next 364. There is reflection, plans, goals, ambitions, love and dreams to be had. And again, like last year, I could tell you what I was thinking, but then I’d have to kill you.

I was all ready to go to Sandy’s place but he told me via text that he needed a little more time before I got there, so I put the music card to use and downloaded some songs onto the pod. For your quizzing pleasure:

1. Usually when things have gone this far
People tend to disappear
No one would surprise me unless you do

2. You say the party’s over
But like a drunken fool
I never know when to leave
It’s just that in the eyes of the beholder
You mean everything to me

3. And I’ve been meaning to call you
I’ve been meaning to call you
Then I do

4. Every night my dream’s the same
Same old city with a different name
Men are coming to take me away
I don’t know why but I know I can’t stay

5. There’s no time to lose, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away

My real birthday, on my birthday, began at Sandy’s.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Many, many thanks for all birthday wishes! And now, as promised, the Wednesday meme. Tomorrow we get back on track with fresh posts, starting with the bday fodder.

I lifted this from Emma even though she didn't tag me for it... it's just that she's always got the best memes.

The rules are simple. There are 9 questions (3², each of which has 3 answers, to give a total of 27, or 3³. The whole point is that the questions are somewhere between eclectic, banal and downright bizarre, so that you can answer completely truthfully without actually giving much away. Just put down the first three answers that come to mind if you can’t work out the “most appropriate” three.

Objects Within One Metre Of You

1. My corkboard, couldn't live without it
2. A pair of silver earrings that are shaped like four-leaf clovers
3. A jar of marbles. I just like having them around.

First Names of People You Sat Next To At School

1. Michael in kindergarten. He was the first kid in the class to learn how to print his name, tie his shoelaces, and colour in all his squares without going over any lines. Being the class troublemaker, I was the last to do all of that.
2. Gilbert in grade four. He was in remedial, three years older than any of us, and a metre taller, too. He was a huge bully and smelled like stale pasta. The teacher put him next to me hoping I'd positively affect his GPA.
3. Angie, grade seven. We were the tallest girls in the school and had the back of the classroom to ourselves. When she read anything, she would trace the lines in the book with her finger and mouth all the words out. It drove me bonkers.

Programmes You Won’t Watch

1. Grey's Anatomy. I refuse to fall victim to this show!
2. Anything on the Country Network
3. Pro fishing competitions

Favourite Trivial Pursuit Categories

(Admittedly it's been so long since I've played that I'm just using Emma's answers - they all sound good to me)
1. Geography
2. History
3. Arts and Literature

Superpowers You’d Like To Have

1. Flying, baby!
2. The power of healing. Does that count as super?
3. The power to control the weather strikes me as being pretty useful.

Newspapers, Magazines or Periodicals Read Regularly

1. The National Post
2. Vanity Fair
3. The Donna Hay quarterly magazines. Oh how I love those.

Songs You Dislike

1. Hello, by Lionel Richie. It makes me want to poke my own eyes out so I'm just as blind as the girl in the video.
2. All I wanna do is zoom a zoom zoom zoom and a boom boom
3. The Sweet Escape. Gwen, why?? The song itself isn't that terrible, but that Woohoo, Wee-oo! is AWFUL!

Blog Posts of Your Own That You’d Recommend

Uh, no. If you can remember any, you tell me :)

As for tagging, I'm going to follow Natalie's bit... you, you, you, you, and you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Some days, we need to think of what defines us. Sometimes, we need to see what makes our world spin.

1. My wonderful family

2. The best boyfriend in the whole world

3. The best dog in the whole world

4. The most fabulous friends ever

5. My gorgeous car

6. A loft to call my very own

7. A blog to call my very own

8. Rain

9. Flip flops

10. Music on my stereo

11. Books

12. Plane tickets

13. A day in the darkroom

14. Learning about wine by reading all the bottle labels

15. Writing

16. People who read my writing

17. Spring afternoons

18. Summer nights

19. Cafe time with my girls

20. Sitting on a curb with some great company and gelato

21. Retail therapy

22. Fantastic clothes

23. Helping the less fortunate

24. Rollerblading

25. Great food

26. Coffee

27. A road trip with my sister

28. A soccer game like no other

29. The stars in the sky

30. Those moments you want to relive over and over again

And never least,

31. Love

31 reasons, 31 thank-yous, 31 things for every year of the life that I've lived. Today, we start on 32.

Happy Birthday to Me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I've been stuck lately. It's not a pretty thing to have to tell you but I'm sure you've noticed, being with my lack of posting, flippant use of memes, etc.

It's not an easy thing to admit but a good break to have, since I can feel the words starting to buzz around in my head again. While this justifiably labels me insane, it also means that soon, very soon, you shall have fresh reading.

Today you have a meme, because I was tagged for one. Tomorrow you get a post, Wednesday you get another meme while I collect my collective thoughts, and from Thursday on out it's new stuff. Sound good?

(But just so you know, memes are great for when you feel you've exhausted yourself. And, so much fun to do!)

INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

A Blog of a Good Time
Classy & Fancy
[Cherry] Ride/5of9er
Memoirs of a Fat Girl

Select five people to tag: (and I've chosen to keep Airam's following message)*If I've tagged you and you HATE these then please accept my sincerest apologies and a kiss on both ass cheeks.

Emma, because I know you love these
Common Girl, because you don't post so often anymore and these are fun to do
Laural, because you're a sweetie
Temporarily Me, because you're witty as heck, and
Natalie, because you're an interesting person all around. It stands for some good reading, I'm sure.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Finishing up my undergrad degree, applying to all kinds of journalism schools, and perfecting my plan for world domination.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

Exactly what I'm doing right now, perhaps, as in writing this blog. I'd gotten back from the Middle East a few months prior, and was debating my relationship from hell.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1. Yogurt
2. Muesli
3. Lemon Gelato
4. Sesame Snaps
5. Summer fruits (thanks for that inspiration, Airam)

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to:

1. Laid, James
2. I bet you look good on the Dance Floor, the Arctic Monkeys
3. Sloop John B, the Beach Boys
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Green Day
5. Ticket to Ride, the Beatles

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

My answers here reflect Airam's quite a bit.

1. Erase all debt for me and my family.
2. Buy myself a house in the village. If you live in this city, you know exactly where the village is.
3. Invest heavily so none of us will ever have to worry about money again.
4. Travel and pick up some international real estate along the way.
5. Start scholarship funds at my alma mater, give to the hospital where I had surgery as a kid, and donate to several charities in general.

Five bad habits:

1. I'm a nail biter
2. Serious road rage
3. Procrastinating
4. Not checking my cell messages for days at a time
5. Grocery shopping when I'm hungry. Bad, bad thing to do.

Five things you like doing:

1. Traveling, when cash flow permits
2. The cafe scene
3. Driving with the music blaring
4. Photography, and
5. Being with my one and only

Five things you would never wear again:

1. Black shoes and white socks. Yes, I fell into that trap too....
2. Shoulder pads
3. Peacock blue eyeliner
4. Polka dots on stripes
5. A banana clip. What was I thinking?!

Five favorite toys:

1. Does my dog count? He's cuter than a toy...
2. Ipod
3. Laptop
4. The PS3 at my sister's house
5. My car, because it's a beautiful piece of ass. Thank you Airam for that witty remark, and for letting me borrow it!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Meme time... can you tell I'm being lazy lately?

If you don't comment here, please feel free to clip this to an email to share with friends!! We all need to feel like teenagers sometimes, you know.

Are you:

A cuddler? At first it's great, but I hate when people are breathing on me when I'm trying to sleep.
A morning person? Only once I'm up and have been (sometimes) heavily dosed with caffeine.
Are you a perfectionist? For some things. I could give a rat's ass what my desk looks like, but my car has to be immaculately clean at all times.
An only child? One older sister.
Catholic: Half. Is that possible?
In your pajamas? At the moment, no.
Currently suffering from a broken heart? No. How nice is that?
Okay styling other people's hair? NO. I can barely do my own, why would I want to inflict that pain on others?
Left handed? Nope, a righty.
Addicted to MySpace? Heck no.
Shy around the opposite gender? These days, very little.
Loud? Sigh. I've been told!

Do you:

Bite your nails? Indeed.
Get paranoid at times? Sometimes
Currently regret something that you have said/done? Can't say that I do. That's a good thing.
Curse frequently when you get mad? Fuck is a big word for me.
Enjoy country music? Uh, no. See profile.
Enjoy jazz music? YUp, especially for cool little dinner parties at my place.
Enjoy smoothies? Yes! I love making them, I think they're a lot more efficient and better tasting than anything you can buy out there in smoothie world.
Enjoy talking on the phone? Meh. Not so much anymore.
Have a lot to learn? Everyday, all the time. The day I stop learning is the day I die.
Have a pet? My dog!
Have a tendency to fall for the "wrong" person? Don't we all fall for the wrong person until we're married? Don't we even sometimes marry the wrong person?
Have all your grandparents died? Yes... I never met my dad's dad, my dad's mom died when I was 14, my mother's dad followed suit six months later when I was 15, and my mother's mother died seven years ago.
Have at least one sibling? Sister... Thought we cleared that up....
Have been told that you are smart? Uh huh.
Have had a broken bone? Nose & right pinky toe.
Have Caller I.D. on your phone? Oh yes, It's most useful.

Have you:

Changed a diaper? Never. Can you believe it?
Changed a lot over the past year? I like to think so!
Had friends who have never seen your natural hair color? No, But I have friends who have never seen me without highlights.
Had surgery? One.
Killed anyone? Thankfully, no.
Had your haircut within the last week? A week and a half ago.

Last person who:

Slept in the bed beside you? Sandy, last night :)
Saw you cry? My dog.
Went to the movies with you? Oh lord that was almost a year ago. I was with my sister and Lance, though.
You went to the mall with? Sandy...
You went to dinner with? Shelley? Sandy...
You talked to on the phone? Sandy...
Said 'I love you' to you and meant it? Sandy...
Broke your heart? The Icee man stopped coming down our block. I miss hearing the bell on the truck??
Made you laugh? Sandy...

Would you rather?

Pierce your nose or tongue? YUck, neither. I'd do my ear again, though.
Be serious or be funny? Oh, funny.
Drink whole or skim milk? Whole. If you're going to drink skim you might as well have water with some liquid paper mixed in.
Die in a fire or drown? Hopefully, I'll never have to choose.
Spend time with your parents or enemies? Parents, of course. Does that make me a nerd?

About you!

(Then what's the above been all about?)

What time is it? 7:58am
Name? I plead the fifth...
Nickname(s)? Currently, Cheech.
Where were you born? The fifth! The fifth!
What is your birthdate? June 26, very close.
What do you want? What everyone else wants, happiness and inner peace. A few million wouldn't hurt, either.
Where do you want to live? Ideally, London, England. Realistically, where I am isn't that bad at all.

Oh, that's it? Okay. I suppose I have to tag people now.... GO! YOU'RE IT!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Last week was a week of men. Men, boys, whatever, and this past weekend played into that too.

On Saturday we had our annual family garage sale. We’ve been doing it every June for the past handful of summers because of 1) tidy profits, and 2) we have a lot of junk. Not junk so much as stuff, but there’s a lot of it nonetheless. Things tend to pile up after so many moves, and you can’t keep those boxes in your parents’ basement forever.

A garage sale is a crazy time. You have to clean through all your piles for days before the event, categorize, box and carry it all to the garage, make & put up signs, possibly advertise, get a cash float, then wake up mega early to accommodate your customers, the bulk of who like to do their shopping between seven and 9am.

This sounds like a lot of work for a few bucks and it is, but it’s not all about the money. A garage sale is cleansing, the post-modern purification of the soul. You’re lightening your load, losing dead weight, and having the wonderful satisfaction of knowing that something you don’t want, have brushed aside for years, is starting a whole new life somewhere else.

But still, the cash doesn’t hurt either.

The prices on our driveway, we’ve been told, are much higher than your standard garage sale. That said, most people have no problem paying the prices on our driveway because, as we’ve been told, my sister and I take superb care of our stuff.

For instance, last year one woman asked me the prices of our books. I told her one dollar per paperback and two dollars per hardcover, when she retorted back with, “Everyone knows that the standard price for books at garage sale is 25 cents!”

Without missing a beat, I told her the book she was holding was a trade paperback, not mass market, was two years old, in perfect condition, and didn’t have a single crack on the spine. I also told her that if it was a romance novel circa 1972 with a missing cover and dog-eared everything, I’d be more than happy to take a quarter.

Needless to say, she coughed up a dollar pretty quick.

Anyway, bottom line, our stuff ain’t cheap in garage sale land. However, if it’s something you want to get rid of just for the sake of getting rid of it, let’s talk power sale, baby!

Example: in the furthest recesses of the basement is a box labeled PRICK. Metaphorically labeled anyhow, I wouldn’t go so far as to write that all over a box, even if its contents belong to Jess.

That’s right, the ex-boyfriend box made the cut. It’s not like I’ve heard boo from him for almost a year and that said, he can’t be too attached to anything in there. I bought most of it anyway, meaning I get the final say as to what happens to it.

So one woman/customer is going through some things I’ve just laid out on the table, and one of them happens to be a Jess shirt. I still remember the day I bought him that shirt, a nice short-sleeved rust surfer boy dealie with maroon detailing along the bottom. She holds it up and says, “How much?”

The shirt’s in phenomenal shape, is about four years old, but hasn’t been worn for the past two at least. If it was one of mine I wouldn’t take less than four dollars, however, every now and then we have rules to follow, the first of which is: Rid yourself of crap karma at (almost) all costs.

“Ma’am, you’re in luck. That shirt you’re holding there is a part of the infamous, ‘I hate my Ex-Boyfriend’ pile, and it can all be yours for the low low price of 10 dollars!”

Her eyebrows perked up. There were a good dozen shirts of his lying around her, all fairly recent and in great condition, and then she said, “Do you hate him for eight dollars?

Ah, bargaining. The great constituent of garage sales. I thought it over, and even though the whole point of this was to get rid of these things, I decided not to fall trap for Rule #2: Never sell yourself short, especially if what you’re offering is too good to be true. “Nope, sorry. I hate him for 10.”

With that she took the lot and I watched a handful of Jess’ old clothes go away, away from me. It was good.

Many would argue that holding out for a couple of extra bucks somehow ties me to him, that I didn’t want to get rid of his things that badly. In fact, even selling any of it, as opposed to giving it away, is full of symbolism in its own right.

I beg to differ.

After the garage sale was over, I went to the market and picked up for myself a bottle of Boylan’s vintage root beer. Boylan’s is made with all natural ingredients, and is sold in glass bottles here for almost two bucks a pop.

Back home, I put the bottle in the freezer, pulling it out when it was so cold it couldn’t get any colder without being slush. I savoured my root beer sitting on the grass, enjoying the beautiful day with my dog.

His stuff, my stuff, two bucks. The moral of the story: a couple of extra dollars can go a long way. Even a truckload of bad memories can make way for a good one, if you play your cards right.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

When Sandy and I hooked up again last August, I thought of Asad briefly and the irony of it all. Would he have been understanding, I wonder, if he knew that the one boy I could never forget, the boy I never let myself forget, is that man I’m with today?

Life is full of surprises. Sandy and I talk about the past every now and then, telling each other the things we would never, could never say during the awkwardness of our teen years.

“Why did you like me so much?” he asked me once, referring of course to our “emotional tryst,” if you will, of yesteryear.

He has a lot of reason to ask. It isn’t often that you still think of a high school crush well into your 30’s, to the point where it drives you to email.

“I don’t know, I just did,” I replied back, still momentarily shy to confess that from the moment we met, everything clicked and started to make sense. Even at the sweet age of 16 I recognized that with him, it all fit. It still does.

A few months ago I was going through some old boxes and I happened to find my 11th grade day planner, full of the scrawlings of the busy life of a junior, and as I was flipping through it I saw a big red circle around June 13th, 1992. Inside the circle I’d written all in caps, THE PROM.

Exactly 15 years later, after a sushi dinner and some time with family, Sandy and I celebrated our little anniversary at his house. There were no expensive outfits, no flowers, no fancy boats, but we recreated our magical moment with a dance in his kitchen instead.


“Yes, Cheech?”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too. Boy, you’re tall.”

“I know.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Men and the Boys: Asad, part 3

The human heart can be a terrible thing. Here was this incredible, sweet boy who wanted me, treated me wonderfully, and thought he had me. My heart, on the other hand, had decided she wasn’t in it. Sure there was the occasional flutter, but no more than that.

Poor Asad. How was he to know I belonged to someone else? I was still with Sandy, even though he wasn’t mine, wasn’t even close to being mine. You don’t have to be with someone to belong to them, and in retrospect, you don’t necessarily belong to someone just because you are with them.

I’d decided to let Sandy go, but my heart was still his. Asad had given me himself completely, but I could not take him, accept him, or have him as mine. At the ripe old age of 17, I was slowly starting to realize that just because someone really, really liked me, didn’t mean that I could really, really like him back.

Unfortunately that realization came over time, and at the expense of someone who cared about me very much. Why did it play out that way? I’ll have to pull out my Lack of Experience card yet again. I’d never dumped anyone, never sat down to have “the talk,” or issued ultimatums that wound up in singledom.

And, I’d never broken up with someone, least of all for treating me so superbly well. That alone made me second guess myself over and over again. I mean really, how often does that happen?

So while Asad continued being his gentlemanly self, while he was still holding my hand, taking me places and introducing me to friends, I did what I do best, especially back in those days: I froze. Brick by brick I put up my emotional wall and threw away the key, until he couldn’t help but notice. And finally, after all the analysis on my part, and the prodding to confide why I’d changed on his, I decided it was time to get things out in the open.

After weeks of my frigidity, we were on the phone when I told him, “I’d like to have a little talk.”

They say that men are stupid about relationships, but some catch on pretty quick. Asad was one of them. “Is it about us?”

I was silent on the other end for a long, long time. Nerves. My heart beating through my chest, etc. “Yes.”

His turn for silence. Then, “Will I be seeing you sometime soon?”

Ah, the question. More silence and, after an eternity, I whispered, “No…”

Without missing a beat he said, “Goodbye,” and hung up.

I never missed Asad as a boyfriend, no matter how wonderful he had been. That’s the true mark of being the emotional anorexic of the relationship, I suppose. But for a very long time, I did regret treating him so badly. Sometimes, I still do.

After mulling it over for months, after discussing it to death with friends, I discovered that there was a word for everything I’d just done: Rebound. Apparently, when one’s heart is broken, hurting, run amuck etc. by a previous love or relationship, it is the custom to quickly move onto someone else and make them feel as shitty as you do.

That wasn’t my goal, truly, and I beat myself up over it plenty. He was so nice, he was so good, he was so this and that and here and there, I’d really had no excuse. Can I chalk it up to being young and stupid?

I heard from Asad once after that, or at least I thought I did. Eight months after that disastrous conversation the phone rang, and I picked it up to silence on the other end. I knew someone else was there, and I knew it was him. After another minute of nothing I quietly said, “Asad,” to which the caller contemplated for another 20 seconds or so, and then hung up.

How did I know it was him? Out of all the random prank calls one could ever receive, what possibly drove me to the conclusion that it was Asad on the other line? Because. That day was his birthday.

I saw him a few years later too, when I was in my first year of university and on a weekend shopping trip with roommates. We were in a department store checking out the teen section when there he was, with his own group of friends, walking through the crowds as if he owned the place. He looked good, very good, and was garnering the usual stares from girls in every which direction. Then, as fate would have it, he turned and looked my way.

I looked back. We held that gaze just long enough for recognition to hit and then, he turned and walked away. I didn’t blame him for that, not at all, though it took my hands a good half hour to stop shaking.

Relationships come and relationships go, but none truly leave you if you learn from them. That could just be my opinion, though. So, what did I learn from my time with Asad?

Rebounds don’t exist if you don’t let them. Your time in mourning is never healed by entering something new. Don’t get involved with one person if you are in love with another. Your first gut instinct is usually always right.

Don’t be afraid. Talk. Getting things out in the open is often best for the both of you, even hurtful things need to be said. If anything, talking can avoid disturbingly loaded confrontations at the mall.

I suppose it would serve Asad little consolation to know that he helped me learn all these lessons, in that way, but I learned them nonetheless. Wherever he is these days, I hope he’s happy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Men and the Boys: Asad, part 2

I caved. Not two days later I was lying on a table, the guinea pig of a live class demonstration. My hair was tightly pulled back and my face thoroughly gooked in Vaseline as the teacher and Asad began applying the very wet gauze strips.

Cover your entire face with a mud mask, a good half-inch thick, and you’ll have a good idea of how I felt. It was pasty, gunky, very smelly, and filled up every tiny detail of my facial features. Cold rivulets of the stuff kept trailing down onto my neck and scalp, where they hardened and dried. I could even taste it, as it was all over my lips, and my breathing was limited to two teensy, pseudo nostrils.

Plaster of paris is half correct application, half ample drying time. In my case, the drying time part meant a good 30-40 minutes of me laying there in my mummified state, feeling seriously gross. Asad stayed with me when the room cleared out, when everyone else went on their lunch break, when the only two students left in that room, maybe the entire school, were me and him. “I’m here,” he told me, and held my hand so I wouldn’t feel alone.

Another hint? No. Absolute clarity, more like. At that point I remember thinking, this boy likes me. He really, truly likes me. No strings attached, no hidden girlfriends, no issues. Just me.

I also remember thinking that maybe, just maybe, me voluntarily doing one of the most repulsive things I had ever done in my life meant that I liked him that way, too.

So after the mask was off, after I’d come out of the restroom from some serious cleanup time, after Asad met with me in the secluded hallway to thank me for being Nefertiti’s face, I didn’t protest when he pulled me close, or when his hands snaked around to the small of my back. And when he kissed me, I didn’t say no.

Asad was good to me. He held my hand, he kissed me often, told everyone I was his girlfriend, and was proud of the prospect. He bought me beef patties on a bun for lunch at the local student hangout, and took me to the park so we could make out under the tallest weeping willow. He took me to the movies where he let me lean on his shoulder, and nuzzled my ear teasingly while I entertained one simple, devastating thought:

I wish you were Sandy.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Men and the Boys: Asad, part 1

Of course, sometimes we do hit the rocks. The weather has nothing to do with it, either. I was saving this for another time, but lately it’s been pestering me. Maybe it just wants to be told, this story of the first boy who ever gave me his heart freely, and how I threw it away.

I met Asad in the summer of ’92, a few days after my 17th birthday, and a couple of weeks after the prom. I was a girl in love, and a girl hurting from the love she could not have. Sandy had his girlfriend, so I’d decided to back off. I didn’t like my decision, but thought it best.

I was also a girl in summer school. Being trapped in a junior art class wasn’t my ideal choice for a perfect weather July, but I still needed that credit and thought, no time like the present. I enrolled at a Catholic school a half-hour from home, a school where the students wore uniforms by day, but were blissfully free to do as they liked in summer time.

Asad started the class three days late, walking in one morning when the seating arrangement had already been decided, and everyone had formed their cliques. I still remember the minute I first saw him. We’d all just gotten our textbooks and I was wrapping mine, when the door opened and there he was.

My height, dark hair, deeply tanned Egyptian skin. Huge brown eyes. Killer body. If there was anything I noticed about Asad from that first glance, it was that he wasn’t striking in the conventional way of your high school god, that is, all talk no walk. He was more intense, exotic. Different.

I didn’t have to wait long to speak to him, either. Not five minutes after walking into our classroom he quickly became all thumbs trying to wrap his textbook. “I’ll wrap it for you,” I said, not totally sure why, and took his book and wad of the brown paper to my desk to make pretty.

After I’d returned it to him he told me, “Thank you,” in a moderately accented voice and then, very briefly, touched my hand and smiled.

Did I take the hint? Nope. Like I’ve said, I wasn’t used to boys feeling these things for me. Besides, from the moment Asad had stepped into the room, it was painfully obvious that he was never at a loss for admirers. Girls from every which corner were staring at him, goggly eyed and lips a lickin’. When it came to scenarios like that, I followed my usual pattern of lackadaisical nothings. Really, what was the point?

The hint started to find me though, over the weeks that followed. Asad came over to talk to me every single day, during every single break, and asked my opinion on every single assignment. For the first still life drawing project he drew my sneaker, while my foot was still in it. He asked for my phone number, which I reluctantly gave only after we’d developed a system that wouldn’t sound the parental alarms: he would let the phone on my end ring once and hang up, a sign for me to call him back. Thank goodness call display was a non-factor back then.

I started taking the hint more when he told me that he loved looking into my eyes. Even more so when, on the bus ride home he would ding the cord every minute, making the driver pull over at all stops. He said this was so we could spend more time together.

I really started to take the hint when Asad asked me to be a part of his big project, the one that was worth 30% of our mark. We were either to make a mask, a big honking mask with spray paint and tons of detail, or a bust. Not boobs bust, but head bust. Like the statue of Beethoven’s head you always see on Schroeder’s piano in the Peanut Gallery comics.

I made a gigantic mask of the sun, complete with cotton stuffed rays to give it a more cartoony appearance. Asad chose to make a bust of the Eqyptian queen Nefertiti, but soon ran into problems with face creation and the limited materials of the high school art room. Our teacher informed him that in this case a live model would be required to shape out the face and with that, they both looked directly at me.

“You have a classical face,” the teacher said, and while I won’t pretend that didn’t stroke my ego more than a little bit, I wasn’t crazy about the other details.

I love art. I love Renaissance, Baroque, Cubism, Pointilism, and anything by Chagall sends me to a deeper place. Being a part of art is another thing altogether. When I found out that the part of the bust I was needed for involved a plaster of paris mask made of my face, I balked with an, “Uh, no!”

Think about it. Strips of gauze dipped in icky, stinky, gloppy, drippy mess and then pressed down over your eyes, nose and mouth. I’m not one for disgusting and had made up my mind that there was no way in hell I was going to do this, not ever, when Asad came over, took my hand, looked deep into my eyes and said, “Please? Now I can have your face forever…”


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Welcome to my L-A-Z-Y week, as in, there won't be much writing at all.

Actually I'm kind of lying, it's not so much a L-A-Z-Y week as much as it's a O-H M-Y L-O-R-D T-H-E-R-E I-S S-O M-U-C-H T-O D-O I'-M G-O-I-N-G T-O E-X-P-L-O-D-E A-N-Y F-R-A-C-K-I-N-G M-I-N-U-T-E.

Work, more work, and a garage sale. Is that ay excuse? Nooo... but I really don't want to give you half ass writing, so I'll have to bow down for a couple more days. Here's a preview of the next men and the boys, though:

"Of course, sometimes we do hit the rocks. The weather has nothing to do with it, either. I was saving this for another time, but lately it’s been pestering me. Maybe it just wants to be told, this story of the first boy who ever gave me his heart freely, and how I threw it away.

I met Asad in the summer of ’92, a few days after my 17th birthday, and a couple of weeks after the prom. I was a girl in love, and a girl hurting from the love she could not have. Sandy had his girlfriend, so I’d decided to back off. I didn’t like my decision, but thought it best.

I was also a girl in summer school. Being trapped in a junior art class wasn’t my ideal choice for a perfect weather July, but I still needed that credit and thought, no time like the present. I enrolled at a Catholic school a half-hour from home, a school where the students wore uniforms by day, but were blissfully free to do as they liked in summer time.

Asad started the class three days late, walking in one morning when the seating arrangement had already been decided, and everyone had formed their cliques. I still remember the minute I first saw him. We’d all just gotten our textbooks and I was wrapping mine, when the door opened and there he was."

I'll put up something fun for tomorrow, too. Ciao until Monday, loves :)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

100% Real Juice: The Sopranos

It’s amazing that a mob show could have so many hidden gems.

After all, it’s not the most logical first guess. Life lessons from The Sopranos? How on earth could one find insight from a show full of gangsters, violence, strippers, and liberal use of the word “fuck”? Liberal use of all profanity, actually, mixed with heaping tablespoons of political incorrectness, copious whackings, and slaughter of the Italian language.

Then again, Tony has been in therapy since the show’s incarnation. Really, is there anything more fun or ironic than a mobster in touch with his emotional side?

This juice doesn’t come from the boss though, it comes from the writers of the show via Tony’s uncle, Corrado Soprano, known to us as Junior. Old man Junior, with the honking glasses, shooting his mouth off and giving orders no one listens to. He tried to kill his nephew twice, which I suppose would strain any family relations, but every now, surprisingly, he does have his pearls of wisdom. Such as:

That’s what being a boss is. You steer the ship the best way you know. Sometimes it’s smooth. Sometimes you hit the rocks.

Junior means “boss” as in, head of an organized crime family, but a boss can be many different things. The ship he speaks of is the course of life.

If any one of us is never the boss of anything, we must always know that we are boss to ourselves. As for steering the ship, we make our ways through life the best way we can, doing the best with the weather we’re given. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing; other times, we hit the rocks.

I may not be a goomba, but I’ll always be my very own captain. We all are; no one can ever take that away. As long as there are no whackings, that’s a pretty damn good thing.