Tag Archives: personal

When Good Intentions Go Wrong

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Photo by Lynn Kelley. Click HERE to check out her blog!

While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with a full cart, a woman showed up carrying a carton of milk, a tube of toothpaste, and a screaming infant.

I remembered what it was like when my son used to freak out like that. His shrieking used to make me feel jittery and self-conscious. I wasn’t in any hurry that day, and I wanted to help. “Would you like to go ahead of me?” I asked.

“Why?” the young mother accused. “Is his crying bothering you?”

“No, I just figured you have two dinky items and I have a whole cart,” I said. “You can jump ahead of me…”

“Screw you!” She frowned. “I’ll find another line.”

As she stormed off, I was bewildered. I had just wanted to help. And yet there I was, feeling strangely guilty.

Sitting in my car with the food meant to nourish my family, to fill them up, I felt completely emptied out and kind of nauseous.

I turned on the radio in my car to find NPR was running some kind of old interview with Maya Angelou. She spoke for a few minutes before she said:

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And that was all I needed.

I would not let what had happened in the grocery store ruin my day.

My intention had been to be helpful.

I had no hidden agenda.

I don’t know what was going on with that poor young mother, I only wanted her to let me help her in some small way. But maybe she felt she needed to do it all. Maybe she’d heard the same messages that I’d heard during my life. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Be strong. Figure it out. Maybe admitting she was struggling that day felt like failure. Maybe she felt like she sucked eggs as a mother because she didn’t know how to soothe her infant.

All I know is that one woman’s rejection is not going to stop me from trying to connect with other people.

I’m a connector: reaching out is what I do.

{For the record, you totally want to get in line behind me at the grocery store.  And if I offer you “headsies,” there are no strings attached.}

Do you have a quote that has inspires you? Please share it here!

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5 Things I Remembered About My Husband

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1. He Has Shpilkes.
What? You don’t know Yiddish? Don’t worry; I’ll help you. The dictionary defines “shpilkes” as sitting on pins and needles. Well, that doesn’t really capture it, does it? When you say someone “has shpilkes,” it implies that person has a nervous energy, an impatience. Simply put: Hubby can’t sit still.

While I slept late on morning two of our vacation, Hubby got up and rented a truck. His goal? Transport two humongous palm trees to The Happy House. But that’s not all. He dug two huge holes, added soil, and rolled the huge trees into our backyard.

Then he mulched and watered.

Then he golfed 36-holes.

Thirty-six.

After that, he bought a mountain bike and went zipping through unfamiliar terrain. When he came home – in the dark — he showed me his ripped up his legs.

“The trails are awesome!” he gushed. “But I should probably get a helmet. And a headlamp.”

During vacation, Hubby burned 8,673,412 calories.

I burned 17.

2. He’s Losing His Hearing.
Apparently, I’ve started speaking at a decibel that only dogs can appreciate.

3. He Snores.
At home, I’ve got ear-plugs. But I forgot to bring them to The Happy House. Let’s just say, that’s been rectified. They’re there now.

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Thank goodness for these!

4. He Relaxes. Eventually.
It takes my man a bit of time to switch from work mode to relaxation mode. On our last day, after he’d watered his new trees, unplugged all the electronics, turned down the hot water heater, and adjusted the air conditioner to AUTO, he gathered up all our garbage and drove it to some gas station where he filled up the gas tank of our rental car.

When he got back, Hubby brought his breakfast outdoors to the lanai. Putting his feet up on a wicker table, he shoveled spoonfuls of granola and yogurt into his mouth.

“Look at those palm trees,” he said, admiring his handiwork. “Now it looks tropical down here.”

{you know, as opposed to before, when we could only admire the stand of palm trees on the far side of the man-made pond.}

“Did you have a good time?” Hubby asked.

I nodded.

Because how could we not have a good time? The Happy House was made possible by my husband’s hard work. Hubby is a worker bee and, truth be told, he’s happiest when he’s busy. He works hard, so he sleeps hard. He thinks the beach is boring. Plus, he’s practically an albino, so even SPF 1000 doesn’t quite do the job. And nobody likes a sunburn.

But you know what?

5. He’s that guy.
After all these years, he still carries my suitcase to the car. He holds my boarding pass and watches my bag when I have to pee. He’ll buy the curtain rod, and then return it because his crazy wife decided it wasn’t right, and then he’ll go back and buy it again because his crazy wife screwed up and, yes, that first curtain rod was right after all.

When she was pining to leave Oz and return to Kansas, Dorothy Gale closed her eyes and said: “There’s no place like home.”

How many people are lucky enough to have two places that hold their heart?

And how many girls are lucky enough to know home is wherever we are, as long as I’ve got my ear plugs we’re together?

What little things drive you bonkers about your partner? What things do you love the most?

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Happy anniversary, Hubby. Eighteen years. You knows I loves you. Do you think we can get stock in ear plugs? Is that a thing? If so, maybe we should look into that.

Incident on a Plane

At the end of the flight, two boys sitting one row apart stood up and discovered each other. Neither of them could have been more than 7-years-old. One little guy held a Buzz Lightyear action figure; the other gripped a pile of Pokémon cards in his hands. While waiting for people on the plane to file out, they boys introduced themselves and chattered about their love for Minecraft and Legos.

“We have lots in common!” Jesse announced.

For a few minutes, the boys lived without fear of loving or not being loved. Neither was afraid of being rejected. They stood with their hearts open, unafraid of being hurt. And they were actually doing a pretty good job of it.

“Also, we both have something wrong with us.” Mason pointed to his mouth. Anyone could see the brackets and rubber bands on his tiny teeth. “I have braces, and you have those things on your ears.”

Jesse’s mother pressed her son against her hip. “Are you talking about Jesse’s Super Special Auditory Amplification System?” she asked. I could practically hear her inner monologue. Stay calm. He’s just a child. He’s not trying to be cruel.

hearing-aids-heart“No,” Mason shook his head. “I’m talking about his hearing aids.

The plane was emptying quickly and Jesse’s mother asked her son to take one last look around to make sure he had all his belongings. As Jesse bent down, she leaned in to say something.

“Work with me here, Mason,” she whispered. “One day, your teeth will be straight. This hearing loss thing is forever.”

Jesse popped up like a meerkat. He handed his mother some candy wrappers, which she pushed into her pocket. Grabbing her suitcase from out of the overhead bin, she guided her son out of the row so he could walk down the narrow aisle in front of her.

“Jesse!” Mason waved his plastic Buzz Lightyear in the air. “Bye Jesse!” But the boy with the Pokémon cards didn’t turn around, and Mason looked wounded.

“You shouldn’t have mentioned his hearing aids!” Mason’s mother scolded. Throwing her purse over her shoulder, she pulled her son out the door.

The boys didn’t mean to hurt each other.

They didn’t.

But mothers love.

And a mother’s love, which sometimes seems weak can also make us fierce. We want the world to appreciate our most precious people the way we do.

But isn’t this life? And don’t we, adults, sometimes find ourselves in these kinds of situations? Sometimes we make the wrong assumptions. We may inadvertently touch a tender place near someone’s heart. We may injure someone and never understand what it is that we did to hurt them. Or we may feel injured or rejected ourselves.

In airports, people carry suitcases and backpacks, but people lug around invisible baggage, too.

With friends, we like to think we have an inkling, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the feelings in our friend’s hearts are as far away as a distant galaxy or an exotic sounding destinations, like Kamakura or Fuzhou.

If only we could all activate our own Super Special Auditory Amplification Systems and really hear what’s going on inside each other’s heads. If only we weren’t so quick to believe the worst about each other.

Ever had an interaction with a stranger that wasn’t well received? How about a positive one? Do you talk to strangers on planes?

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Click here to be connected to the Yeah Write Challenge grid.

Click here to be connected to the Yeah Write Challenge grid.

I’m linking up this week to the fabulous and inspiring writers and Yeah Write. Click on the badge to see what they’re about and join us.

 

When Perfectionism Gets In the Way

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Click here to see other beautiful work by Dilka Bear @behance.com

I’m not going to lie.

I’ve been having a tough time.

I’ve already deleted those two sentences twice.

While I don’t have OCD, I do have some obsessive traits which sometimes strangle me.

Has anyone noticed I haven’t been posting very much?

No? Good, that’s awesome.

Except it sucks.

Because I have actually been writing prolifically.

For days.

Last night, I was up until 2 AM working and reworking a piece about summer camp.

But I just can’t seem to bring myself to push PUBLISH.

When I first started this blog, I wrote with reckless abandon.

I was fearless.

But now I feel paralyzed.

So many of my cyber buddies manage to blog and publish books. While I am, of course, thrilled for them, I feel less than. I can’t understand what’s wrong with me. I know writing a book isn’t a race, but seriously? This thing is taking forever.

Clearly, I’m suffering from Comparison’s Disease, a 100% made-up syndrome coined by my husband to describe one of our friends — we’ll call him Tom — who is forever comparing one thing to something else.

Say we’re sitting at an outdoor cafe when a limousine blows by. Tom’ll be all: “Do you guys remember when we got caught behind that hearse?”

“Yeah,” I might say. “What’s your point?”

“Well, they’re both long and black.”

And then we’d laugh.

Because Tom’s Comparison’s Disease is funny.

Mine is different.

I’ve subscribed to a lot of blogs. Probably too many. Instead of inspiring me, I find myself losing steam.

Angry voices in my head shout at me.

The voices are pissed off and alternate between reminding me that I need to write better and faster and telling me that I suck. They tell me my words aren’t good enough, that I’ll never finish my book, that I should close up shop and get a job selling erotic toys or smoothies. Or something.

This post isn’t meant to be profound.

I just needed to confess that I’m feeling like a fraud.

Frankly, I just needed write something in 20 minutes.

To prove that I could.

I’ve been here before.

I’m sure I’ll dig my way out of this hole.

I just need to stop trying so hard for perfect.

Because perfect is the enemy.

I know this.

I just need to finish.

And look, 43 minutes later, I did.

Are you a perfectionist? What tricks do you have to keep moving forward when your brain is telling you everything you do is a terrible mistake?

tweet me @rasjacobson

My Mother Was Hot Stuff

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My mom & I circa 1970.

My mom was hot stuff when I was little.

She was pretty and had straight teeth.

She wore pink hoop earrings and wore floppy hats.

She did cartwheels with the girls who lived in the white house across the street.

My mother is in nearly all of my earliest childhood memories. She encouraged me to paint, explore calligraphy, and use pipe cleaners to make frogs and ladybugs. She loved when I sang and danced and rode horses and did backflips off the diving board. 

When I was sick, my mother brought the black-and-white television into my bedroom along with a little bell, which she told me to ring if I needed anything. On those miserable days, I watched My Three Sons and The Don Ho Show until my mother emerged with green medicine and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup served on a swirly green and blue plastic tray.

One day, I didn’t want to be my mother’s twin anymore.

Pink and yellow were not my colors.

I remember shouting and slamming doors: the tears.

I saw my mother throw her hands up, exhausted, not knowing what else to do.

I felt powerful then. Driving her to pain and chaos was fun.

Now that I have a teenager in the house, I want to tell my mother, I’m sorry. Because I see how precious it is, that time when our children are young. And what a gift it is, to let a mother hold on to the little things for another day, another year.

Because it hurts when our children reject our cuddles.

Because it was cruel to play with her heart.

Even when I didn’t give her any credit, my mother has remained steadfast, guiding me with an invisible hand.

She still is.

I suspect she always will be.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Hey mom, you have two good hands. And from the looks of this photo, you knew how to style your own hair. Do you think you could have done something with mine? Seriously. Also, if you still have that hat, can I have borrow it? xoxoRASJ

Tell me something you remember about your mother.

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Coming Clean About My Age

My birthday is coming up, y’all.

Yup, this summer girl was born in November.

You know what that means.

My parents got busy around Valentine’s Day.

It means this year I turn 50.

Whaaat?

Well, kind of.

Lucy watches Little Ricky's birthday party fro...

Lucy watches Little Ricky’s birthday party from the window ledge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucille Ball once said:

“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.”

How much do I Love Lucy?

Here’s the 411.

When I first started teaching, I was 23, just a few years older than some of my 12th grade students!

When I introduced myself, I made a point of tacking on a few extra years. I said I was 25. Seven extra years seemed like the right amount of padding.

When I moved to New Orleans, I continued to add years. I felt I needed the cushion, so parents would nod and smile instead of raise disapproving eyebrows. And so my students would believe I was seasoned and complete my assignments without giving me grief.

I never lied to my employers. The Headmaster and English Department Chair at Metairie Park Country day School knew precisely how green old I was when I was hired.

A few years ago, I realized I’ve been in my 40’s for nearly fifteen years.

And that made me remember my grandmother who told people she was 29.

For decades.

After she stopped wearing wigs and wore her thinning hair in loose ponytails wrapped in twine, she was 29. After her eyes dulled and her skin wrinkled, she was 29. After her toenails yellowed and her remaining teeth fell out of her mouth, she was 29.

It was preposterous.

No-one bought it. It was silly and a little pitiful.

I vowed to go the other way.

So I padded.

This year, I could have told my students that I was 50.

Because if you tack on five extra years…well, I look pretty freaking good for 50, right?

Feeling groovy.

And yet.

I’ve kind of caught up with myself.

These days, I am grateful for this body that continues to get me where it needs to go – even if I sometimes have headaches and get dizzy and fall down. I am grateful for my eyes, which still appreciate all the beauty around me – even if the view is a little blurry. I just have to remember to find put on my glasses. I will never have pretty model’s hands, but I have four fingers that help me to tap out what I want to say. Fingers that help me punch buttons on the phone to speak to old friends and new. Fingers that are attached to hands that reach out to offer assistance, to squeeze shoulders. Hands that are attached to arms which can swallow people up in hugs. And even if my vocal cords are toasted, I realized I have these things called ears that work really well, too.

So the jig is up.

Lucy, we’re back to living honestly.

On Sunday, I’ll be 45.

Right where I’m supposed to be.

A wife.

A mother.

A daughter.

A contestant on Survivor.

Just kidding.

But a girl can hold onto her dreams, right?

Have you ever lied about your age? How are you doing with the growing older thing? 

tweet me @rasjacobson

How Facebook Reconnected Me To My Ex-BoyFriend’s Wonky Groove

Gratitude to Loretta Stephenson @WANA Commons for the use of this image

Not long ago, I received a private message on Facebook from a stranger who turned out to be one of my ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriends.

This woman expressed concern that her ex – a man I used to live with – might be unstable, perhaps dangerous, and she hoped I could provide her with some background to help her understand what had happened in my now twenty years dead relationship.

I remembered the good things first.

How he brought me flowers and played with my curls. How we’d hiked and biked, ridden horses and picked wildflowers. How he gave me heart-shaped rocks.

How he made me feel.

After someone else had left me broken.

We played house in a rat-infested shack.

We went to university, learned our professions well.

But one day, he accused me of eating all his peaches.

And the next day, he stopped listening to my poetry.

He went out late and came home later, smelling of beer.

I learned he slept with another woman.

When I decided to leave, he came home as I was gathering up my last box of things and shoved me against a wall.

With his hands pressed against my shoulders, he shouted too close to my face. “You promised you’d never leave!”

Then he slid to the floor.

I kept moving.

Because I knew it was a trap.

He’d always used my words against me, twisted things around to make me feel like I was in the wrong. I was tired of being the bad one.

He followed me outside to my car. It was summer, and he stood on the hot driveway wearing shorts and wool socks as he leaned against my open window.

“I can’t believe you’re leaving me.” His long eyelashes were wet. “You’re just like everyone else.”

I remembered I’d left my purple and green tapestry inside, but I decided he could have it.

Because I wasn’t going back.

Alone in my new apartment, I mourned the death of our love. I remembered how he begged me to stop taking my birth control pills. We’ll make beautiful babies together, he had whispered in my ear as we laid together on our futon in the dark.

Somehow I knew his words were wishes, not promises. They were just words without rings or commitment attached.

Somehow I knew to get out.

In the Facebook message from the ex-girlfriend, I learned there is a collection of women who have been wined and dined, then made to feel small, cheated on, and dumped by this same man.

If this is true, it means that for decades, he has brought one woman after another into his home. That he has fathered children, but abandoned their mothers.

I was sad.

Because I’d always said if he couldn’t find happiness with me, I’d hoped he could find it with someone else.

And I was sincere when I said that.

But it sounds like he is still tortured by the devils that were chasing him when we first met, that he has become the person he said he would never be.

I also learned I have a bit of a reputation.

Apparently, I’m “The Smart One Who Got Away.”

And that is partly true.

I did get away.

But I hate hearing that this man is broken, a scratched up record with the needle stuck in the same rut, and that this wonky groove is still the rhythm of his life.

And I hate hearing that he is smearing women against the sky.

Have you ever received second-hand news about a lost love? What did you learn? What did you say? Feel?

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An Old Flame, Doused

I have often reveled in the wrongness of things.

Growing up, I cut Barbie’s hair and pushed straight pins through her ears.

I told people I was making earrings, but mostly I wanted to make holes in Barbie’s face.

As a teen, I gravitated toward recklessness. Once, on vacation with friends, I disappeared on the beach to kiss a boy whose name I didn’t know. My friends were mad, but I chose the taste of cigarettes and beer on a stranger’s lips over my own safety.

For a while, I was in an unhealthy relationship.

We had an understanding.

Kind of.

I mean, he created the rules.

And he meant well, I’m sure, with his flattery and charm.

When he touched me, I swooned with gratitude.

Because he knew how to make me feel.

Not too long ago, I ran into this person.

Though he had aged, I remembered his dimple, how easily he could undo me with a word or a look. And I was surprised at how, after all these years, my body still responded to his touch.

I watched his mouth move and remembered the place where confidence collided with arrogance.

I saw how little he had changed.

I know he believes he is a good person.

But I know him to be a juggler who thrives off secrets and lies.

A person who craves power and uses people as playthings.

For a time, I allowed myself to be part of his secret life.

Allowed myself twice to be used and discarded.

In an odd way, seeing this person again helped reaffirm the treasures that I have at home.

Things that should not be trivialized.

It’s funny. I don’t crave recklessness the way I used to.

And secrets taste like vinegar on my lips.

So while I enjoy more than my fair share of double-entendres and flirtations, there are places where I draw the line.

Danger paired with exhilaration can feel something close to love.

But it isn’t.

Ever run into an old flame? Someone who was not good for you? What was that like? Do you revel in wrongness? How far are you willing to go?

This week, writers were asked to use this photograph to inspire our post. My piece is a hybrid between fiction & non-fiction. We had 450 words. I got it done in 386.

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Putting My Faith in Boots That Pinch

Me in my brown Frye boots, circa 1985.

I have this freakin’ awesome pair of brown leather Frye boots.

I got them in 1985, before I went to college.

They cost $172.00.

I remember holding my breath as the cashier took all my bills and slipped them into the register.

When she handed me the bag, I thought I might throw-up.

That first semester I walked around campus with bloody heels, praying my investment would eventually pay off.

I’d dreamed of soft chocolate boots, like the couches the people I’d babysat for owned.

But my new boots were stiff and unyielding.

Those suckers took forever to break in. 

Somewhere along the way, they stopped hurting.

And when I wear them now, someone always admires my kicks and asks me where I got them.

I like to watch their faces when I say I got them in a shoe store that closed in 1989.

Ten years ago, I promised myself that if I ever found a similar pair in black, I would buy them – price-be-damned.

Recently, I was not shopping for shoes when I saw the sister pair to my old brown Fryes: tall black boots with a buckle.

I looked at the bottom of the sole to find the price tag and sucked in my breath.

It’s always been hard for me to spend money on myself. 

“You’ll have those forever,” said the well-dressed saleswomen who handed me an oversized white box.

I slipped the boots over my stockings and took a few steps.

Omigosh. They. Hurt. So. Much.

I found a chair and tugged them off.

“What do you think?” the saleswoman asked.

What did I think?

I thought only a crazy person would buy boots at that price that were that uncomfortable.

And yet.

I remembered.

My old boots had been awful, too.

It had taken years to get them to a place where I could call them comfortable.

But they have been my signature footwear for decades.

So I held my breath as the cashier scanned my credit card.

Because they cost a lot more than they did in 1985.

And I brought them home.

And while my new boots look freakin’ awesome, I’m back to bloody heels and Band-Aids.

Right now, I’m faking it.

Pretending every step doesn’t hurt.

I have to believe that eventually these boots will be right.

Because sometimes having something worthwhile means enduring a little pain.

Ask a newly published author. Or any woman who has given birth.

Have you ever made an expensive purchase that you fretted over? What was it? How’d it turn out? 

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This week the directions were to write a piece using the idea of money as inspiration — in under 450 words. I did it in 419. 

Somebody That I Used To Know

Warning: This post contain content that may trigger survivors of abuse. If this is an issue for you, you might want to skip today’s post.

They have been playing this song on the radio a lot.

And it’s bringing things up for me.

See, there is this man who is trapped in the fabric of my limbs’ history.

For better or worse, we got tangled up many summers ago, and even though I set him free, he returns in memories.

When I think back to the best night of a most perfect summer, I remember fluffy white towels and hot showers and blueberries bought fresh from a crooked fruit stand.

Stevie Nicks sang for us, husky and low.

He was the leader and I wanted to follow.

And it was good.

When we said goodbye that August, I leaned against a brown Chevette. The leaves were still green when he put his hands on either side of my head and squeezed. He took a red lollypop out of his mouth and when we kissed, our teeth scraped together.

I should have known then. Because lollypops are too sweet. They are filled with artificial flavors and colors and objects in the mirror appear closer than they are.

One year later, he used his body like a weapon and blew me apart.

So I think of him each August.

I can’t help it.

These days, we have no real connection.

But I wonder if his wife knows about what he did. His children?

I wonder what they might think about the man in the expensive suit, if they knew he once gutted a girl like a fish.

How well do we know our partners? And would we really want to know their darkest secrets?

What music brings you back to dark places? 

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