Saturday, October 03, 2009
Yesterday I got off work at 1pm and wanted to take advantage of the day. I made plans to ride out to James Island to see the Sheepman Graffiti that I saw on the wonderful blog Charleston Daily Photo. I really wanted to see it before it was defaced or painted over. Robin didn't have to be at work until 7pm so she came along. Along the way we had lunch at Bessinger's BBQ and I had the pulled BBQ chicken sandwich and onion rings. Last time I had the cheeseburger, which I didn't care for so I decided to try something different. I really made the right choice because this was the BEST chicken sandwich that I have ever had. I've tried Robert's and Melvin's and they both use the mustard based BBQ sauce and I don't care for it much. Bessinger's uses the red sauce and it was soooo delicious. I remember years ago Lonnie always tried to get me to go to Bessinger's and I refused. What the hell was I thinking??
After lunch we rode out to the Buffalo South Shopping Center on Folly Road to check out this graffiti. We drove around the back of the mostly abandoned plaza to find the most amazing art work! The artist is known at "The Sheepman" but after researching a bit I found out that his real name is Douglas Panzone. His work is amazing!
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
On Friday, Robin met me after work and we went to St. Francis for my ultrasound. My left leg, which has a history of DVT, has continually bothered me over the years so I went and had it checked out again. The tech said she didn't see anything out of the ordinary so I have no idea what the next step will be. There has to be some way to figure out what is causing the pain and swelling that has lasted 10+ years! I'm assuming that Dr. Eads will get the results today and we will go from there.
After the test we went to see Jackie who is in ICU after they screwed up her surgery last week. Turns out we were too early for visiting hours so we braved traffic and headed to Bessingers in West Ashley for lunch. I had never eaten at Bessingers and really wasn't too thrilled with my cheeseburger. I'm not so sure it was real beef and I ended up cutting my patty in half so the burger to bun ratio would be better. Strange, I know. My appetite just hasn't been the same since starting my new diabetes prescription. Before the new Rx I never had a taste for food and now it's even worse. Most of the time I never finish my meal and end up throwing it away... I suppose that's a good thing, though. I do have to say that out of all the Bessinger brothers establishments Bessingers has the best onion rings! Delicious. That's another thing that I love about the South... or maybe, it's just Charleston and those damn BBQ people - In my travels I've never found another place that does onion rings like they do!
After the hospital we spent a couple of hours at my Mom's house... soon after we showed up so did Janine! We spent most of the time keeping an eye on her since her dogs are temporarily taking up residence in Mom's back yard. It's so annoying having her back in my life these days. I don't trust her a bit. She came in the house and wandered around eyeing everything. At one point she disappeared into the back bedrooms and I wanted to follow her so badly to see what she was up to! I gave her several of Mom's paintings and she asked for a few things in particular and I told her that I would look for them for her.
When I booted Traci out of the house she took several things including a painting of Mom's that was promised to Janine. Years ago Mom gave Traci a painting and Traci ended up leaving it in Washington State with her ex "Dill". The painting that was promised to Janine was one of the things that Traci took and now Janine wants it. I told Janine that she needed to get it herself and that I wanted nothing to do with it. Well, I get a phone call the other day from Janine stating that she asked Traci for the painting and Traci said she isn't giving it to her until she has the other one that was hanging in the living room. Um, what?? First of all, she LEFT her painting in Washington and who said she gets another? Now she's being snatchy and not giving Janine her painting? What's pissing me off about all of this is that I'm being forced to side with Janine! So, now I have to go go Mom's, get the other painting and go beat Traci's ass to get the one promised to Janine! Really, is it that serious?? They treated Mom like crap and now they want a keepsake? Unbelievable!
After all that drama we went home and took a much needed nap! We woke up around 2am and were both really hungry so we went to the IHOP up the street. I think it was the worst service that I have had in a really long time! They weren't that busy but the server just didn't have it together. I initially thought it was a language barrier since she seemed to be European (my guess was Czech) but I think it was just an off night for her! After our late night dinner we stayed up for a bit and eventually went back to sleep.
We didn't have to be anywhere until later the following day and it was nice to be able to just lounge around in soft pants! Sometimes the quiet times spent together, when we aren't running around doing a million things, are the times I cherish the most!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
In my last full blog I mentioned that I had plans to see Noche Flamenca at the Spoleto Festival. The plan for the night was to meet Audrey at her husband's restaurant Il Cortile Del Re where we had dinner and a couple glasses of wine. Earlier in the day something happened that most certainly changed my life.
I was so tired of the back and forth with Teresa that I decided to start dating. With great hesitancy, I joined a dating website and would occasionally browse other members. There were several people that I thought were attractive and occasionally I would receive an email or a "smile" from someone interested in me. After a lot of thought, I decided to get a paying membership and start contacting people on my own. I was a paying member for weeks before I actually had the nerve to send an email to someone!
There was this one girl that always caught my attention. She had the greatest smile and whenever I would browse members I always stopped on her profile. Her name was SunnyRN68 (or something like that). I assumed that she was a happy nurse and born in '68... kind of obvious! I decided to send her an email because I just couldn't get her smile off my mind. I didn't want to give too much information or be too forward because of the whole rejection thing. I mean, this girl was really cute and I just didn't think she would be interested in me! The email that I sent was short and sweet and basically said that I always stop on her profile when browsing because her smile was amazing. It took everything I had to press the "send" button, but I did.
Two days later I received an email response... her name was Robin. The email was pretty short and she asked me a couple of questions about myself. I responded and put my phone number in the email in hopes that she would call me. The afternoon that I was going to see Noche Flamenca I received a phone call from her and we talked for a while. The conversation was flowing and there wasn't a moment of awkward silence! She told me that she was going to a party in James Island that night with friends and I told her about my Spoleto event. I had to cut the conversation short because I still had to get dressed to go out. I asked her if I could call her on my way downtown because I really didn't want our conversation to end! I hurried and got dressed, jumped in my Jeep and dialed her number and talked to her until I parked.
I met Audrey and we had a fabulous dinner and then headed to The Cistern for the concert. We hitched a ride with some of her friends on golf carts who were also going to the show. One of the servers at the restaurant suggested we bring a tablecloth and sit in the grass because the general admission seats were in the very back. After getting more wine at the event we spread out the tablecloth near the front and were told by a Spoleto worker that we weren't supposed to do that. We sweet talked him a bit and he went to ask the manager who gave us the okay. We had an amazing view! During the show I received a text message from Robin asking if I wanted to meet up after the show. I responded and said I would call her later.
During the last Flamenco number it started raining and both Audrey and I got drenched. Our golf cart friends had already left so we walked the several blocks back to the restaurant. It was a full moon and Audrey, an acupuncturist who is a former theater major, howled loudly, which startled the lady across the street from us. After a couple more glasses of wine I departed the restaurant and walked back to my car where I called Robin. She was still at the party in James Island and we made plans to meet at Patrick's.
When I got to Patrick's I was so nervous! First of all, I was wearing a skirt and sweater which I would never normally wear to the club and then I had been caught in the rain earlier in the evening so I looked like hell. Thankfully, I had those glasses of wine so I wasn't freaking out too much. I told her to call me when she got to the club and we would meet a the door. I parked all the way down at the end of the lot. When she called to tell me she was there I heard voices in the background. I said "Are there people with you?" and she said "Yes" and at the point I freaked out. She wasn't supposed to have people with her! How unfair! I was alone and didn't have support with me! Ugh! I was totally nervous at that point, but there was no turning back. I wanted to see that smile in person!
The walk to the door of the club was unnerving. I could see the three of them standing there as I walked for what seemed like a mile. I tried not to touch or fix my hair or clothes and attempted to walk confidently. I could see all of them watching me and it took everything I had not to turn around. I couldn't believe she brought people! When I finally arrived at the door Robin gave me a big hug and introduced me to her friends. We went inside, got a couple of drinks and found a table so we could watch the drag show. Thankfully it was a night that Teresa was out of town or decided to stay home!
Robin and I chatted non-stop about everything and anything. It was so easy talking to her. Her smile was even better in person and I thought she was totally hot. It seemed so natural being next to her that at one point I actually put my hand on her knee. I felt like I had known her forever. Her friend Tina managed to drag Robin to the dance floor during the intermission to do the Electric Slide (yes, they still do that here!) and before she went out she apologized in advance for her dancing and asked if she could get a second date even if she danced poorly. I said yes... I didn't watch her dance because I had say hello to some friends and use the restroom. When I got back we continued our conversation and stayed until closing. She said her car was at the party in James Island and I asked her if she wanted a ride. I wasn't ready for the night to end and all I could think about was how I was going to go about kissing her goodnight! She accepted my offer for a ride and we were off to James Island!
When we arrived we sat in my car and talked for hours! I can't remember the last time I had felt so at ease with someone. She was smart, cute, funny and totally odd, which I found to be quite charming. Finally, around 4am, we decided that it was late and both needed to head out. Earlier she asked me if I would be interested in going to see the Riverdogs game on Tuesday - of course I was! In rapid fire our final conversation went like this:
Robin: So, you are going to be careful on the way home?
Robin: And you are going to call me when you get home?
Robin: And you are going to the game with me on Tuesday?
Robin: And would you like a kiss goodnight?
And that is how I met the love of my life.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
More and more I am starting to believe that life is just a never ending journey. For years I kept thinking that one day I would finally reach that place where I was supposed to end up in life. When I reached that place I would be happy and content because the path I took was divine and meant to be. I've had all of these happy, sad, crazy, beautiful, thoughtful moments over the last 40 years and I truly believed that it was just a part of the adventure and there would eventually be a final destination. I don't believe that anymore. I believe that the journey never ends and that life will continue to have so many more wonderful, sad, joyous, heartbreaking and lovely moments until we leave the Earth.
I've lived with the philosophy that "everything happens for a reason" and I suppose I never really stopped to think of what that means until recently. I do think that everything happens for a reason and when you have an experience it just makes you stronger and better prepared for your next hurdle... but only if you stop to remember where you came from.
The past couple of weeks have been busy, but quiet. I like times like this. The quiet has allowed me to be reflective about all of the things that have happened to me over the last couple of years. Most of the things were hard and very trying and I've wondered how those hurdles changed me as a person. Am I stronger? More vulnerable? More patient? Less trusting? More cautious? I think I hit the lottery when it comes to life experience. I'm the friend that "it" has happened to... no matter what "it" is, really! Would I have been all that happy with a quiet life? I think not. So... I reflect, process and move on.
When I was in St. Louis my Grandfather's wife, Mil, told me that she found a "spot" but didn't really specify where it was or what kind of spot. She told me that she hadn't told anyone about it and swore me to secrecy. With everything going on with my Uncle and the fact that my Grandfather had to go in to get a lesion of skin cancer removed, she said she didn't want to worry anyone or cause any undue stress on the family. Well, that was a couple of weeks ago and after her biopsy they found out she had breast cancer. Today she had a mastectomy. I swear I will never again ask "what next??"
(The sun still shines)
I really must have lost practice on how to protect myself from sun exposure while up North. I put sunscreen on but I think my technique was a bit out of whack. The day after my last beach trip I had the most splotchy and abnormal tan lines. I wasn't very thorough with the coverage, I'm afraid. There were white patches here and there and burned areas all over. I looked like the victim of some horrible disease. My back was the worst part of the whole situation. I blame it on the fact that I didn't have a "beach friend" to rub lotion on me. It got a little crispy. I think I fixed the problem by buying spray on lotion. Hopefully that will work.
Besides relaxing at the beach I have been busy hanging out with friends. This past weekend I met Teresa and her friend Brenda at The Chart, which is the local lesbian bar. The band Jamison Alley was playing. The band was okay and I was actually quite surprised when they played a Cowboy Mouth song and two Concrete Blonde songs. I had never been to The Chart before but had wanted to go for a while! I've been wanting to disprove my theory about all the lesbians in Charleston being members of the underground lesbian mafia but sadly, Friday was not the night I was going to upset that theory. There was an odd mix of women there... none of which I was attracted to (with the exception of Teresa, or course!!) and crazily enough, most of the people in this lesbian bar were actually men! Go figure! My theory stands!
Last night my friend Troy and I hung out for the first time since my return to Charleston. We decided to go to dinner and I let him choose. Bad idea. He chose Rue de Jean which is a French restaurant. I decided that after one look at the menu I would have to bring snacks with me if I ever visited Paris. There was absolutely nothing on the menu that appealed to me. Rabbit? I think not! We decided to go around the corner to Coast Bar & Grill although still a stretch, I was able to find something that I could eat. Troy told me that after years of living in Manhattan that it's hard to eat at bad restaurants. I told Troy to stop being so snobby! I love a good restaurant, but Charleston is filled with seafood - blech!
After dinner we strolled over to Dudley's which used to be one of the oldest, hole in the wall gay bars in Charleston. They've moved over to Ann Street and surprisingly it's now quite nice! We walked in and there were about 15 people at the bar. All eyes were on the television sets over the bar. No one paid any attention to us. We stood there for a few moments suddenly realizing that we were in some sort of Twilight Zone episode where the world was filled with people possessed by televisions. We focused in on the TV's also and realized that it was American Idol. If we'd have spoke I am quite sure we would have been shushed. We actually had to wait until commercial break to get a cocktail. wow! When we were finally served we took our cocktails to the back of the bar to shoot a game of pool and to talk about the weirdness that just happened. It was nice seeing Troy again. Hopefully we will be able to get together more often!
As promised, here are pictures from the Great Turtle Rescue 2009 in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago. Duste the "Snake Warrior" helps move a very slow turtle out of the road.
This is a really fun time in Charleston because Spoleto is about to start! Well, to most locals it's NOT fun if you have to do anything downtown because it's a total madhouse with wacky tourist traffic! Most locals avoid downtown for the 17 days of the festival if they can! Not me!
I'm pretty excited about the festival. Through a long-time friend in NYC, I've met someone who lives in Mt Pleasant. We've been talking back and forth on Facebook but haven't yet met. We decided to go to the performance of Noche Flamenca on Saturday June 6th and on Sunday May 31st I have tickets to Addicted to Bad Ideas. There is actually an ulterior motive to my going to Addicted to Bad Ideas... Brian Viglione from the Dresden Dolls is preforming with them! Justin mentioned several months ago that the Dresden Dolls website said he was going to be in Charleston and it turns out it is for Spoleto. I don't really know much about the show except that it's some sort of "punk cabaret" - sounds fun! I can't wait! I'm SO ready for some fun and the Summer!
In the meantime, I've stopped trying to figure out the world (and people!) and am just learning to take it one day at a time. I'm not letting those people with negative energy get to me and I'm just trying to be happy on my journey. It's all I can do.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
After talking to her before I boarded my first plane home I felt that something was different in her voice. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. When I finally reached Charleston I was so ready to get off the plane to see her. I was nervous and didn't know why and at the same time I was mad at myself because she made it clear to me that she wasn't ready for a relationship so why was I getting my hopes up? I needed to do just as I was doing before I left town and respect her feelings and decision to not have me in her life in a romantic way.
When I finally arrived in Charleston and got to the baggage area I spotted her right away and to be honest, it was complete torture that I could not kiss her hello. I was her friend and thankful for the ride home... that's it! I was also hungry so we stopped at Denny's for something to eat. While waiting for food she sat next to me in the booth so we could show each other our photos from the weekend. At one point, her face was inches from mine and I tried to convince myself that I was crazy for thinking that there was a brief moment where she looked at me and it was more than a look from someone who was just a friend. I got butterflies in my stomach and did my best to ignore it.
We got to my house and I started unpacking. It as late, but I was wide awake and told her to hang out with me. We watched TV for a bit in our usual position... she was sitting up and because I'm a glutton for punishment, my head was in her lap. To be honest, I can't even remember what we were watching. Before long her hand was on my hair... and my neck... and my arm.... Um, what's happening here? Aw! She DID miss me! I was happy, hesitant and scared about getting her attention again.
This past weekend I had plans to visit my friend Duste and her girlfriend Nikki in North Carolina and I asked Teresa, who also knows Duste, if she wanted to join me. I was so excited when she said yes! Friday night was beyond lovely and it just went downhill from there. On the way home she had checked out emotionally and physically and I knew that it was back to square one. I was emotionally exhausted from the roller coaster ride and still am.
Fast Forward to today.... we are "just friends" AGAIN! Pure bliss lasted for 5 days. sigh! It's not exactly where I want things to be, but I definitely don't want to be with someone who doesn't want me. My feelings are strong and this is most definitely hard but I need to keep reminding myself that her friendship is what matters most.
Will I ever win?
It was really nice seeing Duste again. I think the last time I saw her was at my Father's funeral in 2003. We got there Friday evening and went for some Mexican and then to Dairy Queen in Southport. On the way home Nikki saw some blue lights from police cars and made Duste drive by to see what was happening... turns out it was a license check! Duste is a corrections officer and knew the cops so we drove through, but it was hysterical that Nikki was so excited that there may possibly be some action happening and it was just a traffic stop!
On the way home Friday night we were on the main road that leads to Duste's house when Duste said she saw a snake in the road. She turned the car around and went back to the area and it turned out that it was an diamondback rattlesnake. ew! I didn't get a very good look at it because I didn't have my glasses on but I did see that it was coiled up and ready to strike. We all argued about what to do and I told Duste she couldn't run it over and her argument was that it was a neighborhood and the snake was deadly and what if a kid was outside playing? With that, she rolled MY JEEP over the snake! I think I screamed for 5 minutes! She turned the car around again and the snake was still alive and still partially coiled for attack. She ran over it again and this time stepped on the gas and actually SPUN OUT on the snake! I am sure there is snake juice on my car! I was mortified.
The next day we were coming home from the store and we saw another snake crossing the road. It was about 3 feet long, black with faded looking white rings around it. I think it was a king snake or something. Anyway, we were going pretty fast and couldn't avoid hitting this one. By the time we turned around a couple of other cars hit it as well and it was on the side of the road. That is just TOO MUCH snake action for one weekend.
Two weeks ago I made a spur of the moment trip to St. Louis to go see my Uncle before he started his radiation and chemotherapy treatment. I saw him in February at my Mom's funeral but I had not seen the rest of the family for over a year and I was really feeling that I needed to check in with everyone, especially my Grandfather. It was a quick weekend trip and I actually got a great last minute deal on airfare and car rental, which was nice. Saturday morning my plane left at 5:30 am (ugh!) and I arrived in St. Louis around 9am. I picked up my rental car and headed to Uncle Chuck's house in Collinsville.
The weekend was really nice and it was great spending time with everyone. I miss living so close. When I was in Ohio I was only 5 1/2 hours away and I really should have taken advantage of that more often. Charleston is a 14+ hour drive to St. Louis and believe me... it's a bitch! Saturday was a pretty lazy day. Peggy was having a birthday party for the Mother so I went upstairs and napped. When I got up Uncle Chuck, Peggy and I went into town for dinner.
On Sunday I made plans to have lunch with Grandpa and Mil. I knew they wanted to see Uncle Chuck, so he and Peggy followed me to their house so they could visit for a bit. Eventually Grandpa, Mil and I headed to Applebees for lunch and then to Wal-Mart to pick up Mil's prescriptions. You never know where you will end up with those two!
After lunch, on my way back to Uncle Chuck's, I made a detour and took the back roads through the country. When I'm in town I always make sure I go to the family cemetery. I really love it out there - it's so peaceful. I sat for a moment in front of the fresh grave of my Uncle who passed away the day before my Mother and reflected on what my family has been through over the past couple of years and prayed that things will get better.
I was a bit sad that my cousin Denise made no effort to see me (again!) when I was visiting. Over the last couple of years she has become more and more estranged and I'm pretty much over it. There was a time when we were very close and now she can't even be bothered to return a phone call. Unless you text her, you won't hear from her! On top of the bond that we already share we are now both without parents. I wanted to talk to her and spend time with her and I'm really sad that she did not take the time to do that even after I contacted her multiple times over the weekend. I wonder what is going on in her life that makes her treat family this way.
Sunday evening Kris, Sarah, Erin and Eric come over for dinner so I could meet the babies and see Ava. Truth be told, my biological clock has been ticking for several years but after a couple of hours with two infants and wild 4-year old I was having second thoughts about motherhood!
In the same neighborhood, I also found this wonderful sign:
I was ready to get back home so I dropped off my car and hopped on the shuttle and headed to the airport. I must say that this trip was the most pleasurable airline experience I have ever had. They didn't lost my luggage, the planes were all half-full so I didn't have to sit next to anyone and the flights were all on time!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Uhhhh. Well, what do you say when your Mayor thinks you are strange?
I asked "Why is that?" and he proceeded to tell me that he believes that he and I are the only people in town that care about history. Well, I really wouldn't go that far. It's just that I have nothing better to do! He asked me why that was the situation and I told him that people just get caught up in their lives and never take the time to think about the past and the people that were here before us. Like the Mayor, I not only think about it, I research it because I find it so fascinating.
The Mayor gave me the contact information for the person in charge of the Sunday service at the chapel and then invited me to come watch the Charleston Symphony Orchestra at City Hall that evening. I told him that I love the Orchestra, but I already had plans for the day and if I had a chance to go, I would definitely introduce myself.
(**Note to self, tell the Mayor that you dig chicks!)
The church service at The St. James Goose Creek church happens once a year and is always the Sunday after Easter. The little pink church is one of my super-secret places and this one, for the most part, still is a little bit of a secret, unlike Morris Island. It's on one of the main roads in town yet most people don't even realize it's there. It's tucked in the woods, safe from the view of passing cars and frankly, I like it that way!
Since I moved to Charleston I have had a love affair with this church. I started going there when I was a teenager for midnight make out sessions with boyfriends. Back then it was just a small road that took you back to the chapel and cemetery grounds. You always had to be extra quiet so you wouldn't wake up the people at the caretakers house on the way in. Now they have re-routed the drive behind the caretakers house, cut down trees to add extra parking spaces and put up a steel gate so you can't even access the road! A couple of years ago I parked outside the gate and was stopped and told it was private property. I pretty much begged the guy to let me go and take pictures. I think I may have actually had tears welling up in my eyes when he told me that I couldn't go back (which he finally did!) This is one of those places on Earth that I am connected to for some strange reason.
For 18 years I stopped at the church randomly and one day a couple of years ago, when I walked through the gate I saw something that I had never seen before... the church doors were open! I had only seen the inside from the postcards I collected of the church and the random photos online. I had longed to go inside the church for so long I could hardly contain myself! I saw that there was a construction worker doing some restoration so I approached him and asked him if he would allow me to go inside. He looked very hesitant and then the begging started. I told him how much I loved the church and promised to not touch a thing. He told me that he really wasn't supposed to and then made me promise to make it quick.
I walked in the church and was absolutely overcome by what I saw and smelled. This 300-year old church was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I silently thanked the British Army for sparing it so that I could enjoy it as much as I have. The only thing I can compare it to is being at Tate Britain and seeing one of my favorite paintings, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche. I could have sat in amazement for hours just looking at every tiny detail. To me, this church is a living, breathing masterpiece and I was finally able to go inside!
I learned of the annual Sunday service several years ago but could never get my crap together to actually go. I was determined that this was the year I was going and I recruited Samantha to be my partner in crime.
The Vestryman that I emailed never emailed me back so I Googled his email address and called him Saturday evening -I'm persistent to say the least! He told me that the service started at Noon and that I was welcome to join the annual picnic lunch after the service. Picnic? I had no idea! Maybe next year!
When I was waiting for Samantha to show up I went outside to my car around 11:45 because I was wearing black pants and kept having to get out the lint brush - ugh! I waited until 11:50 and she STILL wasn't there and I was livid! I couldn't believe that she was going to make me late to something that was SO important to me! I called her and left a message saying that I hoped everything was alright but that I was leaving since I didn't want to be late. Luckily the church is right around the corner from my house... although parking was a bitch! She ended up arriving at the church after the service started. I had to remember that I was in church so I wouldn't cuss her out although I think I told her that she sucked during the sermon.
The weather was so nice. All the windows were open and there was a really nice breeze drifting through. I couldn't help but think about all of the people that sat here before us with hoop skirts, top hats and petticoats! So amazing!
After the service (which was VERY "Jesusy") we grabbed our cameras and went to town. I'm still trying to get used to using this camera and forget to correct the settings. I'll have taken 50 shots and then remember that the automatic zoom is on... uhhh, no wonder I can't get everything into the picture!
We stopped and chatted with the minister for a bit, who was from the Dominican Republic. Apparently, they choose someone from around the world each year to give the sermon since they don't have a regular minister. I actually liked that he was quite personable and didn't give a stuffy sermon - refreshing! Also, I forgot to mention that the Charleston's Men's Choir sang, which was also quite lovely.
After taking many pictures and wandering aimlessly we walked through the sea of picnics and headed back to our cars. Starving, we decided to get lunch at Bucca's and then called it a day since it looked like it was going to rain (but actually never did!)
When I got home I received this email:
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael (The Mayor!)
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 10:46 AM
Subject: RE: Sunday Service at St. James Goose Creek Church
Did you find out about the Sunday service? Didn't see you at the symphony!
How do you think I would look in a pill box hat at ribbon cutting ceremonies with the Mayor by my side??
Traci and Tonya were out with Teresa and when they came back we watched a movie called "The Uninvited" - I am still wishing for the 2 hours of time that I was robbed of after watching that movie.
I guess weekends can't be TOTALLY perfect!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Last week I received an even invitation on Facebook from someone who attended my high school. They planned a high school get together of all the classes at a local sports bar. Normally sports bars are not my sort of thing but being that Annabelle and I are the class reunion organizers we were curious about it and decided to go, along with Samantha. We started the evening off by going to Carolina Crust Gourmet Pizza, which Annabelle suggested.
When we walked in the place was filled with kids running around and a very loud not-so-good musician. Samantha and I just looked at each other. Annabelle wasn't with us initially because she had to drop something off at her sisters house or else I probably would have suggested eating someplace else. I asked the hostess if this was kids night and she just looked at me funny. I asked if we could be seated as far away from the commotion as possible and she walked us to the back of the restaurant and told us to pick from the couple of two-seater tables. I reminded her that we had three people with us and she said that there was a party of five ahead of us and we couldn't have that table. She obviously did not notice that my friends carry purses that are bigger than their own bodies and that the three of us, plus purses would not fit at a two person table! After Samantha and I stared at each other in disbelief a bit longer the hostess finally agreed to let us have the bigger table (the table of five never sat at all!) Unfortunately, the dining experience really didn't improve much.
Carolina Crust says it's supposed to gourmet pizza, but really... not so much. It's not even worth writing about - just trust me in case you are in town - the pizza was mediocre at best! The singer was loud and totally lost me when he sang "Angel From Montgomery". He did his own dramatic interpretation of the word "Montgomery" by adding extra syllables to it. It was so bad that Samantha and I sat there and tried to figure out what song it was for the longest. We knew we heard it before but just couldn't put our finger on it! We ate as fast as we could, talked about poop and the art of pooping the entire time and then headed to Bucca's for the party.
When we got to Bucca's we argued about who was going to walk in first. I told Annabelle to go in and then she said that I should since people recognize me. Um, I don't think so! I ended up walking in first anyway and then headed straight to the bar. That's my defense mode when I'm in an uncomfortable situation. The rule is to get a drink and while you wait for the drink you have a chance to take in the atmosphere and see who is there and what is happening around you. We did just that. The three of us looked around at all of the people who have aged 20+ years since we've seen them. How were we supposed to recognize anyone? I didn't have my glasses on so I was no help at all with reading name tags (which we refused to wear!) I told Annabelle and Samantha that we should go to the other side of the bar to get a look at that crowd.
When we walked to the other side I finally saw someone I knew... Sarah, a former cheerleader. She was actually one of the three people that I was looking forward to seeing again. They graduated a year ahead of me so I have not seen them in 21 years! When I saw Sarah she pointed out Cindy who I waved to. Unfortunately she was sitting behind a table so there was no way I could have gotten to her so I decided to wait to talk to her. We continued to hang out and stare at people and nonchalantly point to people and say "That's so-and-so" but not talk to them... well, most of them, anyway. There was only one person from our class that we saw, which I thought was strange.
We hung out with Cyril for a while who managed to take the only photo of us from that night:
Being that we hardly knew anyone we only stayed for a couple of hours. I wasn't ready to call it a night yet so I texted Teresa to see if she was still at the club. I tried to get Samantha to go to Patrick's with me but she wasn't really interested in seeing drag queens, I suppose. I dropped her off at her car and then drove to West Ashley to watch Venus do an entire show of Pink songs which seemed incredibly exhausting. I enjoy watching the drag shows but Patrick's makes me kind of sad. First of all, there's nothing but baby-dykes there. All of these girls are in their early twenties, which is mildly depressing. When did I get so old? And then they have annoying DJ's who play bad music. The sound system isn't that great so there really is no dancing to be had... except for line dancing, which I had no idea people still did!
On Saturday afternoon Teresa and I had plans to go out. Since she is apparently infamous for not being able to choose activities I gave her a list of things I was interested in doing since I coming back to town. I asked her to choose and she managed to narrow it down to one thing... going to the Morris Island Lighthouse on Folly Beach.
Have you ever been to a place where you felt a connection so deep that you can't explain it properly to other people because you are not really sure of the reason yourself? There are a few places like that on Earth for me and no matter how many times I go, I will never tire of them... Morris Island Lighthouse is one of those places. I remember the first time I saw the lighthouse. I was there with a boyfriend doing our nightly walk on the beach with a bottle of wine. We normally went to Station 22 at Sullivan's Island, but one night he suggested Folly Beach. I had no idea there was a lighthouse there and when I first saw it I couldn't stop staring. It looked so haunting sitting out there in the middle of the water. I remember that I couldn't wait to see it in the daylight and I actually went back there the next afternoon.
Since that night I have been to Morris Island many, many times. Mostly by myself when I need to think and sometimes with other to show them my special place. Back in the day it used to be so private and secluded, but now that it's been in the news regarding the restoration, a performance art subject during The Spoleto Festival as well as on many license plates, postcards and bumper stickers everyone and their mother knows about my private spot! These days when you go to the lighthouse there is usually several others there as well.
Here I was with some rare undiscovered insect venom traveling through my foot... they were probably going to have to carry me off the beach after I succumbed to seizures and passed out and she was worried about if her picture was blurry! I told her that yes, it was blurry!
Over the next couple of hours I tried hard not to concentrate on my foot and only on spending time with Teresa. It was a gorgeous day and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Per Teresa's suggestion I soaked my foot in the cold salt water and it actually made it feel better. I tried to get her to pee on my swollen poison-filled foot - knowing that this helps in cases of jelly fish stings - but she laughed and adamantly protested. I mean, really. I WAS STUNG by something and the pain WAS really bad! Hmmm. I see how it is!
We spent the day walking around taking photos and looking for shells. Teresa was looking for sharks teeth but decided after a couple of hours that sharks didn't come to this particular beach to hang out, which I thought was amusing. We sat and talked and it was just really nice because I enjoy her company so much.
It's amazing how a day in the sun will make you so tired so fast! We walked back to the car and headed home with our farmers tans and memories of a perfectly good day.
Well, I did at least :)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Well, I guess it's more of what I like to call "retail therapy" than love! I'd much rather have the real thing, but this will have to do in the meantime!
I've always wanted a grown up camera and now that I have one I hardly know how to use it. The manual is like a novel and a little overwhelming. I've been reading it on all of my breaks at work and spare moments here and there. I will learn how to use this camera and actually reach my goal of knowing how to take photos without using the "auto" setting!
Tonight I met my long-time friend Chantel for dinner to catch up on life and girl talk, which is always nice! We went to The Glass Onion in West Ashley. I went there before with my friend Steven. I was really looking forward to the chicken salad po boy, which I got before, but they were out of it so I got the meatball instead. Their menu is a bit odd and not your typical food. A lot of it is Southern and fried and mainly seafood - blech! There is not a lot of stuff on the menu that I would actually eat so I remain a creature of habit and order the same thing over and over! I really need to get back out into Charleston and explore the independently owned restaurants since I loathe chain establishments! Having been gone for six years I've lost touch with all that is local. I feel like a stranger in my own city!
Before we went out Chantel gave her kids their chocolate Easter bunnies after they promised to eat only a small part and save the rest for later. We told them that the proper thing to do was eat the bunnies ears first so that is exactly what they did!
Monday, April 13, 2009
My goal was to go to the cemetery to leave flowers. Not that she was ever able to do it due to lack of transportation, but it was important for Mom to leave flowers on my Fathers grave and I wanted to to the same for her. When I left work it was cold and rainy so I decided that I would wait until it the weather was a bit nicer. It's funny how I love a cemetery on a cold and overcast day to take pictures, but can't be brought to my parents grave to save my life on a miserable day like today.
When I came home I worked on my room a bit. Even though I plan to paint in the near future, I hung the surround sound speakers so I could properly watch a movie. The pink walls have got to go... what was my Mom thinking? It's starting to feel like it's more of my room than my parents and that is a good thing! There's still so much more in the closet to move out of here, but we are running out of places in the garage to put things. We need to have a yard sale and the thought of that makes me ill. I just don't want to be involved with it. Some days I feel like all of this will never be done!
After three weeks at my new job I finally got a desk of my own and I hate it. I am at the very end of a long walkway so there is constant traffic. My days go by slower that they have in the past couple of weeks. I used to kill the boredom by texting T. back and forth all day. I am trying to break the habit of looking at my phone all of the time in hopes of seeing a message from her. Texting her was such a break from a monotonous job! Now every time I look at my phone I am disappointed because the only thing I see is the clock staring back at me instead of the message indicator.
I need to get away... to take a weekend trip. There's no therapy like a long drive!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
When I said this Edna's eyes started filling with tears. Her mother passed away last month so we have that in common. She told me to come to her house and eat dinner with her family and I accepted her offer with the promise to make banana pudding.
Being the procrastinator that I am, last night I went to Wal-Mart to get the banana pudding ingredients around Midnight. Every time I go to this particular Wal-Mart I leave cursing because I normally have to go to a second store to get the rest of the things I need because they are always out of everything - last night was not the exception. How can a Wal-Mart Supercenter not have bananas? I mean, really... not one single banana! How can a girl make banana pudding without bananas? I was thoroughly disgusted. Had I not needed the items that I had in my cart I would have walked out of the store, but I chose to get in one of the very slow moving two lines that they had open. After a 30+ minute wait I finally checked out and headed to the 24-hour K-Mart because all of the grocery stores in town close early these days. It seems Wal-Mart, yet again, has killed businesses! Since they are stealing all the other stores customers you would think they would have more than two cashiers the night before Easter! And people wonder why we call it "The Devils Playground"!
At K-Mart I picked out the things I needed in less than ten minutes and headed to the check out. This particular store had only one cashier and the people in front of me had two carts full of groceries. If the cashier moved any slower she would have turned to stone! After 15 minutes the manager came up and asked where the other cashier was and cashier #1 said she didn't know. He proceeded to take all of the people behind me and ring them up at customer service. I couldn't follow them because I had weighable produce. Ugh. While standing in line I noticed that the woman in front of me with all the groceries was familiar looking. After long thought I realized she was one of my cashiers at Piggly Wiggly years ago but for the life of me, I couldn't remember her name. I was thankful that I wasn't recognized by her because I wasn't in the mood for small talk.
When the cashier was nearly finished ringing up this couple the manager approached me and said that he could ring me up at customer service. I told him I had produce and he gave me a little nod as if to say "we'll take care of that!" Whatever! By then, I was so tired all I wanted to do was go home... I still had banana pudding to make. It was 2am.
When I arrived at Edna's today I handed her the pudding and told her that it was made at 3am and that I couldn't make any promises for how good it was going to be! As for the Easter get together, I didn't really expect that many people to be there. I think I counted 12, including myself. Before I went I had to talk myself into going. I wasn't feeling social and just wanted to go for a drive instead. But here I had this damn pudding and a promise to show up. Everyone was very friendly, but they were all family and you know how that is... Edna gave me an Easter basket, which was incredibly sweet! I made the best small talk I could with people I didn't know, watched everyone play Wii, ate and left around 4pm. I had plans to meet T. so I called to let her know I was on the way home.
The rest of my weekend wasn't exceptionally wonderful. I spent a lot of time thinking about what happened with T. Although it is getting better, I am still saddened by the relationship that will never be realized. When she came over today we chatted about everything that happened. It was nice seeing her. I'm still trying to understand and also trying to convince myself that she really means the whole "it's not you, it's me" thing, but I don't suppose I ever will get it and will always think it was something I did. I have no other choice but to get past it and move on. It makes me wonder how is it that I can have sexual relationships and not want a thing more with some people while she had the ability to get under my skin so much that the mere sight of her smile or smell of her skin is enough to make me weak and so incredibly pathetic.
In my attempt to get past all of this I started checking out online personal ads to see what the Internet had to offer. I am a good dater. I like meeting new people, even if it is only to make friends. I am convinced that the lesbian population of Charleston is some sort of underground mafia since they are so well hidden. Most dating web sites have the same group of women, all of which I am not attracted to. I'm not even sure if I want to start doing this, but the other part of me is saying "get out there and stay away from your sisters friends!!" I need to meet people on my own so I think I will give myself some time to heal my little broken heart and then see what happens.
Tonight my ex-girlfriend, Kat, called and we were catching up on what was going on in each others lives. I told her that I was going to start dating again and mentioned while I was browsing one of the websites I came across my boss, which amused me greatly. Of course the first thing I did was call my long-time friend and co-worker, Jackie to tell her! When I shared this story Kat started laughing and told me to stay away from my boss since that has never worked out for me in the past (yes, we all remember the infamous Linda!) Seriously, though... my boss is not my type - but she does have a speedboat and I could always use a raise! ;)
Saturday, April 11, 2009
be plucked where it is found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its duration.
- D. H. Lawrence
This has been my quote on MySpace for well over a year. It's a good quote, I think, and I honestly believe every word. I was reminded of it today when someone I have been seeing for a couple of weeks told me that she doesn't want a relationship... not even to see me in any way but friendship. Even a couple of weeks into it, I wasn't exactly sure if I wanted one either, but I was willing to wait and see what developed. Her, not so much.
It was probably a bad decision to begin with since she is a friend of my sisters. We have known each other for years but never paid attention to each other before my moving back to Charleston. I guess the fact that I didn't date women back then probably had something to do with it too! When I came back to Charleston my sister, her girlfriend, this friend and I would go out for dinner and I slowly developed a crush, as I have the tendency to do at times. My sister would jokingly say that since we were both single we should hook up... I said time and time again that I was not ready to get involved so soon after ending my engagement with Justin.
One night, after hanging out at the bar, I asked her if she wanted to do something the following day and to my surprise, she said yes. We don't really have anything in common but I had absolutely no concern about that. I was so ready to learn about a world I knew nothing of and I hoped that she was interested in me and my weird fascinations as well. The following day we drove out to the Cypress Campground to take some pictures and I had a really great time. Abandoned shacks and outhouses are right up my alley but I was afraid that she would be bored but she hung in there, which I appreciated.
That afternoon we went to lunch and literally sat and talked for hours. We chatted about life, past relationships and our families as the restaurant shifts changed. I was intrigued. Why hadn't I noticed her before? Soon we were spending every available moment together. I was smitten and I must admit that she is the hardest person I have ever tried to read. I normally know when someone is into me. With her, I had no clue.
Being the incredibly brazen freak that I sometimes am, I decided to lay it out there just to find out where she was in all of this mess. One evening I told her that I was interested in her but I was hesitant because of the fact that I just ended a relationship. Also, I was concerned about her being Traci's friend - I most certainly didn't want to make things uncomfortable for them if this did not work out. We had a long talk about taking things slow and that we just wanted to see where things went. I knew that neither of us wanted to jump into something so soon.
Two days ago I felt a shift and for a slight second there was clarity in my mind about the doomed beginning of our relationship. I called a friend and confided that I thought I needed to end something that has never even really begun... not that I wanted to, but because I knew in my heart that she was not there.
I went home and attempted to take a nap but mostly laid there thinking about what I wanted to say and hoped that she would say something to the effect of "Absolutely not! You are the most amazing person in the world and I will fight to the end for you!" Knowing this never seems to happen in my relationships, I IM'd her on Facebook to tell her I wanted to talk to her.
She answered my IM as if she were expecting me to mention that we needed to talk. At that point I knew it was not looking good for us. So after a long and uncomfortable chat here we are... friends only, again.
Today has been filled with a sadness and confusion. Here again, I opened myself up to someone just to get hurt. When will I learn?? I keep reminding myself of my D.H. Lawrence quote. As bittersweet as it may be, I'm thankful for the many sweet moments we shared where my heart was filled with hope. That is such a wonderfully good feeling! In the brief hour of this doomed relationships duration, I am most thankful that she made me realize that my heart does, in fact, still beat.
I was convinced that it died long ago.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I have been slowly clearing out my Mother's room to make it more of my own and today I conquered the huge Rubbermaid bin that contained all of her prescription bottles. I put all of the pills into a shoe box and which was practically filled when I was through. There were pills that she never opened, pills that were expired and pills that she hasn't taken in years! Why did she keep all of these?? I also cleaned out her drawers and closets so I have a place to put my clothes. I've learned that you have to put your mind in another place so you don't break down every couple of minutes... not an easy thing to do!
I was thinking today about that song from the Sound of Music called "Something Good" where Maria sings "somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good" because she's all of the sudden met the Captain and has fallen in love. She sings...
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked miserable past
I must have had a moment of truth
So, Maria finds her happiness but I'm wondering when I'm going to cash in on my moments of truth and good deeds?? I keep trying to tell myself to look at the small good things that happen in my life like the random act of kindness of the person in front of me at the drive-thru paying for my order before taking off, or getting to know a new crush during a wonderful walk downtown, or seeing the beautiful azaleas bloom in the front yard.
The moment I try to stay positive, I get more bad news.
The Uncle that I am incredibly close to was just diagnosed with state three lung cancer. I am now completely convinced that God does not exist and if he/she does, I must have really pissed him/her off in a former life. How can this be happening to my family AGAIN?? We just buried two people in February. Give us a break! I found out during my first week at my new/old job. When I read the email I just started shaking and the more I tried to compose myself the more the tears came. I am sure the other employees were looking at me like I was crazy. Luckily I know other people in the building so I went to see them to cry and vent.
I can't believe this is happening again. I don't know of another family that has had so much loss.
So once again, like so many times before this one... I focus on the positive and hope for the best outcome possible. I stop to look at the azaleas. I open myself up once again to letting someone in. I pause to smell the ocean air that I missed so much. I wake up each day ready for "something good" because it's bound to come eventually.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I'm not sure what I expected when I walked through the door. All the stress and sadness that I have been feeling for the past month and a half seemed to release and I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I crawled into my bed and just cried. I missed my former life in Ohio and the simplicity of it (minus the snow!) and I missed Justin whom I think of constantly and miss terribly. I missed my house with it's perfect leaf filled yard with fallen tree branches everywhere, I missed my Mom and I missed my semi-normal life that I knew two months ago. I wanted time to rewind and for everything to be okay again. Sadly, a wish like that can't come true, so I just laid there and mourned the loss of my Mother and my failed relationship with Justin. I also mourned the loss of what little life I had built that I was now leaving. After all, I've never had "normal" so why begin now? What the heck was I thinking about when I thought I'd help myself to some of that?!
I knew Justin would be home around 5:30 so I pulled myself together and started to get ready to head out for dinner. When he came in we said our "hello's" and I told him I would be ready in a bit. I went back into the office and I heard it...
I instantly froze after the first two notes... He was playing Clair de Lune - one of my all-time favorite classical pieces. I have asked him so many times to sing for me, since I have heard he has an amazing voice, but he never will. He once played a piece by Tori Amos in a piano store at the mall, but it wasn't exactly sentimental or romantic. I had pretty much given up hope of ever hearing the musical talent of this person who is so much a part of my heart that I didn't really expect this.
Before my trip back home Justin told me that he had acquired a piano so I told him that he had a few days to brush up on his skills because I wanted to hear Clair de Lune. Justin said that he couldn't find his sheet music and then stated that the piano was not tuned. I said I didn't care - I wanted to hear it. I really never thought I would, and there he was... playing it on that beautifully un-tuned piano and I was crying my eyes out... alone, in the office.
Very few pieces of music have the ability to shut me up completely and get me wobbly at the knees. Clair de Lune is definitely number one in the category. The fact that Justin was playing it just because he knew it was important to me and knowing how much I love and wanted to hear it, meant the world to me. I didn't know what to say so I just kept crying. When the song finished he entered the room and I couldn't even look at him. I needed a moment so I waved him away! Again, I pulled myself together and continued on with the evening.
Even now, a few days later and many miles between us, I think of that moment where Clair de Lune filled the air with it's out of tune notes at which I couldn't have cared less. To me, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard and coming from someone who took the effort to play it for me at my request, filled my heart with love and a bit of sadness for love lost.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
In a kingdom by the sea...
~Edgar Allan Poe
I went to Savannah today and spent the afternoon with my ex-boyfriend from over 15 years ago. My mind has been working on overload all evening trying to sort through the aftermath of feelings that resulted from our conversations.
Most of my friends don't keep in touch with their ex's for many reasons, mostly because their significant other does not "allow" it, which I have never understood. For the most part, my ex's have understanding partners that have the intelligence enough to know that ours was a relationship that just didn't work out. Most of my past relationships ended on friendly terms, or eventually ended up on friendly terms after the hurt feelings settled. As an adult, I have always said that I would never stop my partner from seeing or having a friendship with their ex, nor would I ever be in a relationship with someone who dictated who I can and can't have as a friend.
Since I came back to Charleston I have been going through some sort of radical reconnection with my friends. I have missed them dearly and it's time to build on what we've lost since I've been gone. Being back in town has conjured up memories of people from my past like you wouldn't believe. As I drive around town I see parks, businesses, streets, etc. that inevitably remind me of someone I once knew. I've found several of those people on Facebook but some have remained elusive, especially one... until this week.
When I was around 22 I moved back from Columbia to Charleston and got a job at Piggly Wiggly. There were several baggers that were friends from high school named Lonnie, Jody, Jimmy and Bobby. Upon meeting them I immediately had a crush on Lonnie, but sadly, he had a girlfriend and they were both headed to USC. I eventually started dating Jody, who I thought was adorable.
Last month, when I came back to Charleston from Ohio, Jody was one of the people that I thought about frequently. After we broke up many years ago I started dating Lonnie and had a relationship with him that lasted about 7 years. Being that Jody and Lonnie were friends, Jody was around for the first bit of that relationship. The last I knew of his whereabouts was that he was dating a high school crush named Kim and then he seemed to fall off the face of the Earth... this was about thirteen years ago. I have thought about him over the years and even tried to look him up to no avail. A week or so ago my curiosity got the best of me so I called his parent's house.
Jody's Mom and I always got along well and I always thought highly of his parent's. When I called her it was like we had just spoke the day before. We talked for an hour about Ohio, South Carolina, Obama, Cancer, Life, Death and even a little about Jody. She told me that he and Kim were living in Savannah and gave me an update in a nutshell. I told her that I thought of Jody every once in a while and would love to hear from him. She told me that I shouldn't hold my breath and knowing that I once hurt him, I said I definitely wouldn't do that.
Yesterday I was recovering from one of my Ambien hangover's when the phone rang. Being that I never know who is calling my Mother's house I always check the caller ID. It was Jody! I actually stared at the phone for a second in disbelief before answering it. His voice sounded exactly the same and I was so happy to hear from him. We chatted for a while and I told him that I was probably going to start work next week and this week I was planning on doing a cemetery trip to Savannah... I asked him if he wanted to get together and luckily he had today free.
Jody and I had a great afternoon catching up. We walked around Colonial Park Cemetery and then went to have lunch at a Mexican restaurant and later traveled to Bonaventure Cemetery. Over lunch he reminded me of so many things I had forgotten about, or that I had intentionally blocked. I was nervous about seeing him so I am sure I did my usual overcompensating babble. We talked about when we dated and the years following when I dated Lonnie. I knew that I wasn't the best girlfriend in the world and I told Jody that I was incredibly sorry for all the wrong that I did. I have never regretted any of my past relationships, or how they ended, except that one and I wanted to make it right.
After all of this talk, I was completely overwhelmed with all of these thoughts and feelings about the "Lonnie Years." When Lonnie and I broke up it was abrupt and I don't think I ever got closure about it. The way I handled it was basically like "Okay, that's done... file it away and don't look back!" Revisiting the past and REALLY facing how I handled my relationship and eventual breakup with Jody forced me to face the harsh reality of the person I used to be. It devastates me to know that I hurt someone the way I was hurt, or even had the capacity to.
While driving home I played our conversation over and over again in my head and all I could think was that the person Jody knew that was me, back in the day, no longer exists... I am sure he is a different person today, as well. I hope that with this opportunity we have been given we can rebuild the friendship that we once had and also realize, in each other, the adults that we have become.