Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Life's a journey, not a destination
~Steven Tyler

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??"

Die Sonne scheint noch
(The sun still shines)
~Sophie Scholl

On a lighter note, can I just say how much I love the sun and the ocean? I was at my friend Troy's house last night and he lives feet away from salt water marsh. When I pulled into the drive I just sat there and inhaled. God, I missed that smell when I was in the Midwest! I've gone to the beach a couple of times since it's gotten warmer. I normally go to this spot at the tip of Sullivan's Island that's normally less crowded if you walk far enough.

It has a perfect view of Fort Sumter
... and of the new Ravenel Bridge

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.

-Thanks for the pictures Teresa! :)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

N.C. Stuff and Nonsense

Before I went to St. Louis I promised myself that I wouldn't call or text Teresa. I had hoped that since I would be busy she wouldn't cross my mind but I found that it was quite the opposite. I couldn't stop thinking about her all weekend. She was in North Carolina helping her ex open her cabin and I frequently wondered how she was, if she was having fun and if she was thinking of me as much as I thought about her. I didn't have any contact with her until Monday when I called to find out if she or Traci would be picking me up at the airport. Teresa said that she would be picking me up and even though we were "just friends" I was pretty happy about that.

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.

On a lighter note, Duste and Teresa DID rescue a snapping turtle by helping it cross the road. That thing was HUGE. Teresa has pictures of it. If I get copies I will definitely post them.

Just do me a favor and remind me to never go hiking or walking in Duste's reptilian neighborhood!!

Our lovely hosts... Nikki and the "Snake Warrior", Duste

Going Home

Every day I remind myself that I need to come home and post a new blog so I'm not overwhelmed with catching up. It never fails that I get busy and before I know it I'm in bed, overdue on sleep and only a couple of hours until I need to be at work. My sleep pattern is getting a little better. I average 4 hours a night before getting up at 5:45. At least I'm not back in the day when I didn't sleep at all!

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!

Kris, Ava, Sarah and Jacob

Me and Jacob

The adorable Norah

Jacob, Norah and Erin

The weekend flew by and before I knew it I was on a plane headed back to Charleston. Just before I returned the rental car I stumbled upon something pretty humorous.

Not sure if I'd want to shop where they laugh at me before I even walk in the door!

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!

On the way home I sat next to the engine of the plane. I felt responsible to watch for any birds we might fly into. Luckily I didn't have to report any fatalities and we didn't have to land in the Mississippi River or the ocean!