08 May 2009

Romance? Hmmm, I think I'll pass...

Ok, I am NOT an incurable romantic…

200 episodes of GREY’S ANATOMY culminated last night with a wedding. Not with the wedding everyone anticipated, not the one that all the trailers for the episode suggested, but a wedding nonetheless. Halfway through the episode, I felt like I was going to throw up – from all the sappiness and feel good moments and displays of bonding and friendship. YUCK!

Some people may be surprised by this admission, but for those who know me well – probably not so much. I wasn’t always such a cynic. I recently found a list, written in a much more childish handwriting, that listed my wedding party and my desired colors and even some songs that I wanted sung at my wedding. Only thing missing: the name of the groom. The list (which I threw away or packed up or otherwise hid away) was not dated, but I suspect that it was compiled sometime in my early 20s – when all my other friends and relatives were contemplating marriage and when I was on a constant spin cycle as a bridesmaid. Everybody was doing it, so I better get prepared – right? YUCK! (again)

Time passed and there was a proposal that was rejected (that’s a story for another time) and after serving as a bridesmaid more than a dozen times, I finally put my foot down and said, “no more (ugly) dresses for me” and stopped standing up in front of churches in uncomfortable shoes and dresses that never got worn again. And then I got sucked into being a wedding coordinator or hostess or something else related to weddings. I finally put my foot down on that too and said, “You know what? From this moment forward, the only thing I want to do at a wedding is warm a pew, bring a gift and dance at the reception.” And that has been my stance for at least half a decade – probably longer. (And we won't even talk about the time I helped decorate the garden venue for my ex-boyfriend’s wedding!) YUCK! (third time)

Do I believe in “marriage”? I guess for some people it is a wonderful thing. For others, not so much. I don’t know if I ever truly believed in “happily ever after”. Even as a child, I didn’t have a lot of positive examples of great marriages. My parents divorced before I was 10 years old; my aunts and uncles were all divorced; and even in those marriages that had lasted for centuries, one (if not both) of the parties didn’t seem all that happy to me. [HINT: Longevity does NOT equal happiness – sometimes (as one friend confided) it’s “cheaper to keep her” (or him)] And even as I read the Harlequin romances or watched the sappy chick flicks, I would rail at the characters as they went round and round the mulberry bush before coming together. And fidelity – are you serious? One person forever and ever? Didn’t (and still doesn’t) make a whole lot of sense to me.

Someone once asked me, “Haven’t you ever loved someone so much that you cannot imagine life without them?” I immediately responded, “Obviously not since I am living life as a single woman right now.” She, a newlywed at the time, looked at me with pity and sadness in her eyes – while I gazed back at her in the exact same way. Don’t get me wrong: if you are married and believe that you are truly happy in yours, more power to you. I just don’t see it happening for me – at least no time soon. I figure I will be one of those women who gets married for the first time in my 50s or 60s – and everyone will be surprised and will look at the poor guy who marries me with wonder, amazement and probably a little bit of pity.

So, to all my friends who are constantly trying to figure out how I can be content and happy as a single woman – and to all the friends who are always trying to set me up with the ”perfect” guy – and to the uncle who EVERY TIME he sees me asks me if I have finally started dating – and even to my godsister who has a long list of wishes for me and who loves to overanalyze why every relationship in my life went “wrong” - stop worrying about me. I love my life just the way it is right now. I am not sitting around waiting for my prince to come and “rescue” me from … whatever it is I am supposed to need rescuing from. And that is the beauty of NOT being an incurable romantic.

Be blessed.

06 May 2009

Cinqo de Mayo 2009

May 5th is commonly referred to as “Cinqo de Mayo” (“CdM”) and is a Mexican celebration to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n. Always ready to party (and drink margaritas), Americans have fully embraced this tradition and on this date, people everywhere gather at Mexican restaurants for margaritas, chips and salsa (or queso), mariachi bands, colorful leis and good fellowship. But what if you choose to celebrate alone? Have you ever tried it? Last night was my first CdM celebration alone – and let me tell you, it was an eye-opener. First, for the record, I have NO problem going out by myself. Shoot, I have traveled to foreign countries by myself, so sitting in a restaurant to enjoy a good meal is no big deal – to me. Apparently, it is to everyone else.

So, initially, the plan was NOT for me to go by myself. My mom celebrated her birthday on May 4, so as a continuation of the celebration, I’d planned to take her out for CdM, but she wasn’t feeling well and opted to stay home. I had a choice: stay home with her and miss out on a frozen lime margarita with rock salt on the rim – or go out and enjoy a toast to Mexican freedom. Well, it is my American duty to help stimulate the economy in any way that I can, so off I traipsed to the Mexican restaurant of choice.

When I got there, I settled in for a wait. It wasn’t even 7:00p and already the line was forming out the door. I questioned the couple in front of me as to the expected wait and they said that the hostess had been so busy, she hadn’t even approached them yet, but that they were committed to wait at least 30 minutes before they would pull up stakes, call it a night and go home. I figured “that seems reasonable – after all, it is CdM.” So I settled in for the wait. The first 10 minutes passed in about 30 mins, the next 10 seemed like an hour…but you know me, I talked to the people around me, made some new friends and the line moved…slowly. It wasn’t until I got closer to the hostess booth that I realized that there might be a problem that I was there by myself.

“How many people in your party?” the hostess asked the couple in front of me. “Two.” “Would you like me to bring you a drink as you wait?” “Sure, we’ll have two margaritas – one frozen, one on the rocks.” “Fine.” The hostess then turns her attention towards me. “How many people in your party?” “One.” “One? No one is joining you later?” “Uh no, just one.” “Well, would you like to have a seat at our bar and eat your dinner there?” “No, I prefer to wait for a booth or table please.” “You could be seated quicker if you sit at the bar.” “Hmm. I understand that, but I’d prefer a booth or table please. It can be a smaller two top table and you can seat the larger parties behind me, I don’t mind waiting, but I do not want to sit at the bar.” This led to a conference with the other hostess with whispers and glances over the shoulder ensuing. Now the other hostess (who was pregnant) waddles over to me. “Party of one?” “Yes.” “Are you sure you don’t want to sit at the bar?” “yeah, I’m pretty sure I don’t.” “Oh, ok, follow me.” (Back up: did you notice that I was not offered a drink while I waited? Yeah, I corrected that sometime during the ‘let’s get this poor lonely all by herself woman to the bar’ conversation) (Second back up: the couple in front of me (the Walkers – nice people) noticing the tone of the conversation with the hostesses offered me the option of joining them for dinner. Maybe it would have been ‘easier’ but I really wanted to eat my dinner in peace, reading my latest sleazy romance – and not doing all the small talk that you have to do when you meet people for the first time.)

Ok, so back to me and the hostesses (who, let me tell you, were very nice considering the stress of the evening). I follow them to a table designed for four people. The waiter immediately comes over and says, “How many people will be joining you?” “No one, it’s just me.” “Well, I could join you.” (with a big smile on his very very young face) “Yes, sweetie, you could, but you might lose your job if you did.” (Ok I was thinking that, didn’t say it). He leaves so I can peruse the menu and here comes the hostess. “Ma’am, we have a smaller table that has opened up, do you mind if we move you?” (Well, yeah, kind of, but I understand trying to maximize the space). So I gather up my purse, and my drink and follow the hostess around to a smaller table…only, it’s not really available yet. Apparently, another brave soul decided to eat by herself and had gone to the restroom after her meal. There were still chips and salsa on the table, as well as her take-out container and well, you get the picture. Patrons seated at a nearby table told the hostess that the woman was just in the bathroom. So, the hostess turns around and tries to take me back to my original table, but hostess #2 has already seated a party of four there, so the table is no longer available – so now I'm back at the front of the restaurant at the hostess table and you know what’s coming, don’t you? “Ma’am, are you sure you don’t want to sit at the bar?”

Gritting my teeth, I grimaced and assured the hostess (once again) that I was fine waiting for the smaller table to become available. It didn’t take long and soon I was back at my table for two, but only housing one. And then the fun with the waitress began. Long story short: It took two requests to get chips and salsa on the table, three or four requests to get a glass of water (which came as I was asking for my check to leave), I got my plate of food before I got silverware (and then was asked if I wanted real silverware or would plastic suffice) and she never came to check on me as I ate until it was time to get my check. Now, I could chalk it up to “well, they were busy” if I didn’t see her catering to the larger parties around me in her section. Did she somehow think that because I was by myself I wouldn’t leave her a tip worth caring about – or, because I was by myself, I was “less than” in some way? I don’t know what her issue was, but I enjoyed my meal and my margarita in spite of her treatment of me – and being gracious in spite of, I didn’t even reflect it in my tip.

This will not stop me from going out to restaurants by myself – but maybe next year, for Cinqo de Mayo, I’ll just enjoy my frozen lime margarita with rock salt on the rim at home.

Be blessed.

05 May 2009

Compliments not welcome

Last week, the ladies of THE VIEW were discussing compliments and how very hard it is to graciously accept them. I know that I am guilty of the compliment deflection move all the time. And while I try to affirm and compliment my friends (and even complete strangers) if they are wearing a flattering color or some shoes I covet or when their hair is perfectly coiffed – turn the attention to me and I’ll make a joke or other deprecating remark about whatever is being complimented.

And I don’t mean to do it – it just happens. One of the guys working in our copy center last week complimented me by saying, “You look really nice today” and my immediate response was, “Oh please, I look like a slob today.” (It was casual Friday and I was in one of my “Argh, I’m so fat” moods, so how could he possibly be saying that I looked nice…but I digress). He restated his opinion and instead of just graciously saying “Thanks” and moving on, I am sure my continued denial of his compliment made him wish he’d never opened his mouth to me. (Sorry, Rodney)

Where does this come from? Why is it difficult to just be gracious, say Thanks, and move on? The ladies from THE VIEW never came up with a definitive answer either. Maybe it comes from our mothers telling us that a “lady is modest and doesn’t flaunt herself”. Maybe it stems from deep rooted, unresolved self image issues. And maybe it’s just a lack of trust in the motives of the person making the complimentary statement.

Of all the ladies on THE VIEW, only Whoopi Goldberg was comfortable with accepting compliments. She made the point that most people subscribe to the theory, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” – so her outlook is, if someone thinks enough of you, your outfit, your hairdo to say something, they thought about it and meant it when they said it, so just accept it. Good point, but personally, a hard thing to do.

I’m going to try to do better though. I am going to strive to just say “Thank you” the next time someone is complimentary…even if in my head I am screaming, “Are you kidding me?!”

Be blessed.

PS: By the way, you look marvelous!

04 May 2009

Protected through the storms

I wasn’t feeling well last night – couldn’t put my finger on the cause or even what EXACTLY was wrong – just not feeling 100%. I went to bed last night praying that I would feel better in the morning. During the night, unbeknownst to me, storms raged, tornado funnel clouds formed over the city, trees crashed to the ground, people lost power – in other words, we were in the midst of (yet another) severe weather system. And yet, I slept peacefully through it. Didn’t even have to get up for a potty break during the night. (OK, that might have been TMI, I apologize…)

So, imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and discovered all the mayhem and chaos that ensued during the night. Really!? Tornado watches and warnings and traffic having to be detoured because of downed trees. People displaced because of trees crashing around and into their homes. Streets flooded due to torrential rains during the night. Yet, I heard nothing…no winds, no rain, no thunder, no lightening. And before you start thinking, “Wow, she was sleeping hard”, let’s set the record straight – I am usually a pretty light sleeper. I don’t wake up for every creak or noise (imagined or real), but you’d think with all the noise this weather system was probably making, I should have heard something! Nope. Nothing.

I think peace in the middle of crazy storms comes from knowing Who is in control of the situation regardless. I went to sleep asking for God’s protection and then trusted that He would protect through the storm. Before I even turned on the TV this morning and found out what happened overnight around me, I thanked Him for protecting our house from “fire, flood and invasion”. I don’t take His protection for granted, but I am amazed at the peace I continually have because of His protection.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that God wasn’t protecting the people who lost their homes or who suffered property damage – as far as I know, there was no loss of life, so in my view, He still protected. Property and things can be replaced, in time. Lost power will eventually be restored. Trees can be replanted and eventually, the water will absorb back into the earth or evaporate. It could have been worse.

I am reminded of another storm…one found in the Bible where the disciples are crossing a calm lake after a long day of ministry. Jesus goes to the bottom of the boat and goes to sleep. As He sleeps, a storm brews up and rages against the boat. Caught up in the drama of the storm and fearful that they were about to lose their lives, the disciples are amazed to discover that Jesus is sleeping peacefully through it all. See, He knew He was protected and safe – even in the midst of the storm. Oh to have that same peace and assurance whenever we are going through a storm: whether it is a physical rain, hail, thunder and lightning storm – or the emotional storm of financial worries, job losses, death of loved ones, marital stress – or the spiritual storm of not knowing Who holds us and loves us through all the other storms of life.

Praying you find peace in the midst of your storm today.
Be blessed.