We stood side by side, the last two remaining spellers, ready for the final round of the competition to begin, as the Morseland patrons milled about, chatted, laughed, and had their drinks refilled. To the right of the stage was Our Booth: my friend Gina from work, smiling; Erin’s dad, arms stretched out around his whiskey on the table in front of him, head down a bit, still grieving the recent loss of his wife to cancer; other assorted chatty friends and theatre pals; and our dates, Rob and Chris. They’d been dating for a long time by then, but for me and Chris, it was one of our first. As we watched the judges gather at the table down front, flanked by big plastic jars full of paper strips, she gave a sigh that took in the whole crowded room, leaned toward me and whispered, “If they only knew.”

Many years on – so many shows, dozens of barbecues at the Metreyeons, several New Year’s Eves and D&D games, innumerable dog-trade-offs, two weddings, and one cancer diagnosis later, Rob and I were playing a heated round of Magic the Gathering while Erin watched the match and made her observations in anticipation of perhaps one day soon taking on a match herself. I remember appreciating how with Erin there is very rarely any small talk. I don’t care much for small talk with friends anymore because it is a waste of time. We’re all too busy to spend enough time together and I don’t want to waste it on the goddamn weather. Talk to me about what is actually happening in your life and what you’re learning about it, how it’s changing you, what you want, what you dream, what’s bothering you. Let’s fix the world in the one or two evenings a year where all we have to really do is fix the world.

That night, at that moment, we were talking about dieting and food and a bunch of non-cancer stuff that I had been writing about lately, when she suddenly stopped, gave me that trademark coy-smile-with-eye-twinkle of hers and asked, “Do you wanna see my stent?”

My point being, Erin puts a button on a scene like nobody’s business.

She won’t likely get a chance to do that this time.  (more…)

I spend a good deal of my free time posting on a support forum for Friends and Family of Alcoholics. I have a couple of qualifiers in my life, and I have spent a lot of time in therapy to deal with my own codependent issues and dysfunctional upbringing in regards to relationships and communication, but a cornerstone of my recovery has been understanding and accepting the things I can control and the things I can’t.

From all this therapy and application to life experience, the strongest conclusion I’ve come to is that if I think I can control something, there’s about a 98% chance that I’m totally and completely wrong. (more…)

This is not a “can women have it all” post. I don’t want it all, so I’m not going to write about whether or not I can have it all, and if my friends want it all I don’t have any intention of discouraging them. Go for it all, I say, and you just might find you get what you need. I hope you do.

Here’s a saying, because I am a little lazy and can’t figure out another way to start: “Expectations are pre-meditated resentments.” 

Most of the heartache in my life has come from dashed expectations – I didn’t get a job I felt I deserved, someone I loved and was so, so good to betrayed me anyway, a relative forgot my birthday. Or everyone forgot my birthday. It hurts when people don’t do what I think they’re going to do, what I want them to do, or what I think I need them to do. It also hurts when people don’t do what I think they should do, because, you know, I just want them to be happy and fulfilled, and who better than me would know what would accomplish that, amIright??

Whoa, there fella! Yeah, that’s my problem right there. I always think I know better. I have all the answers and if everyone would just listen to me, everyone’s life would run a whole heckuva lot more smoothly, thanks.

How did a post about expectations become about control? For me, at least, these things have a long sordid history of being inexorably linked. (more…)