Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Happy Post

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows.”      
                                                                                    Helen Keller


It's a sunny day here in Pittsburgh, with big cottony clouds floating across the crisp blue sky.  The temperature is probably around 80 with high humidity.  It is Pittsburgh after all.  Sunshine, blue skies, the kind of day that helps me to feel grateful for my life.  So for a change of pace, I, Queen of All Things Dark & Twisty am going to write about something good.

Here are some things I'm feeling grateful for today.

On Sunday Sunshine and Happiness and I reclined in lounge chairs (or as she would call them loungers) all day in our yard.  I haven't done that since I don't know when.  The weather was just like today's and as I lay in the grass looking up at the sky I was 13 again and at Boyce Park wave pool, on my back watching the clouds form sailboats and little dogs and horses, listening to the Rolling Stones ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ooh, ooh, Lord I Miss You, rubbing chapstick on my lips and Coppertone that had cooked in the sun all  over my shoulders, ears and nose and knowing, just knowing in my gut that life could never get any better than this. 

I am grateful for the additional 15 minutes S&H allows me every morning when the alarm goes off and I grumpily hit it.  Each day I mumble, "15 more minutes," roll over, put the cover over my head and sleep harder than I have for the entire night.  I am a crank a doodle in the mor-O-ning.

S&H's snuggling in the crook of my neck each morning with her shock of wild hair, morning breath and goofy laughter.  After my 15 minutes of course.

Nieces and nephews
Lil Wil, Claudia Cool J & Marky Mark
My Life with Sunshine and Happiness


10 toes, 10 fingers, eyes, ears, and a mouth that just won't stop working

Poetry, poetry, poetry

Happiness  - Raymond Carver

So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.


Don't even recognize me, do ya?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blue

During the aforementioned writing workshop I had the opportunity to practice being part of a group, instead of isolating myself and constantly comparing myself to the other writers in the room.  I can't say that I did this perfectly but I tried to be aware and to breathe out and bring myself back when it did happen.  This was a lesson in the acceptance of my limitations as well as my gifts without shame.

The last exercise of the day asked each of us to recount a conversation that changed our lives or our perspective on the world. We were instructed to write into the conversation as opposed to simply reporting it.  In a nutshell we were instructed to show not tell.  Ummm, didn't quite follow that particular instruction.  Oops. 

Here though is what I wrote......


Monterey Bay Aquarium in California is the only venue in the United States that keep mola, mola, also known as sunfish, in captivity.  Sunfish are the largest bony fish in the world capable of growing to lengths of 14 feet and weighing up to 5000 lbs.  When I visited the aquarium in 2007 and saw a sunfish for the first time, I cried.  And not just a few drops that could be surreptitiously wiped away but wracking "hey everyone look at me" sobs.  Snot flew out of my nose,  my face blotchy and distorted.  The only saving grace was that the Outer Bay tank is cavernous and not well lit.

The color of the viewing room where I broke down is a fluorescent, shimmery, neon blue that enveloped and held me like a security blanket.  I'd never seen California before, never been west of Ohio.  I certainly had never been immersed in so much natural beauty.  Blue is what I remember.  Who knew there were so many glorious shades of blue?  If I had access to a thesaurus (I don't) I could tell you in crisp, fresh language about all of the nuances and hues.  Suffice it to say that there were as many shades of blue as an Eskimo has words for snow. Greeny blue from the algae that floated and danced on the water's surface splashing up on the craggy ocean rocks.  Corn sky blue, velvety blue and  violet blues that melted into grays and foam.  Sparkly, shiny, lustrous, rich and dark bouncing off of the metal tank surfaces.  Midnight blue, blueberry blue, azure, aqua, turquoise and cerulean, an overwhelming collage, this bouquet of blues.

I cried when I saw the sunfish swim past the glass in front of me.  Sunfish are clumsy swimmers and must be kept in circular tanks because if kept in a square tank they will brush and bump the corners rubbing themselves raw.  The sunfish's great bulk moved me, its enormous body hearkening back to a prehistoric time.  It too, depending on the angle, might look a dull shade of blue but was mostly gray, pitted concrete, large chunks of flesh hacked out of its sides from hooks, anchors and the attacks of other fish.  Sunfish because of their size are often trapped in the dragnets of trawlers.

Though enormous, they are gentle creatures and survive on a diet of kelp and jellyfish.  It takes a huge amount  of jellyfish to keep a sunfish healthy and active enabling it to swim awkwardly and cruelly in circles, in my mind dreaming of but not able to reach the open sea.

Vertically flat and shaped like a 50 cent piece, a tumor like tail and fins growing out of its top and bottom rather than sides, an Elephant man,  freakish and alone.

Sunshine and Happiness was shaken by my outburst.  "What? What is it?"
Not speaking I pointed in the direction of the tank.
"I don't know what's wrong.  I don't understand," she said.  Not sure what she was looking for she followed my finger, eyes darting back and forth from me to the tank and back.  The mola, mola lumbered by.
"It's scarred," I said,"  just as she realized what I was pointing toward.
"The sunfish?"
I nodded.

Children ran up to the tank chasing the turtles, the angelfish, the sharks.  The sunfish slowly passed again.  I could feel the heaviness, the weight it carried, not even the tuna compared in size.  My insides balled up witnessing how a living thing could take up so much space yet manage to remain invisible to most of the patrons.  I sensed loneliness, gentleness and despite the size of the tank, claustrophobia.  In a burst of energy a little one ran up and shouted, "Mom, Mom, come look at the ugly fish."  I winced.

S&H walked to the tank sensing what was evident.   I felt a kinship, a connection to this fish as odd as that might seem.  As I stood there, the huge, gentle mola, mola,  eternally hungry and homely as a stick swam by and I saw myself reflected in the aquarium glass.

S&H looked over at me concerned.

"It's beautiful," I said.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Victory is Mine Sayeth the Puddin

NatalieDee
Puddin is Sunshine and Happiness' nickname for me.   I'm sure you can see the similarities....the jiggliness, the wonderful sweetness, the lack of firm boundaries and the mushy center.  Success, sweet success.  This past weekend was my the second writing workshop facilitated by my friend, Diane.  If you recall,  I bailed from her first one in February .  The funny thing is that what I learned had little or nothing to do with writing.

Last workshop I discovered  I don't have to react to situations. I can choose how I behave.  This was a revelation.  I am known for passively reacting to  any and all life situations as they arise.  Ooh, light bulb moment.  I am responsible for myself.  It is not what happens to me but how I react to it.  Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing (h/t Helen Keller) No one can or will do it for me.  Mmmmmm, scary, although I can't decide if it's the lesson itself or that it has taken me so long to learn it that is frightening.

This time around participants contributed famous quotes on writing and put them on butcher's paper that was hung over the fireplace mantel.  This was one of them:
the quote factory
I had to look at that fucking quote all day.  I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. 

During the workshop each of the writer's drew from their travels, careers, personal experiences, family joys and trials  to create interesting characters, anecdotes and stories.  One woman designed a beautiful series of poems deserving of a chapbook.  Another described her exciting cross country adventures on a motorcycle.  A woman about my age reminisced about her hard scrabble upbringing, memoir style.  Me?  I blanched.  Looking at the blank page and faced with a simple writing exercise I could find nothing to say.  My lifelong avoidance of risk and isolation from everyone made writing impossible.  I had only my small, insular, inner world from which to draw.  Second lightbulb moment.  In order to create, I first must exercise the courage to "stand up and live." Ouchy.

So I am determined today.  I know I can do this.  I really can.  I'm just going to take deep breaths and step forward.  That's it.  Baby steps to living life.  Baby steps to living life.  Baby steps to living life.  Woo-hoo I'm living life.  Look out world, here I come!

However I may need a little help climbing out of my comfort zone.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wasted Time


I used to think I had all the time in the world to change my aversion to risk, my avoidance, my desire to hide and protect myself and  begin living my life.  For as long as I can remember I have chased security the way most people chase sex.  My life suffice it to say has not been a daring adventure. 

Although I know that security is an illusion I seem to be unable to give up trying to create that illusion for myself.  I build my walls. I run from things that scare me. I isolate instead of engage.

In Richard Adams' novel Watership Down tharn is a fictional word used to describe an animal frozen in terror.  It is used when the rabbits, who are the main characters, are confronted with danger and become frozen in place.  I have used tharn since high school to describe myself because when I feel threatened or unsure I too become paralyzed.
Very Frightened Bunny
I believed that this aspect of my character would change once I managed to create enough security around myself.  Yet I never seem to reach that elusive place.....that place of enough.

In Dennis Lehane's novel The Given Day, the main character observes the following:

"The world gathered speed with every passing day and the faster it went the less it seemed to be steered by any rudder or guided by any constellation.  It just continued to sail on, regardless of him."

The world is sailing on, faster and faster regardless of me as I futilely chase an illusion. 

Tomorrow I am attending a writing workshop, the same writing workshop that I attended in February and bailed from, not finishing.   This time I intend to finish.  It 's not quite a daring adventure but it's a start.

Therefore, I shall conclude by using the immortal words of Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) in the movie What About Bob?

Baby steps down the hall.....baby steps down the hall.  Baby steps into the elevator... baby steps into the elevator... I'm........in......the.....elevator.  I'm ....in......the....elevator....... AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dues or Fees

Art By Cathy Rowe
I am much like the boy in the book The Giving Tree .  In the story the tree gives unconditionally to an unnamed boy, but as he grows the boy is not happy.  He is forever wanting something else to get him to that happy place.  The tree gives to the boy until it is only a stump and yet in the end it is the tree who is happy.  Of course the story's message is that true happiness comes from giving to others, not in receiving things.

Recently, my therapist told me that I am incapable of giving freely.  Ouch.  And I pay her for this. 

Now I was taught that giving is its own reward, however I seem to attach expectations to  my good deeds.  Life is supposed to be fair and balanced and everything has got to be quid pro quo.  If not, things can get ugly.   If I do a good deed I expect something in return, whether I say so or not.  I might "act as if" I am giving with no strings attached but if I scratch (or rub) your back, you had damn well better scratch (or rub) mine.  Shout out to Sunshine and Happiness!

As a child I learned how to "act as if",  pretend as it were, and take an action whether I wanted to or not.  I was  told that if  I "acted as if" enough eventually I would want to do those things that right now I really didn't want to do .  I've had a lot of practice and I'm still waiting.

So I can make it seem on the outside like I am am giving freely but emotionally there is  always at least a  teeny tiny resentment attached.  Bottom line is that if I sense neediness I balk.

So here's what it's like in my head when my mom and dad ask me to drive them to the nursing home to visit. 

OK,  I should drive them.  It's an hour long bus ride and they're not spring chickens.  Ugh, but I don't  want to drive them.  Why didn't they ever get their driver's licenses?  It's not my fault they don't have a car.  I'm not responsible for their bad choices.  Oh shut up and just suck it up and take them.  It's your dad's father, do it for him.  But I don't feel good.  I'm tired and my head hurts. Why me? Why is it always me.   I have a life too you know.  No one thinks about me.  My brother never does anything.  No one cares.  Shit I'm an ungrateful daughter.  I suck.  I am the worst person ever.  I hate everyone.  What are you looking at?  Fuck you.  Whimper.  Whine.  Complain. .

So to review:
  • I am unable to give freely.
  • Quid Pro Quo - If I'm nice to you, you owe me.
  • Act As If - I will smile and help out while cursing the day you were born.
  • Remember I won't ask you for help, because you might ask back.
  • Need me at your own risk. 
This is what Sunshine and Happiness lives with.

Now we both happen to belong to an organization with free membership.  There are no dues or fees to belong.  One day I was getting all uptight because S&H had been spectacularly nice to me and I was feeling pressured because that meant I was gonna have to be spectacularly nice to her.  Right then she turned to me and said "no dues or fees".  And  I understood that this was her way of saying to me "I am giving this to you freely and you don't owe me anything in return."  At first, I didn't believe anyone could be that unselfish and I struggled with feeling like I had to "pay her back."  Over time though I came to know that wow, she really does mean it. 

And to my amazement, once I really believed that I didn't HAVE to give anything back to her, that there really were no "dues or fees" attached, than BOOM, I started WANTING to give back to her.  I began really wanting to be kind, give gifts, be of service.  I WANTED to, I really WANTED to  because I didn't HAVE to do it out of feeling like I "owed" her or out of a sense of duty or obligation. I began wanting to give things freely to her because it made me happy.

TAKE THAT QUID PRO QUO!  TAKE THAT "ACT AS IF"!  TAKE THAT FORMER THERAPIST OF MINE!

And by the way, no dues or fees.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lullaby


The Weepies
I used to sing and play the guitar.  I know. I know, it’s impressive, but I didn’t do it professionally or anything.  I wasn’t even at the amateur open mike night level.   If I absolutely had to categorize it  I would say I was on par with Julie Andrews' Maria in the Sound of Music.  You know, before she became a Von Trapp.   Do, Re, Mi, the Lonely Goat Herder yodeling….that was about my speed.

When I was a kid my mom asked me if I wanted to learn to play a musical instrument.  Wow,  I thought and said yes, yes, yes  I want to learn to play the piano.  Ummmm, nooooo.  A piano won’t fit in our tiny  apartment.  So I thought again and said, yes, yes, yes, I want to learn to play the drums.  Mmmmmmm, not in this lifetime.  So back to the drawing board.   I think I then actually asked if I could learn to play the violin but my mom had already bought me a Yamaha.   So guitar it was.

As an adolescent I used singing and playing as an emotional outlet.  I could pound on the body of the guitar, slap at the strings and yowl a bit and I always felt better.  Later as a young adult and burgeoning lesbian (and drunk), I found that my musical talents came in handy at campfires, parties, and in wooing women.  My wife actually fell in love with me one October because as I was playing a Stevie Nicks song (to a group of women at a retreat center)  I absentmindedly threw my leg up over the arm of the chair I was sitting  in and she mistook it for bravado. 

As I've gotten older I’ve lost interest.   I don’t know why.  I just don’t play anymore much to my wife’s dismay.  One day  I had the music in me, I had the music in me, I had the music in me.  And the next  I didn’t. 

Occasionally,  though, I will hear a song on a commercial or the soundtrack of a show and it will stick in my head until I finally give in and dig out my guitar.  One of these songs, Somebody Loved  has become my lullaby to Sunshine and Happiness.



Here are my favorite lines.

Now my feet turn the corner back home
Sun turns the evening to rose
Stars turning high up above

You turn me into
You turn me into
You turn me into….somebody loved.



Because she did.

The Weepies Acoustic Summer Tour - Pittsburgh, Rex Theater, August 31st

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Look Up


Today I read a story about a man who built a kite for his young nephew who lived in bad circumstances.  The nephew did not particularly like the kite and only flew it once or twice but he always remembered the gift.  Later when he was grown he asked his uncle why he had given the kite to him.  The uncle told him "I made you a kite so you would have to look up." 

After  this story I read my daily meditation

Reach ever upward after the things of the spirit.  Your whole character changes as you reach upward  - for beauty, for love, for honesty, for purity, and for unselfishness.

and it got me thinking.

My sister was in over the weekend for a visit, the first in 2 years.  She's out in Colorado and the last time I saw her my nieces and nephew were 10, 12 and 14. Well I think.  Anyway, now P & T are teenagers and the youngest is starting middle school.   I couldn't believe how much they've grown. 

On Saturday we all  went to Kennywood, a local amusement park.  To my surprise, Bellaboo, my youngest niece wanted to spend  her time with me and Sunshine and Happiness.   As we waited in line to get on the rides she talked and talked and talked.  She's only 11 (12?)  but is a strange mix of little kid and freaky middle aged preteen.  At one point she asked me how old I felt.   I said 46 (I should have lied)  at least physically.   And then she asked me, "well what about mentally?"  I told her I felt about 12 which meant we were close in age.  She then sighed and said, sometimes I feel 21.  It was funny but below the surface there was such heaviness.

Later as we were waiting for her two sibs to bungee 300 feet on the Skycoaster she said to me, "I always think of the worst possible thing that can happen. It's always bad.  Better go say goodbye to my brother and sister."  S&H looked at me incredulously.  Poor Boo, she's just like me.  Queen of Catastrophic Thinking.

Boo's circumstances aren't bad exactly but they are challenging.  Her sister and brother are best friends and she feels left out.  My sister is divorced and Boo's dad lives in Ohio.  She only gets to see him once or twice a year.  My sister is in the Air Force and she gets moved around a good bit.  Each time Boo makes friends she gets uprooted.  There's not been much constancy. She only just lost her baby fat which she was really self conscious about and BOOM here comes puberty.

Boo became really depressed when the family moved from Ohio to Colorado.  She told me she started listening to Avril Lavigne over and over.  At age 11.  My sister got her in counseling.  Avril Lavigne?  I'd be worried too!

It was eerie watching Boo pretend.  At Kennywood she kept acting all hard and tough.  It's important to her to seem strong and independent. Yet she was afraid to ride the wooden roller coasters and wouldn't admit it.  She kept saying the lines were too long or she wanted to ride a different ride.  She is still such a little kid.

S&H and I hugged on her, listened to her and tried to make her feel important.   She asked all kinds of questions and we answered her honestly.  We played games, complimented her and loved her as much we could. It wasn't a kite but it was something.  And then she was gone and it made me realize.....


Boo on right with hand on hip

I need to look up more often.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True

Toronto Pride Parade
I am a bit conflicted about this post. 

President Obama issued a proclamation declaring June GLBT pride month.  Pride Pittsburgh participates by scheduling a number of events including a parade. There is a party in the street on Liberty Avenue and a fundraising event at the home of the owners of Club Pittsburgh.  Each year a gay icon is chosen to entertain.  This year it's Patti, I Got a New Attitude, Labelle. It is Pittsburgh after all.  Who'd you expect Gaga?   The homophobic mayor holds his nose and issues a proclamation.  Pittsburgh's lgbt nonprofits host rallies and educational events.

In spite of, or maybe because of this, I hate gay pride.

I've always hated pride week and its associated events.  However I've lived the majority of my life placating others  hoping to gain their acceptance and so I've never admitted it.  Look I know it isn't politically correct.  I know that as a gay woman I should wholeheartedly support gay pride.  I know the history.  I've watched the Stonewall documentaries. 

Case in point.  When I first starting going out to the gay bars the only way to gain entrance was to already  know where the gay bars were because, believe you me, there was no signage indicating what was behind that dive's door. Second, upon finding the bar you had to knock surreptitiously on a little wooden window.  I kid you not.  It was like trying to gain entrance to the neighbor boy's secret treehouse club.  Then a really scary looking individual of questionable gender would slide back the window and seriously give you the once over.  Finally, if you really wanted to get in you'd better be with someone the door person knew and knew well or you were S.O.L.  At that time the bars in Pittsburgh were still being raided. More than once I was hurried out a back door as the cops came in the front.

When I was young gay men and women resorted to sending silent signals to one another.  Wearing only one earring (I can't remember if it was in the left or right ear) meant you were gay.  Color coded handkerchiefs tied around an ankle or left hanging out of a pocket indicated ......well.....stuff.  (like pitch/catch) Pinky rings, a thick wallet in a back pocket, a skate  haircut (remember those?) and androgynous clothing all indicated one thing.  Maybe.  It was easy to misread cues, even if you had excellent gaydar.  C'mon it was the 80's, mistakes were made.  Oh you're not a dyke.....oops, so sorry.
Anyway, I recount all this because when I grew up, gay kids, hell gay adults hid.  It was dangerous to be gay.  Discrimination, jeering, bodily harm, being ostracized, losing friends and family all were part of the package.  Or could be.  More often than not, it can still be that way even though we have progressed.  So I understand the idea of gay pride.

But I still hate it.

Here in Pittsburgh, Pride is sponsored by the bars and bathhouses.  Yeah, yeah, the  nonprofits like GLCC, Persad and the Aids Task Force participate, but basically its the bars.  And given all the partying that occurs during Pride it's no wonder.  The nonprofits aren't the bucks behind this event.

The most philanthropic folk are the owners of Club Pittsburgh, a place where gay men get together to socialize and recreate.  You know, the establishment where two men died, one in a club hot tub and another in a private room.  Go here or here to read more.  A club where socialization and recreation include open sex, group sex, drug paraphernalia sold on the counters and pornography.  This is what I want to be associated with pride?

Another, albeit minor issue is, I am not proud to be gay.  I don't know for sure, but I don't think straight folks are proud to be straight either.  I have never understood it.  It feels like being proud because I have blue eyes.  I am not any one thing and my sexuality is just a part of who I am.   Plus I didn't really have much to do with it.  I've been this way for as long as I can  remember. I can't really take credit for anything.

And isn't Pride month and all of its activities preaching to the choir?  I don't believe it changes anyone's mind or attitude toward lgbt persons.  Folks who think gays are immoral and hate them aren't going to be persuaded differently by a parade.  And in fact the parades just give them more ammunition to fire at us.  I don't really think that Marsha Mellow and Aunt Chilada dancing in the streets is going to convince anyone to treat me equally.  Some think Pride parades are important so people will see our numbers, so we will be visible, that it's necessary to show folks that we are out there, that we exist, that we're loud, we're proud, get used to it ..... really?

Finally, some folks will chalk my feelings up to prudishness.  They'll say I am repressed, that I just don't like sex, that I'm ashamed of the the flamboyant queens, the leather kings, the transfolk, the dykes on bikes. 

Look, I don't deny it.   I do want to assimilate.  I want to be treated the same as heterosexuals.  I want to have equal rights and have my marriage be recognized in the U.S. I don't want anyone to be bullied emotionally or physically for any reason.  And I say more power to folks who let their freak flags fly.  I accept that who, how and where folks choose to have sex is really none of my business.  I guess I just am not interested in marching through downtown Pittsburgh and making out with Sunshine and Happiness.  I  don't see the point.  If the gay community (and I use that term very loosely) wants an excuse to party, I say go for it.  Call it Carnival.  Call it Mardi Gras.  Just don't call it pride.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kant Died in the Cornfield

zazzle
I had a friend in high school who always said "Can't died in the cornfield"  if I whined or said I couldn’t do something.  I never had a clue what she was talking about but I knew it had something to do with my negative attitude.  I gathered she was encouraging me to not give up before I actually tried.  The whole cornfield thing threw me off though.  Plus cornfields creep me out.  I looked at a bunch of images for this post and when I was done I had the heebie jeebies.  Too much Stephen King as a child I suppose.  Just sayin.

Later in college part of the curriculum was Philosophy 101.  I never bothered to go but I did purchase Immanuel Kant's The Critique of Pure Reason.  I cracked it open, didn't understand a thing and promptly stuck it on a shelf.  But the guy's name caught my eye.  Being from Pittsburgh I pronounced it can't (like pant) as opposed to kahnt, which just sounds dirty.  Ah, po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe, to-may-to, to-mah-toe.  Let's call the whole thing off. 

Now I have been told that I live in "Georgie's World" which is to say, my own head.  Therefore, if I think something is real then it absolutely is.  The kicker is then, if something is real for me in my world  it must be real for you too.  Because I never understood  the expression  "Can't died in the cornfield" I decided that the expression must actually be "Kant Died in the Cornfield".  However, from the one and only Philosophy 101 class I did attend, I learned that Kant did not actually die in a cornfield but in K√∂nigsberg, Russia.  So I changed the expression (in my own head) to "Kant Didn't Die in a Cornfield"  because, you know, he didn't. And I knew that it didn't really matter if Kant died in a cornfield because I knew that I couldn't.  I just wasn't capable or competent. So why try.  And in my world this is what you thought of me too.

Much later in my life when I needed to get sober I started going to meetings.  I never spoke to anyone, came alone and ran out the door as soon as the meeting ended. This is not, by the way, how one is supposed to do it.  One evening a woman who had been watching all this approached me and asked  if I really wanted to stop drinking.  Hmmmmm.  No I just thought this would be a  fun way to spend a Saturday night.  But what came out of my mouth was yes.  So she told me I needed to stand by the door, welcome folks as they came in, shake hands and introduce myself.  Oh and clean the ashtrays and the coffeepots when the meeting was over.  Wait a minute.  Me?  She couldn't mean me.   I'm shy.  I'm self-conscious. I'm awkward, I'm scared and I thought to myself there is NO WAY I'm doing that. Sheesh!  Didn't she know I was dyspraxic?  Did I happen to mention I'm just a tiny  bit self-pitying?

So I said to this lovely woman, "I can't." (Whine) She paused momentarily.  I think it was the whine that got her. And then she said rather harshly in my opinion, "stick out your arm."  So I did, because she scared me.  Next she said  even more harshly (in my opinion) "move it up and down," and I thought to myself, c'mon what is this Simon says?  But I did it.  Did I mention that she scared me?  Finally when I stopped moving my arm up and down like a loon she looked at me and said, "Your arm works.  Your mouth works.  So it's not you can't.  It's you won't,"  and she turned smartly on her heel and walked away.  Oooh, how I hated her at that moment because 1) How dare she?  Didn't she know how hard it was to be me?  and 2) She was right.  Soooooo,  I went over and stood at the door, put out my hand, moved it up and down and said  hello.  After the meeting I cleaned the ashtrays AND the coffeepots. And that folks was the day that Kant really did die in the cornfield.