Monday, August 29, 2011

Three Little Words

I love fucked up people. 

Don't ask me why.  Maybe because I'm so screwed up myself.  Way back in the horror years of self-hatred and galloping insecurity, I knew deep down inside that there was a good human being underneath all that shit I was projecting.  Problem was, I wanted somebody else to discover that fact; somebody else to nurture and protect, love and cherish me.  I never thought of doing all that myself.  I wanted a knight in shining armor, a celluloid best friend, a kind and thoughtful stranger to dig it out, to uncover the hidden wonder of Becky O'Donnell.  I didn't want to do the work.  I wanted somebody else to handle the rock quarry of my personality.   I wanted someone else to have the patience and interest in discovering the fabulous me hiding beneath the mountain of bullshit.  I wanted someone, anyone, to see it; to recognize it was there so I'd know I wasn't crazy.  When you can't love yourself, you feel overwhelming gratitude to any abusive scumball who'll say they love you, can't live without you.  The scumball part is immaterial.  The love is what we need, even if it's never more than words, even if it comes with a swift kick and a punch in the face.  At least somebody says the words.

The textbook definition of a fucked up insecurity addict.  Been there, done that.

When you get to the point of planning your own suicide or drool like a Pavlovian dog at the thought of not breathing anymore, that's when the need for love is the strongest.  As much as I knew I had a real treasure inside, I was heartbroken that nobody else saw it.  Nobody else gave a shit.  Nobody knew me.  Nobody loved me.  My kids did but they were just stupid kids.  They'd soon forget me and love some new mommy better.  I was being noble in relieving them of such a worthless sack of shit.  Killing myself would be the best thing for them.  I knew I was setting a bad example just in my day-to-day living.  Best to free them.  Better to just stop being.

I was about as fucked up as a person can get and still be alive.  Looking back, it's amazing how different I am from that poor, shattered basketcase.  It's also amazing how much of me is still like that.  I'll always be the wounded mess because that is a part of my past, something I carry with me always.  But self-love has helped me to flip it from a negative to a useful positive.  I recognize other basketcases because I am one.  I understand fucked up people because they're a mirror.  And I want them to see me too, to see that it is possible to be something other than miserable and starved for love.  I want them to know that if they do just a tiny bit, just a small amount of kindness to themselves, they can change everything: the way they think and feel, what they can do for others, even what they can accomplish career wise.

I've ridden the bucking bronco of insecurity for most of my life.  In the last few years, with the daily exercises of telling myself "I love you," I've gotten that crazy damn horse to calm down enough so I can lead it instead of it leading me.  It still likes to take off and drag me along sometimes on a hell of an uncomfortable ride, but nowadays I'm usually the one calling the shots.  I've gained control of my own fucked up nature.  It'll always be fucked up.  But that's okay because even though I'm a basketcase, I'm a lot of other things as well.  Like an ogre, I have layers and many of them are beautiful.  There are gaping wounds in me that have healed into pink scars, terrible emotional gangrene that's been cleared away and self-hatred that's been neutered and can I say it?  Inefficient.  All with three little words I waited far too long for someone else to say.  I love you.  I love you, Rebecca.  I truly do love you.  You fucked up mess. 

May you all find the strength to love yourselves too.  It's inside, right beside the hidden fabulous treasure of you, just waiting to be dug out.  Happy prospecting, my friends.  Take care.

Love, R

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunshine After the Rain

I'm one of those people who love birthdays and holidays.  My house looks like Kris Kringle's place at Christmas (apart from my Mister Misty Red & Green Skulls I put Santa hats on), a haunted castle at Halloween, and Bunny land at Easter.  Birthdays to me are absolutely sacred things; the day the world was given the gift of you or me.

I didn't always feel that way about my own birthday.  Annually, I glared at my hated reflection in the mirror, pissed off that yet another year had passed without my accomplishing anything other than becoming even more of a loser.  And fatter.  I had an obsession with my blub.  All those hopes, all those dreams of my childhood, flushed down the toilet with nobody to blame but myself.  I considered myself a stupid, chickenshit, ugly fat bitch who couldn't tie her own shoe.  I'd fucked up my life so badly.  Why the hell would I celebrate something as awful as my own birth?

Such a strange thing, self-loathing.  It's almost as passionate a belief system as that of a religious zealot.  Everything was a test of my faith; if I glimpsed something attractive in the mirror, I was betraying my own righteous rage.  If I felt the slightest pride in the tiniest accomplishment, it was false vanity.  I was repulsive to myself.  It was a moral imperative for me to remain that way.

Insecurity likes you to be a blind zealot.  It does a tap dance on your psyche, stomps you flat and sets fire to the remains.  The really creepy thing is, you applaud it for doing so.  That's right.  Get that bitch.  Keep her down.  That's what an insecure person feels inside.  Outwardly, maybe even consciously, pretending the opposite.  I think that's why we gravitate toward negative relationships.  We get someone to abuse us the way we feel we deserve, while secretly thinking our love and support will turn our beloved scumballs around.  It's a misguided hope, pinning our own self worth on the ability to turn somebody who's even more fucked up, around.  Noble goal, true, but until we get our own goofy brains in order, all we become is cannon fodder splattered all over the landscape.  That helps nobody.  When it involves children, it's lethal.  Kids grow up with the programming of their childhood.  Be very careful what you're teaching them.  Tell your kids you love them and you want them to be strong and confident all you want.  But when Daddy gives Mommy a black eye, or they see either parent listless and miserable but staying in a horrible relationship, that's a visual that far outweighs any fluffy words of love.  A picture's worth a thousand words.  What movie of the week are you showing?

I've talked to battered mothers, brave sons and daughters, well-meaning grandparents, who've all told me basically the same thing when it comes to getting beaten on a regular basis.  Or raped.  It keeps them off my kids.  It keeps him off my sister.  If they're on me, the others are safe.  Selfless courage in a child.  Misguided dumb fuck courage in an adult.  No matter how desperate a situation is, no matter how abject your poverty is, there is always an "out" somewhere.  Always.  Don't believe the hype coming out of the mouth of the asshole who's brutalizing you.  Check it out for yourself.  There are hot lines, libraries, shelters; endless possibilities of being helped by people who really want to help you.  People who were very often in situations just like yours, and who now volunteer.  Remember the returning veteran commercial that was playing a few months back?  It shows a returning vet wandering through an empty city, with nothing and no one around.  Suddenly, another vet walks up to him, shakes his hand, and says, "Welcome back."  There are thousands of brothers and sisters of circumstance out there right now who want to shake your hand and show you the way to a new life, one that's free of bruises, terror and self hatred.  Take their hand.  Move forward from the pit.

I recently had the honor of meeting a young woman who had done just that.  Years of abuse and terror, an eternity of fists and fights and drug-addled violence against her, her children watching or listening from the other room, being damaged by the environment just as much as she was being damaged by her abuser.  Even after years of brainwashing, by herself as much as her attacker, paralyzing her courage, with poverty and depression sucking the life right out of her, she found the strength to finally leave.  I met her on her birthday, only a few weeks after she and the children got away.  I saw a glowing, beautiful creature as I looked at her; furtive-eyed and still a bit in shock over this unexpected turn of events.  It was wonderful, a truly miraculous sight.  I hope she can stay free of the pattern long enough to find value in herself.  Otherwise, it'll just be a new set of fists.  But she felt good.  It was a rebirth birthday, a glorious thing to see.

I remember my therapist telling me, shortly after I left my own husband, to make sure I didn't enter into any new relationship for at least a year.  Like a country overthrowing a dictatorship, I was very vulnerable.  I didn't know how to live under any other kind of regime, so there was a good chance I'd slide right back into it with someone else.  I had to give it time.  I had to have a relationship with myself.  It was the best advice I could have been given.  Amazingly enough, I listened to it.  Now I am my own best friend as well as my own worst enemy.  But the enemy part is a lot smaller now; much more easily managed.  I'm an insecurity addict.  Insecurity will always be skulking in the background, eager to take over my silly mind once again.  As long as I'm conscious of that fact, I can guard against it and continue to grow.  And moments like these, where I see a beautiful fellow fuck up get free of an environment far worse than any I'd endured, when I see her smile on her birthday, I know how good life can be.  It doesn't get better than that.  Hope from the hopeless.  Sunshine after the rain.  That's what she was and always will be to me now.  Sunshine after the rain.

Take care.

Love, R

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Misplaced Nail

One of the things an insecurity addict is really, really great at is being a blind as a bat dumb ass.  Looking back on my life and my own decisions over the past four decades truly brings that fact home.  But a not-so-subtle change has happened in how I view my own state of once-moron: I don't beat myself up about all those wrong choices and miserable longings anymore.  Nowadays, I rarely bring out the red hot pincers or lock myself up in an iron maiden for a bit of Me Torture.  That's in the past as well.  There's another thing an insecurity addict has a gift for.   We're extremely good at self-torture.  Everything revolves around how we can fix it, make it better, calm him down, get her to stop nagging.  How can we solve all of everybody else's problems?

There's nothing wrong with helping others.  I recommend it highly.  Wanting to do so is a golden thing, a sacred thing.  That desire can and has inspired millions to do the same.  When channeled in a positive way, an insecurity addict's emotions can make the whole world a better place.  Look at all someone like Princess Diana accomplished, or Eleanor Roosevelt, or even Paul Newman and his Newman's Own brand.  But like any addiction, it has to be controlled or it'll eat you, and anybody around you, up.  But focus it and there's no end to what can be accomplished.

Here's how an insecurity addict thinks, for all of you out there who don't know already: we see the world through shit-colored glasses with blinders on.  It's very, very hard to change our stubborn minds about a stupid decision we've made because stupid decisions are really all we have to cling to.  When forced to look at what a ridiculous and often self-made nightmare we live in, an insecurity addict will run for the hills rather than take good advice.  I remember a high school teacher chastising me about all the self-made scratches along my arms.  I clawed three new ones down the inside of my wrist, right in front of her.  Did it with a "fuck you" grin.  We love the attention of friends and family who worry about us, even while we secretly sneer at their misplaced loyalty.  We feed off the sympathy, horror and anger of others because we don't generate any affection for ourselves.  Why would we?  The bitch in the mirror is the one who got us into this mess in the first place.  Insecurity has to be tackled from the inside out.  It's a sneaky gremlin who's very good at hiding.  We've all got untold corners and rubble for it to curl up in, safe and snug in the nice gloomy shadows.  There's a kaleidoscope of darkness inside abuse victims for it to disappear into.

But think about it.  That makes us a precious commodity, my dear friends.  We're experts in pain.  There's a world of hurt out there that you're all familiar with.  Use that expertise to do some good.  Don't let insecurity tell you you're too stupid or inept to make a difference.  Learn from my own mistakes.  As a teenager, I desperately wanted to help in a habitats for humanity-type organization our local church had begun.  I never volunteered.  I wasn't lazy or uninterested; just the opposite.  I remember sitting at my desk in Sunday school, sweat beading my upper lip, as I tried to raise my hand when they asked for volunteers.  What was my reasoning for refusing?  I didn't know anything about carpentry.  I thought I might do something to make whatever structure we would be working on unsafe.  My misplaced nail would bring the whole thing crashing down.  Probably on a baby.  And the puppy sleeping beside the crib.  And a mama cat in a basket with newborn kittens.  And the loving grandmother who spent her entire pension check on a plane ticket to visit the new grand kid.  They would all die because I didn't know how to wield a hammer correctly. 

That's how an insecurity addict thinks.  The world hinges on our, and only our, misplaced nail.  That's how overpowering our stupid, egotistical, self-loathing angst is.  We are fragile, crackle glazed and broken creatures, many of whom will snap your fingers off if you try to help us.  Wounded bears in the woods.  Until we begin to sponge away our own inner hatred, we won't heal.  We'll keep being bitter, broken and stupid.  Worst of all, we'll recognize this truth about ourselves and the hate will grow stronger still.  I know.  I did it to myself most of my life.  It began with family telling me I was a piece of shit.  I took up the reins of abuse myself around the age of six.  But I changed.  You can too.

I still have a hard time with insecurity.  Not as bad as it was, nowhere near as bad, but still hard.  Little things set me off.  But I do my self love exercises every day.  I tell myself what a good person I am, what nice things I did today, how much I love Rebecca O'Donnell.  It's an alien thing to tell yourself "I love you."  Feels egotistical and silly at first.  But oh, what a garden can grow from such a tiny bit of watering.  I keep at it.  I do kind acts, little and big, and that makes me a better person.  Financial generosity and philanthropy are all well and good if you can afford it, but a smile to a co-worker and an offer to fetch coffee for all is like sunshine on a rainy day.  Think of it.  You can be a thing of light.  You just need to do a little loving spit and polish.  Take care.  I believe in you all.

Love, R

Friday, August 12, 2011

Treading Water

I have become a narcoleptic.  I am snoozing all the time but never feel rested.  I was hefting trays at work the other day and thought the carpet looked oh-so-comfy and wouldn't it be nice to lie down on it and do a bit of snoring.  Perhaps this is associated with the grieving process; some friends have told me they did the same thing about a month after their loved one died.  The timing is correct but I don't feel devastated by Mom's death anymore.  It's more an ache when I reach for my phone to tell her something and remember, "Oh yeah..."

I was rearranging my DVD collection tonight, hauling books out of one of my bookcases to make room for the movies that are spilling out all over.  A letter my son wrote to me a year ago fluttered out.  I picked it up and re-read it, then sighed and put it back.  It had been full of recriminations for my evils as a parent, then basically said that he thought we should have a relationship and wouldn't that be wonderful?  It was the first contact we'd had in seven years.  I remember how thrilled I was, despite the catty digs, to have heard from him after so long; how excited I was at the prospect of seeing him.  What did he look like now?  Last time I'd seen him, he was a gaunt and pissed off seventeen-year-old.

He never contacted me after that.  I wrote back immediately, really happy, but he never contacted me again.  After Mom died, I emailed his father and asked him to tell Leland what had happened.  His dad even sent flowers to the funeral, for which I was grateful.  Leland neither attended nor sent flowers or a card.  He did write to my sister, quoting Dostoevsky's Brothers K about happy childhood memories.  He wrote that if it hadn't been for his grandma, he never would have had any.


My friend B and I went to a movie the other night: Rise of the Planet that went Ape.  Loved it.  We had a blast, laughing and blabbing as we always do.  She told me that Leland had recently been on vacation and posted photos on his facebook page.  It's a private page so I can't see them.  She pulled them up on her phone and I looked at pictures of beautiful scenery and gorgeous architecture.  The only shot of another human being was of Leland himself, and not his face at all.  He'd been lying on the beach, and had taken a pic of the water, catching a glimpse of his feet, gritty with sand.  That one hit me; the first sight of my own son in years.  He has my feet.

It's a strange thing to realize that someone you love isn't a nice person.  I never wanted to lump my own kid into the group of poisonous family members but for the moment, that's where he is.  I wish him well.  I hope that some day he can find his kindness again because he'll never really be happy without it.  I fear for him; scared he'll turn into an Ebenezer Scrooge, toiling daily on his invisible ropes of chains and money boxes, growing angrier and lonelier as the years go by, bitter with the whole world.  But hell, I'm nothing if not an optimist.  Even Scrooge, scum ball extraordinaire, found his inner soul in the end and became a good, happy and kind person.  I truly think that's the secret to self worth: to become worthy.  Simple but surprisingly difficult. 

Sometimes sadness just overwhelms me.  The weight of the past curls its tendrils around my legs and pulls me under for a simulated drowning.  But I always swim back up to the surface.  There's so much beauty, so much life, to still be lived.  For so many years, all I could see was grey misery and soggy bitterness, like day-old Coco Puffs in rancid buttermilk.  Sticky, inescapable yuck.  Sure, life's full of slime and angst and panic.  They're all noisy and they all want to snatch a ride on your back, weighing you down and nagging you to hurry, do better, try harder.  But if you take a moment to step back, straighten up and see sunshine in the trees or even lovely rainbows in an oily puddle in a parking lot, you can sluff the little fuckers off.  You can refuse to carry them any farther.   Beauty works wonders.  You just have to recognize it.

Insecurity addicts aren't really that different from Ebenezer Scrooge's chickenshit dealings with the world.  He feared life's hardships so made his own life harder still.  Insecurity can make you do the same thing; select bad choices because you're shaking in your boots and it's too scary to try for happiness.  Over the past couple weeks, several brave women and a courageous boy have inspired me with their decisions to change their habits, leave their abusive relationships, and take the plunge into new lives.  All of them, once drowning, now treading water and heading for the shore.  I'm doing the same thing, coughing a little sea water and cussing a blue streak as I swim back from far shallower water than they've been in.  Good luck with your own oceans, my friends.  May you feel the sun on your face and firm ground underfoot soon.  Just keep paddling.  Roll over on your back and float if you have to, but always keep swimming for the shore.

Love, R

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Turning Point

As many of you know, my mom died almost three weeks ago.  Part of me can't believe it's been that long, another part of me feels like it's been forever since she passed.  It was a terrible death, very prolonged, with unimaginable suffering.  I'm glad she's done with that.  There's a huge relief that she's not in pain or terror anymore, and a selfish relief that I don't have to endure the helplessness of watching her go through it.  But the grief is still surprising.  It hit me much harder than I thought it would.

When someone dies a slow, lingering death, one that takes months, us loved and loving ones have time to brace ourselves.  We figure out how we'll deal with it, we buck ourselves up with imagined scenarios and logical forecasting and, in the end, desperately long for it.  I love you, Mom.  You're an amazing fighter.  Please will you just let go now?  A third of your skin is gone.  It's time to let go. 

And then she does.  Finally, at last, she slips this mortal coil, probably giving a silver laugh as she wiggles free of that nightmare of a body.  She must have had one hell of a crowd waiting for her: her baby brother, her son, her sisters, Charles the Man; they probably had a party.  I mused and wondered and imagined it all.  But as my very wise best friend once told me, "Imagining and experiencing are two very different things."  Sure, she's free of pain but my mom's still dead.  I didn't think it would hit me as hard as it has.

I've been on a "sign from her" kick.  I feel a bit like Houdini's wife, waiting for that specific sign to prove he's still hanging around.  Mom had told me, a long time ago, that she'd like to come back as a robin.  She was always a bird lover and robins were a particular favorite.  So I've been obsessed with seeing a robin.  Come on, bird.  It's not like you're an uncommon species.  Hop across my path.

Every damn robin on Long Island has been in hiding for the past two weeks.  Nothing.  Not a glimpse, not a peep, not a warble.  Gone.  I walk to work every day, straining an ear and an eyeball, and every day for weeks, I've seen no red breast.  The paranoid goonie inside me began to wonder.  Now that she's dead, she knows about my book FREAK.  She's in it; every drunken repulsive thing she ever did in front of me is in it.  Well, quite a few.  Maybe she's mad.  Maybe she doesn't want me to see a sign that she's watching me.  Maybe she wants me to stew because I am such a fucking horror of a daughter.

As you can tell, the insecurity addiction was rearing its ugly head, gorging on all that grief and doubt.  I hid in my girlie cave and fought the good fight, whaling on my noisy insecurity with a sledgehammer until it settled down again.  But still, I looked for that robin.  And day after day, it didn't appear.

So let me tell you about yesterday.  I was walking into work early in the morning, just sneering at all the cardinals and blue jays and hoards of sparrows, when I noticed a shrieking rage up in the tree I was just passing under.  There, puffed up in rigid fury, skinny legs bent and pissed off, was a robin, directly over my head.  He was MAD.  He hopped, he fluffed, he threw his wings into affronted points and fixed me with a beady eye.  His butt feathers poofed, and I narrowly skirted a stream of well aimed, righteous bird shit.

I was delighted.  Here was my sign.  An angry little bird with no sense of proportion, bitching a blue streak at me from a branch I could have touched with an outstretched finger.  He didn't care.  He would have pecked me.  Oh, yes, this was a sign.  I thought back to all the stories Mom had told me of her youth, of squeezing a cheeseburger onto the head of a boy who insulted her, of driving a date's car into the ditch when he tried to feel her up, of clawing red rivers down the cheek of another fresh kid on a bus ride.  No spiritual herald of my mom's would have come quietly.  He would have bitched and shrieked and tried to crap on me.  I grinned and baby-talked and all but skipped with glee at the sight of him.  He calmed down enough to look a trifle confused, then peeped a bit and flew off.

When my brother Ian was killed at the age of nineteen, Mom used to clean his tombstone every day.  Each morning, she'd wake up, make us breakfast, see us off to school, get her cleaning bucket and brushes, and drive up to the cemetery on the hill.  The first week, she saw yellow butterflies covering the grave.  The second week, she planted daffodil bulbs.  They'd been his favorite flower.  At the beginning of the third week, she gathered up her supplies and got into the car.  Halfway to the cemetery she told me she heard Ian say, very clearly, "God, Mom...not AGAIN!"  She stopped the car in the middle of the old farm road, engine idling, and looked up at the tree on the hill, marking Ian's grave.  Then she said, "Okay, son," turned the car around and went home.

I think of that robin yelling at me and I believe it just might be Mom saying, "God, Beck...get on with your life!  I'm FINE!"  At the moment, I'm in the middle of the road, my engine idling.  I think it's time to turn around and embrace life once more.  I hope all of you out there, with your griefs and tragedies and sad sad stories, can see the wisdom of that pissy little bird, find a way to turn around, and embrace your own lives.  Take care.

Love, R

Friday, August 5, 2011


Yesterday was the two-week anniversary of my mom's death and my grieving hasn't gotten much better.  Grief is a very strange thing.  I had wanted her to die for months.  The Alzheimer's had advanced so much, she had become strange and rather horrific to talk to, but the real nightmare was how much she was suffering physically and emotionally.  I wanted her to be done.  I wanted her out of that body, zipping around as a happy little spirit, no longer trapped in that oatmeal mush of a brain and that torture chamber of a body.  When the nursing home called to say she had passed on, it was a relief and awful at the same time. 

Emotionally, things haven't changed much but I know they will.  Corny as it sounds, Time really is the great healer.  I go to work and don't throw up any more.  That's a welcome change.  My beloved boyfriend is moving here very shortly; we'll no longer be a long distance relationship.  That's magnificent change and couldn't come at a better time.  I can laugh at work, slipping on the chipper Rebecca persona like a comfortable glove, losing myself in serving the mild and the demanding, the impatient and the laid back.  There's a comfort in that too; like being on a stage, forgetting who you are and what you're currently going through.  All my good friends at work have rallied around me.  I actually went for a Margarita with them two nights ago, something I never do.   Cool salt licks and tasty tortillas.  It had been a particularly busy night and I had a gremlin table: those are the ones where absolutely everything goes wrong.  I screwed up and that made me upset and that made me screw up even more.  A chink in the chipper persona slipped and I had to run in the back for a bit of a weepy fest.  I went for margaritas with the two waitresses who did my side work for me as I tried to pull it together. 

The practicalities of grief are not often addressed.  I would love to take time off, a sad vacation to cry it all out and do a bit of sobby sightseeing with my past.  But poverty is a strict taskmaster.  I was back at work less than forty-eight hours after Mom passed.  Of course, I sucked at my job and more often than not had to leave, but I kept going back.  For rent, for bills, for food and drink.  And that, right there, is the strangest comfort of all.  Food, water, shelter; the necessities of life.  I was going back to work, tackling my grief over my mother's death, all for the sake of living.  An unexpected positive thing and a road to the future as well.  I'll always have the past.  "Now" is fleeting; I'll half blink at the present before it becomes a memory.  But the future is also always mine.  No matter how miserable I am now or ever was, the future is always waiting.  And in that future, this overwhelming grief will be a thing of the past.  So I smile as I look toward it.   And endure.  Like sitting in the dentist's chair, it'll soon be over. 

Take care.

Love, R

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Perfect Day

One of my favorite people alive invited me to go kayaking today.  Having never kayaked in my life but always wanting to try it, I was thrilled.  She picked me up, we scarfed some pizza beforehand, hauled the gear into the car, and headed off to the water.  I looked like a bag lady pirate in cut off pants and an over sized t-shirt over my swim suit, a big black and red lobster hat on my head. 

We shoved the kayaks into the water, climbed aboard, and were off.  I've rowed a boat before, but kayaking  is different.  For one thing, the water's right there beside you and the kayak is so comfy.  I just lolled back and made figure eights with my paddle thing, clumsily knocking the side of the boat and trying to imitate my friend B, who made graceful, effortless arcs and skimmed along like a water skipper on the still surface of the water.  We saw so many birds: egrets and cormorants and seagulls, most of them perched on some object sticking out of the water, wings outstretched to dry.  I kept catching myself thinking, "I should tell B to take a picture to send to Mom," then remembering my mom was dead.  Still not used to it yet.  Still fresh.  So I decided to whisper a grinning side note to my mother, pretending she was skimming along beside me, enjoying this perfect day as much as I was.  I looked at the birds and watched tiny fish jump, went right up to rocks jutting and waves breaking against them, peered into recesses in rusted out docks, salt water glistening on the countless spider webs under every horizontal surface.   B pointed out an old ship abandoned on shore, grey with age, and a cool old building with paint peeling off crumbling brick.  We surmised it might have been some building from World War II's war production, then paddled on.  We read the names of dozens of boats, some wonderful, like "At Last" and "Sun Catcher," some gross and ridiculous, like "Wet Dream."  B took me to a little area behind some reeds where somebody had sculpted a little cat on a rock right by the water; the shoreline was loaded with white clay.  Excited, I suggested we sculpt something too.  So we pulled the kayaks ashore, scooped up a basketball-sized blob of clay and set to work.  She made a cool shark, which she stuck in a tree over the water.  I made a mermaid perched on a rock, looking out at the horizon.  Then we jumped back in the kayaks and paddled back to where we'd parked and drove back to her house.  We ate Chinese food while watching the first five episodes of True Blood, which I'd never seen.  Loved it.  She drove me back home, both of us sleepy and happy, me clutching a sea shell and my bag of sandy clothes.  The night sky was full of stars, and I tipped my head back to stare.  A perfect day.  Haven't had one of those in a while.  Didn't expect to have one so soon after my mom's passing.  But Life likes to toss you a curve ball sometimes.  Some of them are good, some bad.  Today's was very good.  So thank you, B, for suggesting the kayaks in the first place, and thank you Life, for throwing me such an unexpected and wonderfully sunshiny curve ball.

Very grateful.

Take care.

Love, R