Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rain Falls on a Smoke Leaf Tree


Rain falls on a smoke leaf tree.
It cleanses the soil, the fragment of earth
I have borrowed for this life.
It comes in a deluge to schlep away
the layers of debris
from a season of brisk inevitability.
Rain falls on a smoke leaf tree.
It will take all that was buried
beneath the dormant white catacombs.
The leaves that refused to let go
and soar in uncertain winds
will find themselves reclaimed.
Rain falls on a smoke leaf tree.
Water surges forth on a quest for
the path of least resistance.
Free flowing destruction until it halts
at the barrier of intervention
where it will once again nourish the soul.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Maya and Me

I love her. I love her in a jealous way. I want to have an eloquent soul that can explain tyranny and injustice with solace and gratitude.

I love her. I love her in an empathetic way. I have not lived her life nor known her struggles but she speaks to me as if I am a black woman and I understand. We are all on this journey together.

I love her. I love her in a sisterly, motherly, daughterly way. I can turn to her in the quiet dark times and know that her arms are wrapped around me.

She taught me why the caged bird sings. It doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

She knows "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you". Hence, this blog.

And in this time of transition for me, she brings me comfort.

 "I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Most importantly, her words echo in my head as if I am standing at the top of a mountain, screaming into the wild, vast emptiness that lies before me and I know the truth. I know I am right. I know the decision to leave him was difficult, yet I have failed so many times in the past when the unvarnished wood revealed itself to me and I refused to see it in its natural, raw state. Instead, I saw the richest Mahogany from the Ivory Coasts of West Africa.

This time, I am listening to my inner Maya and she is telling me, "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them".

Whether it's a rainy day, lost luggage, tangled Christmas lights or a Tuesday night when you fell asleep while comforting your child and did not call him. You can tell a lot about a person in these moments.

And this time, I believe.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bigger Than Life – In Memory of Paul Sands

Florida - Jody and Paul

He truly was bigger than life and yet today -  he is gone. When I knew he had passed,  I pulled this photo from my personal album and it made me cry. I remembered how peaceful and happy he was with Jody sitting there on his lap. It was our last night together on this particular vacation and it was one of those photos that unbeknown at the time, became iconic; it was the photo that captured the essence of our time together.

But today, in this early April, Jody was there to be with him as he was preparing to die. She didn't hesitate to interrupt her busy career or all the obligations that come with life as a single mom.  She booked her flight and headed south. By the time she arrived, he had lost his senses and wasn't able to hear her carefully crafted words. He died without her being able to hold his hand, tell him to let go, or tell him how much she had truly loved him.

Paul was the only man she’s ever known who hasn’t broken her heart.

I told her if he had known how much you really loved him, he would have tried a lot harder to marry you, or to sleep with you, at a minimum.  He had asked and longed for both on more than one occasion.

But she didn’t want to mess up a 26 year friendship with the guy who never broke her heart. And she was right.

In our conversations this morning, Jody asked me if I had the photos from our trip. She said she was looking for one specific photo. She didn't need to describe it, I told her I already had it scanned and on its way to her.  They had been friends for over twenty years. They loved each other and this photo represented that love.

When she went on to question the injustice of his early departure from our world,  I told her the only thing I could think to say, which was that heaven just got a helluva lot more fun because big Pauley had arrived.

It was four years ago when Paul treated Jody, Janelle and I to a four day trip to Fort Myers. We had been feeling out of sorts; each one with a specific obstacle in our busy lives that was holding us back. Early April in Milwaukee can mess with a woman. We were all depressed and  we yearned for sunshine and answers to the great mysteries in our lives. Paul didn't hesitate, he was there for us.

Florida - Jody and Ang in Convertable

He rented us a convertible.....Chrysler....Sebring, to be exact. We were free to roam about, have our girl time, ask young men to carry our groceries and  find our way back to the center of our lives.That’s Jody and I on the night where we spontaneously laughed ourselves back to healthy and happy. “The Bridge is right there”! (Inside joke).

Florida - Pauly and the Girls on Boat

He treated us to limos, yachts, a beach side hotel and nights on the town. He loved baseball, golf, boating, cigars wine and women, not necessarily in that order. If he could have them all at once, he would. He loved moments like these where he got to show off for his friends. We didn’t mind, he was like the biggest, friendliest, most harmless teddy bear we had ever met.

Florida - Jody and Ang sleeping in Limo

At the end of the night, when we were exhausted, he would sometimes have to wake us up to send us back to our hotel.  We couldn’t keep up with his boundless energy and non stop desire to live life to the fullest. Between the three of us girls, we were mothers of nine children. We weren’t used to that kind of life.

Florida - Pauly & the Girls 1

We will miss you here on this earth sharky. You touched so many lives. Hundreds of people came to your memorial to tell you what you meant to them and they weren't just casual acquaintances, they were bonafied friends.

Don’t we all wish we could live a life like that? Pauley left a legacy by living large and living well, with a big heart and an even bigger hug to embrace us all.

Darling Paul Sands, truly one of a kind.

My heart is with you Jody #2 as you must let go of this beautiful man. As I said to you earlier.....perhaps in the next life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shoes for Samantha

I'm throwing my hat or should I say my shoes into the ring here to support a new charity, established by a few blogging friends of mine. They are all young women (early 20's), having not even established their own paths yet but already compassionately giving back.

What a wonderful thing to know that our next generation is ready to give.

They now have their own Shoes for Samantha blog site and are considering starting a non-profit. I love the story and I want to see this amazing woman have shoes on the feet of all her future track starts. Wouldn't that be amazing?  Here's the scoop from Rachel, over at Confessions of a Virgin Blogger. Rachel will be moving to NYC to begin law school in the fall. I'm so happy I've "met" her here in the blogosphere. I want you to know her too. Bottom line, they need running shoes and money to ship them but I'll let her tell you in her own words:
As you may or may not know, my dear friend Samantha is stationed in Lesotho (Southern Africa for those of you who have never heard of it. Don't feel bad - neither had I) for a 2.5 year stint with the Peace Corps. Recently in her blog she wrote about a track team at her school. Sam was a HUGE runner in high school and college and the only person who has ever succeeded in convincing me to run anywhere (which is a feat in and of itself). Track season in Lesotho is almost over but she's talking of coaching next year. The problem? Her students desperately need shoes. Sam writes, "The debatably 400 meter track had two mild inclines and was dirt smeared with shards of glass. My students ran barefoot!" After reading this, I knew I wanted to help.

Our mutual friend Hannah did a little research and found that "a leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases and the long term physical and cognitive harm they cause."

So, I'm writing to ask if you have any old running or athletic shoes, if you'd be willing to donate them to Sam's students in Lesotho. Any size and gender will do. I sent out an e-mail last week and got an overwhelmingly positive response, including some from a couple of key people who are stepping up to the plate in terms of organization. Because of them, we have six "collectors" for your convenience. Contact the following people and they will work with you to make the easiest exchange possible.

If you live near Columbia or Myrtle Beach, SC contact Stephanie at

If you live near Clemson, SC contact Hannah at

If you live near Charleston, SC contact Claire at

If you live near East Lansing, MI contact Amy at

If you live near Milwaukee, WI contact Angela at

If you live in Denver, CO or not in SC at all, contact me, Rachel at

The projected ship date will be May 1, so if you could get your shoes to one of us by then, that would be wonderful. If you want to help but don't have any old shoes, we will gladly accept any monetary donation you are willing to give to cover shipping costs. Also, pass the word on. You never know when a stranger may want to help out but they can't if they don't even know about it! Thanks!
So, to all my friends from around the country. Let's reach across the world, and provide some shoes for these kids to run their hearts out. Just imagine the looks on their faces when they receive their new shoes. We can do it. Hop on over there and give whatever you can.

Zen Mama

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Visitors in the Night

I try to pay close attention to my dreams.  I am one of the lucky ones who not only has the experience of wild, vivid dreams but I can generally remember them the next day. My mom used to look forward to dreams where she was visited by dad or my two brothers after they had passed. She truly believed they were communicating with her from the great beyond, bringing her a message or just spending time with her because she missed them so much.

Last night, I received such a visit.  Mom, Dad, Robby and Mark were all there. There were others who are very much alive; thus, for much of the dream, it hadn't occurred to me that anything was unusual. I had forgotten they were all dead. One by one, they began to be called back.

Each was called in the order they had died. The manner in which they had to go was viscerally brutal. They had to have their hearts removed, then go through a series of painful procedures only to finally be placed into what could only be described as a casket sized, ominously terrifying  ironing press. Once they were placed in the press, the giant lever would come down and squeeze them until they disappeared into nothing but hot vapors.

By the time I witnessed Dad and Mark go, I knew Robby would be next. They had enjoyed their time here, it was comfortable and happy. They communicated with their thoughts and expressions; no spoken words. Each had a countenance that told me they were delighted to see me, yet pained to go. Each one looked at me and I heard the words in my head......I'm sorry. They didn't have to say why, I simply knew and each time, I forgave and accepted.

Then I turned to my mom.  She was the only one left. At first, I was relieved for in my sub conscience mind, I thought she was still part of the living. In the dream world, she was still with me. Thank God I still have her, I thought to myself.  Then she stood to go, to prepare to have her heart removed. I screamed and fought and pleaded with her to stay. Not you too, I need you. Can't you see that?  I need you now more than ever.Why did you do it, why did you give up and let yourself die? But within minutes, she was nothing but a hot vapor.

The next thing I did was lie down in the surgical bed where they had all had their hearts removed and waited for my turn.

Friday, April 9, 2010

And This I Pray....

My eyes opened this morning and my heart hurt. Before the day began, before my feet touched the floor, I felt the excruciating pain of loss. I must have slept that way.
Spring did not return to me yesterday; in fact the temperature dropped to 38 degrees and there were snow flurries. Last week, I was enveloped in 84 degrees of daffodil blooming spring and yesterday I faced a stone-cold, unbending, bitterly cold day. The snow was light but angry. So much anger. It makes me cry, not a PMS cry but a broken heart cry. I needed spring to understand my vulnerabilities and to wrap me up in it's warmth. But it was unable to yield, unable to give, unable to express even the slightest amount of compassion.

My day continued to unfold with a tearful call from my girlfriend, telling me her friend Paul is nearing the end of his battle with cancer. She's going to fly out to Florida for a memorial next week. It was this very week in April four, or maybe five years ago when Paul hosted us for a long weekend in Fort Myers. He was bigger than life then, treating us to yachts and limos and a hotel right on the beach. And today, he is preparing to take his final breath here in this life. I will pray for him and all who knew him.

I had planned to spend this weekend with good friends at their lake house. I have described my girlfriend Vicki, many times as walking sunshine because you always feel such warmth in her presence. Her essense is positive energy. She is exactly what I needed today with my broken heart. The next call I took was from her. She and her brother are flying out to Utah first thing tomorrow as her mom, who has been in hospice care, has taken a turn for the worse. She, like Paul, is nearing the end. I will pray for her as well.

My little birdie friend is caring for her dying mother while navigating her way through all that comes with that. I've been there, I know what she's going through. She's reaching out to The Leaders of the Free World for encouragement. She usually sinks deep down into her pain and removes herself from us until she feels whole again. This time, she is calling for us and I want to be with her more than I want sunshine.

I've always found it interesting how the same word can have two immensely different meanings. I'm a writer so I pay attention to words and meaning; yet, I can write a post with one thing in mind and have it read by another who interprets it exactly contrary to my intent. For example, I was asking him to stay but he thought I was telling him to go.

It reminds me of the expression, a lump in your oatmeal is okay but a lump in your breast is not. I finish my day today and I wish for many things. I wish the radiologist hadn't told me he didn't like the look of the lump in my breast this morning. I wish I would not be facing another surgery. I wish my mom hadn't died of breast cancer. I've been through this three times now, each time has been okay, no cancer, just necessary precautions. Now I have a lump in my throat as well. 

I want to to take the pain away from all of us who are suffering these losses and I want to run away to a place where there are no ex-husbands going to jail, no painful break-ups and no lumps in my breast.  I want to get in my car and drive south until I find a spring that is real, a spring that is committed to stay. Then I want to get out of my car and lie in the grass on the side of the road for a while.

It's moments like these when I scream to the universe to take me away and soak me in your warm water with glistening bubbles and floral scent. Let me stay there until I'm ready to face this ugly world, where pain is inevitable.

Then the universe answers back when one of my friends reminds me not to get my cape wet. Suffering is optional.
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, the encountering may be the very experience which creates the vitality and the power to endure ~Maya Angelou.
I will pray today, often and well. It's really all I can do.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

I went to work today after dropping the kids off with their dad. He seemed perfectly ordinary; nothing unusual struck me about him. Same ol' Mr. Sunshine, with a chance of pain.

Later in the day, I was met at the copy machine and given a loving hug from one of my best friends. She is prone to spontaneous hugs so I didn't think much of it but then she looked at me so sympathetically,  like my puppy had just died. With her head tilted and her face very close to mine she asked if I was okay? Sure, I said. I’m fine, why do you ask?

Mr. Sunshine was on the local news this morning; he has plead guilty to the charges pending against him. He’s going to jail for four years”.

And I thought last week was bad.

I had one of those moments this past Friday night when all the emotional stress I had been carrying all week came flooding out in an utterly defeated, ready to give up kind of way. It was a span of darkness. There had been a car accident, a girlfriend’s life shattered by a revelation, more layoffs at work, announcements of financial trouble for one of our sister companies and I had PMS.

Mind you, PMS in the late forties is accompanied by more than just heightened emotion. It is like you die each month. Depression, suffering, death, heavy, darkness.

I remember thinking the night after my car accident how much I could have used a good cry. I could feel my guts, all twisted up inside and I knew something was going to have to give to get me back to a calm center.

Then Friday night rolled around and all hell broke lose. I had tried so hard to repair my little Commando, to restore his faith in me after I was made to be the “fault” of our divorce, to build him back up, to keep him from following in the footsteps of his father’s narcissistic tendencies. I have him in counseling. His father refuses to help with the cost; yet, he spends most of his time in counseling talking about his issues with his dad.

I can honestly say, he is perhaps the most complicated child in the history of the world to raise but all of his difficult personality traits will serve him well in his adult life. That is of course, if I choose to let him live. In the five plus years since our divorce, he has come a long way. I have made great strides with him. He hugs me and loves me and listens to me (sometimes) and he stopped having the house-wrecking fits of rage some time ago.

Friday night, the rage resurfaced and my spirit was too weak to handle it. In the middle of his meltdown of epic proportion, I watched him cry, I felt his suffering and I heard him talk about how much he wished his dad didn’t have 50% of him. In my compromised state, I began to feel it would be impossible for me to help this child as long as I share custody with his father. For it seems we make 50% progress only to be 50% defeated.

My son does not know real happiness, he never has.

I have stood strong and fought hard but maybe it was time for me to call it quits. Maybe he would be better off with his dad full time. After the incident with our other child suffering a ruptured appendix while in his care, I had toyed with the idea of fighting Mr. Sunshine for full custody of the kids but I knew I couldn’t prove he was unfit and no judge would remove joint custody otherwise.

But luckily I was prepared for the shocking news today thanks to a blog which contains scores of wisdom for not only facing your dark times but accepting them and embracing the growth that will undoubtedly surface each time we shed our skin. She has endured her rough times by remembering the Buddhist principle, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.

She quotes Pema Chodron from her book “When Things Fall Apart” as follows:
"The essence of life is that it's challenging. Sometimes it's sweet, and sometimes it's bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about this approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.... To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. .... To live is to be willing to die over and over again."
I can’t begin to tell you how much this quote centered me. I immediately found my balance, knowing I don’t need to worry about all these loose ends. I accept my life for where it is and if I stay open to it, the universe will provide for me. I certainly don’t want my kids to have to suffer through the embarrassment and shame of having a father in jail; yet, if I can have four years of their lives without his influence, I stand a better chance of reaching my son’s heart and helping him to finally, for once, feel accepted and know true happiness.

Another wonderful post by Robin over at Pre-Meditated contained a passage from the Holy Bible (New Testament). Can I just say how much I love that a Jewish woman from New York and a Southern Baptist from Oklahoma can connect through the teachings of Buddha and Jesus.
…....I may associate darkness with fear or sadness. Yet darkness may also mark a new beginning, a time of transformation. Out of what was, something new emerges. The chick emerges from the egg; the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. Time in the darkness is an important and essential part of the process of life….. In faith I move through times of challenge, even of sorrow, expecting good to be revealed through the activity of Spirit. In the midst of what may appear to be darkness, I open myself to new wisdom. With each experience, I emerge a new creation of Spirit….John 16:20
And so I emerge, a new creation of spirit who awaits the return of Spring. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to see it tomorrow.

Update: In speaking with Mr. Sunshine, he said his attorney feels certain they can resolve this with probation and/or a home confinement type of sentence. It will be several months before we know.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Heart Yearns for You.....

The promise of spring, it teases me.

The daffodils are opening

yet I remain reticent,

for you have taunted me with promise

only to blanket me with frost.

I will not call out to you or

plead for your grace.

I need you to come of your own desire

and inhabit me with commitment.

Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.
~ Abraham Lincoln

Artwork by Joye Tilton

Monday, April 5, 2010

Love and Marriage - Hope and Heartbreak

Writing about all the good guys my girlfriends have married has set my mind on a quest. Exactly how does one know when they’ve found a Cary Grant and are not instead being fooled by an Archibald Leach in costume? I’m also pondering how all these marriages last when we, as the human species, have our good qualities our not so good, rather ugly stuff that surfaces now and then.

I wrote my “good guy” post to offer hope to my girlfriend who has been struggling with defining the need for a man in her life. I wanted her to see all the good in the world and convince her she deserved the same. Instead, she read it and cried – and it wasn’t a good kind of cry, it was the other one. This is my second effort with a little more heartfelt honesty and a lot less spiritual, universal froo froo.

How do all of my happily married friends handle it when they have a bad fight or wake up each morning to the same guy with messy hair and bad breath? How does all this happily ever after fit into reality? In other words, how do they fucking do it?

I recently realized almost every couple I know who have been married for 25 plus years are of the Catholic faith. Is it religious belief that holds them together? I suppose fear of the Pope or burning in hell has saved quite a few marriages but I don’t think that’s the answer I’m seeking.

I was married to one of the good guys and I left him. I was bored out of my mind, dying on the vine and eager for more out of life. My good guy wasn’t good enough.

Before Seinfeld, we were all expected to stay with our partners for better or worse. Seinfeld spoofed the impetuous, relative ease with which we tend to hastily declare - NEXT. His character sacrificed a plethora of seemingly perfect love interests based upon trivial infractions such as not tasting his apple pie, being liked by his parents, laughing strangely, having man hands or the eternally classic, eating her peas one at a time.

I have to admit I turned down a second date with a guy once because I knew I could never live with that annoying laugh.

A little online research led me to find the following "official" list of reasons when it’s time to call it quits:
  1. You can't be yourself with your partner.
  2. You feel that the relationship is smothering you emotionally, socially, or spiritually.
  3. You sense there are differences in values, beliefs, and life goals.
  4. One of you is moving a distance away.
  5. You find yourself outgrowing the person.
  6. You're in an emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive relationship.
Thank heavens we have an official list but what happens when your boyfriend’s hot temper scares you but he’s not emotionally abusive or what do you do if your kids don’t get along? What if during a fight, one person is allowed to say enough is enough but when the other person doesn’t want to pick up the phone to talk, they are accused of immature behavior. Is this trivial, like eating your peas one at a time or is it more like peas and carrots, which contrary to Forest Gump, really don't belong together. In other words, is this enough to break-up?

Blended family issues are not discussed in the reasons to break up I found online. What happens when you’re asked to leave in the middle of a date because his daughter is having an issue; yet he refuses to sit in the back seat when she’s dealing with her emotionally distraught son. Or, he speaks up, telling her children what he thinks of their behavior while she has chosen to remain quiet and non confrontational about all the head games his kids are playing.

And what if we just don’t have enough patience to stay calm and work through contention, preferring instead to walk away from someone that may very well be one of the good ones? As for my girlfriend, I understand why she’s enduring such an arduous task, convincing herself of the need for a man in her life. When you live a life filled with work, kids and bouts of enormous stress, it is challenging to add someone to that. But it takes an effort of Herculean proportion to want them to stick around when their ugly stuff surfaces.

It begs the question, is it worth it? Does she want the better and the worse? What if the good guy she finds decides he doesn’t want the better if he has to deal with the worse? What if they are both too independent to really allow someone into their lives? And by “allow”, I mean willing to change behaviors that hurt them, drop the baggage being carried in from previous relationships and work together to achieve mutual goals.

That’s it. That’s what my successfully married friends have figured out.

It takes work.

And work takes desire.

Do those of us that are still single, dumping people in a Seinfeld-esque manner, want to remain carefree, fun-loving people who will never live the lives our parents lived?

Or do we desire a life-long relationship where work and a healthy dose of patience is required?

Well, my friend…do we?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Conclusion of the Rear-Ender Offender

When I told #1Son about the incident, he said holy cow mom, your description of that old geezer reminds me of Frodo's uncle who turns all crazy and mean after being asked to give up the ring. He couldn't have been more spot on because suddenly, I was staring deep into the watery eyes of a man possessed.  Bilbo Baggins for sure.

Good thing I'm used to dealing with douche bags.  Even old ones.

I cannot say the same thing for him. As I began to size him up, studying him from head to toe, observing his clothing and mannerisms, taking copious notes of my opponent, I realized he was a man who was quite accustomed to pushing people around. He was not dressed in the customary 80 year old man, pants up to his nipples ensemble. He was a power monger.

Driving around in his newer model red Caddy, wearing his perfectly creased Brooks Brothers blue and white striped dress shirt with white cuffs held together by what can only be described as old man bling. I kid you not, his cuff links were emerald shaped aquamarine or possibly blue topaz boulders. I'm surprised his frail little arms could hold those things up.

I'm fairly certain he must have been relieved when he saw he had smacked into a woman. I'll just stand here in front of her bumper, tell her everything is okay and she'll believe me. Oh look, she's got curly red hair and she's wearing a lacy, delicate feminine sweater.  Even better, he thinks. She's not a feminist, she looks like someone who has been taught to respect their elders and act like a lady.  She looks like a woman who knows her place. Piece of cake, he thought, I'll be back on the road driving recklessly in no time.

As we now stood in front of the officer, telling two very different sides of the story, he kept looking at me as if he didn't understand why I would be upset. This was the most puzzling aspect. It was either pure evil in its truest form or some form of dementia was at work. In my moment of very un-zen like rage, I chose to believe he was a pompous ass who had picked on people his entire life.

The policeman informed us without an independent witness, he could not take one side or the other. He would write both sides into his report and let everyone go without a fine or citation.  Essentially, he said your insurance companies will fight it out - it's the law here in the cheese state. Oh, and get this, they don't ask you for proof of insurance. We are one of only two states that allow uninsured motorists to roam the streets at their leisure.  Positively, unbelievably, fucking delightful.

When the PoPo went to his car to write up the paperwork, I decided to venture on over to Bilbo-bling-daddy and let him know exactly what I thought of his behavior. Drawing from my very best dignified, steady and precise Julia Sugarbaker impersonation, I strolled up to him in a friendly manner and said, "Sir, may I ask you a question?"

Of course, I didn't care or even wait for a reply.
I am wondering how you sleep at night? When you close your eyes, do you have trouble falling asleep or do you sleep like an innocent baby, free from any thought of guilt or remorse? Tell me, do you do this often? How many other people have you hit lately. Have you hurt any small children with your 3,000 pound weapon of mass destruction? Do you have many children and grandchildren?
My children and grandchildren are of no concern to you, he protested as he folded his arms in front of him with righteous indignation. 
I was just asking because I am wondering how you look them in the eyes knowing their beloved role model is nothing but a lying old sack of bones, willing to hurt other people to protect his own worthless ass. My mom and dad raised me to be honest by example. Can you say the same for your own kids. Did they turn out okay or are they as fucked up as you are?
I will not allow you to speak to me that way. Who do you think you are talking to me like that?
I'll tell you who I am.  I am your worst nightmare.  You will wake up at night and think about me and when you do, I want you to remember, I'm a single mom who works a full time job to do the best I can raising four children.  It's not easy but I get up and I do it every single day. I'm the woman who just purchased this car three weeks ago because my other car was not safe to drive in the snow. I'm the woman who will not rest until I have your license revoked in the state of Wisconsin. That's who I am. Now, if you don't want to have this on your conscience, you get over there and you tell that policeman the TRUTH!
The cop can hear me now as he is walking toward us with our driver's licenses in hand. He turned to me first and calmly explained he already knew the truth. He said he knew I hadn't backed into him, like duh, that's pretty obvious. Then he looked at the old guy and said, "Sir, do you realize you're driving with a suspended license?"

Post Script: He's a slickster alright. A record check revealed a long list of violations and when I say long, I mean 25. Some were for traffic issues, speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, passing on a hill or curve, while others were for evictions, tax warrants, small claims and large law suits. Apparently, he used to live on Lake Drive, which translated for non-Milwaukee readers means he was living in luxury in the wealthiest area of the city with a view of Lake Michigan out his window. He now lives in a condo in  Waukesha and drives a red Cadillac with a damaged front bumper and hood. He was able to pay $50.00 to reinstate his license so he is still at large. He was insured however, so my agent is going to fight to get me covered under his policy. I haven't figured out how just yet but I do plan to take action to get him off the roads for good. In speaking with a police officer friend, I was told the police have to catch him in the act of a violation then require him to go in for a driver's test and reevaluation. Hmmm.  Wonder how I could arrange that, any ideas??

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Case of the Rear-Ender Offender

There I was, dangling in the middle of one of those busy highway intersections where you have to cross three lanes of traffic, then wait in the median for traffic to clear from the other direction, enjoying a picture perfect, practically unprecedented April 1st here in typically cold-until-freakin'-July, Milwaukee. I had just purchased my fast food lunch at Sonic; opting to grab and go instead of eating in my designated stall with the other throngs of people who were there enjoying the weather. The traffic was thick. I hunkered there in my beautiful new car purchased three weeks ago, with plenty of time to pop a tater tot or two when WHAM!

It took me a few minutes to figure out what had happened. Wait, where am I? I thought, as I tried not to choke on a tater tot. Then he appeared at my window. He was old, 83 to be exact. He looked sad, slightly confused and visibly disoriented. With his watery eyes and mumbling voice, he apologized profusely, holding his hand to his heart.

I'm so sorry, he said.  It was totally my fault, I didn't see you at all, I was looking the other way and didn't see you, I'm so sorry. You didn't do anything, you were just sitting there and I honestly did not see you at all. I'm very, very sorry. Looks like there's no damage but I'm so sorry, he said with his hand still resting over his heart.

Well, anyone who knows me knows I have always been a sucker for the old timers. My mom and dad used to tell me one day I would grow up to work in geriatrics because of my constant concern for their well being. I clearly recall them telling me I wouldn't mind cleaning up their soiled sheets.

Thanks for having such high aspirations for me.

I guess I couldn't blame them for their conclusions. It wasn't uncommon for me to see an elderly woman in the grocery store and run to offer my assistance to reach the upper shelves or stop to steady an old man making his way across a parking lot. When my grandmother was placed in a nursing home, I would sit and visit with all the residents (except for that dirty old guy that would chase me down the hall in his wheelchair mumbling something about big boobies) because they craved me (and not in the way the dirty old man craved me), they needed someone to talk with and my heart was soft and open for them.

As I watched this shaky old man on Friday, I immediately felt so bad, I got out of the car saying things like, sweetie, don't you worry about it......are you okay.....are you there someone I can call for you honey?

No, I'm fine and it looks like there's no damage to your car so you don't have to worry about anything.

Okay sweetie, I said.  But listen, I just got this car so I'd like to take a closer look and see for myself, if you don't mind.

Oh, I already looked it over, he said while standing directly in front of my right rear bumper. There's no damage at all.

At this point, I gently placed my hand on his shoulder and moved him out of the way while bending down to take a closer look at my busted bumper with a deep gash, a few dents and some paint scratches.  Well I'll be, this affable old man couldn't have lied to me.  He just can't see very well, I mean after all, he didn't see a large Mazda CX9, one of the largest vehicles of its type with three rows that seat 7 people. If he can't see that, then he most likely couldn't see the damages.

Listen sir, I would feel more comfortable if we call the police so I can have a report for my insurance company.

There's no need to call the police, they won't even come to investigate something this minor. I will give you all of my information, my drivers license, my insurance carrier, I will take care of everything for you. The police cannot respond to every little fender bender. Let's pull out of this busy intersection and I will give you everything you need.

This made a lot of sense as we were in the middle of a six lane highway, with cars turning in all directions around us. It didn't feel safe. All we needed was to have more cars piling up. I agreed to move to the bank parking lot across the street but I told him I would need to take his drivers license with me.

What, you say? Why was I suddenly leery of this beloved citizen of the senior persuasion? Let's just say, once again at the age of 46, I have learned to listen to my instincts. Thank the heavenly stars above. My 20 year old self would have hugged him and told him to be more careful while sending him on his merry way.

He pulled into the bank parking lot and proceeded to park his bright red Cadillac sedan perpendicularly across the only two drive-through lanes the bank had, cutting off full access. By the time I turned my car around to get to the bank, he had a bank employee at his window, asking him to move. He sat there for a good little while, with his quivering hands and sodden eyes obviously telling her of his accident. I could see her heart bleeding from two rows away.

I called the police.

After he found a real parking place, he came up to my window to give me his information. When I told him I had called the police, I witnessed the emergence of a new character.  Suddenly my helpless, decrepit old man turned into a belligerent, raving crackpot who was either in a terrible hurry as he had been insisting or he had something to hide.

I dropped the tender affection immediately and with my best raised, calm, clear and slow, mom means business voice, I said,


He took a step back, looking shocked, appalled and unsteady again. Why would you talk to me that way, he said, as his wide eyes began to look all gray, red and moist again.

I rolled up the window and called my insurance agent. The very same woman I had spoken to such a short time ago to tell her I got a new car. She was commiserating with me when he came back to the window and told me he refused to wait any longer. My agent told me to get out of the car and get his license plate number as he could be charged for leaving the scene. She could hear everything he was saying. She told me to be careful. Even over the phone, two cities away, he didn't sound right to her.

I grabbed my ever present small notebook where I jot down blog ideas or inspirational thoughts and began to take down his license plate number. I asked him to give me his name, address, phone number, and insurance information. He refused at first but when we saw the police officer turning into the lot, he began to cooperate. I got everything down except the policy number when the officer came up to us to begin his questioning.

Gramps proceeded to get uncomfortably close to the officer, positioning himself between us, with his head turned, speaking directly into his ear with that sad, old, shaky, helpless voice said, "I was just sitting there officer, and she backed right into me".

(To be continued......)