vendredi, septembre 16, 2011

Woman on the run

Sorting out my desk (I'd lost my checkbook, and was gearing up to write a huge sum of money to my contractor), I found a c.d. that I'd buried in the back of a drawer. Actually, I'd forgotten about its existence.

And when I saw it again, it brought back memories that I've been attempting (not too successfully) to bury also.

I stared at it. Then I put it aside. Possibly, in a week or so, it will disappear in a pile of papers -- there isn't a lot of room in here right now.

I know I'm not ready to play it.

This morning I had a challenging conversation with my contractor. Items in a change order concerned me -- and, as it turned out, I'd been reading the complex document completely wrong. I could see the man supervising the entire renovation of the house become more and more uncomfortable.

Finally he blurted out that his wife (who runs the business side) thought that I thought they were making a lot of money from the project. While I assured him that it wasn't the case, I felt very uncomfortable. I have the sense we haven't said what we need to say to be "clean' with one another.

Raising questions, trying to get to the core of the matter, as uncomfortable as it sometimes can be, is my way of life. I figure that it's better to have your cards on the table -- and I hope for that in return.

But truth -- this kind of truth -- between two people is unusual. It doesn't happen a lot. It's much easier to not communicate, to hide behind daily routines, to languish in limerence, lust or lassitude than tell someone you are furious, or anxious, or feeling vulnerable.

And when you can do that with can be pretty scary. Who wants to be that open? It's so much easier to get hurt when you are naked -- or maybe it's tougher to hide the scars.

I will leave the c.d. on the desk. When I can play it again, and just appreciate the music, I'll know what I've gained -- and what I've lost.

mercredi, septembre 14, 2011

Bitter with a dash of wry

I see his face pop up on my "viewed you" page, and, for a moment, I feel a rush of rage.

White-hot anger floods my veins.

He is one of many men on dating sites who call themselves "available" -- it's actually, strangely, a synonym for "unavailable."

The word "available" often means that they are married, and for some reason looking for sex/romance online (they are cheating, swinging, or stuck in the never-never land of living in the same house as the wife).

Then there was the fellow whose profile said that he had been cheated on by an unfaithful "cougar" wife...and was only seeking casual hookups himself.

Who in their right mind would want to date a man who describes himself like this?

I'm losing my patience with married guys, guys who write me emails that say merely "hi" and men who rail at me if I don't treat them with the care deserved by an ancient Roman vase.

In the old days, I'd want to know what made these fellows tick -- why were they doing these strange things online? I'd study them like an entomologist scans a bug that hasn't yet been named.

Now I just think they are total jerks -- no, some of them are babies.

I've also lost my immunity to immature behavior.

What concerns me is that, along with the disgust, I have moments of bitterness. And I'm genuinely not a bitter person.

I can find a reason to forgive, to believe, to reach out...even when it's not clear that the person on the other end is worthy of that kind of tenacity. I find it hard to think ill of anybody.

Yet I don't want to become mean, or hurtful, or vengeful. I'd rather be slightly naive than a crusty middle-aged lady, with layers like a carapace.

I still believe in love, even if romantic love doesn't come my way. Yet I hope...hope that a person will come into my life who is indeed a man of honor, even if that honor has gotten a little jagged and cracked along his journey.

Mending is something we could do as a team. I know I need healing also -- I'm very tired of being jaded.

I changed my profile header today to: "Seeking a man who looks in the mirror, broken, scarred, gorgeous -- and doesn't blink." I could love a guy like this.

But save me from the man who doesn't know he is in pieces. I do not have a spirit large enough for him.

lundi, septembre 12, 2011

Between she and thee: do smarts matter?

Recently I spoke with two guys on the phone.
One of them was very highly educated -- so well-versed in erudition that I frankly confessed (not being an intellectual) that I couldn't keep up with him at times.
Last week I chatted with another guy -- he had one advanced degree, but his area of expertise was practical. Highly practical.
We couldn't stop sharing opinions --rather unusual for me in a first telephone conversation. Quickly we found similarities in the way we saw the political world, environmentalism, and even religion.
In other words, we drew sparks, but I didn't feel that I needed to race to keep up with him -- or draw him back from the Ptolemaic universe (or whatever universe in which the first man likes to spend quiet hours).
As I've said, I prefer a mix of smart and grounded, e.q. and i.q. And that doesn't have to mean that they've graduated college -- I hope we are moving past the time when the sole measure of intelligence is that degree on your wall (and where it came from).
I've wondered, however, what guys my age are looking for.
Back in the days before our culture became slightly more egalitarian, a number of men dated and often wed women who weren't quite the sharpest tools in the shed.
Did it help them feel more secure?
It certainly was not the case in my family -- no self-respecting female would look demure and be quiet when a man was talking. Don't think badly of the Jackson women -- we'd let the guy get a sentence or three out before we contradicted him.
When I read dating profiles, lots of men say that they are seeking intelligent women. And many of them find such women.
On the other hand, lots of men happily settle down with women who have concrete instead of abstract skills, stay in the bullpen, and tend to let their men do the original thinking for them.
It's very possible that these guys, as smart as they may be, end up very happy.
Or, perhaps, some of them end up wondering what they have missed.
As much as I fantasize about the calm, stable, concrete thinker, I know I'd miss the give and take -the spark, the dance, the engagement.
Am I dreaming? Notice, I didn't say he had to be rich or gorgeous, too. Told ya I was a realist.

dimanche, septembre 11, 2011

The sad lessons of September 11, 2001-Lancaster commentary

On one level, the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001, changed little in my life.

But in other ways, the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in rural Shanksville profoundly changed the way I see the world — as perhaps it did for you.

No personal loss, and yet a loss that cannot yet be measured, and a hope that refuses to die.

I lost no one I knew in the tragedy, although that in itself is remarkable in that 20 percent of Americans knew someone affected by the attack, according to an article in New York Magazine.

I grew up in New York City, and have friends in the financial service industry.

Nearly 3,000 men, women and children died that day.

When we got the news that planes has crashed into the twin towers, my husband and I were at a diocesan meeting. Sitting in a large Gothic-themed church of soaring ceilings and arches, we were surrounded by men and women in black shirts and collars.

Clothed in all the garb of tradition, and ecclesiastical authority, we sat stunned as our bishop told us what had occurred. Suddenly, everything around us became a prop, our rituals flimsy barricades against an encroaching darkness.

Gazing out at the empty skies as we drove back to the parish where I worked, I wondered — as many of you might have done — if we were entering a true apocalyptic moment.

If apocalypse isn't the legacy of the madness that took so many innocent lives, the cost has been high enough.

Those of us who lived through the attacks will probably never feel as secure in own own cities and towns as we did before.

The post 9/11 military operations we are fighting have diverted money away from important needs here at home, such as rebuilding infrastructure or fighting poverty.

The cost of these conflicts are still rising, and our exit strategy remains unclear.

Though Osama Bin Laden is dead, and many experts believe al-Qaida is very much weakened, the insurgencies continue.

Thousands of our own brave fighting men and women have died, along with tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children.

Nationally, there have been more than 1,700 hate crimes reported to the U.S. Council on Muslim-Islamic Relations, according to the New York Magazine article.

The unity of purpose we felt in the days after the attacks? It feels a bit chimerical now.

And what have we gained, taking into account bin Laden's death?

I can only speak for myself: these gifts are double-edged, born in sorrow and drenched in rue.

A deep respect and wonder for those of our citizens who died that day with bravery, faith in one another, and dignity. Again and again, my thoughts return to the field outside the little town of Shanksville, and the battle waged over its skies. The courage of the passengers on the plane that day meant that it is likely that many others lived.

Heartfelt appreciation for the sacrifices made by our firefighters and police, and the volunteers who spent days, months and even years at ground zero and the other sites. It is because of them, in large part, that life in those sacred spots has returned to something approaching normal.

Gratitude to the children, widows, widowers and relatives of those who died for continuing, not only to witness to what happened that morning, but to help make our country stronger and more effective at battling terrorism.

Thankfulness for work done by people of conscience building bridges between faiths in this country — and in battling bias against our Muslim neighbors.

A stronger sense — and in this I stand with St. Augustine and the Reform tradition — that those of us who are people of faith have a duty not only to stand up against the evil that is outside of us, but the malice, hard-heartedness and lack of empathy within us.

I take personal pride in being from the great city of New York. Yes, we are home to the Yankees — don't hold it against us. New Yorkers also are tough, tenacious, compassionate and visionary, rebuilding a nerve center of the world's financial district with their gutsiness and faith in the power of human persistence.

Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the cataclysm that touched so many lives, and when I think of the lessons from that day, I recall the extraordinary life of an ordinary woman — Beverly Eckert.

Eckert lost her high school sweetheart and husband, Sean Rooney, when the South Tower of the World Trade Center fell. After he died, she became an advocate for families touched by the tragedy. About five years ago, she recorded an NPR interview that touched on her memories of that day, and of their time together.

"I told him that I wanted to be there with him, but he said, no, no, he wanted me to live a full life," she says in the interview.

As the smoke got thicker, Rooney whispered, "'I love you,' over and over," Eckert says. "I just wanted to crawl through the phone lines to him, to hold him, one last time."

In a tragedy beyond words, Eckert died in the crash of Continental Flight 3407, on her way to Buffalo to commemorate her husband's birthday.

We'll never forget you, Beverly. Your story, multiplied, is that of so many survivors, and of many Americans, determined to wrest meaning out of rank evil and stand up for the sentiment that in the end, love will triumph.

A Christian sentiment, but more than that, a human one. When I recall the very mixed lessons of Sept. 11, 2001, that's the one I choose to recall — love that stands up to evil, and will not die.