The Comfort Zone

I was cleaning out my closet today,
that cluttered place I call my mind,
when I ran across your memory
from another place, another time.

I remember how comfortable you were.
You had a comfortable home in a comfortable neighborhood.
You drove a comfortable car and you had a comfortable life.
Your manicured lawn was comfortable.
Your comfortable husband owned a comfortable business,
and had a comfortable secretary, who often smiled comfortably.
Your comfortable children went to comfortable schools.
On comfortable summer Saturdays,
you had comfortable barbecues in your comfortable back yard
where your comfortable friends got comfortably tipsy
from comfortably imported ale
purchased in your comfortable neighborhood liquor store,
the same place you purchased those comfortable martini mixes
that kept you comfortably happy
on long comfortable lonely afternoons,
while you watched your comfortable television,
sitting in your comfortable recliner
next to your comfortable shelves
full of comfortable books.

And then you met me.
And I made you extremely uncomfortable.

It was so uncomfortable knowing me,
putting your uncomfortable hands
in my uncomfortable hair,
letting my uncomfortable mouth
kiss you so uncomfortably,
screaming my uncomfortable name
while you moaned uncomfortably.
You wrote those uncomfortable love poems to me
on uncomfortable Post-It notes,
saying you wished I was all yours and you were all mine,
And I wondered sometimes what you thought about
while you were eating comfortable mashed potatoes
from a comfortable spoon,
sitting at your comfortable table
with your comfortable family,
with your thighs still wet
from another uncomfortable afternoon
spent with uncomfortable me.
“Mom? Did you hear me? I have soccer practice tomorrow afternoon.”   –  Andy Grammer, Honey, I’m Good.

Another one bites the dust.

Well, I’ve lost yet another ex-lover…this one to lung cancer.   Heck, I could have predicted that really.   When we were thick as fleas in our 20s, she had a raspy voice then, that I thought was so sexy.   Of course at 21, I’d barely heard of Bette Davis.   We smoked like we thought cigarettes might go out of style any minute.   Eventually I had the good sense to stop, as with all my other vices.   She did not.

She would have turned 58 about two weeks ago.

We’d lost touch over the years.   I last saw her in 2004, I think it was.   She still looked the same.   Tanned and weathered, raspy as always.   Our children shared three birthdays in a row – her daughter, my son, her son.   I’m sure her daughter doesn’t even remember me, but I’ll never forget her.   She’s the one who explained where my son went when he died as my 2-year old daughter repeated the same phrase over and over and over for days, Where’s Brian?  Where’s Brian? until I thought I would go mad.   And then Corey took her in her bedroom, shut the door, came back out in about two minutes and my daughter never asked again.   When asked, Corey simply said she told her that he went to Heaven.

And in three days from now that grown-up little girl at 35 years old will bury her mother.  This is such a fucked up existence.   Why are we given hearts at all?   Color mine breaking right now.

The On-Purposes.

The not-my grandchildren were here this weekend. It seemed like three days and four nights but it was only one day and one night. Strange that. We danced, we played, we sang nonsensical songs about nonsensical things because those are the only songs I know the words to. We cried. Okay, they cried and when they stopped crying, I wept quietly on my own.

Little tiny faces that are nothing to me, not my grandkids, her grandkids as I’m constantly reminded when I say anything corrective to them. “Don’t worry about it, G; they’re not your grandkids.” Yes, yes I’m continually constantly aware that my grandsons are hundreds of miles away, and I’m here, with children I’m only allowed to love on the fringe edges. But I say nothing. I entertain as a complete clown would. I smile and I laugh, and these tears are never offered up for judgment. My weakness as she deems it.

She doesn’t understand loss or separation, and if she does, she never lets it show. She lives her life as if all involved will live forever, as if she has all the time in the world, later, for hugs and kisses, as if we all lived in a bubble where there is no disease, no pestilence, no death to our loved ones, ever. I live in an entirely different world, where people come and go quite suddenly, with and without warning – where there is no later, no tomorrow, only today, so today you show all that bottled up love, you give all those hugs that tomorrow will seem frivolous but today they are everything, they are the last ones, ever.

My husband, although divorced for 31 years now, I still think of him as my husband when I speak about him, the only one I know for a fact I’ll ever have but I digress – my husband used to say to the kids when they were little – ‘I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out – make another one that looks just like you’. This was his “straighten up right now” speech. But it didn’t happen that way. My son left this world and we did not make another one.

Why all this melancholy this morning? Because this morning as her grandson vied for her attention, with his 8-month old mentality, she ignored him, in favor of Facebook which could burn and go to Hell for all I care. I played with him, though, and made him laugh, dancing and singing for his enjoyment, annoying her as I tried to get her to join in, to hopefully realize that this moment could be the last moment on Earth but I only succeeded in getting a sigh, a “see what I put up with daily ” sigh. Because after all, a random sprinkling of complete strangers and what they ate for dinner is increasingly more important than the familial love standing just at arm’s length. *sigh* See what I put up with daily?

I don’t care much for progress, or really maybe it’s just the internet and it’s abundance of bullshit that decays our minds and draws us away from what is truly important – each other – maybe that’s what I dislike so intensely.

Be kind to one another, Ellen says at the end of every show. That statement should probably be modified in my world – Be aware of one another…don’t take for granted what could suddenly be gone so fast. They don’t call them on-purposes, you know; they call them accidents.

I should have gotten a tee shirt!

Okay, so we just got back from vacation, to the mountains.  I’m a flatlander by birth, used to such places as the beach where you can see for miles and miles, and miles.  So driving up into the mountains is a challenge for me, being slightly (read a lot) scared of heights but telling myself “You’ll be okay, you big baby!” The number of times I’ve driven in the mountains, by the way, in my whole life is now three.

We left a half day earlier than we had originally planned (can you say, anxious to get the heck out of dodge?) and being spur of the moment had made no plans for a hotel that night (read, foolish move).  We get about three or four hours from home and find that it’s ‘football season’ in the mountains and every hotel is booked solid, so I keep driving.  It is now 8:30 PM on a Friday night, raining to beat the band with heavy winds, and we are in a town so small, only a Dollar General is lit up at this time of night.

I pull in near a van that’s starting to pull out and flag them down.  I can see the old man is a bit leery of rolling down his window to some broad with a shaved head but he does and I ask about accommodations nearby.  He chuckles as does his son, and wife from the backseat.  No, there’s no hotel here.  “The nearest?”  Well, he says, you got about another hour before you reach Lexington, that’s if you’re not in a hurry.  “No, no hurry.”

“That’s good because it’s an hour over the mountain and it’s dark, raining and you’ll have to go slow because of the deer.”  I should interject at this point that I am from a lighted state; that is to say, in Florida, we are apparently privileged as we have street lights so driving at night is not a big deal.  The rest of the country, from what I’ve seen, hasn’t caught onto this yet.  So in the mountains at night, it’s black as pitch….and it’s raining, hard.

Three things I don’t like – to drive at night, to drive in the rain, and I don’t care much for bridges or curves.  So going over the mountain in the dark, in the rain, up and down S-shaped unfamiliar roads at 25 to 30 MPH, with no street lights has about as much appeal to me as dental work without Novacaine.

But we made it, surprisingly, and I honestly feel I should gotten a tee shirt.  “I survived!  Going over the mountains, at night!”

Probably the fact that I could not see where I was going, though, was probably our saving grace.  On Sunday we made the trip in reverse, in the daylight, and if you could have seen the curves, the drop-offs, the sheer heights that we were up at, the views, well, it’s a good thing I couldn’t see all that in the dark, in the rain, tired from driving as I was.  I probably wouldn’t have gotten my imaginary tee shirt.

SIDE NOTE:  The place that we found to stay that first night was probably used as the backdrop for a Billy Bob Thornton movie where his character would behead a $2 hooker for no reason other than she breathed too loud.  And I am reasonably certain she was killed in the room we stayed in.  I had my girlfriend check under the bed before we laid down.  (What?  I wasn’t looking under there!)  I propped stuff against the door and checked on the car every few hours, but no one killed us.  In fact, that was the basis of my online review for that particular motel – It was cheap, quiet and no one killed us.  I should have gotten a second tee shirt for surviving that!  Always take your own sheets, blankets and pillows on trips – we did and I’m so thankful.  “Look, Ma!  No crabs!”

What It’s Like to Send Your Wife to Mars | Reader’s Digest

COPIED FROM THIS MONTH’S READER’S DIGEST.  (I am still a little in shock…what do you guys think of this? – Actually if I thought she’d go, I’d sign my GF up for this.)

Most of us run through certain hypothetical scenarios when getting married. Would you forgive me if I cheated? Would you stay if I were paralyzed? If I were brain-dead, could you pull the plug? Do you really mean it when you say you’ll stand by me in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part?

I looked at the wedding vows that my wife and I had written, and there is no asterisk, no out clause releasing me in the event of extraterrestrial excursions.

You may have read about my wife of four years, heard about her on the radio, or seen her on TV. She’s Sonia Van Meter, 36, the Austin woman (and stepmother to my sons, Henry, 13, and Hatcher, 11) who was chosen as a candidate by Mars One, the privately funded European nonprofit that is recruiting people to be sent to Mars in groups of four, starting in 2024. Unlike 
astronaut wives who have to hold out only a week before their husbands come back, I will never see Sonia again if she goes to Mars. The Mars One Project is a one-way trip to establish permanent human life there.

When Mars One whittled the 200,000-plus applicants down to 1,058, Sonia, a political consultant, got enough media coverage to 
become a minor celebrity around town. It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes. I love her, the camera loves her, and now strangers do too.

When we go to parties, we hear whispers. “That’s the Mars girl,” people say. Women—it’s always women—approach to congratulate her on her bravery. Some ask, Will she, you know, have to help populate the planet? (For the record, human reproduction is not part of the mission.)

Rarely does anyone engage her, as a space geek, to talk about what she hopes to find up there, but if someone did, he or she would open the discussion to Sonia’s innate curiosity and her enthusiasm about humanity’s drive to explore and expand our 
understanding of what is possible. 
She honestly does not get why 
everyone doesn’t want to go to Mars, though she knows I would last about half an hour up there before getting bored.

But that’s not what people talk about when they comment about her on the Internet. No sooner had a story about my wife’s astronautical ambition aired than strangers took it upon themselves to diagnose our obviously flawed marriage.

“Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a one-way trip to Mars,” tweeted one stranger.

“She must really be sick of her husband,” wrote another.

One Internet commenter posting under the pseudonym “Acup” wrote, “Wow Im glad Im not married to her.” True enough, since she would probably tell him where he could place his apostrophes.

More to the point was “buck,” whose keen insight resulted in this trenchant observation: “Going to Mars and abandoning your husband and children forever? Brave? Hardly. Selfish? Most definitely.”

Sonia had not learned the first rule of the Internet: Never read the comments. Excited to see reaction to the story, she read, aghast, as strangers sat in anonymous judgment of our marriage. What started as a brave woman claiming her ambition had become a public hazing.

“I want you to tell me honestly,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “Am I being a bad wife?”

Neil Armstrong probably never had to ask his wife this. Or maybe he did. Maybe his wife had to demonstrate to him that the fullest expression of her commitment was to love him to the ends of the Earth and then one very large step beyond. Maybe she had to reinforce to Neil that all she wanted was for him to become the biggest version of himself. Maybe she loved him “no matter what,” and risking his life in space was the “what.”

This mission is, admittedly, a literal long shot. They have to raise more than $6 billion, build a new generation of spacecraft, and figure out how to sustain human life on a cold, airless planet that has neither water nor pizza delivery. Not even Netflix. But regardless of whether this actually happens, the possibility of my wife flying into space some day in the future forces me—right here, right now—to accept that this may happen.

Watching the launch will be the easy part. Living without her will be an agony that I will have to share with the world. I’ll be Mr. Sonia Van 
Meter for the rest of my life, telling her story here on Earth. I joke about endorsing products (“While my wife is exploring Mars, I’m doing the laundry with new Cosmos Detergent. It’s out of this world!”), but some will view me as a cautionary male, cuckolded by an entire planet.

If she were the man and I the supportive wife, she could be understood as an explorer, and I the determined source of support back at home. If I were the wife, I could say I want what Sonia wants, and people would nod approvingly at how nice it must be to have such love and support.

But until the culture grows up, my answers will only puzzle those who want me to describe the view as I look into the abyss. I will miss her. I will not like any of this, but I love her, and this is a horizon worth crossing.


Is it winter already?

So I shaved.


Toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, unmentionables, and armpits.

Brrrrr…… It’s cold now.

But those 13 or 14 hairs had to go.  I don’t shoot for quantity in my body hair, except on my head.  That uppermost stuff is fast growing and thick enough to pull.  Oh yeaahh (when I say that, I’m hearing the Kool-Aid Man’s voice, Oh yeaahh). – The Kool Aid Man!

But everything else is sparse, few and far between, going more for length. The two hairs under my arms are really only under the right arm.  When I shave under the left arm, the razor comes up empty.  And I only shaved my legs because out in the sun, those three or four blond hairs look silly waving in the breeze.  The pubes, well, I shave those three when they are in danger of me sitting on one of them.

I’m going on vacation this weekend so I shaved.  Oh yeaahh.

You better believe it – I’m fancy like that!

I mean, what if I’m killed in a car wreck?  (“Did you see that single foot long hair hanging out of her shorts?”)  I don’t need the ambulance people gossiping about me.  (“How about those two hairs curled up under that one arm?  I thought it was a tarantula at first!”)

I didn’t even know I had hair on my toes until the other night.

The GF is rubbing my feet, oh yeaahh, and she says, “Hey did you know you have two hairs on your big toe?”

“Are they attached to my foot?”

I expected them to just be drifters, you know hairs just hitchhiking through my neighborhood or something.  But she assured me they were mine and tried to pull them out, by wrapping one around her finger.  OUCH!  So yeah, stop that.  Ugh.  On the plus side, I don’t think I’ll ever need a facelift but I do look surprised now.

So I’m clean, shorn, and probably can wear smaller clothes at this point.  Let’s travel!

Sometimes the good die old.

My godfather died.

I don’t even know exactly when.  I got an email this morning from his oldest daughter, saying he’d been not feeling well, was hospitalized for a short time in August and had died with her at his side in the hospital.  She said that he hadn’t wanted a funeral, was cremated, and that the family was holding up well.  He was 88 years old.

I can’t say I didn’t cry as I read about the passing of this gentle kind man who taught me how to hold and bottle feed baby goats when I was about 14 years old.  I never heard him angry, never heard him cuss.  He wore a flat top haircut and I can’t remember when he wasn’t clean shaven, hair cut neatly, dressed in khakis.

Eight children, plus me.  I met the family when I was 12 years old.  When the Catholic church baptized me, this family was presented to me as my godparents.  They were kind, religious without being weird, had meal time prayers, Sunday school and church every week, gave me their hand-me-down clothes, and passed out large helpings of kindness always.

Entering their house meant sitting down at the long dining table and getting served something to eat or drink for it was assumed you had room for something.  Entering their driveway always brought a feeling of peace and comfort – my troubles as a young adult melting miraculously as I drove down that little country lane leading to their backyard.  They never asked about my divorce or my life with “an ever-changing roommate”, and I didn’t volunteer.  They accepted me for me.  If my life caused them angst, I’ve yet to hear a word of it.

I probably never exchanged more than ten sentences altogether with this family man in the last 41 years but I was always welcome in his home, spoken to with a kind voice, and he definitely had my respect.

Rest in peace, gentle kind sir.  I might never have said it but in my own way, I loved you.  You were a real man, dedicated to his family, working always for the better good of them all.  The world is a better place for your having been a part of it.

I’m alive! I’m alive! I’mmmmmmmmmm alive!

Okay, I made it! 28 floors, in 23 minutes and 49 seconds.  Not a record breaker by any means but I didn’t die and I actually consider that a personal accomplishment!

The winners (but really weren’t we all winners?) had times of *ahem* 3 minutes and such like that.  Whatever.  What kind of overachiever can do 28 floors in three minutes?  I wish I could say I think he cheated and took the elevator but he probably didn’t.  UGH.

So I should probably come clean with the whole truth, before it’s made public.

In darts, when you play on a team, you play for a whole season and at the end of these weekly competitions with some of the best dart throwers in the county, you get rankings that come with cash prizes and a trophy.  If you come in last place, you’re given a key-chain with a donkey on it.  It’s known as The Jackass Award.  Despite coming in second place the first year I played, and pocketing around $300 between me and my ex-GF, the next year I won the Jackass Award and still have my coveted key-chain.

I waited around today after the climb, for my Jackass Award, but apparently on a CF stair climb, you don’t get such a distinguished trophy – only a bottle of cool water, an icy washcloth, and my name as distinctly last on the posted times of everyone who participated.

I guess the grand prize today for me was – I’m alive!  I’m alive!  I’mmmmmmm alive!

I’m just looking for some love!

TWO MORE DAYS! And I will be a-huffing and a-puffing up 28 floors of stairs, in the name of Cystic Fibrosis and for my grandson!

Breathe for a moment JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN!

Think about what it means to the thousands upon thousands of people who cannot breathe without struggling, who do not have the lung capacity to take in those big deep breaths you enjoy every day and take for granted, myself included.


SHOW YOUR SUPPORT OF THIS STAIR CLIMB and of me, your friend, your family, your favorite clown, your confidant, your whoever I am to you. For those of you who have shared, who have shown your support and your friendship, I genuinely thank you, I appreciate you and trust me I will never forget you.