I am an Open Book

This is not a news flash to me.

Or to you, either, if you regularly read this blog.

It was however, a mild revelation as I nearly told my entire nerve block story to a clerk at my local resale shop.

It’s almost like I’ve lost my filter to a certain degree.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not seeking out people to narrate my life story to. In most cases, I have somehow stopped answering “fine” when things are not “fine.” I can still buck it up and, in appropriate situations, i.e., the office and other pertinent places, pull from my inner abilities to act the “part” and smile as I say, “I’m okay, and you?” All the while, barely under the surface of my skin, I am trembling in pain and fear and anguish praying I make it through the bold-face lie without breaking down into a sobbing pile of human flesh.

I don’t consider that a lie by omission. I consider that common courtesy to not inflict my wounds onto another’s being.

In some cases, I have taken that too far. This is where we return to the nerve block story.

I know I have written about my surgeries before, so I won’t regurgitate them now. I have mentioned that I was left with some chronic pain as a result. Unfortunately, about six months into the pain, I stopped keeping those closest to me abreast of the situation. Truthfully, I stopped listening to my own body and managed to lie to my own darn self.

Suddenly, an additional year had passed without me telling the truth about the level and/or consistency of the pain. It took a random excursion to the bowling alley which adversely impacted whatever previous surgical injury occurred, amping up the pain level to near “ripping-my-skin-off” on a scale of “hangnail” to “fourth-degree-laceration-labor-trauma.”

[May I interject here that for some I thought it would be a good idea to listen to the Rocky soundtrack while writing this. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to locate the tracks as they had been moved off to a DVD to save room on my computer. Honestly, with the exception to the Fanfare that we all know – there’s not much else about the album I like. Think I’ll switch to a tested and true stand by for motivational music – The Bourne Identity Soundtrack by John Powell. Also, a great addition to your iPod for a workout session. I lost fifty pounds to it a few years ago! See? No filter…]

Subsequent to the bowling incident, a cartoonish lightbulb went off in my head.


“I am only 41. My Nana is 96 and going strong. Do I really want to live another 55 years with this level of pain in the area of my body where I spend approximately 75% of my time – seated?”

The answer was a resounding, “hell no.”

I placed a few calls, had some much delayed second consultations by fresh doctors and the result was medication (which, honestly, only makes me not care as much that I am in pain, but does not take the pain away) and a nerve block in the pudendal nerve. (Google it. I dare ya. It’s a fun nerve to have f’d up for the rest of your life, huh?)

I won’t go into the TMI details of the procedure here only because I have rehashed all or parts of it more than even I care to – Best Friends, Sister, Mother, Co-workers, Cousin, Facebook followers, and nearly the innocent by-standing resale clerk.

(SHOUT OUT ALERT – Hubby was there through it all and, I must share – TOTALLY AWESOME for me. Couldn’t have asked for a better Man to help me through this. Thanks, babe!)

Why am I writing all of this?

Oh, yea – I’m an open book.

I am in a blessed place where I can no longer live multiple lives – co-workers see me one efficient, organized way; best friends see underbelly and internal organs; husband sees only the parts of me that I think won’t make him want to leave me; family of origin sees grownup, finally put together adult; and I get left with compartmentalized heart muscle and brain tissue that is getting increasingly difficult to keep track of without slipping and allowing some crossover.

It has taken quite some time to take action on this knowledge, yet I believe I am there.


Let’s just say that my filter used to be constructed with low-grade, gray granite. Now, it resembles tye-dyed mosquito netting.

Quite an improvement, I think.

Intimidation Dance

I know this incredibly beautiful woman. Her beauty is not in the stereotypical Helen of Troy sense as few wars have been waged over her, but she is pulchritudinous nonetheless. She has many friends ranging in levels from simple acquaintance to casual yet personal conversation to intimate know-nearly-everything-about-you. I cannot tell you how many times she has been complimented for her smile or honest charm or willingness to help when needed. She has a better relationship with her kids than she gives herself credit for and the same could be said of her relationship with her husband. They have a marriage based on equal partnership yet lived in the reality of give and take. It’s not perfect, and neither is she if you use Merriam-Webster’s definition, but there are times when I look at her and think, “Wow. She has a great life. Thank God.”

blessed art thou among women…

This woman I know works hard. Even though it is far from the dream she had for herself, she loves her job and is proud of the work she puts in each day. She tries to make the most of her time with her family and works with determination to accept the times when that is not possible for whatever reason. She has emotional struggles like many of us and she has worked diligently over the years to find paths to peace, gateways toward wisdom and layers of herself to love. Sometimes, when I hear her talk, I cannot imagine a time when she was afraid or didn’t believe in herself.

floating above you
I see with clear eyes your grace
clouds challenge within

Today’s woman I am writing about is also talented. She is a writer, has some solid, albeit dormant, acting chops and may have been an inventor in a past life, given her MacGyver-like skills. She loves her thesaurus (as evident by pulchritudinous) and is unashamed to use it. When she embarks on a project – whether it be a short poem, work related newsletter, Chekhovian drama, reparation of a small rocket launch pad, or configuring convoluted connections in a snow storm involving taxis, trains and planes to ensure arriving in Texas for a marriage license waiting period deadline – nine times out of ten, most dentists agree, she won’t quit until she has either reached a superlative solution or the heartbreaking realization that there is not one to be found.

but the tigers come at night…

And then I read posts like this and like this. I learn about the winner for the A Room of Her Own Foundation Grant, along with the finalists. I hear an old friend of mine that I didn’t even realize could sing, sing and write songs like these. Hell, even two of the people I love most in the world (next to my kids) have started a folk duo and every time I get to hear one of the songs they are working on, I get the hair-raised-on-the-back-of-my-neck-they’re-that-good feeling. (If I had a link to one of their songs, I’d post it, but they are currently “in development.”) I have many past friends who are continuing to make a go of it in the theatrical world – working either locally, regionally or in NYC. I could go on…

My stomach muscles tighten and my head begins to swim. Electrical impulses inside my brain begin to dance to an irregular arrhythmia pulsating from my weakening heart. Large, dark clouds of doubt flood my retina and my vocal cords begin to swell preventing spoken words. My lungs fill with cement pressing down hard on my diaphragm. Lastly, my fingers become thick and heavy with poisonous lead making it impossible to clack out the cacophony of angry voices yelling at me “Who do you think you are, anyway?!”

I close my eyes to await the inevitable implosion of my universe. When it doesn’t happen immediately, a small breath of air is able to seep through a tiny crack in my formidable fortress and a smidgen of light softens the darkness.

you are my child and I love you.

I wrest my lids open just enough to see a note I have placed under my makeshift laptop stand, given to me by someone too young to be able to not tell the truth.

You Rock

You Rock

And I go on, being me, remembering that I, too, rock…

Clearing Out Clutter

Okay – let’s start at the blog ending revelation which is I hold on to stuff –

and by stuff, I mean fabric I envisioned making quilts or curtains from, baby jars to decoupage into cool candle holders, letters from old boyfriends, scraps of paper with partial poems on them, grief, fat clothes, skinny clothes, curling irons and hot rollers from the eighties, ideas of how relationships should work, beliefs on where I should be in  my life, misconceptions on what I should weigh, fear of a punishing god or universe, t-shirts to start a tye-dye business, broken clocks, piggy banks, or vases I vow to fix,  fliers from a show I don’t perform in anymore, henna hair dye I haven’t ever used, pills and otc meds that are expired, emails, my tongue during times when I should actually speak up for myself, glasses from two or three prescriptions ago and various other items or beliefs that could fill a black hole –

out of my fear of being expendable. I don’t want to be tossed aside because I might be broken. Or left in a garbage heap because I am no longer in fashion. Or overlooked because I am not the cutest puppy in the bin. Or accidentally sold in a garage sale mish-mash box labeled junk because no one saw me there. Or even worse – intentionally given away because I was no longer loved or needed.

Yeah, I know – sucks to be me, huh? How do you think it must be for those that live with me? Or truly do love me?

Everyone has their own things that scare them and for some reason, mine is the oh-so-fun combo of fear of abandonment mixed with unworthiness to be loved topped off with a good old fashioned dollop of never-enough. Throw in a splash of survivor guilt and cannot quit until it’s perfect and you have quite the supersized unhappy meal deal from a rat invested hole in the wall that only serves entrees pressure cooked to diamond-like crispness.

Wait. Before you call Oprah to add me to one of her hoarder shows, I am actually a moderate case. I can still walk around my home and my car stays relatively empty of crap (on occasion). The unworthiness helps in this area because it is hard for me to believe it is okay to buy myself that used five dollar pair of pants big enough to hide my ass with the stuck zipper, therefore, I don’t acquire a lot of physical stuff to keep, but usually once I do – it will take years to get rid of it.

Which is where I am today.

Getting rid of it.

I have finally said “Fuck it! I am cramped and tired and need some space.” So, instead of getting rid of my family and friends, or changing my name to Toni Fredericks and moving to Kotzebue, Alaska to start completely over, I have been slowly, in tiny increments, clearing away some clutter from my life.

I have given away clothes I no longer wear because they don’t fit or that I plain didn’t like in the first place. I sold off all of my stacks of fabric that I never got around to making the most perfectly sentimental quit to keep me warm when everyone has left me. I got rid of discount handbags I never use anymore and decorative knick knacks I never displayed. I am tossing out what I think everyone else thinks I should weigh and am working towards my very own happy weight. I have chipped away at the granite around my punishing god and am molding it into a pliably unconditional love of the universe. I have purged emails clogging up my memory. If something upsets me or scares me, I try to vocalize it in the moment instead of holding on to it for ten years and then nearly getting divorced or losing someone I love.

I have a long way to go and many, many more things to purge. I am trying not to look at what I have left to expunge but rejoice in my new found free space. I have allowed myself not one, but two handbag purchases over $100. I bought some new pants that actually fit and flatter the junk in my trunk. I have conversations with the people I love instead of fights. I try to let my emotion naturally flow through me until it has abated without stuffing it deep down like an undercooked turkey. I continue to write, write and write some more about these truths and other revelations I may discover for well or ill because this is just who I am.

Most importantly, I am (hopefully) teaching myself and my children that I can love, be loved and let go – all at the same time.

Will the end result be a zen-garden style home with only a pallet on the floor to sleep and one organic cotton frock that keeps me both warm and cool? I don’t know but I am willing to slip-n-slide, make progress and fall backward and cut myself some slack to find out.

Yippe kay-aye

An Old Letter – I like letters…

P.S.  I’ll add the pre-script at the front since the letter below was written five years ago and never mailed to Mr. Damon. I mentioned it in my 25 facts and got a comment to post – so, what the hell?

In the interim, I have, of course, seen The Bourne Ultimatum and loved it! The way the end Supremacy overlaps in the beginning is so much like life to me. Before I am through passing through one emotion, another one appears on the horizon that I must also deal with. Plus, I find Matt Damon to be quite an impressive talent. He can brood with honesty like nobody’s business for one piece of work and be hysterically self deprecating in another. (check them out, but please come back…)

I tend to find messages in the oddest of places anyway. Like the other night, I heard this quote and it was exactly what I needed to hear to jump start me out of my self-induced, hormone laden funk:

“You can chose to live in a place of fear or you can believe in the best version of yourself.”

Guess where? It was Mac (Gary Sinise – whom I also totally respect as an actor) from CSI: NY.

Music also plays a big role and I love it for both the Bourne series and CSI: NY – but that’s another post. So, without further ado, here is my letter to Matt Damon that I never sent.

August 19, 2004

Dear Matt:

This may or may not seem odd to you, but that does not matter to me today. I have an intuition to write to you, and, for today, I am listening to that voice.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been struggling to find out more about my own inner truth. It has not been easy and I have had many days where I want to give up and let the person inside of me I don’t like rule my head and heart. Two years ago, I saw you in the The Bourne Identity and (here comes the whacko part) – your sincerity of performance truly spoke to me. When you looked the mean agent-man in the eye and chose not to be “that man” anymore, it was like an epiphany for me. I took that as my motto for the last two years that I don’t have to be the woman I once was – I can be my true self, the one originally intended at my birth. (Please note that I was already on an inner journey when I saw your movie – I don’t want to come across as if I am not in touch with reality or belong in a padded room. I was formally seeking answers regarding my personal identity and your movie happened to be released at that time.)

Today I saw The Bourne Supremacy. Again, I come away with such an awareness of my own search that I want to thank you. The humility you embrace in letting your inner energy display the emotion and grief your character suffers without resorting to trickery or overt machinations is inspiring. The line at the end when speaking to the daughter of the couple Bourne murdered (I’ll paraphrase, for regardless of what you actually said – this is what I heard) – “when the truth gets taken from you, you find a new one.” Without going into too much detail about my own sob story, that is basically what happened to me – my truth about being a whole person who could thrive in this world was taken from me when I was very young. I found a new one immersed in fear that I lived by for way too many years. I have seen glimpses of my original truth throughout my recent journey and try to live it each day.

I realize that you did not write the words or direct the film and that you are simply doing your job by portraying the character that Robert Ludlum wrote so many years ago. However, it is that portrayal that brings these words and film alive, and it has reached deep into at least one person far below the surface level of a great action film. It has touched my humanity and search for my own past truths in order to live a more full life today.

Thanks again and I look forward to The Bourne Ultimatum.



P.S. See, I’m not so wacky. Just a woman searching and finding answers in any and all possible locations. Where do you find your answers?