Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Ticking Clock

We thought we had won.  We thought that the horrible evils of his disease that had for so long choked at our family's strength, had finally come to an end.   But to our sadness, cancer would have the last laugh.  I remember seeing my father's number flashing across my cellphone that gloomy Sunday afternoon.  But I didn't have to pick up to know what he was going to say, as I mentally prepared to fly home to Boston, to give my final goodbye.  

As I waited for my parents to pick me up at the airport terminal, I stood there alone, engulfed in the bitter Boston air.  And as I lingered there, watching the various cars appear around the corner to pick up their loved ones,  I couldn't help but observe their warm embraces and wet kisses, as I wished my arrival could have been as happy as theirs.   And then my parent's car suddenly appeared, as they greeted me with forced smiles and red faces; the pain of reality finally tearing at my soul like a thousand little needles.   And as we began to ride away from the lights of the terminal,  I remember the unbearable silence that seemed to swallow up the air inside the car; all of us just peering out at the pouring rain that had began to smack at the windows.  We were all hoping for the same thing, that this was just some terrible dream. 

But this was anything but a dream, as we soon pulled up my grandfather's long steep driveway.  The rain now had stopped, and all seemed calm around his hilltop residence.  The only sound you could hear was the creak of the old birches that he and my grandmother had planted a lifetime ago.   And as I got out of the car, and slowly made my journey towards his door,  I started to remember a time when his home had made me feel safe.  Its stiff checkered couch, red floral wallpaper, and multicolor braided rugs, had always been forms of comfort to me.  But now, as I walked inside and saw my grandmother's face projecting the same painful expression as my parent's, I knew that this house would never ever feel the same to me.  

As I walked further into the kitchen towards his room, I remember passing the once calming pendulum clock that had hung on the wall over the table since before I was born.  Its tick after tick meaning something much different to me now.  And as I journeyed closer and closer to the yellow light that glowed from where I knew he was, I couldn't help but remember how I'd played in that very room hundreds of times as a child.   It had once been a source of complete joy to me, but now, as its smell of death and medicine slowly tickled the insides of my nostrils, I knew it would forever be a source of pain. 

And then there he was; a thinner, paler version of the grandfather that I had visited only six months earlier.  But through the weak smile he instantly gave me, I could already tell that he was still as sharp and amazing as he’d always been.   But as I approached his bed, my mind suddenly went blank as I wondered what in the world I should say to him.  I had been rehearsing this very moment for the last few days, but suddenly all that I had planned to say seemed wrong.  I wondered if I should tell him how special he was to me or how he’d been the best grandfather I could have ever asked for.  It was the last three days I knew I would ever spend with him on this earth, and I had to make them great.  But to my dismay and relief, the minute I started to talk about him, he stopped me, insisting that we only talk about me.  It being one of the most compassionate things I had ever witnessed; a dying man trying to make those around him feel more comfortable. 

So then the dreaded day finally came and it was almost time for me to leave.  I really wasn’t sure how to react, although every cell in my body wanted to scream and cry.  I knew I had to stay strong for him though, as I just kept watching my grandfather’s clock, ticking towards the final seconds, taunting me with every swing.  And then there it suddenly was, the worst moment of my life and the one moment that I’ll never forget as long as I live.  I remember going to him in the doorway of his kitchen, with the intention of keeping the conversation light.  I told him that I’d see him at Christmas and that I’d send him some chocolates on his birthday, knowing all too well that he wouldn’t live to see either.  He then put his arms around me in that doorway, hugging me tighter than he had ever hugged me in my twenty-five years of life.  I couldn’t look at his face at that moment for fear I would lose it, as suddenly I felt this tremendous warmth project straight from his body into mine.  It was a mixture of love and sadness and would be our very last connection.

As predicted, my grandfather died a few months later.  I tried to call him immediately on my return back to California, but sadly right after my visit, he had slipped into a state of confusion, and now didn’t even know my name.  At his funeral, I cried more than I had ever cried for anything or anyone else in this world.  He had taught me so much throughout my life and had been there for every second of every accomplishment I had ever had.  And through it all, he had never asked for anything in return.  

About a month after his death, my grandfather appeared to me in a dream.  He was wearing a three-piece suit of shiny white, with a beautiful top hat to match.  As he came toward me, he smiled, simply telling me, “It is so beautiful here.”  I then smiled back at him, as I slowly watched him disappear into thin air.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Forgetting Bentley

For as long as I can remember, my family has always been fortunate enough to have a "close your eyes gift" at the end of each Christmas morning.  This was a present that was always big, no matter what its actual size happened to be, and somehow had a way of keeping those butterflies fluttering, long after you'd stopped believing in the magic of Kris Kringle.  But the December of my seventh year had been much different from the rest; the ice cream sundae that I called Christmas, having this time been topped with a cherry so sweet, nothing could ever again be quite as delicious. 

I remember gathering in my grandparent's living room, my brother and I sitting Indian style on one of their many multicolored braided rugs with our tiny hands clumsily pressed against our pale faces, waiting as patiently as two children can on Christmas morning.  But as I sat there in the darkness of my own adolescent mind, I couldn't help but peek through the tiny slits of my fingers, hoping to catch just a glimpse of the ever-growing excitement forming all around me.  I first remember seeing the back of my eager father as he disappeared into my grandmother's warm kitchen, its mouth-watering aroma of turkey and gravy had been wafting through my nostrils all morning.  And then there was my radiant mother, anxiously staring into the kitchen after my father, the morning sun's reflection onto her face was making her look just like an angel.  And surrounding her were the rest of my crazy family, their toothy grins and wide eyes simply a domino effect of my mom's already contagious enthusiasm.

But not long after I had shut my eyes again in preparation for my father's return, I suddenly heard a mysterious melody; a clicking and clacking of the softest of footsteps playing a gorgeous tune on my grandparent's linoleum.  And then almost on cue, the melody suddenly stopped, replaced by my father's exuberant voice telling us that we could now open our eyes.  But as we did, the magnitude of what sat before us suddenly began to whip us in the face; its vigor that of a violent garden hose.  Our brains were just much too raw to even attempt to wrap around what our eyes thought we were seeing, causing the muscles in our face to instantly tighten into a frozen expression of complete and utter shock.  There he was, a magnificent Shetland Sheepdog named Bentley, just standing there,  ready to love us.  His shiny carpet of kaleidoscope fur swayed back and forth as he panted his tongue in a glorious wet smile.  And it was in this very moment that we both absolutely knew,  that he, was to be the greatest gift of our entire childhood.

And don't get me wrong, Bentley wasn't about to go and rescue us from the bottom of a well or anything.  But none of that seemed to matter to my brother and I, as he somehow just became our everything, walking side by side with us through the maze of juvenescence.  But to me, this isn't a story about my girlhood pet, more as it's a recognition of one of the most terrible parts of growing up. That being, how some of the things that we once loved so much in our youth, can be so easily disregarded later in life.

Bentley was my world for quite some time.  But then one day something changed inside me, and the tempting poisons of all things superficial started to sparkle more than they ever had before.  I just became much too wrapped up in my own little selfish world to want to be part of his anymore.  But why does this have to happen? Why must life force us to bloat in our own self-absorption, even for a moment? I guess it's all about pulling away and rebelling against anything and everything that makes us feel the least bit dependent.  It's just too bad that when maturity finally shakes us awake from our egocentric teenage comas, that sometimes those precious things are gone forever. 

I had always found it sad that my youngest brother couldn't have had more time with him.  But unfortunately, he's the one who found him lying there lifeless, being much too young to even understand what was wrong.  By then I was in college, still more concerned with boys and partying to pay too much attention at all, to the passing of my one-time best friend.   I had changed so much from that innocent seven-year-old version of myself who had adopted Bentley a lifetime ago.  A girl who would have at one time, simply been inconsolable upon the news of his death. 

The thing that I will always remember about Bentley was his unusual, almost non-existent bark.  His former owner had ignorantly removed his larynx in hopes it would silence him, leaving my poor dog with nothing but a raspy sort of cough which would be continually mocked throughout his short life.  But to me, the sound of his voice couldn't have been louder; its beautiful pitch still echoing throughout my mind to this very day, forever reminding me of how influential he truly was. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Diehard Fan

My husband's voice had been oh so exuberant as he called me during this year's Super Bowl halftime show.  And as I stepped away from the excitement of the surrounding party, I could then almost feel the exhilarated vibrations emanating from my husband's vocal cords at the very thought that his team might just pull it off this year.  But not long after I had hung up with him, the mood in the room suddenly changed and all became quiet.  And then as if choreographed and almost instinctively, one by one, everybody around me began to clench their head in their hands, as we all began to brace for a 2008 déjà vu.  It felt like a slow death, like the feeling a prison inmate must experience as he watches the sunrise on the day of his execution; a sight that he had always thought absolutely beautiful, until today.   I even at one point decided to turn away from the television, thinking maybe, just maybe, that the very action of my eyes to the screen had somehow hurt my team's chances of winning. But no superstitious act could save them now, as we slowly watched the Giants take our dreams of revenge and munch them all away like a bag of Cape Cod potato chips.   And as I slowly said my sad goodbyes and sauntered towards the door, I could see that the laughter and smiles that had once filled my friend's faces just hours before, weren't coming back anytime soon.  But I had another pity party I was late for, as I began my long journey home to my very distraught husband, the most diehard Patriots fan I knew.

The minute our team had made it into the playoffs, my husband had decided it best that he watch the Super Bowl alone.  And I couldn't have agreed more, having watched my husband go through an entire regular season with the emotional ups and downs of a teenage girl.  So with the house empty on that Super Bowl Sunday, he could scream all he wanted at Brady's beautiful bone structure and Eli's goofy grin, without anybody else having to hear.  Except that is, for our poor cat Bob, who I can only imagine had quickly ducked under the bed, the minute the Giants had scored that devastating touchdown.  I remember at one point, thinking in vain, that it might have been nice if the NFL had not reached an agreement after all, and October through February had been filled with something other than blood, sweat, and tears. But alas, none of that mattered anymore, as I headed home to my husband, bracing for the weepy mess of red, white and blue that I absolutely expected to find in the middle of our living room.  And as I got to our door, and turned the handle ever so slightly, there my husband was, a bucket of anxiety drenched in a thick layer of perspiration and mucus, watching the television like a bloodshot-eyed zombie.  And as he turned his head ever so slightly to acknowledge my presence, he seemed only seconds away from bursting into tears, looking like somebody very close to him had just recently died. But I guess, in his mind, somebody had. 

So after all the drama of that very disastrous Sunday,  it made me wonder why we put so much of ourselves into these teams.  Why do we care so much about a group of overpaid athletes who don't even know we exist?  A group of guys who only tend to play their emotions to the camera, until they are ultimately swept away in their private jets with their supermodel wives, joyfully spending their millions and millions until the legalities of their contracts force them onto the field once again.

But what I've ultimately realized, is that those faces on the field, aren't really what matter to us, and what it all comes down to is connections.  Connections to our families, our hometowns, everybody and everything that has helped define who we are and where we've come from.  Maybe we have since moved away and it's the only thing that reminds us of home.  Or maybe a Sunday afternoon of football was the only way we could connect with our fathers during our childhood.  However it started, its beautiful poison will always and forever flow through our veins, as we eventually grow into old men and women, watching our teams win and lose over and over and over again.  And with every touchdown, every home run, every goal, something deep inside our souls will continue to remind us of a certain goodness that we had once felt back in our youth. 

For me it's those cold Sunday evenings that I'd spend with my family back in Boston.  It was the time of year where the air was just starting to get crisp, and the sting of winter's eagerness was just strong enough to make the skin on your hands feel red and raw.  My mother would always bake an apple pie as we'd cozily huddle under afghans and pillows, watching our Patriots charge down the field.  And as we'd sit together as a family on those chilly Sunday evenings, eating and cheering and laughing throughout the game, one couldn't help but experience a magical connection.  A connection so remarkable, you couldn't help but feel anything but lucky, that such a gift had come your way. 

Monday, February 6, 2012


I've had the honor of holding many a title throughout my life; my newest being that of my own choosing, "Auntie M".  And I've always believed that the world would be a much better place if these so-called "labels" could only be given to those few individuals that would unfailingly, and without a doubt, make it their mission to cherish their true meaning.  Because in my eyes, a title so special has to be earned, and just because societal rules may force me to call you my Aunt or Uncle, doesn't mean I think you are in the least bit deserving of it. 

And don't get me wrong, I was once an unworthy brat who wouldn't know such wisdom if it had broken my nose into a bloody mess.  But as I think back to my past, and the utter incomprehension I had of life back then, I realize that that's where wisdom's only flaw lies; in the fact that it must be, in most cases, learned.  One must be surrounded by the strongest and most giving of people to acquire it, which of course isn't always the case, leaving many unfortunate souls to fall by the wayside, as their would-be "wealth of knowledge", speeds right past them in a gorgeous, gas-efficient, conventional car, headed to an unknown land.  And then there are the ones who anger me most;  the ones who at one time or another, were lucky enough to have Lady Wisdom herself pounding at their door.  But instead of letting her inside, even just for a moment, they ultimately chose to close their eyes and pretend she wasn't even there, until one day, well, she wasn't. 

Thankfully though, my world has always been filled with some pretty extraordinary people; all of whom have played their part in helping me navigate through this big slip n' slide we all call life.  But as I've taken on the title of Auntie, it's made me truly appreciate the group of remarkable women whom I now proudly share that very title with, and the simple fact that long ago, they made it their goal to always walk beside me, come wind, rain or shine.  But it saddens me to think through the mindlessness of adolescence,  that I will never fully be able to recall all that they've done for me.  But of course even if I could, I'm not sure there would be even a single word in any language worthy of depicting their amazing ways.  I've just always seen them as beautiful fairies; magical heroines who have, for as long as I can remember, silently floated around me, making significant impression after significant impression onto my life.  And as I've grown into my own maturity, I've learned to observe them with bigger eyes and ears, watching them cast their inspirational influence onto the world around them, making everyone they touch, better for knowing them.

But the most important thing I've taken away from their wisdom through the years, is not the fact that they've always been there for me, but that I will never ever doubt, that they always will.  And that is why, as I held my baby niece in my arms for the very first time,  I decided upon my own personal goal.  A promise to myself to always make sure that whatever happens from this day forward, that my niece would forever feel happy when she hears my name.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Sting of a Bee

There's a lot of stress whirling around in the air these days, and most of us are just sucking it in, allowing its evils to penetrate the fragile walls of our inner self as we are eaten away, bit by bit, like the last piece of cold pizza.  And for most of us, this stress will probably never ever go away, but merely hover among us like the moon and the stars, taunting us with its very existence.  But for me, I've found an interesting way to deal with some of the worst of what life has to offer.  It's a small dose of cerebral trickery that has helped me through some of the roughest of days.

Bee Stings

Alright, this is going to hurt just a little.  Think of one of those times that you felt like somebody had literally punched you in the gut.  Maybe it was a moment you had been anticipating for a long time, or maybe you never saw it coming.  Nonetheless, think about how much it hurt, and compare that pain to the sting of a bee.   How much did that moment sting your heart, your body, your mind, your soul?  How powerful were the motives and the people behind it; how big was the bee?  Was it a mere yellow jacket whose looming havoc could just as easily been flicked away with the tip of one's finger?  Or was its wrath more like that of a Queen Bee's?   So wicked, so venomous, so horrid, that its quick injection into your veins caused every fiber of your being to convulse with the greatest pain of your life.  

Alright, so now that you've identified the size of the bee and all the darkness hiding within its putrid pockets of pollen, it's now time to figure out just how you're going to pull its nasty stinger out.  A stinger that just loves to sit there jammed into your tender epidermis, making all around it bulge like a pus filled balloon.  You can of course do nothing at all, exposing the stinger, and the pain it emits, to those unfortunate souls all around you.  Forcing the world to watch as you wallow in your own self-pity, vomiting a clear liquid of misery and self-absorption until the stinger has completely festered up and become so infected, that you are no longer even a fraction of the "wonderful" person you once believed you were.

Or, you can grow some balls (or a vagina as Betty White likes to say "those things take a pounding")  and find the courage within yourself to empower your mind and body, so that you may fill up with just enough strength to begin the long game of tug of war you're going to have to have with this ghastly stinger.   And depending on how deep it is, you may even need to enlist a few gracious friends to help on your side of the rope, hauling and heaving that God damned thing until the force of its ultimate removal leaves permanent burn marks all over your hands.

So it's gone.  Now what?  All is well again?  Nope.  It's healing time.  Time to figure out just how long you are going to let this SOB's poison run a muck through your thoughts.  How long until you've stabbed its demons directly in their hearts with your remedial dagger.  Because before you know it, as you become stronger with every passing day, this former mountain of reddening swell that once dwelled upon your inner strength, will slowly begin to lower its flags, and disappear into that small room in the back of your brain where life's lessons spend their remaining days.  And it all ties in with my belief that the way we deal with the problems in our lives is directly connected to how happy or sad we ultimately will be.  Because if you really think about it, all any of our problems really come down to is how they affect us in the long haul.   

And please always remember that you will most likely be stung by many a bee in your lifetime.  Some will be quite powerful, while others will just be power-hungry.  But the one thing to always keep in mind, is that in most cases, when a bee stings you, no matter who they are or who they think they are,  they will usually crumble onto the sidewalk at some point after the sting, leaving your better self to walk right over them, as you hear the beautiful crackle of their hollow carcass, crumbling beneath your humble shoes.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Splitting a Candy Bar

Our daily lives are cluttered with countless objects, some holding strong sentimental value, while others just seem to float around like specs of dust, merely there to satisfy our selfish, fleeting needs.  But sadly, most of these possessions and their attached memories will be ultimately forgotten through the passage of time, as the hope chests within our minds are continually filled with newer and newer objects, leaving less and less space for those older things that had once rang so true to our past selves.  But for me, there will always be one item in particular that I can honestly say has helped shape my life.  A thing so special it's been strapped securely to the cliffs of my memory banks, so it may not fall victim to the rapid river below.  A river so fierce, that it's forever determined to destroy all that is beautiful, as it drags life's most faded memories away from all recollection. 

And the reason this item has been so life changing for me, can be related to the simple act of arguing and how it affects each and every one of our lives.  If it be a dozen bloodthirsty texts sent and received over misinterpreted frowny faces, or a brutal duel between two overly sharpened tongues, no matter how or why a heated moment occurs, all that truly matters in the end, is the end.  A nasty fight with an even nastier conclusion has the power to shatter the bonds of even the closest of people, potentially to the point of no return.

And that is why my father would always try his hardest to end the most terrible of arguments on the happiest of terms.  Each time stopping, softly smiling, and then asking if we wanted to split a Hershey's candy bar. And at that moment, I'd always find it strange how such a simple gesture could take away so much anger, and in turn, create the kind of honest happiness normally lost within the tribulations of life.  I'd then simply nod and give him a smile back, as he'd break the bar in half, making everything right in the world once again.  

And all these years later as I think back on my happy childhood and the strong bond I still share with my dad, I realize how things could have gone quite differently and am grateful everyday for his immense wisdom.  And I can only hope that someday my own children will find my father's tradition as magical as I did, realizing that its true meaning goes well beyond a sweet and sugary coating.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sunday Calls

It is so sad how many of those seemingly meaningless stories that had once so abundantly flowed from my grandparent's lips have long since been forgotten.  It's just such a pity that Mother Nature couldn't have devised a better plan in raising mankind's maturity level just a bit sooner, so that today's bumbling youth could at least have the chance to truly appreciate the declining gift that sits right in front of them.  But unfortunately, this cruel world has decided to age these beautiful storytellers in such a way that their unique and wondrous tales are usually lost in a bubble of dementia, quickly drifting up towards the heavens, faster than we could ever have imagined.

But thankfully, sometimes the red in our eyes clears faster then expected, and those who choose to, will indeed see the things that truly matter in this world.  And that is what happened to me around the time my grandfather died, when my window of insight suddenly opened, letting in the fresh air of epiphany.  It made me realize that it was now time to start calling my remaining grandmothers on a weekly basis, and to begin opening my ears to the things they had been so quietly shouting at me since the day I was born.

So I began calling them every Sunday, no matter where I was or what I was doing; becoming a member of that very small, almost microscopic group of selfless people who I'd feared for most of my life.  But I soon realized that to be in this group, meant more than just picking up the phone.  It meant that not picking up the phone would now hold dire consequences.  This was because, to them, the very ring of my call was like the smell of crisp bacon.  The echo of my voice like an angel singing.  This unexpected effort that I had decided to put forth had become their addiction,  running through their souls like crack cocaine.  And for that to be lost, for those Sunday calls to be silenced, became much too awful to even imagine.  

It's hard to believe that I've been making these calls for almost seven years now.  The dialing of their number, the sounds of their happy hellos, feels almost like breathing. And in the beginning, I'd always figured they'd forever be the ones who reaped its reward, but surprisingly, that couldn't be any farther from the truth.  Their joy, their sadness, and the mere connection of our voices, has been more special to me than I could ever have dreamed.  And I can only hope, that one day, I can help rub the film from someone else's eyes, so that they may too experience the impact a simple conversation can have on one's life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slaughtering the Black Sheep

If you've never stared into the beady eyes of one of these disgusting creatures, then you're one of the lucky ones.  When we're children,  we don't even realize that we could possibly have the blood of one of these horrible animals running through our veins, until we can finally understand those whispers that had been coming from the dark corners of the family barn for most of our childhood.  The kind of whispers that can't possibly be heard through naive ears.  But now that you're all grown up,  you can finally hear and see everything quite intelligibly and he's suddenly just standing there, clear as day, in the middle of your kitchen.  He's snorting, and baaing, and shitting all over the place, as you finally realize where all that defecation on the bottom of your shoes has been coming from for all these years.

And then you begin to see the giant trough of selfishness this black sheep has been swimming in for most of his life.  You notice how he hardly ever calls his mother the Ewe, but when he does, and you happen to answer the phone, you notice how he tries to pretend that you're old friends.  And then there's those random days when the black sheep actually decides to come rambling down the driveway.  And of course you know it's him because you can hear his mighty hoofs clicking and clacking the whole way and you can see his mighty black chest puffed out like a turkey.  Then when he finally does come in, dragging his goat of a wife, he immediately starts acting like it was just yesterday that he and the family had rubbed tails.  He then tells of his heroic journeys running across fields of green, managing to impress the ignorant little lambs who think he's as cool as Dolly.  But to the ones who've been slighted by him one too many times,  they know all too well that he'll be gone before he even finishes that stick of hay he's been rudely chewing on and will be on his way back to that mystery pasture that nobody ever gets invited to.  

In a perfect world, I would grow some horns, and stop that damn black sheep right in his tracks.  I would bleat at him louder than I ever have before, telling him that life is just too short to do these kinds of things to the rest of the herd and neglect those little lambs who have always naively adored him.  And after he turns his wet nose up at me, and leads his goat of a wife out the door, I fantasize that I would then lock the fence to the family farm behind him, throwing him and his goat out for good.  But in reality, I fear that nobody would have the guts to stand with me, and only sheepishly lay in the hay, pretending that everything is alright.

So for now, we will all cut our hooves on the black sheep's eggshells as he, time and time again, interrupts what could have been great .  But I know, that eventually his time will come, and the farmer of fate will finally realize how he's treated the rest of us, and he'll be on his way to the butcher shop once and for all. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thick Skin

It is no secret that this world is filled with idiots and assholes just waiting to dig their claws deeper and deeper into your flesh.  Layer after layer they tear violently and ruthlessly at whatever is left of your tattered soul, until that is, you have no choice but to run to the nearest bathroom and let out the remainder of your emotions onto the grimy floor.

They say one must have a "thick skin" in order to deal with such monsters.  But does a thick skin really truly exist?  Or is it just another way of describing a person who can hold back the blubbering until quitting time?  I've of course met both kinds of people, those who always seem to get up no matter how hard they're pushed towards the pavement, and others who just lay there dead, helplessly waiting for Mr. pity himself to circle around the block once more to pick them up.  But whichever kind you are, the very second that first tear comes tumbling down your cheek for all to see, it's game over.  Because in that vulnerable moment,  whatever minuscule respect those bullies might have had for you in the past, is immediately thrown into the incinerator of life; its billowing smoke forming a cloud of toxic fumes that will forever move your way.  

So please stand tall and smile bright because believe it or not, your personal happiness is like a needle of poison into their icy veins. Your laughter will deafen them and that twinkle in your eye will blind them.   And each day you rise above and remain the bigger person, that venom you've injected will slowly flow through them inch by inch, until their insecurities and self entitlement explode into a beautiful mess of sweet revenge.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Living Selfishly?

Where exactly do you draw the line between selfish and selfless?  And what percentage of each should we fill our daily lives with?  The world is crowded with people from each spectrum.  People who choose to live every day for others, and some who do quite the opposite.  But who's to say either is right or wrong?  And how does one strike a balance between the two?

I've of course done many selfish things in my life, things I'd take back in a second.   But that's just a part of growing up and finding one's way through this war zone of life.  A war zone I assumed I was forging through quite evenly.  That is, until one day I had a rasping realization that I was in fact living life a little too selflessly, and to be honest, I was getting pretty damn tired of it.

Several years ago, I chose to do one of the most selfish things one can do in life; move away from everybody who cares about you.  These actions affected a wide range of people, causing anger and sadness among the ones I loved the most and the least.  But nonetheless,  it was just one of those things I had to do in life, so I took a deep breath, wiggled my toes, and made a giant leap for those unknown pacific waters.

But from the moment that plane screeched onto the golden brick roads of LaLa land, I knew I was suddenly changing as a person.  I was beginning to live life much more selflessly then I had before, and had no freaking idea why.  I had initially thought that maybe it was just a side effect of getting (sigh) older or the result of surrounding myself with a much higher quality of people(those who hated Sarah Palin as much as I did).  But alas, it was really something much deeper than that, it being a feeling of regret spawning from the guilt that I had felt from leaving everything and everybody behind.

At first though,  living this way didn't seem all that bad.  In fact, I was beginning to adore the person I was now becoming; instantly satisfied with how nicely I'd started treating everybody around me.  Had I really grown into the person I'd always wanted to be?  Well, that all changed one particular morning when the epiphanic pliers of life suddenly yanked my eyes wide open, making it all too clear that there was going to be a big price to pay for living at such a far end of the compass. 

I had begun to stretch myself so thin that I had become virtually invisible.  A human stomping ground for those who saw my kindness with only ignorant eyes. It was like I was in a nonstop game of eggshell walking with a constant leap to level ground.  I was Dorothy's straw man, a bleating scapegoat, and was saying yes, much more than no.   But alas, I couldn't blame anybody but myself.  I mean, when one throws themself out there to the wolves, they can't be naive in thinking they won't get a few bite marks here and there.  Possibly even the occasional stint of rabies.  So that's when I knew things had to change.  It was time to stop worrying about one selfish act, and start living more for myself.

So as of today, I've started to sprinkle a little "me" on my morning eggs.  Taking each fight; each altercation; each disagreement I have with those I "disappoint", with a humongous grain of sodium chloride.  And the lesson I've learned through all of this:  Always proceed with the utmost caution before you decide to bend over backwards for somebody.  Because you just might be unconsciously helping yet another wailing baby who's feverishly pretending they cannot walk.