Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Men: Signs and Wonders (1)

You may have noticed in our conversation...

I choose to think of this as a conversation so it's less like I'm just talking to myself. Only crazy people do that. You represent the silent listener and I finally get to talk. Like being at the therapist, only you don't get to ask me stupid questions like "How did it make you feel when that happened?" because I will hit you. How did it make me feel? Bad, you idiot, otherwise WHY WOULD I BE AT A THERAPIST?! Seriously, they give a degree to just anyone these days.

... that I have not discussed men. This is because I believe you should talk about what you know. It is quite obvious by the relationships I have had with men, I that I don't know anything about them. At least nothing about picking a good one, so instead we'll focus on my other strengths.

Signs in men of which you should take note:
These are going to be bad signs since I miss the good ones and frankly, they can be misleading sometimes. There are some signs that have proven through clinical trials (also known as my love life) to be true that I feel I should share. Unlike me, you should not date men with these signs regardless of the fact that they always prove to be bad. Learn from me people, learn!

1. He never meets your friends and family.

Whether through timing, location or bad luck, I've managed to get hooked up with several of these men. At first, you don't even notice it. They go out with you in public and maybe have introduced you to some of their friends. Surprisingly, they have never made it to a party YOU'VE invited them to where your friends will be present. They can never quite make it to the social events with family. There is always a really good reason. Work, family, accidents, illness or some other truly understandable reason is always in place. Sometimes it's even a last minute thing, not his fault right? Right, until you realize it's been almost a year and your friends have still never laid eyes on the guy.

We are discussing relationships of some invested time here. The first time it happened to me, I started losing touch with some of my closest friends. Even my roommate complained of my being gone all the time. Eventually, I started skipping social events if he couldn't attend. He never asked me to do this, but it seemed like the right thing. We'd go to HIS social events instead. Mine never worked out.

What does this sign mean? Well, every woman could tell a different outcome. For some, it meant her man was a control freak and didn't want her planning things. For others, he didn't want to get involved in her personal life any deeper because he knew the relationship had no future on his end. For me, it was a mind game to separate me from people he felt could influence me against him. Exact words: "But you're with me, if they are your friends they should understand you'll be with them less." Innocuous? Maybe... if you're a Stepford wife.

In my case it turned into much larger issues we won't discuss here and the relationship ended. Strangely, it was a hard ending emotionally for me because I had come to depend on him socially after alienating and ignoring my closest friends. I had sworn never to be one of those women, but there I was.

Point to wonder: Why do men do the head tilt/jerk thing at each other in public but they are perfect strangers? Is it the male version of smiling as you walk by? You never see women doing this.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Celebrating (Insert Minority Here)!

I originally wrote this post back in February of 2007.  Before I lost my Dad, before I met and married the love of my life... you know, before I grew up a lot.  All that being said - this still makes me laugh.  I thought of it because right now it's Hispanic Heritage month.   Apparently, I haven't grown up all that much... enjoy!

Happy Black History Month to you. This holiday began in 1929. The month of February was chosen to celebrate this month because of the momentous occasions that took place in Black American heritage during this month.

Such as Groundhog’s Day.

A day when a lazy little creature goes outside to check the temperature and if he sees his shadow, he decides to either check out what that strange sound is or go inside and hide beneath the bed. No, wait, that’s “White People in Horror Films week.” I get them confused.  Updated thoughts:  It's unfair to say just white people in here.  There are many races that are stupid in these movies, but let's be honest for the most part - they are white.  You don't see many movies about black people trying to find out what spirit is attacking them at night - we just move.  Leave our crap and go - let the evil one have the sofa!  I never see Hispanic or Asian people in these films either going to "check on that noise" or "call up the spirit of the person who was murdered here".  Maybe I'm not watching the right films?  But I seriously digress... back to the celebrations of the minority (whatever that means these days.)
In all seriousness, the month was picked because Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were both born in February. If you don’t know why they are important to Black History, then you should go back to Canada or Miami – whichever one you’re from.  Updated thoughts:  Sadly, this no longer applies to foreign persons - even Miss America might not know as proven on Youtube by many taped interviews with contestants.

What’s interesting is that it’s also the shortest month of the year and it’s confusing because every fourth year, it’s actually a day longer. I would complain about black people getting the jacked up month, but honestly – Hispanic Heritage month is Sept 15 – Oct 15 which is even worse. You can't even get an actual whole month, you have to split it over two and hope it gets funded in the new fiscal year.  This observance began in 1968 but it wasn't expanded to a month long observance until 1988 by President Reagan.  Americans celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.  And by Americans, I mean those who aren't protesting that these people are here illegally or are stealing their jobs (because you really wanted to clean houses for a living, right?).  Sadly people fail to recognize some of the hardest workers, best kept lawns, and creative house planning ever seen in this country.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month is May – Which celebrates Asian and Pacific Islanders. This lumps Chinese, Japanese,  Vietnamese, Indian / Hindu, Arabic, and  Korean Americans (for example) with Hawaiian Americans. I consider them totally separate and different, but maybe that’s just me. Eh, so they have to share – they all look alike, right? This observance began in 1978.  There's actually not much more info about it...  

Native American Indian Heritage Month is… wait for it… November. It’s like salt in the wound. What’s even better is the fact that although the first "American Indian Day" was declared by the State of New York in 1916, a month long recognition of Native Americans was not achieved until 1990. In that year, President George Bush Sr. declared the first National American Indian Heritage Month on August 3.

You’ll note that the people who came first got their month holiday – last. Now, perhaps you’re sitting at your VP desk in your $3k suit frowning because you don’t see your heritage represented here. You’re right, there is no White People Month – cause that’s called “Every Day” for the rest of us. The one exception is in March.

The public celebration of women's history in this country began in 1978 as "Women's History Week" in Sonoma County, California. In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to a month, and March was declared Women's History Month. Yes, even women got recognized before Native American Indians.
So, that covers the major minority groups (that I know any details about) and thus ends your educational moment for the day.

So, it’s February – do something Black. (Just don’t arrested, pregnant, or be a guest on Maury Povich.)

PS: No, I'm not racist. My family background has so many races in it, I'd have to slap myself with one hand and protest with the other. However, saying "Caucasian People" month is pretentious and frankly, doesn't match how I think. I'm not PC - sorry. I actually don't have an updated thought here - cause I am still not PC.  No apologies.

Victoria's Secret and other well known facts

You know when you go into a store (doesn't matter what kind of store) and you kind of know you want or need something there, but you can't quite put your finger on what it is that you want?

In the grocery store, it's that vague suspicion that just that morning you ran out of something vital (milk, cheese, bread, anti-depressant, whatever) and if you go home and walk in the door (which is always the 'AHA' moment you remember what you needed to get) you will be one pissed off person.

At the Target-type playgrounds, it's even worse because you have so many choices. Was is a food, pharmaceutical, clothing, household, or recreational item? This is when you end up with a basket of crap you didn't set out to buy and possibly don't need.

Well, need is such a relative term - what is a want but an unsubstantiated need at a later date? Exactly, you may not need that new CD right now, but when you're on that long drive and realize you've listened to all your other stuff - you'll be glad you have it. That want suddenly became a need, didn't it? Don't argue with my shopping rationalization - Logic has no place in shopping.

The worst, however, is when you walk into a specialty store (Best Buy or Victoria's Secret) and can't quite remember why. I went into PetSmart and wandered for 20 minutes before remembering what the puppy needed. I also purchased another 10 things she may not actually "need" but well, you know my argument there...

Here's the problem - at these specialty stores, you're not exactly getting a bargain. You don't have coupons (usually) with you or discounts beyond the store card (sure, 10% the FIRST time, what about the three years of purchases afterwards - where's my discount then? Huh? HUH?!) So, you're random purchasing is less defensible and infinitely more expensive.
Note: Keep your receipt! You may want to go back and get some of that cash back. See: Returns and Impulse Buying in an upcoming post.

I'm standing in Victoria's Secret staring at perfume and lovely frilly things. I swear to you, the second before I walked in that store I knew exactly what I wanted, in which line and color. I had spent time perusing the catalogue to make my choices. But the minute I entered the store, the sweet perfume smell (which might contain some sort of drug to cause this state of confusion) and pretty frilly things made me forget.

Do I need new bras? Well, I can always use a new bra, but I think I just bought 5 - so I'm probably good. What about panties and thongs? Well, I bought some new ones before the trip to France but I don't like some of them. Maybe I should get more, but my panties drawer is full. I would have to throw some out. I hate doing that because then when you really need to do laundry, you don't have any backups. Well, ok - did you come for pajamas? Sadly, I'm single and the men who want me naked don't want a relationship and are not concerned with my cute sexy garments. Not that men in a relationship would be either, necessarily. Why are you here? Good question.

And that's when I walk out of the store with nothing.

I hate that.

Returns and Impulse Buying

I'm not sure if everyone has this mentality - probably not - but nonetheless when I shop I always keep the receipts.

This is why I buy random things I'm not entirely certain I want. It doesn't matter, I can return it. What's better - that money becomes free shopping dollars.

I know - it's not really, it's still the same money coming out of my account, only it doesn't seem like it. Now it's free money not tied to my budget. YAY, let's go buy frivolous crap.

Which brings me to impulse buying. These crafty people are very smart with the items they put in creative spots (like right by the line as you're leaving). You can't get out of line and you don't have enough time to really analyze if you NEED that item.

Though, need is a relative term... you may have heard my reasoning with this before.

Then "Tada", you come home with some new and creative tool, gadget, whatever. Sometimes, this turns out to be something really awesome. You congratulate yourself on your amazing find and brilliance. Other times, it turns into a return item.

See the vicious cycle here?

Friday, May 18, 2007

You never call or write me anymore.

Now, I know a thing or two about guilt. I was raised Catholic for the first seven years of my life and the remaining years by people who were raised Catholic for their entire lives. I should write a book about guilt. I could give training lessons about guilt, but I would need my mother and grandmother as guest speakers. Experts in the field, you know.

Anyway, I have enough Jewish friends to know that supposedly they have the corner on guilt, but honestly I think they go to the same training school. On one side of the hall the teachers dress like penguins and discipline with rulers. This would not be experience talking at all. Thanks Mrs. Walker for looking out for your third graders in Wednesday Mass. Oh yes, a big shout out to my mother and father for signing the permission slip giving those repressed women the right to beat me at will. What were you thinking? I bet that's why they closed that school. For beating little kids. How do you feel about that - you were an ENABLER! On the other side of the hall, men with funny accents and hats that give you money for doing things right. I'm not actually sure that's accurate but that's what I choose to believe, how else do Jewish people learn to be rich?

Back to guilt - actually, wait - back to letting those nuns spank me. Why would you do that? I mean, it's not like you guys spared the rod at home. I could see if I didn't get any discipline at all. I'm not saying I didn't deserve what I got, because until my little brother and sister came along - I definitely deserved what I got. Later, however, is a subject of much debate. Maybe it's that in our family we like to share the pain. You know, all for one and that crap. My parents were raised Catholic and got their fair share of beatings. I wasn't there but I know I inherited my smart mouth (Thanks Dad) and my inability to pay attention (All you Mom).

Mom - don't even try to deny that by the way. You are the same woman that sits in the movie with the rest of the family that has to ask, "What? What happened? What did she say? Why did he do that? Oh my God, are they going to die? What happens next?" That's you right? I mean, I understand that you were distracted by say the alarming way Kirsten Dunst could NOT act her way out of a paper bag with directions and flashlight in Spiderman 3. Or maybe the horrid screeching she called singing along with the possibly worse clothing they kept putting her shapeless form in made you miss a word or two, but seriously - we're going to rip into the movie afterwards anyway, can't it wait? (Note: My sister (theatre major) and I (theatre minor) both act, I occasionally direct and coach, my mother is a costumer, my brother is an engineer with a memory for every detail of a storyline (especially sequels) and my father is ex-military, so your protocol and weaponry better be dead-on: we're a tough audience.)

What the hell was I saying? Oh yeah, guilt.

Anyway, my mother swears she was sane before she had children. My father, who has known her since age 7, says this is debatable but in my opinion the pot can't talk about the kettle, so we'll let that go. Suffice to say, she is the family title holder for Guilt. No, wait that's my grandmother, my mother has to be content with runner-up.

My entire life, I have sworn I would never be this way. I wouldn't hold the emotional ax over people I love to make them be more attentive or encourage them to work harder. I would never manipulate my actions to make them a direct result of someone else's failure, thereby alleviating myself of any responsibility.

I lied. Hooo Boy did I ever. Once I started working for the government I found out the only way to get things done around here was to threaten or guilt trip people into doing their jobs. Otherwise, you get ignored. I don't do "ignored" well. Ask around.

Suffice to say, I've noticed what are efficient work skills spilling into my personal life. Recently, and this phenomenon seems to be limited to the men in my life - go figure, I have found myself being "that girl". It's my birthday and I want you to come out with me - I turn into that girl. The women that backed out... ok, that's cool I understand. The men that backed out... well, there weren't many that did because, well - it's me! But the few that did (you know who you are), have all (almost all) apologized and tried to make it up to me.

This is not good. It wasn't even a milestone birthday. I'm not that kind of person. I'm really not. So like Bart Simpson, I'm going to start writing myself some very pertinent reminders. Guilt is not a weapon to be used to get hugs, treats, gifts or other positive rewards.
Guilt is not a weapon to be used to get hugs, treats, gifts or other positive rewards.
Guilt is not a weapon to be used to get hugs, treats, gifts or other positive rewards.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to call my only living grandmother because I'm her only grandchild that never calls and she could die any day you know and won't I feel horrible if I haven't called and to at least find out how she's doing?

Mom, I'll see you Sunday. *sigh*

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Walk and Chew Bubble Gum

I was a lucky kid. (If you don't get the inherent sarcasm in this phrase, you have NOT been paying attention.)

Anyway, being military meant going to schools (Every two years. Seriously, who else has 3 elementary schools? Raise your hand. Yup, which branch were you in?) in different countries and states. Other countries were a treat because you got to experience the same classes in different ways. For instance, in Italy, our PE class included gymnastics and ballet. Yay for the girls - and in some cases - Yay for the boys too.

Mind you, this was first and second grade, so we were pretty much willing to try anything. I was going to be the next Nadia Comaneci by God. My favorite event was the beam and when we got to finally play on one (it was a foot off the ground, but at 6 and 7 who cares!) I was in seventh heaven.

I was actually kind of good. I was good at swimming and didn't do to shabby at ballet either.

My problem is one that is inherently not my fault. I blame my french and Irish ancestry. Seriously, the graceful french genes were in direct conflict with the falling down drunk Irish genes coursing my veins. We won't discuss the feisty Spanish genes that were the cause of my showing off. Damn them for their confidence! They never listen to the sage Native American gene (singular, it's lonely in the group) that warns of impending doom and thunderstorms.

Anyway - I'm a klutz. This is the nice term for stupidly clumsy. Let's see...

Age 4: Been swimming since I was 18 months old. Climbing the super high ladder on the high dive to jump into the 12 foot water below. I'd been doing it all day, but this time around the whiner in front of me gets all the way to the top and decides she doesn't want to jump. She's scared. Puhleeze. So, I just climbed around her. Well, that's what I would have done if not for those damned drunk Irish genes and gravity (who knew!?) pushing me towards the earth at a fast rate. Luckily, I landed on my head.

You laugh, but I got up and went back at it with no obvious affliction. Unless you ask my mother, which you are not invited to do, thank you.

Age 6: Gym-gymnastics - balance beam showing off. I could do actual flips on the beam. Just not backwards. With my eyes closed. Landed on my knee. Cue major knee problems for life.

Age 7: Not to be stopped by a bum knee - BALLET! First position, Second.. and so forth. My extension sucked and my turnout is worse. The European culture is tough in this genre. So died my dream of dancing in the corps for the Nutcracker. Eh, who cares? I really just like the costumes. (Note: This is where my love of theatre is born.)

I'm going to stop naming all my injuries here, because neither of us have that kind of time. Let's just say, I've broken both ankles, both wrists, damaged both knees and have some lovely scars.

You'll notice I used present tense above. I AM a klutz. Yes, that's right, there are some things you don't outgrow like allergies and skin color. Seriously, I could do an entire discourse on how I thought I would get lighter when I was older so I could finally NOT be the dark one in the family. Hey - this is a blog, maybe I will. Later.

My scrapes and bruises add character and texture to who I am. Those are the Spanish genes talking. Between them and the Irish genes, going out with me is dangerous. This has not stopped me from dancing on bars, in musicals, or in ballet classes.

How old can you be in the Nutcracker?

Edit: I want you to know that I spellchecked this file. Every nationality in here was in lowercase and the spellchecker appropriately slapped my hand and told me to capitalize them.

All of them but the french. I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but it's not really good social commentary when an unbiased program (probably not even written in the United States) won't give that country the respect it's due.

I'm leaving it that way for humor purposes. If my grandparents and great-relatives start haunting me, however, I'm changing it. Just so you know.

2 Lies and a Truth: The Game

1. I am a recovering alcoholic.

2. I have been engaged twice but never married.

3. Having a family is more important than having a career to me.

Medical Rollercoaster: Part 1

I had this recurring dream for eleven days between my biopsy and my next appointment. Occasionally, I have it when I don't feel well or life is stressing me out. Because it's hard to write about, I prefer to put it into a fictional context, but this is the honest to God truth.
Oh God. Is this what a heart attack feels like? I am standing in the middle of a very busy hallway, two feet from a door bearing the stenciled letters, ‘Dr. Miriam Eder, Oncology.’

Oncology. What did I ever do to deserve this? I swear I’m sorry and it won’t happen again, just tell me what it was.

As of two minutes ago, I am officially late for my appointment. My hands are actually sweaty and my blood is racing through my veins so fast I can actually feel it. It hurts, a pain I’ve experienced when I’ve had too much sugar and it’s rushing through me. I know, from experience, that the crash will be hard and difficult. I feel moisture filming my eyes and I bite my lip. I will not cry.

The door opens and a man steps out. He’s probably 60 if he’s a day. He smiles and holds the door open for me. I see the receptionist inside the office and she looks up at me puzzled. I can’t move. I’m sure if I do, my heart will explode my chest. The man says something, but over the rush in my head I can’t tell what it is.

I am shaking, but I don’t realize this until I reach to grab the door the man has just released. I miss and it closes in front of me. I stand in the hallway, cutting off the flow of traffic around me with my outstretched arm, frozen in place.

The door pushes open slowly and the receptionist is there. She smiles sympathetically and takes my outstretched hand. “Carter? 2pm appointment?” I don’t know if I actually responded, I was too busy hyperventilating. I hate myself for the weakness.

She doesn’t let me sit in the waiting room. I don’t need the additional apprehension. Instead she takes me to a small office with a leather chair before a desk. I sit and stare at a very bad Monet print.

I bite my lip so hard I taste blood, but I’m not crying when Dr. Eder walks in with her coffee. She’s short with graying black hair and sits on the edge of the desk facing me. “Well, dear, I got your biopsy results back...” Black spots begin to form on the edges of my vision.

Dr. Eder takes my hand and I try to focus. She begins to repeat herself, going into medical detail, but I’ve heard enough. Now I cry. “… need to come back for tests in a few weeks, but we ruled out cancer for now. Your acute anemia and…”

Someone bumps into my shoulder.

I am standing in the middle of a very busy hallway, two feet from a door bearing the stenciled letters, ‘Dr. Miriam Eder, Oncology.’ The door opens and a man steps out. He’s probably 60 if he’s a day. He smiles and holds the door open for me. I smile back.

So here's the odd part. Dr. Eder is my endocrinologist. I did have a biopsy. My first visit actually went quite closely to this dream. But in the dream I ended up smiling and there were no subsequent visits. This is the difference between make-believe and reality. I'll write about the reality of it in a bit.

Monster in the Closet

Some memories are harder than others to face. I spent years in therapy dealing with a lot of major events. One of the techniques that worked for me was talking about things in the abstract. It's easier if it happened to other people. If other people got hurt or hurt someone else then there is no guilt, blame or personal responsibility associated. That's the beauty of fiction, right? So, here's a story I wrote that I never shared with anyone before. Aren't you lucky?

Some things, even my parents don't know.

There’s a monster in the closet. Mom and Dad always say there are no such things as monsters, so I don’t bother telling them about this one. I wish I had an older brother, I’d run and get him to help me kill the monster.

I don’t really remember the first time I saw the monster. I was lying in bed at Stephanie and Andrea’s house. The three of us crammed into one bed, but we’re only little so it’s ok. Well, I’m the little one. They are older than me by two and three years. My parents like it when I play with them because they are my only friends in this country. It’s very hard to make friends when you don’t speak the language.

Anyway, this wasn’t the first time I stayed at their house. It was the first time that the monster showed up. We were lying in bed giggling. One of them, the eldest but I can’t remember which that was, tried to teach me a new game. I didn’t like the game. Maybe if I had played the game the monster wouldn’t have come. Too late.

We were supposed to be asleep, so when the door started to open, no one moved. I saw the big dark shape in the doorway. It was dark in the hallway too, but I could still see the darker shadow. It didn’t make any noise when it came by the bed. I have a bad habit when I sleep. I like to kick my feet out from under the covers and roll into a cocoon around my shoulders with the blankets. Pig in a blanket, head and feet out. Oink oink.

This is why I am sleeping on the end of the bed by the door and not in the middle. Usually the littlest has to sleep in the middle, but my friends knew I would just mess up the covers so I slept on the end. That’s how the monster got me. I thought he would gobble me up, like the monsters in the books.

For a long time, he just looked at me. I had my eyes squeezed shut really tight except for the tiny place I peeked out at it. I felt the covers move away. In my head I just kept saying, ‘Monsters aren’t real. Don’t scream. Don’t scream.’

A touch on my leg pulled my Strawberry Shortcake nightgown higher and I must have made a sound. Behind me a hand tugged on the back of my gown. They knew the monster was here and they were afraid too.

‘Please don’t eat me.’ It was the last thing I can remember thinking. The rest is blurry in my mind. I remember being cold and scared. I know I never fell asleep and felt very dirty. The next morning, when the sun was high enough in the sky that people started venturing outdoors and street noises woke my friends, I begged to go home.

No, I didn’t want breakfast. I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to watch a movie. I just wanted to go home. Home, where there were no monsters. My dad finally came for me and I was very happy to leave.

Two weeks later, I had to go to my friends’ house again. “You like Stephanie and Andrea. Why are you being difficult? I already told them you were coming over.” I knew she wouldn’t believe me about the monster, because monsters aren’t real after all.

That night, I tried to climb into the middle. Then I tried to sleep on the side of the bed that was farthest from the door, but Stephanie complained that I pulled the covers and Andrea was afraid to sleep by the window. I was just afraid to sleep. Then I thought, maybe if I go to sleep really fast, the monster will ignore me.

I kept my feet tucked under the covers and pulled the sheet over my head. I fell asleep like that, but when I woke later in the middle of the night the covers were gone. My nightgown was bunched around my thighs. I saw the door swinging shut and felt tears in my eyes. The monster had come anyway.

That was the last time I went to their house, even in the daytime, to play. I cried and pleaded with my mother. She thought I had a fight with my friends and I let her believe that. They had not protected me from the monster and I couldn’t trust them.

Then one night, I woke up in my bed tangled in the covers. The door was firmly closed and I was all alone. I lay in the dark and shivered. I had been dreaming of a dark shadow in the room, pulling my blankets and touching me. That’s when I knew the monster had followed me.

Instead of creeping in my room at night, it crept in my thoughts. Invading my dreams, it turned every night into a nightmare. I started to hear noises from the closet, or at least I think I heard noises.

I woke up screaming one time. Just once. My mother ran into my room and touched my forehead. “What’s wrong? What is it?” She was breathless.

“There’s a monster in my closet.” I said in a small voice. She looked at me disbelieving.

“There are no such things as monsters.” She firmly pushed me back onto my pillow and tucked my sheets around me. “You are too old to believe in such nonsense.” She looked angry and disappointed. When she left, though, she kept the hall light on and cracked my bedroom door.

I rolled onto my side and stared gratefully at the light. My mom was wrong, you see. There are monsters. Years later, I find myself cracking the bedroom door open and leaving the hall light on. My friends ask me about it, but I never try to explain. My little brother and sister think it’s funny. I don’t care if they laugh because I know what they don’t. There’s a monster in the closet.

I keep debating posting this story. What if my sister and brother read it? What if my parents or someone from my church stumbles across this? Is this an anonymous enough forum?

Screw it. Maybe someone will read this that has a similar story. If you do - if it's happening to you right now, tell someone. I was six, almost seven, when this happened to me. I wish I had told someone. I wish I had known it was ok to talk about the monsters. Instead, I the lesson I learned was to hide the things that scare you and lie about the things that hurt you. This will only lead to more hurt in the end.

Also, if you have monsters in your closet - you're not alone. It doesn't matter how old you get, how small they eventually seem, or how much you recover - a monster is a monster. There's no shame in that.

Where to begin

For three years, I've tried to write a book about my life. This isn't because I am some egotistical maniac that thinks everyone in the world wants to know about me. Honestly, I'm fine sitting in the back keeping my mouth shut - most of the time.

The problem is, I see people going down paths I've already trod. Dangerously close to the same slippery slopes and sometimes, not always, but sometimes they just don't know better. If I say nothing, I'm a lousy human being. The worst that can happen by sharing my experiences is adding knowledge and perspective. That's always good and sometimes, it can save your life.

I'm the oldest of three kids, so I've always been raised to "be the example". Read: Guinea Pig, Culprit, Holder-of-the-Bag, One-to-be-Punished, First Try, Test Case, etc. I'm not bitter about it... much.

Anyway, this basic understanding has spilled over into the rest of my life and now that I've gotten to do some autobiographical speaking, I'm realizing it's a good thing. I can help others. All those crappy things that have happened to me aren't just wasted years of my life, therapy bills or nightmares that wake me from my tear-stained pillow. They are life-enriching experiences that have shaped me into the complex, wonderful and interesting person I am today.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.