Saturday, April 21, 2007

End Of Limbo, at Least for Catholics

and just like that, there was no more limbo.

I think the most telling part of the story is this:

The document published Friday said the question of limbo has become a "matter of pastoral urgency" because of the growing number of babies who do not receive the baptismal rite. Especially in Africa and other parts of the world where Catholicism is growing but has competition from other faiths such as Islam, high infant-mortality rates mean many families live with a church teaching them that their babies could not go to heaven.

Although this part was equally blunt:

It would also deprive Catholic leaders of a tool in their fight against abortion, Wolfe said. Priests have long told women that their aborted fetuses cannot go to heaven, which in theory was another argument against ending pregnancy. Without limbo, those fetuses would presumably no longer be denied communion with God.

The whole thing is ridiculous, but at least in this case, the lunacy is utterly transparent.

Monday, April 16, 2007

You Ever?

Write a blog post about one thing on your mind, only to realize it can easily be interpreted to apply to something else entirely? You can either delete or laugh at the sense of humor of the internet karma gods.

I have a friend (K) who has a friend going through a mountain of shit right now. Said friend's friend has completely withdrawn, isolated and cut everyone off because that's what she does when she gets backed into a corner. Burns bridges, crosses lines, all of that.

I guess I'll never understand those people. I think that is attributable to the manner in which I grew up. You could leave an entire country behind, only to run into a former friend in a new country, in a new school, with all of the old wounds unresolved. That happened more than I ever thought possible.

(Random story: There was a completely dorky guy in Saudi who had almost every annoying and unattractive quality and tic. Coke bottle glasses, spit when he spoke, generally nerdy, etc. I wasn't as big of an asshole to him as most, but I certainly wasn't friendly. Fast forward many years later and he is living in the country my parents were in. My parents had his family over for dinner and he was still a dork, albeit an older dork and one I could relate to better with the wisdom of a few more years of life experience. He and I ended up going on a trip that weekend that remains one of the better vacations I've ever taken.)

Another thing I'll never understand is the failure to directly communicate. So sayeth the recent divorcee, so there is plenty of irony poisoning on all fronts. In the early to middle parts of my marriage, direct communication was the norm - almost to a fault. If B had an issue? Oh I heard about it immediately - loud and clear, and the same was generally true from me, although I fancied myself a better communicator. It wasn't until the last two years that we stopped really communicating with each other and started avoiding.

That is the case with most of my relationships, especially my family. We are startlingly direct. Painfully so, much of the time, at least among the siblings. I am so much more comfortable with direct, head on collision, full on body contact communication. Put all the cards are on the table and there is a chance for resolution (not necessarily reconciliation, but resolution). Passive aggressive is not my style, doesn't look good on anyone and doesn't solve anything beyond perpetuating conflict. It continues to amaze me how many people don't realize that.

Reality is a Harsh Mistress

You ever feel like you finally have your shit together and your head screwed on properly, only to realize that you have just been sticking your head farther in the sand than you ever thought possible? That you weren't moving forward or anything approximating that, but really just sinking past several red flagged false bottoms with willful blindness? That for as fast as you thought you were running, it was just in circles and -- by the way -- running in circles? Makes you dizzy and disoriented.

When you find yourself confronting such a reality, you have several distasteful options:

1. You can continue the pattern unabated and throw yourself firmly and permanently under the bus. Flame the hell out and really see it through to the true bottom. There is a certain commitment with this option and it very may well end in white jackets and medications. At the very least, you saw it through.

2. You can wallow in your stupidity and revel in the fact that you're soaking in it. This could involve anything from never leaving your bed to tearful drunk dials to "friends" whom you haven't spoken with in years. I am fairly confident this option ends in a wholesale adoption of The Secret or some other self help mantra, which will make you popular with your more well-adjusted friends. Particularly when you offer your insights once you've figured it all out.

3. Denial. Pretend you had it together the whole time and act "as if." As if you were always in on the joke and always knew you weren't fooling anyone. It takes some steely nerves to pull this one off and almost no one will buy it, but if you stick to the script, you can at least be consistent. Consistency should not be underrated.

4. Own it entirely. Confront it, take responsibility for it, learn from it, change your behavior, one step at a time, and don't let it paralyze you. The only way to make progress and move forward is to build some momentum towards where you are trying to go and momentum requires steps forward, no matter how small.

4 is my lucky number, so I'm going to circle that choice.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Story of Tiffany

Very few people who know me personally haven't heard me tell this story, but I truly love telling it. It is the story of the most important lesson a friend has ever taught me.

I met Tiffany in college - we both lived in the "rich bitch" dorm (although in my defense, I didn't know that when I signed up to live there). She was roommates with Hilarie, who is worthy of several blog entries herself. Hilarie and I were good friends, as were Tiffany and I, but the friendships couldn't have been more different. Those two were as different as night and day - Hilarie remains one of the most beautiful friends I've ever had, and with great beauty usually comes some personal issues. Hilarie was no exception, despite bearing a striking similarity to Paulina Por...whateverthefuckherRussiannameis. Tiffany was also a beauty, albeit in a girl next door sort of way. Long, gorgeous brown hair, big blue eyes, the unmistakable aura of a girl raised in the right part of Houston (River Oaks). Refined. Mannered. Polite. Good breeding.

(By way of contrast, I'll never forget asking Hilarie if my ass looked fat in a particular pair of shorts, just a few minutes before heading out to a party. She said -- and I quote, nearly 20 years later -- K, are you going to do squats and drop five pounds tonight? No? Then don't worry how your ass looks like. You can't do fuck all about it right now. Looking good is a state of mind and if you think you look fat, you'll look fat to everyone.) It probably comes as no surprise to know Hilarie and I are still friends. And I have never since asked that question right before I go out.

In any event, Tiffany and I ended up moving to the same apartment complex during our sophomore year. Tiffany was the very model of anal retentive -- seriously, she and B would have been a great match in that regard. Her place was not lived in - it looked like a museum, especially her closet. My place, on the other hand? A loft - very hip, very lived in. We never hung out at her place - we were always at mine. We worked at the same restaurant at night and took classes by day. Tiffany had financial issues owing to her dad's declining bond business while I was (partially) supported by my parents. I had a solid safety net, even if I never used it. Her family, however, was in real financial trouble.

The financial issues became pretty intense and she had to drop out and work full time to keep her apartment. She didn't have a car, either, so there were transportation issues to boot. Then the depression came. She was prone to the "can't get out of bed" moments that I couldn't fully (or even partially) understand at the time. She basically lived at my place whenever I was home and that? Got a little exhausting. I began relishing my nights out with others (including Hilarie, who couldn't stand Tiffany), even though I positively loved Tiffany.

The whole thing came to a head that December, when her dad had to come to Austin to move her back home. She was really troubled and blue and the three jobs had exhausted her. She had gained 40 pounds, she didn't like herself and nothing was going right for her. She needed to recharge. When she left, I hugged her and promised her I would come to Houston the next weekend and see her. Truth was, I had no intention of doing that. I was secretly relieved, as she was ALWAYS at my place and I felt responsible for her happiness, which was elusive. I am generally a pretty upbeat person and had no experience with her kind of depression.* As they drove away, I actually felt lighter. No more taking care of Tiffany - emotionally, financially, socially, etc.

The next week, if memory serves, I called her (I think I got voice mail) and gave some utter bullshit excuse on why I couldn't come that weekend. I lied. I was so looking forward to my first weekend alone, with no obligations. I told her I would be there the next weekend, and the next weekend, I didn't call and dodged her phone calls. Knowing she would be mad and hurt, I didn't call her that weekend - or the next week. Which gave way to another week, then another.

That was December. I didn't speak to Tiffany for six months. I missed our birthdays (days apart), important milestones in our personal lives, etc. Tiffany didn't call me, either. She was understandably disgusted with me. I abandoned her when she probably needed a friend the most. It was a shitty, shitty, self-centered thing to do.

Come July, I was ready to move to WA. I was done with TX - we weren't a good fit, me and TX. It caused all sorts of family strife, but I decided to move "home" (even though I had never lived here for more than 3 mos at a time since I was 7, WA was home to me). I couldn't leave, knowing I had burned that bridge. I believe in friendship more than anyone I know. There are no sins beyond forgiveness when it comes to true friendship. I hoped Tiffany felt the same way.

I called her at work and when she answered, I said "please don't hang up. This is K. I owe you a tremendous apology and if you will give me a few minutes, I'd like to offer it." She said "hold on, I'm going in the back" -- she then worked retail -- and got back on the phone and said "okay, K, go." I said "Tiffany, I owe you such an apology. I valued our friendship and took so many actions contrary to that friendship. I have no excuse other than a failure of my character. I am so very sorry. You earned more consideration over the course of our friendship and I completely fucked up. I am sorry, I thank you for your friendship and I hope that one day, you will once again consider me a friend. I am moving to WA next week and couldn't leave TX without saying goodbye to the best part of TX. I love you and thank you for one of the better friendships of my life."

The line went quiet and I thought she might have hung up. She then said "Are you driving to WA?" I said yes and she asked when. She then put me on hold and came back a few minutes later, asking the dates of my travel. She said "Do you have room for a passenger?" I confess that this nonsap burst into tears and said "yes, for you, yes." To make this long story short, she flew to Austin, we went and watched Thelma and Louise (oh fuck off, I was young) and we drove to Washington from Texas, evaluating chicken fried steak at every roadside diner we stopped at along the way. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The pictures alone are great.

At one point during the trip, I asked her why she was there and why she forgave me for my unspeakable acts against our friendship. She looked me dead in the eye - this refined girl next door from Houston -- and said "K, you owed me an apology and you gave it the right way. No conditions, no excuses. We all fuck up, when it comes to friendship, we're allowed to fuck up. We have friendship. We will be friends when we are old, ugly and flabby. We're allowed to fuck up, so long as we acknowledge the fuck ups and talk about them. You fucked up, you apologized, I forgave you and we still have the friendship that we spent a long time building." She probably said the f-word more in that speech than she did in our (then) three year friendship.

I got it. I really did. You don't burn bridges, you don't draw lines in the sand, not with people you love. The relationship can change - that is to be expected -- but once you love someone, male or female, really love them? I don't think I can ever really hate them. Tiffany was the first person I called after I took the bar exam. That is probably telling on other levels, but I digress. I will always love B, too, even if right now? I'm pretty indifferent. Friendship is just pretty sacred to me. I don't burn bridges and I don't commit sins beyond forgiveness. Tiffany - this rich bitch girl from River Oaks? She taught me that. And there are few days where I don't remember that whole thing. Friends are the family you choose. I believe in that.

*I had a week in November, 2004, where I slept all the time and took five days off work. I finally understood the "don't want to get out of bed" thing. I had a similar experience in August, 2006. I didn't eat for days and was utterly unmotivated. I can't imagine battling that every day. I don't pretend to understand it now, but at least have some personal experience with the overwhelming thoughts of heavy sadness.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


One of the stranger things I've discovered after a few years of being a practicing attorney is that I am almost the opposite of the stereotypical shark lawyer. I don't crave conflict and, for the most part, am much more geared toward resolution. So much of the job is trying to resolve conflicts, even though the perception is that attorneys are bloodthirsty opportunists.

Reading back over this blog, I realize that is true in my personal life. I didn't pick many fights during the course of the divorce. I was so angry at so many times and so hurt, but it never really occurred to me to launch a battle. B was always so capable of getting angrier and meaner than I could ever muster and truthfully, living in that state of mind was so far from where I wanted to be. It isn't stable and never leads to anything positive and rewarding.

The relationship as I knew it ended. Both our faults. We both let it end. It was probably just time, as we were no longer working towards the same thing. I am just as responsible as B - he just pushed the issue to the forefront. We both buried our heads in the sand during the separation and completely ignored the issue. I said (at the time) that I was waiting for a grand gesture from him, to show me that he would do anything and everything to keep the story of us together. I really believed that at the time, but in hindsight, where everything is clear, the truth is that I while I was not quite ready to surrender the idea of that story, I didn't do everything and anything to keep us together. I just sort of avoided it and escaped elsewhere.

I regret that the most, I think. I lost a few years, numbing the fuck out and not really working towards becoming the woman and person I really want to be. I think I am just now on that road and it is a daunting road ahead. There is certainly value in learning from my mistakes and not repeating them, so I spend a certain amount of time revisiting the mistakes of my past. Humbling, that. Humiliating, even. But I am working not to dwell on it - it is now out of my control - I can't rewrite history or revise it to support a different conclusion. But I can make changes now and rewrite the future. One that veers away from the mistakes and missteps of the past.

That seems entirely more productive that rubber necking over my shoulder and wallowing in regret. Forgiveness is perhaps the most proactive thing I can do, both of B and of myself. Forgiveness requires humility and self-awareness and acknowledgement and ownership of your mistakes, and ultimately, it also assures forward movement. I need to build some momentum and I think it begins with a pretty thorough accounting. I am almost there and that feels like considerable progress.

This sounds remarkably like a fucking self help post. It isn't intended to be. I've just found that writing this shit down? Really giving it some quality and intense analysis? Well, that kicks the shit out of self pity and regret and is something I can do to take control when my thoughts become defeating. At the end of the day, I have to look myself in the mirror and question whether I am proud of who I am.

Getting there. Baby stepping like Bob.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Chasing Pea

I have never really used this as a place to dump my random links, but fuck it. I'm in the mood.

I have a current love affair with this song. Yes, it is ridiculously cheesy. Yes, I have a thing for voices in harmony. Yes, it strikes a chord with me right now. I make no apologies.

Incidentally, I like that song in part because it reminded me of this scene in Six Feet Under, which didn't really work at the time but I now appreciate.

Also, as a companion piece to my last post, I submit that Clooney shares my general malaise with the internet. Coincidence? I think not.

Meat and Greet

Well, long time no blog. I have had a few soul searching weeks and have come to the conclusion that I don't much care for the internets at the moment. This is primarily owing to my mistakes and errors in judgment. No matter how much it may seem otherwise, items appear differently on the internet than they appear in your mind. It is a social distortion of day to day reality and everyone plays a part of that distortion, even yourself.

Fuck - even I don't understand that last sentence. And no, this has nothing to do with my online married friend. Not anywhere near that ballpark.

But I am nothing if not competitive and the pea is outblogging me and that? I cannot abide. Also, I started this whole thing is a chronicle of where I was and where I was headed. I wish I had stuck to it better, as I have reviewed some of my conversations in the past three months and I realize I wasn't doing as well as I thought. As a wise mentor once told me, you can either strain yourself looking behind you or put your efforts into moving forward. As another wise friend also reminded me, some of my most important relationships and friendships originated online and not everything is distorted.

Along those lines, I am going to meet one of my favorite people from the internets tomorrow, even though I have broken up with the internets for the forseeable future. N has been an internet friend from the beginning and very high on the short list of folks I wanted to meet in person. I think that is because certain friends and relationships transcend the internets and become part of your meatspace existence, even if you haven't met. Other relationships never really ever leave the internet, even if you meet them in meatspace. In any event, I will be meeting N and having meat at some point.