Thursday, September 30, 2010

Caught Orange Handed (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

If you have been reading my responses to the Mama Kat Writing Workshop prompts, you will have caught on to the fact that I throw the numbers one through five into a random number generator, and whatever number comes up I write to the corresponding prompt (unless there is something I must write aboutI have to admit, I originally threw out the first option given to me (Describe the worst diet you ever put yourself on), but that left me at "10 reasons I'm glad it's fall," and I'm not in an "autumn is a miracle" mood right now.  Our first family rounds or pre-algebra homework have pretty much done away with that quaint "back to schol" vibe. 

Even though I can't name something like "the grapefruit diet," "Atkins," or the "South Beach" diet as a "worst" for me, the images that kept popping up in my head brought me back to the topic.  Images from my disordered high school eating habits:


I ate so many carrots, because they had minimal calories, the the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet turned orange (but I had great visual acuity, for what that's worth!). 

(Source: - these are not my hands!)

Awash in Tab

Who remembers Tab (the first time around)?  You know, before artificial sweeteners managed to occasionally taste like sugar?  When lab rats around the world were keeling over from saccharine overdose?  That Tab.  I drank so much of it that I [TMI ALERT] wet the bed at the age of 17.  I had allowed myself about 4 calories that day (4 Tabs) out of whatever ridiculously small amount of calories I had planned to consume overall.  The Tab went straight through me. 

"She's Starving Herself"

We weren't big on facing problems head on in our family of three.  I would methodically (lovingly, obsessively) set out my breakfast food the night before, probably so I could fantasize about eating it the next morning.  The cereal, the measuring cups to make sure I didn't get a whisper more of the food amount I had allotted myself. and the spoon.  I recall, after going to bed one night, hearing my father tell my mother, "She's starving herself."  I knew (somewhere deep down) that this wasn't healthy, knew when I ran into people who had not seen me in awhile, who commented on my weight loss, that even though I said, "I have a lot more to go," that I didn't have more to go.  I couldn't stop. 

A Gut Feeling and [TMI ALERT #2] Smell

When I started eating anywhere near regularly again, my body was so confused.  It had difficulty processing anything, especially fiber.  Let's just leave it at this:  a body that is not used to processing fiber does not do so efficiently or without a certain scent.  Yuck.

Debbie Hales

Our graduating class at Union County High School was small (83 students).  Debbie Hales, one of our fellow students, made an astounding transformation throughout our senior year.  She started off very heavy, and lost weight rapidly using a liquid diet.  As she lost weight, her personality seemed to be blooming.  I don't remember the name of the particular liquid diet she had been on.  I do remember the morning I arrived at school to be told that she had collapsed while riding her bike.  By noon that day she was dead.  I remember Mrs. Kelley, our teacher, saying "let's just go to the science fair" because it was useless trying to talk business machines while we were all in a shocked stupor.  Debbie had had a cerebral hemorrhage.  I don't know what the official detailed diagnosis was, but it is likely that the radically low calorie consumption she was engaged in had a direct role in her death.  Senseless. 

I don't know exactly how I snapped out of the carrot/Tab/starvation scenario.  I do know it took years to return to a semblance of normal, years for my [TMI ALERT #3] periods to return.  I am now a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, which I have followed on and off over the years.  I am about fourteen pounds over my goal weight right now, but I do understand that you can successfully lose weight nutritiously and healthfully.  Weight Watchers does a phenomenal job of teaching nutritional balance and the role of exercise while providing personal support.

I think my dieting experiences over the years have led me to push my children (perhaps to the opposite extreme) to be so active physically that they don't have to restrict their food choices.  My ear is ridiculously finely tuned to my teenage daughter's comments about her body.  My 11 year old son's physical this summer yielded a finding of a less than optimal (read: too fat) Body Mass Index. 

Hopefully, when my children are adults and tell their stories, their palms and soles would have remained clear; their bladders not overtaxed, and the measuring cups will have come out only for baking. 

I'll be keeping "TABS" on that!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wordless McWednesday

This picture made the rounds at our office last week and gave us all a good chuckle.

For us girls, meals would be a lot more "happy" if there were boy toys involved!

(There are many more humorous mistakes, errors, and recalls at that site!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Can You Remind Me of Your Name?

Tonight's topic is one that I have had in the back of my mind (maybe THAT is what is taking up the room where my memory for names/faces should be) for a long time.  Today's incident at the Film School sealed the deal. 

Five years ago, when I started auditioning at the Film School, I didn't know anyone.  When I went in twice yearly to audition, there would be a new trio of faces behind the camera and directing the action.  Over the last year and a half, I have been sufficiently involved that the faces behind the audition table are frequently ones that I have encountered on one project or several projects as the students cycle through the various responsibilities involved in making a film. 

When Laura walked out to call me, I could mentally check off one face (and Facebook friend).  Another young woman in the room is a student I have dealt with, but not someone I have worked with extensively so that interaction was okay with a "hey how are you?".  But the student behind the camera is a student I have worked with on enough films that I have lost count.  I said, "Oh, I think you auditioned me last time."  He said, "No, I didn't work auditions last time."  Backpedal, backpedal.  I kind of brushed it off, naming the person who auditioned me last time.  But I was still struggling to name this person.  

This names/faces problem is really, really irritating!! 

I vaguely remember hearing an ABC news story about faceblindness awhile back and thinking, "hey! I feel that way a lot!"  I remember running into Carladenise Edwards, someone I was meeting with several times a month at the time, in Publix once and literally having no idea who she was.  The list of these types of incidents in my life is pretty long by now.  (By the way, this is one reason I am such a huge fan of Scott Ginsberg, also known as "The Nametag Guy," who has worn a nametag for the last 3,616 days.)

Why did my interaction at the Film School, just another incident like all the others, matter enough to make it blogworthy?  It matters because when I fail to recognize someone that I have been involved in a project with, for a cause/enterprise we are both passionate about, I can't help but feel that the person feels minimized or less important.  It matters because, although acting talent is the absolute main thing that a film student looks for when casting a role, I don't want to be the one that the student's main recollection is, "oh yeah, she's the one who didn't remember my name."  It matters because, after reading Still Alice (about early onset Alzheimer's Disease), I didn't feel any better about this problem.

When I started researching material for this blog tonight, I realized that this onion is going to have many, many layers now that I have started peeling it.  There is a Yahoo group devoted to the problem (the medical disorder is called Prosopagnosia, but I am not self-diagnosing, just confirming that I share similar frustrations) and blogs.

I would be interested in hearing about your experiences with names/faces difficulty, along with any strategies you have for coping.  I have tried this:

But, as my experience today showed, I am far from being any kind of "memory champion"!

In the meantime, bear with me if I ask your name again (and again).  And if you have a juicy role coming up in your film (or not juicy, just a role) (or a job trimming beer bottle labels for the breakaway beer bottles!), let's face it, all you have to do is call my name.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Family's Rock Star (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

The random number generator did it to me again.  Out of the five possible Mama Kat Writing Prompts this week, the one I ended up with requires creative writing for sure.  Here is my assignment: 

4.) Your pet's least likable character trait.

Our cat's least likable trait is a matter of physiology, not character.  Far too often, this:

consumed by this: 

results in this:

We adopted our cat when she was around seven years old.  She met Wayne's criteria (siamese); she had been placed for adoption because her previous owner had moved in with a partner who had other cats.  Our cat turned out to be a one-cat girl, but two kids have ended up being okay. 

August 2006 - the first meeting

Every time I thought through this prompt, I kept coming up with all of the likeable character traits, such as:

1) Our cat is the least sarcastic family member, possibly because she has no words
2) Our cat is patient -- with being under nerf gun attack by marauding bands of boys, with accompanying our teenager to the bathroom whether she wants to go or not, with not being fed rightthisinstant when I get out of bed in the morning, with a litterbox that doesn't get freshened up as much as it should
3) Our cat brings out the best in each of us (except me with that early morning rightthisinsant stuff)

I wish that our cat was a little more of a cuddler, but she is a cat after all and she probably wonders why we humans are such slow studies and keep trying. 

Our cat came with the "rock star" name she had been given by her previous owner. 

"Welcome to my nightmare?"  Not for our family.  More like we're "Caught in a Dream" (when we're not cleaning the carpets).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Testing, Testing

Just checking to see if my new email subscription feature is working (let's hope!).

Over and out.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why Tweet When We Are Already LinkingIn on Facebook?

(Image Source: Invisible PR)

I have been wanting to blog about social media for a while now.  I never could find exactly the right angle, until Weigh Your Mind's Social Media Blank.  Jason of Weigh Your Mind has become one of my favorite Twitter acquaintances, through the very simple act of conversational tweets back and forth about this and that (AND the occasional retweet of my blog).  When I finally decided to visit his site and figure out the site behind the tweep, I ran across the Social Media Blank and voila! I had my mechanism for discussing social media (thanks, Jason). 

The red sentences indicate the "starter" thoughts and the underscored areas are my responses.  I added additional commentary below some of my responses.

Here goes:

The most important thing about Twitter is how it can instantaneously help people in geographically (and interpersonally) distant places share the same experience, real-time.

I prefer words over pictures on Facebook.

Strange, right?  I mean, the site is called "Facebook," not "Wordbook."  I do enjoy the pictures, but I have a slight grudge because exposure to all of these pictures still does not help me overcome my horrible, horrible memory of faces and names.  I like the words, though, because I seriously love to communicate via the written word, and Facebook gives me the platform (with the added bonus of pics) to share my good news, bad news, and quirky observations with a lot more people than if I were relying on the spoken word. 

The most common mistake on Linkedin is thinking you have it figured out.

I do have a Linkedin profile, and when I get "so-and-so wants to connect with you on Linkedin, I usually follow through," but I am skeptical that Linkedin can ever do anything for me professionally.  Sometimes when I read "testimonials" for people whose abilities I know pretty well, I wonder if the recommender and the recommendee have ever even been in the same room.

In the next 5 years, I predict social media will morph repeatedly, presenting us users with the challenge of keeping up and adapting.  I also think many things that are currently "free" may  move to a fee-based arrangement.

The most positive result I have seen from social media is giving multiple generations a way to communicate on a somewhat even playing field.

I got on Facebook partially to keep up with my teenager.  But I rapidly integrated Facebook into my everyday routines.  For some entities with whom I communicate (such as FSU Film), if I were not on Facebook, I would miss so many opportunities.  And on a level that is very "micro" from the standpoint of the Facebook universe, I have had opportunities to exchange thoughts and feelings with FB friends about experiences past, present and future that I would not have had without FB. 

I also read that the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is ages 55 and above.  I can always hope that my children's grandparents will get on the bandwagon and share the fun. 

I use social media to connect, connect, connect.

And, I have to admit, to fulfill my curiosity about details that I would not have known about people who are otherwise relatively casual acquaintances without access to their pictures, relationships, and favorite stuff. 

The social media platform I use the most is Facebook because it is easier to keep up with than Twitter.

Maybe I still haven't found the right Twitter platform, but Twitter feels like a snapshot and Facebook feels like the full length movie.

I consider Twitter to be a) a whole lot important than it was six months ago and b) a prime method for promoting my blog and my identity as the Big Green Pen.

I think the social games on Facebook are not for me.

I find them especially problematic when my 11 year old boy plays things like "Midnight Racer II" and I end up with status updates like, "Paula just unlocked a Fly Ferrari and is gonna smoke some suburbia a** tonight!"

(But I do admit those little Farmville animals are awfully cute.)

On Linkedin, I don't think I have figured it out.

When writing this blog, I discovered that I have not changed my Linkedin profile job title, which changed ten months ago in November 2009.  Nobody noticed. 

What does this all mean?  What I hope it does not mean is that I am addicted to Facebook, as Ron Greenstein apparently suggested to my husband a few months ago.  What I hope it does mean is that I have found another way to connect with people, using a medium that draws upon my writing skills and allows me to share more of who I am. 

And if connecting in writing doesn't work out?  I can always arrange a #tweetup!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Buddha, Baby

I have decided, when given the five weekly Mama Kat writing prompts, to use a Random Number Generator to determine which prompt I am going to write to (unless one is so compelling that I just have to write to that one). This week led to Number Two: Describe a woman who inspired you. The background of that request is that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  SITS and Electrolux are promoting awareness and early detection. That’s why Mama Kat (and I, now) are writing about women who have inspired us.

I recently read a passage by Ram Dass that discussed peacefulness:

What does Buddha have to do with the women who inspired me? Read on…
Occasionally people show me their new babies and ask me if that peaceful innocence is not just like that of the Buddha. Probably not, I tell them, for within that baby reside all the latent seeds of worldly desire, just waiting to sprout as the opportunity arises. On the other hand, the expression on the face of the Buddha, who had seen through the impermanence and suffering associated with such desires, reflects the invulnerability of true freedom.

Since the topic of this prompt links back to cancer, the women I know and have known who had cancer came to mind immediately. Some were very public about their experiences; others literally did not convey the message to their most loved ones until after death. All of them inspired in one way or another. It is the ones who somehow embody peacefulness (a la Buddha) despite the impermanence of their health statuses and their tangible suffering who get top billing in this post.

When I was in grad school, I had to interview someone with a disability. That led me to Judy, who had had various battles with cancer over her lifetime, eventually leading to the removal of her leg. Did that stop the light that almost literally emanates from her? NO. I owe it completely to her (and divine intervention) that I ended up at her church, St. Francis, for most of the next decade, with the exception of the three years I was in New York.

Speaking of New York, back in 1991, I was seeking a replacement for my “coffee hour duty” at my church. I was calling through the list of potential substitutes and came upon Lucy, who replied, “You must not know – I am on the prayer list.” In reality, “on the prayer list” meant desperately ill with terminal cancer. She could have said, “I am fighting for my life and can’t believe you care about me shoveling cookies down the Methodists’ throats” but she said, so kindly, “I am on the prayer list.” She made it easy for me.

When my children were in daycare, I kept noticing a pregnant mom with no hair picking up her child who was my son’s age. It did not compute. Turns out, Jennifer was battling breast cancer, while pregnant, while raising a 2 year old, with a smile on her face every time I saw her!

Lastly, the final honoree will not be identified. It is too early. She is someone I talk with frequently in the course of doing business. When I called her today to discuss what I thought was my thorny business-related problem, she said she needed to tell me something after that. She sat through my explanation of my “complex” issue, then told me that, after beating bladder cancer, she has been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and will be out for a few weeks. No weeping, no gnashing of teeth, no “poor me’s”. Classy, calm, almost peaceful.

When I am on edge due to stressors much less serious than a cancer diagnosis, everyone in my orbit knows it. Not because I say, “it is bothering me that I am in debt a lot more than I want to be (or whatever the problem du jour is),” but because I allow the stress to snuff out my inner light and put a damper on the way I relate. I am so not in the “invulnerability of true freedom” stage yet.

Thanks to these women, though, I am inspired to open myself up to that invulnerability. They help me believe I can be truly free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Why, thank you, AOL spell check!

It is a heartening thing when even your email system shares an encouraging word!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Goal Deferred

Once a week, I get an email from Pulse Magazine.  Subtitled "Voices from the heart of medicine," the magazine "tells the personal story of health care," frequently from the providers' perspective.  I have read of doctors who can pinpoint the moment where the lost the ability to empathize, medical personnel candidly recounting their worst days (and what they learned from them), and patients' efforts to cling to shreds of hope as they battled horrific diseases and a medical system that is difficult to navigate.

In its New Year's post, the magazine asked readers to chime in with their wishes.  Dr. Maurice Bernstein, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, wished for this:

For my first-year medical students, I wish that their interest in patients as persons continues into next year. For my second-year students, I hope that when they enter their clerkships in the summer they will remember what they learned about humanism and will still think of Mrs. Mary Jones as a patient in room 210 and not as "the gallbladder in 210."

It must be tremendously difficult to think of "patients as persons."  As I revise my timeline a heck of a lot longer out than I had hoped for running my sub 30:00 5K, I reflect on a summer of trying to figure out what was wrong with my heel, a journey that detoured through two men with medical degrees before being put back on track by a shoe salesman and a massage therapist. 

When I first started experiencing heel pain in early July, I had (in retrospect) just started doing homegrown turnover drills and completely changing my mechanics to try to stop heel striking.  I iced it, babied it, took lots of ibuprofen and, like many of us, kept on running!  Stop #1 was at a chiropractor (who does have an MD degree also).  He proclaimed this issue as plantar fasciitis, and had his staff apply an ultrasound treatment.  (He did have access to my xray, which did not show anything amiss.)  I came back 5 or 6 times for more ultrasound treatments (with a copay each time).  At my follow up visit with him, where I explained that the pain was radiating up my entire calf, he essentially told me to get better/different inserts and/or shoes.  HMMMM.

Next stop:  the podiatrist.  When I look back on the interaction, I am not sure he even touched my foot (although he did look at the xray).  His diagnosis, within 3 minutes of chatting briefly with me:  plantar fasciitis.  His remedy:  stretching, ibuprofen, inserts (that he happens to sell for $45 each).  As I left, I was handed a few poorly copied handouts with stretches on them.  HMMMM again. 

When I posted a whiny Daily Mile workout report mentioning my alleged PF on Facebook, I heard almost immediately from Shannon Sullivan and the light at the end of the tunnel began to break through.  He has dealt with many runners over the years and has probably seen more runners' feet than you can shake a Thorlo sock at.  I visited him on a Sunday afternoon and he spent a good hour with me, trying to help me sort it all out.  We talked extensively about the onset of the issue, how it had progressed, and what I had tried to do about it.  We looked at my shoes (important tip when dealing with any foot/heel/ankle issue and runners - have your shoes with you when seeking answers).  After feeling my foot, he said, "I don't think you have plantar fasciitis."  I think I heard little New Balance clad angels singing.  Why?  Because he had listened to me; when I explained that I knew PF pain and this was not it, I wasn't told to cough up a copay and stretch. 

The second part of my rescue team is Kim Ortloff.  She and I were slightly acquainted through Gulf Winds Track Club, and I sent her an email briefly describing my situation and my theory that this was not PF.  When I met with her and she spent an hour reviewing the situation and kneading deep into my foot/ankle/calf muscles, I walked away feeling understood and having an answer.  The answer is that the changes I made in early July led to some type of insult to my subtalar joint, and that resulted in the constellation of other issues I had.  Besides some answers about my specific injury, I gained a great deal of insight into how I can better guide my body through the healing process and return to running (five minutes at a time?  really?  is this like an auction -- ten minutes anyone?  please?). 

When I look back on the summer and my attempts to get answers and stay on target toward my goal, I just wish I had been more assertive with medical degree holders #1 and #2.  I wanted to shake them by their Hawaiian shirt (#1) and lab coat (#2) and say:  don't you realize how much running has come to mean to me???? 

I am already seeing silver linings to this situation, like my intensified cross training, the money saved from not paying race entry fees, and a few more hours sleep on Saturday mornings.  When I return to running, I plan to be fitter than I am now, and more prepared to aggressively stalk that sub 30:00 goal (less the turnover drills, perhaps). 

This seven foot rope (for stretching) is going to be my new best friend:

I just wish doctors #1 and #2 had done a little stretching themselves to try to run a mile in my shoes -- I think the answers would not have been quite as cursory if they had done so. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Chaotic Dreamy Chaos (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

Springline windows are beautiful to me. Here’s what they look like:

If I were designing my dream home, I would incorporate at least one springline window. One would be sufficient. The home would have a red brick exterior, an “open” layout with lots of high ceilings and room to roam (and, of course, a circular path that little children can make laps on – they always seem to make their own if one isn’t obvious!). The yard would be well-maintained --- professionally, with an emphasis on Florida friendly plants which do not suck down sprinkler water but instead utilize the resources available to them. As far as location, I have that one pretty much “down” – we waited years to get into this neighborhood, one with large lot sizes (around 3 acres), with one road in and one road out, lovely homes and a relaxed homeowners’ association.

Honestly, though, even if I had unlimited resources at my disposal, I don’t think I would pursue something drastically expensive and showy. For one thing, there are so many people in the world who have so very little as far as living arrangements. This is why I will never buy an exorbitantly priced rug, for example, and tend toward decorative touches that make a statement more than taking up room.

When I ruminated over this post since the random number generator dropped it in my lap on Monday (thanks RNG), what I kept coming back to was the fact that my dream home would be one with less CHAOS. Now, CHAOS means one thing to Flylady followers (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), an acronym that implies the impending arrival of company or, God forbid, a drop in visitor, sends the homeowner into a tizzy of damage control.

Chaos also means something broader. When Chris Russell, host of the “runrunlive” podcast, closes out his podcast, he often ventures away from running technique and into philosophy (runners can be that way). In the episode I was listening to last night, he started talking about chaos in our lives. At one point, Chris said “A life well lived is on the border of chaos and order.” For my home, regardless of the color brick or the shape of the windows, it is my dream to migrate from the far fringes of “chaos” more toward the middle ground of order.

In her book, An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor writes about reframing the way we look at the task of housework. She chooses to call these tasks “the domestic arts, paying attention to all the ways they return me to my senses.” She writes about the beauty of cleaning baseboards to get back in touch with yourself. Among other things, it gets you down on your knees!

Why, in at least a year (probably longer), has no one in this four person family tackled this kind of thing?:

No time like the present (back in a moment):

Home is feeling less chaotic and more dreamy already.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Y" I'm Not Happy One of My Fave Co-Workers is Leaving

Jason Mollica was mostly kidding (I think) when he tweeted this last week:

Jason's tweet was a follow-up to my comments about my coworker Niki Pocock's blog post about leaving her position at Healthy Kids, where we have been coworkers for almost a year. 

I had commented to Jason and Niki, that I was "bitter" about Niki's departure.  This led to Jason's suggestion.

I need something to blog about tonight, so even if you were kidding, Jason, here it is!

Here are three things that I am taking away from my relationship with Niki, one in which a frequent topic of discussion was "Gen Y" in comparison to Baby Boomers and other generational issues.  I should mention that when she started working at Healthy Kids last year, one of the first things I did was to see if she had a blog (isn't that what we all do?!).  It was a good sign that she did and that I really liked her writing style.  This was a very good omen! 

Social Media 101+

When Niki and I met, I was an avid Facebooker and blogger.  I had a Twitter account but I really did not use it much.  Niki helped me understand how to more effectively integrate my presence on social media outlets, how to utilize analytics (still learning on that one), and how businesses and organizations can better respond to customers who expect to be able to engage via social media.  I learned to speak more knowledgeably about hashmarks, retweets, and the most enjoyable part of Twitter:  meeting people through Tweetups!  Here we are at the August Tallahassee Tweetup:

(Photo Credit Adrienne Bryant)

Hierarchy Isn't Everything

I have worked at my employer for 16 years.  In that time, the org chart has had all kinds of expansions and contractions, but in general it has always been clear what the official pecking order is (as well as the unofficial).  As I observed Niki navigate relationships with co-workers, I became aware that there are times I have stopped advocating for particular positions, resources, or changes based on not feeling like "fighting that hard," or by assuming that because a superior held a particular position and professed to intend to keep that position, I should keep quiet if I saw a potential downside that could affect our enrollees because it just wasn't worth it personally to rock the boat.  Niki had a fresh perspective -- if someone did not comply with a deadline for a project that required input from several different parties, she was quicker to advise that co-worker that their project may have lost some priority as she moved on to other obligations.  She didn't question her right to expect timely cooperation. 

Say It - Now!

A couple of times, I chuckled after Niki and I would have a conversation, and the topic would appear in her blog within hours.  My approach to my blog is very deliberate.  I think about the topic throughout the week, collect any images that may be appropriate, debate how to word specific phrases, etc.  Case in point -- when Healthy Kids was asked by one of our payment vendors to permit "pay by text" (in which the enrollee gets a text message saying "your payment is due" and can press "1" to pay, etc.), Niki and I had a conversation about this.  I mentioned that I might blog about it "someday."  She blogged about it by the end of the day. The reminder for me is that my message does no good if it is still in my head as I dissect the perfect wording.  If I take the leap of going ahead and writing what I have to say, I may be surprised what interactions await me.

Jason suggested my post be "Why I'm Not Happy."  I am happy for Niki - her new position at the Florida Department of Education gives her fantastic new growth opportunities and, fortunately, will keep her in touch with Healthy Kids and KidCare.  I am disappointed, personally, to lose the day-to-day contact with my friend and fellow social-media fanatic.

The good news is she is only a tweet away! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'll Take the Pictures (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

Mama Kat of Mama's Losin' It conducts a weekly writers' workshop, with a choice of prompts, such as this week's.  When I decided to participate, I wanted to make it a true exercise (plus, I couldn't choose which prompt I liked), so I put the numbers one through five into a random number generator and prayed the number five wouldn't come up, because I knew what I would write about if I got that prompt, and I didn't think the subject had matured enough for me to write about it.  Of course the "random" number that came up was 5!

Here's the prompt:

Oprah says we all have a story. If you were on her show, what would your story be? What would you be talking about? What advice would she give you? Write about it and provide a snippet of your interview together.

And here's my response: 

I'll Take the Pictures

When I moved to New York City in 1989 to take my bite out of the Big Apple, I left behind the relationship I had been in for three years. I took on New York City, my new job, and the additional jobs I needed in order to afford to eat, with gusto. I roller bladed through Central Park. I got money from an ATM on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx that “spoke” Italian. I spent a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving in the Bronx and an Irish Christmas on Long Island. I was attracted to NY Lens but didn’t tell him. He was seeing someone on the opposite coast; I was still sharing intimacies with Florida Guy when he would come visit or I would visit him. As for me and NY Lens, there were dinners, movies, worshipping together, poring over his photography, great talks. That, and an unspoken energy that lay dormant.

After a couple of years in the City, I decided to marry Florida Guy and return to Florida. I told Mr. Lens this news on the way home from a fun night at his apartment in New Jersey with a couple who were friends of ours. I had secretly hoped he would drop the friends off first so we could talk. He did. I announced my engagement. In the silent seconds that elapsed, a solid and definite partition locked into place between any hopes either of us had harbored for a future being more than friends, and the reality that the dormant energy would be on indefinite hibernation. His words to me: “So, do you want me to take the wedding pictures?”

Choosing to pursue the practical path, and knowing intuitively that the airtight partition had sealed, I said, “yes.”

Weeks elapsed when Mr. Lens and I did not talk, despite me calling his number numerous times. I don’t know what subversion of the heart it took for us to come back together, on the day of my wedding, as friends. The pictures turned out great.

Once Florida Guy and I set up housekeeping, and started a family, I lost touch with NY Lens. Years went by, years in which, if the airtight seal of the partition ever threatened to be compromised, I told myself, “well, he wasn’t interested in having more children (he has a daughter) and probably isn’t likely to marry.”

One Christmas Eve, I opened the mailbox and beheld a card from NY Lens and Mrs. Lens. He had gotten married. The first of the air started creeping past the hermetically sealed partition. I called on New Year’s Eve. The dormant energy was still there. We saw each other the following July. Over the ensuing years we have visited each other, and somehow navigated the air seeping through the partition to get to a place where we have each other’s backs, each wanting the other’s marriage to be fulfilling and comforting.

Fifteen years later, NY Lens, his wife, my husband and our two children met on that same spot on the Brooklyn Promenade and took a “now” picture as a companion to the “then” picture.

Oprah: So, let me get this straight – if the audience were to transport itself back to New York City in 1988, they may see the two of you dining at Isabella’s, reveling in each other’s company?

Me: Right. We talked about things like what his daughter was reading!

Oprah: If you had given in to any romantic feelings you had then, where would things be now?

Me: That would have been fun, BUT in the long run this has turned into one of the most sustaining friendships of my life. In the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” Harry told Sally that men may pretend to be your friend, but they really only want one thing. Sally argued that that wasn’t true.

Relationship Expert: Studies show that the power of male/female friendship is restorative. In a survey, 56% of women and 44% of men attested that they have remained friends with someone they could have loved romantically, and that they would give up the romantic part for the friendship part if they had to choose.

Oprah: Okay, since today is “Takeaway Tuesday,” what is your takeaway?

Me: Like my book, “I’ll Take the Pictures,” says through the stories submitted by couples who have faced this situation, it’s important to nurture and treasure those friendships that didn’t have an opportunity to turn romantic.

Oprah: Let’s get a picture of this; say hello to NY Lens! And as a treat for everyone in the audience, you’ll find an autographed copy of “I’ll Take the Pictures” under your seat! Share it with someone who needs to have their faith in male/female friendship restored!