proud (part four)

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Yawwwwwnnn…..stretch……yawwwwwn………mmmmmmm……….WHOA!

Who turned on the lights?

I finally woke up and got off the couch late Saturday night.  When I say late I mean midnight.  I sat up from my Swedish TV Series marathon at 12:15 and thought “I’m outta the woods here”.  I celebrated by watching one more episode.  😉

By Sunday I was able to return to my squats, rode my bike up to Lowe’s,  changed a shower head and put away laundry. Boy did that feel good to be productive.

Alfonse came over late in the afternoon for a little visit and ran out to Pei Wei and picked up dinner for both of us.  That was nice wasn’t it?

My friend Amy and her beautiful daughter Sophie popped by in the afternoon with little gifts and a carport visit.  They are so good to me.

Oh, how could I forget?  I also did this:

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Jazzed up my Kitchenaid with a retro flair!

Now that we’ve gotten caught up on my weekend, let’s take it back to Seattle for the big finish, ok?

Where did we leave off?

Oh, the Grande Dame and my Uggs, right?

I had a little relaxation time in the room and also getting ready time for the big Bedtime Stories event that evening, right there at the Fairmont.  This was one of two of the main reasons I scheduled this trip.

I took my time showering and doing my hair and makeup in the gorgeous suite then headed down for the little reception before the dinner.  I wish I could say I was feeling perky but my stomach was really killing me right at that moment so instead of grabbing one of the craft cocktails at the happy hour there like I wanted :(, I popped in to the bar anyway and ordered a ginger ale.  A very drunk lawyer said “you’re a beautiful woman” to me as I stood there which made me smile even though he was wearing his expensive Scotch goggles.  It’s been awhile.

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I can tell I’m tired here

I meandered to the reception area which was packed.  It seemed most people milling around knew each other so I just kind of people watched.  I probably would have been more social if I was feeling better but that’s ok.

Finally I found the table they’d set up for Erica Bauermeister, signing books and being available.  I’d planned my entire trip around Erica’s appearance schedule, this being the first of two, so I was super excited to see her.

I moved my way up to her, smiled and greeted her with “Hi Erica, I’m basically stalking you this weekend”.   She smiled back and replied “Kathy?  Is that you?”.  I was surprised she remembered me!  I had written her a couple months ago on Facebook telling her I was going to both of her events that weekend and how much I was looking forward to seeing her there.

She then said something that knocked my socks off. Well two things.  She said “and you’re staying here at the Fairmont aren’t you?”.  I was so disoriented wondering how she knew this, forgetting I mentioned it, wondering why I’d have mentioned that.  And she filled in the blank of my disoriented face saying “I’ve read your blog of course”.

I thought I would faint then and there.

Erica Bauermeister, one of my literary heroes, has read my blog?

I tell you I could have skipped the entire rest of the evening and felt completely satisfied right there.

I actually, shortly thereafter, realized I just needed to sit down. That comment….WOW.

I saw the doors to the gorgeous ballroom opening and entered, found my table and took a seat facing the stage.

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I really wasn’t feeling well but I was so happy to be there.  This was a very cool group of writers mostly and people interested in the Humanities.  I was feeling right at home with this group.

I was sandwiched between two interesting women.  One a writing student and the other an environmental lawyer who’s husband was on the Board for this organization and a local professor.

I had great conversations with both women and got tons of ideas and resources about moving forward with the notion of writing an memoir.   I may start submitting some pieces in some contests just for fun and see what happens.  I took a lot of notes.  🙂

The bedtime stories read were all wonderful, intense, entertaining.  Of course Erica’s was my favorite.

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The dinner itself was very nice but I couldn’t eat much or drink the wine which was a bummer but at least I was there.

I was happy though to just have to teeter in my high heels right back up to my room and get my in my comfy jammies, open the window,  stretch out on that King size bed and drift off to Dreamland with all kinds of bedtime stories floating through my mind.

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Including the ones I was imagining writing as well.

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The next morning I had to check out early and head up to Edmonds!  The Writing on the Sound conference started at 9am so I had to get moving!   I packed up, grabbed a coffee from the European coffee shop downstairs, didn’t get a pastry out of their gorgeous case as I still had my chocolate croissant from the other day and it was still fresh.  I walked in the early fresh Seattle air to retrieve my car from the garage and was on my way.

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Edmonds is only 12 miles North of Seattle but it seemed longer only because I didn’t know where I was going.  Know how that is?

I got a little turned around looking for the venue but found it and arrived at about 9:15.  I was able to slide in to the first presenter I signed up for which was about how to market your writing, which, to me seemed as much about the presenter illustrating how she was using the conference to market herself.  I wasn’t that impressed but that was ok, I had two full days of presenters and it’s always hit or miss in situations like this.

The next hour was Erica so I got there early and got a great seat.

Unsurprising, her presentation was fantastic.  It was informative and engaging.  She really knows her stuff.  I took TONS of notes which I will refer to when life settles down a bit.

She is clearly researching the world of perfume and scent as she used that allegory in her presentation:  the base, top and bottom notes of memoir writing.  I loved it but I love everything she writes and the ways she thinks.  I just totally resonate with her and am completely psyched to see what she comes up next in her next novel, which I think will be highly infused with the perfume industry.  I can’t wait.

I just loved very minute of her 90 minute presentation and got a ton out of it.

But at that point my stomach was just killing me again.  I decided to leave on the lunch break and find my hotel.

After some hunting around I pulled up in front of the Best Western there and went inside to check in.  I was checking in early again but I seriously wanted to lay down and rest a bit so was prepared to beg to get in my room early.

I was so surprised they couldn’t find my reservation as I’d planned this trip so carefully.  I finally pulled out my confirmation number and this semi bitchy lady informed me I’d reserved it for yesterday and didn’t show up. That they’d try to run my credit card and it was declined.

I was shocked.  How did any of that happen?

I went over the dates with her again and sure enough, I’d messed up my dates and reserved the two nights just one night off.

What a difference a day makes.

I think another worker noticed my obvious distress and that this was clearly an honest mistake so he went about fixing it.  When he told me about my declined American Express that made perfect sense as I’d recently canceled that card entirely.  Of course I intended to use a different one to actually pay for the room.  I had zero recollection of having used that card to hold this room all those months ago.

He found me a room for the two nights even though the bitchy lady had told me they were “fully commited” that weekend.  He also told me he wouldn’t charge me for the missed night.  Another bit of good luck shining on me because I was fully anticipating being charged for that, and they would have been right to do so.

I moved my car, then hauled my suitcase in to the room.  Clean, comfortable, a far cry from the Fairmont.  But that was totally ok.  I was just so happy to land there.

I stretched out on the bed, drank some tea and looked at the afternoon schedule for the conference.

I decided there wasn’t anything I was desperately feeling a need to get to so decided to rest and explore Edmonds instead.  Basically play hooky on myself.

It was just such a gorgeous day and I couldn’t imagine sitting inside feeling crummy.  I figured the fresh air and a walk would do me good and I was right.

I set out wandering around the charming town on foot.  Found the Walnut Street coffee shop I’d read about, ran in to one of the best Farmer’s markets I’ve ever been to (unfortunately didn’t need any produce but bought a couple gifts and some earrings for myself), the cutest little cozy store in an old house where I bought a candle that she wrapped in an old Simplicity pattern for tissue, a fancy cheese shop, a huge candy store, an old restored one screen movie theatre, etc.

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I finally landed on the patio of a homey Italianish restaurant with a gazillion happy hour options “all day Sunday” for $5 each and braved getting something to eat and a cocktail.  It was all delicious.

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I then went and wandered around the shore, relaxing, enjoying the sunset, taking photos.

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Imagine my shock when I got back to my rental car and realized I’d left my purse and ipad sitting right there on the passenger seat, below a completely opened car window.  Boy was I lucky.  This place must be a very safe place to live.

I did come up with a breakthrough that evening though.  Laying there in some significant discomfort in my belly and working on myself, relaxing, I had an aha moment.

Wheat.  That’s what’s killing me here.  Wheat.  More specifically, bread. 😦

I’ve been doing my best to reduce or remove wheat from my diet as an experiment for a few months but as you can tell, I feel like when I go on vacation all bets are off and I have a great time doing/eating/drinking whatever I want.

Well, that evil wheat  got the best of me.  And funny how once I figured that out and adjusted my diet for the entire rest of the trip, my symptoms disappeared entirely.  Oh well, I guess I just need to adapt to this ever changing body in it’s evolution in age.  That’s ok.  I’ll take comfort and energy over a slice of warm bread with butter anyday (wahhhhhh).

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goodbye

It was a good and smart finding and I’m ok with it.

The next morning I woke up feeling much better, grabbed some yogurt and fruit from the free (mostly wheat based) breakfast in the lobby area and headed back to the Conference.

The second day was great for me.  I loved all the presentations.

The two that stand out in my mind most are the one about Humor writing in Non fiction (I ended up having lunch with that presenter. Craig English; what a nice man.  And he did a fantastic reading from his new novel after lunch) and the last one which was about writing about your personal experiences.  That’s the one where this little piece was born.

I left the conference feeling so energized and optimistic about continuing my writing dreams.

I drove back to little downtown Edmonds for a Happy Hour snack then wandered around a bit.

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I’d decided I wanted to go see the movie Prisoners at that little theatre in three hours so just walked.  I walked down to the ferry, back up, stopped for a tiny ice cream cone, then at a beautiful French restaurant for a bonafide dinner–maybe the only really dinner I had on my entire trip of  food crawling.  It was delicious that steak with Bernaise sauce and vegetables that seemed to have just been picked that afternoon.  And I enjoyed the sunset right from my window seat.

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I made it just in time for the movie but had realized my plane check in would be 15 min. after the movie started.  Hardly anyone was in the theatre so I picked a row all to myself, pulled out my phone and credit card and fired it all up before the movie started to the check in page.  I just wanted to be first in line in case that First Class option came up again (which it didn’t).

As I put my things back in my purse, in the pitch black,  I wasn’t sure if my credit card actually made it in to the purse so bookmarked that to make sure before I left after the incredibly intense scary disturbing bone trembling movie was over.

What was I thinking? I said to myself as the theatre vacated, I was alone in the still darkened space waiting, waiting, waiting for what seemed like an eternity of credits for the houselights to come up, which they never really did so I rooted around in my purse kind of freaked out and found the card embedded between my glasses case and something else.

I quickly slipped out of there still feeling the effects of that creepy disturbing movie all over me.  As I exited the old theatre on to the quiet dark streets alone I had to laugh thinking “I’m basically actually in a scary movie myself right now”.

I would have felt entirely safe on that street if not for years of grooming and it’s own brand of PTSD living in a big city.  Hypervigilance came with me in my carryon.   Funny how it came up in Edmonds but not Seattle.

I blame it on Jake Gyllenhall, Hugh Jackman and that movie.

Then I remembered my purse and Ipad safely on that passenger seat.

I made it back to my room, safely of course and crashed.

I don’t have time to finish the entire trip here as I need to get ready for work now but just to fast forward a bit.

I sat down on the plane next to a nice gentleman and when I told him I was fantasizing about getting back to Edmonds for a month to work on writing a book, which was/is 100% true, his jaw dropped.

He shared with me he was just leaving his condo he’d purchased in Edmonds after spending the weekend there having a new fireplace installed.  So he can come back over the winter and work on writing his book.

He lives in Tucson, has a business in Phoenix, is in town tonite and invited me to dinner.

Now don’t get all sparkly eyed, he’s a married older (than me) man.  But we made such an undeniable serendipitous connection on that 3 hour flight that he asked to stay in touch and invited me to dinner.   I’m excited to pick up our conversation as we’re both kind of nobodies in the world of writing but embarking on a very similar venture, from the same place and to the same place.  It’s a connection worth exploring.

So….I’m glad I feel well enough to go tonite.

And I’ll fill you in on that, when I finish this story as well.  Which are totally interwoven anyway.

Cheers.

higher ground

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two-birds

 

As tired as I feel and achey all over, I didn’t want to go to bed without writing the beautiful resolution that came out of the events earlier today with my brother.

Events that actually escalated so that some clarity could come of them.

I phoned John in the afternoon to see how he was doing and touch base.  He told me he’d just gone to the store and bought the ingredients for his famous beef stroganoff.  He invited me to come over for dinner.  I told him I was still feeling quite ill on the couch but maybe he could drop some off later, that we could touch base in a few hours.

I continued napping on the couch all day until I called him up again as I actually was feeling an appetite starting to return and was honestly getting tired of eating soup.

When I asked how his stroganoff was going he told me he was just finishing it “but I didn’t get enough meat.  I only got half a pound so I really don’t have any to share”.  Same story, different dish.  He offered, then reneged.  And I’m sick.

I got off the phone quickly feeling a combination of disappointment and resign.  This is just what happens.

I’d rather not get the offer than go through that kind of dismissal.

And now I had in my mind that I wanted something more substantial to eat so once again headed out in my pajamas to the family operated Mexican drive thru near my house.  Getting more and more upset as I drove home as I didn’t even feel strong enough to be behind a wheel.  And I have family 3 minutes away, doing nothing, yet here I am in my pajamas, again, out running my own errand.

I phoned John up straight from the car and said I needed to talk to him.

I was fighting back tears until I couldn’t anymore telling him how alone and dejected I was feeling being so sick and so alone yet having him so near.  I recounted how he refused to take me to the airport because he didn’t want to get up that early so I drove myself and paid for parking, how he offered orange juice and sherbet and tried to get out of them both before showing up…well you know that story, then tonite offering me dinner then telling me he didn’t buy enough to share so I was on my own.  How all of that adds up to me having to take care of myself while taking care of him.

That we live so close together so we can be there for each other. That I’d never let him have to drive himself to the airport because I didn’t want to get up early (although had the entire day off), that I’d never offer him food when he was sick then tell him there wasn’t enough.

I reminded him how he has been talking about getting a volunteer job in order to feel productive in taking care of others yet we seem to have this one way street going on and how it just breaks my heart, how alone and sad I feel at times, especially today.  By that time, I was bawling and in my carport.

John listened to every word I said and immediately apologized.  He said “there is not one thing you’ve said that’s not true.  I’ve been rude to you and I apologize for everything and want to make it up to you.  I know you’re feeling sick but I didn’t know how down you are.  I want to help you.  I will share my stroganoff with you.  I will come over tonite.  I will spend the night if you don’t want to be alone.  I want to be there for you Kathy because you have taken such good care of me” then listed all the ways I’ve been there for him.

It was pretty much the best response you could imagine from someone in a difficult conversation like that.

I guess I had to hit a breaking point.  I had to reach down and pull him up to a higher place of functioning.  I just kept saying “we have to be there for each other John.  I need you to be here for me too”.  I don’t think he’s had anyone expect that of him for so long, this was perhaps just the invitation he needed.  That maybe he was shocked to receive.

I told him I had enough food for tonite and wanted to go in and sleep (which I did) but I’d like for him to come over tomorrow and help me with some laundry.  Just going up and down stairs the last two days has been exhausting so I could use some help with that.  He was happy to agree to come help me.

He just kept saying “I’m glad you talked to me Kathy.  I want to be a good brother to you and I’m sorry I’ve been selfish and rude.  I don’t mean to be”.  And he doesn’t.  He gets stuck in his patterns and I get stuck in mine.  But this was a real breakthrough for both of us.

Asking him to rise up and support me ignites the higher ground in him and allows me to not have to be exhausting myself lifting myself up there when I really need to be resting and “down” as he said.

All of these events needed to happen to break me down enough to say the things I needed to say and it opened us to a whole new level of communication and bonding.  By the end I was crying because of his sweetness.

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So with that, I conclude this chapter, happy and pleased that it all happened to pop us through.

And I think I’m actually starting to feel better.

Good night all.

value

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self-esteem

I promise I’ll pick up with the rest of the Seattle story once I feel better.  I really got knocked down here by some kind of bug.  I cycled through a high fever night before last, spent most of yesterday on the couch and dozing in and out of Netflix stopping for an intermission to get to the pharmacy before they closed in my pajamas and slippers and finally knocking out for about 14 hours.

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I’m thankful for several things:

1.  I went to the soup swap and have a freezer full of delicious homemade soup right now.

2.  I had plans that were changeable for this weekend (regrettably but yes).

3.  This did not hit me in Seattle.

4.  Saggio’s healing sound meditation is tonite and if I feel up to driving out there, that would be very good for me to attend.

5.  This thing has not landed in my lungs (I do not want to revisit pneumonia again).

Those are five off the top of my head right now.

But that’s not what I opened my laptop to write about this morning.  While in my warm bath earlier, I started connecting the dots on two stories that arose yesterday.  Both that made me mad, then sad.  Over the same essential issue.

John and I were planning to head up to Sedona this weekend, I was planning to teach my dance class (tonite actually, bummer) and just take a little road trip to our beautiful home.  I think he really needs it.  In fact I’m going to call him after writing this suggesting he go up there anyway by himself.  I think that entire experience would be good for him.

So he calls me to check on me in the morning as I’d told him the night before I wasn’t feeling well.  He asked if we were still going and I told him “not today, maybe tomorrow” then inquired if I needed anything.

“Orange juice?  Ice cream?  Anything?  I’m happy to bring you something”.

What a breath of fresh air as I’ve lived on my own with no family support close by for so long to have someone offer that to me is just so unfamiliar.

So naturally I declined.

Then I rethought it and called him back saying “actually I would like some orange juice and some rainbow sherbet”.

“Oh, ok” he said with kind of a disappointed tone.  “Don’t you have some sherbet in your freezer right now?”

“No, no sherbet” I replied.

That’s when the dominoes of one of our childhood scars started falling.  I felt it right there.

He phoned me back a few minutes later saying “you have some orange juice there in your refrigerator.  I bought it when you were gone”.

That would have been a month ago.

“No, I don’t have any orange juice”  “Ok, I’ll bring you some” he replied with the same disappointment.

John showed up, looking not so great himself, about an hour later with three grocery bags.

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One containing a quart of orange juice.  One containing the lunch he’d brought for himself.  One containing, what he described, as rainbow sherbet he brought from home.  “I already had some in my freezer so I brought it”.

I instantly felt sicker than I already felt as I opened that container and there was this soggy mess with about 1/4 in ice crystals all over the top.  Rainbow sherbet that was probably a year old or more.

I was just instantly so mad.  Rushing through my head were thoughts of “you actually went in to the store, bought this orange juice, managed to get your lunch and still had to nickel and dime me on this crappy sherbet”.  I showed him this container, threw it in the sink, bleating “this is inedible, why did you even bring this to me John?  I take care of you all the time and once, just once I’m sick and this is what you bring me”.  I was pissed.

He looked dejected, sad.  And just said, “do you want to share my lunch?“.  I knew it was just that he was lonely and didn’t want to eat alone.  But just once, ONCE, I was putting myself first because no, I didn’t want to eat that or any lunch.  I wanted to go back to sleep.  MY needs were trumping his after over a year of this intense caretaking, it’s about me today.  And I said that to him after he asked “so are we going to Sedona today?”.

I’ve so been defined as being there for him, for others that it’s just damn disorienting when I can’t be.  But it’s also a very lonely isolated place to be in and it’s hard to take care of yourself when you’re sick.

He needs to learn more about this, not sitting isolated on his island of mental illness but breaking out and caring for someone else.

I told him I needed to get back to sleep and he said “I’m sorry about the sherbet” and left.  I laid down, then quickly second guessed myself.  Instead of what I usually do, sit there wishing someone would get a clue and do the right thing (the thing I would do which would be remedy my mistake immediately) I got up, opened the door and called him back and said this.

“I need you to go back to the store and get me that sherbet”.

He quickly said “Oh ok, I will do that”.

And he did.

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Mind you, the store is one block from me, two blocks from him.  He has nothing else to do.  This is a very easy task and one I wish he’d thought of on his own, but he didn’t.  So I’m retraining him.  Retraining myself.

After he dropped it off, I got up off the couch and hugged him apologizing for snapping at him and he apologized back. I just told him “we have to treat each other very well John, especially when we’re sick”.  He said “oh, ok”.

It’s ok to ask for what I want.

But this business about offering then reneging or minimizing the offer is rooted in our whole lives of being instilled a comfort zone groveling at the bottom of a barrel.  While there’s a whole feast sitting on the table untouched.

Later in the day, I popped out of my fever coma and started browsing online.  I don’t know why or how or when but it had to do with clothes shopping and I remembered the whole concept of putting an item of clothing “on hold” until you could come back to get it.  I am very very familiar with this and this was a normal way of shopping for us when we were kids. Not layaway but “on hold”.  Some stores would hold it until the end of the day, some til the next day.  But if you returned, they’d have it for behind the counter.

Why were we always putting things on hold back then?  I wondered.

Then I remembered.

As part of Marj’s Behavior Modification Program (aka her style of “parenting”), she instituted clothes shopping budgeting for us.  Which involved us, starting at around age 12 for me, submitting a budget for clothes for the school year.  It was in writing, in a particular format she prescribed, then we would submit it for approval.  I think we had something like $300 for the year but had to spend it wisely.

We would put “Sweater, $10” under one category and so on.

Once our budgets were approved, we, on our own, went out shopping.  We would take the bus, ride our bikes or walk to the store and find articles of clothing, place them on hold, come back and submit this article as part of the budget, get the money to pay for it, then go back and purchase it.  Yes, meaning we would get back on the bus or our bikes go back the mile or so to the store and buy that $10 sweater.

This was how we purchased our school clothes once she arrived in our home.

I was in grade school doing this.

I remember hearing of great outings my friends took with their mothers, fun outings, to stores out of town, making a day of it.  Finding fun outlets, going out to lunch, getting their new fashions for school as a fun tradition for both of them.  Bonding.  Most of my friends did this with their mothers.  I remember stories of big malls in Chicago, the outlets in a nearby small  town, etc.  I imagine the mothers looked forward to this ritual all year long, creating memories and stories they tell to this day.   I had no friends who had the budget plan going on.

All I can say is I’m lucky I had my sister to do this with.  But our bonding was riding the bus or our bikes, finding the clearance racks, the best deals we could find, presenting them with “oh I found this 70% off” to oohs and ahhs and aren’t you so clever? responses.

The one shopping trip I do remember Marj taking me on was to buy my first bra while in the 5th grade.  And she took me to K Mart and directed me to the sale rack.  She didn’t take Cindy as I’d “developed” before her which, considering she was a year older, was humiliating to her.  But that wouldn’t have been prudent would it?  Wasteful is what that would have been.

We were trained very early on to know we would be valued if we found the best value out there.  We would receive the highest praise for the cheapest thing we could find.  We were be held in scorn if we ever, for any reason, considered purchasing something not on sale.  We were trained, highly trained, in devaluing ourselves.

I’m sure any of you readers raised by Depression era parents can relate.  They were still living in that era yet it was the 70’s.

What was mostly confusing about all of this was we came from a family where there was money.  We knew this. We didn’t know how much but we knew there was lots of money.

Yet we were being raised to live like we were scraping the bottom of the barrel for every thing we got.

What that translated to, to me, as an adult has a lot to do with the amount I value myself, my very self worth.

Because it wasn’t just yearly school clothes.  This came through in a variety of ways.

Of course I grew up to be a woman who’s attracted man after man who devalue me and I don’t see it coming or happening.  I’ve been working on this one for decades and still have a way to go.  This issue has raised it’s ugly, cheap ass head in almost every area of my life.

There’s a lot more to say about this but you get the gist.

So me asking my brother to go back and finish what he offered and get me that sherbet was healing for both of us.  We don’t devalue ourselves anymore, at least not in my house.

His offering something, then becoming somewhat stunted or maybe even panicked to actually give it is a very old phantom and one I understand.

Recently John and I were talking about his nickname Alfonse and he said “Cindy never called me that as much as you did.  She always called me ‘Big M’ “.   And that’s true, it’s what she called him much of the time.   Big M stood for Big Miser.  And she said that lovingly.  We all joked about it.

John coped by going that direction, over withholding.  I went the over giving route.  Cindy was definitely on the train I was on too.  It’s all just different manifestations of the same trauma.

Those ghosts need to move on.

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Now don’t get me wrong.  I love a good value like anyone else.  You can see that in the way way I travel.  I look for deals all the time.  Yet I WILL look for a deal for a 5 star hotel vs just stay in a Motel Six like my father.  In fact, I’ve gotten deals for that kind of upscale accommodation that would rival a cheap place like that in terms of what I actually pay.  I’m clever like that.  But I still have worked myself up to those 5 stars and appreciating them.  Appreciating myself.  My worth.  What I feel I deserve.

Last year I spent much of the  year working full time, supporting myself, supporting the Alexander family through various means during that trial, supporting my brother through three hospitalizations and finally, finally in the summer I asked for financial help from my father.  Knowing it’s there.  I mean we would have paid and are paying someone now to do the job I did, while working another full time job and managing my business, for over a year.  It took me a very long time to figure that out.  Again, I’m expected to handle it all.  Very little is ever really offered. 

When the family’s financial guy Sam and I spoke once about making this happen he asked “what took you so long to ask for this Kathy?”. 

That brings tears to my eyes right now thinking of it.

Because I was so well groomed to think I was deserving of little more than working my ass off and buying off the clearance rack.  While coming from a family of considerable wealth.

There I said it.  I said it out loud.

I’m talking a lot about these things now with my therapist.  She’s giving me challenges and I’m semi succeeding.  I’m making some strides even if they are baby steps.

It’s just a fact, when your self esteem has been damaged, severely wounded in early life, you just have to set about repairing it and it takes time.

And I’m taking my brother right along with me because dammit, it’s never too late to have a happy (and abundant) childhood.

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Now my hands are shaking again so I’m headed back to bed.  With a tall glass of orange juice and some homemade soup.

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Nothin like fresh clean sheets and a cuddly friend after a hot bath when you’ve been fevering and sweating for twenty four hours.

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proud (part three)

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I woke up my first morning at the Fairmont at 4:30am starving.

Which makes sense when you think about it.   I really didn’t have anything to eat after 3pm the day before other than about 4 soggy calamari strips and 12 kernels of chocolate popcorn (is it a kernel after it’s popped?).

Naturally I remedied this by googling where to go find some early breakfast.  I also realized I’d not really had any proper Seattle coffee yet which was on my list.  Well Miss Seattle opened up that red carpet again by positioning me right across the street from one of the highest rated coffee shops in the city–Caffe Migliore. 

I tend to read yelp reviews and someone referenced an unsweetened mocha which sounded good to me. And I only had 90 minutes until they opened.  I was wide awake so switched on the TV and on HBO was a quirky little film called Lola Versus which was not greatly reviewed but I liked it.  In a 4:30am waiting for a coffee shop to open kind of way.

Right at 6, I threw on my clothes and ran downstairs and across the quiet street to the coffee shop, literally directly across the street.  There were only about 2 of us in there.

Gorgeous pastries all over the place taunting me through the clear glass, all fresh and tasty.

I selected a cheese and bacon mini quiche, a spinach a feta stuffed croissant and a….ok, yes I did, a chocolate croissant.  I said I was hungry!

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I also treated myself to one of their travel cups as a souvenier and got that unsweetened mocha (yum!).

They heated up everything except the chocolate croissant for me and I tell you I ate everything except that, saving it for a later snack.

I zipped back up to my room, grabbed a towel and spread out my breakfast picnic on the bed.  Yum!  I’m just realizing looking at these photos that she heated my items up in a panini press!  ha!

I knew what I was doing that day and realized it was just too early to get started on it so, after breakfast, I laid my head back down on those high thread count down pillows and took an early morning nap until about 9.

I had another big day planned–the monorail, the Seattle Center, a place for lunch called Toulouse Petit and of course the fancy charity dinner I actually came there for.  The one called Bedtime Stories where Erica Bauermeister was reading an original piece.  Along with three other famous authors from the area.

I popped out of bed, took a shower in that luxurious marble bathroom and made my way out at around 10am.

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About a block and a half on my walk toward the monorail I passed a comfortable shoe store where, in the window, they were displaying Uggs.  I’d recently been researching a style of Uggs I was interested in–the kind where the whole shoe /boot part is like a cable knit sweater with three big buttons and a sturdy sole.  It’s really an opportunity to wear slippers outside but this one style is less “Ugg-y” and clunky than others and actually kinda sexy.  They look good with leggings or jeans and I’d been looking in to getting a pair.  They generally run around 200 bucks.  I’ve never had a pair of Uggs before.

I popped in to this store thinking maybe I’d just try them on to get the size right and lo and behold, the exact ones I wanted were there, for a mere $159.99!  (I know, that’s still pricey but anyway).  OMG, I’m going to get those for myself as yet another BD present!  I’ll ball up all my souveniers in to those Uggs and wear them the entire time I’m here.  I mean it’s a brisk 60ish degrees…it’s winter!

With a little lilt in my step I put those Uggs on hold for my way back. Obviously I wasn’t going to haul them around the city and this shop is right on my way back to the hotel.

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I found the monorail easily after seeing some gorgeous architecture and street art along the way.

I don’t care if that monorail is only a mile, I love it.  I love the whole idea of it.  It was a fun little ride with great views.

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And it took me directly to the wonderful, magnificent, color explosion of the Chihuly exhibit.  I think instead of writing, I’ll just share photos I took of it.  It is just a banquet within a buffet wrapped up in a 5 star feast for the senses.  I took it all in, believe me.  They were even playing this evocative jazz in this great greenhouse type room and I don’t know about you but I lose many inhibitions while traveling so I just walked down to one end of it, tilted my head back, looked up at all those orange flowers and started dancing.

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Enjoy the show.

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After the Chihuly I contemplated whether to go up in the needle or not but really I had another voice in my head beckoning me.  Yes, you know her.  The Grand Dame.  Somehow going on the needle felt like cheating on her.  So I just looked at it from below and made a commitment to myself to head back in to town after lunch and bite the bullet and go have an audience with the Queen.

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I wandered around the Seattle Center for awhile– wow so much to do.  Seattle is a real city.  There is a gorgeous Science Center, several museums and theatres, a fountain that blew me away (water show set to music- I love those), just beauty all around.

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The restaurant I wanted to go for lunch, on a recommendation from a friend, was nearby so I walked the few short blocks and found it easily.  I was immediately in love when I walked in the door.  First of all, they were playing my kind of music–Prince, Michael Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire.  The vibe was just so cool in there–kind of old world meets modern.

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disco ball!

I was greeted by this gorgeous hostess named Alishia and seated at a high top with a view of everything.

They have a lunch time prie fixe menu which tons of choices for $17 so that’s what I decided on.  The cocktail list was also overwhelming with choices.  I landed on something called the Sunshine with citrus and an eggwhite frothed on top in one those glasses I love.  Yum.

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I had one of the best soups I’ve ever had anywhere at that restaurant–a cauliflower soup with crab on top.  Slurp!

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I also had the lamb sloppy joe which was equally delicious and hearty!  I was stuffed!

Alishia kept coming by my table to chat with me.  She was particular intrigued with my solo traveling adventure so had many questions.  We were fast friends and now are, literally, Facebook friends!  See, you can meet all kinds of interesting friendly people if you are alone with an open friendly posture yourself.

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After my leisurely lunch at Toulouse Petit, I headed back out toward the monorail.  Somewhere along the way, I made a deal with myself.  Well, I actually made a bribe with myself.  I was starting to feel tired and really wanted a nap. But those Uggs were still calling my name.

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I said, “Self, you will earn those Uggs with one and only one task.  You will ride that wheel.  By yourself, you will get in that wheel and you will ride it.  Then you will march right in to that store and purchase those Uggs that you’ve now earned”.

So that’s just what I did.

I exited the monorail and walked the half a mile or so down to the Wheel, lots of steps down (which meant lots of steps back up), bought my ticket and got in line.  My mouth started drying up and I suddenly had to pee but I stayed right in that line and got in my carriage, all by myself.

You see, I’ve written before about recovering from a severe anxiety disorder. I had extreme claustrophobia.  So being closed in to anything like that would have sent me in to full blown panic.  Then I also, as a bonus, had a real fear or heights as well.  I have that kind of depth perception thing where if you look down in to a deep crevice you feel like it’s going to pull you in.  There is actually a medical name for that.  And I have it.

I walked right up to that Queen, standing tall, shoulders back, leaned down in a semi bow, and entered her glass carriage.  They didn’t even try to put me in with someone else.  I think all of her henchmen were conspiring right along with her to help me pass the ultimate test.

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The girl helping me in assured me I had a red panic button and if for any reason I felt uncomfortable or wanted to exit I just had to push it.  It’s amazing how beneficial an escape plan is when you have no intention of ever using it.

She lifted me up and I surrendered to the lifting, licking my lips and swallowing what saliva I could muster in to my dry mouth and we were off.  You really have no choice but to let go and enjoy the ride and once you figure that out, then you can do just that–enjoy it.

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I think it was the second rotation that I realized I was over it.  My fear of the Grand Dame had turned to love, infatuation even, as I watched the water turn to city to clouds to mountains popping back and forth between the benches inside the carriage.

I even took pictures, my hand steady, my smile genuine.

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After the third revolution, I expected to be let off but she kept right on turning.  What’s going on I wondered?  They had told me at the beginning when I nonchalantly asked how long the ride would be (how long I’d be suffering) that it lasted three revolutions.

But I was going around for a fourth.  Until she stopped about a third of the way up on the city side.  Then again about three fourths of the way up, then again right on top.

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There I was, stopped, swaying in that glass carriage right on the top of the Grande Dame, smiling.  The happiest girl in the world.

As A Course In Miracles teaches “the holiest spot on Earth is where an ancient hatred becomes a present love”.

I can say, truthfully, that I fell in love with the Grande Dame that day.  Right at her peak, right in the clouds, right at the top of her game and my game, I fell in love with her.

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I was kind of sad to exit but ecstatic at the same time.  In hindsight I wish I’d kissed her.  Next time I will.

Instead of feeling exhausted hauling myself back up all those stairs, I felt lighter than air.  I felt like the Grande Dame was still lifting me.

I walked back through the market, past all the flowers and the bronze statue lady again.  I gave her another dollar whispering in her ear “you are amazing”.

Right after that is when an angel appeared, an angel who’d been watching me.

An African American man just standing on the sidewalk semi catcalled me then said “You are walking Proud Mama…walking Proud!”.

I smiled and shouted back “yes I AM!”.

I walked proud straight in to that shoe store, bought my black sweater Uggs, wore them back to the hotel, opened the door to my suite, poured myself a glass of ice water, opened the window put my feet up and smiled.

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proud (part two)

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First off, I want to explain that these posts about Seattle will come out in a series simply because there is too much detail to cram in any other way and I don’t want to disremember anything (just made up that word).  I just want to give this magical red carpet trip the respect that it deserves.

Plus, I kid you not when I say I literally developed a stomach ache that lasted for over 24 hours on my second day there which I decided was my body’s inability to adequately digest all the WOW that was being fed to me minute by minute.  And I surely don’t want any of us going through that (again).  So please bear with me.

Where did we leave off?

Oh, yes, I was at the Market, at Lowell’s just having finished my first foodtail crawl snack.

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I packed up half those croquettes to go, untouched, and gave them to a homeless fella on the sidewalk

I also had a nice little chat there with the British bartender about Washington wines which I really did not partake enough of while I was there.  Another reason to go back.

I walked back downstairs from my Lowell’s perch and just decided to roam the market aimlessly to walk off a few calories and get my juices flowing before my next food/drink stop.  I also wanted to check out a few places I thought about going later, like this tucked away speakeasy called ZigZag which is known for amazing cocktails.  After going up and down several flights of stairs (huff puff), I found it, closed.  So I bookmarked it for later and climbed back up to the market.

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I saw so many things and heard some truly amazing music by street musicians as I roamed around.  I have to say though my absolute favorite was this gal:

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She stands like a bronze statue for minutes until someone puts money in her urn then she moves so slowly and distinctly, like Abraham Lincoln at the Hall of Presidents in Disneyland.  I put a dollar in and she batted her wiry eyelashes at me and blew me a slow motion staccato kiss.  I was completely mesmerized by this gal.  What discipline!  I think I could hold a pose like that for about 3 seconds tops.  She does it all day long.  Impressive!

I stopped and got a fortune from one of those machines like in the movie Big and this is what the urban turbaned fortune teller served me up:

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Indeed, but who’s the Sagittarian?

I saw and smelled and listened to so many things that are jumbled in my mind like a kaleidoscope right now until I strolled in to another stop on my intended crawl:  Maximilien’s french restaurant.  Another place with a fantastic view.

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What a cozy but casual yet fancy kind of place!  I saw an older gentleman at the bar eating a huge platter of oysters and sat a few seats down from him saying hello.  He greeted me back.  I have to say I really wish I loved oysters.  I so wish it.  Oysters seem so me.  I’m surprised that I really can’t get on the oyster train.  One beautiful oddity I once found out about my past though had to do with oyster stuffing.

My father used to make this oyster stuffing for every Thanksgiving.  My Dad makes the most amazing stuffing ever.  He would basically pull out some of his already made Peppridge Farm stuffing then put oysters in it and require us to “just have a taste” every year.  We always turned up our noses because, well really, oysters and turkey and you’re a kid?  No.

I finally confessed sometime in my 20’s to my Dad that I actually liked his oyster stuffing but I just liked the flavor if I picked out the oysters themselves.

I’ll never forget the shocked dropped jaw look on his face when I said that.

“Your mother used to love oyster stew but she would pick out the oysters” he semi gasped back in that amazed kind of way when the unexplained lands before his eyes.

It’s one of a short list of things I know I have in common with my mother- oysterless oyster foods.

But I digress (it was a good digression though, right?).

The oyster eating older gentleman finishes up paying his check a few bar stools down and says to me “when I get up, you have to move over in to this seat, it’s the best view in the house”.

See what I mean?  Sit at the bar.  People are super friendly there.

So scoot over I did, and he was right.  But you know who appeared, yes of course you do.  My Lady Grande Dame, looming, slowly circling like a hand waving me over.  Hypnotizing me.

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What was also in my field of vision was this:

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Yes please, I said.

Then I ordered the French cheese plate to go with it.  Just a perfect afternoon snack.  This is my favorite kind of eating.

The bartender was french and cute and formal yet friendly at the same time.

I just sat there, relaxing, enjoying every bite and every moment of this warm and welcoming atmosphere.

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Sometime during my second pour, the white, a couple joined me at the bar.  They had some kind of midwestern sounding accent.  Which is kind of funny for me to say seeing I’m from the Midwest (but I don’t have an accent, I’m sure! 😉 ).

I was entertained listening to them peruse the menu “well they don’t have anything on here I’m interested in” the husband scoffed.

The wife asked the french bartender “do you have any White Zinfandel?“.  I think I was probably cringing too hard to hear his response.

He finally settled on the French onion soup and she on a salad of some sort.  I have to give them props for even coming in there in the first place.  Everyone starts somewhere right? << Snob alert!>>

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not sure what that dollar is doing under my hand but it adds to the snob appeal 🙂

As I sat there drifting in to the Sound, the sky, the Grand Dame, the wine, the flavors I started dreaming about what I wanted to do that evening.  A totally free evening in Seattle.  What does a person do?

Jazz.  That’s what a person does.  You go out and listen to jazz.

So, thank God for the creation of Iphones because I then went a googlin.

And that’s when the Universe stopped me dead in my tracks again.  The clouds parted and the angels started singing Halleluiah all their trumpets pointed in my direction.  I’m pretty sure the bronze statue lady stopped her posing and did a little jig.  The Grand Dame may have ceased  her spinning over it.

First, let me back up a minute (sorry but to quote Willy Wonka quoting Oscar Wilde “The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last” so enjoy it!).

About a decade ago I purchased a CD called Brazilian Romance.  I think I likely picked it up at Target at one of those kiosks that’s famous for “Quiet Moods” and “Seaside Fantasy” types of compilations.

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I think this is probably my favorite CD of all time (close second to Annie Lenox DIVA).  In particular I’ve been obsessed with one song on there called Faltando Um Pedaco.

Guess what?  You can listen to it right here:

In fact, I’m listening to it right now as I’m writing this.

You know how a certain song just strums your heart strings no matter how many times you listen to it?

Yes, it’s that song for me.

It often makes me cry simply with it’s beauty and poignancy.  In some odd way, I would consider this song my theme song.

Interestingly the title translates to “Missing a Piece”.  I guess there isn’t any wonder, huh?  Oh damn now I’m making myself cry with this heart melting song in the background thinking about that.

I hope you listen to it and let me know what you think.

So I took this CD with me to Rancho La Puerta last July which I do every time I go.  Since there are no TV’s or technology there (aka a breath of fresh air), I listen to music a lot in my room on the small CD player they have for guests.

I must have listened to this one song about 5 times a day during my last stay.  I just kept hitting repeat.  Don’t get me wrong, the entire CD is AMAZING but this song……it’s just…..well, that.

So when I got home this time I decided to research this song a bit seeing we’ve been having a love affair for a decade or so.  Funny how I always imagined it was the Brazilian lady on the front of the CD singing to me.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out the vocalist is a blond haired blue eyed gal from Kansas.

Karrin Allyson

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So I started diving in to researching her.  Where she lives, what else she records, does she tour, etc.  I thought it might be a fun trip sometime to go to Kansas just to see her in person perform.

Can you guess where I might be going here right now?  Try it, just try and guess.

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Picture me, dreamy, french wine filled on a bar stool overlooking the ocean, googling jazz clubs and landing on one called Jazz Alley.

And there she is fresh as a Brazilian breeze wafting right out of my iphone and in to my soul.

Karrin Allyson is playing there, all weekend.  Just this weekend.

Faint!

Tears sprung to my eyes as I pulled out my credit card and purchased my ticket.  Just $24.50 for a dream come true.  And here I was prepared to buy a plane ticket to go see her.  And she’s landed in Seattle the same day I did.

See what I mean about digesting?  Just take a moment because I know I just blew you away there.

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Golden gleaming serendipity, my friends, streaming in to my life like liquid honey joy.

I took another sip of my wine, smiling to myself and wanting to share my good fortune, turned to the couple next to me.

I pulled out my Bitch’s broom and swept out the forming cobwebs of snooty judgment from my mind and said “can I tell you something amazing that just happened to me?” and shared my story in some sort of jerky way as I was still shaking from the infusion of this miracle.  Sometimes they land so hard and fast they leave an impact ripple.

That’s the thing about this kind of transmission, it magnifies when shared.  And again, sitting at a bar, leaves you open opportunities for doing just that if a ball of light like this lands in your lap.

The wife was a bit confused but completely touched by my story.  Then shared about how they were visiting their daughter who’d recently moved to Seattle.  Then she extended an invitation that would have surprised me if I wasn’t beyond surprising at that moment.

She invited me to go on the Wheel with her.  The Grande Dame.

“My husband refuses to go with me and I really want to go”.

Now they had finished their soups and salads and I was still very leisurely enjoying my wine and cheese and was about halfway through so we were leaving at different times.

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As much as I totally appreciated her invitation, I knew I wasn’t going down there to meet her as she casually suggested.

Two reasons:  I had a concert to get ready for and if I was going to introduce myself to the Grande Dame, I was going alone.  It was just that kind of respect we both deserved I figured.

Anyway, sometimes an invitation is more about the invitation itself than the event.  This was one of those times.

I finished my french snack, packed myself up and headed out of the market stopping to pick up two bouquets of flowers.

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My walk back up the hill to the hotel was decidedly more springy than I’d anticipated while walking down because I was infused with something greater than my own cardiovascular stamina right now.

I got back to my room, changed clothes, grabbed the notepad and pen from the hotel and one of the bouquets and hailed a cab to Jazz Alley.  I wanted to make sure I got there plenty early to get a good seat.

And a good seat it was, right up in front.

This place was not about the food at all I’ll just say so let’s skip that.  I had a coffee and a Campari and a couple of nibbles of some chewy calamari and sat there and wrote Karrin Allyson my love note.

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The show was small and intimate with a quartet–guitar player, stand up bass and drummer.  She knows these fellas well.  Karrin played piano herself off and on throughout.

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no pictures were allowed during the show and I respect that

She is younger and spunkier than I’d imagined her although had seen many photos by then.

She sang in Portuguese, English and French.

At one point she said “can I get something more substantial up here to drink?  Champagne?  Anyone out there get me a glass of champagne?”.  It was just so cute and you know champagne IS my drink!

I loved every minute of that show.  Every single minute.  She has such a perfect voice.  I held back tears during one of her songs.

I pulled out my journal and wrote these lyrics down:

“…follow the footsteps we left and I’ll find you there…”

Sigh….

After the 90 minute show, she exited the stage right past me and I tucked my love note in the flowers and handed them to her.  She said, still mic’d “See? That’s how it’s done”. 🙂

She was selling CD’s there so I purchased one where she sings in both Portuguese and French and she signed it for me. Of course I got to hug her and tell her my story.  Not only did she love it but a couple standing nearby did as well and the wife told me her own miracle story of getting to the concert having won the tickets through the radio (but was planning on coming anyway).  Her last name is Jingling.  Seriously, it is.  And she used to be a clown when she met her husband.

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sorry dark and fuzzy but that’s me with Karrin Allyson

See, traveling alone you get in conversations you never might if you were engaged with your travel partner(s).  There’s a beauty in having open space around you (key word: open).

I walked out of the venue and lo and behold, in front of me was this sign.

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We used to have one of those in Phoenix called the Cine Capri. In fact I was pretty active in the “Save the Cine Capri” project (failed).  There are very few Cinerama theatres left in the country and this is one.

I walked over (just across the street) and saw the movie Gravity was beginning in 45 minutes.  Just enough time to grab a cocktail at the Palace Kitchen next door and make it to the movie.  Normally I wouldn’t try and cram so many events in to one day/evening but a limited time makes a person feel a sense of urgency to take in as much as possible.

I walked in to the theatre and got an immediate blast of CHOCOLATE.  It was like brownies were baking!

They said “oh you don’t know about our chocolate popcorn?”.

This place makes regular AND chocolate popcorn…crazy!  My stomach was already starting to talk to me in unpleasant voices at that point so I graciously accepted the sample they offered me in a paper cone and took my seat in the grand theatre.

Oh how it made me miss the Cine Capri.  But glad I was able to be in this setting again.

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I put on my 3d glasses and proceeded to get inundated with motion sickness for the next hour and a half.  I’m not saying it was a bad movie, it was good for what it was but it literally made me sick.

Which bummed me out as I really didn’t get dinner that evening and my plan was to head back to the Palace for a late night snack as they’d still be open, in fact I’d promised the bartender I was coming back.  But it was all I could do to pour myself in to the nearest cab, get back to the room and in to my jammies, spread out across that cushy king size bed, open the window and deeply exhale in to that shimmering Seattle air.

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(to be continued)

proud (part one)

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I don’t know the exact moment I laid eyes on her.

Probably as I rounded one of those bends on the I 5.  Trying to keep my focus ahead and look but not look.

I do remember my first impression of her; so tall, statuesque, confident, shimmering in her own splendor.

That bitch.

I arrived in Seattle at 10am.  Way before check in time at the Fairmont.  I was fully prepared to leave my car at the hotel and spend the rest of the morning/early afternoon roaming the city.  I had plenty to explore.  It was a bright, crisp partly sunny day so made easy for me.  Just like upgrading to first class for the flight up.  $50 upgrade with no bag fee, to me means a $30 upgrade. Yes please, I’ll take it.

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view from my first class window seat

Winding in to the circle drive the valet greets me, tells me where to go park, offers to hold my suitcase until check in and then suggests I try to check in early.

“Never know, they might have your room ready” he suggests with a wink.

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I easily find the parking garage one block over but man it’s packed.  Every single floor I’m corkscrewing up in to is filled with cars:  A, B, C, D, E, F “are they gonna go through the entire alphabet before I find a space on floor Z?” I wonder, getting dizzier by the moment.

On Level L, a man in a uniform appears out of nowhere and flags me down “you’re having trouble finding a space aren’t you?”.

How has he seen me? I wonder hoping I’ve not been picking my nose or shouting obscenities at the overstuffed garage.

I’d already suffered one embarrassing incident that day on the parking lot shuttle en route to the airport at 5am where a lady, deboarding, leans down and says “I don’t think anyone else will tell you but your shirt is inside out”.  I whipped it off and changed it right there between Terminal 4 and Terminal 2 on the bus.  In front of two strangers.  Hey, I announced it first reassuring them I had a camisole on underneath which I did.  “I got dressed in the dark” I said as they responded with a courteous nod.

Classy.

The parking lot attendant directs me to one of two of the most convenient handicapped spots near the elevator “just use this one, we’re kind of full right now.  I’ll make a note of it”.  Nice. 🙂

I grab my purse, lock up the car and head over to the hotel, following the Valet’s suggestion, just out of curiosity.

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The check in area is quaint, gold and elegant “I know I’m here super early but I’m checking in today….”

“Let me see if we have something available now” the young pretty brunette replies.

I guess all the First Class status I’d been enjoying all morning infused me with the nerve to say “I like as high as you can get.  I like rooms way up there”.

She smiles and says “I have room 1109 ready right now. We can go ahead and check you in”.

Gulp!

11 is the top floor of the hotel.

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“Do you have any bags?” she inquires.

I tell her I’ve left it with the Valet and hand her the slip.  She assures me they will send it right up.

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Wide eyed, I silk my way through the opulent great hall of the lobby area to the elevator and ride up swiftly to the 11th floor.  The top floor.

This hotel smells good.  Like gold, like honey, like rich people.  I’m pretty sure Oprah’s house smells like this.

I arrive in room 1109 and realize immediately I’m not in steerage anymore.  I’m still in First class. This is a freaking SUITE!  Two rooms, two TV’s a couch, arm chair, coffee table!

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Moments later the bellman arrives with my bag, fetches me a bucket of ice and tells me “you can drink the water right out of the tap here, we have some of the best drinking water in the country”.

I plug in my iphone that’s drained nearly entirely in the plane, make a cup of coffee, a glass of ice water, open the window and sit in my Executive Suite living room breathing in the fresh Seattle air.  It’s not even 11:00 am and I’m in heaven.

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Now I got this room on Hotwire for less than 50% the going rate.  I know because I obsess over these things.  I was supposed to get a generic king bed room in the hotel (not saying anything in this hotel is generic mind you).  I know about all the levels of rooms because, well, you know, I obsess.  So I KNOW I’m in a big upgrade right now.  I’m in a freaking Executive Suite!  Two rooms, a sitting area and cozy but large bedroom with glass french doors between.  A large “getting ready” area outside the bathroom and a large marble tiled bathroom.  And a view!

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I love robes in a hotel

And I’m actually not even supposed to be in any room for 4 more hours.

The Gods of Seattle are most definitely smiling down on me.

I get a good charge on the phone, hang up some of my clothes, freshen up myself, make sure I’m not sporting any more wardrobe malfunctions, change my shoes to comfy walking booties, finish my liquids and head out in to the cool, fresh, humid downtown Seattle air.

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yeah, I’m bundled up, I’m a wimp- layers people, layers!

That’s when I see her again.  Yeah, she’s still there.

Proud and tall against that partly cloudy but clearing by the minute sky.  How does she manage to gleam like that even under the clouds?

I look then look away.  I will deal with her later.

For now, I’ve got a market to explore.

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Pike Place Market, another place I’ve researched to death.  I have a list of all the places I want to make sure and see as this place is huge, remembering the first stop I want to make is the famous Lowell’s for breakfast.

I find it easily after my senses being blasted out of the stratosphere with the flowers…all those flowers! Color! Everywhere!

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Lowell’s is packed but the one secret about solo traveling or at least the first one I’m about to impart is this:  always, if there is this option, eat at the bar.

There are so many reasons for this, not the least of which, you can nearly always get a seat quickly.  And it’s more social there.  You typically meet interesting people sitting at the bar.  People, including you, are more approachable.  And bartenders are often very cool.

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some kind of delicious salmon croquettes I got

In the case of Lowell’s though, in addition to those things, I also got a view.  Right out the top floor of the market in this quaint restaurant was the Sound.  The beautiful waterfront.

And also, standing there, taunting me, haunting me, teasing me, fascinating me right in my eye line she stands.

My nemesis, the object of my enthrallment and aversion was right there, antagonizing with her steady yet fluid grace, terrifying me.  Magnetizing me.

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The Grand Dame.

“What a great view” I remark to the couple sitting next to me as I sip on my mimosa made from homemade Washington berry syrup.

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It’s just stunning actually.  I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this place before.  It’s not the ocean exactly but it feels like the ocean.  It’s not like rowdy Asbury Park in NJ where we went as kids but it has a ferris wheel.

It’s clean, it’s sophisticated, spacious, colorful, diverse; this place feels like a place I belong.

(to be continued)

sweet

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I boarded the ferry with two thoughts on my mind.

1. How much I dig this whole ferry riding situation and how glad I am that I brought my car on.

2. How utterly charmed this trip has been at the risk of using the word charmed a gazillion times too many by now.

Then I looked up and there was this.

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And it got brighter and brighter the whole sweet ride.

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it’s beginning

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“As a middle child, I’m sandwiched between homicide and schizophrenia” was my answer to the question.

My partner laughed, naturally.

Out loud.

“No really, that’s what I write about” I clarified.

Her face fell, with some flash fire amalgam of emotions impossible to read on their own simply due to the instancy of gravity. In half a second her gaze landed squarely on to mine in that way kind people do when they know an immediate remedy is required.

“I thought you were kidding” she exhaled in a whispered apology typically reserved for this kind of stranger intimacy.

“No, that is my life” I breathed back, feeling once again the unique bond that is formed only by tragedy inviting compassion through it’s longing door.