Paul, Paul, Paul.

There's something about that name. The planets align and cause major life shifts to happen when I encounter any man named Paul.

Let us begin with my first Paul. The only man, a boy really when I knew him, who has evoked feelings in me that held the potential for me to fall in love. Do you know what I'm talking about? When you're attracted to someone and it's powerful and consuming and it has this shine to it, this shimmering effervescence that has the possibility of becoming something cataclysmic. Where your body and your heart are teetering on the edge of the love abyss and all it takes is getting to know that person intimately, physically and emotionally, and love gravity takes hold and pulls you down until you're hopelessly lost. And you don't mind in the slightest. Completely different from love is this in love business. Strong emotions both, but as different as night and day. Maybe this first Paul has made me partial to that name. Perhaps.

Then there is our very own Paul, aka Coujeaux. A man who has become an incredible friend to me. I discovered where the other half of my brain has been hiding all these years - he had possession of it and the bastard didn't even have the decency to tell me. Talking to Paul is like putting on an old favorite flannel shirt that's been worn until it fits only you. It's comfortable and familiar and you never want to give it up, no matter how many holes or tears it gets through the years. Good friends like that don't happen all the time. Another thunderbolt of an entirely different kind.

This latest Paul is the man with whom I had a job interview today. My reaction to him was purely physical. He lit up every sexual neuron I have. Tall, gorgeous - but in an accessible way, floppy black hair, intelligent eyes, intensity, very dry wit, sexy smile, and great hands. Wow. Of course, as my luck would have it, he's happily married with children. If I get this job he will be one of my superiors. Please, just kill me now. *insert dramatic rolling of the eyes here*

Three different Pauls. All of them special. Each of them meaningful to me in different ways - love, friendship, and physical attraction, respectively. Merely because they share the same first name? It could be. There could be something floating around out there in the karmic cosmos that has destined me to encounter incredible men named Paul and have them be significant to me. Perhaps somewhere there is a new Paul waiting for me. A Paul who will evoke those wonderful, aching shimmering feelings and he'll bring me to the precipice where I will happily fall down, head over heels.

There really is no way of knowing. All I can say is this: any time I come in contact with a man named Paul - my internal radar starts going crazy. Be it conditioning or fate, the advantage is yours should you be blessed with the name of Paul.
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I started smoking when I was 12 years old. It was all due to seeing the movie Grease and being impressed with how cool they all looked with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. It was Rizzo's fault most of all. She was my favorite of the Pink Ladies. All that attitude and sass.

My cousin Beth was living with my mother and me at the time. She was from North Carolina, beautiful, and she had a convertible (the style of car that is my favorite to this day). She smoked and there was always an ashtray on the dining room table with half smoked cigarette butts in it. This is from where I got my first taste of stinkweed. Now you always see these people coughing up a lung when they try cigarettes for the first time. Not me. I took to it like a duck to water. I worked my way up from puffing to full inhaling in no time. I would sneak the cigarette butts when I was latch-keying it before my mom and Beth got home from work.

Flash forward a few years and I'm working part-time after school at the nursing home. Patients who smoked would have cartons of cigarettes that my mom, who was the Activity Director, held for them. It was nothing to sneak a pack every once in a while. I had no definite habit, just a smoke on occasion whenever I felt like it. I was into Marlboro Reds at the time (hack, hack) but would take whatever I could get my dishonest little hands on.

At 16, my dad died. While on that sabbatical week in Hawaii, I would sit on the balcony of my hotel room smoking cigarette after cigarette while contemplating the pigeons on the roof of the ABC Mart across the street. How I kept from hacking up a lung on those Reds is still a mystery to me.

A year or so later, I went on a trip to Monterey with my friend and idol, Jane. She was 20 years older than me but treated me as an equal. I looked up to her immensely. She was the funniest person I'd ever met and she took me under her wing. And yes, you're right, she smoked. Her poison was Benson and Hedges (she called them Benches and Hedges) Menthols. While on this trip, she let me smoke to my heart's content. I felt so cool and sophisticated, let me tell you. It was this trip that converted me to menthols for the rest of my smoking life.

I'd quit smoking and then take it up throughout the years. I finally fell into an actual habit when I was 22. I worked my way up to a pack a day of Marlboro Menthol 100s. I didn't like the Kings because they burned up too fast. The hard pack was also preferable since it didn't get smashed up in my purse. Marvin the Martian was a smoker too. I smoked up a storm while I was working at the 2nd nursing home. Constant smoke breaks. I don't like who I was becoming then. Not due to the smoking but due to my incredible lack of work ethic. While I may fart around here at this job, I get my work done. There is never anything lacking because of whatever time I spend goofing off. Back then, the work suffered. I was addicted to cigarettes and to really great sex with a man who was so not good for me.

The January after I turned 23 and a couple weeks after I'd ended things with the Martian, I quit smoking as a new year's resolution. I initially tried to quit smoking and stop drinking caffeine in an insane attempt at better health. HA! Worst headaches I've ever had in my life. Obviously, I took up drinking caffeine again. I stayed off the cigarettes though. Quit cold turkey and it stuck. I've smoked every once in awhile since then, primarily in times of great stress. And I admit, there are days when that need for nicotine sings along my blood. Sometimes I give in. I'll usually smoke one or two cigarettes out of a pack and end up throwing the rest of it away. Considering the cost of those little sticks of tobacco, it's not something I do very often.

There was a line in the movie Dead Again that really verbalized what I think of smokers. Robin Williams to Kenneth Branagh (paraphrasing) "You're either a smoker or you're not. Choose one and be it." I truly believe this. Some people are smokers, others aren't. I am a smoker who chooses not to smoke. Simple as that.

But even when I'm not smoking, there are times I'll be sitting in my car with the windows rolled down and I'll catch a whiff of a freshly lit cigarette and I find myself turning toward the window in order to fully enjoy that smell. I love that first drift of smoke that comes from a newly ignited cancer stick. Even before I began smoking, whenever Jane would light up, I'd turn my nose to the scent of her cigarette. I imagine that's something only a fellow smoker can appreciate
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Oh it's been fun so far this morning. Not only was it fucking 83 degrees already at 9:30 a.m., I forgot my goddamned keys this morning. Allow me to tell you the entire story....

It's 8:20 a.m. I've had my shower, gotten dressed, and now I'm putting on my shoes. {Back story fact: I'm going to have to get a new car. My car sucks donkeys and can't seem to get enough of those damned beasts of burden so it's going to have to go.} Shannon's been looking through car websites for me 'cause this kind of thing she massively kicks ass at. Anyway, she says "Hey Lil. Come look at this." So of course I do. I spend the next 20 minutes looking at beautiful PT Cruisers, seeing what's in dealer's inventories, etc. I look at the clock. SHIT! It normally takes me about 1/2 hour at the very least to get here. So off I go, running out the door. Did I remember to check to ensure I had my keys with me? You guessed it. I sure didn't.

Anyway, I didn't realize this slightly important fact until I got here. I park my car, reach into my purse to get my office keys and lo & behold they're not there. Fucking great. So I figure, ok, the sales manager goes to the church next door to this office. I'll go find him and ask him to let me in. I walk over there and all these nice church type people are milling around the coffee klatch doo-hickey before the service starts. Is the sales manager drinking coffee this morning? Of course not. It's then that I realize I'll have to do the unthinkable. I'm going to have to go into the sanctuary. AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!! I just know I'll be struck down the minute I set foot in there but I have to risk it. I haven't been inside a church since April of last year when I went while I was in North Carolina. And that was because it meant a lot to my mother.

Ok, so I manage to get into the sanctuary area without lightning bolts from God being sent in my direction. I look around but is the dude there? Say it with me now: Of course not. My skin is crawling from all the organized religion concentrated in one area. I've got millions of religious hell-fire ants marching along my arms and in my hair. See what I endure to get to work? Am I dedicated or what? Especially considering I'm cursing to myself the entire time I'm looking for the nice sales manager.

"Shit! Fuck! Where the hell are you, dude? Oooh, that guy's hot. Dammit!"

Yes, these are the things going through my mind. Add to the mix that my body's sitting up and saying "Lil, you seriously need to get laid. You're finding church dudes hot. Oh look at that guy." Yeah. Needless to say (but I'm going to say it anyway), I high-tailed it out of there. I decided I'd rather try to break into work than stay in church.

Right. When I figured out I didn't have the proper tools for surreptitious breaking and entering, I went out to my car to see if maybe by some kind act of fate, my keys were on the floor or something equally ridiculous. Lucky for me I did because right then, one of the agents pulled into the parking garage and was kind enough to let me in.

And thus began my morning. I'm safely ensconced in this nice air-conditioned non-religious office, listening to Incubus, and answering the phone. Big collective sigh of relief.
Hope you're all having equally interesting mornings.

Edited at 10:40 a.m. to add:
A fire truck just pulled up in front of the church. See! I knew I shouldn't have gone in there. If I see any demons emerging, I'll let you all know.
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One of the people I'm very glad to have "met" through this blogging thing, Miss Paz, asked some good questions in one of her comments to me. Therefore, I am answering them in their own entry:

How do you feel about your father's alcoholism? Does/did that affect how you think about yourself?

Basically, for me, the answers to those questions are inter-related. At first, it made me terrified. I didn't want to ever drink for fear of becoming an alcoholic myself. That's not to say that I completely stopped drinking. I do drink alcohol on occasion. There was a period of a couple years where I didn't drink at all. I'd gotten really sloshed on one horrifically memorable Halloween and blacked out. That had never happened to me before. Yeah, so I was a tee-totaler there for awhile. Now alcohol really doesn't have much appeal for me. I'll drink the occasional Diet Coke with Absolut Vanilla or a Corona with lime and even that is rare.

When it comes to men, I'm skittish about them drinking. Marvin the Martian - the one man I've loved in a romantic sense - was a raging alcoholic. I understand my predisposition to becoming involved with alcoholics and I try not to. I find myself analyzing their behaviors and drinking habits. I'm hyper-sensitive to their drunken behavior.

I've read a couple books about alcoholism - is it an illness or a behavioral issue - that whole debate. Personally, I think children of alcoholics are more likely to become alcoholics themselves. Now is that genetic or is it a learned behavior? I really don't know. Honestly, it doesn't matter. Just so long as I don't become an alcoholic myself. That's what matters. His need for alcohol caused so much pain. I never want to put anyone through what he put the people who cared about him through. I'm not merely referring to the dying part. He was 49 years old when he died. I have no idea how old he was when he started drinking but suffice it to say, there were plenty of years where his drinking affected his life and those around him, including my mother. Including me.

His alcoholism is still an integral part of who I am. It always will be. I don't know if that answered your questions Paz, but I gave it a shot. (Pun intended, of course)
I've been writing this blog in my head for the past few days. These sentences that will follow aren't in the same format or even in the same order as the ones that have been swimming through the grooves of my brain. But they'll do.

Today marks 18 years since my father died. I was 16. He was an alcoholic and the years upon years of drinking had torn up his insides. He had been bleeding internally for months but hadn't done anything about it. Finally, something drastic happened and my grandparents took him to the hospital. I don't really remember what the impetus for their calling the paramedics was. They called my mother late Friday March 21, 1986, and told her that my father was in the hospital. We went to go see him Saturday morning.

He looked so small in his hospital gown with the sheets all tangled up around him. He had tubes going in everywhere but I mostly remember the large red one that went down his nose into his stomach. Obviously bandages can't be used on one's insides so they were pumping air into his stomach in an effort to stop the bleeding. He was conscious so he was able to see me break down into tears. I remember that my hair was being held back with two bobby pins, that I was wearing an old blue sweatshirt, and that I didn't say much of anything to my father. All I could do is try to keep myself from crying. (I hate that his last memory of me was of me in tears. But I didn't have much strength then, you see. I still had to earn it.) My mom is the one who spoke with him. Little did I know this was the last time I would ever see him alive.
I didn't tell him I loved him.

That haunted me for a very, very long time.

The next day I was at choir rehearsal. It was Sunday March 23, 1986 at around 6:30 p.m. or so. I was worried about my father but I hadn't gone to see him that morning. I was in Chamber Singers at school and we were due to leave the next day for a competition in Hawaii. My mom came in to the rehearsal room and with one look at her face, I knew.

I still went to Hawaii. I spent the entire week by myself. Everyone left me alone. I sat out on the balcony of the hotel room smoking Marlboro Reds and staring at the ABC Mart across the street. I took pictures of my view to commemorate the occasion. Mechanically, I did my part, I sang the songs but I wasn't really there. I could have stayed home but truly, what reason was there? So I could go to a funeral with a bunch of people who were acting like they actually gave a damn about my father but didn't really? I don't regret going to Hawaii.
I regret not having told my father I loved him.

I got back from Hawaii and went on with the business of living. It was very difficult the first few months. Those truly were the hardest. I would cry myself to sleep and wake up sad with puffy eyes and a headache. There were no happy moments. I eventually got so tired of being sad that I considered suicide. I made a half-assed attempt at it by taking a few muscle relaxers I had but it truly was the stereotypical cry for help. I wouldn't have gone through with it. I went into counseling after that.

I grieved. I screamed at the ceiling of my dining room with tears coursing down my face. Yelling at my father for dying, yelling at God for allowing this to happen.

I wrote. I wrote poetry, I wrote a letter to my father telling him how fucking angry he'd made me.

I dealt with it. I became distant, closed off, cynical. If I allowed no one into my heart, they didn't have the power to hurt me.

I realized that wasn't the answer. I'm more cautious now than I used to be when letting people in. There are really only a few people who truly know me. Whom I trust with my deepest love. This was a very hard lesson to learn. I love easily. I also let people go more easily now. I can care about you deeply but losing you won't come anywhere near to killing me. There are only two people in this world whose loss would cause me debilitating pain, whose deaths would hold the power to destroy me.

So many memories flash before my eyes as I think about the time since my father died. Locking myself into the practice room in the chorus classroom during lunch breaks so I could curl into a fetal position and cry. My grandmother (his mother) becoming ill a few months after he was gone. Seeing her in the hospital with my grandfather leaning over her bed sobbing, begging her not to leave him. The rhythmic rise and fall of her chest and the sound of her breathing as congestive heart failure stole her life. Visiting the cemetary the Christmas after they died and being thrown into a vicious rage at the stupid, inane, hideous decorations strewn about over his and my grandmother's graves. Kicking plastic santas off of his grave. Allowing only a single red rose to remain as the testament to my love.

Some years March 23rd would kick me in the gut like my father's death had just happened. Some years I don't even realize the 23rd has gone by until much later. This year I remember but I don't feel sadness. I've come to terms with his death. I've learned lessons that will be with me until I'm dead and have become a pile of so much ash.

I've learned that telling those you love how much they mean to you is one of the, if not the most important things in the world. I've realized that my life is better, that I'm a better person, because of my father's death. That lesson hurt. Can you imagine what it would be like to know that the greatest gift your parent ever gave you was their death?

He doesn't know that of course. He didn't die for me. He killed himself. It was a passive form of suicide but he knew he was dying, he knew his body was in trouble.

Yet he did nothing. Maybe somewhere in his heart he knew my life would be better without him. Maybe I didn't factor into any of it at all. Of course I'd like to think that I did but I doubt it. His greatest love in life was in the bottles of Jack Daniels I found in his room when I was helping my grandparents clean up his belongings. In fact, my primary memory of him before he and my mother divorced when I was 4 is of the six packs of Coors he'd buy. They were the cans with the wide silver band around the bottom. Vivid memories of those cans.

He was the first person I was close to who died. He hasn't been the last. Years later, I joke about being the expert at death. I can grieve with my eyes closed. So many people I care about gone forever.

Thanks to my father, I can handle it. I can suffer loss and come through fine on the other side.
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My heart aches. Not for anyone specifically but more for the absence of someone.
Each resonating heart beat echoes in the emptiness of my chest.
Lonliness folds upon itself exponentially, crushing me.
I need a sun to shine upon the inside my soul.
I feel shiftless, a piece of flotsam floating along the current.
There's some thing, some part of myself that is missing and I can almost see it. I can feel it against my fingertips but I can't grasp it.
It's there, on the tip of my tongue but I can't quite taste it.
It's there, taunting me. Leaving me wanting and incomplete.
It's there, frustrating me with its absence.
It's there, and I can't have it yet.

Lately I've felt as though I warped back in time and I'm once again in high school. I find myself gazing out the window, moonily staring at nothing but with my head full of silly notions. Flowers, hand-holding, long talks possess my thoughts during the daylight hours. It's the thoughts that take over at night that are much more fun but so much more frustrating. Do we ever outgrow crushes? They're so adolescent in their purity and innocence but incredibly maddening when you know nothing is going to come of it.

As adults, there are myriad reasons why we fall victim to unrequited admiration. Sometimes the object of our hormones is spoken for or they're out of our league in some way or another or we encounter them online and the distance quashes any possibility of the natural progression of attraction. Oh but they can be so enjoyable for awhile.

And if a person is ever so fortunate as to have their crush show reciprocal feelings. That's better than any drug - it has to be. I've had that happen one time that I know of. It was amazing. That was with Marvin the Martian so many years ago. I can still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I opened my apartment door and there he stood, the man I'd been fantasizing about for weeks. The heat that soared in my blood the first time I realized he wanted to kiss me as much as I wanted to kiss him. God I miss that. Not him, necessarily. Just that feeling, that realization, that awareness.

Insert longing sigh here. Intellectually, I know I won't be alone forever. There will be more men in my life. I'm crushing on a few different guys at this point in time but reality has a way of putting a damper on things. It's interesting, isn't it - how distances are measured in more than mere miles.
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If men could menstruate … clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much. … Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of such commercial brands as Paul Newman Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-Dope Pads, John Wayne Maxi Pads, and Joe Namath Jock Shields-"For Those Light Bachelor Days." - Gloria Steinem

This remarkable piece of artwork came from this blog. "On the Rag and Proud of It: Celebrating Menstruation!!" A very interesting piece about Aunt Flo.

Some random menstrual facts:

  • According to the Hebrew Talmud, if at the beginning of her period a woman passes between two men, she kills one of them. If she goes between them towards the end of her period, she only causes them to quarrel violently.

  • The average woman has approximately 500 periods in her lifetime.

  • She’ll also eat about 35,000 cookies.

  • The length of the vagina will increase by as much as 50% by the time a girl has fully matured.

  • The eye and the vagina are the only self-cleaning organs.

  • The vagina is approximately 10 cm long.

  • Other things approximately 10cm long

    • a small banana

    • Cell phone

  • Estrogen hormone levels can increase by seven times during the normal menstrual cycle.

  • PMS is caused by these hormone changes.

  • Chocolate is the #1 food craved by women during PMS.

  • Chocolate contains phenylethylamine -- the same chemical your brain produces when you fall in love.

  • White chocolate isn’t really chocolate.

  • A woman's body temperature rises by .5 to 1 degree every month after ovulation.

  • A calorie is the energy needed to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius

  • Number of Calories in a chicken burrito- 286

  • In a beef taco- 369

  • In 2 slices of frozen pepperoni pizza- 534

  • Approximately 1 out of 5 women can feel themselves ovulate or ovulation's immediate effects.

  • 1 out of 4 Americans has appeared on television.

  • 1 out of 3 dog owners has talked to their pet on the phone.

  • 1 out of 2 billion people will live to 116.

  • Women have used tampons for thousands of years- no one knows who came up with the idea of internal feminine protection. Tampax, the first commercially successful tampon, has been around for over 60 years.

"Midol" Parody by Mikerz

"Lucky" Based on the performance by Britney Spears

Author's Note: When reading (or singing) this parody to the tune of "Lucky", it is imperative that the reader clearly understands and pronounces each syllable, especially if it's a four-syllable word in place of four, one-syllable words. Some words you may need help pronouncing correctly: Menstruation - Men·stru·a·tion, Irritable - Ir·ri·ta·ble, and Menopausal - Men·o·paus·al. If you don't pronounce the words correctly, the timing will seem off, and I work extremely hard on perfecting my timing. The only reason I bring these points up is because I found myself, the writer of this parody, saying the aforementioned words incorrectly, more often than not, by combining syllables.

This is a story about why girls need Midol...

Major cramping, bloating too
Pound, pound, pounding headache
Excedrin Migraine, two capsules
Is all it takes to feel great
They go...
"Isn't she grouchy, when PMS strikes?"
And they say…

She needs Midol, she's a bitch
And she scream, scream, screams when her jeans don't fit, pleading
I need tampons, any brand will do
Menstruation please be through soon

Hot and cold flashes, swollen feet
Not to mention she's irritable
And her head feels queasy, her stomach's uneasy
She can't wait to be menopausal
They go...
"Isn't she grouchy, when PMS strikes?"
And they say…

She needs Midol, she's a bitch
And she scream, scream, screams when her jeans don't fit, pleading
I need tampons, any brand will do
Menstruation please be through soon

"Best relief, and the winner is . . . Midol!"
"I'm a woman standing inside a drugstore fighting over the last box of Midol"
"Stupid bitch . . . give me that!"

"Isn't she grouchy, when PMS strikes?"

She needs some Midol, and boy does she scream
I need some tampons, any brand will do
Menstruation be through
And they say...

She needs Midol, she's a bitch
And she scream, scream, screams when her jeans don't fit, pleading
I need tampons, any brand will do
Menstruation please be through soon

This entry brought to you by....

Well today I figured I'd blog about this thought that's been chewing up the inside of my brain for the past few months. I have a tendency to place people whom I initially find impressive up on a sort of pedestal. A honeymoon period, if you will. During this time, everything is shiny, new, and intoxicating. Pleasure is derived simply from being in the person's presence. I can't wait to see what they have to say or what they've been doing because it's a joyous learning experience for me to be privy to them.

And is often the case with marriages, after the honeymoon period comes the reality check. The shiny exterior begins to tarnish. I see actions, hear words that show people as the imperfect entities they are. The pedestal crumbles and suddenly I'm eye to eye with the object of my esteem. Sometimes this is fine. Their imperfections bring them to my level, make them real and I'm able to get to know them in an entirely different way. Other times, seeing what their choices or actions or words reveal about them comes with disappointment. I don't want to know that this person who I've held in such high regard has flaws. I want to keep them perfect in an air-tight container so I can continue to be entertained by them, continue to marvel at their magnificence.

But that's not how life works. That's not how humanity works. We're all imperfect. We all do stupid things, hurtful things, cruel things - whether they are intentional or not - this is the reality. Normally I glory in those imperfections because often times they are what makes life interesting. Growth and maturity are born out of the horrible, stupid things we do.

I've learned to reconcile that bite of disappointment in finding out my idols aren't all they seem to be. Because honestly, would I really want to learn from someone who's never screwed up? Someone who's never known what it's like to hurt another person and feel the remorse and sadness that inherently follows? How else would we know not to be cruel, indifferent and do all those other terrible things we do to each other without having done them before and feeling what it's like?

Because you can't take someone's word for that. Your parents, your elders, your friends can all tell you that being mean isn't good but until you're mean to someone you care about, you won't get it. When you're a child and you break your friend's toy just because you're pissed off that the toy isn't yours, that brief joy you feel in his or her pain quickly turns to guilt and sadness when you see their tears. When you judge someone based on the color of their skin or on their place in society and feel the sting of embarrassment of being so stupid, you know that's something you don't want to ever feel again.

Does any of this stop me from admiring and idolizing others? Not really. Why else would I lust after famous actors whose physical appearance embodies my ideal of perfection? Why else would I moon over other people I encounter because they have personality traits that amaze the hell out of me? That disappointment at finding out a person's true colors is why I'd rather not ever meet Kiefer Sutherland or hang out with Johnny Depp. I don't want my idealized versions of them to be destroyed. I want to be able to keep them all shiny and wonderful in my mind.

In fact, there are some people here on Xanga that given the opportunity to meet them, I'd probably pass. Because how well can you get to know someone merely by reading their blog? Truthfully, not that well. You see the person they want you to see. As honest and revealing as their writing may be, you're still not getting the entire picture. You're not seeing for yourself how they act when they pass a homeless person on the street. You're not truly seeing the reaction in their eyes when they meet a person with some kind of disfigurement. You don't see if they've got their closet compulsively organized by color, type of clothing, every item wrapped in plastic. You don't see if they pick their teeth with their fingernails after a meal. Things that would completely change your view of them, or at least annoy the hell out of you.

The thing of it is, I need to have idols. I need to have people who embody traits I want to have. It's helped me enormously seeing people who act ways, do things, feel things, say words that I want to emulate. To have an example on which to base aspects of myself. Throughout my life, there have been people, some famous - some not, whom I admired and who profoundly affected me and helped to shape who I am today.

I suppose the point of all this nonsense is that sometimes it's good and it's ok to leave idols all shiny in their plastic wrap. I don't need to eviscerate the inner workings of everyone I admire and fumble around in their innards. I can see their goodness and wisdom and glean what I need from that. That when I have a choice, occasionally it's better to leave the pedestal intact.
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I sit here in this corporate institution, surrounded by glass and brick. I can hear him but I can't see him. My homeless friend is yelling again. Incoherent rantings of his private rage. He stays out of site, hidden in the breezeway, standing behind the concrete and brick pillar but still he yells.

Suddenly he comes into view, wearing a different jacket this time. Navy blue with white piping and a large white Nike swoosh on the back. I wonder where he got the jacket. Did someone throw it away? Did one of his fellow homeless give it to him? Or was it merely hidden under his army jacket from a few weeks ago?

He wanders down the street, peering into each garbage can he passes, searching for some hidden treasure. A bounty of a half-full coffee cup or partially eaten piece of food.

I wonder if I went and set a couple of my pop tarts on the edge of the trash can right outside my office if he'd eat them. They're the good kind, chocolate fudge. If I still smoked, I'd leave some cigarettes out there for him. He seems to cherish cigarettes most of all.

He's sitting across the street now, his back against the pharmacy wall. Joggers run by without so much as a glance, ignoring the proof that there is another level of humanity outside their own.
Ralph Ellison had it right. Invisible men do exist.
Until just before I turned 24, I spent a great deal of time in a nursing home. As a child, I was there with my mother either at my choice or because she had no one else to watch me during the weekends and school-less summer days. My mother was an Activity Director at the nursing home where my aunt was the Administrator and part owner. It was more or less a family business.

I remember early mornings driving from El Segundo to the Mar Vista section of Los Angeles, the sun usually only having been up for a short while. Stopping by Jack in the Box for breakfast, if I was lucky, before going to my second home. For that's what it was for me, a second home. I would roam up and down the hallways, visiting with the patients, sneaking rides in empty wheelchairs, or talking the ears off any nurses who would listen to me.

Most of the time, I would help my mom with her activities. In the morning we'd do armchair aerobics. Mom and I would sit in chairs facing the patients and they'd do the best they could to stretch their arms over their heads or lift their legs as the voice on the cassette tape instructed. If I close my eyes and it's quiet, I can still hear the lady's voice from the tape and the cheesy background music.

The afternoons would bring either Bingo or music from some volunteer group or if it was a special day, a birthday party. If the patients had been able to, though, they'd have played Bingo every day of the week. Mom was always stuck between a rock and a hard place with this as she was required by law to have variety in her activities. Whenever the health inspectors would visit, they would review her calendar of events to ensure there were different kinds of activities scheduled. Those poor patients, wanting all Bingo all the time and the mean old health department not caring one bit. My mom would have mercy on them though and substitute Bingo every once in a while for whatever the scheduled activity was.

At 5 or 6 or 7 p.m., we'd head home. The time we left would depend on if enough nurse's aides had shown up for the 3-11 p.m. shift and if help was needed serving the dinner trays. Since mom and I were family, we'd get tapped to help out. I remember one time we were at home on a weekend and my aunt Florence called saying she needed us to come in to help serve the dinner trays. I was so angry. I was a teenager by that time. It was her presumptuousness that drove me nuts. But we'd go in and help, as always. The patients came first with Florence, no matter what. For that reason, that nursing home was consistently one of the best in California.

I had an entirely different blog thought out for today until I started going through my SIR list. TooOldForThis' entry for today got me thinking about my nursing home roots. I only hope she can forgive me for sticking my nose where it didn't belong and giving her a presumptuous suggestion. It was born out of my past experiences and out of concern for a grandmother I've never met. I hope she understands that.
What is it about computer technicians that makes them so hot? I was at the office of our computer guys today having them look at a computer. I was already down that way to have a chest x-ray as part of my physical from a couple weeks ago (yes, it took me that long to go into the lab-place) so I figured I'd save us the travel charge and cart the CPU down there. Besides, they're way funny and 2 out of 3 of them are cute so why not? (Note on the 3rd guy: While I don't consider him hot, he's still very cute in a younger brother kind of way and he's extremely sweet.)

Anyhow, it got me to wondering about these computer guys. Are they like UPS deliverymen or firemen and they're required to be massively hot in order to get their jobs? Is this phenomena only happening in my world or do you party people find that your computer techie guys/UPS deliverymen/firemen are way hot too?

Maybe I could get a grant to research this....
Growing up I didn't have a proper door on my bedroom. Over the years, I had a pink, clear, and lavender beaded curtain type thing, a cheap wood-grain vinyl folding door thing, or nothing at all. Why my mother didn't just go buy a door and put it on there is beyond my comprehension and/or recollection. Why I didn't just go buy a door and put it on there once I started working and earning my own money is also something that makes me go "what the...?!". Anywho, when I finally moved into my own place, the first thing I did was go into my bedroom and shut. My. DOOR. I was stoked that I had a door on my bedroom. I'd stand in my bedroom doorway and open & shut my door over and over again. Shannon (who of course was my roommate) would just stand there and laugh at me. She understood why I was thrilled to have a door but she still laughed at me.

My first two cars were a 1974 Volvo which I had for around 2 years and then a 1988 Toyota pick-up truck. Neither car had cupholders nor did they have intermittent windshield wipers. I had my truck for 12 years, drove to Seattle and back during the month of January one year - in the rain and snow - without intermmittent wipers. When I bought the car I currently have in 2000, I was delighted to find it had both cupholders and intermittent wipers. I glory when I have to drive in the rain because I can recklessly switch between all kinds of different wiper speeds. I love going through the drive-thru and buying a drink because I have a cupholder in which to put it.

Silly little things but appreciated beyond belief by yours truly because of their absence in my life before they came along. It's the not having of things, feelings, relationships that makes them all the more appreciated and loved when I finally do have them.

Kinda like this internet message board/Xanga blog thing. I lived just fine without them before they came along. But in November of 2002, I stumbled across the Vartypants' Vigilantes' Love Lounge. I was an Alias/Michael Vartan fan at the time. I began posting messages on that message board because the people there were incredibly funny. I now have some really good friends because of that. Through my adopted little sister, Liz, I found Xanga when I decided to try out this blog doo-hickey. In the past 5 months, I've been interacting with some more incredible people and gotten to know my Vigilante friends even better than I did before. For me, the internet is a way to meet new friends and socialize. I'm not a barfly, even though I did my bar hanging out time when I was younger. I don't like going to clubs. But here, I meet people, get to know people, who have the same interests I do, who express themselves much in the same way I do. It's invaluable to me.

Thank you to all of you for being my friends. I appreciate you more than I could ever adequately express.
Whenever I hear moi, I instantly think of Miss Piggy. Maybe that tells you what you really need to know about what I'm like. My name is Lillian but I also go by Lil. I'm a 39 year old woman living in Southern California in what I refer to as The Commune. I live in a house with my best friend since high school, her husband who I've also known since high school, their daughter (The Niece) and her son (The Nephew) by her first husband. It's unorthodox but it works, kind of like me.

I'm coming up blank with what to write so this is going to sound like a really bad personal ad. I don't like pina coladas but I love getting caught in the rain, singing badly, using writing as catharsis, reading, hoarding office supplies and drinking too much Diet Coke, among other things. Words I'd use to describe me are kind, weird, loud, loyal, caring, occasionally idiotic and generally fiscally irresponsible but trying to do better.

Yeah, so that's me in a nutshell - and it's a damn big nutshell too. Like nuclear big.
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