Facing an Inner Debate Between a Sh*tstorm and a Clusterf*ck

stay-or-go

“Morality is the basis of things and truth is the substance of all morality.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Precious Readers,

I’m not what the repercussions for placing a Futurama-themed meme with a Gandhi quote are, but hopefully it’s all good.

As most of us know, life is complicated.  Tack on adolescence, dating, breakups, school, jobs, adulthood, marriage, kids, taxes, home ownership vs. renting, taking care of aging loved ones, etc.

What do you choose when someone places you in an impossible situation? A complete lose/lose? One where due to someone else’s actions, it sticks you with a moral and ethical dilemma, that will potentially make you the bad guy?

A friend of mine was placed into one of these no win, practically impossible to solve, situations. I won’t even provide this person a nickname, to give my friend and the other people involved their much needed privacy on this issue. However, it is weighing heavily on my heart and in my mind, and I propose the question to you as well. Although I’ve already nicknamed this friend in prior posts, for today, we will leave this friend as Friend X.

X spent several years studying for her hard-earned, and well deserved degree. As with many college students, X met others in her chosen field. This included a significant other we’ll call “Guy.” X and Guy grew from friendship during school, and briefly dated. This relationship included X meeting Guy’s family. Fairly serious. As time went on, X and Guy realized they were not destined to remain in a romantic relationship, opting instead to maintain a platonic relationship.

Over the next two years, X and Guy remained friends, Guy found a girlfriend who soon became Wife. X, Guy, and Wife all stayed friends with each other, and even kept in touch. X and Guy graduated, X moved back to Washington from school, and Guy stayed in their alma mater’s state with his Wife.

Fast forward eight years: Guy and Wife have two children, X is comfortable in a successful career, and periodically they all contact each other to see how life is treating them.

Guy had an opportunity to travel to the West Coast, and in doing so, called up X to reconnect after years of not hanging out face-to-face. X, being the friendly person X is, said “Sure!” and they decided to meet up for coffee. They arrive, had great conversation, laughed about life and love, all of the normal things a person does when reconnecting with old buddies.

As the conversation flowed, X was feeling like life was pretty darn good. Apparently, so was Guy, as he proceeded to then hit on my friend, X, inviting X up to Guy’s hotel room.

Yes, you read that correctly. Guy is still married, and still has a family of two kids with Wife.

X is a highly moral and ethical person. At Guy’s (indecent) proposal, X immediately said “No,” and things turned awkward. X got up from the table and left. All the while, Guy is apologizing and begging X not to tell Wife about Guy’s indecent proposal.

I was sitting at home, vegging out for a typical Friday afternoon to settle in for the weekend, when I received a text from X asking if I could meet up with her. After sorting out time and location, I met up with X and fell subject to X rehashing the uncomfortable events with Guy.

Thus came the dreaded question…

uh-oh

“What do I do? I feel horrible. Do I tell Wife? Do I let it go?”

I told X the following:

  • This is not your fault.
  • This is GUY’S fault.
  • I’m so sorry this happened.
  • I’m sorry Guy didn’t respect you, Wife, or his family enough to make such a poor decision.
  • He’s an asshole for attempting to step out on Wife.
  • He may even be a “nice guy,” who decided he had an opportunity (temptation) and decided to see if he could get away with it. Even though he loves Wife/kids. Just thought this “one time” he’d see if he could have a secret to himself.*

*He may even be a great husband/father. He may have just been too tempted to see if this one time he could do something out of character. Either way, it was a bad decision whether it was a continual habit of his, or a one-time thing.

As far as what X should do?  Well, this gets tricky. As a woman who has been in a long-term relationship and marriage with someone, I had to basically ask myself the following questions and gave my opinions as such:

Would I want to know?
For me, the answer is YES. I would want to know.

 

What was my significant other like before we were serious?
Was that person a player? Have they been flirty their whole life? Have we recently gotten bored, angry, upset, resentful of each other? Has the other person shown lack of interest in me? Have I shown lack of interest in them?

What about our kids?
This doesn’t really apply to me, specifically, as I don’t have kids. However, I would be lying if I thought that having children as part of our lives wouldn’t have any impact on how I move forward after receiving news that, according to an outside party, my significant other attempted to get some physical attention outside of our relationship. If we stayed, would we get counseling? Would we separate? How would we create new lives for ourselves? How do you talk to your children about it? Should you mention it to your children? I’m not an expert and have no basis for providing advice.

heart-couple-sitting

Was it a one-time thing, or a long-term affair?
Now, I can’t speak for myself for either of these situations how I would react, as I have not had to face this particular situation before. Not belittling one betrayal over another, a betrayal is what it is, no matter how long it has been going on. That being said, there are relationships that are able to move past a discretion (or several). Each relationship is as unique as a fingerprint. I can’t say for myself.

And the overall question that everyone has to ask themselves:

Do I believe it?
I would take what was said, say thank you to the messenger, and end the conversation. After walking away, I would have to take in the messenger’s character into debate. I would have to take Pilot’s character into debate. Then, make a decision about our future together.

Pilot and I have a mutual understanding that we’re not just “desperate to not die alone,” we’re not “staying together because we’ve been together for so long,” it’s not “we’re together because I didn’t want to break up with you,” and we’ve agreed to never, “stay together because we have children together.” We make a daily conscious effort to choose each other as a life partner because we want** the other person.

We choose to say to each other:

  • I care about what happens to you.
  • I enjoy spending my time with you.
  • I value, treasure, and celebrate your existence as a human being.
  • How you feel has an effect on how I feel.
  • I feel better when you are happy.
  • I choose to support you emotionally because I want to.
  • I choose and make an effort to prove that I should be the person you can count on, because I want to be that person.
  • I find you continually, and increasingly, incredibly attractive and enjoy being around your divine buns.

Ok, that last part might have been TMI.

**Note, I said “want.” I did not say “need.” I never want to be needed or need someone else. I only need God. It’s up to God, Pilot’s choices, and my choices to be sure that it’s right to share our lives with each other.

SO, WHAT DO I/YOU DO?

All of these thoughts ran through my mind as my friend patiently waited form me to gather my thoughts and work them out in my head. The added factor was, since Wife was in a faraway state, there was no way for friend X to be able to talk to Wife in person. It would have to be via phone or email. This isn’t verbatim, but this is a paraphrased version of what I said to her:

“Well, friend X:  If it were my significant other (SO), I’d want to know. I don’t know what I’d do with that information after I was told, but it would depend on who told me, what the circumstances were with my relationship with SO and the situation SO was in when the incident occurred. It gets tricky since Guy and Wife have children. You definitely should tell her. It sucks and is horrible that Guy didn’t respect you enough and forced you into this rock and hard place. He’s an asshole and needs to be held responsible for his actions. I think you should tell Wife that you are in no way interested in him, that you refused him immediately, that you left right after it happened, and have made no contact with him since.

“You should be mentally prepared for one of the following reactions from Wife, and be able to live with it:

  • Wife blames you/freaks out and she cuts ties with you. You must be ready for that kind of reaction. It sucks, but it’s true.
  • Wife doesn’t believe you, calls you a liar, and she cuts ties with you.
  • Wife believes you, but she blames you/freaks out/harasses you. You need to be prepared to cut ties with her.
  • Wife believes you, thanks you for the information. She still cuts ties with you because it will be painful.
  • Wife believes you, thanks you for the information. She keeps in touch. (This would be highly tricky to navigate, and probably most unlikely.)
  • Some combination of the above.

“No matter what, however Wife reacts is on Guy and her. It has nothing to do with you. Guy’s terrible choice is what causes Wife’s reaction. Not you. Also, however she chooses to move forward with this information is between Wife and Guy. Whether they stay together or not, that’s between them. Either way, you are just the messenger, and it is not your fault. It’s GUY’S fault. We can only hope they choose to get counseling, or choose to be happy apart. Either way, it’s up to them to decide how to repair their own hearts. Not you. You did nothing wrong.

heart-safety-pin

I further offered that if X decided to write Wife an email, I’d be happy to go over it with fresh eyes to ensure nothing could be misunderstood.

Now, Precious Readers, as I said, friend X is an incredibly ethical and moral person. So much so, she tends to blame herself for things that are beyond her control. I’m sure if I asked her today, she’d still feel guilty. This is victim blaming. It is not her fault. Friend X: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

So what happened?

A few weeks later, friend X and I got back together and had coffee. X shared that she ended up calling Wife and had a phone conversation.

It turned out this was not the first time this had happened between Guy and Wife. This asshat had tried to hit on one of his/Wife’s friends a couple of years earlier. At the time, they decided to work through it. Looks like another decision will have to be made.

Wife ended up thanking X. X had luckily adhered to my advice that no matter how much Wife wanted to further discuss the situation or require guidance of how to proceed, the decision should ultimately be made between Wife and Guy, and that X was “just the messenger.” Going any further into decision making was ill advised.

Did Guy and Wife stay together, you may ask? I have no idea. Their relationship direction is between them.

What would you have done in that situation? Leave comments*** below.

***ANY comments deemed victim shaming will be immediately removed from this blog. While I believe in healthy debate, I also believe in respectful debate. ANY comments deemed hurtful, shaming, blaming, or otherwise may and will be removed. Let’s keep it kind. When in doubt, be kind.

It’s Simple: Everybody Love Everybody

Precious Readers,

It breaks my heart to announce that over the weekend, another one of the students, a mere sophomore at the area I work in, committed suicide. I regret to inform you that I can no longer count the combined number of suicides and deaths by shooting in my area. My heart and prayers go out to this child’s family and loved ones. Out of respect for the family, I will comment no further on this particular incident.

The environment has been sorrowful, confusing, and heartbreaking. These are our community’s children. They are our future who have dashed their chances of changing the world, to love, and to be loved. They’ve barely scraped the surface of life. I know when I was in school, that felt mostly adult. Now, in my 30’s I can easily say, they’re kids. They’re children.

Let me assure you, we care about ALL of the kids. We care about their home life. We care about preserving their future.

WE CARE.

There are so many behind the scenes planning, processes, and protections in place for students, and even more so for students who ask for help.

WE CARE.

We have a team of counselors, a psychologist, and of course, the well-trained Admin team. Believe me, Admins do not take that job if they don’t have a passion for helping kids.

WE CARE.

It’s hard to be the first face these students see when theirs are soaked with tears, pain, and fear. It’s hard to not want to run over, hug all of them, and tell them that we’ll find a way to get through this together. That the world gets better. Life is so much MORE than high school. That life is worth living and experiencing. We have to be professional, but caring.

But, WE CARE.

I usually can’t do much, but I do what I can. It’s the small things. Listening to a person to vent their frustrations, or talk with them through it. It’s letting someone have a quiet moment to collect their thoughts. It’s offering a tissue when you and they have no words. It’s the little check ins of “Hey, how are you? Haven’t talked to you in a while.” Sitting silently with someone while they process their pain. I firmly believe it’s the little things that make such a difference, and it’s within my power to do so.

I CARE ABOUT YOU.

I come across hyper, manic, and over-interested when I ask how you are. I could blame the caffeine, but I can’t. I truly care about people. Whether we’re longtime friends and family, or if we’re only mere acquaintances, or have only met once, I genuinely care about what is going on in your life. Your adventures. during sad/bad times, and to support and celebrate the good things, both little and big.

I care about you. I care about us. I care about our world. I don’t care if you’re black, white, gay, straight, bi, gender-fluid, male, female, somewhere outside or in between. I want to see who you ARE. I don’t care what you look like. I will always support and do everything within my means to help you.

People, fellow human beings, I ask you one thing: Just love each other. SUPPORT each other, even if they’re different from you. Stop the petty bickering, the passive-aggressive “holier than thou” attitudes, the elitism. Let go of your ego. As of late, it feels like all I’ve heard from people’s mouths are words of disgust and ignorant hateful comments about our fellow human beings. Our fellow people. Our brothers and sisters of life.

Let’s not make a stand against each other, don’t criticize each other, don’t put each other down, let’s not judge each other. No matter your personal beliefs. Let’s end the hate. Let’s end the ignorance. Let’s break down the barrier that prevents us from seeing what is happening with others.

For me, it’s simple: If you respect me, I respect you. If you don’t respect me, I may not spend time with you anymore. But, if you were ever in trouble or hurt, I will willingly help you to the best of my ability. Even if we haven’t seen each other in years, I will always care about what is going on with you.

I am here with you, supporting you, cheering for you, ready to help you, whether you want it or not. I’m standing with you, ready to face whatever it is you’re facing. If it’s beyond my means, I will go out and find someone better qualified to stand with you on one side, with me on the other side. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When help is asked it is ALWAYS provided!

Let’s travel through life together. With each other. You’re not alone.

Resources:
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://twloha.com/

https://afsp.org/

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/suicide.html

 

#EverybodyLoveEverybody #LifeLessons #SuicidePrevention #ToWriteLoveOnHerArms

show me one without it. i’d bet you’re bored off your ass

The only motivator worth mentioning.

As an aspiring romance novelist, most people think our only focus is on meet-cutes with rainbows and unicorns. Ongoing stories of, “Oh my guy doesn’t like me anymore. Therefore, I hate him. Now he loves me again. Yea! [The End].”

Well, I’m here to tell you, that simply isn’t true.  Those types of stories can get very taxing to a serial reader like myself.  Not just taxing, boring.

As a matter of fact, I tend to be drawn more to mysteries and thrillers. Stories with a sense of danger has always been appealing. If you couldn’t tell from my previous post, I love Halloween. So, of course, some of my favorite go-to-stories have some element of a question needing to be solved, or the thrill of a good cat-and-mouse game, with a heavy dash of “I don’t know if we’re going to make it.”

For example: I’ve been hooked on ABC’s Revenge since the beginning.  Now here’s a show that has some serious moments. There’s violence, conspiracy and even some espionage.

I know, I’m broaching television. I was a child of the 90’s which should equate to: grew up on MTV.

Video killed the radio star… Video killed the radio star… Ok, ok. I’m done now.

You may not think of Revenge as a romance, and you would be right.  But as you may recall, romance has several subgenres.  Some of its most popular subgenres are mystery, thriller, paranormal, historical, contemporary, etc.

Basically come up with any genre and add the suffix “-romance” to it, and you’re golden.

Revenge has a primary focus of drama and suspense.  But look more closely, (it’s actually not that difficult, the writers aren’t exactly subtle) and you’ll notice some definite romantic elements which can have a direct-impact to our main plotline.

Representing the classic Love Triangle: Emily, Jack and Daniel.

Now, with Season 2 the writers have introduced Ashley as part of the mix. So now, it’s become a love… square?

Young Love and Coming of Age stores represented by Declan and Charlotte.

Pining for Lost Love with Victoria and the deceased David.

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate: Victoria and Conrad. (Although for most of the show it’s in the latter half of that split.)

Baby Mama Drama with Faux-Manda (Amanda) and Jack.

Wait a tick. That goes with the first one. Are we now at a love pentagon? This is starting to get messy.

And let’s not forget dear Nolan who butters both sides of the bread.

Yeah. Not touching that one with a 40-foot pole.

Ok, I can’t help myself.  “That’s what she said.”

Sometimes you may find yourself asking why romance is often thrown into the mix of a non-romantic plotline, or get frustrated when love is on the line. Well, I’ll tell you exactly why romance is important to the plot of any interesting story.

Romance is an important element to any piece of writing.  In real life, it can cause one to do amazing things.  (Sometimes absolutely horrifying, but nonetheless amazing.)  If romance can affect people all over the world, each and every day, how can you not write something without it?

We’re not talking about news articles. But look at the news: In the real world, people commit crimes of passion every day.

How many times have you watched or read something where the antagonist had some root beginning where either they had to sacrifice someone or something they love prior to becoming so antagonist-y?  Not necessarily to agree with his/her actions, but at least you empathize with his/her situation.  Or perhaps the hero is able to become a semi or full superhero due to either: a) finding out the one they love returns the feeling; b) finding their love interest is in danger and must rescue; or c) their love interest is in danger and hero(ine) must fight attacker back?

Noticing a theme here?  Love is a powerful motivator.  This is so important, I’ll say (write) it again.

LOVE IS A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR.

Yeah, I used an underline. That’s how serious I am.

For an author, romance can be an important way to develop a character.  It gives the author an opportunity to show their characters as human and vulnerable.

A good example of this: Romance brings out sides that soften a tough character.

Hellooo bad boys!

Or bring a little spice to characters who have friction between them.

Think James Bond and… well, basically all Bond girls.

It can even be the reason the events of the story are happening in the first place.

A campy, more recent example: the film Dark Shadows based on the soap opera.  The whole basis of that film was a curse between a witch and a man. Because he did not return her love, she cursed the man to being a vampire for the rest of his (eternal) days.

In some cases, even more dangerous than previously believed.

In Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Shoshanna convinced her love to sacrifice themselves in a mass killing of several high-powered Nazis in revenge of the death of her family and the events occurring during WWII.

Surprise!  That’s right! I LOVE action films! One of the things Pilot was very happy to discover about me, I cannot get enough action films. In fact, I’m a huge Quentin Tarantino fan.

So riddle me this: How many stories were truly entertaining without a little touch of the lovin’ stuff in there? Most hero films always have a love interest. You can’t have a coming of age story without some form of young love. Love is a good thing. Romance is a good thing.  It’s a topic I’m passionate about in writing and in my real life.

Heck, a major part of my decision to go to CWU was to follow a boy I loved.  And, although I did end up falling in love there, it was not with whom I intended (and VERY MUCH for the better).  But nonetheless, my main motivation for gambling with my education and future was all because of a boy.

So what about you, Precious Readers?  Have you ever made a life decision that was motivated by love or romance?  What were some life events that were the direct result of love-motivation, or the result of a failed love?  Share some of your experiences here.

it’s like picking a favorite child

Everyone has a few.

Well, my first was out of my control. I was shipped UPS-style at the age of six months, traveling internationally to meet my new family.

I still wonder if I should tattoo a bar code on the bottom of my foot with the words “Made In Korea” on the other.

Fun Fact: All photos of my airport arrival had a gift shop in the background. The top of each photograph said, “Tax and Duty Free.”  My mother claims this was a major false advertisement on the adoption agency’s part, and demands a refund from them.  If I can find the photo, I’ll post it.

Another was betting on my future by not applying to the UW.

Besides, as a very strong, high B-average student, I doubt my GPA would have gotten me in.

Letting go of the past and opening my heart to Pilot.

One of the best decisions ever.  I finally have someone who will attend hockey games with me and thinks my ridiculousness is “cute.” I would prefer he had said something more along the lines of “genius,” “trendsetting,” or “Pulitzer-worthy,” but hey, you can only ask for so much, right?

The night my dad passed away.

I can only hope that I bring a small amount of happiness to my mom, even though I know I’ll never be enough to fill that loss.

Being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

I’m not going to compare my lame-ass experience with those of true cancer survivors. Mine was caught very early, thanks to a great doc and new technology. I am in no way a cancer survivor. Cancer survivors are true heroes with more courage than I can imagine. I was… grazed (?) by cancer, if that makes any sense.

The day I said “Really?”  (That’s a story for another day.)

And, my absolute favorite day, and each day since then, was the day I said “I do.” (Also a story for another day.)

Aww… More sappy moments.  Are you sick of me yet?

I’ll warn you. Pilot and I are the smoochy “Bewitched”-like couple. The Samantha and Darren Stevens couple who makes everyone else want to hurl.  (Except the baby talk. I can’t stand people who “baby talk” each other. I don’t even “baby talk” babies.  Their brains are like sponges, they absorb everything. Do I really want to be responsible for the person who thinks “ga ga goo goo” is a phrase? Bitch, please.)

These are moments that not only tested me, they made me surprise myself and others.  Included in these experiences is the day I began this blog and made a dedication to myself and to you, my very precious viewers, that I would write and do everything (morally and legally) within my power to become a good, succesful, multiple-times-over published author.

What were some of your most defining moments?  The ones that pivoted your life in a new direction? How did they change you? Was it worth the change?

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 19: Today is a day that will change your characters life forever. What course of events occurs? How does your character react? Write a scene from this day.

I’m so sick of waiting…

This is terrifying…

I’m so excited…

Each of these thoughts simultaneously ran through her mind as she tapped her fingernails on oak dining room table.

“All right, honey. I have the suitcase in the car, and we’re ready to go.” Oliver stepped through archway, anticipation twinkled in his eyes.

Sylvie pushed herself up from her chair and he guided her to their sedan.  Well, here goes nothing, she thought.

As they drove down I-5, she watched the buildings sweep past her window.  In a soft voice, Oliver turned briefly to look at her.  “Now, honey everything is going to be fine,” as slipped his hand in hers.

“I know. I just don’t know what’s going to happen.  We’re as prepared as we can be, but…” she looked down at her protruding stomach.  “I’m scared.”

“Oh Sylvie, don’t worry. I’m going to be right there with you.”

At 8:03 am, Pacific Time, Sylvie was induced.

~~~

Seven hours, forty-nine minutes and eleven, now twelve, seconds later…

~~~ 

“It’s not a baby, it’s a damn elephant!” Sylvie screamed.  “Give me the epidural! I want the epidural!”

“Just two more pushes, honey!  You can do it, Sylvie!  Just breathe!”  Oliver was a pillar of calm and she wanted to deck him straight into the New Year.  Focus.  Focus on your breathing. Sylvie bit down and breathed as slowly as she could though her teeth.

“Hoo-hoo! Hee!”

She wanted to boil whoever insisted she not use painkillers. Oh wait, she convinced herself of that.  Natural is best, my ass, she thought. But her thoughts vanished as quickly as they appeared when another wave of pain shot through her body, causing her back to go into spasms unlike anything she had ever experienced before.

“It’s ok, Sylvie! You’re doing great!  Now push! Push!

“I can’t!” she cried, squeezing her eyes shut.  “I can’t do this anymore! Make it stop. Oh god, make it stop!”

“Just one more push, Sylvie. You can do it,” Dr. Gustafson said encouragingly.

“Sylvie, look at me!”Oliver’s voice drifted through the waves of pain that were drowning her.

She opened eyes.  Oliver’s deep brown eyes were full of determination, compassion and love as he held her gaze.

“Honey, I love you. I’ve loved you since the day you threw that Frisbee at my face and knocked out my tooth-”  Breathe. Keep breathing.

“One more push,” Dr. Gustafson ordered.  Sylvie pushed with all of the strength she had left, which wasn’t much.

“-and I know you’re tired, and I know you want to give up, but I won’t let you.” Oliver continued to look into her eyes.  “You’re the woman who never gave up on anything. You’re a fighter! You’ve never let me win anything without a fight,-”

Sylvie screamed as the pain consumed her.  Sweat was blending with her tears now, dripping down her face.

“I can see the head,” Dr. Gustafson commanded.  “Keep pushing, Sylvie! Just one more!”

“-and I know you’re going to fight for our baby!  Don’t you want to meet our baby?”

She barely stopped herself from biting straight through her lip.

“So I know that you’re going to do this Sylvie! You’re going to push because I know you love our baby as much as I love you!”  A searing white light blinded her, tearing her in half.

Silence.

A cry pierced the air.

Sylvie slumped back against the pillow, sobbing.

“It’s a healthy baby girl!” Dr. Gustafson announced as he handed the tiny pink blob to the nurse.

“You did it, honey!” Oliver whispered as tears ran down his face.  He silenced her crying as he possessed her mouth firmly.  “She’s beautiful, Sylvie. She’s beautiful, just like you.”

The nurse handed Sylvie the tiny, crying blob, wrapped in a soft blanket and already wearing a little pink hat that was too big and came to a point at the tip.

“Oh,” Sylvie whispered.  “Oh my god.” Her breath caught in her throat as she looked down at the tiny face, the tiny hands and feet.  Ten little fingers. Ten little toes.

Sylvie barely heard Dr. Gustafson congratulating her Oliver.  All the noise and memory of the pain faded wayside as she looked at the face of the miniscule person screaming in her arms.

She looked wide-eyed up at Oliver.  “You’re a daddy, Ollie.”  He brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes.  A warm glow settled on both of them as he beamed at her.

“So what should we call her?” he asked softly, as he kissed the baby’s head.

“Perfect,” she whispered.

“No,” Oliver chuckled softly.  He kissed her again.  “That’s you.”

i wish that i knew what i know now, when i was younger

Happy, happy, happy… happy… happy… oh, forget it.

By the time this post is added to the airwaves, I will officially be one year older.

Today is my birthday. Lucky me. <rolls eyes.>

That’s right. Pilot and I have our birthdays four days apart. (I would like to point out that he is one year older. Sorry, Pilot.) I’ve compiled a list of things I wish someone had told me when I was younger:

5. Question everything.  In school, I would greatly annoy my teachers by constantly asking questions. I wasn’t one of the kids asking “why” six or seven times in a row. They were legitimate questions due to my ever-growing curiosity.  Somewhere along junior high through mid-college I had stopped learning to ask questions. In my current job, asking questions is actually encouraged. Not always at the time I ask it, but the question is still appreciated. I had to slowly gain the confidence that it is all right to want to understand the bigger picture. How is one supposed to improve themselves and others around them, if they have no fucking idea what’s going on?

4. It’s ok to not know what you want. Talent and skill knows no age, race or gender.  So many youngsters and teens are bombarded with the question, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Honestly. How many of you actually enjoyed this question?  I know I hated it.

I spent years trying to come up with some job title to impress and even went as far to convince myself that I wanted it.  But in reality? I felt completely clueless. I think it’s because I denied wanting to be a writer/artist.  I had grown up with the phrases, “those jobs don’t make any money,” “You’re wasting your time,” “Hope you enjoy being homeless,” etc.  Well guess what?  I’m on the wrong side of my 20’s, married, and I STILL rent an apartment, have a decent job, but don’t make any money due to our crapshoot of an economy, and I STILL ended up pursuing a job focused on writing and art.

Do you know how much angst, migraines and stress I could have avoided if someone had just said, “Cool, go for it. Do what you must to keep a roof over your head while you pursue that goal, but go for it!”?  If someone had just acknowledged that pursuing those goals was “OK” but that I just might have to do some other work while I go through this journey, I might have avoided years of denying my love of the written word being seen by the world. Perhaps I would even be published by now.

Did you know the book P.S. I Love You was written by a 19-year-old?

3. You don’t have to want the American Dream.  The typical American wants marriage, a house, a yard, 2.5 kids-

You’ve got to feel sorry for that poor kid who was sliced in half. I mean, really. That has to suck major ball sack.

Do you want to know what I consider success for myself by the time I’m 70?  Being published and continually successful, (duh), living in a non-traditional home-

You can imagine Pilot’s delight when he heard this statement from me. He then proceeded to show me “Residential Hangars” on the interwebs. Yes, my name is Katherine and I choose to live in a residential hangar someday.  Other pilots: jealous, much?

-and maybe kids.  That’s right, you heard me. MAYBE.

When I first met Pilot, I didn’t want any children. Don’t misunderstand me. I love kids. I’ve babysat more than my share, worked in summer camps, and have 13 nieces and nephews ranging from infancy to 16-years-old, whom I love dearly and would give my life for without hesitating. I think children are our most precious resource, because without well-educated and supported children, this country has no future.

I just didn’t want to have my own children. (My reasons are long and tedious, much longer than this post will allow. Those points will be for another day.)

I love that 99% of my graduating high school class is married and on their second or third child by now. They seem truly happy in their choices

However, if I look at my life as it is today:

I work a soul-killing job to support Pilot and myself until writing is full-time for me and Pilot earns a multi-year contract in teaching, had a thyroid cancer scare during Christmas, and Pilot’s large, baked-potato-sized tumor (which was right next his spine) removal surgery, and barely able to cover all of our bills. Tack on an America with foreclosures, bankruptcy and dealing with one of the worst economies the U.S. has seen in decades.

The idea of bringing a child into the hot mess of life while Pilot and I are just scrimping it together after all of this crap has only just settled would probably have pushed us both completely over the edge.

I thank God everyday for birth control.

2. Be confident in your own skin, whatever shade it may be. Being an adopted Korean with German parents attending schools where I was one of five TOTAL minority children in the entire school was bound to give a girl a complex. Add in prescription glasses needed at the tender age of five, during the ‘80’s (an era I like to describe as a Fashion Decade of Hell we did not experience, but humanity survived through), and I was a walking target, complete with bulls eye and zoom-goggles for my bullies.  (Yes, I was bullied a lot as a child, that’s a different issue for another day.)

With my time either being split between people trying to guess “what” I was-

The kicker with these interesting conversations, was after someone asking me if I was Chinese or Japanese, I would answer that I was born Korean. To which, I was promptly met with the answer “No, that’s not right. That doesn’t sound right. You must be [enter more commonly-known Asian ethnicity of your choosing here].”

-or asking if I was an exchange student-

Asking such question in loud, slow voices, I might add.  America, as much as I am proud to be part of this country, and proud that I am an American citizen, we have a seriously long way to go on how we treat Asians (or any other minority) in this country. It is assumed that if one is not Caucasian, this is equivalent to the automatic inability to speak English. In addition, there is the bonus concept that if one does not speak English, one is obviously deaf as well.

What’s that? Yes, please speak slower and louder. That will magically make someone understand the English language instantaneously in comparison to the pacing and volume of your sentence two seconds prior.

-I was also dressed in turtlenecks, plaid skirts and yarn tights with buckle shoes, with the addition of pigtails.

Side note to parents: Just because a look is “cute” to you does not give you permission to purposefully add fire to the flame of having your beloved child’s ass kicked.

It took me years to learn that I was never going to be 5’10”, blonde or blue eyed, (or at least without some considerable and pricy cosmetic surgery and hair dye), and to accept my body for as it was. A (barely) 5’5”, somewhat stocky stature with black hair that grows curlier by the year. (Yes, I am an Asian with black, curly hair. That photo you see of me in the corner? That’s after a lot of work with mousse, a hair dryer and flat iron.)

I’m much happier in my skin and learned to look at the more positive things about my outer-appearance than I was as a teen, desperately waiting for the second round of braces to be complete.

My husband, Pilot tells me I’m the best of both worlds. I’m his hot Asian wife, but I’m technically German because of my family, who surprises people and helps break down stereotypes with a goofy, but approachable, intellectual attitude.

I prefer the term German-By-Association-American.

1. The one you love may not love you. Poor Pilot, I put him through complete and total hell because I was actually in love with another man when we met. (NOTE: I was not in a relationship with someone else when I met Pilot. Pilot was and always would be, my first boyfriend.)

There was a boy I was in love with growing up. We were best friends from junior high through our first year of college together. Our families were close, and they even vacationed together. Now that I’m older, I wish someone would have stopped and shook me, saying, “If Randy* hasn’t recognized that you love him after [enter any number between 2-7 years of your choosing], he never will be.”

*Name has been changed for privacy

Our first year of college changed everything. He ended up leaving college and getting into the party scene. I channeled my heartbreak into not eating, not sleeping and studying like crazy. (Although I will admit, I earned a place on the Dean’s list my first quarter at college.

A feat never to be accomplished again throughout my college career. <sigh.>

No, I don’t think the heartbreak would have been any considerable amount lessened, but I would have gotten over him eventually, and perhaps opened my heart up sooner to Pilot. Pilot had been a great friend and practically a literal boy-next-door for me during this whole ordeal, being patient as our relationship grew closer over time.  (Pilot lived about five doors down from my dorm on the same floor, while my heart was torn out by my best friend in a dorm literally above me on the upper floor.

One of the things I will be sure to teach my children is: Do not to be afraid of love, but be prepared if they might not love them back. And to think about how they will handle this realization.

As my all-time favorite film, Sabrina (the Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear version), there is a moment where Sabrina is talking with her mentor. Her mentor, Irene advises thoughtfully:

Irene:  Is it this David you mentioned casually 30, 40 times when you first came over? He sounds perhaps very much like an illusion.

Sabrina:  He keeps me company.

Irene:  You think so? Illusions are dangerous people. They have no flaws. I came here from Provence. Alone, uneducated. For eight months… No, more than that, a year… I sat in a café, drank coffee, and wrote nonsense in a journal. And then somehow, it was not nonsense. I went for long walks, and I met myself in Paris. You seem… Embarrassed by loneliness. By being alone. It’s only a place to start.

Randy was such an illusion. Never losing my belief in true love, it gave me a wiser approach to falling in love. This experience allowed me to be realistic and not indulge an overinflated crush, but open myself to a real love and a real relationship with Pilot. Recognizing his endless list of good points, some of his flaws, and accept him exactly as he is, eyes wide open, no aftermath surprises. I am actually grateful for that heartbreak. I was young, naïve and in a one-sided relationship that clouded my judgment for several years.  Looking back, I recognize now, Randy and I would never have been a good fit. Although I believe that opposites do attract and can have successful, healthy relationships, I much prefer being with Pilot who I have endless things in common with, along with each of us being stronger in the areas the other is weaker in. We build each other up together, instead of one of us building up the other all the time.

But all in all, I think the biggest thing for me to recognize is that without these experiences, they would not have shaped me into who I am today.  A confident, honest, and moral person who happens to have a touch of a ridiculous and dry wit humor that would make any civilized patron shoot pop out their nose.  So maybe having all of those things happen when they did, learning those lessons in the amount of time they took and experiencing them with the people I did was just as important as the lesson themselves.  What do you think?

What are some of life’s lessons that you wish you had known at a younger age? Do you think it would have made a difference?

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 17: Your character has fallen in love. With who? Is it serious? Are they in a relationship with this person? How did they meet? Write a scene of your character either contemplating this significant other or directly interacting with them.

Hmm… These DWC’s are beginning to sound similar to each other.

After hanging up the phone, Josh checked his hair in the reflection of his monitor.  Crap.  His hair always seemed to be sticking up in the back, a cowlick that he was born, and cursed with.  His mom had always called it his rooster tail.

“Oh sweetheart, don’t worry about it,” she’d say with a wave of her hand.  “Besides, it makes you look taller!”

Seated at his gray desk, in his gray cubicle, in the gray room, (or the Pit, as he liked to call it), the Information Technology wing was pretty bland with ten cubicles grouped together in the center of it with harsh fluorescent lighting.  The blisteringly dull and blue-toned light fixtures always seemed to flicker at just the right frequency to give someone slightly more than a headache, but not seizure-inducing.  Mostly the people that worked on the team spent their days playing various types of MMORPG’s, blogged about how uneventful their lives had turned out hoping somewhere amongst the world wide web that someone was listening, while answering the most basic, inane questions for the bigwigs over the phone.  What amazing use of his master’s degrees in computer science and robotics from Yale had made.

But now he had a chance to break his routine; and not only that, but go upstairs and talk to Sydney.  He smoothed his hair out the best he could and stood up, only to spill coffee on to his shirt.  He held his shirt out and looked at it, shaking his head and sighed.  He attempted to clean the large brown spot that was starting to grow by swiping some of his neighbor’s clear soda onto it, but realized it was losing battle and gave up.

Being thirty-three and still single, he had tried dating other women, but it was hopeless.  Sure, they were all nice girls: friendly, polite, and into computers and understanding the connection people had with each other through technology like he did; but, they just weren’t Sydney.  He couldn’t get her out of his head.  As her computer seemed to shut down on a regular basis, he would fix it and she would take him out to coffee afterward as a thank you.  At least he got to chat with her once in awhile.  The always had a good working relationship, but he had wanted it to be more.  Over the last couple years, he’d grown fond of her and was heartsick.  Most of his dates ended up him sitting across the table from a perfectly good, and sometimes willing, woman, and all he could do was think about how different she was from Sydney.  He thought back to the first time they met.

It had been a frosty January morning and Sydney arrived at the Pit in a calm, but frantic manner.  The contrast between her very professional and pulled together outfit with the darting of her eyes back and forth, sweeping across the room looking for someone to help her was amusing.  And cute.  She had worn a sleek red pencil skirt and a black knitted turtleneck that hugged her curves in all the right places.  Her shoes had one of those toothpick-like heels to them.  Stilettos?  Is that what they were called?  Josh was never really into fashion.  The last time he’d been “shopping” was his birthday when his mom and sister had given him a bunch of shirts and some pants.  He was thankful they’d provided a belt because stuff usually fit pretty loosely.  At least it was comfortable.

He recalled her striking long black hair that grazed her shoulder blades.  In the times he’d seen her walking through the lobby and into the elevator, she’d usually kept it sleek and tied back into a tight ponytail.  But that day, she had it flowing loosely around her face; he’d thought about how much it had softened her and he wanted to reach out his fingers and feel what it would feel like between his fingers.  She was so quintessentially female, soft and curvy, and lovely against the harsh lines of the boxy, gray cubicle-land he worked in.  Thinking about her hair tangled in his fingers, made him think other ways he’d like his body to be tangled with hers.  This caused him to become hard, and was grateful she wanted to sit down an explain her problem (in some great detail he might add), which gave him time to focus on work and calm the rush of heat that had spread to his body so he could actually stand up to go to her office later.

Raising his arm to signal her, she had peered across the room, her eyes settling on his gaze.  Noticing her deep blue eyes, he thought he had caught a hidden twinkle he couldn’t really describe, and thinking about that little glimmer of trouble had left him mesmerized, and admittedly turned on, thinking about what it would be like to gaze into them in a dimly lit room… Say his bedroom… for the rest of that fateful day.  Taking a deep breath and straightening her shoulders, she walked straight towards him and he’d managed to take a glance at her long, sinuous steps that caused her hips to sway ever so slightly, a look of relief washing over her face.  She explained how she was new to the company and had just been issued a new laptop that wasn’t turning on.

Normally, he’d ask her the same series of questions, “Is your computer on?” or “Is it plugged in?” and so on.  But after a few minutes, he realized she was really sharp and not one of those flighty bigwigs that normally ran the company.  Following her to her incredibly huge office (almost the size of the Pit, and all for one person!) he sat at her desk, fixing her computer the first of what was to be many, many times in the future.  He knew she cursed the damned thing, but he was entirely, internally, grateful.  Sydney invited him out for coffee to thank him for his help, the first in a long line of coffee breaks they would share.  Apparently his help saved her from almost losing a major account on a marketing campaign she was leading.  At the time, he had been thrilled she asked him out.  It wasn’t until halfway through their conversation he heard about a new guy she had met named Michael.  They weren’t serious yet at that point, but he could tell her focus was definitely not on himself.

Josh remembered meeting Michael a week later at the company holiday party.  The corners of his mouth turned down slightly at the memory.  Michael Ross was tall with brown hair, but Michael had those weird, cheesy blonde streaks in it and he had that sleekness to him.  Michael was one of those guys that made life look easy, like each person naturally walked out of bed looking like a model everyday, worked an overly-well paying job and went home with women like Sydney as if it was the natural order of things.

One of his suits probably cost more than Josh’s car.

He pushed the up button on the wall and waited for the elevator.  He felt a slight tug on his heart at being able to spend a few minutes with Sydney, but it was soon overshadowed by longing and loneliness as he stepped into the cold, gray elevator.  He was lovesick over a woman who didn’t love him, but had ruined him for other women as well.

The gorgeous ones always seemed to be taken.

he may not wear red underwear, but i’m ok with that

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh, wait… Yeah, it IS a plane. Never mind. <Shrug.>

Although it may technically be Sept. 15th at 1:00am, I’m still living in the past 24-hours of it being Sept. 14th. Sept. 14th marks one of the greatest days in history.  It’s Pilot’s birthday.

There are many reasons why I love Pilot, but this post would never be finished. So, instead, I thought I would write about why Pilot excels far beyond Superman.

1. He’s a sexy nerd.  Clark Kent was a mild-mannered English nerd. Writing for The Daily Planet, Mr. Superman himself was the geeky guy of the office, just short of Jimmy the photographer.  You may think that the reason I call my husband, Pilot is because his job is being a pilot. Well you’d be wrong.  Pilot is actually a special-education teacher. To this day, he amazes me his ability to connect with students who experience an exceptionally difficult time with learning, or developing the skills needed to improve. His love for science and math knows no bounds, to which I thank God for because I can’t succeed in science and math to save my life (although he and I did very well in an astronomy class together.

Me: What a great night! Ellensburg’s skies are so clear!

Pilot: Yeah! Here, let’s go to this field and setup. I’ll pour the hot chocolate.

Passerby 1: Hey! Is that a bong? It’s huge!

Me: <indignant, setting hands on hips and frowning.> No, it is not a bong. It’s a telescope. See? <points to eyepiece.>

Passerby 2: Sweet! Party time! <calls to friends in distance.> Hey! Check this chick out! She has the biggest bong I’ve ever seen!

Me: It is NOT a bong! It is a highly functional TELESCOPE! Look! You can see Venus and Mars, right there!

Passerby 1: Cool! It’s multi-functional!

Me: <shakes fist, screeching at Passersby 1 & 2.> Listen, cretins! Just because you’ve lost some brain cells does not mean you need to corrupt mine with your incessant insistence that my telescope is a device for drug use!

Passerby 2: Way to party little lady <pats the top of my head.>

Me: Argh!

Pilot: Sweetie, I think it’s time we move to a different field.

Just as Superman disguises himself to be a simple and plain man, but is all super-hunky man of steel in reality, my Pilot is a seemingly boy-next-door guy, but is superhero to children and helping them have a fighting chance in this world.  Plus, listening to him explain space’s gravitational patterns for each planet with his toothy-white grin is sexy as hell.  And besides, I’m the (maybe not-so-mild-mannered) English nerd in this relationship.

2. Ok, so he does fly a little bit. Like Superman, my Pilot is also, well a pilot. Before Washington changed its laws of age limitations for obtaining a pilot’s license, he took his first flying lesson at the tender age of 13. He literally flew a plane before ever driving a car. The way he’s better than Superman, is that for me to go flying with him, I don’t have to worry about someone looking up m nightie and freezing my crumpets off from the high altitude because I’m contained inside an ACTUAL airplane.

Me: <holds down ‘push-to-talk’ button> Wow! I’m flying an airplane… And I’m scared shitless right now. You can take the steering back now!

Pilot: <laughs.> You only had it for two seconds.

Me: <holds down ‘push-to-talk’ button and glares at Pilot.> Two seconds too long… Ooh! Nice yoke-work, Bacher! Why don’t you use those hands somewhere else?

Pilot: Sweetie, you need to stop pressing the ‘push-to-talk’ button because you just announced that to all local flying aircraft and the Tower.

Tower: Cessna 5210-AML, you’re clear to land… If your hands aren’t too busy.

Random pilot sharing airspace with us: <chuckles.>Yes, please keep your hands to yourself, Sweetie.

Me: <holds ‘push-to-talk’ button> Umm… I think they heard me.

Pilot: You’re still holding the ‘push-to-talk’ button, Sweetie.

Me: <still holding ‘push-to-talk’ button.> Oh. Sorry.

3. He has superpowers. No not actual, born an alien or dipped in toxic waste superpowers. But with one look he can provide a multitude of things: reassurance, giggle-inducing hysteria, empathy, one of the few people who can make me shut up once in a while if I’ve said something [insert favorite word here, such as weird, odd, annoying, ridiculous, etc.], and the occasional heat-induced glance that magically makes my clothes disappear. (Hey, don’t judge. I’m married and Superman had x-ray vision.  You really don’t think that Superman didn’t use it to his advantage just once?)

4. He’s talented. As Clark Kent was a journalist and fairly decent reporter, my Pilot is also extremely gifted.  Separate from his teaching and flying gigs, my Pilot is also an aviation photographer. Even better, he’s a good one!  Pilot has been published in a few magazines over the last couple of years, and also has written several blurbs on the aircraft subject in question.  He has a successful Facebook page and YouTube account where he also posts videos of his work, narrating and adding factoids to the videos for viewers to enjoy.

5. Lastly, but not at all in the least, he’s romantic. Superman had ladies drooling for decades, most of all a Ms. Lois Lane. And in this case, this little writer wised-up and realized that a kind, quiet and talented man was interested in me and I jumped at the chance at love, never regretting a day since. Thankfully, Pilot has made this relationship really easy on me by being just completely wonderful and supportive, even if I post stuff like this on the all-knowing interwebs. Even if the first Valentine’s Day card I ever received from him was signed, “I don’t care what they say. I think you’re pretty nice,” causing a temporary 2-hour argument between us.

Happy Birthday, Pilot! And I don’t care what they say, I think you’re pretty nice, too.

<blows kiss.>

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 14: FREE DAY! Write any scene you want!

Dear Diary,

Today I met the most impossible of all human beings! There I was, walking through the bookstore trying to keep my nonchalant, “Yes, of course I’m in the self-help section-there’s-nothing-wrong-with-that-it’s-a-perfectly-normal-thing-to-do” face. So what if I’m pushing into my latter-thirties and newly single? If someone wanted to excel in their profession, they would study for it. If someone was to perform a self tune-up of their car, they would buy a guide. So why not buy a book to help accelerate changing my single status?

While wandering the bookstore, trying to find a decently large covered book to disguise my purchase with, I bumped into a man at the mysteries/thrillers section.

“Oh! Excuse me,” I said slightly blushing at the blatant lack of focus on where I was going.

“Not at all, pardon me,” he replied. I took in the light hair and blue eyes framed by some very nice looking professor’s glasses. He was tall, wearing a slim fitting navy blue sweater and jeans. Hellooo Dr. Jones!

His head tilted slightly as he tried to glance at the title of my self-help-for-singles book, Single? So What? guide which had decided to hide itself behind my back.

“You know, if you want a really good read, you should try I’m Single and I Know It, instead.”

I blushed at the recommendation.  “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said tucking a strand of my plain brown hair behind my ears. “I’m looking for a thrill- I mean, looking for thrillers. Oh look, there’s a great one!” I say as I pluck a random book from the shelf to the right of me.

He tilts his head to the side. “Hmm… So you’re into swashbuckling pirates who stealthily rip the bodices off of young maidens, huh? I would’ve pegged you more knights-in-shining-armor kind of woman.” I raise my eyebrows at the book I had just selected.

Sure enough, there was a shirtless pirate and a young wench who apparently had no problem or apparent discomfort from having her breasts shoved up to her chin, while the pirate’s swarthy hands were undoing the ties to the back of her very cumbersome looking satin corset. Quickly glancing up to the empty space that held the damning evidence of my random selection, I realized the shelf on my right had been historical romance instead of mystery/thriller. Shit and double shit!

“You know, all you need is a glass of wine and you’re probably set for the night,” he said winking of me.

Eyes narrowing, “Why of all the nerve! I-” I pause to straighten my back at this very nosy and appalling man.  I closed my eyes for a moment taking a deep, calming breath.

“Once again, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I am merely grabbing some reading material as a gag birthday gift for my friend, Lizzy, if you must know.” No need for him to find out that Lizzy is actually my dog named after my favorite romantic heroine, Elizabeth Bennett.

“Of course, my mistake,” he said, having the nerve to smile at me.

“Well, thank you. Now, if you don’t mind. I need to have these presents gift wrapped. I’m very busy and important, and must be going now. Ta!” Turning on my heel, I pause at the sound of his voice.

“Fantastic! I was busy getting this for my brother. We’ll go to gift wrapping together!” He said grinning at me.  Of all the rotten luck. Two years without a man and now I can’t get away from this one!

Together, we both walk to the gift-wrapping center’s counter and hand our items over to the customer service rep.

“Sorry about your friend. Is she going through a tough breakup right now?”

“Huh?” I blink at him.  “Oh! Yes!  Um… Right… Well, she’s recently gone through a divorce, which she’s very happy about, and is throwing herself a divorce shower,” I quickly spat out.  We both take our nicely wrapped presents, his book in pretty forest green with a gold ribbon, mine in a patterned wrapping paper covered in random letters of the alphabet and red ribbon.

“A divorce shower?” he says amused at my frustration.  “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that before.  What exactly does one do at a divorce shower?”  Oh come on! Can’t I just live this humiliation in peace? It’s bad enough I resorted to self-help guides, but does it really need to have a commentary squad like Mystery Science Theater 3000?

“Well it’s- um…” I sigh and throw my hands up in the air, waiving my ‘gift’ in the air. “Oh, hell. We both know the book is for me.  Look, it’s been a little nerve-wracking catching my bloody husband in my bed with my sister and I haven’t had sex in two years, all right?”

The man’s eyes widened as he stared at me.  A woman who had been waiting in line for the gift-wrapping services looked extremely uncomfortable.  “Um… I think I forgot to comb my cat…” she said as she inched away from us slowly, and then bursting into a slight sprint towards the main door.

I felt my face burning as red as a hooker in church.  Also waiting for him to run away from the crazy-cat-lady vibe I was giving off; to my surprise he actually was pretty nice about the whole freak-out scene.

“Wow. That must have been awful. Are you ok?” he spoke softly, his eyebrows slightly furrowed, deep in thought. All they did was focus on his glasses which were straightforward black frame, emphasizing the blue-ness of his eyes.

Another deep sigh escaped my lips. “Yeah, I’m good. Sorry about that. I had just moved here for him because he was offered a job at Boeing. We were living with my sister until we could find our own place.  Then… Well, you know…” my voice drifted off as I felt tears prickling at the back of my eyes.

“I’m really sorry.  Was just teasing before, but if I’d known…” he gave a slight shrug and palms up gesture of apology.

“It’s all right. Sorry for going all berserker on you,” I smile slightly.

He stifled a snicker, “Berserker? You’ve seen Clerks?”

“Of course, hasn’t everyone? I mean, Kevin Smith may be raunchy, a little out of my comfort zone sometimes, but nonetheless is an insightful writer and commentator of life in our generation,” I state matter-of-factly.

The man stares at me again, this time in wonderment. “Wow, I think I may have fallen in love with you a little bit. Most women can’t look past goofy comedy movies like that.”

“Oh… Well, that’s just, really nice,” I say flustered at this man’s response.

“I’m Elliot. Elliot Helmsworth,” he says sticking his hand out to me.  Grasping his palm, I reply, “Claire. Claire Whitmore.”