Friday, April 3, 2015

Nocturne

I watch you sleep.

On the cusp of your 59th year on this planet; the 21,535th time you've closed your eyes in slumber, I watch you sleep.  And that, in and of itself is noteworthy.

"You just never know what a day might bring", you are fond of saying -- sometimes in mirth, sometimes with a cynical curl of your lip -- but it is true.  Life is nothing more than a series of tiny survivals; endlessly strung together to create a span of time that defines us all.  And you have survived.  You are here.  "How do you like your blue-eyed boy, Mister Death?"  For he is unvanquished.  Still, he lives.

I watch you sleep.

Your brow puckers faintly, eyes flickering behind gossamer lids.  Do you dream?  Are you at peace?  What demons dare chase you even in slumber?  Perhaps you are a child again, wandering the forests of British Columbia, trailing behind your father's muddy work boots. Maybe you are an achingly young man, laughing in the bed of a pickup truck with your friend, Lorne.  Maybe in your dreams you fly; aloft with the pelicans, swooping over the stormy gray Pacific waters. Or do you dream of things not yet seen?  A spirit world known only to you.  I will not ask.  Your dreams are yours and yours alone and a gift between you and God.

I watch you sleep.

I see the marks upon your skin.  A faint discoloration on your nose where you rubbed it raw as a child.  The feather-light lines at the corners of your eyes from years of squinting into the sunlight from the seats of motorcycles and dandling ski lift chairs. Your slightly crooked smile from a bar fight in your youth, when you were flying high on hockey, beer, and youthful immortality.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep and as you stir, your arms reaches for me clumsily, and I feel the warmth of your skin against my belly.  You curl into my body and my shoulder presses gently against your strongly beating heart.  I feel the blood coursing through you; Irish from your father, German from your mother.  Generations of Teutonic and Celtic warriors that battle through your veins and cry out "He lives! Despite your best attempts, oh life of toil and terror -- still, he lives!"

I watch you sleep, and as I nestle against you, my hair trails against your shoulder, and I rest my hand upon your chest.  Watching as it slowly rises and falls with your breathing, I imagine the hands that have lain here before mine.  A grandmother, checking for fever.  A mother, bandaging a wound.  Your children, faces milk-drunk and drowsy, as they sleepily nuzzle upon you after a late-night bottle.  And the women before me:  each one resting against your shoulder, hands on your chest, and each of you holding onto each other with something that felt like hope...something that made you both believe that, if only for a moment, there was love.  I welcome them all.  Your family, your lovers, your friends...I open my heart to them and thank them, one and all, for every kiss, every caress, every scar, and every strike, because they made you.  They molded you with every touch and every tear, like a creek slowly chipping away at a canyon wall to make the man who lies beside me and takes my breath away.

I watch you sleep, and I see your children in your face.  I see your determination and intelligence in the set of your daughter's jaw and the intensity of her gaze.  I see your tender heart and ebullient joy in your son's dreamy hazel eyes and warm smile.  I see your legacy in their faces and I glory in the gift of being given admittance into their lives through you. Through them, your life continues indefinitely.  Through them, you shall never die.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep, listening to the soft purring noise you make that brings a smile to my face.  I watch you sleep, nudging you gently when that soft purr slowly becomes a louder, snoring growl which is...not quite as smile-inducing.  But even that mild annoyance is a gift; a treasure.  It is a way I know you are here, even in sleep.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep and know that soon you will wake.  I will wish you a "Happy Birthday", you will smirk and drawl "thank you, Darlin'", and we will wander to the kitchen for our morning coffee.  Then, I hand you over to the rest of the world, for you are not a possession...you are not mine to keep.  In a few hours, the world will reach for you with its ringing phones, chirping texts, Facebook messages, deadlines, budget reports, and needy, clinging talons and you will be gone.  But for now, you belong to no one but the night. And she is not a jealous lover...the night shares you with me and I gaze upon your face with wonderous awe.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep and I know peace.

I watch you sleep and I know love.

I watch you sleep, and I drift away as well; your breath on my neck, your arm on my waist, and my heart in your hand.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy, Joyous, and Free

Happy New Year, one and all.  As it the morning after a holiday replete with more alcohol than The Sigma Chi house during Hell Week, I thought I’d take a minute to rant a bit on something that’s been bouncing around in my brain like a toddler on Red Bull.

Many of you know that I am an alcoholic.  And, in case you didn’t: “Hi, my name is Jen…”  As an alcoholic, I have learned that the only way to not wind up insane, incarcerated, or dead is to schlep my punk ass to an A.A. meeting at least once a day, read my Big Book, and have some serious tete-a-tetes with the Big Man Upstairs.  And, really. . .how cool is that?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was eight years old and wrote an essay stating: “When I grow up I want to be a weepy drunk who plows her car into a tree and winds up in a jail cell with a 300 pound woman who smells like flop sweat and PBR but as far as diseases go, at least I got slapped with one that comes with jalepeno poppers and umbrella drinks.  Sorry. . .gallows humor.  In all seriousness, though, how cool is it to have a disease in common with doctors, lawyers, Academy Award winning actors, brilliant artists, and some of the raddest mofos in the Portland metro area.  And the treatment for this disease?  It’s totally FREE!  I get to hang out with these crazy bastards, eat candy, and talk about myself.  I’m telling you, A.A. is the bomb.  For realz.  But while I loves me some A.A. like a fat kid loves cake, I am increasingly made aware of the appalling lack of understanding surrounding addiction and recovery in this country today.

While I think The United States of America is the coolest kid on the block, and I cry like a little bitch whenever I hear The Star Spangled Banner, it pisses me right off every time I hear debates and political filibustering about spending tax dollars to place restrictions on the sale of drugs and alcohol.  This may seem counterintuitive to what I’ve just said, but bear with me. . .  History has shown that banning illegal substances/activities does nothing to curtail their production and consumption.  While prostitution is still technically illegal in Oregon, you can get a knob-shine from the gal of your choice on East Burnside.  And do you know when Alcoholics Anonymous was founded?  Two years after Prohibition was repealed; which should indicate to you the efficacy of attempting to banbathtub gin.  If I felt like really letting my Republican flag fly I could draw a parallel to the increasing fervor regarding the restriction of firearms in this country, but I digress.

The point is that the United States government could declare a militant fatwa on mind-altering substances and Americans will revert to licking toads and huffing Scotch Guard to get high.  It’s human nature to want to feel less. . .human.

Maybe, instead of spending billions of dollars on federal prohibition statutes, and propping up Nancy Reagan’s St. Johns knit-clad corpse to remind us to “Just Say No”, we could spend some of those government dollars to subsidize treatment facilities for those recovering from addiction. . .or open some sober living facilities across this country that will help men and women in recovery learn to acclimate to life in the “real” world, rather than kicking them out of a detox facility after 28 days and leaving them blinking in the sunlight as fucked up and confused as a groupie when Lollapalooza leaves town.

Addicts and alcoholics need treatment.  They need recovery.  They need a chance to feel like human beings rather than second-class citizens, because despite the stigma surrounding addiction, it is, in fact, a neurological condition.  You wouldn’t fire someone for having epilepsy, would you?*

*Well. . .you might.  If you were an asshole.  But, I like to think that most people aren’t.  Life is just more pleasant that way.

You wouldn’t ostracize someone with clinical depression.  And I’m betting you wouldn’t lock someone in jail for having post traumatic stress disorder.  And yet, according to statistics, of the 2.3 million prisoners in our nations prison system, 1.5 million meet the criteria for drug and alcohol dependency. 

One-point-five-freaking-million.  Take a minute to ponder that shit.

Have you pondered.  Good.  OK, moving on then. . .

Perhaps. . .just perhaps. . .our tax dollars would be better spent providing rehabilitation services rather than paying to have someone sit on a concrete bench in an orange jumpsuit watching Adam Sandler movies.  Here’s a thought:  Why do we find it necessary to punish someone who has already done a blue-ribbon job of punishing themselves?  None of us entered A.A. or rehab on a winning streak, folks.  We don’t drink and use because we have a drug and/or alcohol problem; we drink and use because we have a LIFE problem.  So, why not focus more on venturing down the rabbit hole and figuring out WHY we ended up at T.J. McChucklenuts every night sucking on mai tais, rather than slapping our hands like recalcitrant children?

What sort of pious, self-righteous, society have we become when we spend our time wringing our hands in righteous indignation over these despicable addicts and alcoholics while we pop another Xanax and surf some internet porn.  Addiction is addiction, y’all.  Legal or not, we all have our shit.  So why don’t we all start owning our own, rather than throwing other people’s in their faces like a spastic orangutan.

I say, free the courts and jails of sick men and broken women who feel the need to use chemicals just to feel human.  Rather than banning alcohol, let’s tax the ever-loving shit out of it and use that money to provide cognitive therapy, and rehabilitation for people devastated by its use.  But, most importantly, let’s stop deluding ourselves into believing that treating someone like shit who already doesn’t believe they deserve to live isn’t doing anybody any fat, freaking favors.

Ten percent of the population of the United States of America is an alcoholic and/or drug addict.  Ten percent.  She’s making your latte at Starbucks.  He’s passing you the offering plate at church.  She’s teaching your sons and daughters to read.  He’s falling asleep next to you at night.  She’s sitting at her computer, reaching out to you and begging that if you make but one New Year’s Resolution this year, that it be this one:  Show compassion.

Happy New Year to you all.  I wish you peace, love, and joy in 2015.



Xoxo,


Jen

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Broken Open



I'm not who you really think I am.

I mean, I'm not a 78 year old dude with a laptop, sitting in his basement blogging while surrounded by fishtanks filled with human flesh or anything all "ID TV" like that, but I'm not the person I purport to be online.*



*Except for using 50 cent words like 'purport'.  I totally do that shit in real life.


Jen e Sais Quoi is the part of me that lives inside.  She is the outspoken, politically incorrect, balls-to-the-wall warrior princess who says what she means and means what she says.  But in reality?  The truth?  I cower.  I cringe.  I apologize for breathing and have made it my life's work to anesthetize my emotions with alcohol and whittle my body into nothingness through eating disorders in a frenzied attempt to take up less space in the world.

In reality. . .I rarely speak up for myself.

In reality. . .I am obsessive compulsive and require absolute order and control.

In reality. . .I isolate myself because I know; I just KNOW that everyone will abandon me anyway.

In reality. . .my anger, my sadness, and my pain horrifies me so I push it down; way, way down into the deepest part of me because  if anyone knew the real me they'd hate me.

In reality. . .I'm afraid.  Afraid to love.  Afraid to trust.  Afraid of everything.

Two weeks ago, the years of pain, the years of confusion and self-doubt, the years of never believing that I was good enough, smart enough, funny enough, thin enough, perfect enough, that I was ever fucking ENOUGH came to a head and something inside of me just snapped.

I broke.  And, unfortunately, when you drop a glass and it shatters, it doesn't just destroy the glass; it embeds shards into the flesh of everyone around it.  So, my healing doesn't just effect me; my whole family is in the process of healing; and what that will resemble when all is said and done, I don't know.

Pain is funny.  It seeps slowly into your soul over the years, filling up the empty spaces like sand slowly slithering into a jar of pebbles.  And eventually you realize that trying to shake the sand out of the jar will only disrupt the pebbles and chip the container and that all you can do; all you can REALLY do is just smash the jar to pieces and let the sand flow out where it will.

Last week was a true watershed moment in my life.  I felt I'd disappointed everyone, destroyed my marriage, and ruined relationships with my family.  And maybe I have.  I can't predict the future.  All I know is now.  All I have is now.  Right now, I am happy and content.  Right now, I'm texting with my husband who fully supports me in my recovery and still wishes to be a part of my life.  Right now my children and my family are safe and well.  Right now, I am healing.

A woman told me last night "Lovey, God didn't break you down.  He broke you open so all of His goodness and mercy could flood into your heart".  And that's what it is: a breaking OPEN.

I'll be keeping you updated over the weeks as I continue on this journey, but my posts will likely be about as lengthy and articulate as this one for two reasons:

(1) I'm working on a book right now.  About what got me here, the journey toward healing, my road back home, and

(2)  Honestly?  It's hard to write about your life when you feel like you've just been reborn.

In the interim, I ask for your forgiveness if I somehow led you astray with my bravado.  Jen e Sais Quoi is there. . .she's inside of me. . .and I'm slowly learning how to give her a voice through me.  What I've learned this week is that we all have a Jen e Sais Quoi inside of us; a warrior princess screaming to be heard.  Let yours shout her glory from the rooftops.  We are so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

We are all more than mere mortals.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Experience life.  Make your inner voice be heard.  Face the pain and the fear that limits and stifles you and drive it from your heart because you are a glorious and miraculous being who is deserving of greatness.

Be kind to yourselves.  You're worth it.

xoxo
Jen


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ho-Ho-Holy Shit. . .

I'm here.

Kind of.

No, I am. . .I'm here.

For a long time I was blogging thrice a week,*


*Yes, I realize that using the word 'thrice' makes me sound like a giant bag of douche,  but I intend to get as much mileage out of my Liberal Arts degree as possible.  After all, it took me five and a half years of my life to get it. . .don't judge.


Then, not so thrice-y.  Then I was blogging with as much frequency as an AM radio in Ketchikan, Alaska. Which is to say: not so much.

A lot has been going on.  And by "a lot", I mean "shit got real".

I am still married; Norm is rad as hell and without a doubt the best friend I've ever had in my whole life.  The (not so) short people are growing and thriving.  Life is was is perfect.

And then, it wasn't.

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when things fell apart; and even harder to figure out why.  Suffice to say, after twenty years of racing frantically on a mental and emotional treadmill and repressing some pretty epic LifeTime-Movie-Of-The-Week-PTSD-Inducing angst I just. . .snapped.

And now. . .I'm here.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be revealing more of the story; as I slowly begin to heal and as I gain some clarity.  Because, seriously?  Right now things in my head are still a steaming bouillabaisse of crazy.  

So. . .I guess. . .I guess I'm just swinging by to say "hi".  To let you know that I've missed you. . .*


*I know we haven't met, but I still miss you.  Is that weird?  That sounded weird, didn't it?  Did this just get creepy?


. . .to let you know that (in the immortal words of the great poet, Richard Pryor), "I ain't dead yet".  And to say, Merry Christmas.  

Be well.  Love each other.  And please, don't take yourselves too damned seriously.

Life is to short, and you're too pretty for that.

Peace.

xoxo,
Jen






Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Facing The Darkness

An oldie, but still relevant. . .

I've always had a fairly strong sense of denial about my mortality.  Growing up I was a ridiculously healthy kid and despite myriad self-destructive and addictive tendencies, I made it through the first 39 years of my life relatively unscathed.  But then my 40's tore through me like El Nino, eroding everything in its path.  Suddenly I found myself trapped in a body filled with willfully disobedient organs and noticed that my knees, once capable of completing marathons, started clicking like a Ubangi tribesman after only twenty minutes on the treadmill.  Almost overnight the food became too spicy, the music too loud, and I found myself craving dinner at 4:00pm and watching Hoda and Kathie Lee.*



*Nah, I'm just messing with you on that last one. . .but not about dinner. . .dagnabbit.



The fact that I'm a mother combined with some pretty big health scares over the last few years have made me feel like I'm on some cosmic "60 Minutes" set, listening to the clock "tick-tick-ticking" away the minutes of my life. I've even started reading the obituaries religiously.  Not as a somber reminder of my mortality but more of a "Better you than me" kind of schadenfreude. In an attempt to dodge the Big D I've tried to be fairly proactive about my health.  I don't smoke and I don't drink; but when it comes to exercise I am a lazy bastard and on any given day I will be filled with so much candy that Mexican kids will be whacking me with sticks.  I would give anything for a magic pill or elixir or surgical technique to extend my life as I am of the belief that any problem can be fixed by throwing a shit-ton of money at it.  Sadly, all the money in the world can't buy you youth and immortality*



*Just ask Kris Jenner.


I know death is an inevitability and part of the grand Lion King circle of life and as such I should embrace it as just another mystical journey but I just can't jump on that hippy-dippy bandwagon.  Even talking about death makes me more jittery than Ty Pennington on Red Bull. Death terrifies me, and it should fucking terrify you, too.  Why?  Because it.  Will.  Kill.  You.  

But in the long run, burying your head in the sand and ignoring your imminent demise makes about as much sense as Ozzy Osbourne on NyQuil.  Eventually you have to face reality.  Eventually, you have to face the Darkness.

I am under no false illusions that I am a responsible adult, but in the interest of protecting my children, I am forced to impersonate one from time to time.  So, I cowboyed up and made an appointment with my Farmer's agent to discuss  ((gulp!))  life insurance.

Now, let me preface by saying that my agent, Kellie Jo, is rad as shit.  She is a competitive racquetball player, has a wicked sense of humor, and her office is always stocked with a plethora of fine chocolates.  All things being relative, visiting Kellie Jo should be a pleasant experience, but somehow whenever I meet with her I walk in with a smile on my face and a spring in my step and storm out of there more pissed off than Kanye West at a Taylor Swift concert.  It isn't Kellie Jo's fault.  It's the way the word "death" is casually tossed around like a drunken whore at a biker bar and the how numbers on her little calculator drive home the sobering fact that I am worth more dead than alive.


I'd already met with an attorney after my divorce to rewrite my will and estate planning so Gil didn't decide to go all O.J. on my ass and take my stuff, but I'd kind of been putting off the whole life insurance thing because I'm a little skeeved out by the fact that not only do I have an expiration date like a carton of Yoplait Lite, I have a price tag too.   Life insurance is like an abusive boyfriend gently stroking your hair and telling you everything will be okay while he throws you up against a wall, takes your money, and leaves you with a sense of impending doom.  And if you have a medical history like mine, the son of a bitch will take a lot of your money.  A lot.*




*I'm not saying that you should lie to your insurance agent about your medical history, but if you've had any past issues with eating disorders or substance abuse then, well...OK, fuck it.  Lie like a hooker being paid by the moan.


Walking out of Kellie Jo's office, my wallet was considerably lighter, but my sense of security felt stronger and more solidified.  But still there was that overwhelming sense of "holy shit I'm going to die".  No matter what I do, or how I try, or what miracles of modern science or cosmetics arise in the not-so-distant future, someday I will simply cease to exist.  And then what?  An afterlife?  Darkness?  Nothingness?  And what will I leave behind for the world to remember other than some unpaid parking tickets and a fabulously well-dressed corpse.*


*Because there is NO damned way I'm going to meet Joe Black without a killer pair of shoes.




Over the years my views on death have been altered more times than Oprah Winfrey's wardrobe, but now I've reached an odd and begrudging sort of...acceptance. Death is just the grand finale; the ribbon on the gift of life that ties the whole thing together like Jerry Springer's "Final Thought".  And life is indeed a precious gift, but like all gifts there comes a time when it gets worn out and you need to drop it off at the celestial Goodwill to make room in the closet of humanity.

But in the meantime I'm going to have so much plastic surgery that you could bounce a quarter off my forehead.  I may be maturing, but I'm still me.

Monday, October 6, 2014

"God Blessed The Broken Road That Led Me Straight To You"



I've been missing at large lately.         I get that.         Dudes; I'm sorry.

I have not been blogging. . .

I have not been posting on Facebook. . .

I have not been 'Insta-Tweeting'. . .

And for that. . .I'm sorry. . .I suck.  I suck like Monica Lewinsky on Inaugural Sunday.  I suck like a Kardashian during the Essence Awards.  I suck like Tom Cruise watching 'Magic Mike'. 

Basically. . .I am lamesauce and I have no excuse whatsoever except for a major monstroutive life overhaul called HAPPINESS.*



*But I'm hoping that those three "suck" analogies will hold y'all over until next week when I intend to come back with a vengeance.  ;-)  Also: 'monstroutive'?  Totally a word.  Autocorrect may beg to differ, but you all know how I feel about autocorrect and its collective douchebaggery.


Anyway, I was texting with a friend lately and she asked why I wasn't blogging and I spouted some inanity about "lack of inspiration" like I'm J.D. Freaking Salinger. . .*


*Except:  without the whole Salinger-esque "excessive handwashing / antisocial / fake my own death" thing.  
But don't get  me wrong; antisocial works for me, because. . .people, but I can't fully embrace Salinger's whole germophobic thing, 'cuz I totally still love eating at food trucks and going to petting zoos, and. . .wait. . .what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah. Focus, Jen . . . 


So, I guess what I'm trying to say is:  I'm happy.  Not, "TRYING" to be happy.  Not "PRETENDING" to be happy.  Just. . .happy.  Without any effort.  Without any drama. I met a man who doesn't ask me to be anything other than who I am; and I don't want him to be anything other than who HE is.      

Always.       

Forever.      

Without precedence, without apology, without. . .well, crap. . .without anything.  He is a tattoo-covered, Harley Davidson riding, God-fearing blessing in my life and I had no idea I'd ever meet someone who not only was so true to himself but also made me love and be 100% true to  my clumsy, socially inept, addictive, neurotic self.

I've been to a shit-ton of weddings over the years where people said 'Today I marry my best friend' and I thought, 'Oh, PLEASE!  You don't MARRY your best friend; your best friend is the person you complain to about your husband!'*

*Although, in my first marriage the best friend was the one your husband slept with...but I digress...

Tonight; however, my love and I will put on out "fanciest" jeans and boots and hold hands with our children to swear/cry/laugh/pray/scream our friendship and companionship  to the Universe and make our union "official".  And tomorrow?  I'll may or may not blog about it, like I've blogged, or not blogged,  my whole life to you all thus far.  But today?  Today I ask that you smile.  

Today I ask that you hug your loved ones:  be they partners, children, parents, friends, siblings, etc.  

Today I ask that you be thrilled at my lack of communication over the last few months, because it should tell you one thing:  I had free time. . .I could have blogged. . .but I chose to spend that time with my short people, and my friends, and my family, and the man who reminds me that life is filled with color and music and laughter and food and wonder and everlasting joy.

The man who reminds me that even if he disappears tomorrow -- I am enough on my own. . .that I will ALWAYS be enough; that I should never be someone's 'fall-back option' or 'second choice' and that the right people will always love me for who I am and not try to make me be something I'm not just to please them.

The man who teaches me that the most important thing is that I love and be true to myself; and that no matter what, we'll be best friends forever.

The man who dances with me under the stars with our legs cramping from a 1000 mile motorcycle ride and our faces aching from laughing with friends.

The man who nudges me at midnight and grins: 'Wanna go get biscuits and gravy?"

The man who spends hours going over math equations with the short people and then teaches them how to to make pancakes over much giggling and batter consumption.  

The man who drops everything to drive three hours to be with a friend who is celebrating a major life milestone; regardless of his own personal agenda.

The man who embraces our mutual passion for health, organic living, and raising our children in love and light.

The man who knows my deepest, darkest, most shameful secrets, and tells me his in return.

The man who taught my son J. to ride a bike and be confident enough to go out for sports.  And the man who taught my son M. to advocate for himself, and to find his own voice.  My son M.  has autism. . .he does not like to hug.  Norm taught M. to "imitate a bear" and give "bear hugs" and now. . .for the first time in 12 years. . .I get daily hugs from my baby.  For that alone, I will love Norm until the end of time.

The man who checks my oil, kicks my tires, and tests my smoke alarms.

The man who argues with me about health care reform and gun control and religion and education, and politics, and insists that we both find documentation to back up our beliefs because he believes that the best decision is an INFORMED decision.

The man who cradles me in his arms when I break down, shaking and sobbing from a panic attack,  and reminds me:  "It isn't real. . .THIS is real.. You are safe."

The man who watches cheesy movies with me at 2am.

The man who taught me to fly a kite.

The man who showed me my "real" smile. 

This man who reminds me that I can't imagine another day without him in it.

The man who makes me laugh. . .makes me think. . .and makes me feel like no one ever has.

This man who makes me love harder, laugh louder, cry more passionately, and live with arms wide open in a way I never thought possible.

This man who who makes me believe in miracles.

Tonight, we hold hands.

Tonight, we make it "legal" for tax/insurance/"blah-blah-blah" purposes.

But I married him in my heart months ago because he is that last face I want to see at night and the first face I want to see in the morning.

You really CAN marry your best friend.

I'm doing it tonight.   ;-)



xoxo,
Jen

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rebel Without a Clue





I pulled up in front of the cafe with minutes to spare, jumping from my ride and racing into the arms of my old friend.

"OK, enough of this hugging shit,"  he grinned, holding me at arms length.  "Let me see the rock!"

Beaming, I thrust my left hand at his face so hard I almost ruptured his cornea.  Jon squealed with joy and kissed my cheek with an audible 'smack'.  "I can't believe it!"  he cried.  "So wild!  So whirlwind!  So perfect!  And YOU look amazing!"

"Why thank you, kind Sir."  I stated, dropping a delicate curtsy.  "That's what happens when you're funemployed for three months and do nothing but be in love and go to the gym.  You get all 'glowy'."

"Well, glowy looks good on you."  Jon concluded, holding open the cafe door for me.  "But what's this I hear about you being on the wrong side of the law?"

"Pfft!"  I dismissed with a wave of my hand.  "Order a bitch some coffee and I shall regale you with the tale of my social deviance."

As Jon is both a prudent and giving man, he immediately ordered us a carafe of French Roast and I proceeded with my narrative.

"OK, so a couple of weeks ago, I'm dropping the short people off at day camp. . ."  I began.

"Wait,"  Jon interrupted.  "I thought you weren't working last week.  Why were the boys at camp?"

"Because,"  I explained sweetly, "I have been home with them for three months. . .Three.  Months.  And trust me, that much family unity would make Mother Teresa stabbier than a Manson youth.  Anywhoo, I dropped them off at camp and pulled out onto Country Club Road."

Jon frowned.  "Where on Country Club?  Was it that street by the place. . ."

"With the thing?"  I acknowledged.  "No, not that one.  It was the other place with the stuff. . ."

"Ooh!  Yeah!"  He nodded.  "The one with the thing-a-ma-jig out front."

"Exactly!"  I cried.*


*This is the type of conversation one has with someone they've known since they were 13.   


"So," I continued.  "I pulled out, and like, five seconds later this dude is tearing up behind me, laying on his horn and screaming.  I tried to flag him around me, but he just started tailgating me; flashing his lights and honking his horn."

"What the ACTUAL fuck?"  Jon gasped, signalling the waitress for two of our usual orders.*


*Being a 'regular' at a Portland brunch spot is some serious gangsta shit.  Belee' dat.


"I KNOW!"  I yelled, throwing my hands up in astonishment.  "I mean, I pulled out in front of this guy but there were about eleventy-jillion car lengths between us, so no need to go all Fast And Furious on my ass, Vin Diesel!"

Jon took a swig of his coffee and stared in amazement.  "How far did he follow you?"

"All the way to Lewis and Clark College!"  I told him.  "I even took a bunch of detours and side roads to see if he truly was going all Stalky McStalkerson on me, and: yup.  Sure 'nuff."

"You've gotta be shitting me."  Jon said with a roll of his blue eyes.

"Oh, I shit you not."  I averred, smiling as the waitress set our breakfasts before us.  "So, I pull into the student lot at Lewis and Clark because I saw some hipster undergrads there who I thought could either protect me through brute force or by reading  Nietzsche and offering him a kombucha.  I ran over and told them this giant bag of crazy was following me, and...umm...help?  Just then, Tailgunner Joe jumps out of his car, runs over to us and starts jamming his camera phone in my face!"

"Shut your whore mouth!"  Jon screeched, slamming a hand on the table and sloshing coffee onto the pristine white cloth.*


*For the record:  shouting the word "whore" in a crowded upscale restaurant?  Ill-advised.

I nodded my head somberly.  "true story.  Then he starts screaming 'You almost killed me, Bitch!' and jams his camera in my face AGAIN!  So, one of the students tries to go all passive-resistance on him and steps between me and the camera.  So, American Psycho here GRABS this college kid and THROWS him to the side!"  

"Oh no he, DI'INT!"  Jon cried.

"Oh, yes he Di'ID!"  I replied.  "Then the whack job starts yelling 'I'm a lawyer!  I'm a lawyer!'  and one of the other students says 'Yeah, well, I'm only a first year law student and even I know that what you just did constitutes assault.  So, the next thing you know, I'm calling 911 to report this dude who takes a bunch of pics of my car on the way out of the lot."

Jon chewed his eggs thoughtfully.  "Could they do anything?"

"Not really."  I shrugged, reaching for the sriracha sauce.  "The kid didn't want to press charges, and apparently being a peckerhead isn't against the law, so I figured that was the last we'd hear from the guy."

Jon raised his eyebrows.  "Why do I sense a 'but' coming up soon. . ."

I smiled benevolently.  "Ah, my dear friend; for you know my life too well to think the story would end without at least a modicum of drama.  So, a few days later Norm is working in the yard when one of P-Town's finest rolls up at our house in his black and white to issue a citizen's arrest against me for making an illegal right hand turn."

Jon did a spit take with his water.  "Wait. . .what?  You can seriously DO that?  What did Norm say?"

"I believe his exact words to the officer were 'Is this about that dickhead in the Studebaker who harassed my wife?'"  I said, smiling fondly.  "Suffice to say, the cop apologized that everyone's time had been wasted, he and Norm discussed motorcycles and firearms, and we all agreed that the indignant attorney can go pound sand."

"That is truly magical."  He mused, giving me a s-l-o-w c-l-a-p.  "You're a scofflaw!"

"I AM a scofflaw!"  I laughed.  "I scoff at the law!"

"Did you at least save the arrest warrant?  You know, for posterity?"

"Are you kidding?"  I snorted.  "The guy described me as '5'6, 120 pounds'; I'm having that motherfucker FRAMED!"  Jon gave me a fist bump, then, without ceremony, slid a thin folder from his briefcase and set it next to my plate.  I pulled a face and glowered at the folder with obvious distaste.

"You suck,"  I glowered.  "with your MOUTH."

Jon snickered smugly.  "I told you we were going to discuss your house today, Jen.  It's my obligation as your realtor, not just your friend, to make sure you're up to date on all of the economic fluctuations in the market and making the best fiscal choices."  His eyes pored into mine briefly. "You've already totally tuned me out, haven't you?"

Jon is a dear friend, and God love him he is patient as an ever-loving saint, but there are times I catch him gazing at me like one would a mentally-challenged toddler.  There is little doubt in my mind that he doesn't occasionally question whether the amount of Hood River vodka I ingested in the mid-90's didn't atrophy my cerebellum in some manner because no matter how many times he tries to explain things like interest rates and principal payments, invariably my eyes start to cross and all I hear in my head is "Oooooour house, in the middle of our street, ooouuur house. . .hey, remember that shitty Shannen Doherty show 'Our House' with the chick from 'Days Of Our Lives'?. . .is 'Days Of Our Lives' still on the air?. . .hey, look!  A squirrel!"

Jon shook his head sadly.  "Jen, seriously?  How long have we known each other?"

"Umm, I believe it was the first year of that international frat party known as the Clinton Administration."  I mused, sipping my coffee thoughtfully.

"Exactly."  Jon sighed.  We've known each other for thirty years.  And in TWENTY of those, I've been working in real estate.  I can't believe that I've been a realtor for twenty years and you've managed to learn NOTHING about real estate."

I sputtered indignantly.  "Yeah. . .well. . .I've been a writer for twenty years and I can't believe you aren't more witty and loquacious.  Ha!  Howda ya like them apples, House Boy?"

Jon dropped his face into his palms. . .*


*I get this reaction from people occasionally.  And by 'occasionally', I of course mean. . .OK, shut up.  Don't judge.


"Would you like me to explain principle payments to you one more time?"  He said with a strained smile.

I shook my head affably.  "Nope.  There's no point.  You see, my brain is a little like a computer; there's only a finite amount of RAM space and at the moment it's filled with Shark Week, Gordon Ramsay, and the names of all nineteen Duggar children in birth order.   I can't just delete those files from the desktop, and I don't want to allocate any 'real estate' space that the Kardashians might need later."

Jon chuckled, pushing his fork through the remains of his omelet.  "Fair enough."  he concluded wryly.  "But can I at least send you some literature that explains the terms?"

"You're wasting your time, Son."  I intoned gravely.  "Unless that literature involves wrestling a Great White, voting someone off the island, or marrying Kanye West, I'm probably not going to read it.  Unless there's pictures. . .are there pictures?"

Jon gazed at me in awe. . .or disgust. . .not sure which, so I'm going to go with awe.  "I don't get it."  he laughed.  "You're one of the smartest people I know.  I can't even read a text from you without consulting a thesaurus and yet you are physically incapable of digesting any information I give you regarding your finances."

"Fine."  I sighed, slipping the folder into my tote bag.  "I'll read it later.  This will be great for when I run out of Ambien."

Jon amiably flipped me off and signaled for the check.  "Just trust me, Kiddo.  You'll thank me later. Have I ever steered you wrong?"

I leveled him with my steeliest glare.  "Two words:  Murder House."

He tilted his head quizzically.  "Was that the house I showed you that had the used condoms floating in the toilet?"

"Ha!"  I cried.  "That place was Barbie's Dream House compared to the Murder House!"

"Was it the one with the creepy Coen Brothers wood chipper in the garage?"  Jon asked.

I shook my head.  "Keep guessing."

"Was it the one with the video camera mounted on the bedroom wall?"

"Dude, I BOUGHT that house."

Jon continued to ponder silently.  Finally, I decided to pull him from his reverie.

"House was owned by a single man in his 60's.  Master bedroom was filled with dolls.  Bookshelf had nothing but true crime.  Guest bedroom had a Dora the Explorer bedspread.  Basement had a spot on the concrete floor. . ."

". . .shaped like a coffin!"  Joe recalled, slapping a hand to his perfectly coiffed head.  "Fuck me running, how could I forget that?"

I snorted derisively.  "I don't have a clue, because that Amityville shit STILL haunts my dreams."

Jon laughed.  "OK, so I owe you.  But didn't I find you a good place in the end?"

"That you did."  I admitted with a benevolent smile.  "That you did."


COST OF A THREE BEDROOM HOUSE:  $300,000-$500,000

COST OF BRUNCH:  $26.50

FRIENDS WHO LOVE YOU IN SPITE OF YOURSELF:  Priceless.


XOXO,

Jen