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Prince Saved My Life

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Prince Rogers Nelson, that purple-loving pint-sized bundle of musical virtuosity, died today. As with the rest of the world I mourn his passing. His music was the soundtrack to my first year of college. My college friend, Amy, and I would sit in my room at our small Southern liberal arts women’s college listening to his albums over and over and over – dapurplerain_124pyxurzncing and singing and feeling ever so naughty (have you ever READ some of his lyrics? Sex. Sex. Sex.) Together, she and I must have seen his movie Purple Rain about 20 times in the theatre. Amy even had her hair cut in that curly asymmetrical style he rocked in the movie. I practically lived in a black cape, like the one his love interest in the film wore. For two girls who felt out-of-place in that small Southern town, he gave us some weird sort of strength. Well, at least for me there was a reason for the strength he gave me.

You see, a few weeks before I left for college and met Amy, Prince indirectly saved my life.

As I have written before, in my senior year of high school I was in a terrible, horrible, emotionally abusive relationship. He kept me under his thumb by making threats as to what he would do to himself if I ever left. And because of some odd sense of responsibility for his well-being, I put up with it all and I stayed. I felt so small. So helpless. So powerless. But, that’s how those kinds of relationships work, isn’t it? There is always one with all the power and one with none.

But, despite all the emotional turmoil he put me through on a daily basis, he hadn’t hit me. That’s what I told myself on a daily basis to justify his behavior. It could be worse. He could have hit me.

In late July 1984, just a few short weeks before I was to leave for college, Purple Rain hit the theaters. Opening weekend, the abusive jerk and I went to see it (I had to pay because, well, I had to pay for everything because the idiot couldn’t hold a job, but I digress). He didn’t want to go, but I somehow convinced him, and as long as I was paying, he grudgingly agreed.  I loved the movie. Oh, sure, the acting isn’t the best. And the story is weak. But, the music. THE MUSIC! Amazing. BTW – the abusive jerk hated it. Quelle suprise.

About half way through the movie, there is a scene when “The Kid” (Prince himself) slaps his girlfriend, Apollonia, to the ground.

A shock ran through me. I had an epiphany. Right there, in the middle of the movie, I turned to my abuser and said, “If you ever hit me, even once, I will leave you. I promise I will.” Of course, he said he wouldn’t. And a small part of me wanted to believe him. Really. I did.

It wasn’t long – a week maybe – until he backhanded me, sent me backwards into a bathtub where I whacked the back of my head, and passed out for a moment. When my vision cleared, I climbed out of the tub, gathered my things, and walked out the door. Never to look back again.

You see, I made a promise – to myself and to him – that I would never let that happen. So, I left.

Even now, thirty-two years later, I am positive that if I had not made that promise and if I had not walked out, I probably would have died in that relationship.

I am still not sure what gave me the courage to look at my abuser in the middle of that movie and draw my line in the sand, but I did.

Maybe I was caught up in the music.

So, thank you, Prince. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the memories. But, most of all, thank you for saving my life.

Rest in peace, our sweet Prince. See you in that world of never ending happiness – the after world.

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He Put My Ring In His Pocket!!!


Daily Prompt: Tainted Love..

Ever been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend? Was it a total surprise, or something you saw coming? Tell us your best worst breakup story. Never been the dumpee, always the dumper? Relate the story of a friend who got unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Change the names to protect the innocent if you must.

I swear, I laughed out loud when I read this prompt.  Loud guffaws.  Tell about a break-up?!?  Hell, this blog was STARTED as a way for me to work through the rambling musings bouncing around in my brain post-break-up with my former love!  I have written mmmaaaannnnyyyy posts about the very subject.  Well, more about the aftermath than of the actual event, but still.  I’ve also written about the end of my marriage.  May haps I should just link my whole damn blog!?

But, I shan’t.  As while those are interesting stories, they are not one of those epic “Oh. My. God.  Are you kidding me?!?” break-up stories.  But, honey, have I got one for you.  Buckle up!

I have mentioned before that I was engaged TWICE in my early twenties, neither of which “took.”  I am not three times divorced.  Just once, thank you very much.

So, here is the story of my break-up with fiancé #1 – AKA Fratboy.

Fratboy and I met my first year of college.  Became engaged my second year, and were planning a wedding the summer I graduated.  Right on schedule.

Fast forward to the summer before my final year.  We were in the homestretch!  10 months before we were to be married!  Life was perfect…or so I thought.

I show back up to school for my senior year, my head full of plans for the future, and a U-Haul trailer full of my stuff.  Fratboy meets me at my dorm to help me unload and to help carry all my things up three flights of stairs.  WHAT A SWEET BOYFRIEND!!!  Was I lucky OR WHAT?!?!?

*snort*

Back and forth we go for 45 minutes.  Everything seemed fine.  We had  spoken the night before and he told me how happy he was I was going to be back the next day and how happy he was that I was going to be back in the same town with him and how much he missed me and loved me.  Blah blah blah.  While I had chattered on about how I had just gotten my ring professionally cleaned and how sparkly it was and how I couldn’t wait for him to see it.  Ah…bliss.

So, here we are on the final trip down the stairs to get a few more things, when about half way down Fratboy says to me, “Hey, let me see the ring.”

I grin and hold my hand out for him to see the sparkle.  “Isn’t it beautiful?!?”

“No, let me SEE it,” he replied.

Being the trusting young thing I was, I slid the ring off my finger and held it out to him to look at.  Makes sense, right?  I mean, we were GETTING MARRIED!!!!!  Weren’t we?

He takes the ring from me, and then…

(ready for it?)

PUTS IT IN HIS POCKET!!!!!

My ring.  It was no longer on my finger.  It was no longer in his hands.  IT WAS IN HIS DAMNED POCKET!!!  What the hell?!?

My two-thirds of a carat heart-shaped diamond on a gold band FREAKIN’ CUSTOM-MADE FOR ME engagement ring WAS IN HIS POCKET!

Ok.  In retrospect, the ring was incredibly cheesy, and I want to go back and slap the shit out of my 20-year-old self for ever loving it in the first place.  But, HE PUT MY RING IN HIS POCKET AND I WANTED IT BACK!

I remember I kinda laughed and said, “Hey!  Give it back!”

“No,” he said.  “I’m going to keep it.  I don’t think I want to do this any more.”

(BTW, gentlemen, “I THINK” is a passive statement.  If you are in the process of breaking up with someone, passive terms do not sugar coat the situation.  Use plain language.  A helpful little hint from me to you.  You are welcome.)

All this happened as we were walking down the three flights of stairs to go back out to the parking lot of my dorm.

At this point I am somewhat hysterical.  Standing, by now, in the parking lot next to my 1974 orange Volvo SOBBING.  He asked if I needed him to bring my things up to my room.

I just answered, “NO!  I WANT MY RING BACK!”

“I’m sorry, but I just can’t do that right now,” and he got in his car and drove away.

Somehow I made it back upstairs and into the arms of my best friends who started calling him every name in the book, and how they never liked him, and how I was better off, etc., etc.

And how right they were.

If I had married him, I know for a fact that I would have either divorced him, or killed him.  Either way, I would not be with him now.

Ironically, he ended up marrying another girl from my college.  She is Facebook friends with several of my Facebook friends.  I can not tell you how badly I want to stalk her pictures and see if she has a cheesy two-thirds of a carat heart-shaped diamond in a yellow gold band engagement ring sitting on her finger.  Just so I can laugh, and know how she was given the ring that was custom-made for ME!

Oh, and to be ever so grateful for the day that Fratboy took it back.

Drowning in the Dating Pool

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Now that I have poked my big toe back into dating pool to test the waters, I have just one reaction.

I hate dating.

There I’ve said it.

I mean I reeeeaaaaallllllyyyyy hate it.

I never was very good at it.  And, unlike a fine wine, it hasn’t gotten any better with age.

The whole process is nerve-wracking.  I meet someone.  We chat on-line.  We text all day.  We talk for hours on the phone.  I am witty.  I am charming.   Everything in going swimmingly.  Everything is clicking.   We decide to meet in person.

*gulp*

The big day arrives.  We text about how nervous we are.  How excited.

And it goes beautifully.  I am witty.  I am charming.

“You are so amazing!  Why are you still single?,” I am asked.

“Such a good question,” I reply as I flash my brightest smile.

The evening ends.  Things feel kinda good.  My head is above water.  I’ve learned to not get my hopes up, but…

More texting.

Discussions about meeting again.  We try to work around kid schedules.

Texts start to get farther and farther apart.

And eventually nothing.

And I know I am about to have to go through this all over again.

This is my cycle.

And frankly it makes me want to get as far away from the dating pool as possible.

It is exhausting to have to go through it over and over and over again.  My psyche is blue and shivering, longing for a thick warm towel to wrap around my shoulders.

I know several people who do not know how to swim, and don’t care to learn.  So, they just avoid any situation where they might be surrounded by water.

So, to continue my metaphor, perhaps I should just remove myself from the pool.  Get far far away.  After all, I can’t drown in the dating pool if I don’t get in.  But, I am not sure that is how I want to live my life.

I’ve already learned to ease my way into the water.  I no longer cannonball off the edge.

Maybe it’s just that I have forgotten how to swim and I need to put back on my floaties.  Or, get a swim instructor.  Or find a new pool.

Somethin’.

Because right now, I hate dating.

Really I do.

It’s Complicated

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You ask if it is difficult.

It’s not, is my reply.

You ask if it’s too hard.

Not for me, I say to you.

You say it isn’t easy.

Yet, here we are, my dear.

So –

No, it isn’t difficult.

Nor is it too hard.

And yes it may not be easy,

This thing we’ve come to be.

What this is – is convoluted.

What this is  – is complex.

What this  is – is complicated.

Until it ceases to be anymore.

Homeownership vs. Dating…

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I have had a love/hate relationship with my house since the summer after we moved in.  Ten years ago.

My ex-husband and I bought the house when The Middle Monkey was just about a year old.  We were living in a two bedroom/one bath/1,000 square foot house.  It was cute, and it was on almost half an acre.  But, let’s face it – it was a TINY house.  So, we figured we had two choices.  1.) build on to the existing house, or 2.) buy a new one.  We decided that since we had an infant and a not-quite-3-year-old, it made more sense to buy a new one.

So, we put the house on the market.  THEN we started looking for a new house.

We looked for MONTHS.  And nothing was “perfect.”  But, we thought we had time.

That is, until an offer was made on our house and we had a month to vacate.  Suddenly, we had to find something new AND FAST!

When we toured this house, we fell in love instantly.  Four bedrooms (sure one is really closet sized, but we only had two children at the time), two and a half baths, big fenced yard (necessary as Duffey was still around).  Perfect!  Oh sure, it needed some work.  But, it didn’t seem like things I couldn’t handle.  (I love my ex-husband with all my heart, but a handy man he is not.)  Oh and, sure it had been a rental property for eight years.  No problem!  This was it.  Our HOME.

We moved in on a cold February day.  It was during the school year, so I didn’t have time to really work on it.  Until summer rolled around.  I decided to tackle the yard.  The huge mess of a yard.  And I have been working on the house and the yard ever since.

As I have been tearing up the yard, it occurred to me that the lessons I have learned about owning a home, I could apply to dating.  No, really.  Just stick with me here.

So here they are, Susan’s Lessons on Homeownership and Dating…

  1. Beware of love at first sight.  As I said, it was love at first sight with the house.  And love at first sight usually means you are not thinking rationally – and you are seeing things with rose-colored glasses.  Had we REALLY looked at the house, we might have seen the problems.  The same holds true with dating.  ‘Nuff said about that…
  2. Watch out for “fixer-uppers.”  Yes, I knew the house needed work.  But, my thought was, “with a little bit of elbow grease, it will be FINE!  I can make it PERFECT!”  Ok, now, ladies and gentlemen, let’s admit it.  We’ve ALL said that about someone we have been interested in.  Every last one of us.  And what happens when we can’t “fix” them?  Or they don’t WANT to be fixed…
  3. Bigger is not necessarily better.  My house sits on a BIG corner lot.  I have a front yard, a big side yard, and a back yard.  It’s like a yard and a half.  Seriously.  Oh, sure.  It LOOKS good.  And it really seemed like an ideal situation.  Lots of room.  But, really.  It is just a whole lot of work.  Smaller would be easier.  And how does this fit in with the whole dating thing?  Well, ladies…I am sure you get my meaning behind it.  And gentlemen?  Think about it.  😉
  4. Things may look great on the outside, but watch out for hidden problems.  Jumping right in on the dating part here.  Haven’t we ALL dated someone who on the outside looked PERFECT?  And WAS perfect.  For a while.  Until the CRAZIES come out.   Same with the house.
  5. Problems that you THOUGHT were taken care of, may come back to haunt you.  When we moved into the house, the whole backyard was COVERED in English ivy.  It slopes and until we took out 5 trees, it was very shady.  Our first summer here, I started pulling out the ivy BY HAND.  Yanking it out of the ground.  It was backbreaking work.  And you know what?  It STILL COMES BACK!  I am still pulling up ivy from the yard.  I hate that freakin’ ivy.  And in relationships, haven’t we all had to deal with a re-visited issue?  (“Yes, damn it!  I got upset when you said we were just having fun.  I had been drinking.  Let it go!”)
  6. Just below the surface there are roots to some long dead things that is damn hard to get rid of.  In preparing the backyard to seed with grass, I have been clearing out a bunch of stuff.   Digging in the dirt.  Smoothing things out.  I’ll dig down just a bit, and find a root.  To what?  I have no idea.  There is nothing near it.  Absolutely nothing.  So, I start pulling up the root.  And pulling.  And pulling.  And pulling.  And the next thing I know, I have pulled out an inch thick, 12-foot long root.  Oh – and there’s another one.  And another one.  What the hell?!?  I have dated men like that.  Scratch the surface and there is a loooooooonnnnnnnggggg root to some long dead relationship.  Whomever messed them up REALLY did a job on them.  And no matter how much I try to pull out that damn root, there’s another one I have to contend with.  It is unending.
  7. If you aren’t willing to put in the work, you might as well just walk away.  Homeownership and relationships are both HARD WORK.  You really have to work at it.  Period.
  8. Once you have everything just right, you have to make sure you maintain it, or everything will fall apart.  I hate cleaning my house.  I really do.  With a passion.  It never fails, I ignore it for a bit, and all hell breaks loose and I have to spend DAYS cleaning it again.  Ugh.  Same with the yard.  Relationships also need maintaining.  When things are going smoothly, we tend to slack off.  Next thing we know, someone feels neglected.  And you start arguing.  And well, all hell breaks loose.

And while my house makes me nuts, and I hate it at times (like now…my hot water heater just died), I continue to have faith that ONE DAY it will be exactly what I want it to be.  Kinda like the hope I have that ONE DAY, I will find a relationship that is exactly what I want it to be.

Optimist or delusional?

You be the judge.

Texty McTexter

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Daily Prompt: It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World.

How do you communicate differently online than in person, if at all? How do you communicate emotion and intent in a purely written medium?

Ok.  I’ll admit it.  I’m a texter.  And an IMer.  I love texting for the EASE.  Need to quickly ask the Monkey Daddy what time he will be picking up the kids from my place?  No problem!  Just a few typed words, and VOILA!  An answer.

And IMing!  Wow!  What a concept!  When I am alone in the house, I am not actually alone, because I can be carrying on conversations with as many people as I want!  Word to the wise, though.  Make sure you know WHICH of the conversations you are currently responding to.  It can get BAD to write the wrong thing on the wrong conversation.

My former love and I spent the first two weeks before we even went out together messaging until the wee hours of the morning.  And even after we started dating, on the evenings we weren’t together, we were “chatting.”

There are a couple of reasons I like texting/messaging.

1.  You can say what you want to say when you want to say it.  Like I said, need to ask the ex a quick question?  Send a text.  And when you just want to tell someone you are thinking of them and hopefully bring a smile to their face – well you can do it.  Right then.

2. There is a bit of anonymity to it.  I have found myself being very much more open through the written word than I would be face-to-face.  I don’t have to worry about SEEING the reaction of the other person.  Both positive and negative.

3.  I have time to think about what I have to say – and I can rewrite if necessary.  I have a bad case of verbal diarrhea.  Particularly when I am anxious.  Or nervous.  Or excited.  Or my ADHD meds have worn off.  And I can ramble.  On and on and on and on and on.  I can easily say too much – WAY too much.  Or I can suddenly get so shy, I don’t know what to say.  So, I have a chance to re-read what I have written and THEN send it.  Not that I haven’t hit send and then thought, “CRAP!  Did I really send that?!?”  Because I have.  As I have referenced before.  Besides, I am ever so witty with the written word…

There are drawbacks to using the written form, however.

1.  I am VERY sarcastic (or as I say, I am fluent in three languages, English, sarcasm, and innuendo).  And SOMETIMES the tongue in cheek way I MEANT for it to come out, isn’t how it is reflected in words.  Needless to say, I rely on the “winky face” emoticon… AND CAPITAL LETTERS!

2.  There is nothing worse than not getting a response!  Particularly when you have just made a big emotional reveal.  It gets my mind all swirly.  I start to wonder if they saw it.  Or if they are ignoring it.  Or OMG…WHAT IF THEY ARE IGNORING ME!  WHY WON’T YOU ANSWER ME?!?!?!?  And then the crazies start to take over.

Yet, even with the pauses in messages, it still doesn’t seem as bad as the uncomfortable silence you sometimes have when face to face.

Technology.  Love it or hate it, things just aren’t the same without it.

The Butterfly Effect, Or How One Person Can Change the Course of Your Life

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The butterfly effect is an element of chaos theory that states a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere in China, could cause a hurricane in the Caribbean.  In popular culture, it is used in conjunction with time travel.  If you change one little thing in the past – what would happen to everything else in the future.  Think It’s a Wonderful Life.  Every one changes – for the worse – when George Bailey is shown what would happen if he had never been born.

Our own lives can be like that.  We look back and see that if one thing had happened differently, everything else would be changed.

I had a Butterfly Effect moment yesterday.  While I was in the shower (it is really funny how much thinking I can get done while washing my hair).  I started thinking about the events of the week, and seeing my former crush.  And it occurred to me, that if not for my former crush – my life could possibly be completely different now.  Here’s how.

1.  I might not have gotten back into singing.  My former crush was the choir director at my church – but before that he had played piano for the choir (don’t ask me what I have with pianists…my former love is one as well).  I hadn’t sung in public for YEARS – instead allowing my performance anxiety to comsume me.  But, then I got a good look at the pianist and thought, “Dang!  He’s kinda cute.  Maybe I’ll join the choir.”  He is the one who encouraged me to sing my first solo at church.  Other than one in college, I hadn’t soloed since high school.  It was only one line at the end of the anthem, and I was shaking like a leaf, but I did it because he asked me to.  Now, I am the main female soloist at church, and am frequently told I should sing professionally.

2.  I probably would not have met my ex-husband.  I met the Monkey Daddy at one of his improv shows.  The former crush was supposed to go with me, but at the last-minute he cancelled.  If he had gone, I probably would not have been waiting in front of the comedy club for my other friends to arrive, which means the Monkey Daddy would not have seen me standing there and come over to talk to me.  My ex would have probably also thought that I was “with” the former crush, thus REALLY not coming over to talk to me.

3.  I would not have my Three Little Monkeys.  Oh, of course, I might have children.  I might even have three.  But, they wouldn’t be the ones I have now (which depending on the day could be a good or a bad thing).

4.  I might not have gone back to teaching.  I was pretty happy with the job I had.  But, once I started dating the Monkey Daddy, I started slacking off at my old job.  And found my old wanderlust acting up again, thus deciding to go back to teaching.

5.  I probably would not have met my former love.  Since I met my former love through my ex-husband (his ex and my ex have been friends for almost three decades), most likely G and I would have never started dating.  And while the break-up has sucked more than anything else in life, I can’t imaging not having had him in my life.

I’m not saying things would have been better – nor am I saying they would be worse.  But, they would be different.

Interesting to think about…