Thursday, January 3, 2013

Twenty Thirteen

    Who ever thought we'd make it this far?  I mean I guess we should count our lucky stars we made it past that tragic ending that the Mayans had planned for us 12/21/12.  But seriously, twenty thirteen, two thousand thirteen, sounds like some dark comedy due to be released this summer.   I actually quite like the number thirteen and count myself lucky to have been born on the thirteenth (even when it's on a Friday!)  This year my birthday will be the same forwards and backwards.  Yeah, another instance where I had too much time on my hands and I get to thinking about trivial things. 
    So, it's a new year and people, as always, are talking about their resolutions and looking back on what has happened in twenty twelve, the year gone by.  I can honestly say that my outlook on things has completely turned around from twelve short months ago.  A year ago, I was not in a very positive state of mind.  I basically drifted from day to day letting life happen.  I didn't really enjoy life.  Things were dreary and gray, much like the winter season.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy winter, probably more than your average NEPAer.  I think it's because I lived outside of NEPA and have seen what it's like without the winter season and being someone who likes winter in the first place, I totally missed the cold and snow.  After the first few months, I snapped out of that funk and realized that I needed to make life happen, not just let it happen.  I got out with friends more.  Got up with (or even before) the sun and walked.  I noticed I felt better and this made me happier.  I turned forty and lived to tell about it!  I went out on the weekends, I laughed harder than I'd laughed in a long time.  I also had time for reflection, time to think about what had happened so far in my life.  I evaluated what had made me truly happy and also things that had made me unhappy.  Maybe this is part of being forty.  I wrote.  I spent time just sitting outside, reading, walking, listening to music and also listening to my own thoughts.  At one point I even had the insight to realize what happened in every one of my adult romantic relationships.  I realized that I had settled for people who could never make me happy.  They just didn't have the qualities or the power to succeed.  I was never going to be happy with them and the same held true for them.   I had a habit of trying to make things work, when deep down, I knew it would never make me happy.
     In the middle of all of this introspection and realization, I decided it was time to be happy.  I was not going to settle ever again.  If that meant I'd be alone, so be it.  Is it so terrible to be alone?  You can do whatever you want.  You can do housecleaning in your underwear...or less!  No one will criticize you if you don't do things the way they want.  You live for you.  You have the power.  I had the power!
     And out of nowhere, it happened.  I let go of the past and was ready to let myself be happy.  They always say it will happen when you least expect it.  Let me tell you, 'they' are right!  A friend from my younger days and I started communicating more.  Reminiscing on old times and catching up.  After awhile she asked me if I might be ready to date the right guy.  She told me to sleep on it and if I was interested, to send her my email address in the morning.  She would pass it on and then if it was meant to be, things would happen.  She didn't even tell me his name!  All she told me was that she had put a lot of thought into things as she has done some matchmaking in the past and she really had a good feeling about the two of us as a couple.  A few days passed and I didn't hear anything, so I figured he wasn't interested.  On Memorial Day, after spending a few days on my back at my parents house due to  a bulging disc, I came home and checked my gmail to find the cutest introduction ever!  Things progressed to talking on the phone, more emails and then finally the first date.  How nerve-wracking that build-up was!  He met the 'criteria on the list' and wow, things progressed.  I've gotten to do and see and experience so many new things with him.  He is the total package.  The dream-come-true guy that most every woman wants to meet and I am the lucky one he wants to be with.  Everything is fun with him.  He can make me smile when he's not even trying to.  I hope that I can make him feel 90% the way he makes me feel.  I will die trying!  
    Yeah, 2012 has had some highs and lows, mostly highs when I think about it.  There were some lows though too, but I have done my damnedest to push them down and not let them affect me.  I mean, why be down in the dumps, when there are so many things in life to make you happy?  Don't let people and things drag you down into the quagmire of doom.  Lean on the people you can depend on.  Your friends and family, they are the ones that matter.  When all is said and done, they are the ones that count.  They are the ones who will be there for you.  They are the ones who want to see you happy.  There was a quote in a movie called "Starter for 10" that has stuck with me.  At a point when I really needed to hear this quote it was a comforting thought:  The people who love you don't care if you make mistakes, it's what you do next that matters. 
      At this point, I wonder if 2013 could out-do 2012.  My hope is that my life continues on it's current path of happiness and contentment.    Bring it on, 2013!  I am ready!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother's Day

I love my Mom.  I appreciate anyone who can perform the role of mother successfully and be happy doing so.  I suppose we should have a day set aside to remind us of how much our mothers give up and put aside for their children, even though we should remember it every day.  We wouldn't be here without Mom.  All the basic skills, homework and rehearsals, rides to and from and all those life lessons she assisted us with, make her a major player in forming this little miracle ball of clay into something beyond her wildest dreams.

Then there is the other extreme.  The mom who puts herself before her children, or does not protect those precious babies from needless harm.  I am reminded of a former co-worker, who, when I met her had only one child and unbeknownst to me, another on the way.  Her "boyfriend" skipped town and left her a single mom in mid-December.  She had just started her part-time job and didn't have much to give her little girl for the holidays.  Co-workers pulled together and made sure that she and her little girl had a much better than expected Christmas.  She was very thankful to us and continued to make things work for the 2 (nearly 3) of them.  Then, her boyfriend returned.  Word around the water cooler was that he didn't treat her very well.  She was the only one working.  They lived in subsidized housing and he watched the kids while she worked.  He also complained about every minute of it.  Apparently, it couldn't have been too rough because they kept having kids.  Upping the ante.  She continued to work after each one was born.  The third and fourth born had some health issues.  Neither mom, nor dad had health insurance.  They existed on food stamps and plenty of government assistance.  Suddenly, she started acquiring some nicer things.  An iPod, a cellphone, new clothes and word was that he was dealing drugs.  She left him briefly, took the kids and moved in with her mom or some other relation.  I have to give her a little credit, through all of her pregnancies, she continued to work.  Next thing I knew there were murmurs around about her being pregnant again.  I couldn't believe it.  This would be number five.  How can anyone think this is okay?  To just continue to squeeze them out without being able to afford the ones you've already got, is pure ridiculousness in mine and many other's opinions.  I feel really bad for the kids because, it's not their fault that they have really screwed up parents and possibly a really rough road ahead of them.  About mid-way through pregnancy number five, an article appeared in the local paper about how my co-worker and her now husband got into a disagreement and he kicked her in the stomach.  Weeks later they appeared in court and she ended up dropping the charges.  He was later arrested, probably some drug charge of some sort.  He ended up in lock-up for quite some time.  She filed for divorce while he was in the hoosegow.   Earlier this year he was scheduled for release and she got the kids all rounded up and split for the women's shelter before moving on to who knows where.  Those poor children.  They were miracle balls of clay, but their molding will likely be much less successful than that of most of us.

Why is it the low-lifes of the world seem to be 'fertile Myrtles?'  There are so many people out there who want to be parents, myself included.  People who would raise wonderful, loving, intelligent children and yet, they can't, for whatever reason.  Life is not fair.  I don't begrudge those who make it work and against all odds raise a family with success and happiness.

Mother's Day is a reminder to appreciate your Mom.  But, to me, it's also a reminder of my own failure in life.  Failure to carry on the legacy of what I learned from the wonderful woman who raised me, while some crack-head idiot pops out kids like they are Chicklets and puts them in harm's way to fend for themselves.  Life truly is not fair.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Type B Me

Why do people, in particular, men, want to put me into a box?  They want me to be this person that suits them, makes them feel comfortable and in turn makes me crazy!

I'm not going to say I'm a free spirit.  But I'd have to say more of a roaming gnome.  I like what I like.  I may not always have the exact words to describe what I'm talking about.  I may have my head in the clouds sometimes, but that's just me!  I love to have a laugh and enjoy life.   I'm also pretty open to trying new things.  I tend to go with the flow.  I'd say I lean far into the 'type B' territory.  I understand there is a need for 'type A's' but I just can't make myself into that regimented militant commander.  I take life as it comes.  I'm not a terribly messy slob, but I'm also not a neatnik.  Don't get me wrong, I like to know what is on the radar, but I don't find it necessary to plan out every minute detail.

I enjoy going out for a night with friends to listen to a band play.  I don't have to pick them apart and decide what their next move should be in 'the business.'  I can just enjoy the fact that they are there to do what they enjoy doing and they get to make people happy in the process.  We should all have the opportunity to share that feeling.  Enjoying life isn't necessarily about the final product, but about the process.  I think if we can't be aware of the process, we lose sight of how sweet the final product can be.

Having been in my current job for 12 years now, I feel I pretty much know what I'm doing at work.  Management tend to have their own ideas about how things are done.  This is really the only place I feel I may have some 'type A' tendencies.   It would be one thing if we were an independent, but we are run by a corporation with rules and regulations in place for a reason.  If only those rules and regulations were followed the way they are meant to be, things would be so much smoother and employees would be so much happier.

I make  mistakes throughout the course of a day.  I am aware of this.  I take full responsibility for my faux pas.  Usually, as soon as I open my mouth, I am aware that my size 7 1/2 has involuntarily kicked it's way into my pie hole.  You don't need to berate me 9,000 times in lots of big words to make you feel better.  You won.  I'm not going to yell and scream.  I'm not a fighter so much.  I get it, I'm wrong.  End of story.  I don't need a 20 minute oration on why I am wrong and you are right.  If I find that I am right, I don't spend an extraordinary amount of time making sure you are aware.

George Carlin was right.  Men are dumb and women are crazy, because men are dumb!  Haha.  I am not trying to bash men in this blog.  I do believe there are some great guys out there, incredible guys even.  I may even know a few of them on a first name basis.  I hope to get to know you better.  I hope you want to know me better.  Just realize this:  I am me, I may not be you're ideal and I never will be.  Let me be me and enjoy all my quirks and intricacies.  Don't put me in your tidy little box or you'd better put the lid on extra tight, cause it won't be pretty when I spring out!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dancing with Myself...Oh-Oh-Oh

I have loved to dance for most of my life.  I remember doing "the bump" and "the YMCA" at a fairly young age.  Then there was my tenure as a choreographer with my cousin.  We totally made the coolest dances ever in her bedroom to the limited music in her collection.  We had the best times.  I'm sure the folks on the floor down below wondered what the heck we were up to, but we stayed out of their hair.  In third grade there was "the Uni-Fa-Fa" dance in Mrs. Arenella's class.  I still remember it, because I love to dance!  "Is, Are, Was, Were, Has-Have-Had!"

 In middle school, I finally got to go to my first dance!  I think it was 7th grade.  I had never been to a dance before.  It wasn't really formal, but I still remember getting an outfit and being really excited about going.  In the same gym where we had aerobics, gymnastics and basketball, we danced, to a garage band of kids my own age, called Infinity.  They were actually quite awesome.  Doing covers of Mony, Mony and other great dance songs.  Then there was also a DJ.  I was in my element.  Music and dancing!  Was there ever a more fitting combination???  I would find a few friends and go out and we would dance the entire time.  And then came the slow songs... to this day, I still get anxiety when I hear Journey's "Open Arms." I became a wallflower.  Who wants that?  I wished there was some way to ban slow songs from dances.  It was really a downer to a chubby chick who had no hope of ever getting to slow dance with a boy.  As soon as the last note of that Sheriff song ended, I was right back out there ready to go!

High school came with a whole new opportunity with the sock hops after every home football game.  There were so many more dances to go to!  LOVED IT!  There was Homecoming and Thanksgiving and Christmas...every holiday had it's own dance.  It was in high school when people would compliment my dancing abilities, I guess that's a good way to put it.  People were so shocked that quiet, mousy Jenn could go out onto that floor and not give a crap what people thought.  I'd just let go!  Little did they know that every afternoon, my TV was on Dance Party USA learning all the latest moves and dancing in front of all the regulars including a George Michael look-alike, a girl called "Princess" and this unknown chick named Kelly Rippa.  Still there were the slow songs, but I tried not to dwell on it.  I picked those times to get a drink and refuel for the real music!  My first slow dance with a boy (who wasn't related to me) was in 11th grade!  Yeah, I was 16 1/2.  I think it was the Thanksgiving Dance.  It was actually my first date.  Jim was white knuckled the whole time, but I think Mary Kay told him he couldn't keep me reigned in forever.  When my date came flying up our dirt driveway and knocked on the door, I don't think Dad was expecting a guy with piercings and his own car to be my first date.  I could read the fear in his eyes.  I also noticed his tone when he told my date when I needed to be home.  It makes me laugh today.  They were so nervous to let me go.  You see, I'm the oldest.  I was the test-run.  There was no prior experience to fall back on before me.  My sister and brother have no idea how much easier they had things than I.  But that's another story for another day.

My first love came later that year.  He was someone who was in a school-related group with me.  He was a jokester and kinda cute in a goofy sort of way.  I really really liked him.  A lot.  I used to take the long way to my fourth period class just to get to see him in the hall.  One day, in the spring, close to the prom, I passed him a note in the hallway.  I told him how I felt about him.  He asked me to the prom.  I had the best time at my junior prom.  I got to dance to all those measly slow songs as well as the fast ones.  I remember a few guys from our group stripping down to boxers and socks!  What a night!  My date was a senior.  He would be graduating in a few days and was going into the army.  I might never see him again after that.  I was in a million teenage drama depressions.  I did end up seeing him again.   I had to pick up our pictures and deliver them to him.  I ended up going for a swim in his pool.  And then, the day before he left for basic training, he came to my house.  It was dark.  My family had cleaned up from a cookout and gone inside.  We stayed out in the back yard talking (ha ha, right!)  I didn't want the night to end.  I didn't want to say goodbye.  What did we do?  We danced under the stars!  Again, a million depressions at having to let him go when at 2am, my dad yelled out the window "time to call it a night."  We kept in touch with letters and calls.  He returned home around the end of October in time for Halloween and Homecoming.  We went to a few of the sock hops after football games.  When the time came for him to go back, I'd invited him over for homemade lasagna for dinner. I set up a fancy little card table in our rec room so that we could have a private dinner.  I made the lasagna and served it up.  I was so dreading letting him go again, because I was pretty sure this would be it for us.  I put on Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" and we danced.  I cried my eyes out.  And he was gone.  I sent him letters, but they were never answered.  My broken heart was left on the floor of our rec room where we had our last dance.

The older men get, I'm noticing the more fear they have of dancing.  And I'm not saying I'm expecting Maksim Chmerkovsky, just a slow dance now and then!  (Though, I certainly wouldn't turn Maks away!) I didn't get to dance at my wedding.  That should have been another clue.  Only one guy I ever dated past high school has ever been OK with dancing.  And he was the young whipper-snapper.  We danced under the stars every time he came to visit.  If only he had an older brother or cousin, I'd be set!  I guess I'll have to add that to my list of things I want in a man.  Someone who's not afraid to dance with me, whether it's just the 2 of us under the stars or in a ballroom full of people.  Until then...I guess I'll just be Dancing with myself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Not Be a Doormat, By a Doormat...

I'm not the type to usually give advise.  I'm more of a listener.  I believe what I've got to say and share from past experiences could benefit those out there who may be on shaky ground in a relationship or even those considering jumping back into the water.  I'm not trying to be a downer here, just merely pointing out mistakes I have made in the past and perhaps from a different angle, give perspective on what to avoid, what to duck and dive from.

I guess the biggest point I can speak to is never give more than you get.  Yes, I am the queen of all doormats!  I supported a man who I promised to love, cherish...blah blah blah for longer than I care to remember.  Finally, the doormat got worn down and needed to have a life of her own to enjoy and be happy.  I was so worried that I couldn't do it on my own, and what for?  I already was doing it on my own!  I guess if that person isn't willing and able to give you all the things you are willing and able to give them, a relationship is probably not a good idea as it will not survive, unless one or both of you are perfectly content to be an unhappy doormat.  And honestly, who wants to be walked all over in life?

I won't lie.  Being alone can be tough, more so emotionally in most cases than financially.  Once I got out on my own, my eyes were opened to a whole new world!  I was only responsible for me! (And my cat.)  I could save my own money!  I could pay my bills on time!  Those 2 things alone gave me such a good feeling about myself.  So, again, I'd say if you can't meet those 2 goals while in a relationship, there is a possibility for some trouble.  Being a couple is hard enough without that extra hassle!

I hope I don't sound bitter.  Remember, this is the glass half full girl.  I am not giving up on finding someone who knows me as well as I know myself and likes me in spite of that!  Heck, maybe they will even love me!  Stranger things have been known to happen.  The one great relationship of my life lasted about 3 1/2 years with someone who wasn't even in the country.  Perhaps that had something to do with why it was great?  I hope not.  I am reminded of a scene from one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, "The Cutting Edge" where Kate tells Doug that her fiance', Hale is working in her father's London office.  Doug then replies with a snarky grin that she must look awfully good from 3,000 miles away.  Perhaps that's how it did stay alive so long.  There is something exciting about counting down the days until you next see someone, meeting them at the airport and planning a fun-filled stay until you have to tearfully say goodbye for another 6 months, when you will see them again.  The in-between time is not so much fun, but you make the best of it.  I still think that it could have worked if circumstances had been slightly half full.

After my near trip to the mental ward and a stint on anti-depressants, I took some time for me again and spent loads of time with my family.  Poured myself into work.  And after a year or so, I decided (for some reason) it was time to test the waters.  Maybe I was just lonely.  I went right back to my doormat status, willingly!  Once again, I ended up taking care of another man who was nearly a carbon copy of my ex-husband.  I even saw it in the beginning.  I even said so.  But when you tell someone they behave just like your ex, they tend to stomp their feet and get belligerent about it.  So, you start to question yourself and your observations.  Stop right there!  Don't question yourself!  You know you!  Run!  Run fast.  Get the hell outta Dodge.  If not, you are setting yourself up for massive failure.  If that person is worth anything, they will run after you and prove to you they are not what you say they are.  They will prove it to you if they care enough about you.  By the way, if you find that person, good for you.  You are one of the lucky ones.  I, unfortunately, was not.  I spent over 3 years as a doormat once again.  Supporting a man, who I felt obligated to support since he fought for our country.  I feel strongly for our soldiers.  I have family who have turned their lives upside down to protect us all.  I am proud of them.  I don't believe they get enough in return for what they give.  However, respect is a 2-way street and while I gave much respect for what he had done over there, he just took and took and took from me.  As above, there is only so much a doormat can take.  When someone steals from you, who lives under your roof, the trust is gone.  Whether it's taking your credit card without your knowledge to purchase something they could afford if they'd get off their lazy ass and get a job or it's allowing you to pay for everything and promise they will make it up to you when they get a job, somewhere along the line, respect is gone.  Respect is a dead end at that point and things are never going to recover.

So, learn from me.  Read my mistakes and laugh.  Yeah I've been dumb, a lot.  But learn a lesson here.  Or you will be the one paying for a lawyer on your own to file for divorce.  You will be the one trying to pull yourself out from under debt that you would have never accumulated on your own.  Avoid the heartache.  Earn and give trust and respect and want to get to know all there is to know about that person and like what you know.  Otherwise, we'll be seeing you at the next coronation of the doormats.  I'll save you a throne, heck, maybe you can even have mine!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Music Triggered Memories...

I'm groggy... It's an ungodly hour, what is that noise?  I attempt to open my eyes, realizing the lamp is still lit, but the sun is starting to creep up.  I listen closer, it's Iris by Goo Goo Dolls.  I sit up and realize, he told me this song reminds him of us.  I turn to my left and see him all snuggled up in the comforter.  So cute and so sleepy.  He only got here a couple of days ago and I'm sure he's still jet-lagged.  The music gets louder as it's the alarm on his laptop which he left on last night.  I smile, run to the desk and turn off the alarm.  He never even heard it or felt me get out of the king size bed.  We arrived at the upstate NY casino yesterday afternoon.  It seemed kinda busy with a big buzz going on.  I find my robe and peek out our 3rd floor window to see a couple posing for their wedding pictures.  Oh yeah, today is 07/07/07, tons of superstitious fools are getting married because they think it's their lucky day.  I look over my shoulder and wonder if he will one day ask me.  I'm in no hurry, but what if?  We just click so well together.  I can't imagine life without him.  We enjoy a lot of the same things.  We have so much planned this trip.  I want to enjoy every moment to the fullest.  Including this one, watching him sleep, his long, dark, beautiful eyelashes and freckles that he says are a British curse, but I think are so amazingly adorable.  Last night we went to a concert downstairs in the Casino.  It was one of our favorite bands.  He completed my collection of their CDs the second time I went to see him, with a rare, unavailable one he got from the guitar player the last time they had come to his town.

I laugh as I remember the couple on the elevator with us last night.  The chick was drunk out of her mind.  They jumped on after us and she giggled at us and pointed and said, you two look like twins!  I looked down and realized we were both wearing black t-shirts and he had on camo shorts and I had a camo mini skirt on.  I guess she was right.  We just stared at her until they got off.  He was fighting to stay awake.  The 5 hour time difference wearing on him at this hour of the night.

We got back to the hotel room and immediately locked the door behind us.  He grabbed me and we were kissing, like we needed each other to breathe, to survive.

I'm dreading the drive back to PA today, but at least I know he will be right next to me, holding my hand.  I won't be alone on this trip.  I absolutely love it when he's here.  Life is as it should be.  I'm completely happy and nothing can ruin my mood.  Not even my Dad who refuses to meet him, because 'it's just wrong.'  If only he could see how happy I am when I'm with him, maybe he'd change his mind.  But he won't even meet him...

We have plans to go to the big fireworks show tonight.  We went to it last year when he was here and I have to admit, I can't wait.  I may be old-fashioned, but I love having someone snuggled up in an old blanket with me watching the show.   When we get back to my apartment we plan to just relax and watch Live 8 on TV, maybe get a pizza and chill out until it's time to go pick a spot to watch the midnight fireworks.  I know we will walk hand in hand and as small a thing as it seems, it makes my heart jump.

I crawl back into bed next to him and kiss this cute little wrinkle he has on his forehead.  He seriously should not have wrinkles yet at his age.  Maybe it's because he lives next to the sea, or maybe he just worries a lot.  He opens those beautiful blue eyes and smiles back at me.  This is another one of those moments.  Life is amazing and so his he.'s March 21, 2012.  Iris just started playing on my computer.  I'm smiling and crying at the same time.   Every time I hear this song, this is the memory I have.  When life was great and I was amazingly happy.  I know things ended for a reason.  I know they had to.  Glass half-full me really hopes I get another shot at feeling that 'on top of the world' feeling again.  But even if I don't, I felt it once and I was so lucky.  Thank you, Kevin, wherever you are.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Baggage Claim

I turned 40 last week.  How did that happen?  I remember my 30th birthday like it was just a couple weeks ago.  So much has happened since then.  Divorce, got my own place, met the man of my dreams, applied for K-1 fiance' visa, got dumped when visa process was nearly finished, cars, weight gained and lost and gained again, became an aunt again, met another guy, thought he was the one, got preggo, miscarried, lost my last grandparent, surgeries, concerts, travel, met some idols, friends came and went and came back.  In just ten years.  Blink, it's gone!

A friend once told me something like - I'm staring down the hill, I'm 40.  How depressing.  I guess if you want to look at it that way it's your prerogative.  I prefer to think of it as a ton of experiences and I hope that I've learned something from them all.  I hope I carry those lessons with me and make fewer mistakes because of them.  Being 40 and single (well, divorced) is not what I envisioned my life to be, way back when I had designs on where I saw "Future Jenn."  It's not a terrible thing, but it's nice to have someone to share conversations and 'all that other relationship stuff.'  Another friend recently mentioned that people our age have so much baggage.  I flash back to the first paragraph and my summation of the last 10 years.  Yep, she's right.  Baggage.  Tons of it.  I try not to dwell on it too much.  Some of it was fantastic, some of it, not so much.  It serves a purpose though, doesn't it?  I can look back and think, wow, how stupid was I?  Or wow, I really did that!  Or even, wow, I...really...did that.

I guess I've always tended to try and see the glass half-full.  I probably hold onto hope a lot longer than others would that things will work out somehow.  Everyone tells me there's someone out there for you!  Wow, who wants a 40 year old woman?  I know!!!! A 90 year old man!  Silver lining has a whole new meaning.  But seriously, with all the people out there who have found happiness and all those who thought they found it, but now want to lose it, I think I'll try and take my time and do things the right way.  Lord knows, I haven't done either of those things in the past.  Thankfully, he knows how to keep a secret!  Men are weird, mysterious and in my experience, difficult reads.  For once I'd like to find the one who's as wild about me as I am about him.  So far, no luck in that area, but, for now, I refuse to give up hope.

My favorite cousin and I have re-connected, just before I hit the big four oh.  She is 9 months older than me.  We had so much fun when we were younger.  We were co-salon/boutique owners, she did hair and makeup and I designed clothes.  We also were accomplished choreographers and this was all before either of us could drive!  The fun we used to have!  When we did get to the age of driving, we spent many weekends together, 'cruising town', going dancing, scoping out guys and mostly staying out of trouble.  I usually had to be in by 11, with my strict father laying down that law, not much trouble 2 teenage girls in smalltown, PA could find before 11pm.  We turned out okay though.  She's been married since 1994!!!!  She's got 3 kids, who I'm sure are as well-behaved as we were.  The first time we went out together was about a month ago and I felt like I took over the whole conversation.  When we left the restaurant, I realized (with embarrassment,) she hadn't said much of anything, but she listened with interest to all my stories, good and bad.  No judging.  When we arranged our next 'date' I made sure to tell her that she needed to 'take the floor' this time.  Her reply was I don't have much to talk about.  Your stories are more interesting.  You should write a book.  I told her I'd have to take a pen name, due to the fact that I'm not exactly proud of everything I've done in life and I can't imagine having my parents read it all in print!  My baggage spread out for everyone to see!  Just like when I went to England for the first time and I opened my suitcase to unpack in the hotel.  I unlocked the case and upon opening it, there was a piece of paper in there that I did not pack. It was not in there when I handed it off to the lady at the desk in the Philly airport!  It read something like, "Your bag has been inspected for the safety of all."  This had been my first time flying.  If I could tell you what was in that bag, you would seriously explode with laughter at that statement, but if I told you, I'd have to use a pen name...