Bunkbed Breakthroughs

I have always been what I call the eternal optimist, and it is true, I do believe in the best of people, almost to a fault. While I have been often criticized for attracting the nut jobs, not allowed to walk into the store for my reputation to find a friend while sampling cheese is so common and distracting for most, I usually am told to wait in the car. Not anymore.

HELL NO.

I got sick to death of the leach energy stealing time and life draining emotional vampires that I had come to a good place, deciding to become a more balanced and aware person of where my time and attention went.

Then, a few facebook stalking fools and a psycho date here and there along with a family fallout made me discover I wasn’t that at ALL, I had been naive, an open target to all who wanted to dump any problem. When I found out from Thelma, who looked at me confused once, as I vented about how much I didn’t want to discuss this or that, she said something brilliant, or known, who knows.

You do know you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to tell, right?”

What? What the hell is she talking about? I thought.

“Wait a minute, come on. You have to know that when people ask questions, even if I am uncomfortable, I know it is because I am so open, I mean my life is already a public blog so I rarely complain, right?”

She didn’t agree, which shocked me. She said who gave a damn, I owed nothing to anyone, and my life was my own, and this was a boundary problem.

Holy Shit. She was right.

I enjoy writing, and my own words, by myself, and I like looking back later and reading stories of my girls, my life is as surprising to me as a stranger, my memory of yesterday, is

Wait. What happened yesterday?

See what I mean. But, I don’t enjoy discussing these private issues or being distracted or feeling angry I wasted time on people who didn’t even care. This is the new me, I thought, glaring down the grocery clerk who usually tells me to put back items cause they were not on sale. Sometimes I do, just because it makes her feel better, and I don’t mind.

Not anymore.

I do mind.

I do have a filter, I just didn’t know I was allowed to use it.

Plus, the displaced anger is helping this, since finding out this past year that most humans appeared to be blood sucking vampires that would eat your heart and vomit back what they didn’t want, leaving you broken, hurt, destroyed, as they appeared content, as long as the next victim was lined up first, proving your love never even mattered.

I promised myself to protect the little girl in me that felt so unsafe and powerless to never believe she was entitled to anything private, or that would mean she wasn’t loving.

I thought having your own private life or dreams and experiences made you a withholding unloving fake, someone who lived a lie or a secret, so I offered up all information to anyone I met, so they would know how honest I am.

I have liked this but have been a little bit angry and more cynical than usual, my guard up, ready to put the “STRANGER DANGER” cross X with my hands, any person walking towards me for any reason was not going to be aware I wasn’t a fool, that I saw straight past their bullshit.

So, today I got up early for Jury Duty, the last crazy I attracted, recorded and blogged should tell you I knew this was the prime place to be prime pickings for the crazy, so I had a game plan folks.

It was kind of fun. I feel like a detective.

I walked in, scanned the room, full of people, a thrilling thought at one time, but that was the old me, you see. I saw the old nanny chatty Kathy’s in the back, the old man going on and on to a row of people about his many jury duties experience, like he was some expert.

I saw the young mom types and thought about it.

Nah, they will ask questions about the kids.

I saw the classic men cub with earphones in, eyes shut.

Damn, why hadn’t I thought of it?

I saw the old me, the few acting as if they had just been introduced to a soul mate because they found out they all lived right next to some school.

No shit, people. We are all here from the same county, duh. My cynicism felt like an umbrella, protecting me from a hurricane. Not too reliable, but it at least had a hopeful plan.

SO, I saw a woman quietly reading who looked as exciting as a librarian at a night club, picked my target seat, no one else would be able to sit on an end seat even better, so yes, this was it.

Is this how introverts work normally? I just wondered that actually and I find it interesting.

She didn’t look up. Perfect. Whew. I was doing great, especially without a laptop, which made me pissy, not knowing you could bring one, but being not a morning person and already grouchy helped.

Until that damn receptionist lady, who had been the same one for my divorce, who I wanted to scream “I KNOWWW YOU!!!!!” loud with enthusiasm, like she would give a damn, so I squirmed.

Didn’t even say a word. Getting good, people, getting real good.

Then, we were issued a seat number where the dude said we would have to make real close friends with the person on the left and right, and my stomach sank.

Shit. I got nervous. What if I got the crackhead in the back, talking non stop, asking questions, or the god awful lady at the coffee station, all nosy, telling people they needed to try her cream from home, which she brought in her purse.

So of course, I heard my name, told myself to focus not look up, watch for sudden conversation starters and look at book at all questions. Repeat, I thought, Repeat.

And yes, of course, I sit down look up and a man my age in a blue shirt tight around his muscles with a nice tan and pearly white teeth smiles.

Fuck.

Oh, look to the right, look to the right, I thought, and damn if the Universe isn’t a pain in my ass but there sat a man cub, emerald green eyes sparkling with humor, looking like his mom just dressed him, all uncomfortable and ADHD in his seat.

Fuck me.

I sat down, stone cold.

No one said a word, and I felt like I was about to explode from holding in about a zillion comments, jokes, thoughts, questions, all banging up and down, asking to get out, then pleading.

“Hey,” sexy blue shirt man said, in a low whisper.

You think they would let a Government High School teacher out of this on his only break, ya know?” He was holding a phone with an adorable photo of his little boy.

I smelt friendly, nice, interesting, and harmless.

So, the bubble burst. “You teach High School? What grade? Do you love it? Did you always know?

My natural curiosity led to many interesting topics and man cub entered in by saying, “Dude. My mom had to pick me up from Athens last night just to get me here on time.”

He listened to my recent adventure of the crazy woman and how I almost went to jail for missing (https://buddhathepig.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/jury-duty-and-my-new-nickname-miss-geraldo-rivera/) and laughed his ass off, and before you know it, we got dismissed but a few of us stayed behind to finish the documentary below, a great documentary on a underwater scuba diver, which I added at end for your enjoyment.

When we departed, I was a little sad, wishing we had exchanged facebook requests.

And now, looking back, as I read this, I am beginning to see the lesson.

I don’t have to lose who I am to not get hurt. That alone makes me want to join a Gospel choir, my joy and relief that I am growing, not drowning, the sad fact is while in the lesson, it is hard to know the difference.

And then, in my bunk bed, Lola who requested we share the bottom in the month of June and the top the month of July, is the best roommate I ever had.

Almost asleep, thumb in mouth, eyes closed, she whispered, “Mommy.”

Yes baby?” I was reading a self help book with the lamp on.

You can cuddle with me any time, okay?

Broken hearts do heal, not over night, but holding her and thinking of my day reminded me of all that comes when you adhere to your own personal truth and convictions. It is worth all the loss, all the broken pieces, for the courage to be one’s true self is the battle, the hope that sits on your baby’s long gorgeous eyelashes, with the moon out, dolls on the ends of your feet, for if you just look, you will find it.

Hope is the ability to test all you know to become all who you always wanted to become. And if I find this is not the case, I at least know one thing for sure.

Next month I get to be on the top bunk, and if the Universe crumbles around me, I have already what really matters in life.

“Thelma and Louise, but in the Buff”

What happens when you and the girl you mutually do not like get paired up for studio lighting?

One of you is bound to get naked.

When I heard the announcement that we were partners, I groaned, my stomach tight and uneasy. I had many judgments, ruthlessly believed I was nothing like her, had talked about her behind her back which she called me out on. I was pissed I had not said it to her face to begin with, putting that lesson in my back pocket which I hope to never relive again, mad I had not said the words to her face from the very beginning.

The worse thing about gossip is that the thing you wanted to say translates to nothing you said therefore what you really wanted to say never gets heard.

Gossip sucks.

I didn’t blame her for not liking me either, content to leave it there, and so of course, an intense portrait and lighting class where concepts and meetings, hours of styling and modeling for each other takes course, our photographs depending on our partner’s collaboration.

I was screwed.

I thought about how I was going to handle this partnership, my photography and work a fierce passion for me, and I knew it was my work or my ego that was going to suffer, or perhaps both, and so, I decided I had to package and sell the worst product ever.

I had to figure out how to make this girl tolerate me.

We met at a Starbucks, both noticeably on guard while I pitched her the idea of taking all the judgments we had of the other and making fun of them through our photographs. I thought she would be defensive and disagreeable, but she laughed, surprised me by jumping right in, our love to photograph suddenly started wearing down our defenses, and after many hours, I found myself surprisingly adoring this girl I had thought uptight, crazy defensive, and incapable of being actually real.

Second huge lesson to put in pocket is to never judge, not just because you may be their actual model for a shoot critiqued by everyone in class, but because most likely you will find you are always without a doubt, 100% wrong. And so, I fell in love with her actually, not in the bi-hopeful way, but the really amazing way, an unfolding of trust that happens when a person decides you are worthy of it.

She was nothing like I had imagined, fearless and fun in a feisty determined way, not to mention a far better photographer, an actual working one, with nice equipment and years of experience already on her belt.

I had not thought her an artist until she began pushing me as hard and harder when I pushed her, a broad slap to my confidence, asking me to require myself of exactly what I had once accused her of not being.

She wanted me to get real.

As a lover of fashion photography, she wanted me out of my converse sneeks and jeans, my comfort zone peeling away with a sick vomit feeling replacing it. I hate being photographed.

No, seriously. I really really hate it.

And so, she argued, she hated it too, and if I were making her be a trophy wife, raw and revealing in low light and maybe smoking to make fun of her uptight attitude I had once imagined, she wanted me to be sexy.

She picked out my wardrobe, dove face first into the shot gun wedding bride I had imagined in my mind, her passion for my photos just as important to her as her own. We talked and laughed a lot, argued even, and I suddenly couldn’t remember what in the hell I ever disliked to begin with, remembering only when she opened her mouth in class, like the time she discussed all the books our teacher had written in class.

I wanted to smack her and here I was drinking in her passionate energy, and at three in the morning in her basement, had a tight dress, a make up artist, and before I knew it, was cold and naked in a coat waiting for her to decide what to dress me in next, our idea as a logical IT guy would be a certain irony.
I know when she gets an idea in her head, the way her head tilts, her eyes sparkle, the fast way she moves and directs, crazy to get the idea out of her. Now I also know the next time her eyes sparkle to run like hell.

“Don’t move,” she said. I was confused, thinking I was watching her grab her camera to actually shoot me, right at that moment, which I knew couldn’t be it. I looked over my shoulder.

“I said Don’t MOVE,” she barked, her eyes darted right through me.

“FUCK YOU,” I at least think that is what I said, but I will just wing it for the story since I do get a little grouchy at 4 in the morning, cold and tired, in heels with a fan on me. It had not yet hit me.

And then it hit me.

“YOU want me to look like this, for IT GUY? ARE YOU NUTS?”
She told me to look up at the wall and back at her in three.

“FUCK YOU.” I know I said it then, but actually laughing this time, because she was dead serious.

“Just shut up and do what I say, cause that is hot, and that is what I want.”
I give her props for not giving me time to bail, cry, or even think, and I realized she had just pulled off the impossible. I was modeling nude in a coat for an audience.

How did she get me to do that?

I realized I needed to shut my mouth more and watch what I think I can’t learn from. It also helped the basement studio has no mirrors, the inability to not see myself was vital, and so fuck it, I thought.
And so Thelma and Louise were born, her being Thelma she demanded, because of the obvious brown hair.

We worked tirelessly, and I learned more about photography in those early hours of listening to her direct me than any snapshot I called art. Anyone who can get me in front of a camera much less take off my clothes is someone I have a lot to learn from.
Well, that was my attitude until the day of class, the adrenaline and moment were over and I was now seeing the projector I had forgotten was as big as the coming back of Christ, my heart pounding, my head suddenly feeling slightly dizzy at the realization of what I might see.
I think I thought it was going to be the worst moment of my life, but it actually was interesting to hear myself critiqued in her photography by people I respect, the person in the photographs seemed distant and foreign, an actual vision of a painting or piece of art in front of me.
I didn’t really have a lot of thoughts about it.
We had key and low light, three different backgrounds, great concepts, and had learned a lot about each other, the best part of the assignment.
No, by walking away with each other, I say we nailed it.
I hate it that I can’t show off my work, but she is nothing like me, Thank God, and I would like for that not to change. Not everyone can be a perfect failure, an imperfect duality of having the highs no one can touch, the lows no one dares to imagine, the life everyone wants to visit, but not stay.
There is only one Miss Obvious.
I doubt I even need to point that out, which is an irony, of course, coming straight from the woman who owns the name.