Saturday, August 31, 2013


(That title may be my only Neil Diamond reference in any blog I write.  Ever.)

Today is the last day of August.  While the date has very little significance on the average calendar, it has great meaning to me this year.  It marks the end of the summer...for which I am truly ready.

The month of August, for me, was quite exciting.  I celebrated my birthday...literally from the 1st through the 31st.  (I'm drinking coffee from my "Birthday Girl" cup today, because I wasn't home on my actual birthday.  And there may or may not be a birthday cupcake waiting for me on the kitchen counter.)  I also took the vacation of a lifetime, thanks to the generosity and hospitality of several dear friends, to locations such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and (almost) all points between.  It was a truly fabulous ending to an otherwise less-than-pleasant summer.

Oddly enough, I thought this was going to be the greatest summer of my life.  But, life pointed in my face and yelled, "HA!!"  The jerk.

You see, exactly one week before Memorial Day, the unofficial official start of summer, I guessed it....a man.  But, not just any man.  I met the man I had given up looking for; the man who would knock me off my feet; the man of my dreams; the man I didn't believe existed.  He was "it".  I was the happiest I had been in over ten years...perhaps in my entire life. He was perfect for me.  Handsome, intelligent, kind, affectionate, gentle, playful...the list was endless.

The only real problem was the fact that he lived 1800 miles away, in Arizona, and was headed back that week.  So, we had to stay in contact via technology...which we did faithfully.  (Hmmm....interesting choice of words..."faithfully"....)  He would greet me every morning, as soon as he woke up, with a text that made my heart sing.  We would text throughout the day about everything from what we were eating for lunch to what song on the radio made us think of each other.  We would talk on the phone every night before I went to sleep.  And we prayed for each other every day.  It was simple.  It was easy.  It was sweet.  And I was falling in love.

We immediately started making plans for when we could see each other again. As it turned out, I had a trip scheduled for a conference in Nashville a few weeks later...and he had a work-related trip there which he was able to schedule for the same timeframe.  (His job required him to travel all over the US.)  The countdown began and we were so excited that we would see each other again in just a few weeks.

In the meantime, however, a series of events took place in my life that were much less wonderful.  In fact, the night we met, I received word that a good friend of mine had passed away.  The next day, the child of some of my dear friends was tragically killed in a bizarre accident.  I was crushed to hear of both of these incidents.  That week was an emotional see-saw.  While I was grieving over the loss of these precious lives, this wonderful man in my life was courting me so beautifully that I couldn't help but be happy.  He told me each day that he was keeping me in his prayers...especially on the day of both funerals.  (I could only attend one, but my heart was with both families.)  I thanked God for him every morning and every night.

The following Monday was Memorial Day.  I had to work, so he kept me company by sending me lots of texts telling me how beautiful he thought I was and how much he wanted us to be together.  He called me that night and I mentioned how much I loved it when he called me beautiful.  I said something along the lines of, "I hope that doesn't make me sound vain."  He laughed and replied, "Well, you *are* a little vain, don't you think?"  I was surprised to hear him say that, and questioned why he thought it.  But, he assured me that I was only a little bit vain...and that it kinda went with the job of being a DeeVah.  I realized that he was probably right and laughed with him.

The next morning, I woke up with a searing pain just below my right ear.  Within a couple of hours, I realized that the right side of my face was paralyzed.  I had Bell's Palsy.  Of course, I playfully blamed "him" for calling me vain, but it did knock me down several notches.  For the next 3 weeks, I had no shred of vanity left in me.  I looked like a circus freak.  I couldn't eat or drink without food falling out of my mouth or my beverage running down my chin.  I had one eye that wouldn't close all the way, so I had to wear an eye patch for several hours a day.  I couldn't pronounce certain consonants very well, so my speech sounded like that of a drunken Elmer Fudd.  I felt like a hideous monster.

But, every day, "he" would tell me I was beautiful.

The Bell's Palsy episode caused me to re-evaluate my lifestyle.  The condition was brought on by stress.  Nothing else.  When I realized that I had allowed myself to be so overcome by the cares of life that it actually took a physical toll on me, I decided to do something about it.  I had to let some things go.  I took a break from several of my singing gigs (which were humiliating in my condition, anyhow!), I started getting up early each morning and taking some time to pray and meditate before taking on the day, and I really tried to focus on simplifying my life.  I knew I didn't want the paralysis to last any longer than it had to...not just because I am so vain (which I realized was so true!), but also because I didn't want any permanent nerve damage.  I was determined to beat it...and FAST!  Also, I knew I would see "him" in just over three weeks, and I certainly did NOT want to look like Two-Face from Batman.

Thankfully, by the end of the third week, I had regained about 95% of my facial movement.  In fact, most people said they couldn't even tell I had ever had Bell's Palsy.  I could still see a little bit of drooping in my right eye...especially in photos.  But, overall, I was fine.  I did have a bit of puffiness in my face as a result of the steroids I had been taking, but I knew that wouldn't last.  Still, I was a little nervous about seeing "him".  I wanted to look like I did the night we met.  He assured me, however, that he couldn't wait to see my face matter what.  My heart melted a little more and I fell a little harder for him.

Finally, our reunion in Nashville arrived.  I was so very very sure that my life was about to change forever.  And, boy was I right.  I won't belabor the details, but the Reader's Digest version goes thusly:  He was a philandering, lying, cheater who had been in a relationship with another woman for two years.  (She called his cell repeatedly while we were together...the poor, oblivious soul.)  And, as if that wasn't enough, I observed him texting at least seven other women during our time together.  When I confronted him, all I got was, "I'm not involved with any of them the way I am with you.  This is special."  Ugh.  My decision was painful but quite simple...I walked away from him.  I called him out on it, told him that I respected myself far too much to be with a man who did not respect me enough to at least be discreet about his indiscretions, and I walked out.  He didn't even attempt to stop me.  It broke my heart in more ways than I can ever put into words...but, I had no choice.

Please, however, do not pat me on the back for being so strong.  While he may have seen a strong-willed, self-respecting woman walk away from him, I came home and curled up into a ball on my couch and cried for weeks.  Weeks, people.  Not days...but, WEEKS!  I felt as though I were dying.  In fact, I had moments when I wished I were dying.  Surely, that couldn't hurt as badly as what I was feeling.  This was the first time in over ten years that I allowed myself to love someone so deeply.  I was ready to be in love with him.  I was ready to move to Arizona or wherever we decided to live.  I was ready for my forever to begin.  And, then, in a matter of moments, it all vanished.  Everything I believed to be true was gone.  As if it had never happened.  It was like emotional whiplash.  I grieved as though someone had died.  I suppose, in essence, someone *had* died.  The man I believed him to be was gone.  It took me only a few hours to realize that he was not the same man who had been texting and calling me every single day for five weeks.  I know...five weeks seems like nothing...but, it was a lifetime for me.  Within a few brief moments, he showed himself to be a cruel, cold, self-absorbed man who didn't even feel the need to apologize to me, much less attempt to redeem himself or restore our relationship.  I was devastated, and not just because the relationship was over.  That was MY decision, not his.  What crushed me was the complete lack of remorse that he showed.  It was as though he said to himself, "Well, that was fun while it lasted.  NEXT?"

I spent the next several weeks questioning myself.  Isn't it strange that we allow someone else's bad behavior to make us wonder what we did to deserve it?  But, that's exactly what I did.  I also questioned my judgment.  How could I have fallen so hard for someone so horrible?  How did I not see that in him?  Is he really that good at hiding it, or am I just that stupid?  I heard someone on a TV show say, "I have never been so sure...and so wrong!"  That's exactly how I felt.  And I began to doubt that I will ever allow myself to trust my heart again.

I faced a few other personal struggles during that time, but I think I've been a Debbie Downer long enough, so let's move on to the happy ending.  I did learn a few good things through the experiences of this dark, dreaded summer.

First of all, I trust God.  Implicitly.  Through each of the situations I have described here, God was clearly present.  I may not have understood all (or any) of the outcomes, but I recognized his fingerprints on each of them.  I watched God move in miraculous ways in the lives of my friends who lost their loved ones so tragically.  I found a renewed peace and increased faith during my bout with Bell's Palsy.  And, even though the relationship failed miserably, I placed it in God's hands from the very beginning.  I can honestly say that I know I did nothing "wrong"...nothing to deserve the way I was treated.  The end result was all due to someone else's bad decisions.  And I am quite certain that God was just as displeased with the outcome as I.  It wasn't God's fault, either.  God did not let me down...not for a moment.

Secondly, I learned that I truly do have the most amazing friends and family in the universe.  The support and love and encouragement that I received during the Bell's Palsy episode kept me from losing my mind.  I cannot tell you how easy it would have been to sit and cry every day that I woke up and saw no change.  Believe me, I wanted to.  But, the people who loved me the most knew that I had to keep going...I had to beat it...I had to show Bell's Palsy who the DeeVah really was! Thank you for that.

Those same people recognized that I needed to do just the opposite after the break-up.  I needed to cry.  And I needed to cry hard.  I needed to feel what I was feeling...just not for too long.  Some sat and cried with me.  Others just respected my need to be alone at times.  But, all of them understood and allowed me to feel what I needed to feel.  Yeah, he was a dumb, stupid, cheating, lying, jerk-face...but, I wasn't ready to hear anyone say that just yet.  I still loved him.  I didn't really want him back...because he was a dumb, stupid, cheating, lying, jerk-face...but I didn't hate him either.  That's not how I roll.  When I love someone, I love them forever.  Those who know me best, know this about me.  And they let me grieve.

THEN, however, they drug my cry-baby butt out of my house and made me enjoy life again.  The entire month of August was just one big party...and it was all about ME!  (Well, okay...not ALL about me...but a lot!)  I heard myself laugh and sing again for the first time in several weeks.  And, it felt really good.

Lastly, I learned that I am capable of being in love again...and, to be perfectly honest, I had given up on that notion.  In fact, just a few weeks before I met "him" (you know...the dumb, stupid, cheating, lying, jerk-face), I told a friend that I had not been in love in 10 years and I really didn't believe I would ever be again.  I know what I want in a relationship and I will not settle for less (obviously), and I simply did not think there was anyone out there who could meet up to my standards.  Apparently, I was wrong.  Sure, he turned out to be a bonehead, but there was a whole lot about him that was quite wonderful.  I remember how I felt during those five, short weeks and, as much as it hurt when it ended, it was so incredibly beautiful while it lasted.  I would be a liar if I said I never wanted to be in love again.  Truthfully, right now, I have no interest in feeling that way any time soon.  But, I know how sneaky life is...and I suppose it can point its finger in my face again whenever it wants and yell, "HA!!"  So, bring it on.  (Just, please, no more dumb, stupid, cheating, lying, jerk-faces, mkay?)

Be blessed, my friends.  And may throw us a curveball now & then, but God is never taken off-guard.

~ Melanie  (the DeeVah)

P.S.  That birthday cupcake?  FAIL!  The excessive hot pink frosting not only stained EVERYTHING around it...including my favorite yellow monkey tasted like medicine. And not the good kind.  You realize what this means, don't you?   It means I need to go buy another cupcake...from a different store...immediately.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sweating Icicles

Forget about global warming...this is how my morning has gone:

  • 3:30am - wake up sweating because the thermostat resets to 85 when the power goes off.
  • 5:15am - alarm quite rudely interrupts my I'm freezing and have cocooned myself in my fleece monkey blanket...don't make me get up.
  • 6:10am - teach spin class in the 3rd level of Gehenna -- it's 400° in the room and now we have to pedal UPHILL!
  • 7:00am - drenched in sweat...time to hit the shower...last rinse-off with cool water in an attempt to lower body temperature.
  • 7:30am - previous attempt failed...even with 2 fans blowing on me, I'm sweating like the Friday night speaker at VA Campmeeting.
  • 7:40am - finally get my hair dried and "fixed", makeup on, time to head to my office. Sunnuvagrunt! I let Nancy take my car home, so now I have to hoof it across heels...schlepping my gym bag, spin shoes, laptop and about 85% humidity.
  • 7:45am - plop down at my desk and pray that the A/C kicks on soon before I sweat to death....why did I even bother blow-drying my hair??
  • 8:00am - still blotting my face and neck with the hand towel I swiped from the Rec Center.(I will return it...sheesh!)  Seriously...all I need is a polyester suit and someone on a B-3 and we could have CHURCH up in here.
  • 8:15am - finally, the A/C has come on and my face is no longer melting down my neck.
  • 8:25am - A/C is freezing me to blueness...turn on my space heater and wrap myself around a steamy cup of coffee in hopes of thawing out.

It's a wonder I don't have pneumonia.  I can hardly wait until I start having hot flashes...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fly, Dummy, Fly

I am a singer.  (If this is news to you, then I am clearly a complete stranger to you.  Nice to meet you.)  While sight reading is one of my stronger talents, I positively loathe reading a new chart in front of an audience.  But, from time to time, a DeeVah's gotta do what a DeeVah's gotta do.  Last night was one of those times...sorta.  It was actually just at a rehearsal.  (But, I had a microphone...which means people could HEAR me!)

The song was an Alicia Keys tune entitled, "If I Ain't Got You", with which I was only vaguely familiar.  (In my world of music, I call it 'karaoke knowing' a song.  You know....when you just kind of hum along and bob your head until you get to the part that everyone knows, and then you sing that at the top of your lungs while making your best rockstar face.)  In fact, I didn't recognize the song at all until the chorus...and, even then, I realized I only actually knew the first line, "Some people want it all, but I don't want nothin' at all..."  <Insert rockstar face here>  From there on, I was flailing...eyes glued to the notes while trying to grab the lyrics in my peripheral vision...and I was hating it.  I'm the DeeVah.  I should know this song!  And, let's face it...attempting to chart out the actual notes & rhythms that Alicia actually sings is likely to yield about 70% accuracy, at best.  (Needless to say, what I was singing wasn't even that accurate.)  My main focus was on the notes, but I didn't know the lyrics,, I just read what was written and tried not to judge Ms. Keys for writing the most ridiculous lyrics I had ever seen.  According to my chart, the chorus read thusly:

Some people want it all
But I don't want nothin' at all
If it ain't you baby
If I ain't got you baby
Some people want dummy wings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain't got you.

Wait.  Some people want dummy wings?  What the huh??  What are dummy wings?  And, why would someone want them?  I was bewildered, but too busy trying to learn the blasted song to worry about how utterly stupid that sounded, so I just cringed my way through it.  Until midway through the 2nd chorus on our 2nd run-through...when it dawned on should have read "diamond rings".  Some people want diamond rings.  Yes.  That's more like it.

And then I laughed.  For the rest of the song, I laughed.

You see, the chart was arranged and transcribed by someone named Jesper Riis, whom I believe is Danish.  And I suspect that Mr. Riis does not speak English very well.  It appears to me that he just listened to Alicia sing the song, and then wrote down what he heard her say...or, what he thought she said.  And, he thought she said "dummy wings".  Dummy.  Wings.

On my drive to work this morning, as I was singing along with Ms. Keys on my iPhone, I smiled when I got to that line and giggled at the idea that I could possibly have sung those words, had I not realized the mistake.  Then I began to question what Mr. Riis may have thought that line meant when he wrote it.  How would that concept translate in the context of the song?  Why would some people want dummy wings in relation to things like fortune, fame, roses, and other desirable possessions?  What, exactly, are they?  And, if I had a pair of dummy wings, what would I do with them?

The answer was almost immediate:  They are wings...for dummies.  And, I would give them to some dummy in my life and tell them to fly away from me.

Wouldn't that be a valuable thing to have?  A pair of dummy wings that you could just slap onto the back of some idiot who makes your life less-than-fabulous and then shove them off of a high ledge or cliff.  Whether or not they had enough sense to flap them and actually fly away rather than crash into a worthless heap of stupidity would be completely up to them.  Either way, they'd be out of your life.  You'd could even wave and smile as they flew away while you celebrated the fact that you were free of the dummy for good.

I think I'm going to need more than one pair.

And, I'm glad Mr. Riis didn't write "dummy boomerangs".