Monday, December 28, 2015

Lies and Love

We are all liars. We lie to each other, but mostly we lie to ourselves. We create these ideals of what and who we are, and when things happen in our lives, we often get hurt and confused when they turn out to be something we didn’t expect. We don’t mean to lie to ourselves, in fact, we don’t often know we’re doing it. But the pain of the lies we tell ourselves, well, the pain hurts us really bad. Most often, even in the midst of the pain, we can sometimes still refuse to see the truth.

Why do we think it hurts so much when we’re disappointed, when our faith is tested and we’re deemed wanting? We hurt partly because we believe we failed on some level, but mostly because we were deceived, things didn’t turn out as we had imagined them, as we had hoped, as we had believed. We try to blame everything and everyone else for that pain. But if we really look at each situation in our lives, the worse of the pain stems from realizing we were wrong.

When I found out I had cancer, I instantly wondered what I had done wrong in my life to have deserved this punishment, to have earned this disease. That’s how I’m programmed to believe, that there are consequences for my actions, that for every action there’s an equal or opposite reaction, or there’s a blood price to pay for the sins we commit. When my ex-husband told me that he was never attracted to me or was never in love with me, I thought I deserved that, too. I didn’t deserve to be loved. The things I loved died. When my father would beat me for talking back to him or denying him, I thought I deserved the pain. The things I challenged hurt me. I was disobedient, and how can the universe, God, faith, or science honor disobedience? Even the natural laws of the universe have abstracts. When my oldest daughter ran away from home, I thought I too deserved that, after all… I ran away. I had just begun the journey of loving myself, loving my body, and loving my mind, and daring to love someone else when the cancer attacked. But it wasn’t the cancer that hurt me; it was the lies, the fantasy of a life I had created for myself, and those around me.

I ran, not so much from the people I loved from this crazy idea that it would hurt them less when I died if I was already gone, but I think I ran more from the dissolution of the dream world I’d built for myself, the hope of a life I dared to dream, and the reality of that dream didn’t live up the fantasy. Not even the man I thought I loved lived up to the man I had imagined. That’s not his fault, that was mine. It was unfair for me to build him as I had. He was perfect. He was simply amazing. Was he as I imagined him? Far from it, but I liked the lie. I fell in love with it. But as with all lies, the truth finally revealed itself, and I got hurt. No, I shattered.

So, here I am now, at a new place in my life, a strange place, because I can’t explain what happened to me, what happened to that dreamer, but I somehow I changed. I have slowly been piecing myself back together. While there are familiar fragments of the woman I used to be, I’m something different, I’m something new and the way I look at life, love, and living is something new too. Could it be another lie I’m telling myself? Maybe. I know I’m capable of it. I’m a writer after all, which makes me a master manipulator, an imaginative dreamer.

I don’t say this about being a liar as something derogatory. On the contrary, some of the lies are beautiful. The truth is always hard, always absolute, always concrete, but we are fluid, moldable, movable. The truth of life for me at this time is that not everything in my life is beautiful. There are struggles, there are strings, there are twists and turns, uncertainties, and a whole lot of choices. But there’s also adventure, discovery, and even love.

I’m falling in love again… in love with my life, in love with my body, in love with my mind, in love with my gifts, in love with my passions, in love with my sense of adventure, and in love with love. I might also be falling in love with this one particular Dominican Marine. Love has hurt me deeply before, broken me, shattered me, but I’m ready to try again. I’m ready to dream again, and the truth is… this is what living is all about – falling down and getting back up again. Love isn’t the broken pieces of my life, it’s the glue that keeps putting those broken pieces back together again. And that, my friend, is no lie.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I'm Scared, But It Feels Good!

I can’t even express what I’ve been through emotionally, physically, psychologically, or even intellectually over the past few years.  Well, I don’t have to, these blogs have recorded that for me.  I find myself even unable to read them because those emotions are just under the surface, and I can’t jump back onto that roller-coaster ride, not yet. The highs are really high, and the lows are so deep I find myself really, really, really wanting to stay afloat for just a little while somewhere in the middle, somewhere in a medium, somewhere safe I can breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want to feel the thrill of the peaks and the even the pain of the depths, but I just plead the universe gives me a little time to enjoy this moment of inertia.   

I’ve met someone recently, a wonderful, handsome Marine that keeps me smiling. I call him my Bello, because that’s what he is to me, he’s a beautiful soul that arrived in the midst of my darkness. I’m not sure I can explain what meeting him and knowing him is doing to me, because whatever is happening it’s momentarily outside my understanding.  I’m not going to say it’s love, but I’m not going to say it’s not.  I can only honestly say it’s different.  All the loves of my life have been different. Some complicated. Some painful.  All in the past, all gone, all of them I lost either by death, divorce, or deception. Each left a mark, a scar of their own, but a scar that I’m not ashamed to bare.  These scars have made me who I am.  I have no regrets. 

Last year, when I thought I was dying, I pushed everyone that meant anything to me out of my life, or at least to the edges of it, and built this huge wall of fear.  I became afraid… of everything and everyone.  I lost that girl that was living out loud and doing all these amazing things.  God, I envied her, I still do.  She was so full of life, so full of hope, so exuberant, taking on the world and taking a chance on life and on love.  Even now, I still envy her.  I fell in love with her, with myself, with life.  She had nothing, yet she had everything. But, I had to let her go, because cancer killed her, fear destroyed her, and a broken heart ripped her to pieces. She went from living out-loud and deep into survival mode - a place of numbness, detachment, minimal existence, darkness.

But light has entered the room.  Not a big light, but a little one and it grows brighter every day, exposing the shadows that have petrified me for too long.  I’m waking, wanting to find my way back to the light, back to a life full of sunshine, a life where I can once again live out loud.  I have too many dreams, too many hopes, too many passions to keep them hidden in the dark.  A dear revertant friend of mine has helped me see a glimpse that girl I once was, and though I can’t go back and be her, I can be even more.  I survived, again.  I’ve lost so much, but there is much more ahead of me.  

My Bello is showing me that though I’ve lost a lot, but those I’ve lost also lost me. I suppose that’s what I’ve had a hard time to see.  I’ve been so focused on what and who I’ve lost, even the girl I used to be, to see that I was the one lost, not them.  They lost me.  For whatever reason they didn’t choose me. Now, here I am, breathing, standing on my own two feet, staring at a world of possibility, alive, and ready to live.  I’m scared, but it feels good.  I’m ready to live out loud again. I’m ready to jump back into the light and fly.  My wounds are still there, and I have a few new scars, but my wings are not broken.  They’re sore, but I’m so ready to fly.  Yet, this adventure will be different, because I’m different.  I’m not the same woman I used to be. I haven’t yet figured out who she is yet, but I’m okay with that.

My Bello came to see me this week.  He moved his schedule around so that I wouldn’t spend Christmas alone.  Someone put me first.  It felt nice.  He moves me to find me.  He encourages me to chase my passions. He doesn’t ask me for anything.  He makes me feel beautiful, wanted, desired, and adored. Mostly, he inspires me want to live out loud.  While I love the feel of his strong arms around me, or the softness of his lips upon mine, I mostly love the fact that I don’t want to change for him. I only want him to hold my hand as I break out of this cocoon and spread my wings.   
I have loved deeply.  I have loved faithfully. I have loved wildly.  Mostly, I think I’ve loved love.  Maybe now it’s time for love to love me back.  I’m still scared, but it feels good.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, December 07, 2015

Isn't There Any Room?

With the world gathering beneath tinsel, families making holiday plans, lovers finding creative ways to express their affections, I can’t help but see the universe singing along filled with holiday cheers and fears. Yet, with all the fa-la-la, I also can’t help but feel a little lost. The constant festivities have me thinking about things, traditions, ideals about love. Working in the fashion industry and swimming among the super, secret, surprise sales, I also can’t help be a little disconnected, a little torn, and whole lotta confused.

I’m a giver, and I’m a rebel. I show emotion, and I keep it to myself. I like to do things for the people I love and care about, but I hate feeling like giving is an obligation. So, just as I didn’t feel pressured to cook an elaborate meal to feed our gluttonous appetites for Thanksgiving, I feel no pressure to buy meaningless gifts for a commercialized Christmas. I miss the Christmas cheer, but at the same time I’m free from the bondage of it.

Just as conflicted I am about the holidays, I’m just as conflicted about finding room in my heart for a new relationship in my life. I’ve lately met a wonderful man, my Bello, and he is delightful, and handsome and has many of the qualities I’ve always found attractive in a man. He keeps me smiling so much my face actually hurts. We seem to be kindred spirits and click in many, many, many ways. I like it. I like the whole romance phase. I like the butterflies, the expectation, the whole getting-to-know-you period. I’m not in a hurry, taking my time and letting things bloom in the sunshine as they’re meant. But, there’s also this small ache in my heart for the relationships of my past. The world keeps telling me I have to let them go so I can make room for something new. But, isn’t there room for everyone? Just as I continue to love my children as I enter a new relationship, I believe there’s room for both – the loves of my past and the loves of my future.

I suppose I’m struggling with the concept of ‘unloving’. I don’t think it’s possible, not when the love is real. I’m beginning to think that you NEVER stop loving. While you may stop being in an active relationship, you never stopping loving what you really, deeply, truly loved. These loves of our past helped mold us into who we are today. They’re part of our history, part of our experiences, part of our who we were – so how can we disconnect completely from that? My soldier died nearly 25 years ago, yet I still love him today. My love for him never prevented me from loving others and it doesn’t mean I love those in my life today any less. The pain of losing him made it hard for me to open my heart for a long time, but it didn’t stop me. I did open my heart. I did love. Wow, I mean… I loved deeply. I fell hard. I lived, I loved, I had an adventure. While that relationship didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean the love we had wasn’t real, and now that I’ve moved on to another relationship, it doesn’t mean the love is gone. It’s still there, and I believe it will always be there, because I don’t understand how to stop loving. I can stop being in their life, stop being connected, but I can’t make my heart stop the love. I can deny it, but I can’t stop.

Just as I see the holidays with a different pair of eyes, I’m learning more and more about love, and have discovered the concepts I’ve always accepted are like an artificial Christmas tree. Just as beautiful, but when the season is over you can pack the artificial tree away and bring it out year after year, but the real thing… the real thing, was a living thing and the scent of it never leaves you, even when the decorations are put away and the tree is gone from your life. All you have to do is close your eyes and you can still smell it. The life of it lingers in your heart, in your memory, and in your soul. The loves of the past… though gone, still linger, because my heart has plenty of room for all the loves I hope to experience in this life. I’m excited about this new spark, and I hope it burns true as the one’s before it, and yet even brighter.

Till next time,

~Tinsel Tinker, Love Inn Keeper

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Best Voyage

"The voyage of the best ship is a zig-zag line of a hundred tacks." ~Emerson

This is so true.  Life is filled with so many turns, obstacles, and adventures.  If it worked out how we planned it, oh, what a boring life it would be.  I've had all kinds of moments... good ones, bad ones, dreams and nightmares.  While I didn't enjoy many of them, I wouldn't change them, because they've made me who I am. I can look behind me and see the zigs and zags, and the tacks are colorful and numerous.  It makes me excited and afraid of what might lay ahead.  I'm excited, because I'm enjoying the trip.

~Passenger Aboard the US TonyaView blog

Monday, November 23, 2015

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

**Image from

There are some songs I remember from my childhood, songs like nursery rhymes, rock-n-roll anthems my parents used to play in the car or through the house as they were getting stoned, school songs, and that odd song that would randomly come on the radio or television. One of those songs is The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) by Simon & Garfunkel. I can’t tell you when I first heard the song, but just know that forty-four some-odd years later, I still remember it; every-single-word.

“Slow down, you move too fast. Ya got to make the mornin’ last, just kickin’ down the cobble-stone, lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy. Da-da-da-da-da… feelin’ groovy. Hello, lamppost, what ‘cha knowin’. I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’. Ain’t ya got no rhymes for me? Da-da-da-da-da… feelin’ groovy. I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep. I’m dappled and drowsy and ready for sleep. Let the mornin’-time drop all its petals on me. Life I love ya’, all is groovy.”

Facing the next 3-4 weeks of a 50-hour work schedule, that’s what I’d like… for the world just to slow down a little bit. But, it doesn’t. It never does. It reminds me of another song that says, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” Boy, those hippies of the 60’s and 70’s may have been stoned, but they had some really profound sayings.

I woke up this morning listening to the birds singing their morning song. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to their soulful melodies because I moved to a freakin’ hot state that is awfully humid, forcing me to keep the windows shut and the air-conditioner constantly humming it’s dull, dreadful song. For a woman who dreams of breathing in fresh mountain air, this Florida whether is about the farthest thing away from anything I want. But I’m here, and I’m trying to make the best of the hard decision I made to come.

But, just because my life is spinning wide open like a treadmill set on fast speed and I have to keep up or else I’ll lose my footing and go flying off the end, I can choose to regulate my breathing, slow down my mind, and fall into pace. I can choose to enjoy those simple things like listening to the bird’s morning song, remember staring into pair of beautiful, brown eyes and feeling the warmth of a strong pair of arms, listening to the laughter of a simple joke, playing a game of Nancy Drew with my best friends, feel the excitement of meeting someone new, getting to know my co-workers, and taking one slow step at a time at living out loud.

So, as Simon & Garfunkel sang, let’s all just slow down a little bit, make the morning last, take a few moments and just breathe, smell the flowers of life, feel the love of those around us. I feel loved this morning having received unexpected messages from some of my favorite people in the world. It wasn’t earth-shattering messages, just simple hellos from old friends, new friends, past friends, and friends I hope to be there in my life for always. I don’t love easy, but I do love deeply.

Till next time,

~Groovy-Feelin’ Hippy

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Let Me Count the Ways

The older I get, the more I look back on life with a little more perspective, and the more I see things differently than I did in my wild, younger days. Well, that’s really a lot of bullshit, because I never really had wild, younger days. I had the misfortune of being bogged down with adult responsibilities since before I could talk. However, I had wild, youthful notions through inexperience and naivety, especially when it came to love.

Having a conversation with a very close friend last night about love, about being in love, about responsibility and accountability, it reminded me of the things I loved most about the people I have loved, and even some I continue to love today. Why do we love the people in our lives? It reminds me of the practice of picking a daisy and plucking the petals with “he loves me, he loves me not”, or some lame poetic utterance of, “Oh, how I love thee… let me count the ways.” Really, what are those ways? What are the things that we truly fall in love with about someone else?

I’d like to say that in my past relationships that I fell in love with a heroic act, that my superman swooped in and saved the planet, saved me from uncertain death, or saved me from unhappiness, abuse, or a life depraved. But, I can’t say that, because no one ever saved me from anything. I have fallen in love, only in different ways, for different things. It was never for those big reasons, or even for those shallow ones like sex, physical features, money or fame. No, NONE of those things ever seduced me. It was cleverness, compassion, thoughtfulness and nerdiness that stole my heart. Deep conversations, wild speculations, imaginative curiosity, individual reflection, courage, passion, and confidence… oh, let me count the ways.

Touching is nice. Sex is fantastic. Chemistry, fire, passion… they all burn hot, and it’s all good. But, it’s playing trivia, sharing a song, contemplating deep thoughts, debating philosophy, sharing nerdy passions like a favorite movie, tv show or video game, sending silly memes, talking about embarrassing moments, texting me when someone does something to make you angry or happy, sharing dumb jokes, podcasts, videos, or just the everyday things, etc. THESE are the ways that steal my heart. These are the moments that are remembered and cherished. Passions fade. Bodies get old. Things rust. But, moments of love… those are the ways that last forever.

Till next time,

~Petal Plucker

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Looking for Love

Life’s a little crazy sometimes. Well, for me, it seems like it’s crazy all the time. But, isn’t that what we all think? While we believe we’re unique and individual, aren’t we really pretty much the same, with the same needs, the same wants, the same desires? The only differences lie within the degree of each? Who knows? I may be wrong in that assumption. I can’t really speak for anyone else, only for myself, and in that… these are my individual wants, my own selfish needs, my own personal desires. What do I really want right now in the middle of my crazy life? What is it I’m looking for? I suppose it’s the same thing I’ve been looking for all my life… I’m looking for love.

I have love in my life, have had love in my life, and am sure I’ll have new love in the days to come. I’m loved by my kids, by my friends, and maybe even loved by a man or two. But, am I in love? Maybe, maybe not. I’m too damned scared to know, or too damned scared to try. The last guy I fell in love with, I fell hard, and I fell deep, and I fell on my ass because he didn’t fall with me. Hitting the ground after such a huge leap leaves a person scared to jump again no matter how much they want, no matter how much they desire to feel the rush of falling, the excitement of dreaming, and the hope of a future. But I want it.

I have a lot of love to give, but I also have a huge empty space inside that I desire to fill. I’ve made room for friends, I’ve made room for family, I’ve made room for the things in life and the dreams I dream, but I want to make room for someone that I can share that life, those hopes, and dreams. Last year, I closed that room when I thought I was going to die. It’s been a long road back to approaching that door, and having the courage to reach for the handle and throw it open. It’s been hard. It’s been scary. No, it’s been terrifying. But I did it. With the love and support of my dear friends, I’ve once again grabbed that zest, that desire, that hope to live. That part of me that was ‘living out loud’ is beginning to hear the music again. It’s been one hell of a climb back up the mountain. I’ve had some very steep parts that I was only able to hang onto by the tips of my fingers and pull my whole weight as I struggled to find a foothold. But, I’ve made it. Love helped me. Love guided me. Love lifted me, when I couldn’t lift myself. Ah, dang it, now I have that stupid song stuck in my head, “love lifts us up where we belong…” And now… now I have something to share and something to give. But, oh Mylanta, am I afraid. I’m so scared I’m trembling.

What if I fall again? What if I jump and find myself hitting the bottom on my own? What if, like another song I know, I find myself looking for love in all the wrong places? It seems I’m drawn to the weird, the awkward, the damaged, the broken, those who’ve been in the trenches and carry the scars, those that have walls as thick as my own, if not thicker, or to the impossible, the improbable, or the forgotten. I’ve never chosen the easy way, but damned… for once can’t it be easy? I think that’s why I love fairy tales and superhero stories so much… though they have great obstacles to overcome, everything always works out in the end. So, I keep hoping that someday it’s time for my story, my fairy tale, my day to shine… and love will come looking for me.

Till next time,

Princess of Impossible Dreams

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Waiting for Superman

If you’ve never heard the song by Daughtry, “Waiting for Superman,” then you should definitely take a minute and check it out. I’m not going to say it’s the best song ever, I don’t think I could ever really say that about any song, but it’s definitely a song worth listening to at least once. I’ve actually had this song for a couple years now in my iPod, and play it every so often, but for some reason over the last few weeks I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

A friend of mine told me recently, “Songs to a person mean what you want them to mean. They don’t have to be amorphic. That’s why writers write in such a vague composition when it comes to songs. They want to include everybody’s feelings and experiences.” I suppose I should get to the song and how I’m finding relation to what it says, or at least what it says to me; that is, after all, the purpose of this blogpost today.

Another dear friend of mine told me recently, “You know, you’re always waiting.” I know the context in which he was referring, and when he said that to me, it hit me hard, because even though I knew that particular truth somewhere deep inside my subconscious, I didn’t realize it. Realizing the truth about something is the first step to changing it.

The song starts out...

“She’s watching the taxi driver, he pulls away
She’s been locked up inside her apartment a hundred days

She says, “Yeah, he’s still coming, just a little bit late.
He got stuck at the laundromat washing his cape.”
She’s just watching the clouds roll by and they spell her name
Like Lois Lane
And she smiles, oh the way she smiles

She’s talking to angels,
Counting the stars
Making a wish on a passing car
She’s dancing with strangers,
Falling apart
Waiting for Superman to pick her up
In his arms, yeah, in his arms, yeah
Waiting for Superman…”

Wow, the imagery my mind creates with that story. It’s amazing. But the pain I feel in my heart creates this huge lump in my throat and I can’t stop the tears that start to pool in the corner of my eyes. I get this song. I feel it. I can even taste it. What is it I’m experiencing? What is it that I’m seeing and relating to in this song? I see a woman who had to endure watching the love of her life, the hero of her heart and imagination disappear right out of her life. I’ve felt this now… twice. Twice, I’m left waiting… waiting for one soldier that will never come back, and another that chose not to. I’m the woman left behind, refusing to accept the truth, living in a delusional state because the pain is too hard to accept. It took me more than 20 years to visit the grave and stop waiting for the first soldier, my first Superman; how long now before I stop waiting on the second?

Superman, the superhero, was my first love, ever. At 10 years old watching Christopher Reeve fly across that screen, it literally took my breath away. To this day I’m a diehard Supes fan. I’ve always wanted to be Lois Lane, the woman who stole Superman’s heart. I even became a reporter at one point, obviously in an attempt at fulfilling that deep seeded fantasy. But, the more I think about it, I’m not sure I want to be Lois Lane anymore. What does it mean to be Lois Lane? What does it mean to be a woman so in love with a man, who sees him as her hero, who worships him like a god, yet is always waiting and will always come second to the world? A woman constantly deceived and lied to? A woman, a hero in her own right, yet shadowed by the spotlight of the man in a cape?

The delusions and excuses we tell ourselves to block the pain of reality is a hard pill to swallow. We wait. We wait for the truth to become the fantasy. We make excuses. We cling to a hope that our superhero will fly back to us one day, so we wait. Just the thought of him in our fantasy makes us smile with a pure joy. Yet, we can’t breathe, so we take these small, tiny, minute breaths, which deprive us of the levels of oxygen we need to think more clearly. But we don’t want to think more clearly, because to think more clearly is to lose the fantasy, to realize he’s not stuck at the laundromat washing his cape - he’s just not coming back. We pray to the angels, we count the stars casting our wishes upon them and all the passing cars. We dance with strangers, make the appearance that we’re fine, we’re okay and living our lives. We’re mingling with others, laughing out loud, yet constantly looking for his face in the crowd, his eyes behind every pair of glasses, his smile, his touch… but we can’t find him among all these strangers. Inside we’re falling apart and become just a pile of broken pieces, waiting, waiting, always waiting. We’re just waiting for our superman to rescue us, to pick us up, to save us and put us back together. Why? Because... we’ve flown in the clouds with him, we’ve tasted the sweet softness of his lips and felt the strong security of his arms. We’ve listened to the beat of his heart through his chest of steel.

“She’s out on the corner trying to catch a glimpse
Nothing’s making sense
She’s been chasing an answer, a sign lost in the abyss,
This Metropolis

She says, "Yeah, he’s still coming, just a little bit late.
He got stuck at the Five and Dime saving the day.”
She says, "If life was a movie, then it wouldn’t end like this,
Left without a kiss."
Still, she smiles, oh, the way she smiles, yeah…”

When the heart wants what it wants, and the mind wants something different, a war begins between the two. I’m learning that love isn’t rational, and can’t be conquered, or overcome rationally, because it doesn’t fight rationally or fair. Love is a tricky little devil and stubborn as hell, and wild – so wild it can never really be tamed. We can be as delusional as this woman waiting for the hero that will never come, looking for any and every sign of hope, clinging to every lie because it’s better than the truth no matter how rational she wants to be. She’s not blind, she sees the reality, and the truth… she just can’t escape the reality of her heart no matter how rational her mind wants to be. Love can’t just be turned off. All she has to do is close her eyes and remember… and the burn of the kiss is still there.

I used to think this kind of love didn’t exist. I had convinced myself I had made it up. Loving a hero long gone, it was easier to deny the pain I held in my heart by creating a universe where I had only imagined the love I had thought I felt to try and escape the pain at its loss. The delusion helped me be rational in all my other relationships. But, what I thought was rational was just another delusion, because the love was still there, it was still real, and it still hurt that my hero had died and left me behind, left me waiting for a return that would never come. It took finding, feeling, and falling in love with another hero to show me the truth, to remind me what that wild love felt like, to show me the denial of it was the true delusion. Watching and feeling the loss of the second one, helped me grieve the first. I was able to finally say goodbye after all this time to my lost hero, but I haven’t quite figured out yet how to say goodbye to the second. I had no choice in saying goodbye to the first… he died. The second chose someone else. My head knows he doesn’t deserve me, that I don’t need to be saved because I’m the only one that can truly save myself, that I’m my own hero, that I can fly myself… without him. But my heart still desperately clings to the fantasy that he’ll one day fly back to me. And so, I smile, Oh, the way I smile.

I don’t want to be Lois anymore. I don’t want to keep waiting for Superman. I realize the truth - he’s not coming back, he’s not at the Five and Dime saving the day, he simply just flew away. Acknowledging the truth is the first step, now I’m just waiting on the change to happen and I hope it doesn’t take 20 years this time to accept it, and I’ll soon be able to say, “Later, gator.” Maybe my next great love will be something a little simpler and not involve capes.

Till next time,

~Lois Lane

Monday, October 26, 2015

Letting Go

Letting go isn’t as easy as it’s made out to be, or as easy as it sounds. Hell, it sounds so simple… you know, just open your hand and let it go. Elsa even understood it so much she sang a song about it. Holding on is hard. Holding on is scary. Holding on takes so much out of you; it breaks you down and pulls at the very center of who you really are. The way ‘letting go’ is made to sound so easy is like saying holding on is a bad thing. But is it, really? Isn’t holding on what makes a relationship work? Isn’t holding on what gets you ‘through’ the tough times in life? Hold on to the promises. Hold on to the hope. Hold on to faith. Hold on to love. Right? How come I feel like I’m the only one that ever ‘holds on’ to anything in my life? I’m sure that probably sounds like such a selfish and self-centered attitude, but I can’t help but feel the lump in my throat when I think about it, and feel the warm tears streak down my cheeks as I think of all those that found it so easy to let go… to let me go.

Yesterday, I was faced with the stark reminder that I’ve once again been left behind, forgotten, that life has moved on without me, that they have ‘let me go’ and are busy with their new life, without me. Yet, feeling the pain of it made it clear that I’m still holding on. The tears that flow this morning are tears from facing the reality that they’ve moved on. I suppose it’s time for me to do the same. It’s time for me to let go of the fairy tale that will never happen, the knight-in-shining armor moment that’s never coming. He’s got his Cinderella and I’m faced with the reality that I was just another faceless dancer at the ball; all dressed up, but didn’t quite possess the right shoes. Obviously, that wasn’t my fairy tale.

So, what do I do now? Let go? That’s easy to say, easy to think, easy to plan, but… what everyone fails to explain is ‘HOW’. How do I turn a part of my heart off? How do I stop dreaming? How do I stop hurting? How do I start to breathe again? I should know how to do this; I’ve done it so many times before. I should be an expert, or know how to write a how-to book on “letting go” and “starting over”. Yet, I know as much now as I knew every time before. I’m lost. I’m just lost. Nothing’s familiar in my life right now. For a few seconds in the mornings I forget I’m in a new town and separated from everything I love. I’m in a new job, and haven’t yet started back writing. I have everything I own and possess stuffed away in some storage unit, waiting to be reclaimed. That’s how my life feels: stored away just waiting to be reclaimed.

I have to let go, I have no choice. Those decisions were made without me. I may have been the one who moved away, but they left me long before that. The tears this morning remind me I’m still holding on, but there’s nothing in my hands except broken pieces of myself. Was it worth it? Is the pain I feel now worth the joy I felt while falling in love? Yes. I loved falling in love. It was scary, but exciting. For just a little while, I was the princess at the ball in the beautiful gown, and it was me with whom he was dancing. I felt the magic. The music moved me. Everything about it was beautiful. He was beautiful. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I dare dress up and attend another ball, but before I do I have to somehow “let go” of this particular fairy tale. Elsa, help me. My friends, please just hold me close and very tight. I love you all very much, and it’ll be your love that helps me find my magic again.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, October 19, 2015

Manly Man

I’ve often heard a guy talk about being ‘manly’, like his actions determine his level of maturity. But really… who makes up the rules? What is the measuring rod that determines the level of manliness that determines whether a male is manly enough? I hope to God it isn’t his ability to spit a nasty wad of tobacco half way across the yard, hit a chicken in the head, and bounce off a bell. That’s just stupid. I also hope it isn’t the deepness or squeakiness of his voice, because I’ve heard some squeaky men and some deep-toned whiny babies.

So, what truly determines the level of manliness accepted by men? Or do the women set this level of acceptability?

For me, what makes a man a man is simply the way he treats the women in his life. Does he respect his mother? Does he refer to females as bitches and ho’s? Does he treat his girlfriend like an object? Does he treat his daughter like a burden or mistake? Does he treat his sisters like they’re not important? How does a man treat the woman in his life? An imbecile treats their women deplorably… and their accomplishments, achievements or abilities mean SHIT, regardless of their virginity status or deepness of voice. An asshole is an asshole is an asshole. A manly man, in my opinion, is someone who loves, adores, respects, protects, worries, and defends the women in their life.

Also, the way that a man is in life, often determines the type of woman he inspires in life. A cheap, lying, asshole creates a long line of damaged, hurt women. But a real man, a manly man, creates a long line of strong, creative, loving, independent women.

So, I suppose there is a measuring rod for ‘manly’, at least one I use… and I hope the world has enough manly men to help build up these beautiful women. I don’t see many ‘manly’ men these days, but I do have to confess that I’ve some of the best manly friends. I can’t help but become a better woman because of them. I hope they know I love them and am proud to call them my friend. I really am a lucky girl.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, October 08, 2015

My Personal Epic Fantasy

On my jog this morning I noticed something peculiar that set my mind pondering all sorts of odd ideas. Not new ideas, but really a particular idea that’s been percolating in my mind for a very long time. It’s been years of study really. It’s also been a subject, or at least part of the subject, that’s come up recently in a few casual conversations. Mind you, these conversations are with the male species ranging from 18 to 45. You see, I’m an avid gamer, well, I’m a Destiny gamer, and 99% of the gamers I meet online are male. So, it’s reasonable to expect that 99% of my daily conversations are with the male species. I’m thankful at the moment that my roommate is female, so that way I get a splash of female perspective at times. But, then again, she’s not your typical female roommate, because if we were a lesbian couple I’d definitely be the feminine aspect of that coupling. Not to stray too far from the topic, let me bring it back to my peculiar finding.

It’s very populated where I live now. What a stark contrast from just a couple months ago when I practically lived in a Siberian wasteland and could go a whole week seeing only 2 or 3 people, if I was lucky, and only have to talk to maybe half of those if I was extremely lucky. I now can’t walk out my front door without being greeted by a neighbor or two. So, jogging around the bungalow complex, or down and around the park, or along the sidewalks by the various strip malls, I see a lot of people. Typically, I’d have my earbuds blasting away an upbeat tune to keep me motivated and moving, but mostly as an excuse so I didn’t have to talk to anyone. I also usually glance at the people I pass but keep my eyes forward to avoid contact. Well, that’s NOT what I did this morning. I made eye contact with everyone I passed (mostly men, btw), smiled at them, waved, but kept moving. Every one of them responded, even the ones who moved as I normally do with only a glance and eyes forward to avoid contact.

So, what was this deep thought I had? It involves porn, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Well, this thought occurred to me when this older gentleman, clearly in his mid-50’s, perhaps early 60’s since he’s running and in shape, made no subtle attempt in letting me know he really liked what he saw. He stopped in front of me, took his ear buds out of his ears, and put both his hands up to his heart…as if to say he’s having a heart attack, but certainly not under any true duress. The smile on his face lit up his whole countenance. Against my usual judgment, I stopped. “Darlin’, I just have to say, “Wowzers”. There’s no other expression I can imagine that would fit any better.” You must remember, I’m not 25 with legs that go on forever. I’m 44, short, curvy, and have a wrinkle and a gray hair or two (with hair dye you’ll never see those). Though I look young for my age, it’s clear to see I’m a mature woman, not a ‘young, hot, thang’. I smiled and thanked him for his compliment and continued my run.

That’s not the first ‘older’ gentleman to hit on me since I’ve been here. I live on the Space Coast in sunny Florida, where the rich recreate and the elderly retire out their golden years. If I so choose, I could easily snatch up a “Sugar Daddy” or two, IF material possessions and money really meant anything to me. Unfortunately, I’m sort of a gypsy, a wild soul looking for adventure more than possessions, love more than money, and living life more than just surviving it. I’ve been in survival mode for too long. It’s time I got back to being my wild, adventurous self.

I can’t help but think about what men really want in women. What do the young want, the old want, or the lover want? I listen to the guys talk in the game chats, and while they talk a big game (in most cases dehumanizing women into sexual objects, something to be fucked and tolerated… seriously… I NEVER hear the guys talk about how a woman is beautiful, smart, amazing, something to be cherished, adored, appreciated, and such… what a culture we live in), but I believe they all want the same thing; they just have different ideas of how to obtain it. I.e. I have this one friend that falls in love easily and often. While he’s very wise on a lot of things, very knowledgeable on a lot more things, very brave in almost everything, I wouldn’t take love advice from him because he doesn’t even know what it is he really wants. While being in ‘love’ with one woman, he keeps a small circle of good female ‘friends’ on a string (not too loose they disappear, not too close to be committed) just in case things don’t work out, more than likely so he won’t be alone until he falls in love again. I’m pretty sure he feels deeply, but he doesn’t express those deep emotions, in a failed attempt at protecting his heart from getting hurt. He hurts. He’s human. Failed relationships hurt, no matter how badass you might be. He’d be quick to protest that he doesn’t fear anything, or isn’t affected when something falls apart. But what is it he’s really looking for? What is it he hasn’t been able to find yet in choices he’s already made? What was it about the women chosen before where he thought he’d found it, to only discover a short time later he can’t see that same thing to sustain it?

Not getting off topic, but shifting gears to come at it from another angle. There’s another discussion in my gaming chat groups about pornography. The guys love it. Many of them watch it regularly, especially the friend mentioned above. They think I’m a prude because I don’t watch porn. I don’t not watch it because I’m a prude or think I’m too ‘goody’ to watch it, as if it’s garbage. I don’t watch it because it isn’t necessary and I feel sends the wrong message about sex, love, AND relationships. I love porn… but not to watch. I love making porn with someone I love. Not filming our sexual acts, but sharing our sexual, emotional, and psychological expressions together, using our imagination to play, have fun, and be together in every way. Being intimate. Porn lacks ALL that intimacy and imagination. I’m not anti-porn, I’m pro-intimacy. I love to be kinky, sexy, and fun. There’s NOTHING in porn that can beat my imagination, but when I feel a man expects what he watches in porn, it stifles my imagination. I can’t fake it, so I shut down. What little porn I’ve watched was filled with a lack of emotion, lack of imagination, and minimizes sex to a mere physical act - with strangers. Does a stranger deserve to see and share that part of me, that part of my imagination, that part of my intimacy? Hell NO. Yes, I’ve done it. I’ve had a casual experience with a stranger. While it was a little fun, and sexually charged, once it was over… it was over and I was empty. Yet, I’ve had a better experience when a man I loved very much simply ran his fingers over my hair. So, I’m sorry… I just can’t get excited or get off watching other people who don’t love or care for one another fucking, and doing it in a boring way. If your sex life is like a porn scene, that’s boring and I feel sorry for you, because your love life is going to be just as emotionally empty, because you’re training your mind and your body that ‘the porn way’ is the way sex is supposed to be done. I also believe that this is the number one killer in relationships for guys, because they’ve set up their relationships like a porn scene < Boy meets girl, sparks fly, they fuck, think they’ve fallen in love because they had chemistry and the orgasms were great, but then the orgasms subside and when they look at each other all they see is a stranger. They might fuck a few more times, but then that episode gets old, that page is starting to stick, and they want to see another one, meet another stranger>… and so the cycle goes.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying ALL men are like this, but many are… and they don’t even know it. I’m not harping on just men, either. There are many women in the same boat. I hope my friend someday learns to shut the porn off and swim into deeper waters, because I’d love to see him truly happy. I hope all the Sugar Daddy’s out there finds beauty in the older women they may overlook, while they’re tripping all over themselves over the pretty plastic ones. As for this gypsy, I’m still not going to watch porn, and I’ll still avoid the Sugar Daddy’s and their pockets of sweets, and keep running and smiling until I find my personal epic fantasy. I suppose that’s why porn doesn’t work for me, I’m not into the small and empty, but epic and fantastical magic. It’s no wonder my gamertag is Kvothe from The Name of the Wind. The music this Edema Rue plays has a meaning so deep the Chandrian will try to hunt me down and silence me, and the Arcanum doesn’t have enough room to record it.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Let the Music Move Me

We’ve all heard the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. In fact, it’s one of those irritating songs that get stuck in my mind and I find myself humming it all day just from hearing the familiar simple notes. But I’m discovering there’s a little power in that song, as well as others like it. Power that moves me. When listening to it, I can’t help but sway to the familiar beat and feel my spirits lift as the positive lyrics run through my mind. Perhaps I should actually take the time and learn the whole song. I haven’t yet, because the chorus is powerful enough on its own. I should, though. I’ll put that down on my ‘to do’ list.

There’s another song that gets me moving without fail and that’s the Black-Eyed Peas, “Let’s Get It started.” Man, I can’t help but move to the beat no matter how tired, how exhausted, how sad, or how upset I might be at the moment… I start bobbing my head, moving my shoulders, moving my soul. If I’m sitting, I start doing the chair dance. If I’m standing, my whole body is moving to the beat. “Let’s get it started …in here. And the bass keeps runnin’ runnin’ and runnin’ runnin’, and runnin’ runnin’, and runnin’ runnin’, and runnin runnin’… everybody, everybody let’s get it into it, get stupid, get started, get started, get started, let’s get it started.” If you’re looking for a good workout song… this is it. If you just need a little pep in your step… this is the song too. It’s more potent than a Red Bull or a 5-Hour Energy. Hm…. I wonder how it’d do during a long session of tangled legs. I imagine it’d involve lots of sweat… and… well, I better get my mind out of the gutter and back on topic.

There are other times when my heart is filled with things I can’t quite express in words, when I need to disconnect from the rational and let myself go in the spiritual, the emotional. Go figure – a silent writer. But, there are those wordless times, where deep emotions are pulling my insides out and blanketing me with despair, pain, or… like I mentioned, unspeakable feelings. Those are the times I like to pick up my guitar and let the music out. Most times there’s no rhyme or rhythm, no chords, no particular progression, breaking all the music rules and just let the music move me. Often I can never replay those particular chords or find that the same strumming progression, because I’ve released that emotion, I’ve release that unspeakable pain, and it isn’t something to be made sense of, to be captured in a song, to be bounded by rules and regulations.

I know I’m not typical. I tried that, and I failed miserably. But, I also know I’m not the only one who can see some of the things I see, feel some of the things I feel, see some of the things I see, love some of the things I love, hate some of the things I hate, fear some of the things I fear, or think some of the things I think. While there is no one exactly like me, because there can only be one me, only one who has lived or can live my life, there are similar things our souls share. None of us are perfect. None of us are without moments that create unspeakable words or emotions. When you find yourself in one of those moments, let the music move you, let it heal you, let it remind you, let it be… as special, beautiful, and wonderful as you. Don’t worry, be happy…. And let’s get it started, Ah?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, October 05, 2015


I’m finding it easy to get frustrated these days. My temper explodes at the simplest of things, like this morning when my running tracker on my phone updated and didn’t track my run, as it had for the past year. Why the fuck doesn’t the app continue functioning as it had before it was updated? Why does it disappear from my home keys, make me have to accept the new terms and conditions, change the way it’s displayed and make me spend a half hour frustrated as hell because it didn’t do what it had previously done, trying to figure out (unsuccessfully) how to add it back? I fucking hate the app now and won’t use that program again. If I have to go through all that trouble, I’ll just go to the Google app store and download another free program that will track my running. The app screwed itself in a failed attempt at upgrading. Hint, hint… if you’re going to upgrade, then make it BETTER, but from a familiar point. I’m not one to spend a lot of time HUNTING down what should be easily accessible. I live in the modern age of convenience and I have a very, very short attention span.

Frustration number two. I uploaded the new Windows 10 on my desktop. I had done so earlier on my laptop and it went smoothly without a hitch. I don’t mind the program, it’s a cross between XP and Windows 8, featuring the familiar features I love about XP, mixed with some of the newer features of 8, and splashed with a little bit of even newer options with the 10. THAT I can handle. Give me a little bit of familiar territory and ease me into the new stuff. Smart. Convenient. Doable. But, low and behold, my desktop obviously doesn’t like the transition. I have spent the better part of my morning trying to figure out WHY I get to the load screen, type in my password, to have it only return back to the load screen, to type in my password, but NOT load up the program. FUCK YOU technology. I honestly don’t have the patience to handle all these little road blocks that are preventing me from being at my most productive. I’ve got things to do. I’ve got a life I need to get back on track. I’ve got to get busy, getting busy. But NO, I have to waste MOST of my morning piddling around with fucking updates and booting problems. Can you tell I’m frustrated just a bit? I did actually wake up in a good mood, with a positive attitude, and with a happy outlook for a beautiful day.

Frustration number three. I know I’ve been hiding. I know I’ve been trying hard to acclimate to my new life, my new surroundings, my new …. well, everything. But, damn… do I have to do it with the new ten pounds I gained? Really? Granted I’ve not been exercising. Granted, my routine got detoured. Granted I’ve spent a few days vegging out on television shows and video games, snacking all day (it doesn’t help I have a roommate that likes to cook ALL THE TIME), and smelling food cooking all day long, etc. Granted my allergies are killing me, and I mean literally killing me. I live with a dog. He’s a handsome little fellow, and lovable as can be. He’s adorable. Problem is, I’m allergic to dog hair, and this little cutie leaves hair everywhere. How can I keep him out of my room, off my bed when he’s such a soothing medicine to me, cuddling up to me, loving on me? I’m scared. I’m frustrated. I’m nervous about my future and my life. I miss my kids. I’m in unfamiliar territory. I need him. But, I can’t breathe, my ears are constantly stopped up, I have sinus migraines, and my lungs feel like they have a tight band around them. I’m taking antihistamines that make me drowsy and lethargic, but they help …some. I have an air purifier, that I think helps, but I can’t make myself UNallergic to dog hair. I can’t leave. The dog can’t leave. So what am I to do? How am I to persevere? Why the hell can’t my body, which grew up with dogs, get over this allergy shit and just go back to being normal? Oh, boy.

And sex… well, I haven’t had sex in a while. I’m not looking for a partner at the moment, and really I feel sick just even thinking about jumping back into the dating pool. You want to talk about frustration… dating in the 21st century is very, very frustrating. While masturbation helps a bit, I’m sexually frustrated at the moment too.

So, yeah, I’m a little frustrated. Well, okay… I’m a LOT of frustrated. But even so, I’m also very hopeful, very optimistic about what lies ahead of me. I have returned to my workout (even if the damned app didn’t record it), I will find that dependable job, then I will be able to move into my own apartment (dog free), and my sinuses will get a reprieve (if they don’t kill me first), I will lose these ten pounds and more, I will see my kids again somehow, I will fall in love and be loved in return, I will figure out what my new dreams are… and I will make them come true. How do I know this? I know me. I’ve been here before. I may be frustrated. I may be at another difficult cross road. I may have been knocked down a little bit. But, I’m a fighter. I never stay down too long. And if you know me at all, no matter how down I feel, how tough life gets, or how hopeless everything seems… I NEVER give up.

I’ve rested long enough. I’m dusting my (fat) ass off, standing back up, and lacing up my gloves. Let’s get this show on the road, bitch.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hello, and What Have You Done With My Life?

Wow. It’s been a while. I’m not even sure I know myself anymore because I hardly recognize anything in my life. Not only have I exchanged the peach trees of Georgia for the palm trees of Florida, I’m surrounded by different people, and the routine that had been my life for the past couple years is… well, it’s just not there anymore. I’m lost, but not necessarily in a bad way. Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself. I should know this, because I’ve experienced it more times than I can count… and I can count pretty high.

I was talking to a dear friend of mine the other day and something very profound struck me. I discovered I have been trying so hard to hold on to a part of me that no longer existed. I’m not even sure of who I am anymore, even after these last few years of self-discovery. Facing death changes a person in ways it’s hard to comprehend. That change is so deep that the consequences, the effects, and the transformation are sometimes so subtle we miss them and wander around in a sense of perplexity, without realizing we’re not realizing. Make sense? I ‘used to be’ a writer, a mother, a wife, a leader, a business owner, a boss, an employee, a sister, a daughter, an adventurer, a romantic, a pragmatic, a dreamer, etc. While I may discover some of these attributes again in my life, I can’t go back to who I ‘used’ to be, no matter my history, my career, my accomplishments, my failures, my wants, or my experiences. When I faced mortality, again …the old me, the person I used to be, died – yet, I still live. I often say to myself, “Hello, and what have you done with my life?”

I’m a new person. Much the same way as expressed in the Christian faith, I’ve been reborn, made new, transformed into a new creature. Now I just have to figure out who that person happens to be. While I may wear familiar skin, the soul inside has been drastically changed. When I try to hold onto something that no longer exists, that’s when I get frustrated and lost, because this new person isn’t the same. Perhaps there are similarities, but the old me - the other me, no longer exists. I’ve been grieving her, and like the death of someone lost, I’ve tried extremely hard to hold onto her. But, I must. I must move forward. I must live in the here, in the now, and I need to start figuring out who I am – NOW. I can’t answer that question at the moment. While a lot of things from my old life are present, I have to work through them, deal with them, and resolve them in my new life, in the manner my new self decides.

So, who am I? What do I want? What can I do? What do I like? What are my fears? What are my desires? What are my dreams? The answers to these questions will determine the direction I take. I find myself this morning standing at a crossroads with many, many, many roads to choose, and I don’t have a fucking clue which one to take. But, you know what – I don’t have to know. I may choose a path I’ve taken before, or I may choose a new one altogether.

What I’ve learned from facing death is that life is the journey, not the destination, nor the past. Live in the now. Seize the day – Carpe Diem. As Jesus said, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Love, today. Don’t be afraid to tell the people who are important in your life that you appreciate them, love them, care for them, and adore them… today, while you still have the chance. Take a chance on life, on love, on happiness. Quit fighting to be perfect and love yourself in all your beautiful imperfections, because we are ALL imperfect, messed-up freaks.

I deeply love an imperfect asshole, but I don’t regret it, not for one second. He’s beautiful to me, especially within his imperfections. I’ve tried so hard to walk away from him, but my soul literally soars at his mere presence and withers at his absence. I hate that, yet love it at the same time. I adore a great friend who has shown me such love, such comfort, such wisdom, such patience, and such beauty in these very, very, stressful last couple of months. I couldn’t have survived without him. He has helped me down this revertant path. His soul is so beautiful, he has restored my faith in humanity and the capable goodness we all possess. I hope he will always be in my life. I appreciate and love my best friend who opened her home and her heart to the mess of me. She’ll never know how much I truly love her, because I can’t possibly express it. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how.

Well, wish me luck. I’ve got some exploring to do today, and for the first time in a long, long, long time, I’m excited about it.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Friday, August 07, 2015

If... If... If... People Lie

If. I was once told that “if” was the biggest little word to ever exist. That isn’t a lie.

Everyone posts these meme’s all the time with messages that sound good, but has anyone ever stopped and really read them, tried to understand what they’re really saying, or did they get caught up in the moment because they said something itching ears wanted to hear? Everyone has the answer… to every problem. Yet all those answers come with a hitch, a ransom, a sacrifice, an obligation, or/and a price. If… If… If… You know what I’ve learned? It’s all bullshit. I lived my life believing IF… If I obeyed, then life would be okay. Well, I tested that theory many, many, many, many times. People lie. Let me tell you a story.

I can remember being about seven years old and sneaking off one morning to catch a church bus. I wanted to be like my next door neighbor, I can still remember her last name – Janosek. I wanted to be a regular girl, wear frilly pretty dresses, have girl toys, have two normal parents that weren’t handicapped or abusive, parents who had real jobs and not drug dealers, who went to church and PTA meetings. I wanted to be free to laugh and be silly, be anything but who and what I was. It didn’t seem like such an impossible dream, but to me at seven it seemed alien and a world away; impossible. But impossible didn’t stop me, it never did. So, I dressed as much like a girl (I was an extreme tomboy with five brothers) as I could and stood at the road, determined to wave that church bus down. I caught that bouncy bus not knowing where it’d take me, what would happen to me, or when or if it’d ever bring me home. People lie.

I ended up being delivered to a little country church where I was shuffled off to a gymnasium with several other children and told a story about a man sacrificing his son for his faith. I thought it barbaric that God would tempt a man to kill his own son in order to test his faith. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around, parents sacrifice themselves to save their children? That, of course, wasn’t the life lessons I’d learned by that age. A parent killing their kid for their own interest… that was easy, that was normal. What a manipulation. People lie.

I was pulled to the side and asked if I wanted to go to heaven, yet I had no concept of heaven. All I’d heard of heaven was a place in the fluffy white clouds, wings, and golden harps. That sounded boring to me, so I told the lady that I didn’t want heaven, I just wanted an earth where people didn’t hurt each other, that I didn’t think this place was so bad, except for the people in it. I thought the earth was beautiful, even magical, if the people in it would stop hurting it and each other. She quickly informed me that in heaven there was only peace and that nobody ever cried. I didn’t believe that, because I cried all the time. I didn’t cry to just cry, and I sure as hell didn’t cry where other people could see me. My dad beat me so bad one time I passed out, because he wanted to see me cry. I refused. In private I cried because I hurt, because I was scared, because I hoped and constantly had those hopes dashed with violence. Crying made me realize I was real, it reminded me that I could feel pain, but also joy. Why did I want to go somewhere and not feel anything? They were not selling me on this whole heaven thing. I guess she could see that, so she changed her tactics and started telling me of the OTHER consequences of not being saved – the idea of eternal damnation, a life filled with violence and pain. I wondered in that moment what I had possibly done at seven years old to have been damned while I was still alive. I was a little smartass and told the woman, “It’s not so bad. You get used to it.” Obviously that wasn’t the right answer. So, I soon learned of the lake of fire, torture, demons, the devil and brimstone. I still wasn’t scared. I was raised with a pack pit bulls, after all. People lie.

So, this determined lady was hell bent on saving my soul, she changed her tactics once again and asked me if I loved anyone enough to die for them and started telling me about the story of Jesus, how he was an innocent man yet tortured, beaten, and then killed to save us all. It was the only story that really peaked my interest, but I couldn’t understand why this one man’s sacrifice was any different than what I had done regularly to protect my brothers, or to protect my mother. I’d taken beatings for them, I’d given them my food at times, I’d kept my mouth shut and endured the worst of humiliation and abuse at the threat of losing them, being taken from them, or separated. I know, had given the choice, I would have died for them, taken a bullet in their place. I dreamed of doing that very thing quite often. That was an easy decision. So what made this man’s decision any better than mine, or any other human being that would do the same for someone they loved? I’d learned enough history by this time to know people died for other people all the time, yet we didn’t worship them. Why him? Telling me that I was supposed to love somebody because they first loved me and died for me, was a hard concept for me to understand. I wanted to scream, “Prove it!” People lie.

It took me nearly 20 years to reconsider that answer, because the next thing this lady did was scare the hell out of me by making statements like I needed to be washed in this man’s blood in order to be redeemed, dunked in some water to be cleaned, and then I needed to obey him and keep all his commands so that I will be worthy enough to enter heaven. I knew I’d already flunked this test, because I sure as hell wasn’t about to let somebody pour their blood over me, nobody was going to push me under the water, and I was too stubborn to blindly obey a bunch of rules I didn’t understand. I just smiled, shook my head to tell her what she wanted to hear, watched her shed a few fake tears for me, schedule a baptism for the next Sunday, gave me a Bible, gave me some candy, and then put me back on the bus that brought me home. I never went back to that church. But, I never forgot that day. People lie.

I kept hearing that woman’s voice in my head saying, “If you believe in Jesus, he will save you.” I needed saving in the worst way. I once wished in the middle of a hurricane for Superman to save me, but he never came. He ended up being a lie, a figment of someone else’s imagination. Don’t even get me started on Santa. Biggest disappointment of all. People lie.

My next memory had me lying in the grass, staring into the sky, wondering what was beyond the clouds, beyond the blue, beyond the stars. I watched the treetops sway in the wind, the ants crawl between the blades of glass, the beauty of the sunlight in a drop of water falling from the spigot into a tin bucket. It’s the most peaceful and profound moment I’d ever felt in my life. I was just a child, a human, and for the first time in my miserable life, I wondered why I existed at all, why I lived the life I lived, who I was, what was my purpose, and that if a real god existed, did he see me, know what I endured, know how I hurt? That was the first time I ever prayed. I whispered into the wind, “If you’re real then I want to know the real you. Let me see the truth. People lie. Save me, please.”

There was a wooden plaque that I’d sometimes stare at for hours. It read, “If Christianity were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of hypocrisy it represented, especially for this waif of an abused Jewish girl, but I’ll never forget it. I sometimes wonder whatever happened to that plaque. It shaped my mind more than I ever realized. Needless to say, Jesus never showed up at my doorstep to save me. Until the time I was 23, I lived in hell, in survival mode, hating the world, determined not to let it beat me. I honestly don’t know how I survived those years, but it was at this time I traded one hell for another, a different kind of hell, a hell that transferred the outside pain to the inside. I was no longer fighting for my life every day, instead I was fighting for my soul. When I lost my first hope at real love, a part of me died. I finally became a Janosek, I hid among middle-class idealism, I became it’s poster child, only it wasn’t what I thought it would be. People lie.

For the next twenty years I obeyed, I lived a life of obedience, to my family, to my husband, to my church, to my god, to my community, to everything. My dream was that my children would not have the life I had, no matter what it cost me. I gave it my everything – I gave it my faith, my trust, my loyalty, my gifts, my skills, my heart… I gave it my all. I studied, I learned, I volunteered, I tithed (everything – money, time, gifts, abilities), I prayed EVERY DAY with sincerity. If ANYONE in this world could pray more sincere that I did with my nose in the carpet for 20 years, then NO ONE has hope. I believed with every ounce of my being… that IF… ‘my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, seek my face, turn from their sins, then will I open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing they’d not have room enough to contain. If… I believed I would receive. If… I was obedient and faithful… my husband would love me, my kids would love me, my family would love me, my church would love me. People lie.

I didn’t just pray once and expected the world to just fall into place in an instant. I prayed faithfully for nearly 20 years. I have journals and journals and journals of my prayers. I’d crawl into bed next to a husband every night who didn’t want me, most nights crying myself to sleep, wondering why I wasn’t enough. I watched one of my kids run away from home, leave me worried for years if they were even alive or suffering, blaming myself for being too hard. I watched a family that promised to love me forever disappear along with the divorce papers, along with other family members that stole from me, lied to me, and used me. I watched a church full of people who told me they loved me nearly every day just vanish behind their church doors. I suppose as long as I looked like them, talked like them, and walked into their doors I was worthy. Hmmmm? I wonder where the lost sheep really gather? People lie.

So, here I am, bombarded everyday with the meme’s of life, seeking my own truth, trying to save my own soul, not for a heaven or to avoid a hell, and not to find love. People lie, especially to themselves. That includes me. I don’t have any answers, but I know they’re not found in “if”. That’s all bullshit. I found love only when I chose to love myself. Salvation? Everyone has their own faith, even if they think they have something else. Quoting scripture to me is fruitless. Quoting meme’s, philosophies, logic, ideals… those are all fruitless too. Quit trying to save me or change me, just love me. If you can’t do that, just go away. I don’t want you. I sure as hell don’t need you. I’m still lying in the grass, staring up into the heavens, wondering, whispering into the wind, “People lie. Are you real, because I sure as hell know I am.”

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Image by: - Lying in the Grass by Hermann Hesse

Monday, August 03, 2015

The Fanatical Feminist

Here I go again opening my big mouth, probably about to offend a lot of people, especially women. Not because I’m being rebellious, but because I hate seeing what I’ve been seeing lately, and what I’ve been hearing lately, and I wanted to make it clear that these ‘popular’ and ‘politically correct’ opinions do not represent me in any way.

I’d like to start off by saying that I’m a feminist. I’m a feminist in the way that I believe women should be treated fairly, paid fairly, and respected fairly in the world as an individual human being, as opposed to their male counterparts. But, I’m not saying that women are equal, lower, or better than men… just different. Just as the same way I don’t think people should be treated unequally because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation. We are all different, and I celebrate those differences, but I believe that fairness, mutual respect, and compassion should be met and given based on individual aspects, not gender and so forth.

Of course, I live in the real world.. a world filled with hate, prejudice, oppression, and inequality. I’m not blind to these issues, but I’m also not blinded by the fundamentalism from each of these factions toward, or for, each other. I hate racism. I love people of all colors, and believe with my whole heart that equality and fairness should be meted in all colors. But it’s not… and that’s evident in ALL colors. Whites are not the only racists.

When it comes to feminism, I cry a lot. I mean it literally tears me up inside when I read how women have been treated throughout our history. Not just American history, but how women have been treated all over the world, and how women are still treated in the world. I love this country and am glad to have been born here because I’m a woman with an opinion and mind of my own, and I’m given the freedom to express that opinion. Had I been born in many other places, I would be stoned or tortured to even dare to express such opinions. That’s a shame. I don’t give a shit what religion you practice or what government you live under, if you treat a woman like shit – you’re a piece of shit and should be ashamed of yourself and hope your dick falls off.

I have nightmares sometimes about how women and little girls are molested, abused, kidnapped, forced into the sex trade as a slave, forced into prostitution, forced into labor camps, not given a voice, not given rights, and subjected to a totalitarian rule of a brutal man/woman. It’s worse when the slavers are other women, but it happens. I’ve been involved in many programs where I’ve tried to help women/girls flee from human trafficking or domestic abuse. It kills me to see this type of evil in the world. I’m not blind to it. I see it, I do what I can, and I shed plenty of tears. But… just because I’m fighting for women’s freedoms, for women’s rights, for women’s voices… that doesn’t mean I’m on a crusade to emasculate men in order to gain them. This is where me and the feminist movement part ways.

I LOVE being a woman. I celebrate it. I love being different than a man. I love men. I love a lot of different things about men, and because I love and respect them, I’m not out to destroy them, demean them, debunk them, or degrade them in order to advance in this world. Instead, I do the opposite. I celebrate them, their differences, encourage them, strengthen them, and let them know how much I appreciate them for who/what they are… and this drives my feminist friends crazy.

I love being pampered, being adored, being spoiled by a man. Not because I think they ‘should’ do those things because I’m a woman, but because I know they’re doing those things for me because they love me, they admire me, they adore me and want to make me happy. I do the same thing for the men I love in this world… and this irks my feminist friends.

I love to please my man. It brings me pleasure to please. I love to cook for them, I love to provide the things that make them happy, I love to please them sexually, I love to make love to them and when I’m done, get up and go make them a sandwich. (That’s the term used lately in a lot of articles. However, I’d probably cook them a delicious gourmet meal.. not just a sandwich, but you get the picture.) I love to tell them how beautiful they are, how smart they are, how clever they are, and especially how strong they are. A brilliant mind is a huge turn-on for me, so when I see a man being clever, I compliment him on it. A brave man willing to fight to protect me, protect the innocent, protect his country, protect those he loves is also a turn-on for me, and when I see a man who does that, I compliment him. This is why I love soldiers, because they’re willing to put their lives on the line, and I know they’re doing it for me, for my country, for my freedom.

When I love something or someone, I want them to be happy, I want to please them, I want to see them become the best person they can possibly be and grab every opportunity in life to fulfill their dreams. I become their biggest cheerleader, because I value them. My feminist friends say I hurt the feminist movement by doing these things, that I’m telling men that my place is in the kitchen. NO! My place isn’t in the kitchen because I’m a woman, but because I’m a damned good cook and I love being in the kitchen. I’d love for my man to be right there in that kitchen with me… cooking with me. Hell, making love while we’re cooking would be even better. But, a lot of men don’t like cooking or isn’t very good at it. Guess what??? I’m not good at changing tires or oil in my car, and it’s actually a turn-on to watch my gorgeous man out there doing those kinds of things for me. I know he’s not doing it just because he’s the man, but because he cares for me and knows I need my tires rotated and my oil changed so my car runs, etc. A man doing things like that for me doesn’t make me feel inferior. As a matter of fact, it makes me feel valued, precious, and appreciated. I believe me cooking a delicious meal makes him feel the same toward me.

This struggle between men and women is a result when love becomes absent in a relationship. When we are in love, we can’t do enough to please our partners, to appreciate them, to celebrate them, to make them happy. When love becomes absent… that’s when what we used to do because we love them now feels like a forced chore and the roles of gender inequality began to battle. No one thinks it’s offensive to fix their man a sandwich after sex when they’re in love, but once they fall out of love it becomes the fodder for a fight on equal rights.

In the work force, women still have a long way to go to be treated equally, but I thank God everyday how far the world has come over the last few decades. LEAPS and BOUNDS, baby. Leaps and bounds! We are still moving in the right direction, but the femi-nazies need to back off and quit pitting men and women against each other. Many of these extreme programs are fascists, not looking for equality, but imperialistic in domination. I’m sorry, I’m NOT for that, nor will I ever be. I still LOVE men and celebrate the differences of men and women. YES, I will still fight for women’s rights, but not at the cost of our men. I want men to be men, and not be afraid to be men because we live in an over-sensitive, easily-offended society bent on their emasculation.

FUCK THAT! And if my feminist friends want to hate me for that - so be it, because I really don’t want or need their vitriol hate in my life. If they’d concentrate on loving themselves and loving each other, perhaps we can end all this hate someday. That’s all it is – hate.

Till next time,
~The Fanatical Feminist

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why I Don't Love You

Inspired by the CW show, Jane the Virgin, I don’t want to tell you all the reasons why I love you. I want to tell you all the reasons why I don’t.

I don’t love you because you’re the sexiest man I’ve ever seen. The first time I laid my eyes on you I lost my breath and my heart nearly leapt from my chest. From your pictures I thought you were kind ’f nerdy, a bit on the skinny side, too pretty for my taste, and not my type at all. I used to think that lightning wasn’t real and that love at first sight was the figment of an overactive imagination. But, baby, I’m still burning and finding it hard to breathe. I dream of you; you’re the star of my fantasies.

I don’t love you because you’re the smartest man I’ve ever met.  The things you say make me question some of my own core beliefs and push me to look outside my box. I don’t always agree with the ‘way’ you see the world, but I find ‘how’ you see it absolutely inspiring and amazing. I never thought I’d meet someone as thirsty for knowledge and nerdy as me. You push me to learn more, to try harder, to think stronger. I love that you often beat me in the intellectual games we play, that you disagree with me at almost every musing, and you argue with me about even the basic of understanding and enlightenment. While I hate to lose the game or the argument, I smile because it turns me on to know there’s depth behind those dark, sexy eyes.

I don’t love you because you’re the funniest man I’ve ever heard. All the jokes and videos you send me somehow arrive at the moment I need them most, usually when the world seems like it’s caving in on me and a laugh is the perfect thing I needed. It never fails – NEVER. You always seem to message me JUST when I’ve been thinking about you, like we’re tuned into the same frequency. It could be days between correspondences, but you always show up on time.

I don’t love you because you’re the most romantic man I’ve ever encountered.  The songs you send me not only move my feet, they move my heart. I’ve found myself several times with tears streaming down my face because the words, the music, the message in the songs you send are the words, music, and messages I’ve always dreamed of hearing. You may not write an epic fantasy, or a string of poetry, or a ballad to melt the heart, but you sure do know how to pick the songs like a true artist.

I don’t love you because you’re the bravest man I’ve ever known.  You’ve put your life on the line in the name of duty, without hesitation and without fear. I feel safe in your arms, so safe I keep falling asleep. For an insomniac, that’s the greatest medicine in the world. My favorite moment with you was lying in your arms, listening to your heartbeat, feeling your chest rise and fall with each breath, and your fingers gently stroked my hair as we watched television together. I fell asleep, so deeply, so comfortably, and so relaxed. The harshness of the world I’ve experienced makes that moment pure heaven to me. It was never about sex with you; it was always just you.

I don’t love you because your voice is exotic. It makes me smile when I hear the way you pronounce things, or the sound of your laughter when you find something extremely funny, or the way you sing, or the sarcasm that drips from your lips like honey. I especially don’t love you for the command and control I’ve heard in a tone that dictates authority, control, and unquestioning confidence. For someone who is never satisfied with the unanswered questions of the universe, to hear that particular sound of assurance is like ethereal music to my ears. My body reacts to your voice like a chord strummed in perfect tune – the joining of two sound waves in sync. As a safety measure, I insist on maintaining control of every aspect of my life, it’s how I protect myself. But when I’m with you I lose all control. I fumble my words, all well-laid plans vanish, my thoughts get jumbled, my resolve becomes liquid, and I betray myself and all the plans I’ve made. I no longer think of me, what I want, what I want to do, but become completely immersed in pleasing you, which in doing so, pleases me more than I ever dreamed.

I don’t love you for all those reasons listed above. I love you because I can’t imagine this world without you. Even if I can’t be with you, just knowing you exist, knowing you’re alive, knowing you’re happy is enough. I feel honored to have met you and privileged to have loved you. I know I’ll never stop loving you because you’re a part of my soul. I love you enough to let you go. Because of you, I now know amazing, passionate, and deep love really exists. I have enjoyed falling in love with you and discovering how beautiful it can be. I honestly didn’t think this kind of love existed, and accepted the imitations it’s offered me for so long. In loving you, I realize the kind of love someone once offered me, before they were taken away, was more beautiful than I ever imagined. Thank you. I never truly understood it before, but now I do.

I know what I want now, and I can’t and won’t accept anything less. The kind of love I have for you - I deserve that kind of love for myself. I want it. I want to be adored, admired, respected, wanted, desired, appreciated, and passionately loved. Part of me believes that’s impossible, a dream that’ll never happen, but before I met you – I thought you were an impossible dream too.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, July 27, 2015

How Do I Say Goodbye to a Dream?

How do I say goodbye to a dream, when the dream has been better than anything I’ve ever seen? How do I say goodbye to a love, deeper than the oceans or any love that ever was?

How do I say goodbye to my heart, beating stronger when we’re together and nearly stops when we’re apart? How do I say goodbye to my breath, the very one that I lost at the very moment we met?

How do I say goodbye to a friend, who’s constant companionship I’d thought would never end?

How do I say goodbye? Where do I get the strength? I know what must be done, but I can’t even breathe. How do I say goodbye to the greatest love I’ve ever known? How do I say goodbye? How do I move on?

It’s killing me to leave you, it’s killing me to stay. I want nothing more than to run into your arms, but I must run away. How do I say goodbye to you, how, oh how, do I breathe? You are the greatest love of my life, but I really have to leave.

I can’t stay here any longer, you’re not real, you’re just a dream. You’re the devil sent to torture me, the angel to unravel my seams. Did you ever love me? Did you ever care? Or was it all just my imagination and a fool’s hat I wear?

How do I say goodbye? Where do I get the strength? I know what must be done, but I can’t even breathe. How do I say goodbye to the greatest love I’ve ever known? How do I say goodbye? How do I move on?

It was a lovely dream, and I wish I could stay. But life is calling me, it’s pulling me away. I can’t worship you any longer, and pretend that you’re mine. You belong to another and I’ve been left behind. To pick up the pieces of my broken, shattered heart, With my arms loaded with shards, down the broken road I start.

Goodbye, my dream. Goodbye, my heart. Good bye, my love. Good bye.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Evil Video Games - Be Damned!

*Caution: This rant contains strong opinions. Weak-minded and close-minded individuals need not read any further. You've been warned.

Just in the last few days I’ve read no more than a half dozen Facebook posts linking to articles talking about the evils of kids playing video games. Yet, NONE of these articles reported any scientific facts to back up their claims, just a bunch of close-minded opinions from parents, geriatrics, naturists, and social opinionists. (Yeah, I made those last two up, but so fucking what, I’m a writer and I make up shit with my imagination.)

Before you jump down my throat and to your biased opinions, I want to warn you not to take me wrong. I’m NOT pro or anti video games, I’m just another one of those opinionists who has had the privilege to see things from both sides of the issue.

What exactly is the issue? Is gaming evil? Is our youth being corrupted by the video game industry? Are kids learning anti-social behaviors due to excessive amount of video gaming? Are we desensitizing our children to violence and corruption through video games? Is video gaming destroying marriages and dating lives?

My response: You’re the fucking parent. PARENT your children. You’re the spouse. Be the best SPOUSE possible. Quit projecting excuses of shitty relationships onto inanimate objects and activities for YOUR failures… and communicate. Quit trying to make your kids into mini models of yourself and let them discover who they are. Quit trying to force your spouse into an idealistic mold of what and who you think they should be, and let them be themselves. Did you fall in love with a person, or the idea of a person you want? Want to raise your kids right – raise them to be inquisitive. Raise them to be curious, adventurous, and exploratory. Teach them to learn, and then stand back and LET them learn, their way. Want to make a marriage work, then love the person for who THEY are and don’t be close-minded to the things that bring them joy. Try out their stuff… and encourage them to try yours… and between the two of you – find some common ground. Most of all, communicate with one another.

I play video games, and guess what? I enjoy it. Believe me, it takes skill, timing, talent, patience, determination, and dedication to become proficient with many, many, many of these games. There’s a whole gaming world out there, filled with like-minded people. Now with online gaming, chat sessions, fire-teams, and MMPG, new social skills are being developed.

As with ANYTHING, there’s always down sides, bad points, and abuse by players and non-players alike. Do you know what’s more destructive in a parent/child relationship – a parent yelling at kid, putting him down, putting down the thing he loves to do, the thing he’s excelling at, the thing perhaps his peers appreciate and applaud him for – simply because the parent doesn’t understand and they don’t take the time to find out. Because it’s different than them, their experience, or their understanding – they tear it down and look for everything negative. That’s abuse. That’s bad parenting. That’s despicable.

I watched a video of parents crying because their kids were more excited about playing video games or using their tablets than going outside and building a fort. Instead of blaming themselves that they didn’t understand their kids, didn’t know what their children were doing, surprised their kids liked something different than them, perhaps they should have taken them outside and built a fucking fort with them. I guarantee the next time that kid got into a chat with his friends, he would have been excited about telling them all about building a fort with their parents, and who knows… they may have just inspired a handful of OTHER kids to bug their parents to go outside and build fucking forts too. Instead, video games got blamed for their bad parenting. I wonder how many parents would actually take the time to go outside and build a fort with their kids? Perhaps THAT’s the answer to why some kids spend so much time on video games.

I heard a couple arguing not long ago while I was in a chat session with a fireteam during a raid. The girlfriend was in the background whining and complaining about how her boyfriend spent too much time on his video game, more time with his gaming friends than her, and that he obviously didn’t love her as much. That was an example of manipulation at its finest. This was also the same guy that often talked to us in our group, telling us of all the fun, adventurous things he and his girlfriend did all the time together, how much he loved her, how much he was trying out all the stuff she liked to do – some he liked, some he didn’t like. But his gaming time was getting less and less and less. He was a fantastic and gifted player and had dreams of playing on a MLG team, but he received no support from his family, from his friends, and now from his girlfriend. None of these ass-wipes were willing to play with him, or allow him the time to perfect his skills so he could chase his dream. In their minds, gaming wasn’t an acceptable option. Perhaps had he been a musician, writer, artist, dancer, singer, or actor he’d get the support he needed to follow his passion. Oh, wait… most of those don’t get much support either – because it’s not practical to follow an art. He’s fucked.

I don’t know why it has to be one or the other, gaming or nature, art or hobby, right or wrong. Video games are not evil. Playing video games is not evil. NOT communicating with your kids or your partner – that is what is evil and THAT is all up to each of us as an individual.

I’d love to have a relationship with a gamer, a writer, a musician, an artist, a hiker, a naturist, an adventurer, etc. I’d love to be with someone passionate about something, not some lame-assed fucker blaming everyone else for their failures, or someone who always takes the safe, practical route because it’s what’s expected. I’ve known too many of those. And… if you are one of these artists (gamers especially), perhaps the smart thing would be to choose relationships with other artists, or at least open-minded people who will understand and support your passion. If you choose a lame, close-minded traditionalist, then you can’t bitch when they bitch at you for not being just like them, or when they don’t understand you. Keep it real.

Anyway, since I saw all these blamers putting out their articles, I thought I’d put out one of my own. Bottom line: Stop blaming video games for your shitty relationship habits.

Till next time,

~KV Kvothe

*Image from: