Take My Breath Away

My breathing was audible in the stillness, and not just because of my heightened state of awareness. I inhaled slowly and deliberately, nostrils flaring, in an attempt to take in more air – willing the oxygen to push past the lump in my throat, half-trying to conjure up the relaxation techniques I learned long ago, at that acting school in Manhattan. Ah, the good ol’ days, when it was merely stage-fright that required the use of such methods…Am I still too young to reminisce over those romantic times-gone-by? Surely at the age of thirty-five, I have earned the right to lament about such things.

I could barely make out the trees, covered in darkness. The moon is just a sliver allowing me to glimpse the outline of the branches swaying in the autumn winds just outside my kitchen window. The darkness is somehow comforting. Now what? I ponder my options, remembering to breath deeply, in a feeble attempt to contain the swell of emotions rising up in mutiny, against me and my breathing exercises.

An undeniable surge of energy flows through me. I am acutely aware of my own desires. I must bury my emotions in the pleasures of a physical release. In my erratic state, I decide that yes, this is what I need right now, to rid myself of the anxiety that is plaguing my every cell. I am overcome by the intensity of this urge. I rise from my seat at the ornate, wrought iron and glass table that Jack and I purchased years ago in Mexico, and make my way towards the master bedroom. I move with feline accuracy up the eight wooden steps leading to the bedrooms, careful to avoid the creaky spots.

I pass the pictures hanging cheerily on the wall in our stairwell, of our two, healthy, blond-haired, cherubic-faced babies. Will is 4 and Lana just turned 2 years old. They are our greatest gifts in this life, looking like they belong in a surfing magazine on the west coast somewhere. I smile at them and know for just a moment that all will be well.

I open the door to our modest master bedroom, the king-sized bed and plush down comforter beckoning me closer. The red 12:22 glowing from the cable box reminds me that it is after midnight. I wonder how Jack will react to this late night waking. I walk around to his side of the bed, reaching for the edge, to help me maintain my bearings in the darkness. As my eyes adjust to the blackness of our bedroom, I can make out his mouth, slightly ajar as he snores out a little tune. This is not hot. But, no matter. He is the man I love, the man I married.

I carefully climb in on his side, sliding one of my legs up and over his torso, straddling him in one swift motion as I have done so many times before in our ten years together. He stirs just a bit, causing the snoring to stop for a moment. Without pause, I slide my hands up his shirtless chest and lock my knees tightly over his torso and arms, which are trapped under the blanket. Wrapping my hands around his throat – I squeeze. I squeeze and I squeeze, until his eyes pop open, wide with the surprise that his ever-loyal wife, and loving mother of his children, has suddenly turned to physical violence against him. In his sleep, no less.

I mean, we have had our ups and downs, but we have never been violent. Until now. I bring my mouth closer to his reddened and contorted face and I hiss out my inquiry, “How the fuck can you do this to me?!?! To our family?!” His gasping for air is a satisfactory answer to me, for now. Since I adore our children, and heaven knows that I would not look cute in an orange jumpsuit, I return to my senses. Choking him to death is not a viable option, appealing as it might be. I release my grip. I am glad we have had this talk.

Photo credit: http://www.myreservoir.net/tag/scorned-woman/

On FEX Living In The Basement – A Note To Maya Angelou’s Voice In-My-Head

People are asking. They are scratching their heads and wondering. There are those who come right out and ask me; others who remain perplexed, or make various assumptions. My personal favorites are the ones who have a firm opinion on the matter, one way or the other, of which they adamantly try to convince me. Most just want to know WHY on earth I have allowed FEX (future ex-husband) to move back into the house and take up residence in the basement?

As they say, “It’s complicated.” FEX moved out 3 years ago. Since then, we have put forth our best efforts towards effectively and cooperatively (mostly) co-parenting our son, 8 (the lawyer) and our daughter, 6 (the performer). After more than a year of discussing the possibility of trying to live in the same house again, as friends and mutual adorers of our wee-ones, we decided to make a go of this unconventional arrangement. This past September, to the elation of my children, FEX moved back in. My expectations of him are as follows.

#1. Put the children first.

#2. I need to be able to rely upon your word.

Easy. Right? Well, one out of two isn’t that bad. Is it? The whole keep your word thing has evaded FEX for many years now. I should have known that this would be the case, because Maya Angelou has said so, and she is usually right about these things.

To my defense – FEX and I are able to provide more for our children, when supporting one household, instead of two. Now we work together on the daily challenges, responsibilities and chaos that is attached to raising young children. In my mind, I was thinking, “I didn’t have them alone, so why should I raise them alone?” Most importantly, and the clincher for me was that my children desperately wanted to see both of their parents, each and every day.

Although, in the opposing voice in-my-head, I hear the words of Maya Angelou. I can hear her gently reminding me of one of my favorite quotes.

Get out of my head Maya. I have to try this out. 

Dear Miss Angelou’s voice in-my-head,

I know that you said, “When somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The Universe has enthusiastically chimed in on this point, on several occasions throughout my life. I surrender. I get it. Believe them the first time.

I am aware that in heeding the wisdom of your advise, allowing FEX back in, was not the best idea. But, I ask you, who else in the world is going to love my children as much as I do, and help me raise them on a daily basis, as well as maintaining a house and yard, etc…? Who, Maya? Who?

I mean no disrespect, as you are a most-admired role model to me. But Maya, I wanted to teach my children that we love them so much that we willingly put our differences aside to do our best in raising them together, even though our marriage was over. Is this wrong? I suppose only time will tell.

Families look all different ways these days, as I am sure you are aware. I know that our living arrangement is unusual, and though it has not been the ideal situation for me personally, having another parent in the house, and seeing the way my children light up when their father comes home, is reason enough for me to be proud of myself for trying. Wish me luck. xo

Also Maya, any dating advice would be most welcomed. 😉

With Fondest Admiration,

Victoria

photo credit: aware.org.sg

Sleds and Dogs, But Not Sled Dogs

So, what does one do when they are snowed in, for 3 days, with 2 kids and 3 dogs? I am kidding, I mean 2 dogs and Fex (future ex husband) who has been likened to a dog, by some mutual friends, on several occasions. Truthfully speaking, FEX could never be as loyal and reliable as a dog anyway. OMgoodness, I just did it again. Perhaps it’s is the freezing cold that I was exposed to while sledding today. Or, rather, I am just in the mood to be cheeky (and honest).

The answer is – go sledding with a bunch of friends, and a gaggle of kids, of course! It’s that, or I could always sit home, drink wine, and let my children eat me out of house and home, in an attempt to pacify our cabin-fever, and the boredom which has begun to set in – the result of sitting in the house for 3 days, while Mother Nature has her way with us.

As a devout lover of summer, and all activities water-related, I have often wondered how it is that I have lived in New York for my entire life. While we do have the most beautiful weather in Spring and Fall, which are both moderate in temperature, and a delight to behold, for the senses, with them comes the complete extremes of the spectrum – brutally hot summers and bone-chilling winters.

The fact is, that I love New York! Just like the tourism commercials, theme song and slogan says. I really do love it, wholeheartedly. Many who have never visited this beautiful state do not realize that New York City is only a small portion of the offerings here. I actually live on Long Island, just east of the city, which is just that, a very long island of suburbs, boasting countless, stunning beaches spanning its length, and no more than a half an hour drive, north or south, from almost any given point. As if this isn’t enough, there is the mainland of NY, which stretches up to Canada, and is comprised of spectacualr mountains, with farmland and forest, mostly unsullied by man.

While I do love it here, I must say that the cold winters are really knawing at me, whispering in my ear, louder and louder, as each year passes, and another bout of cold passes through my beloved state. Today, standing on top of that snowy hill, with frozen nose and toes, delighting in the fun of the children sledding, I leaned in closely to decipher the whisper, and I distinctly heard it say, “Go back to the Caribbean Victoria. That is where you belong!” Who am I to argue with the wisdom of the winter winds?

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Enjoying some balcony time in sunny Jamaica, January 2015

For the Doubters, Haters and Naysayers

My life hasn’t been picture perfect. Yet, my blessings have been, and continue to be innumerable.

I’m what one might call a “late bloomer.” I dropped out of college right after High School and pursued acting, performing in local productions, and working with an improv troupe for several years. All the while, I was building my talents as a hairdressing waitress, with a penchant for mixing up delightful cocktails, and provoking endless amounts of fun. I parlayed that into a nice management position at a high-end steakhouse, with a regular clientele, and a close-knit staff. Very good times…

I began seriously dating my future ex-husband in 2000, (who I shall affectionately refer to as FEX from here on) and we eventually ventured off into our own business, in the home improvement field. The housing market was soaring in NY, (mind you this was around 2002) and FEX and I were living it up…vacations, parties, weekend getaways and the like. More good times…

We got the house in the middle-class neighborhood, got married, and had 2 healthy, beautiful babies. A boy then a girl. Picture perfect. Um. No.

Fast forward to 2008ish. The housing market was in a drastic, downward spiral and seemingly took our business and financial security with it, in what seemed like a blink. Eventually, our marriage was to follow suit.

Still trying to hold it all together, I returned to school, in 2010. Having already attained my Associates Degree while working at that fine Steakhouse, I began to chip away at my Bachelors in English (of course) in hopes of becoming a teacher. I was an excellent student, and the go-to editor, for my friends and family, whether they needed a letter, or a college paper written. I thought becoming a teacher would be the answer to our financial woes.

That is when FEX declared that he was unhappy and wanted out. Our children were 2 and 4, at the time. It unraveled quickly after that. 6 months later, FEX moved out and I really wasn’t sure if I could manage life, house, children and dogs, without him.

I made a decision, that no matter what challenges were to come, I was going to make my job as a parent paramount over everything else. FEX proved a disloyal husband, but certainly does still love and provide for our children. We do get along (mostly) and work together at parenting our offspring. I still do cut hair, and waitress and bartend, and I also continue to put parenting my little ones before all else. But now, I can see clearly that I have the need to fulfill my own passions, and purpose. Yes, it is an actual NEED, and I shall honor it.

Which brings me here. I realize that it was necessary for me to be brought to and through these challenges and struggles, so that I could learn of my own strength, and astounding ability to improve myself. Because when the material things, and the plans I had made for the future were abruptly stripped from me, I was left with myself.

I get by, with a little help from my friends, and a lot of help from my family. I am quite Blessed, in both departments. But the point is, that I choose to be happy. I choose to chase my dreams. I am writing, which centers me, and makes me feel that all is right with the Universe. I am editing a wonderful book for my fabulous friend, mamalisa4, which excites me immeasurably. I am on the right path. I can feel it in my bones.

For those who have doubted or judged my decisions, I say, “Mind your own matters.” To my supporters, who have been there with an open heart, through it all, cheering me on, I say, “Thank you. You’ve made all the difference in the world to me.”

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What treasures have you found among someone else’s “trash?”

One mans trash…You know how the old saying goes. What may no longer be useful to one person, may well turn out to be a cherished treasure for another. This rings true in numerous ways.

I was driving back and forth across my suburban town on a typical, putt-around Sunday, and several times passed by a house having a garage sale. The weather was a bit too frosty, in my opinion, to make that endeavor worthwhile. I was thinking this, as I passed the chilled figures working the sale. As a seasoned host of some rather lucrative garage sales, I have learned that you don’t rake in the customers, in temperatures too hot, or too cold. I have a great appreciation for the myriad of benefits that come along, from doing something as laborious and unglamorous as having a garage sale.

I had never shopped garage sales, and had certainly never hosted one, before my second child was born. I snubbed my nose at garage sales for the most part. Who would want to sift through someone else’s discards anyway? Or spend their day selling their own junk in their own driveway? What would the neighbors think?

Fast-forward to a 2-year-old son, and infant daughter later. “Oh no, all these baby clothes, and toys, and hoppy chairs, are designed for boys. What were we thinking? And what will we do with all of this boy stuff? And gee-wiz, replacing it with all girl stuff is costly? And wow, no baby shower for the second-born, to ease the financial bleeding a bit, that comes from baby-having, and subsequent child-rearing, kind of sucks…” And finally, “Heyyy, maybe those garage sale people are onto something…”

Needless to say, I have held my fair share of yard sales in the 6 years to follow that naive time in my life. It was amazing, I was decluttering my house, helping people attain some rather nice items, for which they had need or want, at a fabulous price, and I was making some extra cash to contribute to my family. And by-golly its a green thing to do, and in total compliance with the concept of reuse, repurpose and recycle. Amazing!

Let’s get back to the poor popsicles I saw running their chilly-day sale. On my last pass, at the end of the day, dropping off my daughter’s friend from a play-date, I see that they have shut down shop and carefully moved all that didn’t sell to the curb, for trash pick-up. Alas, the curious picker in my head forces me to stop the car and assess the situation. Well, my goodness, am I glad I did.

I am now the happy owner of a pristine and life-like porcelain doll, which my daughter was thrilled to receive (incidentally I priced it out and found it to be valued at around $85), an extra large, wooden-framed, backyard table-umbrella, in excellent working condition, and a perfect, unused, hardcover, copy of a book that one of my dearest friends, and cheer-leader for my writing, had been urging me for months to read, coincidentally (or not) written by a blogger-turned extremely successful author, writing about some sh*t his Dad says. Amazing!

As I think of all of this, I grow more certain that there are no coincidences. A dear childhood friend, whose first husband had told her on numerous occasions, that she was a piece of garbage, eventually remarried a man who absolutely adored her for the stunningly beautiful, kindhearted and imperfect woman she is. 10 years later, they remain madly in love. Amazing! Sometimes, what might appear to be “trash” in our lives, turns out to be a hidden treasure, waiting to fall into the hands or heart of just the right person.