We’ve Moved to the Sunny Side!

Dear Present and Future Subscribers,

We’ve moved to a new blog called “Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon”.

Click to go to Lulu’s new website!

Join me at the new site!

Pendulum will remain open for reference on Sunny.  However, some posts will be password protected, since I am going completely public very soon with my personal identity.  If you are interested in having the password, feel free to email me at:  lulu.em.stark@gmail.com

I want to thank everyone for their loyalty, support, and following over the past year.  It is just time for me to move on in a different direction, and I think Sunny can help me do that.  I do hope that you will come and follow over at Sunny for more stories, narratives, blog projects, and information.  It’s been a pleasure to write for you in the past year.  And I appreciate all of you.  Thank you again.

Remember, it’s http://sunnywithachanceofarmageddon.wordpress.com !

 

More Than Ten Years : 30 Days of Truth

Part II

Day 10 (Part Three) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.

Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.

Liz and the In Between, focused on my relationship with Liz.  It detailed all of the significant events within our friendship, and how it had turned ugly at times.  These were the years in between the first entry and this one.


Kat and I eventually buried the hatchet about five years later. We were both adults who had done a great deal of growing since. We did attempt reconciliation, but mutually decided that we were too different to have a friendship. We grew out of each other. That’s life.

It took Lea and I much longer.

I recall a Fourth of July party I was invited to many years after the incident. A mutual friend of many years invited me, and his sister, best friend to Lea, naturally invited her.

Before I knew it, only a large patio table separated us. We inspected each other, sizing one another up. She still had the same snow white skin, but now she donned raven hair in place of her usual highlight job. Also, she had become much larger than me, at least fifty pounds or more. It was a little more intimidating, but I didn’t care. I’d tussled with men twice my size.

I don’t know what she saw, but she looked fairly intimidated.  I was that same, fiery haired, piercing eyes girl she had known then.  I hadn’t aged yet, though many of the girls at that table already had.  The only differences were these.  I wasn’t staring her down behind a pair of Buddy Holly glasses.  I was 1/3 less than girl I was.  And, we were no longer surrounded by brick and mortar that was the all-seeing, all-knowing, completely crooked system that was our public school.

Yes, we were in the real world. Where there were real consequences to actions. If one of us did one thing out of turn, we’d face something that didn’t include losing two perfectly good school days to absolute intense boredom of a desk with blinders, essentially.

So, we were deadlocked, powerless to make each others’ lives hell. We were adults, not children thrust together in the same place at the same time. We had the freedom of escape, to be free from the tangled web of the high school social society. As much trash as we could talk, it didn’t matter. Too much space and too few connections let those words fall on indifferent, rather deaf ears.

So, it dissipated throughout years of silence. I was already married with a child. We were truly adults, lives so far separated from those emotions and the petty grudges generated from them. What did it matter anymore? Through the power of Facebook, we put it to rest through humor over the incident.


Liz and I had settled old scores. That was, until I started getting serious with C.S. I remember driving around our neighborhood, the one we grew up in, yelling at each other. I wasn’t making time for her at her demand.

“I’m engaged to a man who is really good for me, who really loves me. Can’t you even be happy for me?”

She retorted coldly, “You’ve been engaged so many times, I can’t even take you seriously anymore.”

There was no birthday reconciliation that year. Months droned on. It seemed to be over, and I was distraught, but infuriated. How dare she judge my relationship?!

I invited her to the wedding as an obligatory gesture. I knew she’d never attend. She should have been a bridesmaid, and yet, she would have rather carry on a grudge over my priorities changing.

Mid-summer, mid-pregnancy, I received a card in a letter in the mail. It contained a wedding gift and a phone number. I hesitated, but mustered up the courage to accept the olive branch. I announced my pregnancy. A boy. He even had a name.

She came to visit, and it was the first time I saw her in about a year. She seemed overjoyed, but deeply troubled. Liz, Liz, always something brewing under the surface.

She came the day after I had my son. Later in the week, she brought us dinner, on the house. And that was the last time I saw her face to face. It was almost three and a half years ago.

In that time, her relationship with Fox deteriorated.  There was always some contingency on him leaving his wife.  When you graduate college.  When you get a good job.  When…

They were fiercely fighting, and rarely seeing each other anymore.  They had opposing schedules, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Fox to steal time away from his wife.  One day, he left his email open on his laptop, sitting on her kitchen table.  She flipped through it, and discovered a few very old, very intimate exchanges between Fox an I on the MUD.

We talked.  “I know it was years ago, but why would he even save this?” she ranted.

Time passed, things changed.  That was pretty much the end of their relationship.  Well, that, and when she got a confirmation that he and his wife just got a new lease on their house. It wasn’t my fault.  She jumped into bed with their mutual married boss and ditched Fox.

I’ve actually searched and searched for the goodbye letter I wrote her in one of my journals.  I’m thinking our biggest falling out was in 2010.  Liz was always one of those people who insisted that she came first.  She randomly called and announced that she was back in town.  She wanted for me and her to go out.  I explained to her that a person couldn’t just drop by on me.  I have obligations to my family, plans that I’ve made, and things that just need done.  She was furious, insisting that I never made time for her.  All of these years, she made time for me, and the least I could do was see her during the few days in the year that she was in town.

Finally, I fought back.

“In all of this time, I listened to you prattle for hours about a miserable relationship with a married man, the same one that I urged you not to turn your life upside down for.  You defiled his marriage, and he still didn’t leave his wife for you.  Then, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you jumped into bed with his married boss, your boss too. 

Meanwhile, I am being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my marriage – to a man who fathered my son, is falling apart, and my son is showing signs of developmental delay.  The moment I tried to open up my mouth to share my troubles, was always the moment you had to go.  I’m tired of being on standby and being expected to be here at your beckon.  I’m tired of you leading me around by the nose.  So, if you’re going to get pissed off and walk out of my life, it better be for good this time.  Because I’m not taking you back.”

We didn’t speak for about a year or so.  That was, until a random birthday card for my son appeared in the mail, containing a gift card.  I let it sit in my nightstand for a month, pondering what I should do with it.  And finally, I broke down and emailed her.

Back to the status that rubbed me the wrong way. Lea is pregnant, after several years of marriage. And Liz, who I haven’t heard a word from in at least six months, made a comment. “I’ll definitely be there! I’m so excited to see you!” I know she’ll be in town; she lives far away. And I also know that she won’t make any attempt to stop by, or even contact me.

I invited her, holiday after holiday, to stop by the house.  She always said she’d try, but there was so much going on.  I never did see her, not once.

I stumbled upon what may be one of the most heartbreaking revelations I’ve ever had. Liz and I were never friends. We were frienemies. Not from my end, but from hers.

I was a pace car. I was not a concept to admire, but envy. When I actually married the man she truly desired, and had the family she secretly longed for, I had unknowingly won. She couldn’t come around, because she couldn’t bear the sight of it.  I had become her superior in every way, and that is a fact she can never reconcile, nor bring to the surface. It’s too juvenile. But wasn’t all of it?

Clearly, she’s not an active part of my life. Her absence has not made a bit of difference. In a way, I wish I could have ignored that birthday card. She would simply no longer exist, and I could retain all of our funny, powerful, intimate, and warm moments. Instead, I am in some friend limbo.

So, instead, I think I’m going to start hiding both Lea and Liz’s feeds. I don’t need it. Sometimes a friendship is beyond salvageable. The remnants are too few. I don’t want to remain friends for nostalgia’s sake. I am not a keepsake. I am a human. If we really remained friends, wouldn’t she at least message me from time to time.

I place this in the sea and wave goodbye. For the last time.

Only for a Season : 30 Days of Truth

Day 09 : Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

I carefully considered this question, and scanned my mind for any possibilities. I bounced it off of my husband and it came back with an answer.

I cherish everyone in my life. I will hold to them as tightly as I can, if they have any meaning. And, if they do drift, they were meant to.

The character Madea explained in the stage production of Madea Goes to Jail about the nature of relationships.

If somebody wants to walk out of your life, let – them – go!”

Some people are meant to come into your life for a lifetime, some for only a season and you got to know which is which. And you’re always messing up when you mix those seasonal people up with lifetime expectations.

Later in the monologue, she equates people to parts of a tree. Some are leaves that bud, grow, and blow away at the end of the season. Others are branches, some of which may snap and leave you flat on your back. And then, there are the people that are roots, unseen, deep in the earth.

A tree could have a hundred million branches but it only takes a few roots down at the bottom to make sure that tree gets everything it needs. When you get some roots, hold on to them but the rest of it… just let it go. Let folks go.

I used to have a problem where I’d clutch to people and force a relationship that was only meant for a season further. Eventually, I realized that I was doing myself more harm than good. This was before the wisdom of Tyler Perry through Madea. Sometimes I wish a Madea existed in my life a long time ago. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to come to my own conclusion.

Eventually, I started letting people go. And worse, there were some I had to evict from my life. My husband calls it, “Flushing the Social Septic Tank”. Anyone I determined was causing me harm for their own benefit had to go. My friendship, affection, and loyalty is worth more than that.

At first, this was a difficult process. I, too, have been evicted from the lives of others. Some of these separations were justified, but many were not. Rejection is not something easily brushed away. It is taken very personally. It often starts to erode my self-worth. I never wanted to be responsible for imparting that upon another being.

After a few major falling-outs, I came to a very important realization. It was often the fear of isolation that drove many of those friendships. And most often, it was the pain of severance, rather than the grievance of a lost friend. Those things shouldn’t be primary motivations for fostering a friendship.

After that epiphany, I refused to enable unhealthy relationships. In all likelihood, it caused me greater pain to pander for affections rather than their suffering after severance.

Many people are ships passing through my waters. Some dock, and others continue wandering in and out of the harbor. Then, there are those that come, dock, and are never seen again. I can’t be expected to board every ship, and certainly not to sail off into the great blue beyond.

In summation: Let folks go. Don’t spend a lifetime mourning their departure. We don’t mourn the passing of seasons. It is nature’s way.

Eleven, Eleven, Eleven

I am completely luck impaired. If I had luck as a stat like in role-playing games, it was be a -3. I swear.

But today, on the luckiest day of this millennium, I thought that I would acknowledge all of the luckiest things that have ever happened to me.

  • From what I understand, some people search their whole lives for that one special person. I met him in my teens. I became romantically involved with him, and nine months later we were married.
  • I am blessed with a wonderful son. Many women have fertility issues. Even if this surgery results in infertility, I still have T.D.
  • I was lucky enough to have a mostly uncomplicated pregnancy with T.D. and a complication free labor. He was born healthy and beautiful.
  • Through pure chance, I fell into the job of my dreams. This was the spark that started my passion for education and love of children. Some people search forever for the job they love, and I received mine by chance.
  • I am naturally gifted in many areas. I was afforded so many different chances to hone my abilities.
  • I am lucky enough to have a permanent home.
  • By chance, I have found a mental health community. Here, I find warmth, comfort, guidance, and camaraderie.
  • C.S. was lucky enough to walk away from a potentially fatal accident. I am lucky to have him alive.
  • Through absolutely random chance, I met a stranger on the bus who helped me save the big spring musical. It saved my job, gave me work over the summer, and promoted me to Music Director.
  • Once, I found $123 on a sidewalk with no one in sight.
  • And best of all, I am the luckiest gal on the planet to be surrounded with people who love me for who I am. This one goes out to you.
  • Maybe I’m not so unlucky after all. Happy 11/11/11!

Books Speak Louder than Words

Yesterday was not a complete loss.

After the episode detailed in I’m Not Okay, C.S. suggested we go to Half Priced Books. We dressed and headed out in an unusual October snowstorm. The ride was enjoyable, although I was too anxious to sit still. It’s always a wet day outside when we go to the bookstore. That’s the last weather a person would want when transporting books.

Between the three of us, we must have purchased 25 books, two flash card packs, and three journals. I’ve been keeping handwritten journals in flimsy composition books. It’s nice to finally have a sturdy home for my ramblings, so they may live on for years to come.  And we put quite a dent in our bank account.

As I was sitting with C.S. this afternoon, peeling off price tags after our retail therapy, it hit me. We were in a fortress of books, and I looked him.

C.S. have a thing between us we call, “The Golden Thread”. It’s a subatomic line, coiled around each of our hearts, that runs upward through our brains, and connects to the other. It is the line that allows the one to know, at least on a subconscious level, what is happening within the other. It’s not a perfect connection, just as any other. It is susceptible to interference, outages, etc. But, it is the one thing that has always bonded us.

The only thing The Golden Thread can’t provide me with is any intelligible positive emotions toward me.

He never said the words, but I heard them ringing out, clear as a bell, “I’m sorry. For everything. I want you to be okay. I love you.”

Today, a very dear friend and I had a conversation about the LEEP procedure. She’s was more affected by the precancer than I am. She had the procedure done many years ago, when it was new, without complications.

And on this date, she is healthy and cancer free. She helped ease my fears. I’m extraordinarily thankful for her and all of her support. Without her words, I don’t know what shape I’d be in.

Thank you all for your encouraging words and support. This is one of the hardest times I’ve ever faced in my life. I’m grateful for everyone – for Ruby, Monday, James, ManicMuses, Always (yes, I saw your post on Canvas), and anyone and everyone else I may have not named. You’ve all given me a special kind of support that no one else in my life could. Again, thank you.

Fluent in Ebonics

Yesterday was my first day back to work, and I couldn’t be happier, despite the unpleasantness that morning. That school has such a profoundly positive effect on me. I take two busses there, and the alone time is relaxing. But the second I walk through that door, I feel the love and community there. Everyone is so pleasant and happy. My co-workers respect me and my boss appreciates me. The kids are always so glad to see me and are always telling me that they like my class the best. It’s one of the most wonderful parts of my life.

This week consists of educator’s professional development seminars and training.  I sat at a table with some of my favorite co-workers, the art teacher, the 3rd grade group leader, and the 4th grade group leader.  It’s my second school year there, and I’m becoming closer to the staff as time passes.  We were divided in groups based on our tables for our group activities.

The first activity was called “Number Knockout”.  You are given a 5 by 5 grid of random numbers.  The instructions are to use those numbers by addition, subtraction, multiplication, and / or division to get a predetermined number.  I am terrible at math.  It was up to the group to come up with as many number combinations as they could.  The mood in the room was light; everyone was joking and conversing.  When they were determining who won, I said, “Hey, we were at a serious disadvantage!  We have two fine arts teachers at the same table!”  Everyone laughed.

The next activity was called “Shorthand Code”.  The objective was to come up with as many phrases using only netcode – like CUL8R and B4UGO.  I hate using that.  I don’t use it in text, blogs, emails, or anything.  I am a person who seeks to preserve the correct use of the English language, instead of letting it disintegrate into grammatically incorrect, misspelled garble.  I thought it was going to be challenging.  But as soon as I got into it, I was unstoppable.  I kept churning them out.  And because of that, my group voted me as the one to present it, in front of everyone.  Yeah, you know I have anxiety.  But we were deemed the winners.

This led to the first racial joke I’ve encountered at work.  See, I work in an inner-city youth program in a predominantly African American community.  When I was hired, I was concerned that race may be an issue.  I’m one of four white people who work there.  It never has been.  They are an incredible, accepting community.  There, you are what you are.  If I seem quirky, they don’t care.  It’s just part of who I am.  They don’t suspect anything is wrong with me.  I’m T.M.  They always see the best in me.  I am enthusiastic, warm-hearted, friendly woman who is passionate about what I do.  I love it.

The point of the exercise was to help us understand the importance of positive, clear communication with our students.  This includes establishing expectations and providing clear instruction.  Which lead to a mention of Ebonics.  The presenter said, “T.M. seems to be fluent in Ebonics.  No clue how!”  Everyone roared with laugher, including me.  It seemed so, but I’m really not.  I am the whitest girl you’d ever meet.  My skin could rival Casper the Friendly Ghost, and I have white blonde hair.  I grew up in the suburbs, attended a school that was lucky to have 10 ethnic people in a graduating class of 247, and participated in extracurricular activities that did not include any participation from minority students.  Hell, I only knew one African American man in college!

I guess I can be proud.  I am not only a decent writer, a good musician, an excellent vocalist, I am also fluent in Ebonics. Ha!

I hope today is as great as yesterday!