Tag Archives: love

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Fake


I woke up this morning out of a sound sleep with what my mind at 6am believed was a brilliant idea.  In order to force myself into much needed weight loss I thought I’d tell myself I was losing weight in order to fit into my beautiful wedding dress!  Great idea, and if you don’t know me you may not think there is even anything out of the ordinary about the plan.  Those who do know me, however, are probably more than aware that I’m not getting married any time soon.  No wedding date set, no plans under way, in fact no groom in sight!

My thought process goes like this:  if I pretend I’m getting married, and I really want to fit into that dress, then I might be able to fake myself out and actually lose the weight, thereby attracting a man, and once attracted, who knows, we might end up getting married.  See, it’s a simple direct line from my craziness to reality.

Strange, I know, but I try to do things like this to fake myself out all the time.  I make deals with myself: no eating in front of the TV; no eating in that particular chair; you can only have popcorn on weekends; if you don’t eat any sweets this week you can have those new shoes you want; etc.

I know that I’m only affecting the symptoms of my disease, but if 30 years of therapy can’t eliminate the root cause of my emotional eating, I’m willing to fake myself out and simply try to eliminate the symptoms one by one.

The only problem is, I’m a pretty smart cookie, and it’s often really hard to fool me.  Unless you’re a 50-something man who’s a total loser and trying to get me to believe you’ve got it together.  In those instances, I’m apparently a pushover!  The rest of the time, however, my rational mind keeps intruding and saying things like:  “You’re not really getting married.  Go ahead and eat the chocolate cake.  Eat in that chair if you want to.  It’s your chair.  You paid for it.  You can do what you want.”

So, in order to make this wedding dress thing work, I’m going to have to get fairly involved in my delusion.  I’ve begun looking for the perfect dress and telling my friends at work about my upcoming nuptials.  I’ve already received a lovely “We think you’ll make a beautiful bride” card and two women have volunteered to be bridesmaids.  (I’m not certain that good taste allows for bridesmaids at third weddings.  I’ll have to check into it.  I think just the thought of a third wedding would make Miss Manners faint!)

Can this plan work?  I have no idea, but stay tuned for further details and feel free to check out my Bridal Registry at www.target.com.


A Few Good Men


The Marines and I have both been looking for a few good men for some time now.  (Well, actually, they need a few while I honestly only need one.)  When I first began online dating I assumed I would meet a lot of good men and that, among all those good men, there would be one who wasn’t perfect but who suited me perfectly.  What I found instead were droves of men who had attained middle-age with little knowledge of themselves.  Among them were those who seemed completely unaware of their needs, their neurosis, their selfishness, their general lack of social skills, and any part they themselves had played in creating their current circumstances.  Then there were those who I’m sure were not necessarily bad men but who were simply, as my sister would say, “odd”.

You can only go on so many failed coffee dates and then most of us, men and women alike, have to take a break from online dating and focus our energy in other ways in order to maintain our optimism about love, life and the pursuit of happiness.  I took just such a break in the last few months.  Then over the holidays, having a lot of time off work and feeling ready to dance again, I updated my profile and threw it out to the universe with a hopeful sigh.

To my great surprise and joy the outcome was emails and subsequent meetings with several good men.  They are each and every one of them, intelligent, respectful, interesting and self-aware and I am completely enjoying my time getting to know them better.  We’ve shared drinks, meals, movies, and conversations about our life’s journey and our hopes for the future and I imagine we will remain friends regardless of the outcome.  It’s been like a breath of fresh air to someone who’s been dating for way too long.

I suspect that part of the reason it’s working out better for me this time is because I’ve been determined to broaden my own horizons.  I tend to be attracted to and to fall for the tall, dark and handsome types.  The problem with this is that judging a book by its cover has gotten me into repeatedly bad relationships over the years.  This time I promised myself I would place more credence on what each match had to say, how he presented himself, and how he approached me, than in his looks.  Not that any of these men are unattractive, they are simply not my usual 6’2” tall charmers.  So, just as the Marines have adjusted their definition of what it means to be “one of the few” over the years in order to enhance recruitment I’ve found that adjusting my perspective has worked as well.

Since I’ve written enough pieces about my bad dating experiences that they have their own category in the archives (https://freethetwins.wordpress.com/category/mckenzie-james/bad-dates/) I thought it only fair that I report here that I’ve found there are still good, single men out there who are looking for relationships with strong, confident, intelligent women.  It’s way too early to tell if one of these men is the match I’ve been looking for but, whether or not one of these new friends turns out to be perfect for me, they have already renewed my faith in men.  What a wonderful way to begin a new year!


Touchstone [tuhch-stohn] – Noun


  1.  A test or criterion for the qualities of a thing.
  2.   A black siliceous stone formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal.

(Source: Dictionary.com Unabridged, Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.)

 

My mother died a year and a half ago and this weekend my sister and I thought it was time to go through the personal items that my sister had boxed up from her dresser when she died.  My sister brought the box in from the garage and gave it to me to open. The very first item I pulled out of the box was a simple, tiny, plastic stamp dispenser.  Like myself my mother was an avid writer but her writing took the form of letters.  Living over 2,000 miles away from her most of my adult life I’d gotten hundreds of letters from Mom.  Her letters were always engaging, entertaining and filled with humorous stories and vivid descriptions.

She probably wrote a letter to each person in her address book once a month.  So for years she had bought stamps in rolls of a hundred and used her stamp dispenser daily.  That stamp dispenser was such a tiny thing, yet such an enormous part of who my mother was that simply touching it brought tears to my eyes immediately.

I began crying, my sister began crying, and my sister’s little two year old granddaughter began slapping her grandmother on the leg because she thought Grandma had made Aunt McKenzie cry.  It was quite a scene which ended with us laughing at the baby girl and explaining to her that we were crying about our Mommy and that Grandma hadn’t hurt Aunt McKenzie.  We then put the box away to try again another time.

My mother was my touchstone.  She was my mirror to my place in the world. Being Lois’ youngest daughter — the attractive, successful happily married one who lived on the East Coast — was an enormous part of my identity.  She not only took pride in who I had become but reminded me always of where I came from.  With my mother’s passing I felt not only her loss, but without my tether to the past and my touchstone to reflect the purity of my beliefs, I lost a bit of my identity for a while as well.

Mom was a strong and independent woman who rarely asked anyone for help.  She survived a fractured skull in her twenties when she was hit by a car while on her bike.  Until the day she died she had slight hearing loss in one ear and dizziness when she turned her head to a certain angle from that accident.  She survived the loss of an infant child, WWII, the great depression, poverty, the loss of a spouse, raising six children alone, the death of her youngest child before his fortieth birthday, a dog attack, and at eighty was hit by a truck while out walking.  The doctors and physical therapists told us that no one else her age and in her condition would have walked again.  It was her sheer stubbornness that brought on her recovery and ability to walk again six months later.  She did all of these things, and others too numerous to mention, and carried on with a joy that brought tears to your eyes.

The one strong belief that my mother had that she passed on to me was that every day is a fresh start and a chance for renewed hope.  No matter how bad things get I realize that the very next morning I could wake up to a day that brings me infinite joy.  So it was with this belief that I put one foot in front of the other each day after my Mom’s death until the pain subsided and I was able to tether myself to my place in the world again.

I hope that one day very soon my sister and I can attempt to sort through Mom’s personal belongings once again.  Next time we’ll better prepare ourselves for the bittersweet memories we’re sure to experience and perhaps, without a toddler there, we’ll allow ourselves as many tears as we need to get through it and finish the job.

Reprinted below is the speech that I wrote for my mother’s 80th birthday celebration and gave again at her funeral.

My Mom was born on November 10th and shared her birthday with the United States Marine Corps.  These two events may seem to be unrelated to some, but not to those of us who know both the Marine Corps and Mom well.  Let me enumerate just a few of the characteristics they have in common.

 Courage – Whether attacked by the poverty of her early youth, distance between loved ones, government red tape, or the common hardships of everyday life, Mom always faced her enemies with courage and taught her children to do the same.

 Loyalty – Lord knows, each of us children tested the limits of our Mother’s loyalty and love and found it remained limitless and unwavering.

Honor – Mom’s honesty and integrity were beyond questions.  In fact, I’m sure there are those of us who wished at times that she had been a little less “honest’ since she tended to  “call ‘em as she saw ‘em”.  Her straight forward approach and homegrown advice usually hit the mark.

 Endurance – No matter how many times circumstances conspired to knock her down, she pulled herself up and never lost hope that things would get better.  In fact, it was because of her singular determination that many things in our lives WERE changed for the better.  Even getting hit by a truck couldn’t keep that woman down.  After her recovery, she continued to volunteer at St. Alice Parish and McKenzie Willamette Nursing Home.

 Strength – You can’t tell me that raising the flag at Iwo Jima was more difficult than raising six children to maturity (especially these particular children!).  As far as we’re concerned Mom deserves a monument in her honor as well.

 Through her 88 years she maintained a nobility of character that made us proud to call her Mom.  We’re proud today to celebrate her life.  She was a great mother, a great grandmother (in both senses of the term) and a friend to many.


Everyone Loves Me!


I have been told I have a charming personality.  I suspect it’s partly just the personality I was born with and partly from being a middle child in a large family.  I’m basically a happy person. I get a kick out of life and find my fellow inmates on this planet fascinating.  I have made friends easily through my adult life.  I also tend to be very loyal so a lot of my closest friends I’ve known for over twenty years, some since childhood.

I remember sharing my angst over moving to New York City for a job a few years ago with my sister.  “What am I doing? I don’t know a soul in New York?  How will I meet people?”  My sister laughed and said, “You’ll make friends everywhere you go the way you always have.”

And, of course, she was right.  If I go to a new hairdresser, within a few visits we’re best of friends and meeting for drinks and dinner.  When I change jobs my new staff is usually happy I’m there and I make friends among my colleagues without difficulty.  In fact, at a recent job, my boss actually told me one of my fellow directors was jealous because staff liked me so well so quickly.  I just seem to be able to sense the type of support that each person needs to flourish and am somehow able to bring out their best.  I can prompt people to try and succeed at things they didn’t think they could do previously.

I put others at ease.  I laugh at all the everyday occurrences that make some people angry and frustrated and I get others to laugh along with me.  I’m the one that gets the party going.  I coax those who wouldn’t normally dance out on to the dance floor.  I laugh at myself. I use humor as an ice breaker and I’m often the one who helps others to relax and begin to enjoy each other’s company.

I’ve been told I’m adorable, fun, funny, charming, even enchanting.  (Okay, that last one may have been my Mom!)   Everybody loves me: my neighbors love me, the plumber loves me, babies love me, the cable guy loves me, my friends’ husbands and boyfriends love me, my friends’ kids love me, my nieces and nephews love me.

So what I don’t understand is this:  How is it that if everyone I meet loves me I can’t find just one, single man who loves me too?  I only need one man to find me enchanting — not an entire world.  Just one, single, stable, honest man who thinks I’m as special as everyone else does.  I only need one man to share my everyday life, my joys and sorrows, my laughter and tears.

Even at my ripe old age I’m still hopeful that this man exists somewhere and one day we’ll meet.  We’ll connect and he’ll see in me all the good that others do and eventually he’ll look across the room at me the way my girlfriend’s husband still looks at her after 35 years of marriage and say, “I’m a damn lucky man.”  And I’ll be across the room smiling back knowing I’m the one who’s truly lucky.


Life Goes On


by McKenzie James

I get up

Do my hair

Dress for success and put my make-up on

Go to work

Smile and converse

And then I come home and cry about you

I grocery shop

I pay the bills

Run the everyday errands that we all do

Smile at the clerks

Exchange pleasantries

And then I come home and cry about you

I meet my friends

Share some laughs

Smiles and hugs

Let’s do it again

And then I come home and cry about you

I visit the kids

We run and play

We laugh and jest

And at the end of the day

I come home and cry about you

I cry about you

I still cry about you


For Sale…


One heart.

Great interior.

Still runs well.

Should provide someone with many more years of service.

Exterior in horrible condition.

Broken repeatedly.

Going for a smile.

All offers considered.


Maleena


by McKenzie James

I was going to write a poem today

about agony and grief.

About how life has beaten me down

and I can find no relief.

 

Then I stopped to visit a home

where a two year-old was at play.

I found a bit of hope again

just seeing her that way.

 

Everything she saw excited her.

Everything was a cause for joy.

She stomped across the living room

with an old pot and a wooden spoon as toys.

 

She ran to me and hugged my legs

and seemed so glad to see me.

I couldn’t help but smile and laugh

and soon it wasn’t so bad to be me.

 

She has no sense of life’s problems yet.

She has no sense of time.

She lives within the moment

and most every moment’s fine.

 

Her laughter bubbles up

at the simplest, oddest times.

She thinks the world a marvelous place

and I hope nothing happens to change her mind.

 

I was going to write a poem today

about sadness, grief and pain.

Instead I watched a child at play

and found some joy again.


Does He Know?


by McKenzie James

 

Didn’t he know I’d always love him?

That I’d always put him first?

I would have always stood beside him;

stuck by him through better or worse.

 

I would have helped him reach his goals.

I would have kept him from the cold.

I would have picked him up when he fell.

I would have loved that man through heaven and hell.

 

We could have shared passion, laughter and life.

We could have held each other close every night.

We could have built something that others would envy.

We could have, we should have, but it simply ended.

 

Does he know what he is missing?

Does he know what we might have had?

How many people wander forever searching

and are never offered such a chance?


Illusion


I miss the way he looked at me as if he saw some beauty there.

He’d say, “Come sit and tell me all about your day”.

Then he’d hold me close and stroke my hair

as my troubles drifted away.

I miss the way he’d dance with me just because he knew

it was the one thing I truly enjoyed.

Dancing mattered to him not at all.

He simply wished to please.

Perhaps he needed more from me than just being there for him?

I miss seeing him across the table as we sipped a glass of wine.

I loved the way he’d speak to me about his life and world.

I loved that when I spoke to him he seemed to hear my words.

I miss when he’d stop talking and take me in his arms.

I miss him making love to me and sleeping all night wrapped in his arms.

How can one miss what one never really had?

How could I have been so wrong?

Your mind plays tricks on you as you age.

Have we become too old to love?

Is it possible hearts broken so many times can no longer feel?

Is it possible none of it was ever real?

 

McKenzie James

November 8, 2011


Friends for Life by McKenzie James Part II


(Letter to Eleanor continued)

Well, you’ll know by now that Laura got the part.  Was there ever any question?  How that enormous voice comes out of that tiny girl I’ll never know.  No one hearing her on stage would ever believe there once was a question about whether or not the child would have a normal lung capacity.  That’s one of the things I did right with my life is help out Dottie when she needed help with those babies.  She always thought I was doing her a favor, but you and I know it was the other way around.  I loved mothering those kids.  But they’re all older now and they’ll b e fine on their own.  My work there is done and I rarely see or hear from them now that they’ve been launched into lives of their own.

I know you can’t imagine what it’s even like to be alone every day.  You have Jim and the kids and your house is always bursting at the seams with visitors from all over the world taking advantage of your wonderful hospitality. 

You’ve been a good friend, Eleanor; a lasting friend who has always been there for me.  I thank you for that. I feel badly leaving you this last difficult task to handle for me.

Meredith heard someone knocking on her apartment door.  It must be Carlos, her doorman, because no one else could have gotten by him and up to her floor without being announced.  He knew she was in her apartment so she’d better answer.  She didn’t want him worrying what was wrong and using his key.

Carlos knocked on Ms. Meredith’s door.  He wouldn’t do this for the other tenants, he thought to himself, but Ms. Meredith wasn’t just any tenant.  She treated all of the staff like real people, always asking him about his wife and family, remembering him on holidays and special occasions, not acting as if he was less because of his job.   He had just signed for an international special delivery for her.  The protocol would be to phone and let her know it was there and then leave it on the desk for her to sign for it when she had time to pick it up.  That’s exactly how he’d handle it for anyone else in the building but he thought international special delivery might be really important and Ms. Meredith looked like she needed something to cheer her up when she came in tonight.

“Hello Carlos.  What are you doing up here?”

“Hi Ms. Meredith.  This came in for you just moments ago.  I thought it might be important and I wanted to get it to you.”

“Thanks Carlos.  You know you didn’t have to do that.  I would have gotten it next time I was down.”

“I wanted to.  You’re always good to all of us and I thought you deserved special treatment for a special delivery.”

“Thanks Carlos.  You have a good evening.  Tell Maria I left her some bulbs for the roof garden in the back office.

“Okay, Ms. Meredith.  I’ll let her know.  You have a blessed evening.”

Meredith opened the Express envelope and immediately knew who it was from simply by the beautiful handwriting on the interior envelope.  It was obviously an invitation from Martina and Joaquin.  Martina’s hand writing was exquisite, always had been, even though she’d had no formal education.

Please join us to celebrate the publication

 of Joaquin Aguirre’s first novel:

Evenings in the Vineyard

Saturday, November 13, 2010, 7pm

Aguirre Vineyard

San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina

Inside the invitation was a hand written letter.

Dear Meredith,

You know how upset I was when Joaquin decided to turn over management of the vineyard to Benjamin to spend his time entirely on his creative pursuits.  I was angry at you for a long time for advising him to follow his heart.  I was worried that Benjamin would fail, that Joaquin would fail, and that we’d end up with nothing. Now here it is two years later and both have been successful in their pursuits and none of us have ever been happier.

You must join us for the celebration.  Joaquin listened to you when you told him to do what would feed his soul and the rest would take care of itself.  It’s because of you that he gave himself the time to write the most beautiful and provocative work I have ever read.  (Okay, I admit to being a bit prejudiced.)  It’s a wonderful book.  I know you will love it.  I will let you in on a little secret.  It’s dedicated to you!

So come visit us, my friend.  We love you and can’t wait to celebrate with you.

          Love always,

                   Martina

Meredith had met Martina and Joaquin over ten years ago on a trip to Argentina and they had hit it off immediately.  Two years ago during a visit Joaquin had admitted to her how unhappy he had become.  He told her that the Vineyard, although a part of his family for generations, was not really what made him happy.  They had sat up long after Martina had gone to bed and talked about art and writing and the things that made their hearts swell.  She had told him to feed his soul and the rest would work out.  Thinking about it now, where did she get off telling anyone that?  Had her life worked itself out?

To be continued…


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