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Paris with a friend

We met very near the chandeliers we had joked about.  I had just given my car over to valet and entered the Paris Las Vegas when there she was.   My best friend.

Timing couldn’t have been better, and given the sea of people, nothing short of a miracle that we found each other at all.

Rewind to Christmas.

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Santa brought me a cold/flu of some sort.  Wasn’t that nice?  I got through the day, and kept a smile on my face – but the day afterwards, I stayed in bed.

I never do that.

Crawl onto the couch when I’m feeling under the weather – yes.  Stay in bed all day?  Nope.

I had no choice.  My head felt like I had angry bees with sledge hammers in it.  Someone must have also sneaked Rice Crispies into my sinuses and ears.

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I was SO determined not to miss my lunch date on Friday that I let my fever run. (We have fevers for a reason no?  The body’s way of fighting whatever has invaded our body?)  I hydrated and coughed and even had that sexy gravely voice.  Joking aside, I haven’t felt that rotten in years, and I was starting to fear I would miss seeing my friend for our annual get together.

I had posted my status on Facebook – to which my friend’s mom commented: Don’t get Lisa sick!

That made me smile – such a mom thing to say – and if my fever hadn’t broken, I would not have taken the chance of doing just that.

But break it did!

I still felt about 40% of my usual self, but excitement cloaked my lack of physical energy with a mental enthusiasm.

Off to Vegas I went.

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The red roped entrance to the only way you can get to the restaurant is manned by a very well dressed secret service looking gentleman – with an earpiece and shiny badge.

Lisa advised we had reservations and we were escorted to the elevator.

It wasn’t until the doors closed and we began our ascent, that Lisa joked “I hope you’re not afraid of heights.”

I am.

But I was still cloaked in excitement – and impervious to such phobias in that moment.

The elevator stopped – doors opened and …

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“Are we on the right floor?”

We were.  This is the first thing you see!

Lisa and I are huge chef/food fans.  If they had said we could sit in the kitchen, I’m sure we both would have leapt at the chance.

But then we would have missed the amazing table we were seated at.

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The very right side corner in the top of the above picture was to be our spot.

The bottom photo shows an advertisement for the restaurant – which, also happens to be our table.

Best seat in the house.

Directly across from the Bellagio fountains.

We were brought menus that weren’t read for a while – too much to talk about!

But hunger won out.  We decided to start with appetizers, well, an appetizer and an entree that we decided would also be an appetizer.

Our drinks arrived first – I had the most amazing concoction … Cucumber Lemonade.

Who thought that up?  I’m glad they did.

Bread and then a tiny vessel (I’m sure it has a proper name) of cauliflower puree with rice cracker seed ‘balls’ was placed in front of us.

It was like cauliflower pudding. Cold and adorable and delicious!

The appetizers followed – Cold Foie Gras Torchon (Duck prosciutto, fig compote, Brioche) and an Assortment of French Cheese (with Walnut Raisin Bread and Apricot Chutney.)

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I was leery of the fig compote – I’m not a fig fan.  But I was absolutely going to try everything!   I’m SO glad I did.  It was incredible!

(Lisa made me eat my micro greens too.)

More chatting – catching up … the staff kept coming by but I wasn’t letting the food go.  I know neither of us wanted to rush the time together, but I also didn’t want to rush the culinary experience!  I was determined to savor each bite.

Eventually we let them take the plates (not without me asking for the remains to be placed in a box that would come with me.)

Entrees.

I had the Baked Crepes.  Filled with Artichokes, Roasted Tomato Coulis and Basil.

Lisa ordered the Aged Parmesan Crusted Chicken.  Potato Gratin and Vegetables shared the plate with that.

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Every bite was delicious – and yes, I made it over to Lisa’s plate too.

There was nothing to box from the entrees.  Plates were cleaned.

More chatting – and the fountains had started doing their fountainy thing.

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You can imagine, there was so much to look at and so much to talk about – but we did eventually get around to dessert.

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The Creme Brulee and Triple Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche.

The cake was deceiving – it looked like fudge!  Seemed as if it would be dense, but our forks slipped right through and how they made all that chocolate so light and airy had to be some molecular gastronomy trick.

I had been escorted to the bathroom earlier (Yes, it was ‘that’ kind of fancy – “Pardon me, where are your bathrooms?”  “May I show you?”  Why yes, yes you may.) and told Lisa we had  to go back before we left.

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So after reluctantly prying ourselves away from the table – we went to freshen up and of course, take some photos.

We took ‘selfies’ to a new level at the fancy vanity.

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Oh, and the top left was while we were waiting for our table, and the top right was taken by our very sweet bus boy.

We definitely needed to walk some of that lunch off – so we almost made it to the elevator when I remembered my cardigan was on the back of my chair.  Retrieved that and past the kitchen we went – glancing longingly at the behind the scenes action – then down the Eiffel Tower into the belly of the Casino.

We walked outside for a bit – then back inside to explore Paris.

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It was getting late in the afternoon – I live in a different time zone and knew I still had to navigate the Vegas roads to find my way to a Freeway I was familiar with before the sun got any lower in the sky.

(That’s a whole other post – Vegas drivers are bonkers!  I was shaking at one point – with people taking the 75 mph signs as a minimum, not a limit.  Barreling down on me, as I squinted at upcoming signs to watch for my exit – which, I missed.  I learned a) I’m pretty sure I need glasses and b) If I ever do win the lottery, I’m hiring a driver for long trips on scary fast roads!)

Tangent over – let’s get to the difficult part.

Goodbyes are hard.

Lisa stood with me in Valet – and for some time after I had my car and was trying to merge into the exit lane.  This became comical as she stood beside my car on the sidewalk as cycle after cycle of green/red lights afforded me only inches of movement.

I finally turned onto the strip and looked over my shoulder to see her in the crowd – but could not.

Giant sigh – sad heart.

We talk almost everyday – she knows everything there is to know about me.  The good the bad – and the things we only ever tell one person.  And considering how willing to share I am, you know those things are deep and very private.

She makes me laugh, she knows my likes and dislikes, my hopes and dreams – and she encourages them or brings me back to reality – depending on the situation.

And yet, I only get to see her once a year.

And I was not going to let a fever take this day away.

I feel a little silly – my eyes watering while I type those words.  I just miss her you know? 

I miss my friend.

And I’m so glad I got to share such an amazing experience with her.

So until next year – I love you Lisa.  And thank you for crossing one of my bucket list items off.

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Musings from the Laundromat: Bad neighbors, Babies and Berlin

It’s topsy turvy at the laundromat today – which pretty much sums up my weekend.  Things I need to do have not been done … yet.  I almost put laundry off until tomorrow night, but a burst of ‘get your arse moving’ kicked in.

So I’m here and there’s only 2 other people currently.  Yet, my favorite seat is taken, there was no yellow coil cash card or laundry cart available – and my favorite machines were taken.

Talk about out of my comfort zone!

I’m ok.

I’ll be ok.

This weekend brought the unexpected – and I am glad for it.

Friday night, not so much.  My neighbors, who form the other two parts of a triangle like configuration with our houses, decided to get into wild screaming matches.  Not with each other even!

One house must have set the other off … “Hey, listen to them screaming and smashing things – we have to join in!”

I can be light about it now, but it was very uncomfortable at the time.  I never know when to step in.  It’s late on a Friday, they’ve maybe had long weeks and a few drinks and arguing isn’t against the law.

But when you hear threats of hitting … it’s hard to know if someone is in danger or if it’s just bluster.  My inner child cringes though.

I can’t even stand my son slamming things around the house.  Even in jest.  I beg him not to do it.  My stomach clenches and a whoosh of tangible fear travels the length of my body.

So suffice it to say, when there are angry raised voices and smashing and screaming – I don’t like it.

I awoke early the next day – 5:30 to be exact.  I was incredibly tired, but I’ve long since lost the ability to ‘go back to sleep’.  Once I’m up, I’m up.

It was still a little dark outside.  And peaceful.

I sat clutching my coffee and gazing up at the sky – then a thought came to me.  Wouldn’t it be great to stand between the two houses that offered me such audio the night before and just start screaming?

Wake THEIR arses up with a taste of their own medicine.

Of course, I didn’t do it.  I’m a lover not a fighter.

I had little motivation the rest of the morning – I just sort of scooted from one spot to another in the house.

Then the phone rang.  My boss has connections at the venue Berlin was to be playing that night.  I’ve been wanting to go ever since I saw the first advertisement.  Yes, he could secure me two tickets and we’d arrange later to meet up.

Color me happy!

I spent the rest of the day doing less scooting and more horizontally.  I put golf on the tv and had a short nap.  It’s not that golf bores me to sleep by the way, it’s more of a comfort memory.  The soothing tones of the commentators and soft claps from the gallery make for great white noise.

I awoke to Butters barking her head off.  She’d really been doing that all day – false alarms.  But this latest bark was in fact announcing the arrival of a guest.  Two to be exact.

A friend and her grand baby.

I love this friend.  We’ve worked together … well – in the same field and do business together – for 10 years.

I love that she just thinks to ‘stop by’.

She has a vibe to her that I won’t do justice if I try to describe.  You know I’m going to try anyway though.

She’s unpretentious and comfortable to be around.  She’s funny and warm and has dimples that join her eyes when she’s smiling.

You can’t meet her and not like her. You know how you’ll come across someone every once in a while who just has ‘that something’ and you can’t put your finger on it?  She has that too.

Okay – here’s her description lol: she would be the person in the animated forest that all the animated woodland creatures came to hang out with (move over Snow White.)  Only, she would be saying “get the hell off me” with a laugh in her voice and the woodland creatures wouldn’t be offended.

I was happy she visited – and happy that I got to hold this tiny foot:

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Phone rang again and now I had a meeting-up time to collect the tickets from my boss.

I had planned to do my weekend job that night – and I still could have if I gave up my visiting time.

I chose not to give up my visiting time.  I know what’s important in life.

Visit over it was time to get ready for the concert.

Here’s Nic and I waiting outside for my boss.  (Who happened to be waiting inside for us – isn’t that always what happens?)

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Concert was amazing.  I sang along to ‘The Metro’ and ‘Sex’ and of course ‘No More Words’.  I love exposing Nic to genres and artists he might otherwise not hear.

Terri Nunn left the stage and stood singing in front of me – I was able to get this picture.  And by the way – what a presence she has.  She loves to perform and she loves to dance – you can feel it.

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So here we are at the tail end of the weekend.  Sunday – and I have to squeeze everything I didn’t do into it.

That’s okay though – I am blessed with new memories, old friends and teeny tiny baby feet.

Beautiful lady, beautiful poem

I follow an amazing blog written by a friend I used to go to High School with.  You can find it on the right under Blogs I follow – Everyday Asperger’s.

I’m also friends with Sam on Facebook and she had posted a video of her reading a poem today.   My favorite part (other than the amazing poem) was at the beginning, she was a little self-conscious on camera and said ‘I hate my mouth’ immediately followed with affirmations to put herself into a positive place,  ‘I love my mouth, I love my mouth’.

This lady inspires me.  She moves me.  She exudes love and light.  She is someone I would put on a list of personal heroes should I ever be called to write such a list.

Sam was (and still is) gorgeous, warm, funny, bright, generous and so very sweet.  She was the popular girl without the attitude.  The cheerleader who really had spirit.  (‘She had spirit, how ’bout you?!’ sorry – couldn’t resist LOL!)  And man, could she nail her straight arms and lines – I was on the Varsity cheer squad and she was a Song Leader (I believe that’s right?  It’s been so long.).  Sam was kind to everybody.  You could look at her on the outside and never for one second believe that she ever experienced adversity or sorrow, ever struggled nor knew pain.  Sam exuded joy. 

If we had never reconnected, I would never have had the chance to tell her this.  But I am blessed to have had the opportunity. 

You know that email that floats around – it’s something along the lines of (and I’m SO paraphrasing here) ‘there’s at least one person that thinks of you that you’ll never know about, one person that loves you, one person … etc.’ I’m so blowing it, but I hope you get the point. 

Sam was someone who crossed my mind occasionally, she made that much of an impression on me. And she would never have known that had we not reconnected.

I digress.  Without further ado, here’s her poem, re-printed with her permission.  This brought tears to my eyes, more so after an especially sweet compliment about my spirit from someone I look up to on my spiritual journey.  My friend, Samantha Craft. 

“Dear Soul of Mine ~

I love you. I see you. I hear you. I believe you. I believe in your experience and perception. I believe in your efforts and hopes. I know you. And I adore you. There is nothing you can do or say that will change this. I have the potential to love you in all seasons, through storms and through merriment. I will not leave your side, nor your heart. I am you. You are beautiful. And because you are so beautiful, a spring of fresh light and goodness, I shall always love you. There is only pureness in you. I choose this. I choose to see the glorious child you are. I see through that which is not you. I see into your true form, and this makes me weep with joy. How lovely you are, in all your seasons, in all your ways. How perfectly lovely, my adored one.”

©Samantha Craft

“Rapture”

‘Back to back
Sacrailiac
Spineless movement
And a wild attack

Face to face
Sadly solitude
And it’s finger popping
Twenty-four hour shopping in Rapture’ – Blondie

This one’s going to be tough.  But it’s time.

I just watched a documentary called “The Released”, about mentally ill offenders struggling to make it on the outside.  To see the pain in their eyes – the hopelessness and helplessness, just broke my heart.

Something an Outreach member said really stuck with me. “People are being released with one to two weeks of medication and being told to follow-up at this time and this date with this agency.  Which assumes that they have the judgement that they need to continue their medications as prescribed and it also assumes they have the cognitive capacity to be proactive with phone calls, making appointments, discussing how many days of their medications they have left.  It assumes a lot”.

I had never thought of it that way.  How does someone mentally ill remember that it’s time for their pills? I occasionally forget to take my heart medicine – and always have had a hard time remembering to take antibiotics three times a day!

I’m digressing.  Or avoiding.

Bottom line is I was reminded of a topic I want, or need to share about.

Back to rapture.

Sixth grade, and I’m in a new country, a new school – feeling completely lost and out-of-place.  I met someone who would become my best friend for many years.

In the locker room she was singing ‘Rapture’ and she knew all the words.  THAT was impressive.  There began a friendship that would have more of an impact on me than I could have known.

We had our good times – but even the good times had an undercurrent that I didn’t have the understanding or life experience to identify.

I felt it – always felt it, but couldn’t put my finger on what was ‘off’.

My best friend was cruel.  My best friend was a ‘bad influence’.  My best friend was a chameleon, because she hid her sickness from parents and peers and saved it all for me.

There were constant threats to keep me in line. And constant verbal, physical and mental abuse. She took me on her wild ride and I so desperately wanted her acceptance that I followed.  She was all I had.  I didn’t see it at the time, but she was also the reason she was all I had.  Why didn’t I end the friendship?  I was scared of her and scared to lose her.

She would sing ‘somebody wants to hurt somebody’ as we lay in the dark at her house.  She could do a spot on imitation of the Excorsist growl.  She effectively isolated me from others at school by embarrassing me and telling me she was my only friend. It got to the point I would drop in the hall when she asked me to tie her shoe – and do it.

She introduced me to lying, to sneaking out, to drugs.  I remember thinking when I was scared “I just want to go home”.  I didn’t want to be where we were.  I didn’t want to do what we were doing.  But I was just a kid, scared to say no, and I did as I was told.

I was terrified of my best friend.

There was an atmosphere around her that scared the hell out of me.  A darkness.  A thickness in the air of almost palpable evil.

Wow this is hard.

Our Freshman year of High School, something shifted.  And I’m honestly not really sure what the catalyst was, but she delved deeper into debauchery with a new friend and I found a healthier ‘relationship’.  She ended up leaving the school – and town – and getting married then pregnant.

I’m leaving a lot out, I know.  Truly, I’m really uncomfortable even thinking about the years we spent together.  I didn’t anticipate feeling this.

We’d cross paths now and again.  Then our paths didn’t cross for a very long time.

When I had my son, I spoke with her.  She revealed something that made a lot of things make a lot of sense.

She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

In conversations over the years following that revelation she shared more.   Before she was diagnosed and treated, she had tried to kill her daughter.  She didn’t believe it was her daughter at the time.  Even on medication the voices never left her.

God, what she must have been going through all those years!  My torture a direct result of her inner turmoil.  I didn’t know!  I didn’t know.

I’m a little ashamed to say this was almost a relief.  It wasn’t me!  She couldn’t help her behavior.  I wasn’t a target because of anything I was.

But I couldn’t forgive her.

While her condition obviously wasn’t contagious – our time together had a profound affect on choices I would come to make and my own mental health.  Combined with other life events, her actions left me feeling less than, ugly, worthless, afraid, submissive and unimportant.  We’re so impressionable during those formative years!  We’re becoming the people we’re going to be as we soak up our immediate environment and draw upon what we experience.

It took years to figure out I could decide who I wanted to be and change my life.

We met again many more years later.  This girl who had always put me down and told me how much prettier she was than me was now morbidly obese due to the medications she was diligently taking.

She told me I looked like a model. She looked at me with clear eyes and I was undone.

But, I still couldn’t forgive her.

She sent Christmas cards, tried to contact me – sent me letters.  I’d call her occasionally, she’d share what was going on with her and her family.

And I still couldn’t forgive her.

This last Christmas I sent her a card – and didn’t hear back. This was strange, because prior to the holidays she’d called my mom and asked her to have me call her.

I hadn’t called.

I thought about her more and more and eventually did try to reach her.  Her phone number was disconnected.

I found her sister on Facebook and sent her a message asking if she was alright?  No response.

My gut tells me that she is no longer with us.  I can’t explain why – just a feeling.  Something has happened.

She was sick – and I wish that girl singing ‘Rapture’ in the locker room in 6th grade had found relief sooner.  I wish she had known a peaceful heart and a quiet mind.

I wish I knew where she was, because, I want her to know that I forgive her.