Tuesday, April 29, 2014

If it Makes You Happy By: Karen Pilarski

"I have Wayne's World hair" I observed today. The 1990's cult classic was about two local cable station sensations. It was based off the popular Saturday Night Live skit starring Dana Carvey and Mike Myers.

Was my hair was in the wrong decade?

Wayne's World, 1992
My husband insisted he adored the long hair look. My tresses were either limp or frizzy. Never a healthy medium but instead the extreme opposite of the spectrum.

All I needed was flannel and screeching out "SHWINGGGGGGG!" 

When I looked in the mirror at work today I wish I could cut it all off. My hair always battled me till the death which meant a messy ponytail.  I want to dye it some crazy color and outrageous style.

No, my husband prefers the librarian or Daria (MTV) look. Maybe he has some weird obsession with Wayne's World. Excellent..Sigh.

Truth be told, I don't feel attractive with long mousy brown (frizzy) hair.

I pondered how others made people in their lives happy. Could it be you stopped doing a hobby you were passionate about? Wore things you swore up and down you would never wear?

What is the point if it isn't reciprocated?

I have had former lovers that put on pressure to cave to their wants. Stupidly I obliged.

 Lets face it, women want to get laid almost as much as the dudes.

The weird hair episode peaked my interest. What do we do to make others happy?

We go to events that are gender oppressed, wear frilly thongs, wax things that shouldn't be waxed, conform to some weird definition of what a women should be.

Realistically we demand the same from men. We force them to go to ballets, eat healthy food and buy tampons. How masculine is it to our betrothed? 

Somehow in a relationship we gift wrap it as a give and take. Give the orders and face the embarrassment from the world.

What do we do to make ourselves happy? I once heard life is a crap sandwich and everyone has to take a bite.

It is only fair.

I surveyed people on social media. Majority of people buy ice cream or frozen yogurt to make themselves feel better. Men and women. Another myth of a dumped lady crying in a tub of ice cream busted!

My answer was a trip to New York City or the fall back of red wine an chocolate.

 I guess men and women are not that different. We eat to feel comfort and want to buy a house or car to feel good (if we can afford it).

When it comes down to it, it is ego for the most part. We want to be seen as an amazing significant other.

Does my husband really think I enjoy long hair in the summer and dry hair in the winter? Do I really enjoy listening to the babbling about how smart he is at whatever he is talking about?


I do it because I want him to think I'm a lovely wife and make sure he knows where he sleeps at night.

I'm sure other than the thrill and semi pornographic naked ladies, he could care less about Sex and the City. He could give a rat's ass if Carrie ended up with Big or Aidan. As long as the sex scenes and nudity kept showing he was as sound as a pound (Austin Powers reference). 

 He made fun of my blue nail polish the other day. You know what? Too bad. We both do things we don't want to do. We should at least have something that makes us happy.

For me I love drinking red wine and watching Nick at Nite. He loves making spoon tracks in the carton of ice cream and Vanilla Ice's reality show.

I get lost in memoirs and become intrigued about other people's life history. He loves naps and eating a bag of chips and leaving three chips in a bag before calling it quits.

It is the dumb shit that makes us happy. If you can find someone who lets you do your own thing after the humiliating demands, it isn't surrendering.

That is love, babe. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happiness Lies. By: Karen Pilarski

John Stamos @JohnStamos  tweeted the following quote, "Be careful of what you want because you might get it. You may get that & find that's not where the happiness lies" -Gene Wilder.

 For the life of me I couldn't find where it originated from. I usually do a great job researching and digging up information. 

At any rate, it struck a chord with me. Is the question pondered to make ourselves feel better? 

The road not taken or the change left to slide through fingers, leaving regret in its wake.

When at a young age there are so many aspirations. The dreams flicker to get our attention quickly as a light switch going on to off. First there is a dream of being a firefighter or doctor. A second later it is discovered a beauty queen is the true calling.

As we age the brilliant wishes may have the electricity shutdown by a negative person or our own thinking. In an instant the spark, the fire that burned in our hearts flickers out.

Often the energy consumed is used to drive us toward our chosen path.

We want to have a large family, to be rich, and have a great body. Perhaps we just want to be single and have a beach house in Malibu.

We want it all. 

 In "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Willy asks Charlie "But Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted. He lived happily ever after."

There is an apparent difference in the belief of happiness in terms of Gene Wilder and his portrayal of Willy Wonka.

I prefer Wilder's point of view. The adage of be careful what you wish for is powerful and accurate. Look how many people search for happiness in other people, jobs and situations.

It is only natural to question life's path and tired eyes to wonder off course.
When the shine of newness dulls and the polish fades, it is just truth exposed.

Can we take away the glimmer and still remain intrigued by its surface? 

Is it possible to deal with the dark, the ugly and dimly lit spirits?

After the center of the heart weakens like a shorted out circuit, there is still a charge.

That is where happiness lies. Locked deep inside.

You decide. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Guest Post: There’s Always Tomorrow...Until There Isn’t By: Liza Walter-Larregui

 A writer friend was kind enough to do a guest post for me. Her message is very strong. Don't think time is on your side to make amends. Friendships are important and so is time.
Please follow her at @BookishLiLa

My sister’s best friend growing up had a younger sister closer to my age but still too much older to be friends with. I remember one evening she babysat me while my parents attended my grandmother’s funeral. Denise laid on my fathers bed, clicking through the cable channels at speeds I only ever dreamed of doing myself. I hopped off the bed and told her I had to go to the bathroom. I was six then. 

“Do you need to make cocky?” she asked.

“Umm...” I wasn’t allowed to use that word. I hesitated but then realized there were no adults around. “YES!” I said happily. “ I NEED TO MAKE COCKY!” Thrilled, I skipped on into the bathroom to do my business. It was then I knew I liked this chick. Anyone who let me say cocky was OK in my book. 

Time eats away at us, bite by bite, until one day you wake up and you’re a different person in a different world in a different time. There I was, married and pregnant and scouring Facebook on a Friday night when who popped up on my screen but Denise. We connected immediately and became instant good friends, as if no time had passed. 

We talked nearly every day and I had the pleasure of meeting her three beautiful daughters, one more gorgeous than the next. I was so thankful to find this person who took care of me as a child just as I was about to bring my own into the world. 

When I finally (40 weeks and 2 days but who’s counting) delivered my son, he was taken directly to NICU. I wasn’t allowed to see him for 24 hours due to us both having severely high fevers. I was beyond devastated. They placed me in a room near the regular baby nursery so all night all I heard were newborns crying, mothers gleefully cooing with their babies and the constant beeping sound of the IV drip attached to my arm.

Denise text messaged me the next morning asking so many questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. It wasn’t her fault. She just wanted to know what was going on. I was so emotionally drained and overwhelmed, all I could do was ask her to not ask any questions. We exchanged some words and decided it was better that we not be friends anymore. It was a petty fight during a very traumatic time and I regret every second of it. That was almost three years ago.

Every few months, I would take a peek at her Facebook page and debate on whether to message her to apologize and explain how upset I was but I never did. I’m not sure why but something always stopped me.

This past weekend, I did the same. I looked through her page and was just about to write her a message when I didn’t. I said to myself, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
The following day I received a message from my sister. Denise had passed away the day before. Her health had been declining and her body just gave up.

I can’t say that I never had the chance to mend ways with Denise because I did, several times. Everyday, in fact, for the last three years. 

I always snicker at the saying “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” but I won’t ever again. There may not be a tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2014

"OOTT" By: Karen Pilarski

Clank, clink, swoosh! My hands were busy washing dirty dishes when I heard a faint sigh off to the right.

She put her back to the wall and slid down to sit on the floor. As she sat her knees cracked. I caught a quick glimpse of her curly brown hair and gangly legs.

Another sigh, but now louder.

The thirteen year old princess of glum had made an entrance. Her sixteen year old brother was in his own video game centered world.  Which meant he was hogging the television in the living room.

"What's up, how was school?" I asked. No words, just shrugged shoulders. When she was younger a bright smile was pasted on all the time. Sunshine and rainbows as she skipped around.

 Ah, those were the days.

Now she barely grinned and the only colorful thing was the different bracelets she wore on both wrists.  A natural athlete, she was always on the move.Yet in the confines of home life, both of my step kids sat like bumps on a log, texting.

She had been having all sorts of weird health aliments the past few months. Her left hand would occasionally swell. She has a peanut allergy but we were careful around her.

Constantly she would complain about painful heartburn or sore muscles. There was a mole that had been increasing in size. Her father was concerned.

Her mom took her to the doctor. The doctor didn't think the mole was anything to worry about. He thought her hand swelled due to carpal tunnel. It was odd since she is so young.

My mom had it when she was in her forties. She worked at a factory and that is how it developed.

That day in the kitchen I asked her about the appointment. "It was a total waste of time" she lamented. The doctor had killed her afternoon. "Well, so you don't have a new allergy that is making your hand swell?" I was trying to comprehend the doctor's voice of reason.

"Ugh, he said it was OOTT." She said in an annoyed tone. Huh? I wondered if it was an acronym for a weird disease that effects moody teens. "He said one of those things, that is what OOTT stands for" she explained.

I was lucky, my mom was creative. I would whine as a kid that my legs hurt and she would say "Oh, it is just growing pains."  If I would sob about a bully she would just tell me "consider the source." Strangely I bought the excuses.

Princess of glum thought it was irresponsible for the physician to throw his hands up and say that. His words offered no comfort.

I hated to break it to her but people say dumb stuff like that all the time.

A researcher in my heart, I conducted another social media poll. I asked " What is something a person said to be comforting but really wasn't? Here are some of the responses.

  • "I'll pray for you."
  • "It wasn't meant to be."
  • "Everything happens for a reason." That one drives me crazy. Try saying that to someone with an ill child, or losing a parent, or a home, or a relationship, or losing a job. There is no reason for painful loss and misfortune to happen."
  • A relative said “just think positive, and you’ll be fine” like ohhhhh ok. Thanks. Didn’t realize THAT was the key."
  • "It could be a lot worse."
  • "You just need to calm down."
  • "So and so is in a better place." 
People generally mean well. I'm sure there are people who strongly feel justified in saying the above phrases. However, is it an instant response like an automated message?

Consider birthday cards or sympathy cards. The same antiquated note.

There are acquaintances and friends who I know would kneel down and pray.

Then there are others who say they will pray. These are the ones who you just know have never set foot in a church. My go to saying is "I will send good thoughts."

It is the thought that counts, but what is comforting is something more personal. Not some over used cliche.

To my horror I used one on my teenaged nephew. I had lunch today with my niece, nephew, husband and ex sister-in-law.

We were in a restaurant when my former SIL mentioned she was thinking about moving in with her boyfriend. My nephew has had a hard time dealing with his parents divorce. Rather loudly, he was complaining he didn't agree with the decision.

Without thinking of his feelings I blurted out "You are not an adult, you are just a kid." Certainly this was not helpful. Every teen on earth hates hearing that sentence. It is like sunlight to a vampire. The words singe.

My niece then talked about her problems in her class. She had some classmates in grade school who were being bullies and mean spirited. I said "You just ignore those girls." She is eight..

My husband said it was silly to say since grade school kids fight and within in a minute are best friends again.

Someone resorts to calling a friend a 'poo poo head' and suddenly they feel isolated. During recess the same name caller asks to play on the swings with the dejected pal.

I should have played on the safe said and just repeated "consider the source" or "it is just growing pains."

Maybe I should have simply taken a cue from the apathetic yet honest doctor and said "It is one of those things."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dirty Laundry By: Karen Pilarski

Dirty laundry.

Smelly, stained wrinkly remnants of the day. Piles of worn out clothing that become a mile high if laziness takes over.

Crusty gobs of dried peanut butter on a sleeve, sauce splattered on a white dress. Snags in pantyhose, holes in sheets. Charred pants from an incident near a fire pit.

If only the soiled garments were soaked and treated before the spills bled into the material. There wouldn't be a permanent reminder of the idiocy.

It is unfortunate I have dealt with other people's dirty laundry.

Not by choice.

Growing up in Bay View, I spent many hours in the laundromat by the library. This was before the new hipster and modern look took over the community.

This was back in the day when the town was a bit trashy. There was a greasy George Webs down the street.

Next to the laundromat was a running joke for me. Every other month there was a new business in that space. The most memorable was the costume store.

Inside the sudsy space was a mess. Graffiti on the folding tables, the repugnant urine smell coming from the toddler in diaper.

Bored to tears watching old grannies with their yellow tinted bras and single people making small talk.

I wondered if the regulars at the laundromat gawked at our piles as much as we did to theirs.

Eventually I lived in apartments were there was limited access to the washing room. Yet one time I accidentally dropped a pair of frilly panties.

The next time I went downstairs my sexy underwear was hung from a wire next to the door. For the whole world (or 20 residents) to view.  It is comparable to putting underwear up a flagpole. Very summer camp of the culprit.

I try to mind my own business but sometimes someone's bright eye sore colored attire gets mixed in.

What a horror to have a bleached white sock turn an Easter peep shade of pink when proper care is not taken.

The ones who witnessed or attempted the washing becomes stoic all of a sudden.

My past is not perfect or sanitized. I don't always face the untidiness, rather I resort to shoving and pushing items into a closet for awhile. To my dismay, the junk becomes unsettled and the slightest of movement causes it all to spill out.

The clothing beyond repair should be tossed out and not placed in a drawer.

My husband has acted this way with denim jeans from the 90's. Stone washed and faded out pants abandoned in a dresser.

The jeans last fit him when he was 22 yrs old. Overly snug and tight in all the wrong places now. He won't part with them. "They might fit one day when I lose some weight" he scolds.

I remind him of the fun clothing spree he could do instead of relying on the fashion don't in our dresser.

He still has his faded high school track shirt that I wear to his delight. It is  loose on me and fits like a nightshirt.

I have no old garments I hang onto. My wedding dress I still have. I rather donate the clothes I no longer fit into. It is a mindset. The feelings of gaining pounds offer me no comfort. The now tight dresses only highlight the battle of the bulge for me. I become sullen and defeated.

The constant washing cycle spins and turns in redundancy.

Old is not always new again.

Thoughts change, people grow and outgrown ideas.

When the mess is not dealt with, it overwhelms and turns tragic. A once fresh and disinfected relationship drowns in harsh chemicals and unresolved feelings bubble with colorful dyes to the surface.

That is the strange thing about dirty laundry or worn out clothes. They are mere hoary notions that people tend to cling to like static.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Human, After All. By: Karen Pilarski

My friend *Lilly moved on to another job some time ago. I see her every now and then. I miss our silliness and trying to survive grad school together.

Sometimes when I see her she asks if people around the office miss her. To some it seems weird since she left almost two years ago.

I had dinner plans tonight with Lilly and my friend *Sheena. I told my husband Jason that Lilly sometimes asks if people ask about her or wish she was still around. Jason laughed and thought it was goofy.

I explained that women can be just as ego driven as guys.

Lilly said if the job was right she would go back to the company. 

Women treat careers like relationships. We want the one we left behind to feel like they are missing out. In terms of jobs, if we are passed up for a promotion there is the desire that the employer feels badly.

 Women really want to be pined after and feel like the 'one that got away.' The same goes for the job we had our eyes set on. 

I have been in relationships and jobs that felt like it was a never ending cycle. Redundancy day in and day out. The fall out was emotional and I just wanted to feel some happiness.

When it was over there was still a hint of wanting to feel wronged.

So often a guy will marry someone after breaking up with you or another person will get the job you want. A few months later the gossip mill suggests someone cheated or the person who was hired abruptly quit.

 Trust me it is vindication for the spurred individual.

My husband has been married before me. He has two wonderful children from that union. I asked him after he was divorced if he would feel good about that fact that he was doing great. He was trying to be mature. I asked him then to think wayyyy back to high school.

He then admitted yes. He felt a sense of satisfaction that the other person who broke up with him had a difficult time after they broke up. 

Recently, I applied for a writing position. I interviewed but someone else was chosen. I secretly hoped the hired person would have quit or been fired almost immediately. I'm not proud of the feeling. Yet I'm still hoping the company will realize their mistake.

I still hear of old boyfriends who have done well or are in great relationships. Even men I haven't been involved with but have crushed on.

Similar to Lilly, there is need for someone to feel as if the people are missing out.

In full disclosure,  I haven't been in a ton of relationships. I usually stay with a job for a long time. The same can be said of past boyfriends.

I'm not speaking out of turn. It is for the sake of closure that we yearn for someone to admit they were wrong and made some huge mistake. 

As women we want to feel justified for our choices. We took another job or became involved in another relationship. Our needs weren't meant in a previous situation. 

In the beginning of the post I said ego driven.

Bad call.

I meant after all, we are only human.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Don't Dream It's Over By: Karen Pilarski

New York City
A dream is difficult to let go. Langston Hughes deliciously delivers the message in the poem "A Dream Deferred"  A dream put off slowly decomposes until nothing is left.

A vision of the life once wanted was juicy and tasty. Now the dream as Hughes put it "sags like a heavy load."

I held a social media poll on what dreams people have had and why did they let it go. Here are some of the responses.

  • "To be a rock star- I can't sing."
  • "Play volleyball in college-Didn't have the confidence at the time."
  •  "Becoming a psychologist with a p.h.d who does research and write a book on it. Too much school and not enough support."
  • "Be a teacher-The politics that went along with it."
  • "Majoring in theater in college- just couldn't bring myself to do it as a career and never know when I'd have a paycheck."
  • "Having a horse again. I love horses and was lucky enough to take riding lessons as a kid and later own horses. But it won't happen again--I'm not going to be able to live in the country where I can keep a horse, and I don't want to be a part time owner who boards her horse and only sees it once in a while. So that dream is over."
  • "Acting-The time it required just didn’t fit my lifestyle at the time unfortunately."
Most of the responses centered on a career or hobby. I have several dreams I don't want to let go. I once thought I had to give up the thought of ever living in a house. Happenstance intervened and my husband and I now are renting a beautiful home.

It wasn't exactly what we had been hoping for, meaning owning. However, it feels good to have a place of our own without noisy upstairs neighbors and kids jumping up and down.

When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher. I became a daycare teacher and hoped to go to school to earn a degree in education. The stress of the germs, tantrums, biting, bed wetting was just too much.

Constant mind numbing migraines ended the dream. I still adore kids but not ten ankle biters at one time. 

It is strange how ending a dream is reborn into another. Always poetic and having a way with words, I rediscovered my love of writing. I have been published and blogging is a new obsession. It is funny how things work out.

Dreams are what people put into them. Does a dream ever really truly die?

 I hold onto the hope of one day experiencing pregnancy and birthing a child. There is no choice but to put the dream on hold.

It is not for the lack of wanting. Insurance mandates are not generous where I live, my husband and I are not wealthy. It feels like the baby plan is out in the sun, baking and spoiling. My age certainly isn't shading it from the sun's burning rays.

Another dream is living in New York as a writer. I've had that yearning well before Sarah Jessica Parker's "Carrie" strutted around in her glitzy Manolos.

The cost of living, and job competitiveness are deterrents. I watch YouTube videos of people in their cramped tight living quarters. What they pay to live in a shoe box is unfairly astronomical.

I hear stories on the news of how high rent is and the space shortage. If someone could tell me how they make a go there, maybe I would feel differently. Despite a less than ideal living arrangement, I would still love to be a resident of the big apple.

Hughes asks in the end of his poem if the dream 'explodes.' The electricity within me refuses to allow for my passions to dim or die in a fiery demise.

I'm wired to work hard for what I want. In my mind, some fragment of the dream can come true, if proper care is taken. If not, then maybe I just don't want it enough to realize the dream for now.
Twisty, colorful wires uncrossed to help the head feel better
Sparks of electricity zaps the skull in an assault
A negative remark stabs, burns like a bee’s stinger
Pasted smile so the somber mood is not caught

Bashful and timid, not wanting to pester
Temporary solitude is no one’s fault
Lock of straight hair twisted tightly in a curl around a finger
Bleeding lower lip bitten in nervous thought
Foot taping in a repetitious movement

A desire to air emotions to avoid them from festering
Attempting to unlock the brain’s vault
Throat cleared loudly to clear the dryness that lingers
Staring off somewhere in space, a quick delicious jaunt
Quiet escape from the busy mind’s confinement
Makes me feel better.
-Wired by Karen Pilarski

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The good news or bad news first? By: Karen Pilarski

Bad news is unpleasant and unavoidable. I was having a conversation with a woman named Katie today. We discussed how in any job, a person always has to be the bearer of some sort of dreadful decision.

  • A diagnosis of a serious illness or concerning test result.
  • An application for college, a loan, credit card, car deal or employment was refused.
  • The vehicle is beyond repair.
  • Being fired or laid off. 
  • A child was in a fight, has lice, cursed in class.
The list goes on for miles. My past employment has included work at a car dealership, daycare, retail and in higher education. I have had to tell people what they didn't want to hear.

My sister works in the medical field and has had to give upsetting blood results and terminal readings.

I wonder is it harder to break the news or hear it? There is a sheer flimsy line that separates the degree of grimness in a piece of news.

 Additionally, there are several aspects such as feeling of rejection, blow to the esteem and crestfallen feelings.

The emotion of coming up empty handed.

Cancer or another fatal illness is hard to take in and process. Especially to the one who has a rough road ahead or limited journey in life left unfinished.

A person with limited means might need a car to travel to work or pick up their kids. Livelihood is threatened when the tides are not in their favor.

Let us not discount the ego. A cushy job such as manager, staff writer or higher ranking police officer evaporates in front of once lit up eyes. The choice went in another direction. Some other lucky person had pull, experience or charm you lacked.

For every discouraging result there are happy and glorious news.
 Cancer was detected early or beaten to a bloody pulp.
  • You got that shiny new car, earned a spot in a great academic program.
  • The lucrative or life fulfilling job was offered and you accepted. 
  • Insurance will cover the cost of repairs. 
  • Promotion.
  • A child won an award, did a good deed, homework was turned in on time.

 There is the ability to reverse some icky news. Apply to community college, shop around for rates on loans and insurance. Start out at the bottom of a company and work the way up. 

I don't mean to quote the cheesy theme from "Facts of Life." Yet I will, since it fits the theme.
You take the good, you take the bad,
you take them both and there you have
The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.
 To make the ups and downs bearable and in perspective, you really do have to take the good and take the bad.