I'm just a girl trying to find her own custom groove in this world without bending to the expectations of others.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Greetings from North Country

"Up north is a state of mind."

I always thought that Michigan saying was a little corny until I spent a good portion of my summer here.

It probably only seems different because I'm away from my normal routine and forced to fill my time with more creative resources than I settle for at home. Still, time seems to move a little slower up here. Late nights and early mornings don't tax the body quite as much and afternoon naps are free of any guilt. The days are hotter, the nights cooler and the air crisper.

Dotted along the coast are idyllic little lake towns with their quaint shops and bistros and their grand marinas and white sand beaches. In between are cherry orchards with glimpses of Grand Traverse Bay beyond, antique shops and road side fruit and vegetable stands. You know you're getting close to another town when the snaking driveways are marked by carved wooden signs sporting names like "The Loony Bin" or "Cathy's Cove".

It doesn't matter how hot the day is, the breeze that comes off Lake Michigan keeps you cool and belies the power of the sun's burning rays. And the smell the breeze ushers in is more relaxing than the scent of lavender in springtime. When the water catches the sunlight and sends it blinding in a million directions, I feel as though I was born to live on the lake and am envious of the gigantic house boats floating in their rocking slips.

At the end of the day, pleasantly exhausted from the sun and wind, I sit watching the big orange ball falling slowly to the horizon, widening a trail of fire over the water. My skin feels tight with new color and the strands of hair whipped free of my pony tail lift in the breeze. Thoughts race through my mind and I think, "Up north is definitely more than a state of mind. It's a feeling - a new memory with nostalgia already built in."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Perspective - A Scheherazade Project Entry

A second submission for The Scheherazade Project. This week's theme: "Don't Fear the Blue Monkey" (Criticism welcome)


The soft, echoing thump of the base could be heard before Shelby even opened the door to the club. She glanced nervously across the street before shouldering her way into the smoke filled atmosphere of the Bressa Del Rio.

Once inside, her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting and quickly scanned for an available table. She wanted something obscure; somewhere they could have their privacy without having to yell over the music. Taking a seat at a table near the back, the band belting out their rendition of Sweet Home Alabama, Shelby wondered again if she was in over her head. Even though she had quit smoking years ago, she longed for a cigarette to soothe her nerves and occupy her shaky hands.

A waiter appeared. "I noticed you're keeping an eye on the door. Are you waiting for someone?"

"Yeah, sorta," Shelby replied, already annoyed with the lanky employee whose name tag said simply, 'Bub'.

"You wanna wait or order a drink?" Bub asked.

When Shelby told him that she wanted a Sam Adams Summer Ale, Bub tried to convince her that she really wanted one of the specialty drinks. She glanced at the door again as he rattled off the list of choices, "......Apple Martini, Rum Runner, The Blue Monkey....."

"Wait, what the hell is a Blue Monkey?" she asked trying her best to sound annoyed.

Not picking up on her irritation, Bub recited the ingredients. "Blue Curacao, Banana Liquor and pineapple juice. Trust me, it will get you feeling right."

She nodded, anxious for the waiter to leave. She needed to think before he arrived. Needed to decide what she was going to do if he actually showed up. They'd been talking for months, her and Ben, but for all intents and purposes, they were practically strangers. She wasn't even sure she'd recognize him if he walked in. Still, she had real feelings for this guy. She longed to feel his touch, his kiss, to be part of his world; but sitting here now, she wasn't sure about any of those things.

Shelby noticed that her drink was on the table and she took a long sip, hoping for an instant buzz. It was actually very tasty and she quickly finished it as the band sang a Pink Floyd song. Shelby tapped her foot to the beat already feeling the affects of the alcohol. She motioned for Bub to bring another.

Where was Ben anyway, she wondered. A peek at her cell phone told her that she hadn't missed a call. It also confirmed that he was half an hour late. Her mind replayed their recent telephone conversations. Did she misinterpret his affection for her? Did she make too much of the poems and letters he wrote to her? She really hadn't thought about what she'd do if he didn't come. She finished her second drink.

When Bub came to suggest a third Blue Monkey, Shelby had to turn away so she wouldn't see the sympathetic look in his eyes. She didn't want Bub of all people to know she was being jerked around and she especially didn't want his pity. "Maybe he got caught in traffic," Bub offered.

Shelby bit back the urge to say something nasty and instead countered, "How about that drink?"

Half way through that one, her apprehension turned to anger. She dialed Ben's cell number. No answer. Shit. An hour and fifteen minutes late now. He wasn't going to come. Her mind juggled the humiliation, anger and disappointment, each emotion a giant ball suspended in the stale air. She threw thirty dollars on the table and hurried to the door before the concerned waiter saw her again.

She was relieved to see a taxi waiting half a block away and she ran toward it, the pounding of her feet echoing in her broken heart. She fell into the back seat with tears stabbing at her eyes. Her throat constricted around a sob but she managed to choke out to the driver, "Just go."

As her cab pulled away, the door to the Bressa Del Rio opened again and a dark haired man walked in. Breathless from running, his eyes frantically searched for a blond woman sitting alone, waiting. Waiting for him.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's My Blog and I'll Cry if I Want To

Managing three kids, one of whom has a recently developed an interest in finger painting with his own poo, is energy draining enough; but add three jobs on top of that and you'll understand why I haven't been around much.

Because I have so much going on, neither of my three jobs are getting done adequately or efficiently. The ceramic tile job I'm currently working on is kicking my ass. I've already placed 770 square feet of the stuff and the home owners keep finding new rooms for me to do. I've done a 14' x 14' dining room with diamond patterns in each corner which is connected to a kitchen where I had to lay tile under a stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and desk AND go around an island in the center of the kitchen and a bar on the other end. This all leads to a hallway and a sitting room where there is a 2 1/2' border around an inset carpet area. Continue down the tiled hallway to a laundry room on the right where it eventually spills into an entryway with a closet. There is also a separate 9' x 6' pantry that doesn't touch any of the other tile. Nothing is grouted yet and now they want me to do a mud room and three bathrooms. My knees and my back are shot and there is a blister/callous on my hand that feels like a rock under my skin from the trowel.

I'm exhausted at the end of the day, but I have still have to meet with clients to fill out mortgage applications, write purchase agreements and meet with the inspectors. Sometime during all this, I have to find time to put the mortgages together. I have to shop it amongst 400 lenders to find the best program that will suit the needs of the borrower. No surprise that I have two extremely hard deals going right now. I searched and searched for two weeks for a lender to finance a particularly complicated deal and when I called the buyer to get the necessary paperwork, she informed me that she didn't file taxes last year. When I told her two weeks ago that I needed them, she said it wasn't a problem. Just like that, the deal is gone and another one is falling apart as I type - after weeks of wasted time, thank you very much.

After the work is done and everyone is fed, bathed and in bed, I have about an hour to myself if I can stay awake until 11pm. I haven't had time to write or blog or read or do any of the things I work into my daily schedule. My outdoor flowers are dead, my garden needs weeding, the vehicles are dirty, the laundry is piled up and the house is a mess.

And if I have to read Clonkey, Bonkey, Donkey the minute I walk through the door one more time, I might indeed lose it permanently.