And…repeat…

When he sees her again, it’s like no time has passed.
She looks the same. “Of course she does,” he can’t help but think, “Why would time do me a favor and have her age?”
He hadn’t expected to see her at the event. Forget that it’s not her kind of thing, but the event is also a 3,000 mile trip for her. Not the sort of thing one just decides to attend last minute. No, her attendance at the event – his event – means that she had to RSVP; that she had to buy an outfit and shoes and a plane ticket. Means that she had to take time off of work and then travel. And he remembers how much she hates flying.
He feels frozen in time. He can’t move, and he needs to move because if he doesn’t, she’s going to spot him. Then he’ll have to be polite and make small talk with her. And that just might kill him.
Why had he sent her the invite anyway?
He must be a glutton for punishment, he decides, because she’s here looking flawless and he was just starting to think that he was getting over her.
But with the way his heart is thumping in his chest and the way his vision is tunneling out at the edges, he’s either drunk, high, or not over her.
He’s going to put his money on that last one.
And then it’s too late for him to do anything because she’s turned around and spotted him. And now she’s smiling shyly in his direction and nodding her acknowledgment of making eye contact.
Well…damn….
He finds that his feet are carrying him in her direction. That he’s effectively meeting her halfway – which is new to him because she used to be so stubborn that he had to always go all the way when it came to her. Maybe she’s changed.
Is it too much to hope that he’s maybe grown a spine since he last saw her?
And he’s starting to think that maybe he’s not as hopelessly in love with her as he once was when she speaks, and what she says comes out on a breath, and her perfume wraps itself around her, and he has to remind himself what a bitch she was when she took his heart from him, stuck it in her stupid juice blender, and then passed him back what was left with a “I’m so sorry about this, but it’s what’s right for both of us.”
“Hi,” she says.
That’s it. Just “hi” and he’s already so far gone he knows he’s not going to sleep for a few days.
“Hey,” he says, “how have you…what are you…um…?”
Great. Now he sounds like an idiot.
She laughs quietly under her breath and tucks a piece of her hair that’s fallen in her face behind her ear.
“Yeah, I um, got your invitation and thought that I owed you my support for this…” here she gestures at the hall where his fundraiser is being held. “I remembered you talking about this great cause and after I sort of got over whatever happened between us, I decided that we were adult enough to support one another.”
He hears what she’s saying. Really he does, but “whatever happened between us?” Is she serious? Does she not remember the blender-heart thing?
“Um, yeah…that’s – thanks – it uh, means a lot.” It comes out and tastes bitter on his tongue.
She looks grateful that he’s accepted her…whatever it is that she just gave him.
“Yeah. And it looks like you’re doing great.”
He only nods. That’s all he can do because he knows that if he opens his mouth he’s going to start shouting at her and that would effectively ruin the party.
“Well, I have to get back…” It’s a lame excuse, but it’s all he’s got. He finds that he can’t be around her very much longer.
She looks somewhat relieved and disappointed. “OK.”
He tries very hard to make it look like he’s not running away from her. He doesn’t think he succeeds.

It’s not until later, when the party is winding down, that he runs into her again. After their first encounter he had rushed to find his best friend. They had disappeared into an empty room so that he could shout, curse, and pace.
“Dude, this is your time for closure. You need to pull yourself together and give her a piece of your mind. You need to say what you’ve always wanted to say to her, and then you need to let her go. Because dude,” his best friend grabs his shoulders and shakes him a little, “you’re not even together anymore and she’s killing you. Get it together.”
And with that ringing in his ears, he steps into her path as she’s on her way out the door.
She jumps a little, and her eyes go wide with surprise. And he realizes a little too late that he probably should have checked out his appearance in the mirror before coming up to her. He’s sure his hair is standing on end, that his tie is crooked and that he probably has a crazed look in his eyes.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?”
She nods her head, and he thinks that maybe she looks a little nervous.
Good. She should be nervous.
But as he leads her into that same empty room that had witnessed his anger all those hours ago, he finds that he just has one question for her:
“Why did you leave?”
She stares at him a long time before she finally opens her mouth and answers him:
“Because I needed too.”
Whatever it is that he had been expecting, it was not that.
“What kind of answer is that?” His anger is bubbling up again, along with the picture of his blender-heart.
She shakes her head. “It’s not an answer. It’s an excuse. I really wasn’t sure why I left until I got to the West Coast, and started that job. And then I realized that I had left because I just wasn’t happy on the East Coast. I don’t know if it was you, or me, or my job here, or this city or our friends or what, but I was so unhappy. I did my best to hide it from you, to keep you safe from it, but I started to see that whatever was making me unhappy was rubbing off on you and I couldn’t watch you turn sour. I think I loved you too much too let that happen.”
“So you just broke my heart instead and left without any warning? You thought that wouldn’t make me unhappy?”
She sighs, and he can see tears starting to shine in her eyes. “I thought you were stronger than me. I thought that you would hate me enough for that to propel you into the future. I realize now, and after some really intense therapy, that I handled it really…badly…and that you should hate me for what I did to you. Because I think that I became that girl I have always hated: the girl that took a really great guy and ruined him.”
He looks at her. “Are you happy now?”
She shrugs. “Not right this moment, no.” She gives him a watery smile, “But I love the West Coast. And I love my job. And the people I’ve met are really great. So yes, in the big picture sense, I am happier than I was here.”
He’s silent. He can’t figure out if this is what’s going to help him get over her or not. “So…” She waits for him to pull his thoughts together. “Did you ever figure out what was making you so unhappy here on the East Coast?”
“It wasn’t you, if that’s what you’re wondering,” she says. “It was my job. It was sucking the life out of me. And looking back, you were probably the best part about the East Coast…”
    He cuts her off, “But I wasn’t enough.”
“No!” she says it loudly and quickly. “No! You were enough. I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t a whole person. I was pretending to be this person who could work corporate and wear high heels and drink with “the girls” every weekend. But after I got this email from a friend of mine on the West Coast, asking for my help with a personal problem…I realized that the woman looking back in the mirror wasn’t entirely…me. And that scared the crap out of me. It scared me so much that I just started running. And…”
She trails off. And he realizes that it’s because he’s shaking his head at her.
“I wish you had told me all this before you left,” he whispers. “I wish you had been honest with me before you broke me in half. I almost didn’t survive you leaving. I almost lost my job because of the depression that set in. I thought it was something I had done. I mean, you just left, no reason, and then you didn’t pick up the phone or answer my texts or emails. Radio silence from you and then you just show up here. Unannounced. And lay all this on me. I mean, what am I supposed to do with this information now?”
She looks at him for a long time before speaking. “I’m sorry. You’re right. It was unfair and wrong of me, what I did. It wasn’t your fault. It was all me. You have every right to hate me. And you should. You’re a good man. You deserve better than what I can give you. And I know that you’re strong enough to move past me. You will. And you’ll make some girl really happy. Because you made me happy for a long time. And you should know that you did nothing wrong. It’s all on me.”
And he finds that he can’t look at her anymore because what she’s saying is what he should want to hear. And yet it’s not. He finds that he wants to hear that she’s coming back to the East Coast; to their home; to him.
But her comments sound final. It sounds like she’s finally leaving and shutting the door quietly behind her. This girl who came into his world like a whirlwind, and is leaving like a tornado – everything behind her in ruins.
“I am sorry,” and then he hears her moving away from him, opening the door, and then shutting it behind her.
He sinks to the floor.
The door opens again and footsteps approach. It isn’t her, he knows that, yet a part of him still hopes….
“Come on dude,” says his friend. “She told me what happened. Let’s get you home.”
And he lets his best friend carry him home and support his weight because it suddenly feels like too much for him to carry alone.
And then he tunes back in to what his friend is saying as they cross into the elevator, “…and we’ll order some food, and play video games – or we can watch a movie – but nothing sappy, OK? I can’t take sappy right now because you, my friend, are an emotional mess, and you don’t need that kind of drama right now. And we can just drink until you fall asleep.”
The doors close behind them.
“Thanks man,” he says quietly.
“Hey,” his friend says, squeezing his shoulder, “what are friends for?”

End the Violence

It starts with a BANG!

What we fail to realize is,

It doesn’t have too.

What is this, this I keep referring too?

Death, by gun.

That is what I am referring too.

For some reason,

We live in a society that believes in guns.

We do not put our faith in humanity

And what it might mean to be a decent person.

No.

We put our faith in cold, hard, metal tubes that kill.

It is stupid.

WE are stupid.

When the authors of the Constitution wrote the 2nd Amendment,

I do not think that they foresaw the whole future of this country.

This country that is spread out over an entire continent.

This country that is so diverse.

This country that is nearly a billion strong and still growing.

This country that is divided.

This country that does not see that we are destroying ourselves.

No.

I do not think that the authors of the Constitution could have seen what was coming.

How could they?

When we refused to see it ourselves?

Whenever there is a mass shooting,

I do not join in the call for more guns.

I have this crazy idea,

This insane thought,

That maybe,

Just maybe,

LESS guns is what we really need.

Let me put it to you this way:

If the guy who shot all those kindergarteners did not have a gun,

He would be in jail.

And all those kids would simply have a memory of a really bad day at school.

If the guy who shot all those people at the Batman movie premier did not have a gun,

He would have been arrested.

And all those people would have demanded a refund for their wasted movie tickets.

If the guy who shot up that base in Texas,

Or that college in Virginia,

Or that shopping plaza opening in Arizona,

Or…or…or…or…

Do you see my point?

And if that cop in Ferguson only had pepper spray in his pocket and not a gun,

Michael Brown would have pepper in his very red eyes.

But he would still be breathing.

In 2013, do you know how many people died

From gun violence?

12,000.

That’s a big number.

What’s even bigger?

The fact that 12,000

Breaks down to about 30 people a day.

30 people a day.

That’s an average classroom size.

That’s an average classroom size dying.

Every. Single. Day.

Don’t you think that you would feel safer if your neighbors didn’t own a gun?

I know I would.

When I was 2, some kid in my neighborhood had a party.

His parents were out of town.

He invited half his class to our small 20 home development.

He got drunk.

He went into his parents’ room.

He pulled out their gun.

He shot it.

And the bullet ended up in my bathtub.

If the wind had changed a millimeter that night,

my sister or I would not be alive today.

The cops told my parents that this kind of thing happens all the time.

But it never makes the papers.

Do you think, that if these “small” shootings were reported,

That we would live in a different world?

I like to think so.

It gives me hope that we are not so far gone.

I have friends who tell me that my stance on gun control is unreasonable.

That guns don’t kill people,

People kill people.

That if these people didn’t have a gun,

They would just find some other way to kill.

And they may be right.

But I still don’t think that Open Carry

Is the answer to a safer America.

My friends tell me that the answer

Lies in better mental health care,

And stricter background checks.

But I still have this thought,

This crazy idea,

That those who want a gun,

Will manage to get one.

Would you feel safe if someone brought a gun into a store,

Or a restaurant?

That is what Open Carry is all about.

A complete stranger

Can bring his (or her) gun

Into your favorite restaurant.

They can carry their gun in their car.

Doesn’t that scare you?

Have you ever cut someone off on the highway?

Ever heard of road rage?

Open Carry terrifies me.

BANG!

That’s how it always starts.

Aren’t you tired of it?

Don’t you want to feel safe?

BANG!

That’s how it always ends.

In Defense of Taylor Swift

I’m just going to be really honest: I am in love with Taylor Swift. I want to be her when I grow up (even though I am the same age as she is…that’s not awkward at all…).

Now, before you go stringing me up; hear me out. I have some really good reasons for loving this girl.

First: She is an AWESOME performer.

I saw Taylor perform last summer when she made a second circuit through the New Jersey/New York area. The Meadowlands Stadium (MetLife, for all those out-of-towners), was packed. Thousands of girls flocked to the stadium, all dressed up, and sang along. Taylor has this…light, this glow when she is on stage. She honestly seems shocked that so many people are willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money on tickets and pack a football stadium to see her. She has this energy that seems bottomless. She runs back and forth, she dances, she rocks out, she sings, and she changes her outfit multiple times. But even when she’s not on stage, there isn’t a dull moment. You literally do not want to sit down because you just might miss something. And the thing about being an audience member at one of her concerts is that you become a part of a family. There are no judgments. Everyone wants to be there. Everyone is having a good time. And you leave feeling like you could watch the same show over and over.

It also doesn’t hurt her reputation, in my opinion, that she has scouts looking for her biggest fans. These scouts find the girls who are so enthusiastic to be there that they almost can’t contain their excitement and they get invited backstage to meet Taylor. So after performing for over an hour, Taylor meets and greets with teens who want to be her. How awesome is that? That’s some kind of dedication right there.

Second: Her music speaks to a generation, whether they want to admit it or not.

Taylor writes about personal experiences, sure, but she generalizes them enough that the lyrics can be applied to anyone’s life. And the thing about her writing about personal experiences? She has NEVER released who the songs are about. Even though reporters have asked, and fans have tweeted, and we all have speculated, she has never said a word. And can I just point out that none of her exes have talked about being with her? They’ve kept their mouths shut too. So what’s wrong with her drawing on her “life experiences” and writing some lyrical poetry?

And can we just talk about how male performers write and sing about break ups with their girlfriends? How the girl was such a bitch? How they loved her and she broke his heart? And how they sing about the different parts of the female body? All without drawing too much criticism. And when they do draw criticism? They get to write it off as artistic license. So why can’t a girl write about a break up with a boy she cared about? What’s wrong with that?

Her lyrics talk of heart break, falling in love, crushing on a cute guy, beating the bully, not caring about what other people say, and family. And one critique I hear constantly about her music: it’s too much like a fairy tale, where everything works out in her favor. I’m sorry; I didn’t realize Disney had called a monopoly on fairy tales and happy endings. So what if she’s the heroine in her songs and everything works out in the end? Isn’t that what we all want anyway? I know that I wish life was as simple as Taylor sang about.

Third: She’s a great role model.

Taylor has never been arrested. She has never been caught doing drugs or excessively drinking. She doesn’t have public brawls with other stars. She’s rarely seen in public with significant others. She doesn’t have an eating disorder. She’s not crazy (despite what some people say about her). She’s not a whore (she’s DATING people. Seeing members of the opposite sex occasionally is NORMAL when you’re a pretty girl in your 20s. It’s how you decide who you want to spend the rest of your life with). She’s normal. She’s a smart business woman. She’s self-sufficient. She’s giving (Taylor has donated thousands of books to a children’s library. Half of her proceeds for every “Welcome to New York” song sold will go to New York Public Schools.) She actually cares about her fans and takes the time to watch and respond to some of the more creative submissions she receives. She’s well spoken. All of these traits and reasons are why Taylor should be the role model we point our young girls too.

So before you bash my girl Taylor, think about what I’ve just said about her, and that all the awful things people say and write about her are bullying. What has she done to deserve all this hate? Consider the fact that she’s a human being, trying to make it in a competitive world/market and be kind with your words. Consider the fact that she’s not telling you what to think or how to think or how to act, and instead consider the fact that she is sharing something deeply personal with you and allowing you the chance to express your thoughts and feelings with her. In a way, her albums are a chance to be her best friend. So seize that chance. Because good, understanding friends are hard to come by these days, and Taylor is asking for nothing in return…well, maybe that you purchase her next CD, but that’s not too much to ask now is it?

The girlfriend

He keeps her picture on his desk.
He knows it’s kind of corny, but looking at her smiling face makes him feel better, especially when he’s having a crappy day.
The guys at work rib him about it. They’re all single and he figures that they just don’t understand.
His girl is beautiful, even if, in the picture, her hair isn’t falling perfectly, and her eyes look a little glassy like she’s got a cold coming on, and if you study the picture hard enough, you can see the acne scars that she manages to hide under a thin layer of foundation. In her defense, he took the picture right after her all nighter prepping for her thesis defense. She had just walked out of the meeting and told him she had passed, and the smile that had lit up her face had been one he hadn’t wanted to forget.
He thinks that her letting him take and then keep the picture is a sign of how much she actually loves him.
He’s staring at her picture while he’s on the phone with a particularly nasty client, when his boss walks over.
He holds up two fingers indicating that he’ll be right with him.
“Yes, m’am. I’ll handle it for you and fax over the paperwork. No need to worry. Sorry for the confusion. Yes, you can call me anytime you like. Thank you, bye.”
He hangs up and looks at his boss. “Sorry about that sir.”
“No need to worry Jack,” he gestures at the picture. “This your girl?”
“Yes, sir,” Jack says, glancing at the photo.
“Pretty,” his boss says. “I just wanted to talk to you about the accounts and make sure you’ll be at the holiday party tonight.” 
    “Yes, sir, I’ll be at the party tonight. Let me just get the files together and I can take you through the accounts.”
“Good man,” his boss says, in that way that indicates he’s pleased whenever one of the underlings jumps when he says too. “And make sure you bring your girl with you tonight. I think we all want to meet her.”
Jack swallows and nods, making a note to text Harper about her new plans for the evening.

Harper takes one look at the text and feels anxiety wash over her. A party? Tonight? Fuck. What is she supposed to wear? She literally has no clean underwear, let alone a dress. What is Jack thinking, inviting her last minute like this? He knows she doesn’t handle heels well. She needs at least a week to prepare her feet for that kind of torture.
She sighs and goes over to her boss to see if she can beg off work an hour early to go dash around the shops to find something appropriate to wear.
“Sure, Harper. Have fun,” he barely looks up at her as she explains why she needs the to leave early. It’s always good to know that he’s…attentive in that way.
She braces herself for the cold weather and then ventures out into the shops of New York City at Christmas time. 
    “The things I do for this man…” she grumbles.
An hour and a half, and about 30 dresses later, Harper has a dress that looks good enough for a company holiday party and heels that won’t kill her feet or calves. She rushes back to her apartment to shower, do her makeup and make herself presentable for a party that feels an awful lot like an interview.

Jack shows up to her place a half hour before they actually have to be anywhere. Her roommate answers the door and lets him in.
“She’s almost ready. There was an emergency with the stockings.”
    Jack tries to look like he understands and sits down next to the roommates boyfriend. Ariel and…he thinks the boyfriends’ name is…Bruce? Bryce? He lets it go when the boyfriend offers him a beer and catches him up on the highlights of Jeopardy.
Harper comes rushing out five minutes later. Her curly hair is big and all over the place – pulled back slightly by a sparkly barrette that looks like it’s barely hanging in there. Her makeup is light and natural, the way she always wears it when she feels like she has too. She’s forgone her glasses tonight and he likes the way he can see all of her eyes, and the way they light up when they set on him in his dark gray suit. Her dress is a knee-length, lacy long sleeved, high neckline, low backline, cranberry cocktail dress that hugs in all the right places. Her heels – he can’t believe she’s actually wearing heels – are that nude color and just high enough that he can see the definition of muscle in her calves.
He’s slightly stunned that she’s managed to pull this off. He’s also in complete awe because she’s gorgeous in that way that tells him she really has no idea what it is she does to him.
She spins on the spot. “What do you think? I look OK?”
He can’t believe she’s asking him this. “Yeah. You look more than OK. Harper…you’re beautiful.”
He loves that he can maker her blush.
“Thanks,” she all but whispers. “You don’t look so bad yourself.”
    He stands and kisses her cheek because she’s wearing lipstick and he doesn’t want to be responsible for ruining all her hard work.
But she’s not having any of that and pulls him by his tie (he doesn’t think she’s ever done anything hotter) and kisses him lightly on the mouth.
“Let’s get going. I hope you understand that I’ll be expecting a little something extra for my birthday for doing this last minute party for you, right?” Her tone brooks no argument.
He can only nod.

The party is a raging success in his opinion.
Harper on his arm does wonders for his reputation at the office. He always knew she was charming, but it wasn’t until he saw her in action at a party that he realized how enchanting she could really be.
She made his co-workers laugh, and she took great interest in the topics and stories they regaled her with, even though he’s 99.999% sure she had no idea what they were even talking about.
She held her own when he had to leave her alone to go talk with some of the bosses and clients who had been invited. He looked across the room to find her in a circle of wives, nodding her head and pretending like she probably wasn’t bored out of her mind. She winked at him when she looked up and caught him staring. He thinks his heart probably stopped.
It’s about this time that he decides his girl is absolutely perfect.

After they’ve left the party, Harper tells him she had a really good time.
“You can say you were bored,” he smiles at her, “I won’t be offended. Some of those guys can get a little too wrapped up in the bottom line.”
“No,” she says a little slowly, “I did have a good time. Some of those wives were actually really funny and took it upon themselves to make sure I knew all the dirty little secrets of everyone there. I would go to another office party. But I need more warning next time.”
He chuckles, “Fair enough.”
Harper tucks herself under his arm. “Did you have a nice time?”
He presses his lips to her temple before replying.
“Yeah, I did have a nice time. You made it bearable.”
She hums her feeling of content.
“And I think…” he gives himself a moment.
“Think what?” she asks, somewhat distantly.
“I think that I might have fallen a little more in love with you tonight.”
She turns her face up to his. “That was all part of my evil plan.”
And she winks at him before kissing his cheek.

Yes, he thinks as they walk down the block pressed together, his girl is just the best.

The Lesson from the Break-Up

She was sitting in a bar. It was 5:00 somewhere on this lovely Friday afternoon (and looking at her watch, she can see that it’s really only 4:30) and despite the somewhat strange glances she was receiving from the bartender, she needed a drink and she needed it now.
She slid onto a stool at the end of the bar, closest to the door, so that she could make an escape later, should she need it. The bartender – a cute guy, with dark brown eyes and spiky blonde hair – came over to her.
“What can I get you?”
She likes his voice. The tenor is pleasing to her ears and if she weren’t so brokenhearted and distracted, he might have stood a chance with her.
“Whiskey. Neat. Please.”
He nods, leaves, and returns with her glass. He leaves her alone. Something about her drink of choice and probably the weight sagging her shoulders has given him a sign that she is not to be messed with.
Pity, but she is grateful.
She looks down into her glass. She doesn’t really like whiskey all that much. It burns going down and the hangovers are never fun the next day. But it gets her drunker faster, and that’s what the doctor has ordered tonight.
Another woman slides onto the stool next to her. She is younger and prettier and more put together. She practically bubbles “honeymoon phase” and the sparkly ring on the finger of her left hand is like a slap in the face.
She downs the whiskey in one go. And promptly chokes.
“Whoa. Are you OK there?” The bubbly, sparkly woman asks her.
She nods, still choking.
The bartender walks over to them and asks what he can get them.
Bubbly and Sparkly orders a martini something or other, and she gets another whiskey. The bartender just nods and walks away.
The two women sit in silence. Bubbly and Sparkly is tapping her fingers to the song that is playing over the speakers. She didn’t even realize music was playing.
She must be more depressed than she originally thought.
When the drinks come, she hands over her card.
“On me,” she says, nodding to bubbly and sparkly.
The bartender nods, and disappears again.
“Thanks,” Bubbly and Sparkly says, “you didn’t have to do that.”
She swirls her whiskey in her glass. “You look like you’re having a pretty good day, and I’m having a pretty nasty one. And since you sat next to me, it stands to reason that sooner or later, my doom and gloom is going to hover over you. This is my way of apologizing in advance.
Cheers,” she finishes, and knocks back her second glass.
The world is finally taking on that warm, fuzzy feeling and she’s starting to feel a little less tense and a little less inhibited, and she knows this is a dangerous feeling, but it feels so…good to finally let go.
Let him go.
“Why the doom and gloom?” Bubbly and Sparkly asks.
“My divorce was finalized today,” she blurts out.
Huh. That letting loose thing actually made her burden feel even lighter.
“Oh. I’m sorry,” Bubbly and Sparkly says quietly. “Do you want to talk about it?”
She looks her new friend over. In the new glow of tipsy and less stressed, this young girl seems more like a young woman who wants to help another woman out, simply because she’s a nice person and willing to waste some time.
“We were married for six years. Met in college through mutual friends. It was…attraction at first site, I suppose. Not sure we ever really loved each other the way couples are supposed too.
“It was a whirlwind romance. It was senior year, and our futures were spread out in front of us like this vast unexplored landscape. I can’t speak for him, but I was scared and having something – someone to venture into the great beyond with, it made me feel better about leaving college and my dependence on my parents behind.
“We got married that summer. After graduation. We both got jobs. We got an apartment. Because that’s what you do when you’re married and out of school: you grow up. And for awhile, things worked OK. We functioned well together.
“But then one day, I rolled over in bed and didn’t recognize the man next to me. He was this stranger who didn’t recognize me either. We tried working it out on our own. Date nights, long weekend vacations, trying to get back that feeling we had in college. Then we tried counseling because we just couldn’t…get past that…feeling that something was missing.”
Bubbly and Sparkly was silent for a moment, and then she asked, “And did it work? I mean, I guess with the divorce finalized…”
She rolled her glass in between her palms.
“No…it worked, for a few months. We talked more. We spent more time together, and less time at the office. We continued date nights and the occasional long weekend trip. But whatever we had in college, it was just gone.”
“So you guys got divorced.”
“So we got divorced. He was the one who suggested it. I guess he had been thinking about it for some time.
“I didn’t want to divorce him, but I couldn’t come up with any reasons for us to stay together either. It just seemed easier to give him what he wanted.”
Bubbly and Sparkly sipped her drink. “I know you feel pretty awful now, but don’t you think that maybe with some time, you can move forward? Be happy again?”
She looked at her companion and shrugged.
“Probably. But you know what’s ironic?”
“What?”
“Today, on the day I got the final papers from his lawyer, I finally figured out what went wrong with us.”
“What was it?”
“We stopped laughing. That was what we had in college. We could laugh at each other, and with one another. But somewhere along the way, we just became these two completely different people and we lost our sense of humor.
“I don’t mean to pry or be nosy, but I can’t help but notice your engagement ring. One piece of advice? Laugh. Always make him laugh. Laugh with him. Share funny stories and jokes. Pick on each other. Keep those inside jokes going. Because in the long run? You can survive pretty much anything as long as you guys keep laughing.”
“Laughter…” Bubbly and Sparkly said slowly. Then she smiled. “OK. I’ll keep that in mind, and let him know. Thanks.”
She nodded and turned her glass over on the counter. She picked up her credit card and the bill that the bartender had slipped in front of her sometime during her story.
“You’re welcome,” she said, as she signed the bill and left a tip. “Good luck with the future.”
Bubbly and Sparkly nodded and turned back to her drink.
As she walked out onto the sidewalk, she bumped into a man carrying a bunch of daisies. 
    “Pardon me,” he said as he pushed past her into the bar.
She turned and watched him approach Bubbly and Sparkly. They kissed and she gushed over the flowers. He smiled at her and said something that made her laugh. Bubbly and Sparkly hugged him and caught her eye through the window. Bubbly and Sparkly smiled at her, and then closed her eye as the fiancé turned them both back to the bar.
She closed her eyes. A few tears leaked out, ran down her face. She needed to get home. She needed to grieve. Bubbly and Sparkly was right: with time, she would be OK.
But tonight she needed to look back and remember her failed marriage. Tomorrow she could start laughing again.

The Earl of Brass, by Kara Jorgensen – a book review

earl of brass

 

In order to write this review, I had to dig out my thesaurus because the words “amazingly awesome” just did not do The Earl of Brass justice. So the words “marvelous,” “phenomenal,” “stupendous,” and “wonderful” will have to do.
What makes The Earl of Brass worthy of dragging out my old thesaurus? Simply the language, author Kara Jorgensen, uses when laying out the plot, the twists and turns, the characters, and the dialogue that fill the pages of her novel. Jorgensen is bringing back vocabulary, and if she keeps writing, I dare say the English language might yet be saved.
As I read The Earl of Brass, multiple things jumped out at me, one being the thick description that made me feel as though I was living in 18th century England. Jorgensen goes to great lengths to paint the scenes of Eilian’s home in the country side of London, and Hadley’s studio in the city; the method of travel the adventurer’s use; and the lands they visit and the people they meet. As someone who did not remember too much of junior high history class, Jorgensen’s meticulous writing style was just what the imagination ordered, especially when Eilian and Hadley venture off into new and undiscovered lands. I cannot say much more without spoiling anything. You will just have to buy a copy if I have peaked your interest.
Another aspect of Jorgensen’s novel that jumps out is the perfect blend of “the old world” mixed with twenty first century idealisms. Not only are there “new age” ideas about sexuality and equality, but Hadley’s job of prosthetic limb designer, makes leaps and bounds into the future that even we, living in a world where computers are bound to take over the world any day now, have not yet reached. And yet, once again, Jorgensen makes this blend work for her novel. It is intriguing and exciting and refreshing to read a book, where the author is not only forward thinking, but is not shy about sharing her thoughts through her characters.
And the part that really hooked me, was that if one were to squint close enough, there is a commentary about the politics of the world we live in today, that just seems to fit the characters of the book. Jorgensen raises questions about the difference between love and sex, equality between men and women, racism, prejudice towards that with which we are unfamiliar, the importance of pursuing something you love versus the importance of making money, and whether or not humans have a duty to preserve and help sustain the equilibrium of the planet we live on. And even as the points are brought up in the book, Jorgensen does not wax philosophical about them. She has the characters state the case and then they move on. And even if politics is not your typical cup of tea, all Jorgensen is really doing is raising a question that she wants you to consider. It is up to you how far you want to take that pondering. Novels should make readers think and question what they know. It is how society keeps moving forward.
The Earl of Brass wastes no time really, in jumping into the thick of the plot. The first chapter will leave you with a pounding heart. But then it slows, and builds to the crescendo of the climax. And if, at this point, you sort of find yourself wondering if you should maybe come back to this book on another day, I urge you to stick with it and remember that Jorgensen takes her time setting the scene and introducing her characters. And of course, once she really gets going, the action does not stop. I am immensely glad that I chose to read The Earl of Brass because Hadley and Eilian, along with their friends, are compelling characters. I found I was siding with Hadley and rooting for Eilian; I laughed out loud at parts and raced through others to find out if the characters were OK. Part of that might also be because Jorgensen does not write perfect characters with “perfect flaws.” She writes characters that are ugly on the inside and out, commit the seven deadly sins before they have their morning cup of tea, and who make you cringe for the things they say and the thoughts they think. Even Eilian is not perfect, and his “flaw” is something that one cannot simply hide. These characters are real and relatable, and that makes the journey all the more fun.
So if you find you are looking for something to read, or if you are looking for the perfect way to “get away” without spending more that $20, then I have the perfect solution for you: buy The Earl of Brass. You will not be disappointed. And in all seriousness, I am a reader, I come from a family of readers. I know good books and I know bad books. This is a good book. Trust me.
And I have more good news for you: Jorgensen has more planned and on the way…

Overall rating: Two thumbs up, smiley faces all around, 5 stars, 10 out of 10, 100%, A+, I’m running out of ways to say: “buy this book, it’s great!”…

The Earl of Brass is available of Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Earl-Brass-Ingenious-Mechanical-Devices-ebook/dp/B00L4CWBVE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407031765&sr=8-1&keywords=the+earl+of+brass

His and Hers

How it goes…

    She never saw him coming.
    But isn’t that the way it usually goes?
    Girl is oblivious. Boy appears before her very eyes…
    OK. Maybe this scenario sounds more like the opening for a bad romance movie. The kind where one half of the very cute couple dies at the end, and everybody cries because we’re all so used to Hollywood-happy-endings that we just can’t cope with the real stuff every once in awhile.
    But this is how it happens for her: she never sees him coming. One day she’s eating her lunch, reading a book about how some successful husband killed his wife and tried to fool the gorgeous FBI agent, while simultaneously trying to get into her pants.
    Yeah. It’s not the greatest meet-cute. But it’s the truth.
    He walks up to her, where she’s sitting, eating and reading at this little cafe. Her hair is a frizzy mess (thanks New York City humidity. Thanks a whole lot), and her glasses are slipping down her nose because it’s so hot out, she’s literally sweating bullets. Seriously, she feels gross. Her cotton shirt is damp from perspiring and her feet feel like they’re swollen inside her TOMS.
    But he walks up to her all the same and says what every book nerd hopes to hear out of a guys mouth, “Hey…whatcha reading?”
    She’s so stunned that she leaves her mouth hanging open as she stares at him. It dimly registers in her partially summer fried brain that he’s cute and asking her a question, so she should attempt to answer him.
    “….uh….it’s….”
    And thank God he’s patient and seems intent on getting her to talk to him because he puts her out of her misery.
    “Oh, that’s a good one,” he gestures to her book. “Mind if I sit down?”
    It again registers in her brain that he reads (!) and that the cafe is empty apart from her, and that he could sit anywhere else.
    She nods.
    And knows that somewhere, her mother and her grandmother are feeling like their worlds have tilted a little on their axis because she has just invited a strange man to sit down with her.
    She reasons with herself that it’s in public and that she’ll be fine because her boss is expecting her back in…oh shit, 15 minutes.
    “So, what’s your name?” he asks.
    She tilts her head to the side, smiles a little and says, rather cleverly, she thinks to herself, “No…I don’t think I’m ready to give you my name yet…Why don’t you tell me what you think of the book I’m reading? I just started and haven’t made up my mind quite yet.”
    He only smiles, and indulges her, she supposes. He doesn’t ask for her name again, and they pass the next 10 minutes bantering back and forth about books.
    She thinks he might be perfect.
    “Sorry,” she says, as she filters out some cash for her meal, “but I have to get back to work…”
    He doesn’t stand, and she’s partly relieved because she’s not ready for him to know where she works either.
    “That’s fine,” he says, “I actually have to get back too.”
    She swings her bag over her should and puts an unused napkin in the book to mark her place.
    And as she turns to walk out the door, he asks her that question that started their whole 15 minute encounter,
    “What’s your name?”
    “Maggie.”
    “It’s nice to meet you Maggie,” he says, “I’m Mark.”

It’s just a feeling
    
    When he sees her sitting just outside the cafe, even though it’s 85 degrees and climbing, with 75% humidity, he feels something…shift…inside of him. And he knows that he just has to talk to her.
    But how to get her attention?
    He tries walking past her on the sidewalk. He tries walking past her on the sidewalk, talking loudly into his cell phone at a pretend business associate.
    No go. She’s totally immersed in her novel.
    He tries entering the cafe. He tries entering the cafe, buying something, and then going back outside. He tries sitting near her; tries sitting in her sort-of line of sight; tries coughing, sneezing, anything to get her attention.
    N-O-T-H-I-N-G works.
    This has never happened to him before.
    He has to know who this girl is.
    So he does what he probably should have just started with in the first place: he gathers his nerve, slaps his most charming smile on his face and walks over to her, and says, 
    “Hey…whatcha reading?”
    And he can’t help but like the way her face goes into complete shock. This girl who has her crazy-curly looking blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail; whose glasses have slipped down her sweat shiny face, and who is gaping at him like a fish.
    She’s cute, he decides.
    “….uh….it’s….”
    He decides to be a gentleman and save her. Also, if she keeps on the way she’s going, he’s going to start laughing.
    “Oh, that’s a good one,” (thank God, he’s read that), “mind if I sit down?”
    He thinks the Gods must be smiling on him because she nods.
    She won’t tell him her name, this mysterious reader who has captivated him and distracted him from his morning. She asks him his opinion on the book, and he can see the skepticism in her eyes, and knows that she’s waiting for him to disappoint her.
    He’s honest: he did like the book, even if it was a little slow for his tastes…
    The answer seems to satisfy her, and he seems to have passed because she doesn’t run, screaming from the cafe.
    He can see her eyes darting to her cell phone that is placed on the table. And he can see that she’s twitchy. But he pretends it doesn’t bother him and keeps her talking, until…
    “Sorry,” she starts leaving money on the table, “but I have to get back to work.”
    Oh. So that’s why she was antsy. She has things to do this afternoon that don’t involve sitting around talking books with him.
    He lets her do her thing and is making a promise to himself to always come back here, just in case she should be here, when the forbidden question slips out,    
    “What’s your name?”
    She surprises him and gives him enough hope to drag his sorry ass through the rest of his afternoon, and that maybe he’ll see her again,
    “Maggie.”    
    “It’s nice to meet you Maggie,” she smiles at him, a faint blush creeping into her cheeks, “ I’m Mark.”