Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fathers Day - 2009

As a woman I was always made to feel that Mother’s Day should be my focus. It wasn’t.

Allow me to amend that. It WAS … until I was 5.

Mom and me

After that, though?

It was Father’s Day. THAT was my focus.

Dad wearing tutu From then on, it was just you and me kid.

When I was 7, I gave you your first Mother’s Day card. It was one of the few, very few, times that my grandmother never second-guessed me. There are times that I wish(ed) she would have been that open in other instances …

At first you were confused. But the confusion turned to a smile once you saw what my second grade handwriting said. And then that smile turned to a grimace, a happy grimace nonetheless, as you tried to hide the tears.

Every year thereafter not only did I celebrate you on Father’s Day, you were also lauded on the day reserved for Mother’s. Because that’s what you were to me. Most people didn’t understand … “Uhm, yeah, okay … why are you getting a Mother’s Day card for your Dad?”

Because.” And really?

That’s all I could say.


You either got it, or you didn’t.

Many years after Mom died, I realized that not only were you “Dad”, you also had to fill the role of “Mom”. A small part of me understood that when I first unintentionally got you that first Mother’s Day card. I didn’t know what I was doing then, but later I did. And once I realized that? My heart opened, and then broke. And then? You kept receiving cards. It was no longer “Mother’s” cards, or “Father’s” cards … you got cards. Just because. Because, yes, you were my Father. But you were also my Mother. But most of all? You were my parent.

You were Pops.


There you were, a young, handsome, and virile man. Left floating, seemingly alone, by the death of your “one”. Adrift, with a small child clinging to you. A needy, artistic, and needy child clinging to you for dear life, when all YOU wanted was to be left to do that … float adrift. Drift away.

Thinking back upon that now, as an adult, I must admit this …

I honestly don’t know how you did it.

You started off as this carefree surfer.

Dad after surfing

And then Vietnam …


You admitted that there was another love before Mom. You told me that when you felt I could actually hear it. And I did. Yes, I was hurt. That hurt came from a child’s understanding, a child’s outlook. (“What do you mean? There was ANOTHER woman before Mom?) The child hurt, but the adult understood. The adult felt.

However, the child (and adult) still twinges a bit when she looks upon this photo …

(Am I a horrible person to say that I am so glad that she ISN'T my mom?)

But this adult (and child) is ecstatically happy to realize that she broke your heart. (No, shush. I am NOT happy she broke your heart. But I AM happy to realize that she broke you just enough so that you could meet Mom. And so that you and Mom could meet as partners.)



Your side of the family (my family), says that there are two of you – the pre-Vietnam Chris, and the after-Vietnam Chris.

As much as I would have loved to have known you pre, you wouldn’t be “Dad” to me if you weren’t also the after. I mean … that’s all I knew.

The “pre-Chris” loved his family, and looked after his sister. Yes, he was a bit free, and a bit naive. Always searching for the next wave.

The “after-Chris” was mostly the same but with harder, and sharper, edges. (Still searching for that ever elusive wave, though.) The pre would have tried to talk sense into his brother-in-law, for being too hard on his sister. The after was the one who went searching for the same brother-in-law, gun in hand, for abusing his baby sister. (Thankfully, the after never found him. Otherwise, I would never be here.)

You know what though? I kinda like the “after” …



I saw the sadness, and desperation, in your eyes. Not only was it seen, it was felt.

From you I have learned how to love. I’m not talking about loving family just because they are blood, or loving friends just because they are there… yes, you taught me that. You also showed me what it was to open yourself up fully. To splay yourself, your emotions, your core. To open yourself up to the unknown. You have shown me that you CAN do that.

And you showed me that you can reap those benefits. The benefits being that you reap what you sow ...

... Mom loved you so much ...

... So did I. So do I ...

You have also shown me that when you do that, you leave yourself open to heartache. It’s a heartache I never want to experience. Ever. At least, not in the way that you did.


Until I became headstrong in my teenage years, we were tight. Tight.

Once we gained some space, some distance, only then could we become friends again. For me being an asshole teenager … I apologize. I know you understood, but still. I am sorry. I KNOW you did much worse than I ever did (hell, you even told me of some of your exploits!) But still?

I am sorry.

If there ever comes a day when I do have kids (a day which I hope for, but feel will never happen), I can only hope to be like you. Yes, I do want to be like Mom, juts a little. But mostly?

If I had to choose the parent to emulate, it would be you.


After Mom died, I know you were lost. And I understood that you would have gone away as well … if it wasn’t for me. (And, no, that’s not ego speaking – maybe I was just a responsibility at first, because of grief. But later? After the initial heartbreak? “It was just you and me, kid”.)

But still? Helllloooooooooooo Catholic Guilt ™!

After though… you morphed from Dad into Pops. And I turned from “god damnit! Ann Marie!” into “Bubba”. Or “Bub”.

When you were alive, I never actually liked, or understood, The Beatles. But after you went? I really did try to understand why you loved them so. It took me a while, though. And now?

Now I get it. (Strawberry Fields still flips me the fuck out. I doubt that will ever change. I still sit at that same table, in the same kitchen, and Strawberry Fields still strikes in that same visceral way. Yes, I “get” it now. It still makes me uneasy. And now? Okay … *shrug*)

You and I … we do share genetics. But now, we also share a love of the Fab Four.

When someone says yesterday … I understand it on my level. But I also understand it on yours. And I really do think that is the legacy you left to me. There ARE shadows …

And if you were still here? I would say this to you: the shadows are really the dark parts. Know them. Appreciate them. Roll in them. But please, don’t live in them. Instead, allow them to serve as contrast. As a foil, to the light that you lived.

A light you had so much of.

A light that burned too bright. And too fast. A light that was extinguished too soon.


I can believe in yesterday … and now? I CAN move on to tomorrow.

But only because of you.

I love you, Dad. Granted, I may be away this weekend following my own passion, but I think that you may, just may, understand that. You will never be far from my mind.

This Sunday I will raise my camera, and a glass, and wish you nothing but a slipper tail lobster, some 7&7, and know (hope) that Mom is by your side to share it with you. (And then? In my mind she will make fun of you. With some inside joke that only the two of you know the punchline to.) When the two of you are laughing ... I hope I catch just the faintest whiff of scent ... Shalomar and Cinnamon for her, with just a touch of Old Spice for you. Even though I know you hated it.

And then? Then I will smile. And laugh. And then I will cry through my own inside joke. Damn the rest!

Happy Fathers Day Pops ... wherever you may be.

I chase the light

I chase the light.

The sun through the window shows her face in a way only I know; full of joy, love, and the weight of a world only she knows. And I want to capture it. Gather it to me for always. And then, show that understanding back to the world.

I chase the light.

The music is captured on his face, with eyes half closed, and the beginning of a grin. His toes tap and fingers drum on the almost empty pint of cider, half forgotten. I can see the beginning of a story there.

I chase the light.

A tear leaks from her eye, and it races to catch the smile now unleashed. We all cry, laugh, and scream as they say, “I do”.

I chase the light.

The first time your fingers met mine, I could barely breathe.

I chase the light.

How can you capture a scent?


My friends, my family, my lovers … they aren’t seen as just (or only) human in my eye. They are bits of experience – a scent, a touch, a feeling, a tune, an image.

All fleeting – amorphous moments in time.

But together?





But overwhelmingly?



I wish I had embraced photography and writing sooner than I did. Maybe some of the moments of my life could be tangibly touched or read again. And shared.

But now? Instead of dwelling on “if only”, I will work towards “and then”.

And then? After this photo? After this paragraph? What happened?


Well … you will just have to stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chicken Piccata

Each time I make this, it turns out a bit different. Sometimes the sauce is thinner and other times, like tonight, it turns out thick. What can ya do? The prep time seems to take longer than the actual cook time. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken (The “real” recipe says 4 skinless/boneless breast halves. I prefer to pick up a pack of chicken tenders – already thin, and easier to control the portion that way.)
  • Butter (About 3 tablespoons, give or take. Make sure it’s room temperature – don’t try to shortcut this by softening it in the microwave. Just my preference.)
  • Flour (Measurements to come.)
  • Olive oil (2-4 tablespoons.)
  • Lemon juice, fresh squeezed. Use that crap that comes in the plastic faux lemon and I will never speak to you again. (Now, I’m all for lemon – during the summer I would eat one, or maybe 3, lemons per day. Loves me some lemon! That being said, the recipe calls for 1/4 cup but I would cut down on this and use more wine, or more broth.)
  • Chicken broth. (Approximately 1/4 cup, depending on if you use this to cut the lemon with.)
  • WINE! Dry and white. (About 1/3 cup, but I always wind up using more. My preference is sauvignon blanc. Use your favourite, just make sure it’s dry.) Buy two bottles – one for cooking, and one for drinking.
  • Capers (drained) and parsley (1/4 of each. Typically I’ll use mostly fresh parsley and some dried, but use what you have.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste. (I prefer kosher or sea salt. And some white pepper mixed with the black.)

Typically this is served over angel hair pasta, but tonight I used jasmine rice. Choose whatever side you prefer.

1) In a small bowl, take 1 tablespoon of the (room temperature!) butter and mix it with 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour. Mix together until it’s smooth. Set aside.

2) Flour the chicken. (Dump some flour in a deep plate or shallow pan.) If you use breast halves, you’ll want to pound them down. I hate to beat my meat (no comments, Peanut Gallery!) which is why I use the already semi-thin tenders. You can either dust the chicken with salt and pepper before drenching in the flour, or you can do what I do – mix the salt and pepper in with the flour. Set aside. Wash the caked flour off your hands. (This is the part I hate – icky chicken and flour under my nails. Bleh.)

3) Take a drink. You may drink the wine, I’ll stick with beer.

4) Start with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Dump into the pan and heat (hot, but not smoking.)

5) Add chicken and cook until golden-ish. About 3-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Salmonella is BAD! Depending on your pan size, and amount of chicken, this may have to happen in two batches. If you have to cook the chicken in more than one fell swoop, this is when the extra oil comes in. Add a touch more to the pan, and cook away. Set cooked chicken on a plate and tent with foil.

6) In the same pan, add the wine, broth, and lemon to boil. (Heat is about medium-high, to medium.)

7) After the wine/broth/lemon is boiling, stir in the butter/flour mixture from earlier. Boil. (This may take a bit of whisking to get it to blend together. Be patient. It will come.)

8) Once the butter/flour is introduced, throw in the capers, parsley, and last 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir. Take a taste. If you want to add more salt or pepper, do so. If you want to add more wine, broth, or lemon juice, now is the time to do so (if the sauce is too thick, definitely add more liquid).

9) Place pasta or rice on a plate. Put chicken over that. Over THAT, spoon some sauce. Viola!

10) Crack open the wine (or beer, or water, or what-have-you) and enjoy over some candlelight. Or pop in a movie and curl up on the couch. Or … open up some Scottish Sock Puppet youtube clips and enjoy.

This one is a hit at my house. Unfortunately, these guys get nothing. NOTHING! (Okay, they get some kibble. And love. Lots of love. But that’s it.)

Whaddya mean I don't get the leftovers?!

This is my patented stink-eye. When asked why he was giving the stink-eye, Senor BooBoo was quoted as saying, "You get this because you are not sharing the chicky-chicky with me. I might just eat your head."

Teddy says, "Phbtphbt!"

I think Argus is contemplating peeing on my head. It was later found out that he did, indeed, say, "If I don't get some chicken love, I will pee on your pillow. Don't push me, woman!"

Asmo was unavailable for comment at this time, but his agent said that he would get back to me. Riiiiiiiight.

And then I said, "Blah blah. Wah wah, wah-wah-wah-what?"

“You just don’t flirt with members of the opposite sex when you’re in a relationship.”

Okay, you know what? That may be true for you. But for me? I flirt. I love it. Does it mean anything?


Dictionary.com describes in part “flirt” as: “to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions”.

Without serious intentions. Do you see how I highlighted that?

Without serious intentions.

Maybe, just maybe, your life experience has taught you that flirting is more serious. My experience has shown me that this is not so. That flirting is NOT serious.

We have just gone round and round about this. And yet you persist in the unyielding view that flirting equals intent. For you? Maybe it’s true. For me? It is not.

Honestly, the men I actively flirt with are the ones whom I have no ulterior motives about; the ones that I have absolutely no interest in. This is because they are safe. They know this, and I know this. Apparently, you don’t.

When I say I’m going out to dinner with a friend I mean just that – a friend. We have known each other for neigh on 17 years. I am sorry that you may feel that we are “on a date”, when in reality we met for pot stickers so that he could talk about his ex moving to some god forsaken state to live with her producer. And how that affected him.

If that is a “date”, then I’m dating every single person that I know who needs some time to just vent. To just talk.


You asked me to give specifics of when you put words in my mouth. I wish I could give them to you right now. I wish I could say that every time you accused me in surreptitious ways of still being in love with my ex, that I could shake you by the shoulders and say, “no. I am NOT in love with him. Yes, I did I spend my years between 16 and 29 either wanting, or being with, him. However, he cheated on me. He literally destroyed my childhood home, and then sold items of my fathers that were never his to sell! How does this not parse with you?”

How does me saying, “we were done months ago, but I just couldn’t tell you that because I wanted to make sure it was true, and not just fear speaking” … how does that say I was lying to you? Does this not show you that I wanted to MAKE SURE that I was making the right, and hard, decision about us? How does me, trying to work through some feelings so that I know that they are real, equate a lie? Yes, it IS true that I didn’t bring up these thoughts and fears to you. For that, I apologize. I fucked up, and I am sorry.

It is also true that I didn’t bring them up because I was afraid, yes, afraid, that you would take them very much to heart and then squash everything that you were feeling.

Those feelings? Those emotions? Those are what made me fall in love with you in the first place. And, you know what? Those feelings are still there. I loved you then, and I love you now. But …

… but …

But now I realize that, even though I DO love you, you aren’t “the one” for me. And I’m sorry I cannot give you some pat answer that will make it all be okay.

We are human.

We are fallible.

 I am fallible.

And as fallible humans, we fuck up. We fuck up because of fear. Because of fear we don’t communicate in the moment, when we should. And for that, I am truly sorry. Mentally, I am groveling on my knees. (Physically, I am embracing my outer Ice Queen.)

I wish I could have verbalized my uncertainty about us earlier. But … but … I was terrified. TERR-I-FIED. Terrified that I would come home to find you gone. Not just gone, as in your stuff is no longer where I thought it would be, but gone as in, “I keep shaking him but he’s not waking up. No, I SWEAR I can see him breathing. I don’t care that his body is cold, he really isn’t gone” …

And yet you say that if I had only just talked to you, we could have worked things out. That you could have, or would have, changed.

And I don’t want that.

I want someone who I can love, withOUT the change. Someone that I can honestly embrace and welcome, warts and all. Your “warts” were also mine. And because of that, I realized that yes, there can be someone who accepts me. But at the same time … no … no, I cannot have your warts mix with mine. Because if they did? I would take too many steps backwards.

Did you understand and accept that? Yes. Yes you did. And for that? I love(d) you.

But now? Now it is not okay.

Because of the acceptance you showed me, I have truly realized that there honestly IS beauty in the flaws. And because of that, I have learned that my flaws cannot also be yours. Because if that is the case, my (and our) flaws create cracks. And those cracks create chasms. And those chasms create the deep dark places that I have already lived through, and cannot visit again. CAN-NOT.

You said you would be willing to change.

I don’t want that.


I want to love someone, warts and all, and be okay with it. And I want them to love me for the same reason. Down to my soul, down to his soul.

I want their crevices to balance out my peaks. And vice versa.

What I don’t want is for them to change solely for me. If they want to change for themselves, sure. Have at. If they want to change because it is something they want, and because of that, they know I will support them, please … knock yourself out.

But to say you would change because it makes *me* uncomfortable? Because by changing it would make things easier? No. No, no, no.

He was, and IS, a wonderful, kind, and caring man. Sadly, he wasn’t the wonderful, kind, and caring man for ME.

Could I have been more communicative about that? Yes. Of course. Did fear constrict my throat? Of course it did. Did I learn what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, in the future? You bet your ass I did.

If you read this, please know that I DO love you. But please realize that no matter how much you say that you aren’t my ex, that you aren’t the people in my past … please realize that those people still colour my present. And no matter how vehement your protestations are, those experiences I will still bring to the table. Is it fair to you, or to me? No, not really.

But it is all I know.

Am I running away?

Maybe I am.

But, if I stopped running, would I be settling?

Survey says … yes.

I am learning that sticking up for myself is hard. Damn hard.

And that when sticking up for yourself, you will never have the cut and dry answers that the other person wants.


Oh jeez. Fuck it.

To live a cliché, “It’s not you, it’s me. I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”


Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Asking Too Much - Ani DiFranco

Maybe I am asking too much. But I don't think so.

Joyful Girl - Ani DiFranco

      'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
      and the woman who lives there can tell
      the truth from the stuff that they say
      and she looks me in the eye
      and says would you prefer the easy way?
      no, well o.k. then
      don't cry

It’s taken a while to look in the mirror. And now? Finally, I can look myself in the eye. The easy way really isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

And I won’t cry.


So ... how're you? ;)