I never write of such things here. Maybe it's time I do. It's not that I feel it's a topic unworthy of discussion within the realm of e2, as in past i have been content to read the sentimental writings of others, saving this kind of thing for an actual separate blog instead of the daylogs, but once you are letting half of your friends read it while reading theirs, well, it's just not the same. In some places, you were always writing for an audience, though, but a whole different kind of audience...

I have something along the lines of a lunch date tomorrow. It's the first time in at least a year I've had one with a new girl. The other night was the first time in longer since I had kissed anyone I hadn't before...led me to wonder, does a girl know what it's about right away when a guy offers to walk her home in the rain? I had much to ask her. I had been looking forward throughout the course of the party not only to this, but to knowing that for a while, we could speak uninterrupted and without anyone else hearing. I knew she wouldn't know how we'd managed to run into each other at many occasions over time that our mutual friends were at or hosting, without ever having really spoken or paid much attention to each other before, but I wanted to ask anyway.

The offer had been made during the week to fix us up and I hadn't shown much interest. But my mind was opened to the possibility....so I made a point of paying a lot of attention to her and before I know what's happened, I'm convinced we've taken a liking to each other...and apparently, we have.

She didn't pull her hand back when I took it, she didn't pull away from the kiss in front of her house. Even if it took several minutes of standing, facing her, holding both hands now....when you get into this position with someone you've just walked for 15 or 20 minutes with in the rain at night, you both know exactly what it's about...

I could do better speaking of this I'm sure, but I need the sleep. I just needed to write of it in some way or another, because the beginnings of this are a beautiful feeling...

In this dream, as in others, we are in a movie. In this movie, as in others, my partner and I are in some kind of trouble. The actors who play my partner and me have been paired together before on many occasions; audiences respond to our unlikely chemistry. This time it is late and we are in an unfamiliar, ramshackle part of town, pushing a shopping cart full of things we need. I know what’s in the cart and what it’s for, but I won’t when I wake up and try to write this down. We pass a couple of guys, one of them big, one of them wearing a red shirt. They are trouble, we know. They look at us as we pass and we can feel them sizing us up, wondering what's in the cart.

We come to a dead end and have to turn back. We see the same misfits again, approaching us. I tell my partner C’mon, and I jerk the cart left onto a side street. The guys who are trouble start running towards us, and I start running too, pushing the cart as fast as it will go. There is nobody around to help us. The big guy intercepts me and grabs the cart as I go by. I jerk it loose and head towards a gas station. The guy in the red shirt has a BB gun. He starts shooting at me from the parking lot of the gas station as I run towards the door. I feel the pellets sting my back and hands, dimly. Then I am inside, ducking for cover.

The clerk of the gas station has a weapon under the counter, a sniper rifle. She is ex-SWAT. I know I am in good hands with her because she has saved us before, my partner and I, in alternate endings of this movie and in other movies. The guy in the red shirt is still shooting his BB gun at my partner who is offscreen. The clerk, played by Daryl Hannah, takes careful aim through the window. I can see what she sees through the sight of her rifle. She is aiming for the barrel of his toy gun as he fires on my buddy. She doesn’t want to hurt the guy in the red shirt, just remove his ability to harm people. I have a premonition, though, because I have been in this movie and others like it before. She squeezes the trigger, exploding the window, and the slug blows away the guy's gun along with his thumb. Karma is a recurring theme in my movies.

Now we are all standing together in the gas station, my partner, the ex-SWAT clerk played by Daryl Hannah, me (who am played by Jimmy Smitts, it suddenly occurs to me), and the guy in the red shirt who stands stoically with a flap of skin where his thumb used to be. The big guy who was his partner has apparently fled the scene. He was a flaky partner all along, not like mine. We are all relieved it is over. I am being my warm, wry self, turning on the charm for Daryl Hannah's sake. I can tell she wants me and this is enormously gratifying, because I want her too. She is coolly competent, a professional to be sure, but with a core of barely-bridled sexiness--you can tell she lets her hair down on the weekends. I make a joke about how she keeps saving our keisters, my partner’s and mine. This is a meta-joke; it refers to the several other movies we've been in over the years, and the recurring theme of her saving our keisters at a crucial moment. She laughs harder than the joke deserves because she is in the heady throes of an incipient love. I could just as well make a joke about how she's always falling in love with me right about now, but that would kill the mood of jovial reunion, not to mention budding romance, that has taken hold of us, and put us in mind of the usual conclusion in which she mysteriously vanishes and it doesn't even occur to me to wonder what happened to her.

As we leave the gas station to get a ride home in her truck, we pass through the waiting room of the gas station. There is a lady reading a magazine who looks up and realizes she is in the presence of celebrities. We are fresh from our denouement, oozing charisma, and the lady is star struck. She tells Daryl to “hang on to that one,” talking about me. I say something self-deprecating about my receding hairline. The woman agrees that I am not the best looking guy, but my confidence and sense of humor are what she finds sexy. This annoys me but I take it in stride. We leave the gas station and get into a yellow humvee.

Luis Guzmàn, who plays my quiet but competent partner, pilots the hummer back to my place. Normally I would ride up front, but the guy in the red shirt called shotgun and anyway I am interested in some back seat shenanigans with Daryl Hannah. As we pull out of the parking lot, snow begins to fall. The guy in the red shirt is hah-ing on the window and drawing obscene pictures in his breathspots. They fade away and he makes more of them. It gets colder outside the car and warmer inside and instead of fading away the breathspots begin to expand, while the drawings themselves fill with fog.

Soon all the windows are opaque; the thumbless kid in the red shirt, a mere child, giggles hysterically and draws broad, intricate murals of what we are doing in the back seat. My partner keeps both hands on the wheel, his steady eyes focused on the road that none of the rest of us can see. In the back seat we can feel the vehicle move surely beneath us, making all the familiar turns. Finally we are decelerating, making a last slow turn up over the hump of a sidewalk, into a carport. The engine echoes off the nearby wall of the house briefly, before Luis turns off the car. I am in the front seat, and there is no kid, no ex-SWAT clerk. We sit there for a minute, two partners at the end of a long day on the job.

Simultaneously, we realize we lost the shopping cart. The Super is gonna have kittens when he hears.

Pope John Paul II died a couple of days ago. Over the past couple of days, as I've watched the news and seen the picures of him, it seemed as if the aging process had ben sped up. Twenty six years gone in the blink of an eye or at least until it was time to run the next commercial.

He looked so vibrant and young (for a Pope anyway) when he was first elected and in the end he looked, well, so tired. It looked as if he couldn't comprehend all the good things that he had done and everything he had accomplished.

Even though I'm not religious by nature and probably disagree with the Popes position on such matters as abortion, divorce, women in the priesthood, stem cell research and myriad of other things, I know greatness when see it.

Safe travels Karol - you've earned them.

My eyes moistened over
in looking at pictures of his youth.
He looked so strong and purposeful,
Like a champion for the truth.

The way he touched the crowds
and the way he made his way
and the people that he met
and the things he had to say.

On much, we'd disagree
You can attribute it age
I haven't seen what he has seen
And he hasn't heard my rage

Or possibly he did
But he kept it to himself
For another time and another day
like unopen books upon the shelf

Who knows what plans he left
for those who'll take his place?
He left his name and legacy
I'll vanish with harldy a trace.

It finally struck me as I was shoving a peeled onion up what used to be a chicken's ass: I am no longer a vegetarian. It really hit home as I followed the onion with a stalk of celery. Such a moment requires a little reflection. You have to wonder how you made the journey from refusing to eat honey because "the bees are not our slaves" to performing acts on a dead chicken which would violate tenets of all major religions and laws in every state if it were alive. After much thought, greatly facilitated by the mindless tasks that are housekeeping, I credit the active process of loving someone.

No woman should do anything because of a man. There is a generation of women who were raised to embrace this firmly, yet every woman I know save one person has thrown some dearly held belief onto the compost heap for the sake of the approval of a man. I believed in balanced meals and good cooking, and that a nice roast chicken with a salad and stuffing was just the thing for entertaining. Well, onto the heap with that along with my belief in monogamous marriages and saving yourself for one special person. I gave up meat for the approval of a man who had promised me and had given me nothing in return.

After some time, meatlessness becomes a habit. Eyes that once sought out favorite dead animals slide right over offerings of Chicken Caesar salad and Beef Fajitas and find the Fettucini Alfredo and the Vegetarian Black Bean Soup. Tastebuds that used to wet themselves in anticipation of nice sausage and peppers attune themselves to roasted portobellos and red peppers in feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. Eventually the philosophy sinks in and the animals that used to adorn the table find themselves room in your heart. You adjust.

Yes, I adjusted. The man held up hoops and I jumped right through them. The payoff would come after the next hoop, or the next, or the next. What payoff? Oh, right, the payoff that meant I'd passed the tests, that I was worthy, that I could become a wife and a mother. Meat was the first test. Then the test of "how little money does it take to make you happy?" Then the test of "will you drive me to the strip club so I can get drunk and make a fool of both of us?" Then "can I hit on your friends? And can I still hit on your friends until one by one they stop talking to you?" Then "we have an open relationship and you have limits but I don't." Then "can I yell at you every day about something?" I kept answering "anything you say, just don't leave me alone." Silly, pathetic, desperate, insecure little monkey that I was.

After seven years, the answer became "to the heap with this." Alone, lonely, desolate was better than all that. Yet, the meat stayed off the table. There was a promise in that one. If you don't eat the meat, you'll avoid the diabetes and the cancer that takes nearly everyone you call blood relative. Another lie, but...

Then one day, another man showed up. Not where I expected to find him, nor where I should have found him. He was looking up at me as I looked down at him from my teacher's desk, where I had climbed to show the difference between "on" and "onto."

Fast forward. We committed to each other, which meant that there was no need to test each other, or prove worthiness to each other. Through this, other things become apparent. First, there is nothing in this world that cannot take care of itself while you take care of the thing that is the most important. Someone else will have to save all the innocent animals slaughtered in this world. More than that, someone else will have to stay until midnight to tutor the quarterback who has to lift until ten, or will have to come in Sundays for the kids who won't give up a Saturday morning. You've got something of your own to care for.

For this man, who accepted all of me, I embraced meat again. Not in the spirit of "Ok, you put up with my PMSand I'll make you a chicken," but in the spirit of "because you like it, I'll roast you a chicken and ask if you want a cow along side it. Because I need you, you'll hug my bloated moody ass and call me beautiful. Neither of us deserves this, but we're getting it and doing it because that's what we signed up for."

The implications of this promise hit home because I heard something about someone I hadn't thought of in years. I knew him and his wife when I was in The Limited Period Trial Relationship. He and his wife had an open marriage, and because of his debilitating nerve disease, that open marriage shut down. Yes, and I suppose my colostomy would have shut down such a marriage, too. If you can go and get anyone you want, why would you attend to the needs of a woman who poops uncontrollably into a plastic bag held to her side with denture adhesive? If you can have any sweet young thing who makes eyes at you, why would you take the trouble to seduce a bloated hairless monkey who can't even enjoy a kiss?

But if your choice is that bloated poop monkey, you celebrate the moments you can. You learn to be happy when she sleeps through the night, and when she manages a cold drink, and when she finishes a project in spite of the wrenching bone pain. And she, in turn, learns to celebrate your moments and love you the way you need her to. She is happy to get you just the silly fat frog cookie jar you've always wanted, and to lend you her credit when you want to buy a truck, and to do your business paperwork because you just don't want to be bothered. You adjust. She adjusts.

Open marriage promises you constant delight, constant stimulation. Monogamy promises you constant companionship. This doesn't mean thrills, frissons of delight, or heart pounding arousal. It means an island of certainty in a confusing world. It means an absence of hoops to jump through and a presence of small, attainable objectives that add up to a greater goal.

It means that where you used to see a roasting corpse, you now see the promise of a good dinner. You imagine his delight when he chews the end of a leg bone, and as you regretfully sigh and tell the chicken "you're gonna have to take this one for the team," you're more concerned that the man you love will want a nice heap of potatoes and you grab the peeler to make it happen. Vegetarianism can go on without me. My husband can't. My choice is obvious.

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