Why Dating Sucks

I’ve never been a big fan of “dating.”  It sounds nice and romantic (especially the way some movies portray it)–you meet someone, maybe for dinner, you chat, you feel (or don’t feel) an attraction, you decide if you want to see him/her again–but it’s always seemed so superficial to me.  Very few people are honest about who they are on a first date (or third, fifteenth, etc.), instead opting to put their “best foot forward,” so you run the risk of getting into someone and then months of investment later find out that s/he is an alcoholic, thrice divorced person who likes to hunt, was mean to cats as a child, and oh by the way, is your third cousin.

And it’s not always great when people are completely honest with you up front, either.  I’ve had first dates where the guy told me how wonderful he thought I was, and how he could see the two of us married with several children (EEK!), or yet another who put his leg over the arm of his chair, essentially flashing his manhood to me, while telling me that my lack of interest in having sex on a first date was because I was sexually repressed.  (UGH!)

So, for me, I’ve always preferred getting to know a guy and be friends with him for a while before finding out if we’d be compatible in a sexual relationship.  Any relationship I’ve had that started out as dating first was very short-lived.  But the men whom I’ve truly loved in my life started out as friends.  And as much as they probably hated being relegated to the Friend Zone, I needed to know they would still like me, even if I later found out they didn’t want to take the relationship to the next level.

I’m sure a large reason I did this was my fear of being abandoned, but I also know it was partly due to me not wanting to waste my time on someone with whom I wouldn’t be compatible.  While some people might be okay playing that game over and over again, for months (or even years) at a time, that’s just never held any appeal for me.  Which is a good thing, because back when I was younger, I was still looking for someone, ANYONE to love me; because I apparently didn’t, and for some reason felt I needed someone else to do so before I could.

That’s one of the MANY reasons I’m so glad to be happily married to my wonderful, life-long friend, Craig.  We started out as friends 31 years ago, and traveled along a very circuitous route to find each other (for the third time) in 2009.  When we were married 3 years later, it was one of the best days of my life, and these last 5 years have been wonderful!  We’ve had our ups and downs, but they’ve been minor, and through all of it, I know that I’ll never love like this again in this lifetime.  The support, friendship, laughter, and memories we’ve shared and created together have helped to heal so many of my early wounds.

So, as our Anniversary is coming nigh, I wanted to take this chance to say that I’m happy that I think dating sucks, and that it never “worked out” with any of the other men in my life.  I’ve found my soul mate, and I’m looking forward to the next 5, 10, 50 years together.

I love you, baby!

 

 

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Thanksgiving 2015

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote up a blog outlining what I’m thankful for, but I think it’s high time I do it again.

I’m thankful for all the successes I’ve had this year:

Exhibiting at AOC again
Selling some of my photography pieces through an art fair
Booking my first audio book gig as a narrator

This year has seen me make strides in my chosen careers, and I plan to have those trends continue into 2016 and beyond.

I’m also thankful for all the struggles that happened this year:

Craig’s broken collar-bone
Me learning I have Hashimoto’s Disease
Work-related stress-induced health issues
Craig’s second motorcycle accident
Various other stressors

True, it would’ve been nice if they hadn’t ALL  happened in one year, but I made it through each and every one of them, and have come out the other side a stronger person.  Plus, I can’t help but feel like all of these have been gearing me up for some exciting stuff to come.

I’m grateful that I have a very good-paying job, located just 5 miles from home, so I have an easy commute and can afford to have a very nice lifestyle, including travel to new and exciting places.

Purrbot - 022I’m grateful for our newest kitty, Bot (short for Purrbot).  We got her in February, and she’s adorable and very sweet.

I’m incredibly grateful for my husband, Craig, who has helped me grow over the years, and allows me the space to continue to grow.  His support, love, and companionship are wonderful assets that I cherish every single day.

I’m thankful for this year’s birthday trip to Alaska.  The gorgeous scenery will stay with me for quite a while . . . and with you, if we ever get around to editing all the photos we took.

I’m grateful for my step-daughter, Athena.  It’s wonderful to see her growing into a fine, young woman, and I’m glad we get to enjoy her as much as we do.

I’m thankful for my friends and family.  It’s nice to know there are people who will always be there for you, even if you don’t talk with them all the time.

I’m sure there are other things that I’m missing right now, but believe me, I do show my appreciation for them when they pop up in my life.  That’s one thing I truly believe about The Secret: the more gratitude you show for the good things in your life, the more good things you’ll see in your life.  You draw it to you like a magnet, because that’s what you’re thinking about.

I’d like to wish all of you out there (and your families) a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope your celebrations produce wonderful memories, and warm fuzzies.

Mixed Tapes

K-TelAs a child of the 70s, I grew up on music compilations by the company called K-Tel.  I LOVED these things because they took the best songs from an artist and linked them to a theme.  My dad loved their stuff, too, and I have strong memories of walking through Meijer Thrifty Acres with my dad, heading over to the music department and thumbing through the latest albums, looking for the newest K-Tel anthology.

When the world moved over into cassette tapes, I was in HEAVEN, because now I could make my own compilations based on my own themes.  I created lots and lots of those, from my version of Billy Joel’s best, least-known songs (which had to be two tapes, because of all the good stuff he’s done over the years), to Dance Jams, which got worn out rather quickly.

CDs made it even better to create “mixed tapes,” because the quality was better, and you didn’t have to worry about playing it so often that the tape warped, or got caught in the player (grrrrr!).  Plus, you could skip a song easily or put the player on “shuffle” mode, which helped me from growing too bored with the anthology being played in the same sequence over and over.  I still have a few of the CD compilations I created (complete with jacket cover and all), but I don’t listen to them anymore, now that I’ve moved into the digital music realm.

And unfortunately I haven’t created too many compilations in the digital music venues.  Maybe it’s because–with all of my music available on my computer–all I need to do is open up my player, hit “Shuffle,” and I’ll get a new mix of songs every time.  And now Pandora and other web-based music stations also allow you to listen to a bunch of different “stations,” where you can have Pop music played alongside Metal, and even Jazz (or whatever suits your fancy).

But there’s a part of me that really misses having a compilation of music based on a certain theme to listen to.

When I went through a bad breakup back in ’98, I created a CD that had songs to help me get through that breakup.  It ran the gamut from feeling sad about it, to calling him a jerk (and other not nice names), to feeling empowered to be apart from him, and finally to acceptance.  It was an emotional journey all in an hour’s worth of time.  I used to play that often to help me deal with the pain, or give me strength to not call him if I was at risk of doing just that.

The one set of compilation CDs that I still listen to is for Christmas.  I made up a 5-disc set of holiday songs, titled Kewl Yule, and every year, we play those songs from Thanksgiving on until Christmas to help put us in the mood.  And it’s a nice mixture of traditional holiday songs (Christmas, and Chanukah), some instrumental pieces, and then some funny/absurd/rude holiday songs, which rounds it out nicely, in my opinion.

Maybe I’ll have to recreate my anthologies in mp3 format and put a few of them on my player, just for old times sake.

Do you remember K-Tel compilations?  If so, what was your favorite?

Memories of the Bonfire

Excuse the bad attempt at trying a little wordplay on the novel by Tom Wolfe.  That’s the only place where this blog will even remotely favor that story.

When my family went on vacation this year, we went back to Michigan.  I wrote a few blogs about it here and here, but I don’t think I wrote about how it felt visiting it after so many years of being gone.

I moved around a lot as a kid, so I have many places that were my home for a year or two, but the last place we lived in before I left is what I picture in my head when I talk about my childhood home.  It was a ranch-style house out in the country with a drive around driveway that sat on two acres of land that used to belong to my great-grandfather when he farmed the acres behind it.  When I lived there, you could still see the old corn crib and barn that were just over the barbed-wire fencing, but it now looks so abandoned that you can’t even see the wire fencing, for all the weeds that have taken over.

There were good and bad memories of that place, but some of my best memories were the bonfires we used to host.  Since our gravel driveway circled around the back of the house, we were able to set the fires on it, so as not to damage any of the yard.  We also set it on the side of the house where people wouldn’t be driving, and which you could see from the enclosed porch, in case the night got too cold for you.  We’d invite a bunch of friends over (both mine and Mom’s), light the fire, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows well into the wee hours of the morning.  We’d normally have music playing from somewhere inside the house, as well, and would sing out loud whenever a great song came on that we all knew.

That’s one of the best things about living out in the country . . . we didn’t worry that we were disturbing any neighbors, because the nearest one was at least two city blocks away.  Our closest neighbor may have heard faint noises and known that we were having a party, but since we never had the cops come to tell us to quiet down, I don’t think it was overly boisterous.

Now I live in a state that is so fraught with drought on a regular basis, that they put bans on when you can even light a fire inside your own chimney; forget having a bonfire in your back yard.  The houses are too close together, so it’s not like we could anyway, but it’s quite a shock to my system to have “Spare the Air” days.  I understand the need for it in this dry area, but there are times when I long for a nice, quiet evening, sitting with friends around a bonfire, shooting the breeze, eating a dog or two, and feeling that–for that one night, anyway–you don’t have a care in the world.

Maybe I’ll have to find a place where I can do that for my next vacation . . .  😉

Uplifting Songs

Today I want to bring some pep and happiness to the world, so I’m going to share some of my favorite pick-me-up songs.  Feel free to click on any of the links if you’d like to sing along.

Let’s Go Crazy
Prince

For just about everyone who grew up in the 80s (at least, everyone I know), this song was an anthem of sorts.  It encourages you to find ways to be happy in spite of what’s going on in the world around you.  The intro itself is an uplifting speech:

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life
Electric word, life, it means forever, & that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else . . .
The after world
A world of never-ending happiness
You can always see the sun . . . day, or night
So when you call up that shrink in Beverley Hills
You know the one . . . Dr. Everythingwillbeallright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
Cuz in this life, things are much harder than in the after world
This life . . . you’re on your own
And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go Crazy
Punch a higher floor!

But even after that, when you get into the music and lyrics, it’s a bouncy, feel good song full of “nothing’s gonna keep me down” sentiment.

Mr. Blue Sky
ELO (Electric Light Orchestra)

This has been one of my favorites since it first came out in the 70s.  It’s not one of their bigger hits (though, thankfully, it was on their Essential collection), but it’s such a peppy, upbeat song that I can’t help but feel better inside whenever I hear it.  ELO has quite a few songs in their Essential collection that are so upbeat you can’t help but tap your feet along, but this one–and Calling America–are two of my favorites by them.

Sing
The Carpenters

This is another oldie but goodie from my childhood.  It’s not necessarily bouncy, but the sentiment behind the words is so wonderful, I don’t even care.  It encourages you to be yourself, even if the rest of the world isn’t listening to your song.  I first heard this on Sesame Street, I think, and it’s unfortunately ironic that Karen Carpenter was as sad as she was on the inside.  She should’ve listened to her own songs.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Bobby McFerrin

While living in Chicago, I once had the opportunity to see Bobby in concert.  He was so much fun to watch, and I enjoyed every song he sang.  But this one–with the whistle and a Capella harmonies–is his signature.  To be honest, there are times when I’m having such a bad day that I don’t want to hear this song, but you can’t deny that he’s right . . . no matter how bad your day is going, feeling down about it won’t help the situation.

I’m Yours
Jason Mraz

This one’s technically a love song, but it also has some wonderful symbolism in it about seizing the opportunities available to you.  Especially during the chorus:

Well, open up your mind and see like me,
Open up your plans and damn you’re free.
Look into your heart and you’ll find love, love, love, love.
Listen to the music of the moment, people dance and sing, we’re just one big family
And it’s our God-forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved, loved

Keeping the Faith
Billy Joel

No list of my favorite songs would be complete without at least one of them coming from Billy Joel.  He has songs that can be attached to any mood or reason, which is one of the reasons he’s my favorite artist.  Keeping the Faith is largely about nostalgia, but there’s a happiness in that trip down memory lane that’s infectious.  The beat is kicky and I challenge anyone who hears it not to snap your fingers along with the rhythm.

I hope at least one of these songs helps brighten your day.  Researching them for today’s blog certainly brightened mine.

Giving Thanks – 2014

With all the turmoil in the world today–the unfortunate events down in Ferguson, world poverty and homelessness, and senseless wars being fought by brave men and women who feel it’s their duty to protect the rest of America–it’s easy to forget how to be thankful for all the good things in life.  It can also feel hypocritical to some to celebrate a day that children are taught was a friendly meeting of Pilgrims and American Indians, especially when you learn later in life exactly what transpired shortly after that first feast.

But in the face of all those things listed above (and countless others), I think this holiday is the perfect time to sit down and reflect on everything that’s going well for you, yours and the world.  So here are just a few thing I’m thankful for this year . . .

Family

I’m thankful both for the family I was born into and the family I’ve now chosen for myself.  As a kid, I used to love going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house for Thanksgiving.  We’d get a great meal, I’d see my cousins and we’d go outside to play (or make ice cream, if the weather was warm enough).  When I got older and grew in a different direction than my cousins, I hated feeling like I had to go visit with family members that I didn’t really get along with just because it was a tradition, but we did, and I still usually enjoyed myself.  But now it’s so wonderful to have my own family and holiday traditions.  We actually like each other and have a lot of fun when we’re together.

Traditions

I’m grateful for traditions, both old and new.  Craig and I have certain movies that we watch every year at this time (we also do this for Christmas and Halloween).  We go out every year on Black Friday with the sole intent on buying our Christmas tree.  Then we come right back home so we don’t have to deal with everyone else on the road.  And from the day after Thanksgiving up through the weekend after New Year’s, we get to look at that gorgeous tree lit up and adorned with ornaments that hold special places in our hearts.  Athena has also started a tradition with us that–whenever she’s with us on Thanksgiving–our holiday meal is a fondue.  We only do the meat and veggie fondue, and we use vegetable broth, so it’s healthy and tasty.  And since I’ve never been a fan of turkey, I have absolutely no problem granting that request of hers.

People

I’m grateful that I have a good relationship with my mom.  I know of many people who can’t stand their parents, and I’m glad that I’m not one of them.  We’re not as close as we were when I was younger (having a family of your own can do that), but I still think she’s a great person and I still consider her a good friend.

I’m also thankful for my therapist who has helped me clearly see areas in my life that need work and improvement.  She’s a great confidant that has helped me grow a lot over the last year plus.

I’m grateful for the many wonderful people that I call my circle of friends, my heart family.  They’ve helped me get through some rough spots, and shared LOTS of laughter with me and I couldn’t love them more if we were related by blood.  Top of that list is my best friend, Nikki.  For two people who are incredibly different in many ways, we have such a great time and we really travel well together.  I hope she will always be my best friend.

I’m thankful for my stepdaughter, Athena.  After I reached a certain age, I felt that I didn’t want kids, but I’m so thankful that I have her.  She’s a bright, mature young woman who’s funny and fun to be around, and I’m truly enjoying watching her grow into her own person (even with whatever challenges come our way).

And last, but not least, I’m incredibly grateful for the love of my husband, Craig.  His unconditional acceptance of me and his unwavering support have helped heal many of my past hurts (as true love is supposed to do).  He’s encouraged me to go after my dreams, even when I didn’t always believe I could achieve them.  I truly feel home when we’re together, and I look forward to spending many more Thanksgivings with him.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I hope you found some time yesterday to remember at least one thing that you’re grateful for and hopefully that memory will prompt you to recall others.  Because once you start seeing the great things in your life, you’ll be amazed at how many others show up.

Happy-Thanksgiving-from-The-Twinery

Differing Tastes

How many of you remember the days of your youth, where you looked at your parents and their behavior and thought to yourself (or even said aloud) “I’ll never do that to my kids?”  Tons, probably.  Now think about just how many times you’ve had to eat those words as an adult.  Not quite as tasty as a pepperoni pizza, huh?

It’s not even bad stuff, necessarily . . . even the minor “I’ll nevers” creep up on you the older you get (I wasn’t gonna say wiser, because let’s be honest . . . age and wisdom aren’t mutually exclusive).

I’m noticing this more and more with Athena.  I find myself saying things to her that I HATED hearing as a kid.  Things like “You’re too young to understand,” or “You’ll understand when you get older.”  Phrases like that used to irk me no end, but now–on this side of the conversation–I can see that there was no intentional malice in them.  My parents weren’t trying to make me feel small, weak or stupid; there really ARE some things that you can’t possibly understand until you grow into an adult and have experienced them.

I’ve tried to soften the blow when I say things like that to Athena.  Once I hear me say those things, I’ll add how I hate those sayings (and how much I hated them when I was her age), and then try to explain what I just did in the paragraph above.  Thankfully she’s a mature young woman and she seems to take these comments in stride, but I still cringe inwardly whenever one of them leaves my mouth.

Something else that I’ve found myself doing that I didn’t think I would is trying to push my movie tastes onto her.  Craig and I both do this somewhat, but to be fair to us, there were a lot of really great movies that came out in our youth that we want to share with her.  She already loves Ghostbusters (and who wouldn’t?), but when we suggest watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, she gives that teenager crinkle of her nose that tells you she’s really not interested, but she doesn’t want to hurt our feelings and come right out to say so.  But, she loves National Treasure, which–excuse me–owes most of its greatness to its predecessor.  And yet we still can’t get her to agree to it just yet.  And forget about watching any Charlie Brown holiday special with her . . . she can’t stand them.

But I keep trying to remind myself that there were several things I also turned up my nose at in my youth:  Elvis Presley, Lawrence Welk, Bonanza/Gunsmoke, Black and White movies.  Things like that were my favorites of my mom, dad and even grandparents, but whenever they wanted to watch them (some in reruns) I could hear my toys calling from the other room.

I have to remember that Athena’s her own person and therefore isn’t going to like all the same things as we do.  And maybe she’ll come to enjoy them one day (Heck, I actually like some of the music that was played on Welk’s show all those years ago . . . though I still can’t take watching it for all the bad fashion of the day), but for right now they don’t hold much interest for her.  So it’s best to keep watching the things we DO like in common and to let her grow deeper into herself.

Aaaannnnddd then I get a hankering to have her see something from my childhood that I really want to share with her (because of how much it meant/means to me), and the cycle starts all over again.  But I take a small amount of comfort in knowing that she’ll be doing these same things 30 years down the road with her own children.

And she’ll understand it better then.

The Benefits of an Unorthodox Childhood

Growing up, I had what some might term an “improper” childhood.  I’d seen my first Cheech and Chong movie before the age of 10, and the following year, my dad took my brother and I (and my brother’s friend) all to the drive-in to see History of the World, Part 1. When my mom found out I’d started drinking at 14, she offered to buy for me so I could find my limit in a safe environment.  She did that because she’d rather I found it out at home, instead of out and about with the possibility of not making it home at all.  I even had my first contact buzz by the age of 16.

Also throughout my childhood, sex was never a taboo.  My brother or I could ask questions from either Mom or Dad and they would answer us honestly.  I even heard of a few of my parents’ sexual exploits while they were together, and let’s just say that I’ll never be able to use the dining room table I inherited without knowing exactly why it’s so wobbly.

So, some people might think that those events are things children shouldn’t experience, but I personally feel it’s made me a more well-rounded individual.  That’s not to say that I don’t have emotional scars from some other things that I didn’t mention, but overall, I think I’m a fairly stable person, thank you very much.  And I think I’m better able to handle some of the things that most other people my age can’t handle.

For example.  I know that my parents had sex.

Now, you might think “DUH!”, but honestly, just about everyone else that I’ve talked to about this has some sort of epileptic convulsion when this topic comes up in conversation.  They get weirded out at the very thought of their own parents doing the horizontal mambo.  I’ve always found this to be a very weird reaction, because their parents had to have sex at least ONCE in order for the person I’m talking to to be around for said conversation!  Besides, sex is a normal, biological function.  It’s not just reserved for the young and hip.  And I certainly hope that I’ll be able to have it well into my 80s, thank you very much.

Another good thing that came from my unorthodox childhood is that I stopped drinking at the age of 17.  Yes, I started out early, but the fact that my mother didn’t scold me, or forbid me to drink meant that I was allowed to discover calmly whether I liked it or not, I didn’t have to rebel.  And I found out that I definitely didn’t like it one fateful night after I’d had a LOT of alcohol, didn’t feel any of it go down, apparently had a blackout (according to Mom and other friends who were there at the time), and didn’t pay for it in ANY way, shape or form the next day.  No hangover, no headache, nothing.  So, without going through too many drunken binges, I was able to find out that drinking just isn’t my thing.  And I’m here to tell you that I don’t miss it, at all.

I also learned that I don’t see the point in smoking pot (or taking any kind of drugs, for that matter).  Whenever I would get contact buzzes, all that happened was that I got loopy enough to laugh my ass off.  Well, that happens if I just stay up for more than 24 hours anyway, so I never saw the point of spending a lot of my money on some substance, when I could do it myself for free.

And, come on, History of the World, Part 1 is a HILARIOUS movie.  Like Bugs Bunny cartoons, I laughed out loud at the obvious, raunchy jokes as a child, and now get to enjoy the just-as-funny, subtle humor laced throughout the film.

Say what you will about my childhood, I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.  I learned a lot back then; about myself and the things I want/don’t want to do in life.

And it doesn’t wig me out to think about parental figures fornicating.  😉

What’s In a Name

Every year when growing up, my mom made sure that birthdays were a special occasion. My brother and I always got to request either breakfast in bed, or dinner at whatever restaurant we chose. We also got to take that day off from school, which is a tradition I still practice today by refusing to work on my birthday.  I’ve even taken that one step further by choosing to go to a place I’ve never been before on my birthday.  This year it’s going to be Boston (I fly out on the red-eye tonight) for a 4-day weekend, but in the past I’ve hiked through Yosemite National Park, and even taken a one-day flight out & back to Pittsburgh.

But this year’s birthday is super special for another reason.

I’ll be turning 44 on Monday.  Not a noteworthy year to most people, but this is the year that marks a fairly significant point in my life.  Up until the age of 21 or 22 I was known as Anita Chamberlin, but I’ve spent the last 22 years as Alyx Morgan.  The exact date is fuzzy for me, so it’s possible that I’ve already spent one more year of my life as Alyx, but I’m fine calling this the halfway point.

You can check out this blog to get a little insight into why I changed my name so many years ago.

What I found interesting making that switch were the varied responses I received from people around me.  My dad thought I’d done it to get back at him for things in our past.  My brother decided to tag along with that notion out of some misguided sense of solidarity.  I’m sure there were those who thought I was silly for doing it, or maybe looking for attention.  My mom, thankfully, was the one person who wasn’t upset by the change at all, and she’s the one I was worried about most.  She’d named me after someone very special to her, and I didn’t want her to feel badly that I was choosing to be called something else.  But she simply said “I know who you are and who I named you after.  Doesn’t matter to me what you want to call yourself.”

But of all the responses and weird looks I got, my grandmother’s was the funniest of all.  When she found out what I was changing my name to, she said “But Alex is a boy’s name and a Morgan is a type of horse.  Why would you want to call yourself Boy Horse?”  It’s such an absurd response the my friend, Nikki, and I still laugh about it every now and then.

Probably the biggest issue with changing my name is how long it took people who’d known me as Anita to start calling me by my new moniker.  It probably took about two years before people stopped stumbling over the old name to get to the new one.  But that was fine.  It probably took me about that long to get used to being called something else.

What’s even more interesting now, though, is that people who’ve only ever known me as Alyx–upon hearing what I used to be called–always say that I look more like an Alyx than an Anita.  I know that I certainly feel better in this skin, though how much of that comes from changing my name is debatable.  It’s probably more because of the choices I’ve made and adventures I’ve had since I was in my early 20s.  Though, maybe some of the credit does belong to the name change, because who knows if I’d have lived my life the same way had I kept my original name.

Regardless, I’m excited to see what the next few years brings, and to know that, after this year, Alyx Morgan will be the dominant force/name/life for me.  I’m able to appreciate the life I had before as Anita (more so now, than when I was actually living it), but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being Alyx and all the experiences I’ve had since.

My Velveteen Mouse

Most of you have probably read The Velveteen Rabbit, or at least heard of the story.  For those that haven’t, it’s a touching tale of a stuffed rabbit that’s told it can become a real rabbit by attaining the deepest love of his owner boy.  In the same way that Hans Christian Andersen did with The Steadfast Tin Soldier, and PIXAR did with the Toy Story movies, Margery Williams (the author of the rabbit tome) brought to life the concept of the lives led by inanimate objects.

I have my own “Velveteen” creature that has been with me since childhood.  She’s not actually made of Velveteen (at least, I don’t think so), and thankfully she’s never had to fear being incinerated, but her story is just as unique:

Pinky (I know, not very ingenious, but what do you expect from a child?) came into my life at about the age of 7 or 8.  She was an Easter present given to me by my mom (though, for years I thought my dad gave her to me, because the Easter basket had been hidden at his house), who’d had her made by a woman she knew through work.

My brother and I used to argue about what kind of animal Pinky was.  She has huge ears, like an elephant, but no elephant trunk.  And I think she once had a tail, but I don’t remember if it was short enough that it didn’t quite seem like a mouse’s tail or not.  I also don’t remember if she had whiskers around her nose or not.  But it didn’t matter to me, I fell in love with her the first moment I saw her.

She went with me everywhere I went, and for a long time I couldn’t get to sleep without her.  I had collected other stuffed animals throughout my life, but none of them held as strong a place in my heart as she did.  She even went with me to the hospital when I got my tonsils out . . . at 13 years old!  I didn’t care who would make fun of me, I needed her with me.

Pinky has been through every facet of my life.  She’s lived through every boyfriend (and the horrible break ups).  She moved with me to Prague, and back again.  And to this day, whenever I’m feeling frustrated with the world, she sits in her place of honor, patiently waiting for me to grab her so she can hug my hurt away.

The author & Pinky today

The author & Pinky today

She’s not quite as pristine as she was when I first got her–her fur’s all matted, and the color’s dulled–but I still think she’s incredibly beautiful and wonderful. She’s one of the first things I will grab to save, should there ever be a fire in my home, and I already know that she’ll be cremated with me when I die, she means that much to me.

Some might call that childish; that I’m a perpetual Linus with his security blanket.  They may be right.  But so what?  We all need a bit of security in this world.  I’m mature enough to know how to handle most of my problems, but it’s nice to know that when everything just gets too hard, or when I really need a pick-me-up, she’s there, arms open wide in silent hug invitation.

And while it might not be scientifically possible, I truly believe Pinky has a soul and is as real as can be.  She might not be able to physically reach out and touch me, but when I hug her seeking comfort, I can always “hear” her tell me things will be okay.  And I can even sense that she’s feeling just as much joy that she’s able to comfort me, which the PIXAR team captured so eloquently in this clip from Toy Story 2 (and I bawl every time I see this).

We grow up very fast in this world, and many of us leave our childhood behind.  But Pinky is one way that I can still keep some of that wonder of childhood alive.

Thanks, Mom, for getting her for me.

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