Jan 30 2010

Inhale Deeply.

1.30.10

A mere whiff and I was transported.

I was walking to the dog park in Portland’s Pearl district today with the Whippets. I intersected paths with two skinny teenage fellows dressed in tattered jeans and hooded jackets as I turned north at 13th and Northrup. They had a few step lead on the three of us. That’s when it happened.

The taller one was smoking. I usually give these types space but before I could rein in Leo and Bliss, a wisp of clove cigarette smoke met my nose.

I was instantly transported to a flurry of images. I was nine years old and hanging out in the alley behind our house in Sungei Gerong with the live-in staff. The air was dripping with humidity. The sun had set beyond the Musi River precisely at six o’clock. The clove cigarettes were hand rolled by Konta and not very tightly rolled. One puff and a mouthful of loose tobacco filled my mouth.

I was in my early twenties, disembarking from a Qantas flight in Jakarta, returning to Indonesia for the first time in over ten years. I was on an audit assignment for MAPCO.

It was 2000 and I was in Bali with our son Clay, overwhelmed less by the scale of the resort than by many familiar scents, visual, sounds that hadn’t been part of my life for over 20 years but were almost painfully familiar and carved.

Close your eyes and inhale. And don’t just do it as you read this but inhale at different venues throughout your day. What comes to mind? What emotions surface?

Ask me about my mother and I will tell you, as I once told Tulsa World Reporter Laurie Winslow, childhood memories of my mother are of a woman hosting cocktail parties overseas for Exxon ex-pats. Dressed in black after-five ensembles, she often took time to tuck me into bed. I took comfort in the party sounds beyond my bedroom door, much as I did hearing a TV tuned to Perry Mason other nights. The scent that rounded out the party nights was a delicate combination of Shalimar, bourbon and cigarettes.

Two years ago I was very fortunate to be in New York during the opening week of August: Osage Country. The play, by Oklahoma playwright Tracy Letts, went on to win the Tony for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize.

Sitting with nine friends (as well as Tom Hanks and his family at the end of our row) I was dressed in a black evening dress and wearing, for the first time, Shalimar. I had purchased a bottle earlier during the day at Saks Fifth Avenue from an elegant sales clerk who had herself worn the scent a time or two.

It was a memorable evening.


Jan 21 2010

Sex Makes Headlines.

“There are a lot of sexless marriages in this town,” a friend confided to me over breakfast earlier this month at the Blue Moon Bakery in Tulsa.

Didn’t know that. Been a pretty private person up until now. Does that mean “loveless marriages?” I don’t think so, do you?

I think it means couples have become distracted and lazy and romance has suffered. I suspect many a mid-life crisis might have been avoided if we practiced what a friend from Little Rock observed tonight: “Everything changed the day I figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in my life.”

Remember the standard time management illustration involving rocks, pebbles, sand and then water? There’s time when we know our priorities. But we get distracted and when distracted we lose things…keys, sunglasses, gloves, love.

In the New York Times Bestseller, The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman identifies the love languages as:

• Words of Affirmation
• Quality of Time
• Receiving Gifts
• Acts of Service
• Physical Touch

Three struck me as vital. Three sounded familiar. A friend loaned me the book last night. With limited time over morning coffee today I went straight to page 115: Physical Touch.

Sex gets headlines. A Dartmouth College study found women retrospectively rated sex as the activity that produced the single largest amount of happiness. The study also found sex has a stronger effect on happiness in highly educated people and in people who had only one sexual partner the previous year. Where do they come up with this stuff? I put more stock in a poll by WomenOntheWeb.com that found 47% of women considered sexual fulfillment “not the most important factor but up there on the list.” Up there indeed.

Chapman appears to get it…at least my version of the language of physical touch. What is important is the nuances, the hand held while crossing the street, the arm linked around a waist while mingling at a cocktail party, the foot that brushes yours under the restaurant table, the neck nuzzled while standing at the kitchen sink, the look across a crowded room that says (and speaks volumes), “Lots of people here but I see you.” That electricity is what I unexpectedly found this past summer for the second time in my life. What an eye opener and the beginning of learning more about myself at age 50 when I really envisioned pursuing a simple solo life with my two Whippets. His name is Jake.

As always, Trix


Jan 21 2010

Damn It’s Hard To Be Unique

Well I’m pissed. I sign on to AOL early this morning and there it is…a video of Martha Stewart pole dancing. When I announced my plan to take a 90-minute discounted pole dancing lesson at Diva Den in Portland, courtesy of Groupon.com, it earned a “WOW!” text from Oregon Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Christopher Stowell, a raised eyebrow from a few friends, an offer from another to, not join me as a student, but “come throw money at me.” It also opened up many dialogues with colleagues and friends that surprised me. I have never been to a Chippendale show but now can say I know retired dancers from that circuit AND they live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, buckle on the Bible Belt.

Don’t you find it often hard to do something even remotely unique? Well-meaning (and I appreciate each gesture) friends supporting my journey are bringing me many books written by women undergoing the dissolution of long-term marriages. As I read the dust covers I think, “So much for this blog …been done.” But has it? My story – my unique story shared honestly with others and spiced with finds, discoveries relating to enjoying life?

A friend in Tulsa told me over lunch at the Wild Fork, “You’ll blog about becoming unmarried. Then you will write the greatest of love stories, the story of Joel’s feelings for you.” She is right; Joel is a gem, one-of-a-kind, and adored by many, if not all, of my friends. A few in the throws of long-term relationships being redefined or ending have suggested I have it much easier because Joel and I are best friends dealing with this change in life in a very civilized, loving manner. I don’t buy it. I have fallen in love with just two men in my 51 years and I am day-to-day engaged with both relationships as I chart my future course. Easy? No. Worthwhile? Absolutely.

As always, Trix


Jan 19 2010

Among Upcoming Topics:

• A Portland Prince.
• Stuck Women.
• Roommates.
• Habits.
• Casual Relationships.
• Two Dogs.
• A Good Read.
• Exploring Thrift Shops.
• Seeing A Therapist.
• Having An Affair.
• Single Vs It’s Complicated.
• Spa Trip.
• Pole Dancing.


Jan 19 2010

I Vacuumed.

I vacuumed. I even gave each stem of yellow tulips in the living room a fresh cut AND fresh water. And I set the table with candles, made the bed, even moved the dog dish bowls from the kitchen to the laundry room. Tonight wasn’t my first dinner with Joel since our separation nearly a week ago; it was instead our fifth meal. It seems our separation, like just about everything we’ve gone through in the past 25 years, it another thing we are going to do together.

During the last several years my contribution to dinner was generally some input on the menu and showing up – taking a break from work in my home office. Unless deadlines were truly nipping at my heels, I did the dishes most of the time. In my limited experience, many male chefs A. don’t clean up as they go along B. do use every available pot, pan, utensil and plate possible.  Cleaning up was a descent contribution but I still got the better end of the deal for the past 13 years.

Joel became the family cook when long-distance interviews for a People Magazine/ Toyota advertorial assignment (that every writer in Tulsa was at one time or another part of) kept me from the kitchen in the early evening. I got the heavy hitters, the multiple franchise/ location dealers in time zones across the country who never had five minutes to spare until late at night.

Survival instincts kicked in with Joel. He’d rattle around the kitchen pantry and create something when hunger set in. He even began to enjoy it and “it” became the content of many a weekly food column I wrote for the Oklahoma Eagle.

One of my fondest memories is still very vivid. In our house on Cincinnati Ave in midtown Tulsa, I was upstairs in the spare bedroom (my office) writing when I was called to dinner. I walked into the kitchen to find Joel and our son Clay dancing around the island to Della Reese singing, “It is so nice to have a man around the house.

Somewhere along the line I stopped setting the table every night. At some point, we still sat on the floor at the coffee table but the TV had migrated to the living room and conversation was mostly during TV commercials.

Now Joel is a guest in my home and I’m doing some of the things I thought I was doing all along: making a meal shared with a friend a celebration.

As always, Trix


Jan 18 2010

Sunday brunch crew.


Jan 18 2010

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch
1.17.2010

I don’t recall going to church past fourth or fifth grade. We lived in Indonesia. Mass was performed by a Dutch priest in a church without air conditioning. It didn’t seem to take long for my mother, Pat Medaris, to make excuses for not attending – sin that it was to miss mass.

“I don’t get anything out of it when it isn’t offered in Latin.”
“Nan didn’t go to church. She felt closer to God outdoors.”

But outdoors wasn’t air-conditioned either, or so I thought.

Sunday champagne brunch, however, was a family ritual not to be missed during my college years. For my father Bob Medaris (AKA JR, Poppie, Scrooge Sweetie) unlimited champagne, or “champers,” as my Aussie cousins call a bit of bubbly, was a must if the restaurant was to earn his business. Every time I wanted to talk Poppie into something, I picked Sunday and eased the topic into the conversation toward the middle of the meal.

As a newly wed I brought the tradition home. It became a wonderful way to cap a weekend with friends while still saving the last bit of Sunday to unwind and prepare for Monday.

Today being my first Sunday in this new phase of life, I hosted a brunch! I dug out the old recipe for “breakfast casserole,” tweaked it, tossed a salad, and broke bread with eight Portland friends. We finished with a King Cake, courtesy of my dear New Orleans friend Lisa.

The “breakfast casserole” was upgraded by Elizabeth to “Strata”. By either name it is generally layers of egg-soaked bread, meat and cheese to which something magical happens during the 12 hours it marinates in the icebox overnight. I was relieved it was edible! For the past 13 years I have been the dishwasher, Joel the cook. Among our merry band of nine cheering me on was Joel, in a new role as guest.

As for the recipe…mine, circa 1980, is simple. I substituted Maille Dijon for the dry mustard, used 1 Asiago cheese bagel and five slices of Western Hazelnut Bread in place of plain bread and, as a shortcut, bought precooked turkey sausage links to cut up. The result is a wonderful combination, in one mouthful, of all that is good about weekend breakfasts (and I am a big breakfast eater): eggs, milk, bread and cheese.

Strata ingredients are endless. Please send your favorite recipe!  You may also want to visit http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Breakfast-and-Brunch/Egg-Dishes/Strata/Top.aspx

As always, Trix


Jan 17 2010

Separation

1.13.2010

I think it possible every person in a relationship has at some time thought, “What if?”

All our friends’ marriages are on the rocks, are we “special” or next?
No one knows me better but do we still relate?
Would being alone be better?
In the hope of finding love again, do I risk being alone at my age?
Can I make it alone?
Am I expecting too much, when look at what I’ve got?

Some of us part ways. Others stay married.
But do we ever stop asking, “What if?”

I am sitting in the Denver Airport waiting for a Southwest flight. I am going home to “my” apartment in Portland. For the first time Joel won’t be there to greet me, to hug me after our two wildly enthusiastic Whippets, Leo and Bliss, predictably respond to my return with a wild dance involving eight slender limbs propelling them in all directions simultaneously. Leo will bark and nibble on Bliss ears, determined to get all the attention for himself. But tonight, in five hours, my best friend won’t be standing behind the Whippets grinning at the spectacle as he has every month I’ve returned to Portland from business trips to Tulsa.

Tonight, without an official document, circumstances and situations within and beyond my control have brought me to tonight when I become an unmarried woman.

Have you pondered separation? If you’ve done it, what was your experience?

I wonder, do separations result more often in reconciliations or endings?

As always, Trix


Jan 9 2010

An Unmarried Woman’s Journey of Exploration, Rediscovery & Reinventing

1.9.2010

This is a story about coming of age at 51. The heroine in this madcap adventure is me.  Someone, by recent disappointments, made smarter, wiser and better able to appreciate what comes my way than I was at say 21. The setting: my two cities, Portland, Oregon and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The story is of surviving and hopefully flourishing by embracing not just another man, but LIFE.  Think of what that means. Auntie Mame described life as a banquet. I don’t intend to be one of those fools who starve when so much is within reach. I am hungry.

As I see it, this is the time to live loudly in order to find my true center. By loudly I mean boldly, uninhibited by who might be watching or judging even when faltering frequently is a certainty, as in ending a 25-year marriage to one’s first boyfriend.  Don’t we usually applaud and cheer on the brave soul who willingly risks making mistakes, dusts herself off and jumps back in the game?  I do!  Gotta love someone with spunk and passion, even if guided by a compass absent a true north. What better, more endearing role model is there?

This blog will be a dialogue (between you and me) about artful, thoughtful exploration and living. I will share the good and the bad of all manner of discoveries (food, shops, activities, books, art…) and reflect periodically on the nuances of changing status from “married” to “unmarried,” including what I recall of the events leading up to this outcome.

Stats reveal in 2005 “unmarried head of household” became the USA majority. Hoping my writing might strike a chord with an occasional visitor is the powerful motivation fueling this endeavor.  Scribbling in a journal might be ideal therapy during a parting of ways, but as it is for many women, doing something solely for myself frequently kills its chances from the start.  I am a giver, a person defined by her relationships. I make a home, feathering my nest, intending it to be a place for others to visit often.

January is an ideal time to slip between the covers with a good book.  Shall we start with a few suggestions for winter reading or ask the question, “Why not stay married to your best friend when the spark is gone?”

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” Alan Cohen

As always, Trix