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I'm Not Invincible

When I left the house today, I left knowing I had so much to do. After a quick trip to Redondo Beach I was so overwhelmed that everything came to a screeching halt. I've been reevaluating things now for hours, wondering where I went wrong and what options I have to make things right again. I'm emotionally overwhelmed at the kindness handed to me after the unkind things I did in the past. I know I don't deserve these things, an yet - I did not turn them down. I could have handed it back. I didn't. 

For the remainder of the day, I got the things done that could not go another day, like finally getting a lightbulb for the kitchen, food for the cats and the rent check taken care of. But everything else just became ... well ... everything else. 

This time of year is usually hard on me. I was always a disappointment to my parents, and now that I've learned to stand up for myself even against them, I'm far more isolated than ever. My brother (my real brother) is a total douche bag who thinks I'm still that loud-mouth 12 year old kid who loved getting him into trouble all the time. The last words we ever shared between is were of his calling me a liar for who knows what reason that time, and me blocking him out of my life like he doesn't exist. I grew up moving around so much that I don't really know the rest of the family. I know OF them and I'm acquainted with quite a few of them, but I don't really know them. Other than my uncles Roger and Jim - they're a blessing to me, and I cherish every rare moment I get to share with them.  But they are rare indeed. 

Other than that, my family is comprised of the people I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with over the years. My brother Patric and his family took me in as one of their own. Two years ago when I went to their house for Christmas, it was the closest thing I had ever known to having a real family Christmas since becoming an adult. For a little while, I was a little girl again. I was showered with love by people who barely knew me and didn't expect anything in return but my happiness. I had a very happy family there. Sharon, Roy, Patric, Douglas, even Leah and Shawn. They adopted me and I adopted them. They've been my family now for a few years.  I'm more than grateful. 

I have other "family" too, like Lisa and Vicki I've known since High School, Bill I've known since I moved to California very nearly 11 years ago to the day, D'anna whom I've grown to call my sister and whom I adore, and more. 

But I miss my OWN family. I miss opening the Christmas ornaments every year and finding the little golden haired porcelain doll in a red Christmas dress one one once thought looked like me. I missed hanging the icicles on the tree, the twinkling lights, the smell of pine. I miss shaking the gifts for my brother, wondering what they are. I miss the way I would pretend to know exactly what my parents reactions would be when they opened that one special present I got for them. I miss sharing that pancake breakfast with people that I saw every single day of my life - happy or sad. They were my stability then. I have none now. 

I don't have a family of my own. I share someone else's for the holiday, and while that's wonderful and special and I will be grateful for as long as I live - I don't have a family of my own. 

All I have now are two funny little cats who keep me company and let me cry my thoughts out into their fur each night I happen to be home. I love my cats. I do. They're what I've come to know as my family. But they don't talk to me, and with the exception of Cooper holding my hand when he sleeps by curling his little claws around my thumb, they don't hold me when I need to be held. They don't kiss me or hug me.  And when I'm really upset, they tend to avoid me completely. I guess the tear soaked fluff gets old. 

But I've been shown such kindness the fact I can't be more grateful makes me very angry at myself. There are people out there who care about me. I know they do. But if anything happened to me, my absence wouldn't be felt for more than a day. I'm not exactly important to anyone's life. Well, except my cats. They need me. 

I posted a picture on Instagram earlier today (yes, I have an Instagram) with the quote...

"There is so much love in this world that I do not deserve and yet I receive. I only hope someday to do enough good things in my life to have earned half of what I have been given. I'm overwhelmed."

It's true. I don't even deserve 98% of the kindness that is given to me. But I'd give every bit of that back just to have my own family. Just to have someone I love, to have someone who loves me. Someone to be there when I need them. Someone to never send me away, to tell me I belong. Someone to tell me it will all be ok. 

My life took a wrong turn somewhere and I don't know how to get it back on track. I'm desperately alone and horribly depressed. It's not just because I'm about to be another year older. That has absolutely nothing to do with it. It has EVERYTHING to do with being so alone in the world. 

Where did I go wrong and how do I make it right? I know I deserve these tears falling off of my chin. I've hurt so many people. I deserve much worse. I deserve pain and anguish and despair. Maybe even torture and eventual death. But do I deserve to face everything by myself? I'm strong. I'm not invincible. 

Self Serving

In the past I've been told that I can be very self-centered and self serving, forgetting to put the needs of others before the desires of self. I suppose it must be true, since it was someone who truly loved me at the time who told me that. Now, looking back, I realize how right they were. To some degree I suppose it's still true of me. I started to wonder why I would be like that, since I've always prided myself on being a compassionate and generous person. Apparently, that's the general consensus from my friends - when I remember them.

Why? Why would someone generous and compassionate also be so self-serving?

I suppose it's because of how I grew up. I'm not talking about my early childhood, or even teen years. I was extremely sheltered and harbored. If I wanted something outside of the realm of that which was thought to be "normal" in our household, I had to get it myself. Yet, for as many birthdays as I could remember, all of my birthday money was always spent on Christmas gifts for others. That's not what a selfish person does. However, a self-serving person would share this fact in order to not feel so selfish.

I suppose I tend to be so self-serving because I've been so alone for so long. If I want something, I have to get it myself, and I'm just stubborn enough to get tunnel vision until I do. Sometimes this tunnel vision means I forget birthdays and anniversaries, important messages and more. I miss details I would normally never let pass me by.

Recently a very special friend stopped talking to me for a few days and I'm wondering now if I somehow developed tunnel vision without thinking about it and missed some sort of detail. I've since tried cracking jokes and poking fun, but it seems nothing has worked and I'm still receiving no responses. Have I forgotten a birthday or anniversary?

At first I thought "I've done nothing wrong" but since this morning my tone has changed a bit. Knowing me, I probably did do something and I'm too oblivious to know it. So this, my readers and friends, is a public apology for whatever it was in May or may no have done, and my open plea to please let me know what it was (or wasn't) that I did (or didn't do).

Sorry, Greg. I just wish I knew what it was.

There's Something about LA

I thought about it on the drive home tonight.  No matter how many times I tried to leave, something has always pulled me back here.

I set down my green tea on the seat by my front door and unlocked the handle.  The door opened and the silent darkness greeted me.  I picked up my tea, hung the keys on the hook by the door and switched on the small lamp attached to my desk.  I closed the door behind me.  Isolation.  Silence.  Nothing. 

I stood there a long moment, looking back at the two sets of yellow eyes staring down at me from the top of my closet.  My boys.  I loved those cats.  There were days they were the only reason I came home at all.  They needed me.  They depended on me. 

My apartment can be quite depressing.  It's cold and quiet.  Lonely even.  There's a mattress on the floor and a tv smaller than my laptop computer.  There are shelves I bought at Target and built on the carpet of my studio.  There was a wardrobe where I hung my coats and work uniforms because my own closet was too small for everything.  There was my desk, that I hardly ever used anymore due to time demands.  And there, on top of my closet, above my bed and looking straight down at me, were two little cats who were happy I was home.  They didn't say it.  They can't.  They're cats.  But I could read it in their faces.

I moved to California on December 5th of 2012, almost 11 years ago now.  Since then, I've loved and lost several times, been married, got divorced, moved more times than I care to recall, made friends, made enemies, made enemies of friends and lost people I've loved.  But the one thing that has always stayed a constant, no matter how I've tried to change it from time to time, is the city I called home.

I'd traveled, sure.  I'd gone places.  In 2003 I went to Germany, Switzerland and Prague.  In 2004 I went to Arkansas and New York.  In 2006 I traveled the country as a sales person, doing dealer visits and trade shows in places like Washington D.C. and Denver.  In 2008 I went to Fresno for the first time.  (Hey, it counts.  It's not Los Angeles.) In 2009 when Pete and I split up, I moved to Utah for a couple of months and got a job as a waitress.  I knew then I had hit rock bottom.  I was living with my mother and father at nearly 30 years old.  I regained my common sense and hightailed it back to LA the first opportunity I got.  I hadn't realized it until then, but Los Angeles had become my home.

Yet, for some reason, in 2010 I went to Scotland to see how well I would like it.  I loved it.  And in January of 2011 I moved there.  I couldn't wait!  I lived in Scotland for a total of five months, but it may as well have been a lifetime for all I went through.  When the opportunity finally presented itself, I couldn't wait to go back to the states.  I could have gone anywhere, and even thought about New York City.  But I came home to Los Angeles.  Like puppet strings, I was pulled in a direction and all I could do was go with it.

In 2012 I had the chance to go to Paris and London for a few days and I jumped at the opportunity.  Then in December of 2012 I went to Michigan for the first time to visit my brother, Patric, and his family.  It was on the flight out there I met a wonderful Flight Attendant by the name of Leslie who told me I would probably love the job - and she's the reason I am now a Flight Attendant myself.  I'll never forget her kindness.

Then, this year, I found myself in Salt Lake City for a month with no earthly idea where I would end up after my training.  I could go anywhere.  I could be sent to Chicago or Denver or Houston to live by this company, and I was willing to go.  I'd go wherever they sent me.  I bid for Los Angeles, but we were all told in the beginning that there was no way we would get it.  None of us would.  There wasn't any space available in LA, so I bid for what I thought would be the most interesting cities to go to.  By a stroke of luck, through some sort of miracle (or was it fate?) I was sent to Los Angeles straight out of training.  I wouldn't have to move.

Since then, every time I've started to even think about moving again, finding another city where I could just start over and renew myself, something has happened to quell that chain of thought and I've ended right back where I started from - my studio apartment with two yellow-eyed cats, a mattress on the floor and my quiet existence. 

I guess it's where I belong.  There's something about this city, something about LA, that keeps pulling me back here.  I guess maybe there's a reason.  Someday it may present itself.  Then again, it may not.  But whatever it is, it's my home now.

Say what you will about the city, the traffic, the people, the noise, the smog, the pollution, the population... I see another side of Los Angeles. 

I set down my green tea on the seat by my front door and unlocked the handle.  The door opened and the silent darkness greeted me.  I picked up my tea, hung the keys on the hook by the door and switched on the small lamp attached to my desk.  I closed the door behind me.  Isolation.  Silence.  Nothing.

I was home.  I am home.  THIS is my home.  No matter where my travels and adventures may take me, this is where I belong.

Rhino and Snappy

Right off the bat, the names Rhino and Snappy seem like cartoon characters. If I paired the name Rhino up with a character named, say, Vixen, it would sound like a partnership spy team. Well, these guys were neither. They were more laughs than a cartoon and more interesting than a pair of spies.

Rhino was named after his father, who was named after his father, who was named get the picture. But that name was actually shared by a well known and deceased Hollywood actor by the name of James Dean. So he usually went by JD instead. He didn't want too many people knowing his real name because the questions would always follow. You already know what questions because you're already asking them in your mind. No, he wasn't related to the actor. No, he wasn't named after the actor. He was named after his dad.

Rhino was a Navy jet pilot before an injury that led him towards the world of being a commercial airline pilot. For a while he even flew private jets for movie stars. He told a story that night we met about having a certain actor get angry over a mechanical issue on the plane one day. When the actor asked who he thought he was to tell the actor they weren't going anywhere, he replied quite simply with his real name. The actor was shocked - and went back to his seat. Who in their right mind would argue with the world famous James Dean?

Snappy was Ukrainian. Rhino couldn't say his name properly no matter how he tried. It wasn't that difficult really. It sounded similar Forest without the first letter. His name was Orush Grechka, and while that may seem like an intimidating name to those far more accustomed to the Smith and Jones of modern American society, it's not nearly as difficult as some names I've seen. But Rhino just couldn't bring himself to say it. That day when he was trying to get the attention of Orush and he couldn't remember his name yet again, he snapped his fingers and it worked. So Rhino called him snappy.

Rhino asked me if I had any nicknames. I confessed, i'd never had a decent one. Dad called me Pun'kin when I was little but I had outgrown that nickname years ago. So, while sipping a beer in Oprah's favorite Wahoo Fish Taco's in Santa Barbara, Rhino called me "Vixen" and the name just stuck. Vix for short.

So, Rhino, Snappy and Vixen were turned loose on the town of Santa Barbara one Saturday night, and the rest, well.... The rest is quite a story.

To Be Continued.....

Cap and Cape

Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks, pumpkin spice lattes, and random acts of kindness in my book.  I didn't throw turkeys or stuffing into that list because I haven't had a turkey with stuffing and all the traditional trimmings on Thanksgiving Day in many years (excluding last year when I spent the holiday with my adopted brother and his wonderful family) so it has become less important to me in many ways than it was when I was a child.  No, the holiday is about so much more than that now.  Today I was given a gift that will remind me of this for years to come.  It's a drawing.  A simple drawing done by a complete stranger.  But the story behind it will leave me with tears of joy for years to come.

I don't know why I did it, really.  I just had this feeling deep in my gut that told me I needed to go to my favorite Starbucks.  I figured it was a craving for caffeine or a Pumpkin Spice Latte perhaps.  Those are pretty yummy.  After making pumpkin cheesecake muffins last night, I figured it was a pumpkin craving, so I listened to my instincts.  I combed my hair, threw on my jeans and boots and grabbed a jacket.  It was cold and raining outside - something I'm not used to here in Los Angeles.  I bundled up warm, looking forward to the free wifi and warmth in the biggest Starbucks in the area.  It's not far from the El Camino College, so the seats were usually always taken up by students, but I knew there would be a seat at the end of the bar for me.  There usually always was.  I could play on the internet for free (though I have wifi at home) and watch the people come and go.  I love people, but I love people watching even more.  I've always been that way.

I got to Starbucks and the parking lot was so full I had to park quite a distance away from the front entrance.  I didn't mind, though.  Let the college students with heavy bags or the elderly people park closer, I thought to myself.  I didn't have anything that couldn't get wet with a bit of rain. 

As I neared the door, I noticed a man sitting in a chair at a table, huddled in a fuzzy brown blanket, a hood pulled over his head and his eyes closed.  He was wearing warm clothes, but something about him still seemed cold.  He was one of the Forgotten People of Los Angeles, one of the many hundreds in the homeless population.  I hated when the homeless guys would stand at the freeway off ramps begging for money with cardboard signs written in fresh, black sharpie marker.  They would stare people down, trying visually to force people into handing them loose change or dollar bills.  I wasn't fooled.  I knew what they did with the money.  They bought drugs or alcohol - and sharpie markers.  I always refused to give money to a homeless person.  Food is something else entirely.  But something about this young man stood out to me.  Still, I walked right past.   As I opened the door, I thought to myself that if I were him, I'd much rather be inside drinking a hot coffee, than shivering just barely out of the rain, still out in the cold.  I thought about that young man the whole time I stood in line.

"Can I help you Ma'am," the voice on the other side of the counter asked.  He broke me out of the near trance-like state I was in.

"Yes, please.  Can I have..." I paused.  I hadn't even decided on what I had wanted.  Not completely.  "... a soy gingerbread latte," I smiled "and a tall coffee."

"Can I get your name for the Latte," he asked me.

I gave my name and he wrote it on my cup.  Then he handed me the tall coffee and totaled my charge.  I had forgotten for quite some time that I had the Starbucks app on my iphone, and when I opened it I found an abundance of funds I hadn't remembered purchasing.  It had been quite some time since I had used the app, and I knew this was the reason I had needed to go to Starbucks that day.

I took the tall coffee out to the shivering young black man clutching the fuzzy brown blanket he wore tied around his neck like a cape.  I touched his shoulder and he turned to look at me.  I hadn't planned on saying anything, just setting down the coffee and walking away, but his eyes had been closed and I didn't want to startle him, or worse yet, take the chance he wouldn't see it and let it get as cold as he was.

"You look cold" I said, and turned to walk back inside.  He looked up and smiled at me, perfect teeth all in a perfect row, a smile of genuine surprise and gratitude.  My heart lifted. 

"Excuse me," a man in a maroon knit cap said to me, as he grabbed a chair across the table from the cold young man.  "Is there any way I could trouble you for one of those, and maybe a breakfast sandwich?"

I laughed.  Any other day I would have thought to myself "the audacity of some people!  I do a random act of kindness and now someone else has the balls to come right out and ask for personalized service?  I did this for him because he DIDN'T ask."  But that voice in the back of my head told me again that I needed to be there at that moment.  There was a reason I was at the Starbucks.  I believe those two guys were that reason.  So, I honored his request.  As I was walking back into the store to collect my own drink and order a small meal and coffee for another homeless patron on the sidewalk, he continued talking to me.  I didn't hear it all because the noise of studying college kids drowned him out, but I already knew what he wanted.  Whatever else he was saying, I'd come back with his coffee and gather from him.

I walked back up to the register.  The same young man was there still. 

"Can I help you," he asked me again.

"Yeah," I replied.  "There's another very cold gentleman outside that would like a tall coffee and a breakfast sandwich."  The cashier smiled at me.  His smile was almost as surprised and every bit as genuine as the young man who received a coffee without asking for one.  That smile was infectious. 

The sandwiches always take a minute to heat, so when he handed me the coffee I took it straight out to the man in the maroon knit cap.  He looked at me and smiled, stood to receive his offering and said thank you.  I wondered to myself how frequently they had been ignored.  How often were these men not seen by society?  How long had they been forgotten by the world at large?

I was a coward.  I always had been.  I'd wanted to sit and talk with the homeless people from time to time, to get their stories and ask them what life was like on the streets, but I'd always been afraid to.  I didn't want them to see me as just another nosy brat who had everything and was just there to 'interview' them for some school project or turn them into a curiosity satisfied.  This day, that changed.  I let go of my cowardice.  It had no control over me. 

I went back inside once more to collect my own drink and the breakfast sandwich, and when I came back out there were still only the two of them at the table.  An empty seat still remained at their table - so I took it.  It was cold out, but I had thought to bundle up on my way out the door earlier.  I'd be fine, even without a brown fuzzy blanket-cape.   The two men warmed their hands on the cups of coffee and smiled at me.

We sat and talked, the maroon capped man being far more talkative than his caped counterpart.  We talked about politics and society at large, even going back to WWII, a subject of deep passion for my historical curiosity.  He seemed extremely knowledgeable. 

"You really know your American and world history," I told him.

"I have deep roots here," he replied.  "I'm originally from Pennsylvania, but I got roots in history."   

As we talked about travel (he asked what I did for a living and I told him I was a Flight Attendant) he took out a tattered piece of blank, white drawing paper and began to sketch something.  From a small bag he produced an array of graphite pencils and charcoal, along with a flag-folded piece of newspaper he used as a smudging tool.  He would rough it up from time to time on the sidewalk beneath his feet.  He talked endlessly to me about how he loved art and he always dreamed of being a matte painter for plays.  He almost made it once, he said.  But a friend of his stole the phone number for the contact he had, and he never got the job.  He always loved to draw and paint though.  He specialized in backgrounds.  He bent over to sharpen the lead of his pencil on the pavement and continued to sketch.  

"You know," he said, "I've been told that artists only get paid after they die.  I don't believe that.  I want to travel across the country drawing what I see.  Van Gogh was crazy, they said.  I mean, he sliced off his ear.  I guess he was pretty crazy.  But I'm not crazy.  And someday I'll be a paid artist."

He told me about a project currently taking place at the LA Mission.  They were putting on a play for Skid Row.  He urged me to find out more information about the event, and maybe come see it sometime.  He didn't remember the name of the production, but he wanted to get a job doing the set paintings for them.  He also told me that they occasionally had foul language in the production that he felt they could have done without.

"When you're acting, it's art.  And you can convey those emotions and thoughts without the bad language.  Don't get me wrong, I can swear with the best of them, and occasionally I have, but I always end up regretting it later.  We hear enough of that out on the streets.  Something about hearing it in the play just really got to me though.  It just seemed so .... harsh.  It made me, like, shiver.  It was just too much.  They could have done better without it.  But I want to see it again." 

I studied his face as we sat there.  He had a highly chiseled face.  He was actually a rather handsome man, with a solid jaw, high cheek bones, wide set dimples and eyes that sparkled as he spoke about art. 

We talked about foreign affairs, such as the Monarchy in the United Kingdom, the Presidential term length in Ireland (seven years, for those who don't know) and the differences of political freedom between us and them.

"You know what," I said after long last, "I'd much rather sit out here and talk to the two of you than sit in there and be ignored by everyone else," I smiled.  The caped young man smiled at this.  He was, by all accounts, extremely quite throughout the entire conversation. 

"They're all busy studying," my maroon capped friend said to me.  "They're too busy to have a conversation." 

We talked a while longer, and when I finished the last bit of my Gingerbread Latte, the man in the maroon cap decided to show me what he had been sketching.  I sat there in silence a moment.  He told me what it was and I smiled.  I had already figured that part out.  It wasn't a Van Gogh.  But it was a masterpiece...

"It's beautiful," I said, with utmost sincerity.  I delicately took the paper offered to me.  I can only imagine the look on my face was very close to the same look the man in the blanket gave to me when I set a coffee before him.

I asked each in turn what their names were.  The man in the brown fuzzy cape was Eric, he said, so quiet I could barely hear him.  I reached out a hand and he took it.  He shook my hand with a shy grip and a flash of brown eyes that briefly looked directly into mine.  He had become so accustomed to being ignored that he hadn't known how to react to the entire forty-five minutes I had joined them at their modest table.  But the smile he flashed at me in that moment was as genuine as the first one I saw him give to me.  And I smiled back just as genuinely.  I was proud to shake his hand.

"And you are..." I said to the man in the maroon cap, offering my hand to him. 

"My name is Zachary."

"Well, Zachary, Eric, it's very nice to meet you both.  I originally came down here just to have a quick coffee, but I'm glad I stayed a while."

Zachary took my hand and shook it gently.  Then, he handed me the drawing once more, indicating I should take it with me, as a thank you for the meal and coffee for him and his friend.  Gladly, I accepted his offer.  Then I did something that surprised even me.

I reached over to where Zachary sat and I hugged him.  It wasn't some halfway attempt.  It was a genuine hug with my arms around his neck.  He melted.  I could feel it in his grip.  His face lit up, he smiled ear to ear, his eyes sparkled again.  He hugged me back.  Something told me it had been a long time since anyone had hugged him at all - especially like that.  When I let go, he shook my hand again, then lifted it to his mouth and kissed it gently.

"Thank you," he said with a tiny tear in his eye he tried to conceal.  "Thank you."  Finally, he lost control and a fat, happy teardrop rolled down his cheek. 

"Have a happy Thanksgiving, Guys.  And if they do that play at the LA Mission again, maybe I'll see you there."

And the drawing he gave to me on this rainy afternoon?

It's a portrait.  Of me.

It might not look a lot like what you see in photos of me.  But he drew me as he saw me.  And he saw me as someone like him - an artist with a kind soul.  He saw me as a person.  Not as a female, not as a pretty girl or as a redhead, or even as a flight attendant.  He didn't see the color of my eyes.  He didn't see how small or large my waist was.  He didn't care how tall I stood.  He's an artist.  He saw my heart.  He drew me as his sister - a kindred spirit and a soul that his soul recognized.  In his portrait, I'm not white, black, asian, hispanic... I'm family.  I'm someone he knows.

I'm the stranger who gave him a hug. 

For information on the play at the LA Mission, click here.
For details on how to help the LA Mission, click here.

"To Give is To Receive"

Charmed Life

My mother used to say I lived a charmed life. 

I don't believe that. I believe I live a blessed life. A life filled with love and happiness to balance the sadness I've had in the past. A life of balance. Harmony. For every bad there is good. For every nightmare there is triumph. For every sin, there is a punishment. I live them all and I evolve from each. 

My life was never charmed. I've never been touched by a fairy godmother. I don't know what pixie dust looks like and I've never seen a magic wand. 

But I've seen into the hearts and souls of humanity and it's been my good fortune, my blessing, to take part in the lives of those I love. 

I'm not charmed. I'm blessed. I'm balanced. I'm walking, talking, living proof of that little thing called KARMA. 

The Truth in the Pain

Here's the thing... 

When I think about things, when i write my thoughs, I lay it all on the line. I don't care who reads it. I enjoy the comments of support on those eerily biased posts about relationships. 

If you're gonna treat me wrong, if you're gonna be an untrue friend (or lover), if you do something to me that YOU know you shouldn't, if you've done something I would imagine you would think I would be too embarrassed to talk about... you should know right away that it won't remain a secret. There is NOTHING so sacred. 

I once had someone try to blackmail me with some horrible stuff I never wanted anyone in the world to know about. When blackmail didn't work, he resorted to sending this blackmail evidence to my boss at the time. Bill would no doubt remember this, as it's a massive zone of contention for us both. Eventually it drove a wedge between us and I quit my job there. But what did I do about the blackmailer?  

Oh, I fixed it. 

The blackmailer was an officer of the law in Scotland, a member of the Strathclyde Police Department in Hamilton, Scotland. Not only did I send the evidence of blackmail to HIS superior officers, but I added the entire backstory I never thought I would share with a living soul. I told the tale from the very beginning to the very end; all the horrible, gut wrenching details I never wanted to even face, much less confess, in an email that took me days to write. I did it alone. I suffered through tears. I fought the urge to quit the fight and walk away. And I have no idea what happened on the other end. I don't care. I know Karma will take care of everything eventually. You reap what you sow. 

So what happened? 

It's not a story I care to reiterate, and refuse to do so publicly due to the graphic content and nature of event(s) but - since I said it earlier, I share everything, I think it's about time. 

I didn't think I would do this, and I'm quite surprised I am doing this now in my sleep deprived state, but I'm too strong to let some scum from the other side of this blue planet rule my thoughts or emotions. Part of the reason I struggle so much with trust, relationships, heartache, lies, false promises and so so much more can probably be attributed fairly to everything I have been through in my past, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING could prepare me for what happened in Scotland. 

If you don't like drama or negative things, or if you'd rather you not know, please stop reading here. This is not for the faint of heart, and it's far more evil than you could possibly imagine.   It's a story of torture, the likes of which you've probably never known someone to go through. Please do NOT pity me. The reason I'm sharing it is because I'm strong enough to. Pity his daughter. Pity the other victims, unable to share their tale. Pity even his family, as they will someday learn all about it, I'm sure... if they haven't already. Pity those who need it. I do not. 


Basically I was held captive, broke and broken, too poor to leave, too trapped to walk out, screamed at, told lies, fed false promises on an aluminum spoon - and raped. I was forcibly raped not once or twice, and not by one person. He held me there, and against my will, forced me into acts I did not wish to be a part of with multiple people - men and women.  Food would be withheld. I would be denied a chance to leave the house. I would undergo emotional tortures like you wouldn't believe, isolated in a foreign land with no friends but the ones HE gave me, who would believe nothing evil of him. Locked away, day after day... Basically, I was a slave. 

At first I thought I deserved it. Towards month two I tried to leave and couldn't.  At month three my best friend was a tombstone in the ancient cemetery, where I would sit alone to have better company. By month four I was ready to jump off the platform at the Bellshill train station. At month five I had renewed hope and a mission. I had to deceive my captor into thinking Stockholm Syndrome had fully taken hold (and believe me, it had begun to..) and that I would return after my trip back to California. I still have the return airline ticket in my shadow box, as well as a formal letter of investigation from the Strathclyde police. They live in my shadow box as a reminder that I am a strong person. I rise above the pain. I rise above the evil in this world. I do what I must in order to survive, no matter how much it hurt to do so. I fought back!! 

And the blackmail evidence I spoke of? 


Pictures of me in those compromising situations, being raped over and over and over, forced to do the unspeakable

Imagine what that must have been like...

Tears fill my eyes as I write these words. Tears of anger, hatred, malice, pride, conviction, strength.....

So, yeah. Do me wrong, and I will rise above all else to not only tell the world what you did to me, but to point the finger at the bad guy and call it like I see it.  Sometimes I can do it the next day. Other events take more than two long years, but it always comes out in the wash.

Moral of the Story

There was once a baby bird who fell from his nest.  He fell clear to the ground, where he was trapped and couldn't get up.  He cried out, but his mother didn't hear him.  He kept crying, but his father didn't come.  The baby bird was all on his own, and he was freezing cold.

Along came a cow who took pity on the baby bird.  She didn't know what else to do, so she lifted her tail and let loose with a large cow pie, right on top of the baby bird.  Then she went on her way.  The baby bird was finally warm, but he still wasn't happy.  He continued to cry.

Along came a coyote who heard the baby bird crying out for help.  He reached into the cow pie, lifted the little bird up, cleaned him off nicely - and ate him.  Swallowed him in one gulp.

What's the moral of the story?

Those who throw dirt on you don't always mean you harm.
Those who pull you out of a jam don't always mean to help you.
And when you're in deep crap, it's usually best to keep your mouth shut.

Models Beware

 Hello Everyone...
I feel I need to share this with EVERYONE, not just with the sick and twisted, discussing pervert who posted it.

Folks, once upon a time I modeled for this guy. We did a couple of outdoor location shoots and one studio shoot. Some of the shots turned out to be my favorite from my career. 


I am appalled at what I see. I take pride in being a classy sort of person, but this person takes pride in turning every-day women into common whores and meaningless collections of personal smut for his naughty-bank. Still the women flock to him for photoshoots. Why? Because he's free. WHY is he free? Because he's not A PHOTOGRAPHER. He's A PERVERT!

TO Richie Bravo:

Your words in the screen shot below just sealed the deal for me. Now, I know without a doubt, that I will NEVER model for you again.

You don't respect those you work with. You're in it for your own sick and twisted pleasure, not to make the girls feel like models. Not to make money. Not to be a respected professional in your industry. But because at night, when you're done with the photoshoot, you have pleasant thoughts to yourself about how naked you made a girl get, because she was so desperate to be a model and you just happened to have a camera. You prey on those with insecurities who are trying so desperately to overcome them. You hand them props and lingerie, and tell them to take their clothes off.


I see right through you. Eventually all the other girls will too. 
How do you face yourself in the mirror every day???!


I was asked a few good questions (interview style) and my answers were creative enough I wanted to share them...

My favorite food at thanksgiving - 
These days my diet is unfortunately limited due to an "internal error" as I like to call it. I have something called Crohn's disease and it limits what I can eat by quite a bit. When I could eat anything I wanted without knowing there were permanent consequences, my favorite was my mothers gibblet gravy. I would have it on the turkey, stuffing, potatoes - even a bit on the green bean casserole. The texture, the taste, the experience of having a bit of each at each fork full - just the thought of it takes me back to a simpler, and yet far more complicated, time of my life. But I must say, the thing I miss most is the sense of family. I haven't had a holiday with my own family since I was 17 years old, and those were unfortunately unhappy times. The last happy holiday I had with my family would have been more than half my lifetime ago now. I miss the meal prayer when we all held hands. I miss the way my mother would chase me out of the kitchen all day, threatening me with a wooden spoon and a smile.  I miss when she would call me back in to slice apples for a pie. I miss my fathers stupid jokes and hearty laugh. I miss my brother getting excited about pouring our koolaid in preparation for the meal. I miss having a family... 

Favorite time of day -

That depends on where in the world I am and what time if year it is. When I lived in Scotland my favorite time of day was in January in the early morning before the sun came up. The world was still and silent. I was happy then.  The world was magical and beautiful with a fresh coat of snow across everything as far as the eye could see. It clung to the branches and rooftops. There were no sounds that did not echo softly against the sweetly fallen fresh, clean snow. The flakes would continue to fall in large, round flakes, making an audible 'Pat!' when they finally touched down. It was awe inspiring and I finally understood Robert Burns' poetry. 

But living in California my favorite time of day is sunset. To look across the rooftops and see the sun touch down onto the Pacific Ocean, to almost hear it sizzle as the water cools the glowing orb, to long to reach out and rescue it from it's 12 hours of slumber... there's something so sad and yet so thrilling about the sunset. One general type of person goes to bed and another sort begins to hit the streets, ready to socialize. But the sun casts its glowing colors of fire and warmth across the sky even after its gone from our view, its final gift each night. 

Travel List
I would love to spend more time in Paris. Three days just wasn't enough! London is also tops on my list, as I've only spent one day there and have newly acquired adopted family over there (When one doesn't have a family of their own, one acquires a family wherever one can). But add to that list Giza, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Athens, Crete, Melbourne and Sydney, New York City, Chicago, the Highlands of Scotland, more of Ireland, Alaska, Bangkok and Tokyo... and you have te beginning of my list. I'm sure you now have a broad understanding as to why I became a flight attendant. I want to see the world!! All of life is magical and beautiful if we know how to look at it, and that's a special skill I acquired long ago. I died in a surgery long ago and my entire perspective on life changed as a result. There is no longer anything dark that lives within me... I don't have a dark side and a light side anymore. All I have is a soul grateful to be alive and willing to enjoy everything imaginable with a zest incomprehensible by most, not to be compared with anyone or anything else in existence. 

I'm a creative writer as a hobby, and my goal here was to bring you into my world and show you things as I see them if only for a moment. I hope I've succeeded...

Asiana 777 Crash

Seeing an airline crash of this magnitude only helps to reinforce the fact I need to review my emergency procedures and commands section of my manual. Those passengers are alive BECAUSE of the crew members onboard and the emergency responders on the ground. 

Prayers for the families and victims. So far reports are 22 in critical condition, six of them being children. 

Response to an Email

You had some very good questions for me and I would love to answer every one of them...

I use the term "long ago" not as a measure of time, but as a measure of maturity and miles.  I'm a different person than I was when I modeled, though still so much the same.  Life's circumstances have changed so much about me and my outlook on certain aspects of life - including the wonderful gift of never judging people by their outward appearance, but by their heart.  I modeled for Harley Davidson Motorclothes a few years ago, but that's such a small part of my life that it's not really a part of who I am, so when I look back on it, it seems so much more a distant memory than some of my most vivid memories of my mid-teen years.  I left the modeling industry because I'm scarred, imperfect and proud of it.  I also got too old.  It's a cutthroat industry, and if you're not a big name by the age of 24, you're washed up and long in the tooth.  Seems silly and impractical to me.  That was also about 40lbs ago... I don't feel like starving myself anymore to fit the generalization of what we as a society consider to be beautiful.  I am me.  I have a heart and a soul too big for my body to contain, so trying to fit it all into a size 2 jeans just doesn't really suit me as a person anymore.  I'd rather have Rita Hayworth's curves and pride than Paris Hilton's vapid expression or Calista Flockhart's anorexic frame. 
My father was military so we moved around a lot.  I'm not really 'from' anywhere.  I was born in Germany, but I'm not German.  Los Angeles is the longest I've ever lived anywhere in my life, so these days I call it home.  I didn't go to college for very long, I'm afraid.  I went to Pasadena City College for Physics, but at the time I was working three jobs as well, trying to put my ex-husband through school.  The classes I took were more of a hobby at the time, rather than anything I would have time to take seriously.  Someday I hope to take much more school classes, but for now I'm lucky to make ends meet.  That's ultimately what brought me to the website. 

Being a flight attendant is the perfect job for me.  We all start out at Reserve status, but I'm hoping to be what we call a "line holder" within the year, two at the most. 

I wouldn't say I've had a charmed life, exactly.  I was a teen runaway, constantly searching for a better life.  I'm basically alone in the world with few family who care and few friends to speak of.  It's all been through sheer luck, hard work, determination and kindness that I've been able to do the amazing things I've done.  I've made some great friends over the years, but they're so spread out these days that I hardly ever see them.  I never really tried to dine with stars or go to red carpet events, or even attend embassy dinners.  They all just sort of...  happened.  When the opportunities presented themselves, who was I to say no?  It's been by the grace of God that my life has turned out the way it has.  I've had high points and I've had equally low points - and I'd need a scale of novel proportions to discover which there are more of, but I know which one has more weight in my life.  I don't dwell on the bad things, and take them all as a positive, because they've all turned me into the person I am today.  And I love my life.


As a reserve flight attendant, the world is a constant surprise. From one day to the next it's hard to figure out if you're coming or going, what day of the week it is or how long you're going to be gone. I've left on what I thought would be a five day journey only to b taken off after three. I've gone on a two day trip only to discover half way through it was being changed to four. But probably the biggest surprise I had was when I thought I was flying up to San Francisco and back to LA one day, and I was anticipating having the rest of the day off when I got back and even made dinner plans. I brought my required items with me and left my suitcase at home.

When I landed in San Francisco and switched on my phone, I discovered I had a voicemail from the good people of scheduling. I knew this couldn't be good.

I'm sure by now you guessed it. I was going to need that suitcase I so carelessly left in my apartment, unpacked and disheveled. Not only did I need it, but I wouldn't be home for four days.

I had about an hour and forty five minutes before I was to return to LA, so on my way to get food I began frantically calling people I knew that I could trust. My first call was to my roommate, who didn't answer. My second was to my old boss, who was busy at an event. My third call was to my best friend, Jason - who always answers and didn't. Next I sent a text to Jason's boss, who was a close friend of mine for a while. She responded by telling me Jason was busy and wouldn't have time to help me. I was striking out left an right. Finally I called the guy I had just started dating. That was just another added to the "didn't answer" list. What was going on?!

I sat to eat my lunch at the gate as my crew and I waited for our next plane to arrive. I started thumbing through my extensive phone list for someone - anyone - who could help me out. At about the "W" section, my phone rang. It was the guy I had been dating, Mike.

"Hey!" I answered, overjoyed. "Are you at work or at home? I need a huge favor and I'm having a personal emergency."

"I'm at home. Are you ok?"

"Yeah, but I left my suitcase at home and they've changed my schedule. I won't be home for four days! I'm flying back into LA and will be there in about two hours, but I won't have enough time to go get my suitcase! I need help!"

"Well," he responded with a dry air, "I was looking through your Facebook and I'm confused. You said you didn't date this one guy a year ago but I just saw a picture where it looks like you did, and honestly I'm not even talking to you right now."

Dumbfounded at the words that just came out of his mouth, I sat there in stunned silence a moment. Then my red headed nature kicked in and I had a few words of my own to say.

"Look, the past is the past. You don't own me, I don't own you, and I have never lied to you about anyone I was dating before I met you two weeks ago. We can talk about this all you want to when I get back, but right now I need some serious help, and if you're not willing to help me I need to know so I can go solve my crisis. I can only handle one issue at a time," I said. I desperately wanted to add "and you've got more issues than I can handle" to the end of that sentence, but didn't. I tried to keep calm. I had my priorities. Starting a fight over the phone wasn't one of them.

"Well, I really can't," he started. "I don't think I want to go - " I cut him off by hanging up the phone and continuing my contacts search.

My phone rang again. It was my former boss! Surely he would be able to help me!

"Hey! I there anyone around who could run an errand for me?" I started off by going straight to the point.

"I don't know. What's wrong? What do you need?"

I explained the situation so quickly that he had to ask me to slow down and repeat myself. I did.

"We are setting up for an event right now but I will see what I can do. What do you need them to do?"

"I need them to go find the hide-a-key under the brick on the back side of the fence, go into the house, find my bedroom, grab my suitcase and bring it to the airport. But I need some stuff out in it first."

"Ok," he said. "I'm writing it down. What do you need in it?"

"A pair of jeans, all of my makeup from the table top, two pairs of socks, the shirt that's hanging on the back of the chair, another shirt from the closet - I don't care which one, and three pairs of underwear from the top drawer of my dresser."

Looking back, I'm sure the list was even longer than that, but you get the gist of it all. There was a lot of stuff I didn't have in the bag that I would be needing.

"Ok," my boss responded later in a text message. "I found someone to go get your stuff. Where do you need it dropped off?"

"At the United terminal at 5:00pm sharp, early if possible."

My flight was on time and I was praying that my bag would be too, whomever was bringing it. My boss was always my friend, even before I ever worked for him. He really proved it that time. I owed him in a big way.

When I arrived at LAX, I ran from the Delta to the United terminal, hoping like crazy my bag and its carrier would be there. My phone buzzed with another text message from my old boss. "Chris is almost there," it said.

Chris. Why did it have to be Chris?

Chris was 6'5" and had some of the broadest shoulders I had ever seen. He was a big, burly guy and often used as a heavy lifter at special events. He was loud and bold and we all loved him dearly - but he was the last person in the world I wanted to have digging through my underwear drawer. I instantly blushed at the thought. He had already gone through it!!!

I saw him from a distance. He had a beanie cap on his bald head and his long, ZZ Top beard was died green. His black jean shorts had holes in them and his faded black shirt had the breast pocket torn half way off and dangling. His shoes were untied and beat up. Behind him he lugged my small, black roller bag. He was the best looking thing I'd seen all day long.

In a flash I forgot about this gentle giant having been digging through my underwear drawer and ran to greet him with a huge hug. People on the sidewalk were staring as I ran up to the disheveled man with pure excitement in my face. I threw my arms around his neck and cheered with delight. I thanked him profusely and I may have even kissed him on the cheek once or twice.

When I let go and looked at him to thank him, he blushed a dark red that faded to a plum purple quickly enough. We walked a minute or two as I asked him if he happened to notice the level of the cats food. He had even fed the cats for me. We both blushed again and I was on my way.

That night in my hotel room, I had this horrible dream of the bald behemoth with a pair of my black thong undies on his head.

Shoe Fly

My father was a military man. Growing up all my life around men and women in uniform, I developed a great appreciation for men in uniform of all kinds. Firemen, policemen, even pilots - though I refuse to ever date a pilot. It's just not a smart thing for a flight attendant to do.

One day I was on the EMB 120 (a thirty passenger plane with propellers instead of jet engines) and a pilot was hitching a ride with us to Fresno. He was sitting in the third row on the aisle, and from my jump seat I could see he was one of the most beautiful specimens of men I had ever seen. He had vivid green eyes and dark lashes, giving him a smoldering, dark expression in a bronzed and sculpted face made of a strong jaw and prominent cheek bones. He was slim but not skinny and he was about six feet tall. The best part was that he had no wedding ring. I was smitten!

I wanted to offer him something to drink, and upon my approach I thought about how fortunate it was I had worn my skirt that day. I had bee a model I years previous, and though I had lost most of the looks I had once pride myself on, I did still have nice legs. I had even seen him notice them.

I approached the second row and decided to sit on the outstretched armrest of that row so I could turn slightly to my left and chat with him a moment. As I grabbed the headrest to lower myself onto my perch, it didn't dawn on me to watch my aim. Someone had put the armrest UP!!

I missed the armrest that wasn't out and instead plopped straight into the seat with a jolt. The pilot looked up from his book, quite surprised at the sudden force strong enough to shake the plane. My momentum was strong enough that I fell straight backward on the seat, laying all the way across the two seats and hitting my head on the opposite arm rest. My feet went directly into the air and one shoe rocketed off of my foot straight into an overhead bin someone had just opened up to retrieve a laptop. The other went shooting down the aisle and skirted right under one of the passengers seats.

Embarrassed beyond belief, I leaned forward and peeked over the armrest at the pilot like a bashful child. No doubt I was bright red. I smiled my best smile. His concern for my well being was obvious, which only made matters even worse. He even asked if I was ok.

"Yeah, but it's a good thing I don't get embarrassed easily," I said, "because that would have been a really good excuse to be embarrassed."

Hip Check

From time to time I tend to have minor issues with my joints and bones. It's something we all must face as we get older, but I've had issues with my hip bones since I was about 15 years old. A chiropractor once told me that I should be in pain when I walk, and the fact that I'm not is a real medical mystery. I have what he called an "inverted pelvis" where all the bones in my hips twisted inward and forward before I was born, in the early development stages. All I know is that my hip makes a "click" sound with every step as it tries to slide back into place. Ouch. But it sounds more painful than it feels, I promise.

Years ago I had an issue with my hips pinching a nerve while I was pregnant. For no obvious reason, my sciatic nerve would suddenly get pinched and I would fall in a crumbled heap straight into the floor wherever I was. That was years ago now thankfully - about 13 years now. But, like I said, once in a while it likes to act up.

One day I was heading to the back of the airplane in order to check on a passenger who had hit their call button. On my to the back, you guessed it, my hip pinched that nerve. I fell in a heap on the airplane floor, sprawled out like someone had thrown me through a window at a Wild West saloon.

My shoes went flying in odd directions and passengers gasped in horror. They looked for something that could have tripped me, but there was nothing around. Three big guys stood and grabbed me, helping me to my feet. Unfortunately that nerve was still pinched and I had to grab on to one just to stay upright. Without noticing, my arm went straight around his neck and it brought us face to face rather quickly. The woman who had been sitting with him slapped him on the leg and he let go, which left me once more where he had found me - in a pile on the floor.

I stood up, brushed myself off, searched for something to blame it all on and came up empty. Finally I just said to all of them "I'm just going to limp off now with what little dignity I have left." I paused and looked over my shoulder. "And Ma'am, I'm so sorry about all that."

The woman who had slapped the man holding me grinned. "Don't be. It's not your fault. But if I hadn't stopped him, he would have kissed you! He's not my husband, he's my brother!"

Last in Dallas

I can't help it.

It comes to no surprise to many when I describe myself as a happy, upbeat person. It shows all over my face all the time. But I can't help it as I sit here in Dallas, thinking about the last time I was here - it's not such a happy memory. Most of my thoughts are pleasant, but this one lingers with a sad and mournful taste, like black licorice on a rainy day.

I had gotten the call to go to work and was having a great morning. I had plenty of time to prepare and pack, knowing I would have an easy three day trip that paid well. The first night would be one flight from Los Angeles to Dallas, with a nice long layover. I planned to use the workout room, go swimming, explore a little... This trip was going to be fun.

I got on the plane and met the crew. The other Flight Attendant was a really sweet lady I liked right away. She and I shared a few laughs, relaxed, chatted with customers and just had fun the entire way. The captain and first officer were both nice guys too! I just knew I would have fun the whole three days.

We landed in Dallas and chatted the entire way out to the shuttle bus. I had forgotten my phone was in my large bag until it was already tucked into the back of the shuttle and we were on our way so I didn't check my messages or even turn my phone on. I didn't get a chance to.

We got to the hotel, checked in, and headed for our rooms. I figured at that point what I didn't know was going on in the world could wait until I got to my room at that point.

I got to the room, took my scarf off of my neck and switched on the power to my phone. As it booted up I kicked off my shoes and started to run a hot bath. I picked up the phone to check emails and messages, and when I bumped the Facebook application on my iPhone screen, I stared in shock at the first thing I saw.

In a moment of panic, I screamed. I'm not a screamer, but I screamed. It was a high, shrill sound that surprised even me. I fell to my knees, clutching my phone with both hands, crying out "No, no, no, no!!!" It seemed to be the only thing I could say for several minutes. The phrase was repeated over and over, with me not even realizing it was coming out of my mouth.

The man who had been my best friend almost my entire life, the one person in the world who knew just about everything about me and loved me anyway, the man i loved and adored beyond any other in a way that surpasses definition, my lifelong companion and kindred spirit - was dead. After six long, hard, brutal years, the brain tumor won. Bryon and I would never be able to do those things we had talked about doing.

But the Internet is notorious for false information and fake celebrity deaths, I thought. He had to be fine. He had to be. I closed Facebook and opened my text messages. There was a recent one from him. He had simply said he missed me. I never responded - but I missed him too. I pleaded with him in my next few painful words.

"Please tell me Facebook is wrong. Please. You have to be ok. Yes, I'll marry you. Just be ok."

I picked myself up off the floor with fresh hope. Surely Facebook was wrong. I switched back to Facebook while I waited for Bryon to respond. I started reading what others had written regarding my Bryon. Slowly, slowly, it began to sink in. I wouldn't be getting a response from Bryon. There would be no more responses from him.

Somewhere around 4am, severely sleep deprived and swollen faced from crying nonstop all night, I called the good people of Scheduling. In broken sobs, I explained to the young man what was going on. I couldn't even get it out all the way when he already had me booked on a 6am flight home.

My heart was broken to pieces in Dallas, shattered beyond repair. A part of me died that day. A part of me is missing. I think about Bryon every single day and carry his photo everywhere I go - but his presence is missed just that much more every time I'm in Dallas. I just can't help it. I lost a precious and irreplaceable love when I was last in Dallas.


One of the many perks of being a flight attendant are the occasional chocolates bestowed upon me by the random traveling crew member or frequent flier. One day I was given such a gift of Sees candies, a nice little assortment of lovely chocolates to share with the crew. 

We had just finished lunch, and several shared laughs (this was the same crew as the Table Sitting story) when I was work into open the box of chocolates so we could all have one. Lyle and Erick both had a great sense of humor and we were truly getting along like we had known one another for ages. 

I struggled for several minutes to get the box open when finally I decided to use my key ring attached to my wallet. It wasn't exactly sharp, but it did have a pointed corner. It was a plastic airplane tail piece that looked like it had come off of a model plane. It was brandished with our company logo and I carried it everywhere out of pride. 

I picked up the tail piece and jammed it at the tape, which finally broke. As I was unwrapping the box I realized both Erick and Lyle had been watching my fight. 

"I guess that piece of tail was good for something," I said without a thought. 

Suddenly Lyle burst into a fit of laughter that left him with tears in his eyes and his hands wrapped around his stomach! 

"A piece of tail is usually good for something! I'm just glad you said it instead of me!"

Table Setting

One afternoon my new flight crew and I were eating a quick lunch in the Sacramento airport when I noticed a young man with a small group at a nearby table. He was sitting squarely on the table, and I remarked that apparently there weren't quite enough chairs in the food court area for this young man. I recited a poem my mother once told to me to the pilot and first officer, who got quite a kick out of it.

"Tables were made for cups and glasses,
Not for our children's cute little asses."

Captain Lyle Smith and First Officer Erick Zurita laughed so hard they both had to stop eating for several minutes. I laughed with them, but not as hard. I didn't think it was all that funny, but then again I had heard that poem quite a lot through life.

The young man later boarded our flight and we took him to his next destination before my crew and I returned to Sacramento again. Again the crew and I stopped to eat lunch, and even managed to sit at the same table with the umbrella, because as the Captain put it "it gives more of a picnic feel" to our lunch.

As we sat there eating, First Officer Zurita looked at me with a smirk. With a pleasant smile and accompanying Mexico City accent, he asked me "Did you happen to notice the guy who was sitting on the table earlier was on our flight?"

"Yeah," I responded, smiling at the memory of the two men laughing so hard at that crazy poem.

"Did you ask him nicely to not sit on his airplane tray table when he got on the plane?"

I thought Lyle and I would both pass out laughing so hard.

Love for Granted

There is something in particular in this world so precious and yet so much taken for granted... LOVE. 

We are brought into the world by parents who love us. We are raised up and taught to be the people we are by those who love us. We, in return, love them. And whether your parents are in your life or not, the way that you love is a reflection of them, both good and bad. 

My parents aren't in my life anymore, as many of you know. But they taught me something I will take with me always. LOVE is not to be taken lightly. It's not here today and gone tomorrow. It's not a passing fancy. It's not just a word, just a thought, just a thing. It's a deep emotional connection with someone in your life - and it's something I don't thinks parents ever really had for me. 

But it's a feeling I know all too well, though there are so few in this wide world I can say I love. 

I long for that day someone can say it to me and mean it.  

Everyone I know is loved. Loved by family, by friends, by husbands and wives and girlfriends and boyfriends. All I've ever wanted was to be loved. It's the one thing I've never found without a price I can't afford to pay. 

Love is Ironic

Love is a funny word. Not a "ha ha" kind of funny, but the "flip-flop stomach and sweaty palms" kind of funny. It's funny in the way that even after someone had departed this world for the next, a sudden thought of the, can make us laugh out loud while sitting alone in an airplane. It's funny in the way that even though separated by a great number of miles and distance and time, that love is still so real and so alive that you can feel it almost with your hands and with the every beat of your heart. 

Love is ironic. It's not ironic in a way that it makes no sense such as government intelligence, but in the way it can make us cry and smile at the same time. It's ironic in the way that we so often don't realize what we have until its been taken away from us. 

Love is all powerful. 
Love is beautiful. 
Love is painful. 
Love is amazing. 
Love is wonderful. 
Love is uncertain. 
And love is ironic. 
Love can both lift us up and bring us down. 

Love ..... is love. 

R.I.P. Bryon Otto Pastian 


When I first got the news, I was in a hotel room in Dallas. My first and immediate reaction was denial, which quickly turned into bargaining. I've always heard about the steps of grief, but I had no idea that I would react the same way most all other human beings do in response to the loss of a loved one. I lost people I cared about before, but this was different.

"No no no no no no...." That seemed to be about all I could manage saying for several minutes. I sat down on the bed with my iPhone in my hand, wondering who would play such a mean practical joke on Facebook. Sure, Bryon had been sick for a while, but he was going to pull through it. He had to. He had always done so before!

I sat there for several minutes, uncertain of what to do.

Then came the bargaining. It was shameless and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it was there and it was real. It was a part of the process so I'm willing to share.

"Please tell me Facebook is wrong. Please. You have to be ok. Yes, I'll marry you. Just be ok."

Bryon had told me a few months ago that he wanted to move to California and buy a house for the two of us. He said he thought the two of us should end up together. We knew one another so well. We always did. We had, after all, known one another since the 6th grade. We were best friends even then, though he was dating Megan MacKenley at the time and my boyfriend was Allen Speakman.

In 2006 Bryon (as a Marine) was in Yuma, AZ and decided to drive up to Los Angeles to see me.

We went to Benihana for dinner during his visit to Los Angeles. His buddy had never been to one so the onion slice volcano blew the youngster away. Bryon laughed. I loved his laugh. It was infectious.

When we were in the 6th grade our class field trip was to Medieval Times in Anaheim CA. We wanted to relive that memory.... and so we did. There's a photo somewhere of Bryon and I standing with the princess of the realm that night. I miss that photo right now more than any other possession I ever owned. It was in the uhaul when it was stolen a few years ago. What I wouldn't do to have that one photo back. I never knew an 8x10 would mean that much to me.

As a special treat, we decided to go visit our old home of George AFB together. So many of the buildings were gone that I had a clear view of where his house was still standing from where the rubble of mine lay. Emotional, he began the walk to his old front porch. He was gone for some time, but when he returned he had a broad smile - and a slip of paper.

"Look at this," he shouted, visibly excited. He showed me the paper. "It's a work order to get something fixed, and it has my dads signature on it! I found it in a drawer upstairs."

That's how I remember him best - smiling and excited, happy to the point of being overjoyed by something as simple as a piece of paper. A military work order.

I remember the day he told me he was testing for the MENSA group - a group of super-geniuses... I was so proud, but far from surprised.

About six years ago Brian was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. He was given only a couple of weeks to live - but he fought like a Marine!!! He wasn't going out without a fight. Six long years, a few remission a and a few relapses later, Bryon told me that he believed we should be together. He saw us as having a future. We knew one another so well. We always had. He wanted to buy us a house. He said he loved me. I admitted that I had always loved him too. That had never changed. I planned to go visit him... but I just never made it.

Bryon died yesterday, on 6-11-13 and I know the world will never be the same. MY world will never be the same. There will be a deep, gaping hole in my heart, a place that only he could fill, and did, every single day. He was such a brave man. He was my friend. He was my family. He was my HERO. He was my Marine.

I went through the other stages of grief including anger - angry at the situation and guilt at not having been able to see him before he died, and anger at others for telling me not to feel guilt. I wanted to scream into the pillow - and did. I wanted to go for a run at top speed until I couldn't breathe - and I didn't. My breath was already forced and labored. I was in danger of hyperventilating. I wanted to hug someone - anyone. But there was nobody there. I was alone in Dallas in a strange hotel room with nothing but the four walls to bounce off of.

He was an amazing person. I know I won't ever forget him. He inspired me. He helped me. When he needed OTHERS most, he went out of his way to personally be there for others instead. He taught me what true strength and courage were.

I'm going to miss him. I can't keep my eyes dry yet. I've been up for over 24 hours and the only thing I see when I close my eyes is his face burned into my eye lids. I see him in Victorville holding that paper. I see him smiling with the princess. I see his glasses and thin frame in school way back when.... and I see him smiling at me, telling me he loves me... He's himself again, the strong Marine I knew him as. He's no longer hurting or sick or weak. He's powerful and tall and independent. And he's watching over all of us, telling each of us in his own way that he loves us.

Just this morning a man at the hotel stopped me on my way out. He told me "He wants you to know he loves you." That was all he said. He indicated upward. I knew........

I love you Bryon. I love you beyond life, beyond death and beyond the confines of the human imagination.

May God grant you peace in your eternal rest, my Friend. I miss you.