Friday, November 5, 2010

Deb and Barb Have A Three-Way

Deb and Barb Have A Three-Way with Annette

For this month’s three-way, we asked Annette to join us. She’s a regular reader and commenter, a beloved longtime friend of Deb’s, and a new and cherished one of Barbara’s.

Annette: As you ponder today’s post, allow me to immediately disclose I owe my participation herein to the old adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!”. However, before chafing at this preferential treatment, recall the original basis for these lively exchanges was––but charmingly has turned out to be not limited to––the exploration of that most fabulous of manifestations … the female friendship. Now, upon learning that I am middle-aged, female, and a friend to both bloggers, perhaps you’ll agree the burning question becomes, “Why wasn’t I asked to contribute sooner?”.

By way of background, lovely Deb and I go back several life-affirming decades. Gracious Barb and I, once merely seasonal pals bonding annually at Deb’s magical holiday soiree, have seen our relationship flourish courtesy of the exponential power of Facebook. Two of the most incredible women I know, I am beyond grateful for their camaraderie … which leads me to today’s musings.

Having had the magnificent kismet to reach this age and stage, I think a lot about gratitude … specifically the shifting, ephemeral nature of thankfulness … while wondering why it’s so hard for us to truly appreciate our lot. Oh sure, most of us pay lip-service to counting our blessings and all of us can claim occasional bouts of true mindfulness, but it’s the inconsistency that intrigues me. How easy it seems for us to suddenly consider our glasses half-empty instead of half-full…

Case in point, recently I endured an affront courtesy of a family member … not a “Gosh, you people don’t get me!” slight but a really disconcerting dig that normally might send a person to a professional’s couch for an extended period. Intellectually, I understand the perpetrator operates out of ignorance rather than malevolence, yet still emotionally the sting was surprisingly bitter. Suddenly my considerable good fortune was overshadowed by my fixation on this offense.

Wounded thus, I felt compelled to share said transgression with my first-born 21-year-old son. Upon hearing of his beloved mom’s trial, his response was to burst out laughing and facetiously declare, “Well, that’s a surprise!” And so it was––courtesy of his succinct but still illuminating assessment––that I entertained simultaneous realizations. The first was that it’s an extraordinarily efficient shortcut to madness to expect more of people than they are capable of delivering. And two, when I consider the largesse of the forces in the universe that saw fit to deliver the gift of this insightful boy, who knew I knew such a thing and needed only a gentle reminder, gratitude should be my default.

Barbara: Dear, sweet Annette. Just so you readers know, of course I HAD to find out what said affront was, even if Annette wasn’t going to share it here. And, trust me, it’s a doozy. Without compromising Annette’s privacy, let me just say it was a carelessly dropped announcement that revealed a terrible betrayal. The kind of shocking declaration where you would not have blamed her one little bit if her glass had drained completely dry. But our wonderful Annette did what most us here try to do: she put on her rose-coloured glasses, shrugged off her pain, truly noticed the things for which she was most grateful, and shared her beautiful spirit with us.

But the thing is, we all have those moments of cathartic shock in our lives, don’t we? There we are, innocently chugging along, trying to live as good and wholesome lives as we can (by our own definitions), feeling pretty good about stuff––and BOOM, some act of treachery knocks the friggin’ wind out of us and we are left reeling. “Where did that come from?” and “Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyy?”

I’ll give you one of my own examples. My husband and I were just starting our married lives with a new baby when a trusted friend embezzled money from us. Yeah, the kind of friend you share secrets with. The kind you hang out with on lazy weekdays when you’re waiting for the next acting gig. We were a struggling young family and money was very tight, which our “friend” knew. And then we were tens of thousands of dollars in the hole … only to discover that this “friend” had taken all our money. It is a long, tortuous story, but the absolutely worst of it, I swear, was the shock of the betrayal … by someone who was our trusted ally.

The good news? No, we didn’t get our money back. The good news is that we managed to put those rose-coloured glasses back in place, hug each other close, and carry on. To this day, I am grateful for that.

Deb: Barb, I have never heard that story and I am shocked! What a dick. May the bluebird of happiness crap on his birthday cake! And how wise of you to put on your happy faces and move past it. It is with that example that I would like to pay tribute to my dear friend Annette.

Annette is the poster-girl for the expression, “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle.” And believe me, she has been given more than her fair share of shocking and disastrous issues. And I am here to attest to the fact that she has handled every single bomb with grace and with humour. Annette is one of the most honest, straightforward, fair people I have ever known. She is the real deal. It is easy to be honest and kind when life is running smooth. But when life throws us curves our true mettle is tested. Annette, through it all, has employed her secret weapon and it has seen her through every single time: Humour. Annette can find humour in everything. She never plays the victim and yet she has been victim time and time again. And all the while I can see the wheels turning and she is thinking, “This sucks … but it will make a great story”. She has hung her hat on that mindset and she has been rewarded for her efforts. The universe has seen fit to deliver to her a wonderful loving husband and two gorgeous, smart, magical kids. But she has paid the piper, oh yes. Hopefully the piper now has enough money to take a holiday. Annette could use it.

Annette, a transplanted Torontonian, currently lives in the Buffalo, NY area and makes a living as a freelance writer penning pieces about stuff she knows. Sadly, given that parameter, she won’t be getting rich any time soon. Her move to Western New York was motivated by her marriage to her Math Professor husband with whom she is currently overseeing putting the finishing touches on their four college-student children.


  1. WOW four college student children. And I though my gradnparents had there hands full just putting me through college. I can't imagain what they would do if they had to put three others through school,at the same time..WOW. Expecially when college isn't cheap,AT ALL!!!!!!!

  2. Speaking of the glass half-full or half-empty, my friend Diana posted this image on her blog yesterday. Please see:

    It is great to see the three of you singing each other's praises. I'd like to hear more of that in the world around me, rather than people bitching and gossiping about each other. Note to self: Must.Set.Example.

    Finally we have met, Barb and Deb: I dreamed about you two last night.
    Barb, you have long elegant fingers but, so kindly, said you'd prefer to have fingers like mine: stumps.
    Deb, you are not 5'2" (?) but actually slightly taller than me (5'5"), as I exclaimed when we hugged hello. And your Luke was still in high school and showed me his English homework.

  3. Katrinka! Okay, love your friend's blog, loved that pic. Go see it, peeps.

    As for your dream: lolololololol!!! omg, so cute. And I would surely love to have stumpy fingers like yours.


  4. there is such grace in gratitude. I strive for that even when I don't achieve it. Which is often. I hope there is credit in striving.

    At any rate, this exchange -- and watching (reading) you three beautiful women -- is another good reminder of the goal.

  5. maybe merit is a better word than credit. just an afterthought.

  6. Yes Gae, you hit the nail on the head with "striving for grace" I sometimes achieve it and I sometimes strive. But I always like you...try. Yes merit is good huh? Love the word merit. Katrinka the dream is so great. But I am as it turns out, 5 feet one inch tall. And it made me laugh when you said Luke showed you his English homework. And speaking of Luke, yes Lyndsie we only have one child and as you say I do not know how people do the college thing with four! Katrinka I loved your friends blog with the technically the glass is always full! So great. Where I ask you would we be without air. Full indeed.

  7. Those are baffling moments, aren't they? I've had times when I've stared at family members, totally baffled, and wondering who put the mercury in the genepool.

    I really love this peek into the friendships though--the support between all of you is so clear and really, that is what all of us need to balance those jerks who would sideswipe us in life.

    As writers (and one who has recently taken on mystery)-I strongly recommend murdering them on the page--make them recognizable enough that you and your close friends can chuckle every time that they got what they deserved.

  8. Hart-

    I've long had this bumper sticker/t-shirt on my list of somedayI'llbuys:,14929968


    I guess now that I've officially begun writing a piece of fiction *YIKES!*, I can legitimately add it to my wist. lol

    *scurries off to resume birthdayifying the world for kiddo*

  9. You guys are just speaking to my heart today. Been dealing with a major betrayal of someone close, and the reactions of friends to what has happened. I am not a poet, and make no claims to even knowing what I'm talking about, but I posted something that I wrote in response to being pitied and looked upon as "broken." I normally try not to plug for my own blog, but I think it may add to the discussion.

  10. Ruth you ARE a poet. That was beautiful, just beautiful. You did speak from your heart and that was part of it's gorgeous message. We are all broken and we are all fixed. Sometimes both in the same day.

  11. Thanks Deb! I just figured sometimes folks can't see the beauty beyond the scars, and that some out there in the blogosphere could relate!

    Love all that you guys are doing!

  12. beautiful poem, ruth. thanks for putting it out there.

  13. Lyndsie, We've got two seniors, a junior and a freshman. With one about to graduate this December, this is the single semester where all four are attending at the same time. The cost is killer but we really didn't need our own nuclear reactor anyhow so our inability to use the funds to purchase one is not a big deal. :)
    Katrinka, the picture is hilarious...however the technicality no less profound.
    Hart, LOVE the mercury in the gene pool...for so long, I've had no explanation and suddenly it all comes clear!
    Gae, the quality I value most in life is grace and while I can't always define it, I know it when I see it and try, try being the operative, to model it. And as for being grateful, I struggle with that less. When I was a lot younger and sadly found myself walking a very dark road, I remember considering my lot and just wishing for the comfort of an ordinary life...and now my life is so blessedly sweet and ordinary, I really am blessed beyond measure.

  14. Wow, what an insightful article by Annette. It landed on my computer screen just when I needed it most. They say there are no coincidences. This year my brother verbally attacked my 24 year old son and I. I know my brother has a personality disorder, but I was nearly knocked into the next dimension by what he said to us - right out of the blue. Nobody disses my sons. I was furious with him but I am coming to realize that this behaviour is a manifestation of his personality disorder. I'm not a doctor or psychologist, but I believe it may have been a psychotic episode - it was that vehement. That one sentence " ... it’s an extraordinarily efficient shortcut to madness to expect more of people than they are capable of delivering" really hit home with me. Truly, the shock of the betrayal was so strong that the situation played through my head constantly like a rat-in-a-trap. I now realize that I can't change my brother and I will work hard to accept him as he is. Rose glasses on - good to go! Thanks ladies!

  15. Butt-clenchingly good post. I too am grateful for my husband. He's a dish.

  16. Laurie, I so relate to the mama bear instinct. And yet am inspired by your attitude.

    MJ, as long as your husband doesn't provoke you to platericide ;)

  17. I'm going to try to be coherent though tired. What you ladies wrote has been swirling around in my head all day while working and then taking kiddo to the city for some birthday fun.

    First of all, Ruth, WOW. Those are perfect words you wrote. Absolute truth. Thank you for writing that poem and sharing it.

    *sigh* One of the most valuable lessons I've learned over the past few years is who my true friends are. Some people I thought I could count on, people I had known for years and thought were truly dear ones, let me down in the dark times. The flipside, though, is that some people I thought of as friendly acquaintances have developed into real friendships that will last a lifetime. Hard times definitely separate the wheat from the chaff in the friends department.

    I also learned that it is actually harder to trust someone than it is to love them. I once told someone I'd known for a while in one setting but who had begun to grow into a dear friend on a personal level: "The hardest thing I can bring myself to say to you isn't, 'I love you.' It's, 'I trust you.' There aren't many people in my life I can truthfully say that about, and you have become one of them." Knowing me as well as he does, that staggered him.

    Betrayal. Sequential betrayals (kicking a person while she's down). The thing is that you can get over it (OK, maybe 95% over it) and be moved on and gone along in life and hardly ever think about it anymore and kind of get your sense of self screwed back on straight, but then WHAM! the pain and disorientation will creep back up on you like a ghost during a dark and stormy night of the soul. Those far reaching aftershocks are an emotional bitch. And, have you noticed how a new bad thing can seemingly drag up all the old bad things? Nasty mental domino effect when weakened. You can be positive, try hard, fight the good fight, and then some sort of trigger gets pulled and the dam breaks and all the negative flows and sweeps you away again for a while.

    I tell my Beloveds:

    1. I will answer my phone at 2:00am. Call if you are being bad for yourself alone. (Heaven knows, I've pulled that middle of the night crap on some of them in times past. Turnabouts fair play. ;))

    2. When you aren't functional, I'm good for scut work. I'll clean bathrooms, make sure your kids are fed, run errands, etc.

    3. I probably can't fix what's wrong. But, I can sit in the mud with you and listen to you cry, scream, rant, and lose control over it. I'll just listen and keep you company. And, I'll never ever hold against you what you say when you come unglued. It's sealed away -- sacred and safe. I won't judge. I'll just love.

    4. Need distraction? Are you tired of crying and thinking about the bad stuff? Do you want a timeout from misery? OK. We'll go do something, the sillier the better. We'll laugh. We'll eat with disregard to calories, fat, and sugar. We'll go pull a nonharmful practical joke on a mutual friend. We'll watch a movie devoid of any intellectually redeeming value whatsoever. Whatever it takes.

    Anyway, I try to pay back the grace that has been given to me and try to pay some extra forward. It just boils down to still being able to love, something that, luckily, hasn't been trampled out of me, yet.

    I did have to laugh, though, over the idea of something lousy making a great story. I can still break out the story about the incredibly stupid cat (dumbest cat ever) I used to have who ate a yard of satin ribbon one day when I was sewing. At about 2:00am, that ribbon was coming out the other end, and it wasn't going well. My ex-husband still jokingly swears that it was really a nightmare and that there's no way I woke him up to participate in the extraction (it was definitely a 2 person job). It was icky when it happened, but it makes a great story years later when told with all the details.

  18. Laurie, that's a tough one...If my kids had been the recipient of the betrayal I recently experienced, the OPP would probably have me in a small room while the rookies were out searching for the bodies. I'm deranged when it comes to them. That said, I am so impressed with your resolve to handle your brother's condition with grace and fortitude. Good for you and, while this may not seem clear at present, it'll be a good thing for your son to see as well. I can speak from experience when I say it's never a bad thing for children, grown or otherwise, to learn that people are fallible and sometimes all we can do for them is show them compassion.
    Rigel, I admire your approach...equal parts empathy and action...if that makes sense. It's clear you're a great friend...and I'm sure more than one woman has felt lucky to have you! I am going to go now and try to shake the image of that cat and the ribbon...:)


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