Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Check and Balances (How to survive the circus)

Circus copy

Circus copy“How is it, you’re not… insane?”  Every time that question is asked of me (and yes, I’ve heard it an awful lot), my answer is that I actually am a bit mad, in the best hatter-type sense and I’ve lived with just enough tea and sensibility to keep me upright and not terribly off-kilter.  It’s a matter of checks and balances that have kept me from falling off the tightrope of sanity.

You see, the three ring circus that has been my life, has had enough going on at all times to keep me of sound mind and body.  Whenever there was too much bad and ugly, I managed to find the good and beautiful.  For example: when our own cupboard had nothing but a can of tomato soup on the shelf and not enough money for milk in the fridge, I’d get to go away and visit with the relative who’d just returned from Europe with fine Belgian chocolates and priceless works of art in their designer leather valise (that and days of stopping by Stella Carmona’s before the school bus stop for tortillas helped, too).  When another relative managed to be incarcerated on a Saturday night because he robbed a local pharmacy in search of drugs to feed a habit, I’d force myself to spend Sundays on a church pew with people in the habit of reaching for the highest high imaginable.  Never in my life have I been given something on one hand that did not have a counterbalance to be found somewhere on the other.  If I was denied love through neglect or narcissism, I would turn around and find myself enveloped with kindness and warmth from some other source.  But, what I learned early on from the few years my Grandpa Andy and I spent together about checks and balances was that it was my job to recognize them.  In other words, I knew that manure in the sawdust meant there were circus ponies to be found somewhere.  But, I was also wise enough to appreciate that those circus ponies came with a fair amount of manure.  See?  Checks and balances.

By the time I was removed from my abusive childhood home, I had already witnessed some of the worst-of-the-worst behavior mankind can display.  My early years had a lot of emotional manure, to be sure.  But, I knew if I held out — the ponies would arrive, if I looked for them.

Before I was in the 4th grade, I had spent many a night yanked out of a warm bed in my Holly Hobbie nightgown to sit in the backseat of a cold car while drunken adults fought in the parking lot of the Rockin’ Robin Bar, long after closing.  I’d sit shivering from cold and fear as my 6 foot 4 inch 250 lb. stepfather beat on his wife, a woman so tiny, she could buy her clothes in the children’s section of Mervyn’s department store.  This couple once ended one of their six wedding anniversaries with him holding her by an ankle outside the window of our second story house (it certainly wasn’t a home) threatening to kill her because she was “mouthy.”

This woman who had adopted me to save her first marriage had simply gone from the frying pan into the fire when she remarried.  My toddler memories of the first husband (the man who told me not to call him Dad) were of him coming in and flipping furniture in a white-hot sober rage (shockingly, the man never drank).  After two ex-husbands came the rotating cast of boyfriends, the final one being the straw that nearly broke my back (and fingers and spirit).

By the time I entered the realm of the fit and famous — living with two powerful individuals who’d come to their wealth through the business of health — the game of checks and balances, as I knew it, had changed.  In this new Hollywood adjacent world, there was a lot of beauty on the outside and a whole lot of darkness on the inside and around the edges, if you looked hard enough (which I’ve discovered over the years, not everybody does).

I found that for all the perfect bodies and faces, there were plenty of ugly souls and the largest biceps often came with Grinch-sized (two sizes too small) hearts.  Sure, there were luxury cars, designer clothing and women dripping in Harry Winston, Bulgari and Tiffany jewels, but more than once, I found that the bigger the diamonds the more character flaws to be found.  At the end of the show, the clowns wiped off their make-up and it turned out they weren’t so funny.  In fact, they were kind of sad.  Oh, sure — the ponies had arrived, but the pile of manure turned out to be bigger than I had ever imagined.

Nonetheless, the last time I checked, I’m still pretty balanced.

xo – t.


Coming Soon!: Fiscally Fit, Spiritually Bankrupt