Monday, December 30, 2013

''The Friend Collector''

''You're a people collector'' stated my Dad, one morning over coffee at my dining room table. He was visiting from California for the holidays, I was introducing him to Tennessee and talking about some of my new friends recently acquired in Tennessee. It took a moment, thinking about his words to me, mulling them over in my head. He is right, I do happen to collect people but I like to think of them as friends.

Apparently, this has been a life long habit according to my parents something that started at an early age. It's not intentional by any means or stretch of the imagination. I meet someone, we click and boom, we're friends. Are there people I don't click with? absolutely, when it happens it throws me into a tailspin. Meeting someone that isn't a friend is rare, so rare and I always try to ''fix it'' thinking it is something that I can fix.

It's like the parable of the lost sheep, when a friend goes missing, I feel it acutely and mourn the loss. You see, people aren't just numbers to me. They aren't some wall trophy that I count as a bragging right. People are precious to me. If you're a friend, I like to know you, about your family, about your job, pets, siblings. I find everyone has a fascinating story and just as I like to share mine, I love to know your story even more. Really I enjoy hearing about others more than I enjoy hearing about my self.

My oldest friend Christena and I both are the same. We come from broken family situations that have caused us really tough circumstances emotionally. Instead of putting up walls, we opened the doors wide and allowed many people in to fill those holes in our lives. Struggling through feelings of abandoment is tough, it can truly break and ruin a person if you let it.

I once lost a friend for over twenty years, when I found her and re-connected with her, my heart was full of joy. In twenty years, I never got over the loss of that friendship nor did I close the hole in my heart where she fit in my life.  You see, we people lovers don't handle loss of a person well, it devastates us. You can replace money & things but you cannot replace a person. Believe me, I have tried and it just doesn't work that way.

Don't mistake my soft, sappy ways for weakness. There is a very tough side to me, I will not let anyone walk all over me and I most certainly am not a doormat. I have had to end friendships and relationships and I am not afraid to do that any longer. I took years of emotional abuse at the hands of a few people and finally stood up and learned how to be tough. I still love those people but they have no place in my life any longer.

Marty, Conner, E and my parents simply cannot keep up with my friends. They're always glad to meet them, get to know them and go along on meetups. My parents will help friends if they need help in their field of expertise as well as Marty. They just get confused and unsure of how I know this person? In that respect, I really can't spend a lot of time with friends.

I have to turn down a lot of invitations to go do fun things, you all outnumber my family and my family comes first. So if I tell you ''no'' its simply for that reason. I would love to go do all the fun things but my family cannot keep up with it. Someday my kids will be grown and I want to enjoy ever minute with them while I can.  Thankfully, my friends understand we come as a four pack and almost always travel together. So often, you aren't just meeting up with me, you're meeting up with my entire family.

Sometimes I am closer with some than others. When you just click with someone, you click and it is a supernatural bond that always is mind blowing. It just happens there is no method or way, it doesn't matter who the person is, when it happens it just happens. Those easy friendships that are effortless, the one's where you can just pick up where you left off after twenty years. The friend who you can call on the phone and talk to after months or years, picking right up like it was just yesterday. It just is a special kind of vibe that cannot be replicated or created, it just simple is.

I count myself as blessed, ''The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'' has nothing on the Real Life Adventures of Just Jules. The one question that is asked of me over and over is, ''How did you meet that person?'' and the answer is always the same, '' I just did. I wasn't trying and it just happened..''

I'm not trying to collect friends, not trying to be better friends with someone over someone else. In my way of believing and thinking, I have been given a gift to use and I am just using it. My gift is the ability to love on people. My super memory makes it easy to remember so many people, their families, their friends and their lives. My Rolodex for a brain makes it easy to flip through and find your place, my vault capacity is seemingly endless to keep secrets for people.

Moving to Knoxville, I came having built in friends. I was introduced to a couple more before moving who have become very good friends. One of my customers at the store Natalie and I were talking one day, I told her that I didn't move here to make friends. She asked me, '' you will be my friend though, right?'' of course! I am not out to make friends but I have made friends here and I love them all dearly. So nice to have a local support network to lean on and to go do fun things with!

IF anything, I may disappoint you because I try very hard to keep up with everyone but sometimes people fall through the cracks. I hate to hurt anyone's feelings, make them feel unimportant or forgotten but sometimes I just cannot keep up with everyone. I do my best though. It helps when friendships are a two way street and the keeping up goes both ways. There are some friends who are such wonderful friends,  they are who I look up to and strive to better myself to be more like them.

So maybe I am a friend collector. I could myself blessed, rich, grateful and humbled to know so many people in life. It is good to have one good friend, who you can always count on and I am blessed hundreds of times over in that respect. Each person is special to me and I am so thankful to call them friend.

My friend Kay sent me a quote yesterday, this is my mission in life:

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.'' 
Mother Teresa

Blessed to know that no matter where I go in the world, I will always have a friend.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Divine Miss Kim

In 2008, Marty and I were facing bleak times. Dialysis was coming down the pike, we were fighting  battle with renal failure and the state of California budget woes. We had been through hell since December of 2005, as an emotional person it was tough and I was finding ways to cope. My bowling partner Tammy told me to read the Twilight series. I immediately was hooked, I watched the first movie and was curious about the chemistry of the two leads in the film. Of course, I couldn't just be idle, I started looking it up online and wondering if they were together?

I met a lady in Boston online, she was curious as well and on a message board. After working with Candace's message board, I wasn't leery of them any longer and so I joined. At this time, I had a locked Twitter account that I only talked to Di and Andrea on plus a couple of other friends whom I knew in real life. I did NOT talk to stranger on Twitter...ever.

T from Boston convinced me to add her, a lady Susie from California by way of IN and a lady Jules. I added them and started talking to them. T introduced me to two ladies Elena and Kim @kgirl1899,  she thought we would get along great. She was right we did get along great!

Kim loved Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart together and loved being a detective trying to find out more about them. We all got pretty wrapped up in it from 2008-2011. It was my outlet when Marty was sick, my break with reality. Kim and the other Twi tweeps were there for me during some of my darkest days. There were about 100 of them by the time our circle was complete. Kim and T introduced me to the writers of Fan fiction and reading fan fiction, they are how I met ALE and my other writing friends.

When Marty was put on dialysis, they were there. They were there, when we would end up in the hospital and they were there when we got ''the call''.

Kim was a vibrant person, she was a true blue New Yorker, she made no bones about how she felt about things and never apologized for her opinion. She was loud, funny, loved to stir the pot and watch it boil. She really was like a flame burning brightly. I loved when she would call me on the phone and say, ''What's up?'' like I had called her and her time was important. Kim was just Kim to know her was to know her fully.

Kim lost her mom as a young girl, I know that death deeply affected her and she lived her life fully with an unparalleled joie d'vivre. She loved going to movies, shows and concerts. She would travel all over the world for work and was always meeting up with someone and having fun.

When I moved to TN, she told me that she was going to take a road trip to see me. She wanted me to take her to see all the Whiskey distilleries in the area. I could just see her in her navy blue Audi convertible, top down, music blaring heading my way. Once again, I find myself devastated we never got to me in person.

I was actually sitting at my desk at work last night, thinking about how I finally want to meet up with my Twi besties and get a picture together. As always, it hasn't happened yet and 2014 was going to be the year. I saw a picture of R and K on my neighbors desk and thought about my Twi besties. This was before I found out the news later in the evening. It was like God was preparing my heart for what was to come.

I learned many lessons being Kim's friend. Women in small groups can often eat their own and sometimes we had tough times. We all would and did drive each other crazy in the early years of our Twitter friendship. This year it has been five years since we've all been friends. I have lost other tweeps but this is our first loss in this group and none of us would have ever thought it would be Kim.

Last Monday night, she tweeted she felt dizzy. Immediately I sensed something off and asked what other symptoms she was feeling? she said a headache like sinus pain. She said her husband brought her some Advil. She made it sound like they were both not feeling well and I thought maybe they had the flu. My Twitter besties ( that is what we call each other except for Tiybor who is Sis and Lisa who is Twin) and I started worrying after Kim was silent for a few days. We all tried calling and texting her, it was normal she would take breaks but unusual for her to not answer her phone.I really thought it was something to do with her Dad who was fighting cancer. I never imagined what would happen next........

Kim's husband tweeted she had a stroke last Monday night and passed away yesterday morning. I called our bestie Melinda and asked if it was true and she confirmed. I cried all night long, woke up this morning still stunned and in grief. Kim was 39 years old, she would've been forty on Christmas day. I truly cannot fathom that she is gone from this world.

There is something VERY special about the Twi group, we have been together many years. Many of us have moved on from the celebrity end of it but the friendships have grown and bloomed into beautiful flowers. Women who love and support one another for who they are as humans and people. We have lived a lot of life together transplants, family issues,health crises, divorces, death, child rearing and the fun stuff too. They are the first strangers I ever knew on Twitter who now are like family.

Every morning one of us tweets @mram71 @tiybor @baseball31 @kgirl1899 " Good morning besties, have a great day.'' My TL will be littered with their responses throughout the day. We have been doing it for so many years now. It will not be the same without Kim being a part, something will always be missing and it will be her.

This morning I have been thinking of Kim. Smiling and thinking of how she in the end is bringing us all together. How she worked hard and played hard, she loved deeply and fiercely never wavering in her opinions or from who she was as a person. I enjoyed our last year of friendship, it was easy and special. We accepted each other as is and just had fun.

Kim lived by my favorite Auntie Mame quote and I think it sums her up perfectly, '' Live! Live!Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.''

She lived her life like a flame burning may have been dimmed out but now she will be a star burning brightly above us. I love you bestie, rest in peace my friend.

My thoughts are with her husband Rob and her father. Praying for your family today and always. I am so sorry for your loss.

to my ladies from the cone of silence, you all are special to me in your own ways and I am thankful for all the years we've had together. These songs are for you:

today as we work and live, let's smile and remember Kim

Who knew a book and a couple of celebrities would make a wonderful group of friends. I cry everytime I hear this song and think of all of you

I've learned that anything can bring people together. I am always open to things even though they may be odd to others because I know they can bring wonderful people into your life. Don't ever close yourself off to new experiences and people.