Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me

My birthday was on Sunday. It snuck in quietly, that is how its done in our adult life I suppose.

I got the obligatory presents from the family which are always nice, but what I took away from the day was the gift of love.

Love from the people in my life.

It might sound hokey, but I am truly blessed to be surrounded by the beautiful people in my little place in this world.

It was a day filled with wonderful sentiments, each taking a moment out of their day to wish me well.

I could not ask for better friends and family.

My family is my heart.

Good Lord, where would I be without them? Even though we are miles apart physically, they are with me every step of the way. They are my insides, my life, my greatest love.

At times, it's glorious disfunction, but I wouldn't want it any other way, because no matter what, the love and respect will always, always see us through.

My friendships fill my soul.

I have many that have spanned decades, they are made of incredible bonds that have withstood the test of time and serve as the blueprints of future unions to come.

Each one of them present in different lights to me and each hold different meaning, but I adore and cherish every one of them until the bitter end.

I am ridiculously lucky to love and be loved by you.

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seriously? Seriously! What Were You Thinking?

A couple days ago I made a "break-up" mix CD to help get over the pain of being a jilted lover.

I thought that I'd feel all empowered by the messages sung along to those catchy beats.

For the most part I guess I did, for I had made a pretty solid list of tracks that would become the soundtrack to my grieving process, with the exception of one misplaced tune.

Sandwiched between "Don't tell me you love me" by Night Ranger and "I hate myself for loving you" By Joan Jett, I foolishly put "I'm all out of love" by Air Supply.

It was a fatal error. Seriously, what was I thinking?!

On the surface that song could not be more benign, it seems like a perfect choice, right?

Boo Hoo, poor me, I'm all out of love, blah, blah, blah...

Forget the fact that the lyrics are all wrong for a break-up CD, unless you are the one that fucked up in the first place, which for the record I did not AND could they be a little more candy assed?!


I'm lying alone with my head on the phone
Thinking of you til it hurts
I know you hurt too but what else can we do
Tormented and torn apart

I wish I could carry your smile in my heart
For times when my life feels so low
It would make me believe what tomorrow could bring
When today doesn't really know, doesn't really know

I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you
I know you were right, believing for so long
I'm all out of love, what am I without you
It can't be to late to say that I was so wrong

These lyrics aren't me AT ALL!

Am I tormented and torn apart? Yes, I'll give you that, but I would never lay my head down on the phone, not only is it uncomfortable, it's just stupid!

I'm not really all about carrying that smile around in my heart either, granted it was a nice one, but the mouth that housed those pearly whites said a slew of hurtful things.

As far as "being right," you weren't, but it is never too late to continuously tell me how "so wrong" you were, but we both already know this, so why bother.

No, this song is better suited for someone else, you maybe, but certainly not me.

Ugh, the very sight of those smiling, soft-rocking balladeers makes me angry, what could they possibly know about love?

Next time I'll go with something more along the lines of "I will survive" by Gloria Gaynor.

It may be the most over played, cliche break-up song to have ever been recorded, but damn if it isn't right on.

I apologize Ms. Gaynor, by choosing an Air Supply song over yours, I not only disrespected you, I have disrespected myself.

Required Listening:Volume Two

Love Stinks - The Break-Up CD Vol. Two

Cruel Summer - Bananarama
Love Stinks -J. Geils Band
Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton John
Love Is a Battlefield - Pat Benetar
Your So Vain - Carly Simon
Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
Good Riddance - Green Day
Breath Me - Sia
Say Hello, Wave Goodbye - David Gray
Piece of My Heart - Janis Joplin
Died In Your Arms Tonight - Cutting Crew
It's Not Right, But It's OK - Whitney Houston
Goodbye To You - Scandal
All By Myself - Eric Carmen
Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations
Barracuda - Heart

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

Last night at work felt like a lifetime.

It was busy and chaotic, add to that the fact that I was running on minimal sleep and it was a recipe for disaster.

Nocturnal living isn't always what it is cracked up to be.

It was one of those nights when you look in the mirror and the reflection staring back actually looks like it feels sorry for you.

All the coffee in the world couldn't have saved me, but one thing did get me through.

I heard one of the most ridiculous phrases ever uttered, it made no sense at all, but it made me laugh every time it was said.

It was a response to a question delivered by a sweet old Grandma when asked when she would be coming for a visit that went something like this...

Keri: "Hey Granny, when are you going to come visit me already, it's been a while."
Granny: "I have an idea, why don't you sit back on your fist and rev back on your thumb."

What the hell does that even mean?! It doesn't even make any sense!

Who cares really because it was hilarious, even just thinking about it right now makes me laugh.

Of course, the delivery of that line had something to do with it, thank God my friend Keri is funny...REALLY funny!

I'm all about the funny, if you can genuinely make me laugh then you've got my respect. It is the one thing in this world that I cherish above all other things.

Laughter brings joy and love and comfort and all the goodness in people.

Keri is effortless when it comes to making people laugh, she was born naturally funny and I appreciate that oh so much.

It makes a stressful work environment more tolerable.

I thank my lucky stars that I have been given the gift of my co-workers. Every one of them holds a special place in my heart for different reasons. I could not ask for better people to get me through the night.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Required Listening: Volume One

A "Mix Tape" is a beautiful thing. Each one serves a purpose, some merely entertain while others help to heal. No matter the reason each and every one of them is a personal gift from the mind to the heart of the listener.

I take great pride in making a mix, I guess because I am old enough to remember just how painstaking the process was of making an actual mix tape. It wasn't the quick process of being able to pull up your i-Tunes play list, drag & drop a handful of songs, then burn them onto a disc.

The time invested into making a mix tape meant pure love. A 90-minute tape took a minimum of two hours to make.

Each of the songs had to be played in full as they recorded. You had to ensure exactly what order you wanted them to be in and the timing had to be spot on!

I would have rather died than to have the last song on Side A cut off by seconds just because I didn't time it properly. It was a process that was often started over & over again in my perfection driven world of mix tapes.

But here we are in a different world, I burned four mix CDs today in less than 15 minutes. It is a beautiful thing.

The first three were for a couple of people that I work with, they know my mix CDs rule & asked me to make them some to which I happily obliged.

The fourth was just for me, required listening I suppose.

I Kinda Always Knew I'd End Up Your Ex-Girlfriend - Break-Up CD Vol. 1

Gives You Hell - All-American Rejects
You Better, You Bet - The Who
Ex-Girlfriend - No Doubt
You Got Lucky - Tom Petty
Anything But Down - Sheryl Crow
Don't Tell Me You Love Me - Night Ranger
I'm All Out Of Love - Air Supply
I Hate Myself For Loving You - Joan Jett
Since You're Gone - The Cars
Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad - Meatloaf
Tubthumping - Chumbawumba
Here I Go Again - Whitesnake
Separate Ways _ Journey
She's A Beauty - The Tubes
Take It On The Run - REO Speedwagon
Last Call Casualty - Bowling For Soup
Shadows Of The Night - Pat Benetar
Is She Really Going Out With Him? - Joe Jackson
The Break-up Song - The Greg Kihn Band

There will no doubt be more in this series.

While I relish the chance to listen to it over and over on my commute to and from work to help release the pain, what I really long for is finding that CD under my car seat in a year or two, popping it into the player and wax nostalgic, by then I won't even remember what today feels like.

Do You Swear To Tell The Truth and Nothing But The Truth, So Help You God?

There comes a moment when you realize that the hunch you had about a certain topic or someone was dead on.

It's the "I knew it!" moment.

Depending on the situation, it can be sweet satisfaction or sheer heartbreak.

Don't lie to me. Don't ever lie to me, because the truth will always come out!

While you sit there sending those sincere sounding messages of "I think about you all the time, I fucked up, I want you back, let me prove it to you," I can clearly see through you.

Make a mental note for yourself, in the future when you are trying to get back someone that you lost, don't openly pursue other women in plain sight, it really doesn't help your cause.

You say to me, "I've been thinking about you a lot, I screwed up, could there still be a possibility for us?"

But yet at the same time I see you saying the same things to another.

You say that I don't have all my facts straight but yet you refuse to lay them out for me.

Why have you done this to me? I never asked for this and I most certainly didn't deserve it.

Everything they say about the truth is correct. It will set you free, but at the same time it hurts like hell.

You broke me, but rest assured, a little super glue and some time and I'll be good as new.

If only you could have known all the beauty that could have been, it was right there for the taking and you chose to overlook it.

I saw it, why couldn't you?

Live well and be happy with the choices that you've made for they will forever cement your path.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Time To Say Goodbye


Good morning,

After much soul searching and weighing my options, I have come to the conclusion that it is my time to step down as Community Leader of the NASCAR page and as a Featured Columnist. Trust me when I say that this was not an easy decision for me to make and that I have thought tirelessly about my choice. 

I addressed some of my concerns last week via e-mail to all of you and through our discussion during last week's conference call, but there are still issues that I fear are unsolvable at this point. 

When I began writing for Bleacher Report two years ago, I produced quality work that got an immediate positive response from readers. 

I understood that we as "writers" voluntarily joined the site for the love of sport and chose to let it be known to the world through our individual voices.

Each of us came to the table with out exclusive observations and writing styles. B/R provided each of us with an even playing field, not a one of us was any better than the next. It was up to each of us to choose how we expressed ourselves through words.

Every one of us had a unique writing style that readers responded to. We started from the ground up, made a respected community and worked hard as a team while maintaining our own individuality as writers.

We were chosen to be Featured Columnists based on our accomplishments. We took pride in the quality of work we were producing. Our articles were well researched, thought provoking and fact based, simply put,  the original seven of us who were asked to become FCs knew our stuff inside & out. 
I know that I seem to be tooting my own horn, but I was incredibly proud of the work that I was putting out. It was original & from the heart.

We began losing Featured Columnists over the last couple of weeks because everything that they had worked do hard to achieve, began to feel as if it were being taken away. We were asked to take on assignments, which is acceptable to a point, but when practically every article on the NASCAR page is a variation of a top 10 slideshow, it really "dumbed us down," in the NASCAR journalism world.

I am not opposed to producing slideshows, but they have to be on my own terms. Slideshows are going to get hits based on the pictures, not the commentary that accompanies them. They are nothing but electronic picture books at this point. Let's face it, how many men really buy Playboy for their stellar articles?

On paper I am sure that B/Rs numbers are phenomenal, based on slideshows alone, but behind the scenes it is all very shallow. What was all hearsay to me up until this point, became very real this weekend when I attended the Richmond race on B/R's behalf. 

The reaction that I got from respected members of the media in both the mainstream and Citizens Journalist circles was less than flattering. We are no longer the credible representative for the NASCAR Citizens Journalist Media Corps that we were when originally asked to join last year.

People are "writing" about topics that they know nothing about & are relying on search engines for their answers. I can't speak for the other pages on the site, but being that the NASCAR page is a part of the NCJM, sub-par articles are unacceptable, top-10 slideshows don't make for respected journalism and poor research on a writer's part leads to demise. 

For example, the same gentleman who wrote "The Ten Worst Drivers in the Sprint Cup Circuit" put out a NASCAR WAG article that generated 4000 reads in it's first day, but just like in his prior NASCAR article, the facts regarding some of his slides were wrong. So that is 4000 people who were given wrong information & once again this writer was given an award based on false information & that makes me sad. 

While I am not in favor of personal attacks on the writers, I fully stand behind the right to correct the author when the information they have produced is blatantly wrong. 

By serving up repercussions and/or suspending writers for leaving comments on these poorly researched articles you are censoring an attempt at accuracy and supporting inaccurate "journalism."

We are only as good as our worst writer.

I have given it my all & refuse to have my reputation as a writer discounted based on what the industry thinks of our NASCAR section. It is disheartening for me to scroll through one of my articles only to find a link to a "Guilty Pleasure" "T&A" slideshow under the "More Articles You''ll Like" footnote. It devalues my integrity & it immediately discredits the respect that the reader might have gained for my personal journalism when they originally chose to click on the link.

There was a time when I was so proud of what we had accomplished, the people in our community were true talent, with incredible stories to tell. I personally write from the heart, I find no satisfaction in doing it any other way & I was successful doing just that. 

112 articles, 53 awards, an average read count of 760 per article and six articles of the day.

It was never about the numbers for me, it was all about the passion & the effort I put into each & every article. Each of them exposed a piece of who I was & my love of NASCAR. They were expressions of what the sport meant to me & that was always my driving force. When they managed to touch the lives of others along the way, well that was the icing.

As some of you know, I have a demanding full time job as a Paramedic in the ER, I simply do not have the time to scour the internet or Getty images to find images for a subjective slideshow, that in the end leaves me feeling empty. I have to do things the best way I know how or not at all. 

My heart literally aches over this decision, I wish that it had never come to this point, I would have been content to stay with Bleacher Report for as long as I continued to write. 

I appreciate the opportunity that you have given to me, I am by all accounts a better writer for the experience and for that I can't thank you enough. I wish all of you and the site nothing but the best.


Kara Martin

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Do These Ears Make My Face Look Small?

It always freaks me out a little when the dog hears something that I don't and reacts to it. I'm never really sure if I should jump up and lock the door because trouble lurks on the other side or if he is hearing something in the next county.

I was walking Chachi recently and passed through a group of kids, one of them yelled out, "Yo, your dog gots some big-assed ears!"

No shit kid, Stevie Wonder could have told you that, but thanks for the heads up just in case I hadn't noticed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Laugh Hard, Laugh Often

My nieces.
I love people who make me laugh. I honesty think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person. 

- Audrey Hepburn

Sick It Up

I have spent the better part of my morning tending to a cat with a stomach ache.

I can always tell because she (Lulu) gets very clingy and taps on me with her paw hoping that in some magical way my emergency medical training can cure her of her ills. 

She is an obsessive cleaner, so I know that there is a gigantic hairball just waiting to be expelled. She lets out a very unladylike "MOW" right before she is going to hurl, that is my cue to get a magazine.

She wanders around making that gagging sound, preparing for the upchuck. I patiently follow her until she is good and ready before I slide the magazine in front of her in hopes to catch the vomit before it soils my carpet. 

She always barfs in twos, the first one is a small precursor of what's to come. So I wait again, it's a process I tell ya!

Cat owners know that this is just a normal part of life. In a weird way, I am almost envious.

The moment after a good puke, Lulu is right back to her old self again. Playing, eating, sleeping without a care in the world.

I wish that I had the ability to evacuate all that ails me. Just "sick it up" and go about my day.

But mine is an emotional hangover that requires a much longer refractory period.

Que Sera, Sera.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Perching The Soul

I can vividly recall all of the events that transpired on October 20, 2005. I remember the phone call from my friend Trish and exactly where I was standing and what I was looking at when she told me "to sit down."

Up until that time, I never understood the complexity of that statement, I felt fully capable of accepting bad news regardless of my body position.

She then told me that David had died from an overdose.

My legs went numb and my knees buckled from underneath me. Yes, there is good reason to sit when someone tells you to do so.

How could this be true, I just saw him. We had weekly cheesecake together just four days earlier. There were no evident signs that he was planning on taking his life.

David and I worked together at the Pottery Barn. We started at the same time three years earlier and became fast friends. He was the most fantastically, flamboyant gay man that I had ever met. He made no apologies for who he was, he was perfect as is.

Prior to David's death, I had lost three other friends to suicide.

The first was a Paramedic classmate who started an IV of anti-freeze on himself. The second a Nurse Practitioner who slit his femoral artery and the third put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger in his mother's home.

Every one of those is almost unimaginable, unreal even. I went to all three of their funerals and mourned the loss of each of them, but it would be David's quiet passing that would affect me the most.

In life, David was a star. Beautiful in every way. He'd greet you every time with a hug and would be the first to cheer you up when you were down. He was brilliant and hilarious.

He was outlandish in life, death didn't become him.

I sat with Trish at his funeral and openly wept. It was uncontrollable. There more I tried to stifle my sobs, the worse it became.

Trish did all the things a good friend should to to try to comfort me but nothing worked until she noticed a tiny white feather on the sleeve of her black sweater. Without even thinking, she picked it off and handed it to me.

For whatever reason I held on to that feather for the rest of the service. It gave me some sense of focus and calmed me down.

I put it into my wallet as we filed out of the funeral home and didn't think of it again for the next few days.

When I returned to work, I was alone one morning in the store, opening up the cash registers and doing some quick straightening before my associates arrived.

I was in the Design Studio, the area where David had worked when I saw it...a feather.

A random feather sitting at his work station.

Now, I am not an overly religious person by any means and never really thought of myself as "spiritual," but this was more than coincidence. 

I realized at that moment that while David was gone in the physical sense, he would be with me always, we just had to find a new "language" in which to communicate. 

In the nearly five years since his passing, I have found countless feathers in the most unexpected and unusual places. I have collected each one and saved them in a glass-faced shadow box.

There are probably close to 200 in there at this time. 

Every time David "speaks" to me, I look high into the sky and say hello.

The feathers serve as a reminder to "hang in there" when the going gets tough, to celebrate the good times, cherish family and friends and accept the unexpected no matter how it presents itself. 

"Hope is the thing with feathers."


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

-Emily Dickinson