Thursday, January 21, 2010

CHAPTER SIX: Merri-Go-Rounds, Swimming Holes and Jeeps

Middlefork, Indiana.

Well, it's a start. I jotted the location down and walked back to grab the dart. With all three darts in hand I closed my eyes and sent one dart sailing across the room taking aim on Hardin, Montana and Burlington, Colorado and Russell, Kansas. I walked back to the dart board and grab them again, but not before writing down the names of the cities from that round of play.

The next round was the same. Cities I had never heard of in states I had never visited. In total I rounded up twenty-five destinations. Now, the next step was to plan. Plan on where I was going and to create a trip itinerary. However, this was not going to be an itinerary but a journey to see what I had been missing all of these years. I wanted to play with the local kids and ride a merri-go-round until my stomach was in a twisted knot. I wanted to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the neighborhood diner. Pick my vegetables from a garden and fresh flowers from a vendor in the city market. I wanted to swing from a rope and plunge into the warm swimming hole.

As I collected my places I thought about what was I going to do when I arrived? My first thought was to hop on the Internet and see what each place was know for and learn about the places of interest. Then I thought that would be the easy way out. Instead, I thought about keeping a journal of my travels and learning about each place once I arrived. The best part about the adventure would be the surprises that laid around every corner. One thing that I knew for certain was that when I left each place and made my way to the next spot is that I would feel and be welcomed like I was a local. I missed my home and all that it had to offer as a kid that I was going to make sure that each place would feel like home so I would never be lonely again. I was going to let the locals be my travel guides and storytellers.

With my list of all twenty-five cities I went back to the map and started tacking up colored push-pins. Next, just like I was back in grade school I took some yard and looped it starting in New York City and made my way to the end. As I stood back and looked over my journey, I was slightly intimidated but eager to start this grand adventure. Excited about seeing things I had never seen, hearing stories that could not be taught in school and smelling scents that will leave lasting memories.

Now, came the difficult part of the adventure. How was I going to give work my two week notice and then sharing my news with the rest of the world? How many of my friends would think I had lost my mind. Most likely all of them. I was not going to let them get to me with their words of insanity. Instead I was going to be strong and not let them get to me.

I needed to find someone to lease my loft so i would not have to worry about selling my household belonging and the loft. I knew a couple of people that I thought might be interested and would give them a call in the morning. Then I would need to figure out exactly how much money I had to take with me. I would talk with Phillip, my money guy and see what accounts I could close. I had enough money in the bank to not worry and selling my car was going to help out as well. I would have one credit card just in case but, I wanted to pay cash for anything I could. Not only was this to be the trip to renewal, but that if simplicity. Something I have never had in my life.

Since I had a couple of weeks, I posted my car online to see if I could avoid selling it back to the dealership. This way I could get more money from a private sale them giving that money back to the dealer. During this time I would be able to look for a car to buy for the journey. What was I going to want? A Jeep. Yeah, that is exactly the way to travel and feel the freedom. A red Jeep was top on my list.

As I continued to create my list and all that I was needing, a companion came to mind. But, not the companion of the human kind. One of the canine kind. A trip to the humane society would be the perfect solution for finding my companion. This might be the only companion that will have ever know that will truly understand me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CHAPTER FIVE: It's All in the Wrist

I left the bookstore and stopped off at the corner deli to pick up breakfast, lunch and dinner since I had not had anything to eat all day. Plus I had no idea that I was going to spend nearly all morning and into the afternoon in the bookstore. So I dashed in and share a quick conversation with Thomas the deli owner and ordered my favorite California Reuben and salad. While I was waiting for my order I noticed that the deli had something I was looking for. Off to the side there was a dart board with a couple of sets of darts. What a perfect way to make my travel selections. When my order came up I ask Thomas for a little favor and if I could borrow one of the set of darts. With not even a question why, he graciously with his soft smile handed me the darts and said, "See you next week with some answers."

Do you ever find yourself allowing your mind to wander? To wander into areas that you might not be familiar with. Well, that is where my mind is going on my walk home. It darted from one topic to another, changing every second. As I made my way into my building, Robert was there to grab the door for me since my arms were filled with bags from the bookstore and my dinner. I waved with a quick 'how-do-you-do' to Robert, the building doorman. Robert has been our doorman since I moved in and has saved my life on more then one occasion. From being late for an appointment to helping to remove an obnoxious date from my loft. Sometime I do not know what I would do without him. Robert is like a saint to me and I will miss him dearly.

"Do you need help Grace with your bags or have you mastered balancing them on your head?" Robert barked out with his dry sense of humor. "Robert, you clearly know just what to say to make my day," I winked at him, "If you could you just grab the lift for me, I think that is all I need for now." As he held open the elevator door I made my way in while shifting the bags. "Thank you, you are my knight in shining armour. You have a great evening Robert and I will see you in the morning," I said as I watch Robert disappear while the elevator doors closed and up I went to my loft.

I fumbled with my keys and as I unlocked and opened the door I just rolled through the door loaded with my bags in hand. As I made my way in, I headed for the living room and dumped my bag of books. Some made it on the sofa and other just fell straight to the floor. I opened the bag from the deli and started eating like I had been forced to starve for days. Shortly after inhaling my dinner I broke out the map. The map was the golden key to making my plan happen.

Luckily, my loft is very open with lots of vast space. The wall reach from floor to ceiling with both concert and hardwood floors. As I unrolled my map of the United States I thought that the wall over the bar area would be the perfect place to hang the map. Most of the walls in my loft are exposed brick, but the wall behind the bar is all wood and will be great for catching darts. I grabbed the staple gun from the closet and went to work on hanging my plan.

Our nation looked inviting from the sun that was turning vibrant orange as dusk started to set into the evening sky. With a glass of red wine in one hand and three darts in the other I was ready to start my quest. With thoughts of excitement filled me, I brought my left hand up and into the position to fire away. One quick release I let the dart fly. With my eyes closed I heard the dart enter the wooden wall with a mild thud. I raised my glass of wine to my lips and took a long drink. I swallowed the wine and spoke to myself, "This is the night that will change the rest of my life." I opened my eyes and slowly walk over to the map.

Monday, January 18, 2010

CHAPTER FOUR: The Rubics Cube of all Boxes

I was believing that my life as a puzzle that was made more complex and complicating at someone else sick and twisted expense.

So if I was living my life based on someones twisted game I would have pick a Rubik's Cube as the game. I know that a Rubik's Cube is not really a game but more of a puzzle and yes, my life, as we know it, is both a game and a puzzle that I have yet to solve. Whether I am rolling the dice or twisting a colorful cube, there are answers that I am needing.

I was never one that was good with puzzles. They bored me more then anything. Especially the ones that I could not solve. Hence, my life. Right now I am just looking for the correct formation to connect all of the corner pieces together and then I can start filling in the empty spots.

As I sit here with my collage of photographs scattered atop of my coffee table, I am still finding it difficult to hold back the tears. I am starting to feel like I thought that I had left myself down in life, but in fact I believe that it that of others that I have truly let down. My parents, my family and my friends. All who I have almost lost over the years. Some that I may have actually lost for good.

What was I to do? FIX IT! Find the solution to that part of the puzzle and solve that part of my life. I really need to find a way to collect all the same colors on the same side. They say start small and slow. That is what I am going to do. With my box of memories and my notebook in hand, I picked up the phone and called the office. I was going to be late. No. I was not coming in today. I didn't even wait for them to ask if there was a problem, I just hung up the phone.

As I hung up the phone something felt different. A weight had been lifted. A small but significant weight had been removed from my shoulders and it felt good. It was hard to believe that just one simple phone call to tell them I was not coming into the office could make such a different. But, it did and it felt great! I felt like i could breath a little bit easier and that was something i had not done in a very long time.

I flipped open my notebook to see what was all in it. What had I written and why? On the first page was the word MAP circled in red pen. Why did I need a map? Then it came to me. Boxes and Maps...I was going somewhere and going to start connecting the dots, turning more colors on the cube the same. So I quickly changed from my work clothes into jeans and a t-shirt, grabbed my purse, notebook and keys and dashed out the door.

Luckily, I live right around the corner from a large bookstore where I knew I could find maps. As I walked through the door I was shocked by how many people where book shopping at 10:30 in the morning, on a Wednesday. I started to feel like I really had been missing out going to the office at 7:00AM and ordering out for lunch and then staying until 7:00PM on most nights. I could have been wandering around in a bookstore all of this time.

I headed over to the maps. I had shopped for maps when I was traveled to Europe, on business, so I knew right where to look. I needed a nice big maps of the United States. One that showed all of the states and cities. Then I picked up the most current addition of the Rands McNally atlas. I think I was all set. Almost...

I stayed in the map and travel section and walked over to the books that covered the United States and all individual state books. I picked up Ohio. I began flipping the pages one by one. I stared at the pictures as almost in disbelief. It was a feeling that I had forgotten long ago when my family would pack up the car and head to a secret location for a week. Well, mom and dad knew where we were going, but the kids did not. It was always a surprise and we always had a great time. Those were memories that I would find in the box back at my loft.

As I looked through the book about Ohio, I glanced up and selected the book on Iowa and then North Dakota and then Kansas. Before I knew it I had a pile on the floor and it was almost three o'clock in the afternoon. I had visually traveled the entire Midwest in just a few hours and was wanting more. Even though I wanted more I was clearly feeling sad by all that I had missed over the years. Why was it so important to me to forget my past and think that my career was making me happy?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CHAPTER THREE: Reading the Fine Print

Have you ever felt like you had a million questions and expected each one to be answered at that very moment in time? Well that is clearly what is bubbling in my world. However, the questions are not what I had expected. The answers even more out of the norm in my little corner of the universe. Questions regarding my career, my social life, where I live and WHY am I questioning what I have worked so hard to build?

I took a very long shower that I was hoping would clear my head and let me be normal again. Little to my surprise, that did not happen. All the strange questions were still there. I need to start writing things down so I could try and find a solution and fast.

I took out an empty note pad and start a journal. The journal turn into creating lists. Creating lists turned into pulling out old photos. Then all of this turned to me needing to consume an entire bottle of red wine and the urge for more. I was either spinning out of control or finding the solution I had been looking for. Before I knew it, it was two-thirty in the morning. The wine made my head a little fuzzy but, it definitely made it easier then the past couple of night to actually close my eyes and sleep.

After a bottle of red I had forgotten to set the morning spoiler or better know as the alarm clock. So my day was already starting off on a bad note. However, for some reason my head was clear. I was not worried about being late and making the choice of driving to the office or taking the subway. I figured when I walked through the door they would know I had arrived. I didn't even bother calling Natalie, my Administrative Assistant, to let her know I was going to be late. What was wrong with me?

I walked over to grab my shoes and and sat on the sofa. I buckled the little silver buckles and before I left the house I picked up the note pad I had been working on last night and thumbed through it. There were pages after pages of notes and lists. And lists and notes. I did not remember doing this much writing. As I was reading through the pages and could not believe that these were my words on the paper. I laid the note pad in my lap and sat back on the sofa. I covered my face and eyes with my hands and start sobbing. I began crying uncontrollably and finding it difficult to catch my breath. Once I thought I had myself controlled I opened my eyes and I caught a glimpse of the box of photos on the table next to the empty wine glass. I leaned forward and grabbed the box and placed it on the note pad on my lap.

The tears gently rolled down my cheek as I thumbed through the pictures. The box was a like a broken pinata filled with pictures from my past. My parents home, pictures from the mall with the Easter Bunny and Santa. There were picture from the Sunday potluck dinners at church. My high school friends and family gatherings. There was a picture for just about every occasion of my life in this box. I understood why I was crying and why I felt the way I did. Finally I think I was completely understanding why I was creating the lists and journals. I had lost what was important to me. I gave up on life to have a career that really was not all it was cracked up to be. Essentially, I lost myself somewhere between Time Square and Fifth Avenue.

One thing I knew for certian was that boxes where going to be a very important object in my life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

CHAPTER TWO: Words Speak Louder Then Actions

Even with Artie's voice in the far distance and my daydreaming session left me wondering why I was having the odd feelings, I was dying in the meeting. I just wanted it to be over. I didn't care what Suzie Q at Loserville was doing and who was pictured on their target. I flipped my day planner to a empty page and I started making notes. Actually the notes seem to flow from someone else hand and not my own. I started making a list of items in my life. The list started with my loft. My home that I had lived in for the past eighteen years. Then I placed a dollar sign with a question mark next to it. I then listed my car, stocks and other investments with a note to contact Charlie, my CPA. Why? What in the world was I doing? Better yet, what I was planning?

Before I knew it I had a pretty impressive list of all things that were important to me in my world. Even though I was nervous about the list and the direction I might be going, I knew that there was a very good explanation for all of this. I was just waiting for the mail room guy to bring a secret letter that had all of the answers. I continued glancing at the meeting room door as if he was going to actually come through it surrounded by a golden ray of light as he handed me the letter with all the answers. My daydreams might be getting a little over done.

Suddenly Artie's voice was getting louder. Then my name. How long had Artie been calling my name? I could feel the look of uncertainty on my face as I looked at him. I shook my head and apologised for not paying attention. A light gasp could be heard from each and every person sitting in the room. Apologizing was not something I did, let alone in a room full of witnesses. I just did something that I had not done since I was seventeen and I totalled my parents car trying to beat the clock before the big hand struck midnight.

I was racing home from my best friends Allison, where we a little to wrapped up with our boyfriends and I lost track of time. I floated through a stop sign as a car with the right of way t-boned me and my parents vintage 1957 seafoam green Thunderbird. A simple phone call to my parents before I left my friends house would prevented the last time I would ever say sorry for anything that happened in my life.

The gasps echoed in my head as I politely asked Artie to repeat what he had asked of me? "Artie, forgive me, I was thinking about the Anderson account and I must have fallen into a void. What did you say?" Artie raised an eyebrow and sat there as if slightly stunned and then said, "Grace, we need to call a meeting with Briggs and Kelley and see if they are going to sign our revised contract or if we need to apply more heat". I wrote Briggs and Kelley in my day planner and circled it several times. "I will take care of it as soon as I get back to my office", I assured them.

I looked up and could feel the uncomfortable feeling exerting from the room. What...did...I...just do? What was happening? Who shifted the planets and knocked them out of line?

Whispers were coming from a couple of them at the end of the table. Feeling as if I had stabbed the person next to me, I grabbed my items and excused myself from the meeting. I made a mad dash down the hall and into the washroom. I didn't even take the time to go to the executive washroom. I found an empty stall and hurried in and slammed the door behind me. I dropped my planner and other items to the floor and sat down on the toilet. With my head hanging, I placed my elbows on my knees and cradled my head in my hands. Again, I asked myself what was going on? Why the list? What was the plan and why was I even making it? At this point, the meeting was over and I need to get to my loft and try to figure out what was turning my world upside down before it was to late.

CHAPTER ONE: Meetings are like a secret fight club...

I look at my watch and it is 2:42 pm as I am sitting in a board meeting at the office. Let me give the visual of what it is like sitting in a board meeting. Most have sat in on some kind of meeting before and know how they operate. Our meetings can sometimes be referred to as a gladiator event of epic proportions. There are sometimes peasants being fed to the lions and weaker souls having to battle for their lives in the arena. The sounds of laughter from my colleagues would be the sounds of the crowds that fill the cold stone Colosseum to watch someone be devoured by a man-eating lion. Yes, that is a pretty close description of what ninety-five percent of our meetings are like. Ahhhhhh, the corporate world of lust and greed. I use to love a good meeting and the feel of walking out from behind closed doors as the office minions coward behind their cubical walls wondering...wondering who was going to be the next one to battle for their job and who would take one more step up the company ladder.

Sometimes we would have meetings just to strike the fear of our authority through the work place in order to keep everyone in check.

I knew what my reputation was to those that leveled below me and I honestly did not care. I worked long and hard to grow a tough exterior and I was not going to let the ones that did not like me bring me down. It only made me stronger, colder and more heartless.

As I sat in the board meeting realizing that the hands on my watch were ticking backwards I looked around the massive table. The sounds of Artie Kreger voice became softer until it was no more. Artie Kreger had worked for the firm for ten years and was a prime example of a man sleeping his way to the top. Artie started with the firm while still studying fashion. Our firm works with both the fashion and entertainment industry. We take small what are considered "mom & pop" businesses and grow them. We take them from nothing and make them something. We are known on the streets to be hardcore with a 'don't get in our way' attitudes.

Artie was brought on board to be one of our insider moles. He was to be nothing more then a source that penetrated to mix and mingle with our enemies. The moles would work to get the dirt on them and then we would make their world very unpleasant. But, before you knew it, Artie was attending meetings, going to events that only executives attended. Then there were the parties and the all on the arm of one of the firms CEO's. Artie was not stupid. As a matter of fact, he used what we had taught him to his advantage and now was co-directing our marketing department under the guidance of moi.

When I first found out that Artie was transferring again and this time to my department, lets say I was not the happiest of campers. However, over the years we have built a alliance. An alliance that might even mean world domination. OK, maybe not to the extremes of world domination, but we could definitely take on the City in way that could rewrite history. Artie and I masterminded some of the firms greatest take-overs all in the company of tasty Thai and scandalous Shiraz. We would map out the map our teams objective and then using our stealth like ninja moves, we would have them signing on the dotted line before they knew what happened.

The Marketing Team was designed and developed with only being the leader in the city. Losing was not and has never been an option in my department. Being second means you are not number one and that means you do not work for me. Heartless? Sometimes. Ruthless? Yes. Like it on top? Always. Let them see you cry? Never! At least that how I had felt. something was changing and I am not sure what and I was not certain why.


The city skyline seems to embrace her people like a mother holding her baby. Cradling the babe to protect and shelter it from all things evil. Now why couldn't that be the how we all felt about living in the city? The concrete jungles of the world. Instead, it can be a very misleading lifestyle living in the mecca of hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps. Forgiving and protective it is not.

I am Grace Musse, a corporate femme fatale that calls New York City home. Not only do I call the "City" home, but this is where I work, socialize and saturate myself in its dirty chicness. I use to believe that you weren't somebody unless you live, sleeped and breathed the city. Well, at least until now. I am living the dream of many back home that never made it out. Not only do I hold female prestige in the firm I call my money tree, but I am single, live in a dramatic loft in Soho in which I purchased before lofts were the "it" place to reside. Now we have the celebrities and solicalites that will need to drop their platinum pennies on a loft half the size where I was able to shop with the old fashion copper ones. I drench myself in all things trendy, friends that share the same common interests of art, nightlife, theatre, mingling with the who's who, and believe in the rule of always leading the hunt and never being the prey.

Lately, I find myself drifting off into what some call a "daydream". Another world in ones mind where you get to play make-believe with your life. I think that instead of being called a daydream in my imaginary world, it should be called a "what if?". I have been wonder more often about my life and the "what if's" that I have been collecting. I think that we all go through this at sometime over the years, but, mine seems to almost bring my daydreaming to reality. I feel like I could close my eyes and reach out and touch the thoughts I have been hording in my head. As if swimming in my own pool of dreams and lately the temperature has been near perfect.

I was born Grace Emily Musse on October 13, 1969 to Caroline and George Musse in a small farm community in Michigan. Once know for the acres and acres of farmland, antique shops, hometown family living and week long Red Cedar Jubilee. Now, it is just a sleepy farm community that is perched between Lansing and Detroit. We lived just outside the metropolis of Williamston on Linn Road where my family owned a small farm. Growing up was pretty typical and consisted of waking before the sun, summers filled with all the glorious scents of a farm on a steamy eighty degree day and dreams of getting far away from the country. It is not that I hated my life growing up, I just knew I wanted more. My room was covered with pages from Cosmo and Elle and that is what I dreamed about all my life. Not coffee tables covered in the Farmers Almanac or watching reruns of hunting and fishing shows. Funny how I feel as if life is on a train turnstile, you know the rotating one track that assist a train or cable car to shift direction. That is how my life has felt to me and the feeling seems to be growing stronger now then ever.

Now that you know a little about me I am going to take you on journey. My journey of what happens when one day you wake and realize that the life you have worked so hard to build might not be the life you really wanted to create in the first place. So if you are ready, please sit back, fasten you seat belt and keep arms, hands and legs inside the car at all time, because this is going to be one hell of a ride!