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Disclaimers for language in the first few moments of this.  Hello – Rated R.

I was driving into Athens on Atlanta Hwy today at noon.  Anyone who lives in town already knows I’m a fucking idiot.  I, however, in the moment, am just an idiot. I know it at the first cardboard “Parking $15” sign attached to a sketchy parking lot that usually sells 1983 Toyota Corollas for $500 down! I didn’t realize UGA v GA Tech was in Athens ((pounds nail into eyeball … the SEASON WILL NEVER END)).  I frantically think that I will.not.burst.into.tears.  I’ve seen forty-seven red Solo cups and my moment versus their inebriation.  Fuck it.  Won’t.Burst.Into.Tears.

I just wanted a fucking burger, and to poke around in a couple of cute, local stores.  Small business Saturday and all that.  Wanting some time in the world with my guys.  A change of scene.  Whatever – no parking for miles and the smell of vodka and cheap beer all over the place.  Gahd.Damnit.

I’ll try and stop swearing now.

I can look at December at see non-work commitments for 20 of the next 25 days.  Things that make me happy, but that take up space on my calendar no matter what.  People I want to see, concerts and parades I experience as a viewer and a participant, all sorts of things.  I know my time is precious, my energy is low, and still I want to have a sense of Christmas that is not just a harried schedule.  Late November and early December in Georgia still feel like an Illinois early October but today seemed like a good day (until that fucking cardboard sign … sorry).

I cried on the way to get Mexican instead of Clocked.  I cried in the bathroom when we got home.  I cried as Jeff grew bored of hitting dead trees with sticks when I still had plenty of energy for the task.  I was sad.  I’m was about the lack of dad, the lack of snow, the lack of tradition, the lack of spirit, the lack of time, the lack of energy, the lack …. so.much.lack.

Jeff had gone inside to be Batman while I hit dead trees with dowel rods.  The ends of branches flew away from me and there was sun and crisp air and it was ok.

Dave came down and pulled some heavy duty vines, he gave me more stuff to swing at.

He suggested the loveseat.  Not because I needed a cuddle (I didn’t) but because it had been sitting behind the shed for 18 months waiting for demolition.  So, with his help, it came into tiny bits.  He’d done most of the work already, but the stuff that needed an ax or a blade-on-a-stick (gahd I like that thing) and some general hacking and tearing was work that was waiting to be done.

Then, in the fire … space … deemed “Southern Living’s Least Interesting or Attractive Fire …. Space” he lit shit on fire.  Old papers, old loveseats, old ideas, old definitions.  It burned high, and long, and cathartically.

I felt better.

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For a town with a population of 120,000.

I want to know when you think Peak Black Friday was, because those days are done, my friends. I was out this morning from 8a-10a. I went to Macy’s, Toys R Us, and Target. I was the first or second person in the checkout line in each store, and I spent less than $150 total today.

The big sale / loss leader sparkle has gone because my email and the websites are always 30% off of this and BOGO that. There isn’t a discount that turns my head as surprising anymore, and in a world where 40% off is the norm stores create a moment where I begin to know I am a fool if it is less than 25% off because they have told me over and over that the lowest prices of the season are amazing.

The 4a coffee and standing in line right of passage is mainly gone too because even the group that loves that specific adrenaline rush is divided by one store opening Thursday, another at midnight, and the 4a,6a starts. There is no longer the super zoom of getting all the great deals before breakfast.

Maybe Cyber Monday or Small Store Saturday took just enough wind out of the sales as buyers were reminded that life really is simpler with free delivery and small town store experiences.

I don’t know, but Black Friday isn’t what it used to be anymore.

“How are you doing?” The “doing” is the key to knowing they are asking about me and the death of my dad, as opposed to the “How are you?” Of the middle of a Tuesday.

“I’m ok so far I think”, is what I respond. They like that, and it is mainly true, I think.

My post Thanksgiving to do list:
1. Double check that the dance and yoga studios in my expanded “everyday” area really don’t have classes that I need / want because I’ve looked 4 times already. There is no time like the present, also, there is no time in the present.

2. Double check the locations of gyms, the 3 month membership has a breathtaking per-use cost but now that work is busier I will go to the gym more. Obviously, because…

3. Register for the Flying pig half marathon in the spring and hope for Marine Corps marathon in October. Because my foot hurts all the time and I haven’t run since I took a week off last fall.

4. Buy winter dresses. Choose one piece of clothing instead of 2 and wear tights. Done. Perfect. Easy, professional, and lovely. A good use of money that could be used for other things.

5. Clean the g-dd@mn thing. Certainly head and heart will feel better when the rarely worn shirts in my closet go away. Also, I will relieve myself of an abundance of cookie sheets and ratty towels.

6. Go to Tybee and listen to the water until I cannot bear to listen another minute. (Hubby checked the bear, so I don’t look silly on the internet. Whew.).

7. Sink my teeth into all the social norms of this time of year and my natural life. Also, everybody is loud.

8. Book a reason to need a passport, and book a cruise for 4 next December.

I’m sad, and unmoored, I’m doing the things I do and I see that. I see myself craving silence but distracting my mind. I don’t know who to hug, or why to hug them, but I’m glad you asked.

Thank you and thank you and thank you.

(the Ferguson Grand Jury will say something in 45 minutes, this isn’t about that).

I needed a hug and I got one.  Over and over.

I needed DVD editing and I got it.

I needed someone kind to sort out a rental car, and the rental car person was kind.

I needed my dad to live somewhere at the end of his life that gave my mom peace and him comfort, Andrea came through.

I needed a wine fairy, and got one.

I needed real food, and it was in my fridge.

I needed to know that the bold moves I make mattered, and the flowers had styrofoam gourds so they were beautiful AND funny (I was convinced they were real until my six year old showed me differently).

I needed the montage to work, and it did.

I needed the grocery shopping done and it was.

I needed a moment of joy, and I had it.

I needed to separate my experience of a song from someone else’s experience of a song, and I did.

I needed him to grok the moment and he did.

I needed to not miss his first tooth, and I didn’t.

I needed to feel involved in the decoration, and I did a little.

I needed to hear I need rest, and she made me believe.

I needed the kind quietness of someone who knew, and I got it.

I needed to give a hug, and I did.

I needed to stay chilled out, and I did.

I needed grace and I gave it.

I needed grace and I got it.

I needed beauty and I saw it.

I needed solace and I got it.

I needed community and I got it.

I needed compassion and I got it.

I suck at Thank You Notes and Christmas Cards, but if I’ve seen you in the last month, or heard from you, or anything.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

It is easy to look at this list and wonder if, even in this strange moment, I was too bold or too brash or too needy.  I wasn’t.  I spoke for what I needed, and my people heard me.  You.  Yes, you.  You can too.

I love heated massage tables, mainly because I’m not around them unless I’m about to get a massage.  Travel & sadness and time made today the right day to try and put my back in order, and check in on my mind and heart.  Nate, the new guy, asked me my primary goal I said, “I’ve been flying back and forth across the country as my dad died, my back is mess.”  Physical Stress (check), emotional stress (check), actual pain point that needs sorting out (check).  I was quite proud of that sentence.

The school of thought that says that muscles hold “stuff” seems to hold true for me and it actually made massages after John died problematic (and I stopped for a long time) but it is early days and mainly I figured I was jacked up from the travel as much as anything (when you can save $100 by traveling in a backpack with nothing else by GOLLY you’ll rock a dense backpack – etc… etc… etc…). I figured getting near the normal line would be good.

With that in mind, here is what certain body parts revealed….

Shoulder Blades — gosh those are so fucked that they strum like a ukelele (ouch), ukelele = Amanda Palmer, I hope my friend likes the book beyond “Neil Gaiman is available for casual sex, technically if not emotionally”.  I hope her project goes well, if she could see what I see then she’d know it will be ok, it really will …. shhhhhhh brain, it doesn’t need fixing.

My feet and ankles ((the bane of my exercise existence)) — Marine Corps Marathon.  I’d have nearly a year to get ready, my left foot has felt good for 4 seconds and I’ve been wearing nothing but tennis shoes for nearly a week, so Marine Corps Marathon it is.  A good reason to move more, eat better, pay tribute, get back to DC.  It’s perfect.  I need to look up when registration is because it will feel great to run between all those pretty soldiers, I’ll sob tired and proud tears, I WANT THIS … I’ll even get the zumba goddess to train me so I have arms that will match my kickass legs if she does that sort of thing.  I wonder if I can keep my new ass and get the belly I like back…. shhhhhhh brain, not today, you don’t need a new gym membership right now, that doesn’t need fixing today.

My lower back — why doesn’t this hurt more? it hurts all the time but when he works on it I just wish it would hurt more so I thought it would get better some day.  If Nate the new guy would just shred it, then the next part would begin.  It seems obvious, why isn’t it fixed?

My neck — What?  When it hurts I just don’t turn my head.  That feels like a solution.  GAHD DAMN SIR THAT FUCKING HURT.  Wait.  Breathe.  Do it again.  ((my neck pops, my back pops, I look over my left shoulder for the first time in six weeks)).  Oh.  Did that need fixing?

I drank some water, asked if he was around Friday morning (no), and went on my way.  I’ve looked at stuff I didn’t want to see.  I’ve started the eulogy.  I can’t look over my left shoulder again but in a massage hangover way instead of the other way.  I don’t know what happens next, but I’ve been wrung out and hung up wet – so there is hope.

I had been zooming around for about and hour and a half when I decided to stand up a little taller and start bellowing. My mom turned around from the booth where she was sitting, first with a look of “What?” Followed almost immediately by “of course.”

I don’t plan these things, I just know that I can do them.

I stood up there surrounded by people I’ve know off and on my whole life. People who I really hoped would be there, people who were a delightful surprise, and people I trusted would show because they know how much I need them. My mom had the same experience. They loved us, they loved my dad, they knew I needed a hug.

I thanked them for coming because it was such short notice, because it was all Facebook and text message and rumor. It helped me feel connected and anchored in time and space. I tried to talk to everybody (maybe 50 people total) but missed people, I tried to collect hugs as often as I could. I cheek kissed two dozen people for sure.

There was pizza and beer, introductions and moments where different segments of my life crossed over and got along famously. There was the moment where my first MIL met the editor of a book her son is in … that she doesn’t have a copy of because I can be a ding dong from time to time.

I couldn’t say thank you enough last night, and I can’t stop thinking of tiny details now. It was a good night. It reminded me of other good nights in pop-up communities with a single common thread.

I think the social norms of death are shifting. It is one thing when every generation lives in town and there is a religious structure to the service. It is different when people move (my brother and I have tribes of folks in multiple places, and my parents have multiple tribes as well) and memorial planning starts with “So, what do you want to do?” When all of the conversations about music and speakers come home to roost because there is a date for the service, a time, a need for … whatever it is you need.

What holds together is the web of people who share time and hugs.

I am going to be grateful for last night for the rest of my life.

“Before you play on the Wii, we need to have a big conversation.”

“Grandpa died, didn’t he?”

“Yep babe, he did.”

~~~~~~

After my brother left from visiting my dad, my dad went from “on hospice” to “gone” in less than 24 hours.  I’ll always be grateful my brother was there when he was.

~~~~~

My mom tried bourbon at 2 in the morning after hearing me celebrate it’s virtues on numerous occasions.  I never warned her it was an advanced drinking skill.  I suppose I never mentioned I was an advanced drinker.

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My husband drove extra to bring home pizza that night.

~~~

Facebook is the new visitation.  For people my age, especially when families are spread across the country, Facebook is the first wave of grief spread among our widest circle.

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I remember the hug when John died that involved all of his friends who had born witness that day (g-d we were so young).  My CKs showed up to an All-Call and surrounded me with the love that a 41 year old woman needs when reality comes and sits next to her.

~

Bonus.  There may be a thing about pants here someday.  But only with permission.

That moment when you realize you’re asking yourself questions framed within situation #1, but in reality the only questions worth spending time on are the ones in situation #2.

Fuck.