♫ Then I heard you scream from the other side of the mountain / You saw a me I didn’t want to see… -Tori Amos, “Star Whisperer”

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“There is too much loss.”

I hear myself saying this, a lot lately. More and more.

They affect me more than they used to, the losses; big ones and small ones. Emotions are inflated, perhaps even unintentionally exaggerated.

At the office, I weep when coworkers leave on sabbaticals. I tear up when summer interns go back to school. Really?!

Aaron Sorkin storylines move me to the point of watching with a paper towel wadded up in my hand, at the ready.

Little boxes demanding the name and telephone number of my Emergency Contact sit blank with blinking cursors in them.

They’re staring back at me.

“Orphan,” my brain says.

Well-intentioned catsitters trying to gauge future business ask what I usually do for the holidays, do I go out of town?

“Mrrrm,” I hear myself say. I understand her question, but I don’t have an answer.

She’s staring back at me.

“Orphan,” my brain says.

It’s not a call for pity, it’s simply a new reality, one I am still trying on and figuring out. I imagine it will take a little while, or maybe a big while, who knows.

When was the last time you had no one to answer to?

~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~

A friend and coworker lost her mother today. Cancer. (N.B.: Fuck you, cancer, you destructive piece of shit assassin.) She called me at the office, almost immediately after it happened. I heard that lost-ness in her voice, that tone from a new reality, the bubble of disbelief. I heard my own voice, calm and even, low and quiet, controlled, extending my sympathies but knowing full well they meant very little, grasping for something meaningful to say. It hit me hard, her mother’s death, like I was taking it personally somehow. Lee says it’s because I have a new measuring stick for grief, one I’ve never had before, and that sounds pretty accurate to me.

~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~

But we shake ourselves off, don’t we? Get out of the bed, because the alternative is to stay in it and feel like we’re going to crawl right out of our fucking skin. Put our feet on the floor, one at a time; take steps across the bedroom, across the apartment, across the city, across the world. See things in a new way. Talk to a stranger, and share a laugh, even when we feel guilty for the chuckle we let out or the smile that crosses our lips.

Look at something beautiful. Look at ten beautiful things.

Get up tomorrow and do it all again.

Heal. Heal. Heal.

Flood the brain with new memories.

Let’s go.


25 East Washington

August 15, 2012

This is the building that houses both my dentist and my therapist.
This is the building where they do extractions.
Both kinds hurt, just different ways.
One has no use for anesthesia.
-me, tonight.

I hadn’t seen Marilyn since April 2011, so I was suffering a bit of stagefright. I had to catch her up on all the happenings of the last 16 months, bring myself up to present day, deal with what I came here for.

As it turns out, no problem.

I’ve been afraid that I’m not mourning, not dealing with my Mother’s death, not very well or maybe even at all. At the risk of sounding like a jerk, while I am sad she is gone and I miss her terribly, I felt something very similar to a sense of relief when she finally went, both for her and for me.

Those last few weeks, especially, were so difficult and took forever. I remember when I called Heather to tell her my Mom had passed, I tried to explain the desperation of those last days:

You know when you’re at the ocean, and you’re walking from the sand into the water…there’s an incline, a steady slope down…and sometimes, you go to take the next step and there’s a nothingness there, you can’t feel the bottom, and your foot flails a bit below the water’s surface, seeking ground. 

That’s what it was like, the last few weeks. Just when we thought she couldn’t get any worse, she would, and we didn’t know where the bottom was anymore. I’m glad that part’s over. She can’t get any worse, ever again.

And so I had called Marilyn about a week ago to schedule a session. I’m lucky to have found her; she’s a wonderful therapist, is not intent on squeezing a co-pay out of me once a week, and doesn’t want to see me forever. I go in when I have an issue, we have a few sessions, and then I don’t see her for months/years. Awesome.

So we talked grief and loss and normalcy; memories I have of my younger, stronger, healthier mother being at odds with the way she felt and looked and sounded as she neared the end, and how jarring it was for me; the fact that I feel a bit like an orphan in the world right now, and how there is no one left for me to be really accountable to. It was helpful, I was able to put some thoughts in order and I am finding my way, wading through more “normally” than I thought.

Thank goodness for 25 East Washington.

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠


August 15, 2012

Turn the dial on my words
I can feel they fall short
Turn the dial, chime alarm
Watch these hands move apart
Turn the dial on my words

-The Joy Formidable, “Whirring”

If you’ve never listened to The Joy Formidable, “Whirring” is the place to start. A reference for those who were watchers of Six Feet Under: that final episode, where Claire drives away and Sia’s “Breathe Me” plays while they roll the sequence of how her life will go; “Whirring” is that song for me. Someone play it, please, while they are showing the movie of my life.If I ever want to feel WONDER, I slide the headphones on and play it.

I get all kinds of visuals and sensations, even just listening to that instrumental portion (after 2:35) now, in my living room:

driving down a road, a bit too fast, by moonlight, wind in your face

that feeling when the airplane lifts off the ground

watching a gorgeous sunrise over Lake Michigan, turning around and seeing its reflection off any of the buildings downtown

when he reaches for you, pulls you close, kisses you the first time

getting close enough to the ocean so that the waves reach your feet, and having the water be so much warmer than expected

a loud, furious summer storm, complete with thunderclaps that make your heart skip

the way she smiles slowly, then wide

inhaling the scent of one you love

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

note to self: humility/sincerity combined with brazen confidence is the zen combo

revelation: being undivided is the key to health. If I want to be there when I am here, or if I am resisting something (a sadness, a reality of what’s happening, a loss, a grief) or if I “really don’t want something to happen” and that’s all I can focus on….then that discord will create a lack of ease, a lack of harmony/wellness. If I can inquire into my fear, my resistance…and loosen the grip on my desire to control….i fall into harmony with life itself, and then I just become fascinated with What Is, and there is less suffering (not lack of pain…which is part of this funny journey). All of this, of course, if the aspiration. I am still human after all. And I don’t always rock this.

Thanks, Aaron Sorkin. Gave this New Yorker goose bumps.

ACN is now able to report and confirm that for the first time in almost three decades, the world has no reason to fear Osama Bin Laden.  In just a moment, in a live address to the nation, the president will announce that in a coordinated operation “Under the Cover of Darkness”, U.S. Special Forces tonight killed the leader of Al Qaeda and the mastermind behind the deadly attack of September 11, 2001.  

It’s been 9 years, 7 months and 20 days since America’s most wanted criminal took from us 2,977 American sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, friends and colleagues.  We were transformed that morning into a different nation- more fearful and so, of course, more hostile.  And while nothing, not even this victory our country has waited for, for such a long time can bring back the souls lost on that terrible morning in New York City, in Virginia, in a field in Pennsylvania and all across america and the world, let tonight serve as a welcome reminder that throughout our history, America’s darkest days have always been followed by its finest hours.

Well. That struck more chords than I thought it would.

Saw a performance of “Moment” at Steep Theatre tonight, with DH. It is overwhelmingly about family and the roles we fall into within a unit, but also about tragedy and darkness and how we deal with one event in infinitely different ways.

(Reminder to self: look up the episode of TAL Cyndi was talking about this evening, about how differently two people in one couple tell the story of the same event.)

Angles are everywhere, it seems, and the way we deal or do not deal with things becomes an innate part of our personalities. The play was an excellent examination of familial roles, and the conclusion brought the obvious reminder that at the end of the day no matter how we deal with things, be it sarcasm or selective dementia or the building of a more perfect family unit than our original one, all we can do is turn out the lights, shut down the house, climb into bed, and try again tomorrow.

The past couple of weeks have been filled with themes, whether they are there because I have managed to lump like happenings and realizations together or whether they were grouped for me and presented with a bow, I’m not sure. Hardly matters.

Last week’s:

This isn’t what you thought you wanted or asked for, but it’s pretty damn nice so why not just enjoy it?  Whether it is relationships or weather or a freaking haircut, sometimes you get something that’s way nicer than you could have even hoped for. BASK IN THE FUCKING GLOW OF IT.


No room? Make space for yourself.  A reminder of something that should be obvious: spend more time doing things you love to do. More literally, move furniture around at The Green Mill to accommodate where you want to be and who you want to be next to.

And this week’s:

Don’t take up too much room. The five-foot-nothing Jabba the Hutt of a woman at Metro on Tuesday night almost bit my head off when I tried to occupy a space just past her. She claimed not only the ample square footage she physically took up but also the dome of negativity she was surrounded by, proving that while size matters, attitude matters so much more. Don’t be a shithead.


Caution: mouthing off to make someone react may cause damage to your own psyche. Dealing with the limited collective brain power of the people who work at the mortgage company which holds the loan to my mother’s condo pushed me to extremes this week, when I was sent a form that simply made no sense for me to fill out in this scenario. After getting answers that were clearly coming from a script that I just wanted to break him out of, I said to him:

“Turn to page two of this form you’ve sent me. Care to tell me how I might fill this employment and income information out on behalf of the borrower? Because my mother is the borrower, and my mother is dead, sir. She doesn’t have a job, or income. She is dead.”

That sentence was infinitely more jarring and hurtful to me than it was to him. So remember, when you put something out for effect, that the greatest effect may be on you.

Flexible Types

August 1, 2012

I have had several types of lovers/boyfriends. Some definitions were due to their chosen profession, others indicate a character trait of some kind:

The Artist. The Chef. The Bi-Polar Guy.

The Scientist. The Wine Guy. The Pol.

In turn, I have been several different girlfriend “types”: 

The Party Girl. The Unicorn. The Wedding Planner.

The Rock Show Chick. The Jailbait. The Jailbird.  

One thing I’ve never been very good at is holding back my own truths. It didn’t work for me when I was going on job interviews in St. Louis and the interviewer would ask how I liked it there; despite years when I tried my darndest, I simply don’t lie very well. There are times, though, when honesty doesn’t work, and somehow I think saying, “Well, madam, to this New Yorker, D.C. was little more than a bureaucrat’s hellhole with short buildings, so you can imagine what I think of your ‘charming’ Midwestern town.” wasn’t going to get me much of anywhere either.

(N.B.:  St. Louis turned out to be okay as long as I don’t have to live there, and I did manage to import the goodness I found there into my life. They know who they are.)

So in the years since, I have learned that (a) finding my truth and then immediately (b) broadcasting it when it’s summoned (and sometimes even when it isn’t) is the best way to live, for me anyway.

It has taught me to keep things simple, and to walk away not necessarily when things get complex, but when there is seemingly no resolution in sight, and no way to find common ground.

My marriage to DLC was a perfect example of this.  He is a kind man, and a loving man, but there were simply issues where we could not find common ground, and trusts that were broken and frayed beyond repair. I knew, despite the marriage counseling sessions and the endless conversations and even emails back and forth that we shouldn’t be husband and wife. So I left. And I know that I will probably never find a man who will love me as much as he did, because the fact is that he had me on something of a pedestal, which is difficult to live up to.  He’s a wonderful man, and he’ll make someone an amazing husband, he’s just not for me. We were taking up room in each other’s lives. We are both better off apart.

Incidentally, quite a few other things were happening at the same time as that relationship was crumbling:

  • My Mother’s health got worse, then better, then worse again.
  • I was working for a narcissist and twelve people who tiptoed around him, without having another job to fall back on, during a recession-quasi-depression putrid job market.
  • I had virtually no savings , since I’d been underpaid for so long that I had been drawing from them just to keep up with bills. You can’t leave a marriage, no matter how terrible it is, with no money and no job.

I had heard of an alternative medicine/energy healing modality called Reiki, and decided to investigate it further; initially because when you have someone you love who is sick and you’re feeling like there’s not much you can do, your helplessness pushes the bounds of what you might find credible or plausible.

At the risk of sounding like a complete loon, the Reiki worked, keeping my stress levels so low that even with all the negative factors working against me, I was able to not only deal with all of it but I was able to start turning things around.

I quit the crazy job. I still didn’t have another job to fall back on, but I made the decision that staying there was causing damage that was not worth the paycheck I was receiving.

I left the marriage that never should have been.

And so I embarked upon the Self-Love No Matter What tour. I found an apartment I loved in a neighborhood I loved and I filled it with artwork and furniture and made my surrounds exactly as I wanted them to be. I bought tickets to everything that appealed to me, whether it was a rock show or a flight destination. I started, right then, doing What I Wanted, When I Wanted, How I Wanted.

Some call this selfish. I call it one of the most fun ways to get into debt. And also, the most effective way to get back to ME.

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This is a really fucking long way to say that, after finding myself and being true to that self for the better part of the last 18 months, there are aspects of my life that are requiring some compromise, and I don’t know how to feel about it. Is this part of the lesson? Am I to learn patience in the next chapter? Or does the “giving in” part mean that I am being, somehow, less true to myself?

How does one who loves deeply and passionately temper that love and passion? How do we dial back from boiling to lukewarm, for the general comfort of others?

Should it even be considered, to be perhaps traded for the possibility of something beautiful and amazing in The Future, or would it just be a betrayal of a newly built belief system?

These are honest questions. I’m flexible, but not interested in bending so far that I break.