you’re motoring / what’s your price for flight?

My dog Hutch and I have some kind of bromance going on. But it’s not one of these rude, crass, and fumbly kinds like you’re seeing in so many films today. No our bromance is like – Appaloosa‘s. Or Casablanca‘s. Or “ST:TOS”‘s. Like we’re talking TOP NOTCH bromance. A classic one.

Ralph and the kids are camping this weekend and I’m still sick, and stumbling around like I’m high. Today I was too ill to do much but drink water, eat food brought to me, and care for the pets. As it was, the walk for my dog just about did me in.

It’s ironic – or maybe it’s not, because I never really do “get” what irony is – that the first weekend in a very very long time I have it to myself, I am too sick to do anything really. To sick even for the modest assignments I’d given myself – housework, a sewing project, a few gatherings. Tonight a girlfriend invited me out to a dishy movie and I’m too sick to sit in a theatre. That is just: BALLS.

I’m patient, though. I no longer think of being ill as some persecution or trial. It is rather practice. Practicing patience. Today I had the opportunity of helping out a few friends who called me, and one acquaintance who wanted to borrow something. In fact it was rather odd that just by breathing in and out, and being willing to take calls, I was still able to help people – even in my weakened condition.

Lights out on the porch: windchimes and a summery balm to the air. I’d like to be out running around but it’s okay to be in and having a fever too. #sanguineAF, that’s me.

the loss of an elder

My grandfather is dying. He will be gone very soon. My mother is flying to be there, and with her family, first thing tomorrow. I am staying here because I cannot afford to travel. And because my life is kind of a mess. Being broke is not really the worst, it just means I have less breathing room in some ways, and that includes plane fare and food out and a rental car or whatever.

He is my last remaining grandparent.

My grandfather was one of the first people I knew. I grew up with him until I was eight. He was very loving as a grandfather, having been a hardworking (and absentee-via-the-workplace) father. He and my grandmother were married to eachother for an epoch. They loved eachother very much although they were also alcoholic wrecks in a lot of ways. But they were MY wrecks and I love them more than I can say!

We lost my grandmother almost eleven years ago, when I was just barely a parent. At the time Ralph and I were just transitioning from a two-income no-kid life so we flew down there, down to Southern California. Would you believe it, my bosses at the time gave me a lot of grief for staying away for more than two days? I have not spent one moment regretting taking that time to be with my family while my grandmother died (one week).

I remember right after my grandmother passed, on the fourth of July, going out to breakfast with my mom, my grandpa, my husband and infant daughter… maybe one of my aunts. I was amazed to be with my grandfather when he’d only a few minutes ago become a widower. That is still a pretty intense memory.

I am the only grandchild to have given him great-grandchildren. My grandfather loved that I gave my son a Swedish name as his mother was Swedish – born there.

I am going to be thinking about my grandfather a bit and writing about him.

I can feel my husband watching me, wondering how I am feeling.

Sometimes I think my present life circumstances are so overwhelming it is amazing I am functioning, and even functioning with some grace and dignity. Yes, I am a busy woman and I work hard. But there are some things I did not ask or plan for and that I cannot control or stop happening, or even slow down.

I am starting to think that when stuff like this happens, I’m *supposed* to feel overwhelmed.

“When you can do nothing, what can you do?”

***

I am on the bike and it is cold, and it is dark. I am wearing my new SWEATERPANTS. They are amazing because they are a poisonous green-yellow and they are wool and so warm. From the waist-up I’m cold because that’s mostly cotton. Being cold and sweating at the same time. Ugh.

I don’t miss my volunteer work for nothing, unless I’m out of town. It is so dark and my headlamp is faint and I almost hit a curb. That would have sucked! I am cold cold cold and it feels like it’s taking me forrreeeeever to get where I’m going (it’s not, though).

I walk up the hill. I am on edge. A large dog, a goddamned HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, steps into the road ahead, a silhouette. When I pass the darkened yard he’s receded into I let out a long, surrendered breath, the fear of sharp-teeth and violent attack. But: nothing.

I pass by. Cars out with their lights and thinking of their warmth, presumably they have heaters, and I am cheered.

***
small stone #23
I awaken from a short sleep,
A child, singing in the bathroom.
Not my child!

please leave my pasty white thighs in peace

Yesterday I listened a (sober) drunk talk about his drinking for a bit. At one point he said: “It used to be fun… then it was fun and consequences… then it was just Consequences.” I started laughing in that kind of way I do where there is nothing past the moment of my laughter, a big belly laugh really that feels good. GOOD LORD do I remember the days – brief in my drinking career, as drinking careers go – of “just Consequences”. Those consequences I can enumerate if you like but the main point is they got to a place beyond what I could endure. I am here to tell you there are people who can Endure a great deal and today I have nothing but awe for this. They’re no weaker or stronger, more or less spiritual than I – it’s just a Thing.

Anyway I’m here one hundred percent for someone who wants to get sober. They can text or call day or night and I am one hundred percent. You don’t even need to think you can do it (I sure didn’t think I could!), you just have to want it in this way that is deep in your bowels, even if only a little bit, if that wanting is a little twinge right now while you’re reading. If you’re already thinking about it why not join those of us doing it? It’s like sitting at the top of the biggest awesomest water slide that everyone tells you is SO FUN and you know they’re right but you’re messing about and thinking of just walking down the stairs with sad Charlie Brown music. No! GO for it because you’ll be tortured until you do!

So, enough of that. When I write about alcoholism and addiction it’s generally to crickets, or at least a dearth of comments (don’t think I don’t notice!). Odd since it touches so many lives – it tells me stigma is very real. I still do it though, write about it, because perhaps there are those out there reading who find any kind of strength and hope or even amusement or even, “She’s crazy, how can she stand herself?”

And oh, I was slut-shamed today. I walked into a room and a woman yelled out, “Where’s the rest of your outfit?” I was taken aback and took my seat and thought about it and quietly asked myself why I was disturbed. A crystal-clear moment came to me: there’s no way this woman would have shouted that “joke” without an audience – she never would have confronted me in any way had it been just she and I. Sad thing is she (probably both victim and perpetrator) makes it hard as a woman to love my body and just be in my body and not feel it’s on display or that people have the right to size me up and put me down; she doesn’t know how difficult it is to give myself permission to dress a way where I’m not overheated. She doesn’t know I hardly have anything in my closet and I’d actually thought my on-Sale Target short-sleeved black dress was cute until she Jezebel’d my ass. Her shouting at me is just one bit of that endemic ladyhate out there that we don’t realize we’re breathing until we choke on it. It’s boring yeah but it’s also oppressively sad. I don’t have anything I learned from that except Yes, when people try to humiliate me it can actually work sometimes.

And finally: one of our two missing kitties came home, Harris. He was oddly starved – as in he’d lost a lot of weight, but he was so grateful and tender to be home. He has been like a new cat, all friendly and sweet and not biting us with his huge shark teeth. I do not know what is up but I hope the personality stays even if his weight comes back. Hutch continues to improve, which is wonderful. Hamilton, alas, is still missing.

The kind words, texts, and emails during our recent difficulties – financial, health, and pet troubles – have been so lovely. I can tell you it is never a waste of time to reach out and give some love. That kind of kindness has no endpoint.

Thank you.

“with all associations broken, one forms new ones, as a broken bone thickens in healing”

I hear the tail end of the young woman’s sentence. She’s crying: “… it’s how you guys make me feel!” My friend M. speaks in to her in low tones, but is quickly interrupted: “It wasn’t even you,” the crying young woman says. “It was her.” I can feel her accusatory tone all the way down the hall, I swear I picture her finger stabbing at me.

Who wants to be her? Not me. I am aghast. I’ve been doing this work twice a week for almost two years and this is the first time I’m the sonovabitch, or more accurately, I can hear someone saying I’m the sonovabitch. And who wants to be the sonovabitch? Again: not me.

This is a time of transition for me. I am moving into a different set of responsibilities in some of my volunteer work; I am leaving behind other duties and letting other parties take them, just when (of course!) I was starting to feel comfortable, like I had half a clue, like I was halfway decent at this work. It makes a kind of Universal Sense I’d get this kind of jolt tonight, someone forming a grudge. It’s an apt, ignominious footnote a period of my life I’d come to treasure, and the finale of this episode. Because I’m going to miss going up to the treatment center, never missing Wednesdays, never missing Sundays unless I was in the hospital or out of town. I’m going to miss it a whole hell of a lot and I would write on and on here about it, if I didn’t think it would be breaking the trust of those I work with. So without saying more, let me just say I’m in mourning. I think there was this little bit of me who was clinging on to the thought of never letting go of it because it was becoming a part of me. But I think the right thing to do is grow a little more and try something new and put my ass on the line a little bit more.

***

I remember the first time I heard it, really heard it, when a very wise friend of mine said, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” I had this instant sense of revulsion and fear upon hearing this because at the time, I knew what other people thought of me mattered so very, very, very much and I hated that it mattered like it did. I tried hard, so hard, to be a good person (wife mother sister daughter friend citizen) but how hard could I really have been trying, when what I never wanted to hear was someone’s disapproval. It drove me absolutely crazy, and I could absolutely fixate on myself and my mistakes (fancied or real); even worse, I could fixate on their character faults (fancied or real). That kind of thin-skin or self-absorption or whatever, well the practice of self-improvement is seriously compromised when you’re living that way.  Other people’s irritation was a bit scary, probably scary like the Normal Amount most people feel when someone is irritated with them – but outright hatred? My only guess is I was more affected by the abuse I’d survived than I realized; I still carry the memories within my body, not just my mind. Still carry that fear of other people; not so much the people as the Hate itself. Hate still frightens me so, but usually only when it’s directed at me or I perceive it is. If you knew my whole gory history (and some of you know a bit of it), you’d probably understand. It’s no excuse; it’s just where I’m at some of the time.

Driving home tonight I feel pangs. On reflection, I wouldn’t have done or said anything different than I did, even though it apparently did not please this one individual. & yet, I know that the pain this woman is feeling has almost nothing to with me; rather it’s a lot of horrid shit that’s gone down in her life, and her own self-pity. I know because I’ve been there and I try to treat people the way I wanted to be treated then, and want to be treated today. With kindness and directness. You know, both those things aren’t as easy as they sound, especially when like me you’ve got a goddamned brain disease. Yeah and again. I’m not trying to make excuses, just saying there are days it’s rough up in this bitch.

Yeah. Good days versus “growth days”. “Growth days” is a nice euphemism for, “here’s a wee cockpunch!”

Thunderball

“On you, anything looks good!”

Thunderball
These women don’t make anatomical sense,
but I can tell you the inseam on Bond’s orange wetsuit is rendered exactly.

Tonight: 6 PM Pacific Standard Time, #BondBFFs with my friend @court_anonymous and whomever else would like a little cinematic diversion. We are watching the fourth of the Bond films, Thunderball. I will say two things: this is the first Bond film to feature a man singing the theme, and 2. That man is Welsh TOM JONES and before I die I’d like to throw my panties onstage to one of his performances.

 

Follow our commentary at #BondBFFs on awesometi.me; better yet, get your copy of Thunderball*, pause the film immediately after the MGM lion fades, and press play again at exactly 6 PM PST according to this site’s clock.

* (My advice? Buy a legal version, and download/torrent it to put the file on the computer through VLC or some such, so streaming internet doesn’t make viewing stutter.)

then I got to listen to a lot, a LOT, of Lowellian cursing

Brrr!

By the time I’d walked a mile in an absolutely wet, windy, and rainy blizzard through piles and piles of snow, and waited and waited and waited for a bus, and given up after making phone calls and texting and other plans, while huddling wet and cold against the icy brick contemplating a plan, and realized I’d be unable to make my meeting, and finally gave up and headed home,

I admit, by then I felt a few tears rise in my throat. I mean after all the whole business was about two hours exposure without relief (yes, in light of certain anniversaries today, I know I am whinging, big time). And what was funny is to think as I first set off through the snow, I was wondering if maybe taking a few hours out of my day to make one meeting where a solid half the clients are nodding out from Suboxone, and I thought maybe I’m a fool, maybe I’m wasting my time. Well it seems the Universe was beating me into humility because after all that I didn’t even make it. Well, the Universe isn’t so unkind, I guess – it was my choice, I could either re-learn humility or just be pissed and cramped. I elected the former.

But at the beginning of the “adventure” I had a nice walk with Ralph. Our gonads were frozen solid by the time we got to the barren comfort of overhead shelter:

FROZEN

(Given GH Transit wait times the “No Loitering” sign seems a bit… ironic.)
(Actually, as previously discussed, I’m unsure what “irony” really is. Yes, I’ve looked it up.)

Ralph ran across the way to grab me a coffee; he went by himself in case the bus came by and I missed my opportunity. This was back when I had a backup plan of sipping the coffee and holding it close for warmth, while I waited. Back before he’d left and I’d gone on to wait an hour before a bus came, a bus that wouldn’t have gone near my destination, meaning there would be no time for me to make my appointment, and I had to give it all up. Yes, back when I was so naive. I had a lot of growing up to do.

Ralph Ventures To Get Me Coffee

I was bundled up well but the rain had soaked my jeans and that was my downfall. Wet jeans. Holy Shit.

So I eventually went home and the exercise, plus the high of dodging scary drivers sliding on ice, worked off my aforementioned upset.

And then after I got home it took a long, long time to warm up. I watched Reel Injun while waiting to feel my face again.

 
Then I watched The Fighter (although I’d already seen it a year ago) while finishing up the details on the last homesewn item for the upcoming magazine spread.

Several kids came and went, wet and getting fed and getting re-dressed in dry clothes. We washed and dried and hung things up. Ralph made a lovely dinner of turkey sliders on homemade buns, yellow tomato and avocado dressing with lemon, carrot sticks, and potato chips, and we fed whatever children ran through the house.

Then we set up all the outdoor stuff to dry in time for more snow adventures tomorrow.

Boots Upon Boots

eh, i think i want a do-over. but i don’t get one.

I got to follow a three year old around today while his mama was occupied at a child-unfriendly event.* It was a wonderful and terrible thing. Wonderful because I had my head straight as to what a three year old needs (to run around and be followed, to have questions answered and to have my calm attention. To be taken to a nearby pet store. Quite simple, really!) and it was a joy to enjoy this little one and to help his mother who has no family and rarely gets help at these events that I’ve seen.

Terrible? Why so? Well, I gritted my teeth thinking of how poorly I’d done for my own kids when they were little, and how poorly I’ve done since, I still do, because I can’t shake my residual training and my bad habits. But back then, yeah, I just couldn’t figure out, back when I had babies, that it was my environs that were so often fucked up, making little practical room for what children need and extending very little assistance to carers, usually mothers, who were responsible for all this (Arwyn’s written about this a lot better than I can). I just ate myself up trying to make myself and my kids not inconvenient, I gulped conversation with other moms at the park when the kids would play, I was dying for time out of pressure, which is why I lose the compassion and love people often tell me I have when I hear some weekend dad or non-carer or non-parent complain about moms who take kids to the park and don’t play with them or text or whatever. Like, seriously, playing with kids is awesome, but prescribing it when seeing a beleaguered mama population at one of the few places kids are allowed to run around and make noise? Please directly Go Fuck Yourself, and I mean it in the kindest of ways, I’ll wait for you to get back.

Yeah, my husband used to get pissed we’d go to a film with the young kids and he’d end up taking the squirrelly one out to the lobby and miss some of the movie. He still gets this way sometimes. I understand he’s pissed but I mean, shit that’s what I had to deal with my nine-hour shift out in public day after day after day after day (go into the coffee shop and a person with a laptop sitting at a fourtop who gives us an icy glare and others ignore us, outside at a picnic table and a kiddo runs across the grass and not one person laughs and gently herds young child to safety, but people look up angrily for – ME), and that’s been so much, so many years of my life, my child(ren) unwelcome unless he/she/they were silent and near immobile (I hear it’s not like that everywhere) when he/she/they wanted to ask questions, to talk, to run, to climb, the very things they really should be doing and not just when they’re tiny but I think for many many early years.

And yeah there are situations and people and oases that get that kids are part of the population, and those are lovely. But seriously I mean this event today, apparently people expected a three year old to sit quietly, and no there was nothing at all for the kid to do, no room to play in, nothing (a seven hour event). I am not upset about the event or even thinking about it much, truly, I’m upset about my stupidity when I was a younger mom, about how hard I worked to be “good” and to have “good” kids, and about all the twisted stuff this set up within me and how much I sacrificed and how much less I enjoyed my kids, the most lovely people on this earth to me.

It just fucking kills me.

I dunno, sometimes I think since we all spent a lot of time being kids, maybe some of us should consider regularly putting some time in a grimy parking lot keeping a three year old safe (and actually having a good time with him because he was lovely) so Mama can have thirty minutes to breathe, have a cup of coffee, or take care of her other responsibilities. When we see a child run across the street we can slow down and laugh and wave and say, “Careful!” and smile, or take a few minutes and talk to a child, because who are we to be in such a Big Goddamned Important Hurry we can’t acknowledge some of the most vulnerable and impressionable and inexperienced and (usually) disempowered populations of the human race, the very creatures who decide the fate of the planet and who might stand to grow up free and lovely and well-taught and loved-up instead of – pained and anxious and servile and scared and angry?

Eh, besides other mamas in my life – who were also themselves working so hard – very few people helped me in these generous and level ways when the kids were little, or maybe many did but the intolerance and ignorance of others was way more, or at least loudest in my ears. I can’t change that I internalized all this as being Not Good Enough and I Need To Work Myself Harder and Sit Still and Be QUIET! or we’re GOING  HOME! But I can, as long as I’m able, remember to look out for and be loving to little ones and their carers. I guess if there’s one thing I’ve gained it’s that. It’s that I knew to offer this woman time. It wasn’t much but I didn’t see anyone else volunteering.

And the little guy S. was more excited about a fiddler crab at that pet shop than anything. And you know what, now that I spent a minute checking it out, I discovered a fiddler crab is pretty fucking awesome.

grumblings of a mouthbreather

I hate being sick and to have to cancel on the roadtrip for Phoenix and I – something we both so looked forward to – is icing on the ass-pastry of despair. One thing’s for sure, though. Having children and a partner who spend the day asking after my health, bringing me drinks of water and whatever else I need, is the best of a bad scenario. This morning when I confessed to my daughter we wouldn’t do our drive and drive and drive she put her arms around me and whispered, “Aw… mama, it’s okay.” A few minutes later she put her face in the pillow and cried a few silent tears. I am not even kidding.

I’m biding my time and resting and watching a bunch of grisly (but mostly just deeply sad) murder television on Netflix. I am being patient but looking forward to being better. I can’t wait to take her with me.