Sir Digby

scuffing one’s toe at the abyss

Today my lithotripsy procedure was moved up a few hours. As it worked out, the family and friend who’d planned to accompany me – to give me moral support and to drive me home – weren’t able to be there. I got to check in alone, fill out paperwork alone, receive my IV alone, and be wheeled into general anesthesia without saying goodbye to anyone.

It suited me, to be honest.

Illness, accident, and then death: they come for us all. When I arrived at the hospital I parked my car in the sunshine and looked out over my beloved Aberdeen. Any time could be one’s last; I suppose when heading off for a drug-induced near-death sleep, it’s as good a time as any to appreciate these sorts of experiences. I wouldn’t want anything different. I am happy with what I have.

But of course – I woke again, and lived to see another day.

And now that I’m home, and the house is quiet, I’m thinking on how quickly life changes. We have yet another mama kitty here in our home, with her five (thankfully healthy) little two-week old kittens. My children are navigating teen- and preteen-life and there have been a few surprises: some pleasant, and some less so. My halftime job is heading into a period of intensity: Friday, a man screamed at me on the phone, for no other reason than he is a very unhappy human being and he thinks abusing a woman in the clerical field will make him feel better.

A friend of mine passed, suddenly, on April 27th. My heart still hurts over this one. Thanks to the internet, and a passionate community of friends, I have been able to trade stories, to see old photos, and to process the grief. It is a welcome experience. I need people. Maybe on the terms that suit me best, but I need them all the same.

Then home. And housework, laundry, filing papers, paying bills. And kitten handling and maintenance. Life’s a full time job!

Sir Digby

on an uncharted atoll in the Pacific!

My daughter glides in the door and puts her arms around me. “How are you?” she asks, and she means it. Maybe no one is as kind, considerate, and loving as this child.

Sometimes I think she’s this way (in part) because of the effort I have put into being a good mother. Sometimes I think she’s this way (in part) because of all the mistakes I’ve made.

Sometimes I know I need to love her fierce while she’s here, and just be thankful.

My daughter shares her private life with me – so far, just me! – and this is truly incredible. I treasure her trust, and her disclosures, more than I can say.  I am humbled, honored, and glad. She’s going through Big Stuff right now and I know lots of her peers and classmates are going through The Shit, so. I am glad she thinks I’m safe.

So she asks me How Are You and the truth is, I am still tired and I’ve been tired a little while. I’ve had my ass handed to me by a fatigue that doesn’t make sense. Kidneys, maybe? I don’t know. I’m not anemic; today’s blood donation (re-)assured me on this. I can’t afford doctor care right now but if and when things settle down a bit I will make a move in that direction. For now: chin up. Drink water. Try: patience. Today I read a tweet online, an actress ran her first twelve miles and was ecstatic – I feel (a rare and) strangled kind of envy. I would love something different than what I have.

Actor Russell Johnson passed today; my fellow B-moviephile and author Scott wrote up a post and I had a nostalgic smile over last March’s Attack Of The Crab Monsters embroidery project. I haven’t sewn, not a lick, in about two weeks – which for me, is a Forever. If I had food in the pantry and gas in the car I could sew maybe, but even then I’d have to feel less tired.

Times like this I have to practice my patience. That kind of earth-shattering, centered bit of patience. Maybe things will get better; no matter what, I know they will Change.

blank sky

My son is awake and he’s making soft chirping sounds. Singing to himself in the bed. He says, “Cuddle me,” and I lay down next to him. He says, “I need love. Your job is to give me love.” He’s safe and every day each day that is all that matters.

Ralph is making up coffee, hot coffee. We have good coffee no matter what, well most days. Grandfather: gone. Family: best not to talk too much about that. Thanksgiving: cancelled. But I have a home of my own and children and a partner and wee pets who count on us. Our rabbit greedily eats the beet-peelings from the night before. He knocks a parsnip top out my hand when I offer it to him!

My daughter is home from school. She’s dead-tired. She writes on her whiteboard outside her room:

KEEP OUT
unless you’re Kelly Hogaboom
Plan: take a nap / be miserable

Ralph is worried but I tell him this is a Good Thing, she has boundaries. And she knows what she needs.

I am off to do the Wednesday thing I do. People who don’t get to be with their families for Thanksgiving; who get to be lonely and in a dark place. Some of them have no hope. I can offer that if they can listen.

I am two years six months sober today and every day is a gift.

small stone #24
Nothing goes
like it’s expected to.

small stone #25
cold cold cold
the car is cold
Your hands are warm.

“life’s a bitch at it’s best”

I just found out my friend Sandy died yesterday. A moment where I hear the news and I can’t hear anything else for a couple minutes.

I am Okay. Mostly I am having a painful but sweet experience of pure love… the grief is inseparable from the gratitude. She was a wonderful woman – I’d mentioned her only a few days ago, because she was/is tough as fuck and taught/teaches me to be grateful and to keep things in perspective. She was fucking BAD-ass. I learned a lot of wisdom from her – including what’s quoted in this post title.

Sandy wasn’t just a friend, she was a mentor to me and the first mentor I’ve lost since I got sober. She pointed at me the other day in a room full of people and called me a Miracle. And yeah, that was really nice to hear because coming from her, I know it’s truth.

Loss isn’t so bad, not if we appreciate things while we have them. Sandy is another example of how this is true. I expressed my love to her freely and she knew I loved her, and I knew she loved me. I will be at her memorial service.

I am sitting quietly with this loss. We’ll see where it goes.

you know our kids are huge now but still curl up on our laps, at home & in public

Phoenix = "Rockstar Pirate Witch"

There is something indefatigable about an intimate family life, something most beautiful when things are darkest, or most absurd. It’s like, the cynic in me, the girl-then-woman raised in a “militant agnostic” home (my father, anyway), some of the reasons I’ve written here for years is an attempt to communicate what it’s like to live my experience. The more I’ve written, the easier it flows, and the happier I feel. I mean often I don’t even think how valuable or interesting this might be to others, I’m just compelled to try to tell you about it if you want to read. I think there’s a lot to gain in relating to one another.

But yeah, there are these great moments in a family that are kind of … terrible moments. Like yesterday while we drove out to a birthday party, with three kids packed in the back of the car, one kid holding a cake and another a cat in a carrier (for a “pet show” of sorts), and suddenly the cat starts puking. Like you can really hear the chunkage, back there. And then there’s this sudden silence from three previously-rowdy kids and my daughter silently rolls down the window and somberly says, “You in the front: you’re lucky.” I mean I felt terrible for my kitty – who ceased vomiting upon arrival, only hours later to start up again as soon as we got back in the car – but it was one of those deliciously ridiculous FAILmoments that is best experienced with those you love, love, love.

Cake and birthday wishes. An honor to share them with others:

Birthday Cake

“Pet contest”, Harris was given special consideration for his sadness. Those are my two kids at left in the eared-hats.

Harris Really Wasn't Feeling Well

Life has been lovely the last couple days. Today I’m having another painful series of episodes with my kidneys. That is never encouraging. I have accepted my illness in full (except for one nagging caveat, see below), and I am grateful for these repeated bouts of pain as they have taught me a great deal about acceptance. These experiences have also taught me a great deal about unconditional love, to wit: I receive it from many of my friends, and all of those in my close family.

Having this ailment has taught me a lot about humility.

I know it seems like I wouldn’t have anything good to say about a supposedly zero-sum illness, but I do. Still, sometimes the remnants of denial rear their head. I keep thinking, Why me? (not out of self-pity, just a genuine bit of confusion), or thinking, any minute I’ll be “cured” and this won’t be happening any more. Still, these are only blips on my radar, persistant as they are. To the extent I am serene and genuinely grateful through such a puzzling experience, I can put that at the feet of first my alcoholism and then my resultant experience in Recovery.

I know I’m going to learn more about why I’m sick in this way – if not the nuts and bolts or a scientific explanation – and one day I’ll be able to tell you, Why Me.

***

By the way. In honor of Father’s day I’m re-linking a couple posts about my father’s influence on my life (and my thoughts on his death), recent writings if you didn’t see them the first time around. If you have seen them, apologies for redundancy. I didn’t need to write another piece, so soon, and I didn’t make time to write one about Ralph or any other fathers in my life.

“Loneliness comes with life.”

I have this odd thing about milestones, an internalized pressure I have to have a good day. I’m supposed to, you know. On Christmas, Valentines, my birthday. That “supposed to” leaves me little room for being human, being fallible, making mistakes, not knowing what’s going on, committing errors. It’s not a very good force in my life, that “supposed to”. I’m sure many people can relate.

It happens I used to feel some self-pity when my birthday came and I felt blue, or things didn’t work out to my satisfaction, or the boyfriend wasn’t nice or I didn’t have a girlfriend or whatever. A long time ago, I think, the self-pity bit. Because several years ago I realized I had been given a very special life to live. Maybe this sea change germinated during my 17th and/or 18th birthdays, where both years my close friends pulled off some excellent surprise party-age for me; two years in a row tricking me, by the way – I was totally convinced nothing special was going down (and yes, I felt self-pity before the “SURPRISE!”, then felt like an ass, predictably). Or my 21st where I got a car with a bow on it from my parents, after a lovely dinner at the posh little restaurant my brother-in-law worked at. Or my 30th, the last few days in Port Townsend, when I had the most overwhelming and lovely going away/birthday party (P. remember you came down with gastritis?!). Or just the many little and brilliant things that have happened on so many birthdays. The small little stack of cards on my shelf right now with wonderful things written in them from good friends.

I have had in my life a lot of love and many wonderful friends. They’ve given me so many gifts: their time, their handcrafted wonderfulness, their gifts, sometimes quite extravagant, their gifts, usually knowing me and what I adore. They’ve given me their company and their kind regards and even those emails and little DMs and IMs and texts and handwritten cards. They’ve given me flowers and cakes topped with flowers, and wrapped-up lusciousness and very dear perfumes which were a pleasure to apply every morning. They’ve given me coffee and teas and soaps and candles and lipsticks, those things in life that make such a gift out of the smallest rituals. They’ve given me their company whether I felt happy or blue, whether I was being selfish or rude or distracted or happy. They’ve given, given, given.

They’ve gifted me all this and more.

I can only say Thank You to these friends and family; I can only say Thank You to the universe and re-commit to appreciating those in my life. I can re-commit to being kind and telling these people how I feel. I can only commit to taking more care to gift others, not out of obligation but because they are special people to me and gifting is a wonderful privilege. This sounds like only a little, but it is a lot. It is easy to get distracted and to not appreciate those in life when they are right here with us, to love or ignore, our choice.

I seem to have less of a mind for detail than I used to. I used to be able to remember so many things the kids and I did and I would write them all up here on this journal. Reading my old entries causes me pain. I think I was funnier, I know I had more pain and was more crass, I know I had more drama, but I think I’m still about as passionate. Still, I can only write as well as I do.

Here’s one event from the day: Phoenix and I were lying in bed this afternoon as I didn’t feel well (seriously I really did injure myself on that dance floor last night, my creaky old joints need more practice!), and she started making fun of my saggy boobs (they aren’t that saggy, but, whatever). And she was going on with quite a bit of prose on this fantasy so like really quickly all of a sudden I grabbed at her and poke-tickled her ribs (my brother had this move down with his boney-ass fingers) and she collapsed laughing and said, “I love insulting you!” and I said I would smash her flat, and she said, “You can’t control who you gave birth to!” and I said, “I know, and I immediately regret the choice to have you!” and we laughed really hard.

Then she fell quiet for a moment and corrected herself that yes, I could have chosen to not birth her, or to birth her but not raise her. And she grew somber and said how people who had too many cats would take a new litter and put it the creatures in a bag and throw it in the water. I said, “Yes, that is a sad thing.” She said, “It’s awful.” Then she said, “I think people might be doing this right now,” and her perfect little mouth was quite grave.

And I said, “Now that you have that awareness you can take care of animals, and teach others the value of caring for life.”

And Phoenix said, “What I’d like to do, is cross-breed kittens with snakes. Then if someone went to put them in a bag, [ mimics hissing / striking action ].”

Kitten-snakes.

So anyway, that’s one of the people I live with, and how their mind works.

Oh and yeah? It turns out, after a rough start, I did have a very nice birthday.

***

R.I.P. Whitney Houston; & here I have a dedication to my homegirl J., remember when we used to watch this in the apartment on 8th?

connected relationships

Tonight I was honored to be invited to the home of a grieving family. A little past midnight, and I’ve just returned to my own home, husband, and children. I am tired. But I am grateful for the wisdom not to run from death, and not to leave alone those who need our presence, our prayers, our practice, and our practical assistance.

Tonight I am also grateful for spiritual traditions which give me more dividends every day. I am considering a ceremony of some small sort  to commemorate taking refuge in the Three Jewels. I have some more study to do and a few people to talk to.

Today my son brought me two gifts he purchased with his own money. I am daily reminded that through many mistakes I have done surprisingly little damage to my children; or perhaps, even in these last ten years I repeatedly saw fit to change and undo the damage I could. Our connectedness is really quite profound.Perhaps their health is mostly credited to their own strengths. At home, living then going out and returning, I receive much respectful and loving speech and the kindness and kisses and hugs of children very much alive in their own skin. I reflected tonight that perhaps even from their infancy, when I was determined to set aside an income and material possessions to nurture them as best I could, that this was a wise decision. This decision seemed to come from something deep within myself and separate from my Ego, a decision separate from my own greed, fear, insecurity, and worldly desires.

I am very tired tonight. It was my intention to write a bit here, as I like to write best, things that some said to me and events that happened. Some of these involve other lives and I therefore am anxious to keep private what others may need private. I am also very weary and individual instances that might be shared without hurting others, are not flowing easily from my fingertips.

I will say I learned a few things today. One is that I will not practice resentments or judgments against other living beings. The second is that my past is my greatest asset, and must be understood to the best of my ability in order to help myself and others. The final, a more practical manner, is that sitting on a cold surface may bring the onset of hemorrhoids, and that at the very least one should place a magazine between our posterior and cold cement.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. – Mother Teresa

burn it as fuel for our journey

This summer while waiting for a friend I sat in a sunny living room and talked with a young man and his mother. The young man was a little more interested in my conversation than his mother seemed. He was watching a documentary I’d seen not two weeks before and had really enjoyed. He and I had a brief but interesting discussion and I thought how pleasant it was to talk with someone who had such a spark and such an intelligent mind.

Today that young man committed suicide in that same home I sat in a few months ago.

I know the family. They are friends. If I sit here and feel stunned and think maybe there could have been something, some clue, something I could have done, I can only imagine what his close friends and family must feel. As a mother it is painful to consider the implications of today.

We are all, each of us, such crystal-clear and breathtakingly beautiful phenomenon. The idea that someone can suffer so much as to end such a living breathing unique manifestation is quite sobering to comprehend.

Today, the 27th, is the monthly date anniversary for sobriety. I had forgotten until I saw the date in a book. My friend gave me a little gift. Afterwards I took my children to the Y to go swimming and, while they cavorted, attended a Board meeting for the local Buddhist group where I was indoctrinated into service. I picked up lunch for the children and met another friend back at the Y and we ate and talked and enjoyed each other’s company.

Today is a day for holding tight that which we value.

just to peel the potatoes

Bob is standing behind me, he sits and stands during the fireworks display here along the river, long hair and beard and biker leather jacket and riding chaps. Behind him Dana and Steve and then next to me Robin like a flower, a large blooming iris, sedate but wry good humor, here on my blanket. She’s beautiful, but shy about me taking a picture. What’s funny is our little group has accidentally situated ourselves under a speaker playing music – loudly – and there is such a crush of people in attendance there’s no point much in moving ourselves. This speaker plays a relentless series of increasingly patriotic tripe, including a country song about a three-day beard and cooking rice in the microwave and how awesome that is (what?), and then I think it’s Beyonce showboating “God Bless the USA”. Chris joins us on the blankets a bit later and hums or sings along the music, to much consternation from some members of the group, but upon the Armed Services Medley I know all the words to “Wild Blue Yonder” and “Anchors Aweigh” and such back from Veterens’ Day performances in choir. Then there’s Neil Diamond belting out “Coming to America” which inspires a vague wave of simultaneous nostalgia and nausea. “Jesus CHRIST,” groans Robin under her breath. And I laugh each comment she makes.

When the fireworks slam up ahead I feel increasingly astounded and it has nothing to do with the crowds or pyrotechnics or the friends or the hot coffee in my hand or the cold grass beneath my seat. I feel the presence of God, or Divine Chance, or whatever or whomever you might name unless you’d maintain none of that is real, but for me God is pressing down on me like squashing an ant, for the first time ever, in a way that surpasses experiences of pleasure or pain and carries not even a strong emotional response. How is it I am alive? is all that occurs to me. BOOM BOOM BOOM thunders in the sky and in my body. How is it I’m here to be this way, sober now some time and of a clean (enough) mind and on a blanket with friends and I’m given breath to draw. Normally I’d be heckling and hassling or running up to be with Ralph and the kids (who are scattered off at the playground with other kids and teens) but instead I stay on the blanket like I was assigned there and this particular duty was of utmost importance.

The fireworks finale is even more beautiful than the year before, or perhaps it’s just my state of mind and body and spirit, then people clap and I fold blankets and I hug my friends and wait for my family to join me. “Blood Moon,” the kids tell me when they arrive and I look and perceive the deep-red sliver they’re pointing to. Walking to the car and the air is cold but ripe with possibility and promise, and people run off to fight or drink or fuck (or all three) or maybe just slip into a hot bath and then to bed (as I long to do).

It was a good day.

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

friday untidy

Must-Reads of the Week
“Regrets of the Dying”, as written by a hospice nurse. Being with someone who’s dying was a deep privilege for me, and this article – though more about life than death – reminded me of this experience. Read and learn.

Grown Unschooler Cheyenne La Vallee: “Everyone has it in themselves to be passionate and motivated.” at Idzie’s blog. Out of all the stuff I’ve read and seen on the internet this week, this was the most stunning on a personal level. Reading an interview like Cheyenne’s gives me hope for our world.

Culture
“Play Nice” by Simon Rich from The New Yorker
I don’t know what’s more disturbing to me – the fact grownups think chldren are less-than-people so don’t feel, think, or notice the same stuff grownups do; or the fact some grownups recognize the personhood of children on some level but think it is their RIGHT to tromp all over them anyway.

Pop Culture
I got a monster dedicated to me on Monday, at Twisted Vintage. Which led me to searching up a color version and finding a thread full of awesome B-movie monsters, which are one of my favorite things, ever.

Some great points collated at Soc Images: “Gender, Boobs, and Video Game Characters”. It’s pretty funny how readers (well… maybe that’s the wrong noun, as some of them clearly did not read the article) instantly jump in and say, “But-but-but male figures are idealized too! It totally goes both ways!” First of all, hint, no it doesn’t, but nice try. Secondly, the post is meticulously linked to many arguments which delineate physical idealization (which absolutely applies to both genders) vs. sexual availability via tortured postures and under a consumptive gaze. Or to put it articulately: dur! The cited redrawn examples of the poses of male vs. female characters is particularly awesome and leaves me shaking my head but really reading the text and looking at the images and boggling at how so NOT “both ways” it goes. The original work (Wizard’s How to Draw: Heroic Anatomy) is a depressing one to fathom but I fear very representative of comic culture. “It’s the subtleties of this piece that make it sexy.” LULZLULZ

Here’s some adorableness from TheRealNimoy’s twitpic feed (which is great if you at all are a fan of “Star Trek” or Nimoy). The original ST was one of only two television shows I remember in the very brief time in my childhood that I was exposed to television in my home (or, bus, as it were). So these two were like half-assed second fathers, talking to me from a 12″ old-school box balanced on a narrow counter by the fold-up couches.

Professer goes on a rant (this is sort of an unpleasant watch, warning):

People like to toss out the phrase, “acting like a baby” or compare grownups who react in anger, in a social setting, to tantrum-throwing toddlers. However, of course, toddler emotional displays are developmentally appropriate and it is not children who have such thoroughly entrenched and fragile ego structures as so elegantly demonstrated here (note how the professor repeatedly demands the other students rat out the yawner – tattling FTW!). Incidentally I went to college and got a degree through a competitive and difficult program. It was grueling. I feel sorry for these students as to get the piece of paper they need (or believe they need) they have to put up with this guy. And lots of guys like him. And lots other bullshit. And no sleep. And etc.

Make/Craft
Self-Portrait Ski Mask at CRAFT
I’ll probably never be able to see a balaclava without a little titter about the balaclava perv who found me on my Flickrstream. This balaclava however is head and shoulders (uh…) above any I’ve seen before. Very fun, if a bit creepy!

Mexican Chicken Soup by Ina Garten; I believe I posted a picture of this earlier in the week. It is truly and amazingly delicious and perfect for the fuck-fuck-fuck-COLD some of us are experiencing!

Homemade Marshmallows, a recipe from my blog, which may or may not be Martha’s (I truly do not know). Any locals want in on these (or non-locals), shoot me an email at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I’m making them up on the 10th.

Random Excellence
From reader R. (you may see him as Kidsync), one of his occasional-but-always-golden comics:

Unschool Improv: Not-so-great Expectations

And from the BBC “My Blackberry is not working!”: