Thursday, October 31, 2013


The only person I can change, and should change, is myself.

I am coming to a place of acceptance in that. I have been preaching that mantra as a child-rearing and teaching strategy for a long time, trying to adhere to it as an adult, and failing for some of the most important people in my life.

I need to be accepting. I don't have to love it, like it, or lump it; I can walk away; I can say no. I don't have to be part of something that  don't agree with, but I am going to make the really difficult and important effort to just accept people as they are. Dane did that. It was an important lesson that I missed.

I will fail, probably more often than not, for awhile. I have failed to do this for myself frequently, and I certainly deserve my own acceptance just as much as the other people in my life.

So there's that. My self-help of the day. It sounds really cheesy, I know, but (to use a vocabulary word I gave to my students this week), it really was an epiphany in the past 24 hours that changed my mind.  This blog feels kind of like a twelve-step program in that the first step is recognizing I have a problem. I am Judgey McJudgerson so loudly in my head sometimes I can't even hear myself think. I am too aware of myself to let it all out, but it's a burden I am ready to put down.

We'll see what happens.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another Saturday Night

I feel like a broken fucking record.

Sicily, if you are reading this you might want to stop now. There is brief gross adult content that you don't want to have in your mind below. You have been warned.

Today (Saturday. I am transcribing this on Sunday) I ran all over hell's half-acre, to softball practice (twice), to a birthday party, and finally to etiquette class, ending the evening killing time doing lonely loser shit like shopping for tulle for a Halloween costume and filling the Cube with gas. I am writing this entry longhand on Post-it notes on a new gluten-free cupcake book that was slated to be my evening's entertainment from 8-9:30 while I was waiting in the car for The Child to be finished with her thriving social life. For the last etiquette class (a month ago, also on a Saturday night from 8-9:30), I wandered through the aisles of Kroger and Target. #Awesome

And I haven't gone this long without having sex since 1995.

Yes, fixing the circular saw after I cut the cord this week was a pain in the ass. Yes, being solely responsible for every bit of softball (approximately 20 hours a week, unless you include tournaments, which ups the time commitment substantially) sucks. Yes, being the one who does all of the yard work (and all of the work, period) SUCKS. But the worst? No one to complain about it to. No partner in crime to get a drink with while we wait for the kid, or to giggle in the car as we watch awkward middle schoolers learn how to waltz, or to do other stuff in the car in a darker part of the parking lot.

Just me. Party of one.

This is none of anyone's business, I suppose, and I am not posting this for invitations. This is a record for me. I can't stand the sound of my own voice, bitching about this type of thing to friends, but it is infinitely more palatable to me on "paper." So I write today about how awful it feels to not have a male in my life. A girl won't cut the mustard for this one. I always tell Sicily that boys are dumb and smelly, and they don't start getting smart until they are about 26, but MAN. I miss having a dumb, smelly boy around.

Things are getting pretty lonely, even for someone who enjoys their own company.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Learning Lessons

I have to teach The Child what she is worth.

This is a revelation, but this is not the only thing I have to teach her.

I am a feminist. I don't necessarily believe in "men's work" and "women's work," although Dane and I were pretty divided in that way. Now it is all "my work," and I am learning the things I need to teach Sicily, things that Dane would have (and did) model, or would have talked about. Below is a short list of what we are working on so far.

Practice common courtesy, and expect it of your partner. Dane always unlocked my car door door first, even after 13 years of togetherness, but this is not restricted to men. If someone is close behind you as you approach a door, open it, step out of the way and let them in first. Smile. If they say "thank you," awesome. If not, not your problem. Smile anyway because you have done something nice. Don't settle for someone - a friend or a partner - who isn't going to treat you well on this very basic level.

Get physical. Americans raise their girls to sit down, play nice (quietly) and be dainty. Sicily plays travel softball. This, believe it or not, becomes a (nearly) full-contact sport as the years pass, especially in her position as catcher. Last night at batting practice, we watched as the batting coach tried to teach another catcher to "clear" a batter as part of a throwing motion down to third. Sicily has refused to try it, and this catcher was reluctant also. "What if I kill her?" she asked (jokingly, of course). I am not advocating violence, but I am advocating playing with the same intensity and athleticism as a boy would, and this means taking your space when you need it. And on that note..

Develop a thicker skin. At that same lesson, I worked the pitching machine, and Sicily got increasingly testy as the lesson went on. I generally stay out of the lesson (that's what the batting coach is for), but I made a couple comments on getting lower and other minor corrections (along with appreciative comments when she did well). She was so busy being offended that she sucked. I finally told her to stop focusing in how pissy I was making her and just focus on making her adjustments. She did, and she hit better. I am The Child's biggest fan. Full stop. It is my job to tell her how awesome she is, but it's also my job to tell her when she is awful. If she can't take constructive criticism and use it to get better, her life will be very hard and rather disappointing. Her ability to listen to feedback and apply it is compromised somewhat by teenage hormones, but hopefully it will improve with time. It is my job to help her practice this skill by not overpraising mediocrity; I also give her all of the tools she needs to do well (time, space, training, practice and encouragement). Sicily does not have siblings, so she has no peers to knock her down and keep her honest; her dad used to do that. Now it's up to me.

Ask for what you are worth, and expect to get it. Men ask for raises at an exponentially higher rate than women, and guess what? They get them. Women? Not so much. After batting practice, Sicily told me how much she earned (she works for her batting coach after her lesson, and they have negotiated a rate that is flexible at times depending on what exactly she is doing), and she said, "I'm just glad he's paying me at all." I stopped her there. She is performing a valuable service; she takes her job seriously, and she does it well. I told her that she needs to realize that she is earning the money she makes, and she is worth it; she needs to value what she does. I am raising her to be a conscientious person with a good work ethic (okay, trying. Reference "teenage hormones" again. 'tis a work in progress), and she will be a valuable commodity as she gets older. Women tend to de-value their contributions to the workplace, and it has kept us down. I want The Child to rise up.

Those are the lessons that pop for now. I am sure as we continue this journey more will arise, hopefully after I have learned what I need to know to help Sicily. Having to teach these things to Sicily by myself is alternately horrible and empowering; I wish it wasn't so, but as Dane would say, "Wish in one hand..."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I never told you this, but for the first two months we dated, every time you left I forgot what you looked like.


I could never conjure an image of your face in my mind; every time you came to pick me up it was a pleasant surprise when I opened the door. You just weren't a clear picture in my mind.

Is that weird?

You continued to surprise me for 13 years. Sometimes bad (which I won't elaborate on because one should not speak ill of the dead unless it's Hitler or a similar bad guy), and sometimes good. Wormageddon was a surprise. The ring was a surprise. Coffee in  themorning on especially sleepy mornings was a surprise. Notes in my car and in my suitcase when I traveled solo. A full tank of gas. Sadie. A worm-filled black Lab puppy.

How much we were alike. How much I loved you. How much you loved me. How much it was possible to love another person who isn't your kid. How much I took for granted.

All surprises.

Do you remember when the Aquarium opened in Georgia, and we took little teeny Sicily and watched the otters? They were holding hands, floating in their tank. The would drift to the side, and one of the otters would push off into the center of the tank, and then they would drift back to the side, and the otter would push off again. One of the otters, the little girl, sucked on her paw.

That night, you took my hand as we went to sleep, and we slept all night that way. I found out a couple months ago that the proper animal behavioral name for that is "rafting," and otters do it when they sleep so they don't drift away from each other. From that day on, nine nights out of ten, that's how we slept.

I miss your hand at night. I wake up in the morning sometimes and my hand is stretched across the bed to where you should be. Eight months in and I still wake myself in the night looking for your fingers. Sometimes I wake up in the morning after doing that, and the pattern on the pillowcase looks like a heart and I think that maybe you were there in some way that night, which is almost worse than you not being there at all.

Surprising that just as I was really starting to miss you, then you were really gone.

(UPDATE: I wrote this blog on the morning of 10/22. That afternoon, a plumber showed up at the door to give us an estimate. He looked almost exactly like you - same height, same coloring, shaved bald, ratty baseball hat, Husky purple shirt on, blue eyes. He liked to talk a lot, and when he was consulting with someone on the phone, he paced in the sunroom and gesticulated, just like you. Surprising.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Talk About Dead People on a Sunny Day

Long weekend at the ballpark: 27 hours in two days, seven softball games. Last I checked, that was a part-time job. Here is La, looking just like her daddy, same expression and everything:

This is actually at her batting lesson, but it is softball-related, so it fits. #MakeItWork

She was so excited to get started; this was the first fall tournament (of three), then some time off from games (not workouts, though), and then we hit it hard again at the end of January (first tourney usually in March).

But that's not really what this post is about.

One of La's teammates lost her mother to cancer last year. This weekend, the papa sat alone, and between games the teammate and the papa left and went off by themselves. They are quiet anyway, but they seem like a self-contained unit.

I don't want to be one of those parents that force friendships on their kids, but La and her teammate share something that no other kid on the team can possibly understand (thank goodness). The teammate is a year older and so was La's age nearly exactly when her mom died. I am trying to figure out how to approach the papa without A) seeming like a jackass ("Hey, sorry your wife died, but can you help me figure out how to help my kid, since your kid has made it through a year?"), or B) bringing something up that is painful on a beautiful day ("Hey, I know this is totally out of nowhere on this gorgeous day while you're eating some cheesefries, but can we talk about how your wife died of cancer and you are all coping?"). They are both very sweet people, and as mentioned in the first paragraph, we will be spending nearly unendurable amounts of time together for the next ten months, and it is important to get off on the right foot.

Suggestions welcome. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Post Mortem Employment

Where would we be without gallows humor? It would be a sorry state of affairs.

So anyway.

I have decided that it is time to muck about and see what I might like to do for the next depressing 40 years of my life, old, sad, and alone.

Inspiring, isn't it?

In between planning international trips, I have been seeking employment of the freelance variety: writing articles, blogging, proofreading, etc. Mainly I am going for nominal compensation and building up "clips," which is fancy writer speak for "shit you wrote."

So far I have written a press release, and I managed to land a novel proofreading gig; the money is crap, but I negotiated credit in the final published edition of the book.

This novel is the worst piece of awful writing that I have ever read in my life, and I taught sixth grade students for six years (and middle schoolers in general for another decade). If you were trying to intentionally write something horrendous to win a "Best Worst Fiction Writing Contest," this novel I am proofreading would kick your ass. It overfloweth with the worst kind of adverbs, stereotypes and florid language; the author apparently decided to make use of every possible synonym for the word "said." Worse yet, it is "historical," set in the 1890s, and then the 1950s, and it is written in present tense. There is not a character in the book that I don't want to meet a violent end. It. Is. HORRENDOUS. 

I want my name out of this book.

Nevertheless. I have decided to do the most amazing proofreading job of this horrible book in the hopes that people will see my genius and offer more lucrative gainful employment. Just hopefully not from the same publishing house. Or author. Who had the nerve to dedicate the novel to his students. If I were his students, I'd be pissed.

So I am still looking. If you know anyone who needs a writer, or a very, very professional proofreader or editor, I'm your girl.

Monday, October 14, 2013

You People Are Awesome and Other Wonderful Things. Finally.

So we're not all weepy doom-and-gloomers over here (only mostly, but sometimes not).

Today I got to obsessively read over all of your comments on Facebook for my last blog, and for all of the awfulness of 2013, the things that have come through clearly for me are as follows:

1. I have some seriously awesome people rooting for Sicily and me (yes, grammar police, that is correct), and I mean seriously awesome people who usually flinch at cursing but not the cursing in this blog, and seriously awesome people who know how chronically difficult I can be normally, much less post mortem, and they stick around anyway, and seriously awesome people whom I have known for a DOG'S AGE and who have consistently been there for me when I really needed them, the kind of people I knew well the moment I met them, either last month or 25 years ago, and who have stuck life out with me, regardless of how far away I moved, how drunk I was or how long it had been. And speaking of that...

2. I have been just a so-so friend. Not horrible, not INCREDIBLE, just consistently mediocre. Better for some than others. I have missed weddings, baby births and other milestones. I have forgotten birthdays, not called when I said I would and just generally bailed. I am not beating myself up because of this, just making a note. HINT: If you need something, right now is both the very best and the very worst time to ask. Roll the dice. If it involves travel, we are probably in. If it involves moving, don't ask. #MovingSucks

3. There is a constant battle in this world to move veryveryvery quickly. I REJECT that. Flat out. I can't believe everything we have been rushing to for the past ten years and how little most of it really means. Whenever we start rushing to things in our house, we get short-tempered and ill-mannered. There is cursing and lots of it (come to think of it, our standards on cursing have relaxed quite a bit. For both myself and for the 13-year-old. For the record also, the 13-year-old has been cursing since she was 2, and she is very adept. A quick study.). This rejection of a faster pace may translate to some as being lazy. That's okay. We'll get over it.

That's it. I have learned a lot more recently, but I mostly wanted to end the week with a message of gratitude and humility in the face of all of the awesome people I know. You could power a small city with your awesomeness, and I am grateful that you choose to shine your light on my family of two.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Not so much with the goodness.

Grief sucks.


The sun is out. It is a beautiful fall day. The light is so sharp and clear that everything is crisp, and the blowing wind makes me think of fires and hot apple cider and good books and warm socks knitted by Nana.

Here's the awesome part: Grief makes you not give a shit about any of that. Yeah, it sounds good on paper. Yeah, I have some socks on right now, a hot mug of coffee and a sleeping dog at my feet on the settee by the window where I can watch the leaves swaying and the sunlight hit the deck.

So what. Big deal.

Platitudes. It's all platitudes. My whole thing has been to get out of bed and put my feet on the floor every day. Check. To keep moving forward no matter how small the steps. Check. To try really hard to be kind to The Child. Check (the trying part. I am trying.).

At the end of the day, it has not helped. I am, for the most part, out of the weepy stage (today not withstanding, and last Wednesday notwithstanding. Sometimes it hits you and you can't do anything about it but give in so I do and it doesn't feel any better), but now I am in the blank stage. Nothing helps.

(certainly not religion, by the way, which people recently have felt the overwhelming need to assault me with. I don't believe he is in a better place, and if you know Dane you would know that even if God did need an angel - utter condescending bullshit - He certainly would not have chosen my  beloved. No angel, that one. So STFU about his soul to me. He would be PISSED and talk about how Mary was no virgin if he could. So just stop.)

And I am SERIOUSLY considering smoking. I haven't smoked in 12 years. They make me violently ill. I don't care. Because feeling something has to be better than this.

(please don't send me messages or post about how I shouldn't smoke. I know. I am not a moron. I am too cheap to go buy a pack of American Spirits, and no one around me smokes with regularity. But I am also an adult, so I don't need a lecture about smoking. I know.)

Every morning when I wake up, I roll over and the first two words that pop into my head are, "Dane's dead." This was a regular feature the first several months after his death, but it went away for a bit over the summer. Now, as we approach nine months it has come roaring back. So welcome to the new fucking day. Dane's dead. Good luck.

*and with that, I believe we have entered another stage of grief: ANGER. Probably best to give me a wide berth. I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

It Begins Today

The sweat and the heat.

The endless days, shoved in a small space with hundreds of people.

Fast food choked down.

Rising at before the sun; returning home after midnight.

The driving, the driving...the driving.

We will persevere. We will Push Past This.

It begins today, after two months of nothingness. It begins today.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Out of Nowhere*

Today driving home from the art store I was overwhelmed by tears. I was thinking about Pappy Van Winkle, driving through Kennesaw Mountain Park, sunshine-y day, art supplies in the back, fun times on the horizon, and I somewhat lost it.

Yay. Good times.

Out of Nowhere, La is a teenager.

Out of Nowhere, my school is Tango Uniform.

Out of Nowhere, people are all up in my business about how much money I have and what they feel I can and cannot afford to have/do/be. (Guess what? If I can find it, and I think I have, Imma buy a 23-year-old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.)

Out of Nowhere, nothingness. Lonely.

Blah. Pity parties aside, it was an interesting experience to be hit by grief on a sunny day. Oxymoronic. A bit foolish and possibly dangerous to continue driving.

Out of Nowhere also: clarity in some things, important things. Some I have discussed here, some I have not.

Out of Nowhere also: even less of a need to give a flying rat's ass about what people think. This is bad news for those of you who felt that particular trait was too well-developed in me in the first place. *shrugs*

Nowhere is contradictory, not wholly (un)pleasant place. At any rate, I'll have good bourbon while I'm there.

This self-indulgent entry brought to you by Active Avoidance of Other Issues Occurring and a Real Desire to Stop Whining and Figure Out What the Fuck.