Monday, February 17, 2014

Grief is a Fucker

I curse like a sailor. Maybe it doesn't all make it out of my mouth, but in my head it's a minefield of seriously raunchy trashmouth.

I hesitate to title a blog with "fucker," but there really is no other way to describe it.

Yesterday, the one-year anniversary of Dane's death, was about as good as it could be, until 11:30 pm when I woke up from a nightmare and came downstairs to find The Child on her computer, in her room, watching some bullshit YouTube crap.

She is 13. It wasn't porn. It was, in fact, some guy urging people to donate to The Trevor Project, which promotes equality and no bullying of LGBTQ teens and offers a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline. So it was a good thing.


Rule the First: No computers in bedrooms.
Rule the Second: Screens off after 10 p.m. Read a fucking book, for fuck's sake. #FFS

This is not complicated. It is not murky or unclear. There are reasons for these rules, which have been explained.

And there I was, AGAIN, confiscating the fucking phone and computer, too pissed to go back to sleep.

And there I was, AGAIN, pissed in the morning on the way to yoga, that I get to be the Asshole Enforcer, alone. Now that the phone has been taken, The Child has to come everywhere with me because we have no home phone. AGAIN.

And there I was, AGAIN, feeling sorry for myself, missing Dane, crying at yoga, stretched out like a fucking rubber band because you get into these poses and then hold them for HOURS until your fascia releases and then you can't get back out because it's like Stretch Armstrong when you've stretched him too much and he won't stretch back. So you have to physically lift up your body parts to move again.  It's called Yin Yoga and the only thing feminine about it is that your legs are splayed wide open for very long periods of time like maybe you're a tired extra on The Strip in Vegas.

But I digress.

Fuck grief and day 366 and PARENTING ALONE, not by choice or because there was a divorce or you broke up but because you have NO SAY and it cannot be changed.

Fuck this day. It is NOT the business.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 16, 1999

Fifteen years ago today, Dane and I had our first date.

Beer and darts. Nothing special. Exploratory, I supposed, something fun. A diversion with a cute boy.

He picked me up in his hoop-de, a white Impala with red velvet interior. All he needed was some fringe on the headliner and the pimp style would be complete. Auction car, he said, with a shrug, and I wondered how the whole thing would play out.

Then he asked me what I wanted to listen to. I deferred. He played Portishead. Solid choice. My curiosity was piqued.

We pulled up to the bar, and as we were walking in, it happened. As we walked through the door, he reached his hand back,without looking, to take mine. And I fell in love. Just like that. I didn't know it at the time, but that simple gesture from Dane set us on our path. It is the hardest thing to explain, and I promise I won't do it justice. From that moment, he felt like home. Hand in glove. Peas and carrots.

A simple gesture. Maybe it meant nothing to him, but there was something about it, about the way he cared for me in that moment, just entering a room, that spoke volumes.

He is the reason I have my amazing child. He is why I started a school and got my first horse.

Dane is why I am the person I am. Not because he made me be better, faster, stronger, or any different but because he finally accepted every part of the person that I am. Full stop. He never, not once, in our fourteen years together, asked me to change or be someone else. Not even when I was my most awful self. Every bit of me, even the sad corners, the most jagged pieces, were just part of the package for him. Religious people call this "grace," I think. I call it love.

Ours has never been a perfect relationship, but it was real, true, and ours.

Fifteen years is Big Metal Chicken, my sweet. You know why I keep bringing this up.

Today marks one year without you. A really weird coincidence that I didn't get until just a few weeks ago. Hopefully you are surrounded by big metal chickens. Today I hope you have the answer. Today I miss you. Today, Sicily and I are going to Ikea. We are going to eat Swedish meatballs, shop for affordable lighting, and think about you in a beautiful way. Seriously. You would have loved it, although they still haven't made Smaland big enough to accommodate you. We miss you, terribly, horribly, and are profoundly grateful to have loved you so much, each in our own way.

I am profoundly grateful to have known you. All my love to you.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentersary

Dane nearly blew it when we first met.

We met on the February 12, 1999, two days before Valentine's Day, a bullshit Hallmark holiday if there ever was one. But still. My previous boyfriend decided he had been a jackass and was pitching woo pretty hard. I was mostly disinterested, but he invited me to a Sonics game on Valentine's Day, and I am not one to turn down a sporting event, so off we went. Dane, on the other hand, called me on the 14th at 3pm and asked if I had plans. Too late, sucka. I told him where I was going.

Turns out he had tickets, too. Better seats than ours.

Two days later we would have our first date, but that epic fail at the very beginning has always been a source of amusement. Every year from that point on, Dane always made a point to celebrate both days concurrently. Last year, two days before his death, he sent me flowers to my mom's house in Pennsylvania where I was staying. These are them.

(The card said, "Happy Valentersary!")
Much love in my heart for my sweet today. Sadness, but also profound gratitude. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12 - We Meet

I met him at an auto repair shop, fifteen years ago today (fifteen years is Big Metal Chicken).

A week earlier, my car was totaled when I was hit-and-runned on the freeway driving home from a ski trip, and my "new" car was acting weirdly, so I dropped it off at a mechanic before school the following Friday morning. The news when I called them at lunch was not good. When the shop removed one of the tires, the bearings crumbled into their hands. Further inspection revealed that my baby had, at one point, been submerged. Don't drive it another five feet, they said. We are surprised you haven't crashed yet, they said.


So I called a tow truck and rental car. I couldn't afford either, but I figured I would have the tow truck driver take the car back to the lot and make a big deal about unloading it. I would need the rental car to get home; I had just moved 20 minutes south of the city.


So I grabbed all of my personal possessions out of the car and sat down on the curb to wait. It was February, but it was one of those freak winter days in Seattle, sunny and 65. I was dressed for another ski trip, scheduled for that evening but now canceled, and I had a bag full of gear. I sat in front of the auto repair shop, sweating in my thermal underwear and boots, stressed about money and trying to figure out what I was going to do.

The tow truck drove by and turned in to the back of the shop. I sat for another couple minutes, then turned around and looked into the shop. There was a guy leaning on the counter, waiting.  I stood up, opened the door, and said, "You lookin' for me?"

He said, "I guess I am."

Dane had a cast on one arm (broken wrist from snowboarding) and blond hair that stood straight up. He had a goatee and an easy smile and there was a little dog named Murray riding around in that tow truck with him.

I canceled the rental car and got in the tow truck. He said he fell in love when I played with the little dog; I waited a whole four days to fall in love with him. More on that in the coming days.

(Dane in one of his natural habitats)

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Mary Oliver

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks...

The Child went out to dancing and dinner Saturday night.

She is 13.

She wore a cute little shirtdress, navy blue, covered in tiny red hearts, and her hair was high on her head in a frisky ponytail.

She came home bubbly, bouncy, and excited, just around 11:30.

I stayed home and wrote.

This is not awful, and I sort of made my own bed by ignoring everything I needed to do this past week in favor of working on the tiny house and surfing the very interesting interwebs. Research. Totally. People should stop being so interesting and putting such intriguing stuff online.

But I digress.

I wrote five articles. Five excellent articles, I might add.

But I didn't go to bed bouncy and excited, with flushed cheeks and sparkly eyes and thoughts of watching boys and awkward salsa dancing.

Most of me wouldn't be 13 again for any amount of money; my middle school experience was so awful I became a middle school teacher to maybe make some else's a little better. And I think there is still much heartache to navigate, and teenagers can be so mean and hateful to each other.

But still.

It would be nice to be so light of an evening sometime. #2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anxiety, or The Monster in the Closet

I have had some serious anxiety since the calendar flipped to February 1. Like heart pounding so bad it is moving my body when I am seated, hallucinating, blood pressure raising anxiety, for three of the last five nights and the other two days. I have nearly had to leave yoga class just as it started because of lightheadedness and nausea (two amazing hallmarks of my anxiety: passing out and puking).

When I lay down to sleep, I will doze off (eventually; earliest bedtime has been two a.m.), only to come gasping awake minutes later. This goes on for several hours, every night.

I do, of course, have meds for this, but in the past I chose not to take them often because A) they are addictive, and B) I am not a fan of being addicted to things. I have taken them every day for the past five days.

Something in me is registering the anniversary of Dane's death. There are deeper forces at work here. I can be fine all day, but the light goes off and I the bell rings for a nightly battle. On Saturday, February 1st, I woke up to the sound of Dane's voice; I don't know what he said, but it was unmistakably his voice. And so it began.

It is only the 6th. For now, I am still fit for company, but many more days of this and things could get ugly. My flight instinct is kicking in, and we may need to leave town for a couple days. The Monster in the Closet is real, kids. Totally.

On a totally unrelated note, and just because I am inordinately proud of this, the Food Stadium is up on YouTube. Best Super Bowl Snack award for 2014. Yeah, I made that up. What of it?

Here it is, in all of its glory:

(we didn't even make a dent. It's Thursday and we are still finishing off the wings and sandwiches)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How Yoga is Like Rehab

Yes, just like a stint in rehab, I have been going to yoga for the past 28 days steady (and dragging La with me). In those 28 days, I have missed three: two Sundays and a Monday when the weather was too nice and we needed to make some progress on the tiny house. Sicily goes anywhere between four and five days a week.

So in every class I hit three key points:

1. I don’t want to. This is the point right as we get started after we come into our breath that I just want to flee. I don’t want to be in class, I don’t want to be stretchy, I don’t feel like working it out or doing a pose or holding Warrior I, II or III for a long time. I want to stare out the window, watch the squirrels that run along the fence, and smell that lovely yoga studio smell (usually nag champa, but sometimes mixed in with other stuff). It’s peaceful, clean, and there are no dogs there or bathrooms that desperately need to be cleaned. So just sitting on my mat at the back of the class and listening would be awesome.

2. No thoughts in my head. Unfortunately, this part doesn’t last long enough, but the harder the classes get, the longer it lasts (and harder classes tend to intensify the feeling of #1 also). This is the point when the poses are so intense, or the flow so rapid that just keeping up with my breath and making sure I don’t fall on my face subsumes all other thoughts of the tiny house, money, parenting: any kind of stress. All I can concentrate on is movement, the feeling of all limbs expanding and contracting. Since it hurts (or as yoga teachers like to say, "It's intense") I wouldn’t say it’s blissful, but I can say that for 15 minutes every day (except Sunday) my mind is utterly washed clean and blank. If you know me, you know that this alone is worth the price of admission.

3. Annnnnd we’re back. Also known as “shivasana” or “savasana,” Corpse Pose is the last pose in any yoga class. It’s when you relax and release down into the floor and just let go of all effort. Arms and legs akimbo, there is no control of the breath. This means, of course, that my brain switches back on. In 28 days, I don’t think I have spent a combined total of five minutes doing this pose correctly, and by correctly I mean utterly surrendering to the pose, letting the floor support me. I just cannot get my brain to shut the hell up. I write whole blogs during this time, problem-solve issues with the tiny house, and plan the rest of the week. Not. The. Point.

I get impatient with myself in points one and three. After 28 days, I should be over this. I should recognize at a cellular level that I am doing something deeply wonderful for myself in point one, and I should not be wanting to flee. At point three, I should at least be able to focus on one inhale and exhale, keep the focus on my body rooting down, not my brain floating up. I am pretty sure the teacher knows what I am doing because my eyes twitch incessantly as my brain goes, so I bought a lavender-scented eye pillow for that (both to hide it and to maybe weigh things down a bit), but today after class I am not entirely sure that I didn’t, at one point, start talking to myself on the mat.
And then I get impatient with myself for getting impatient with myself. And that’s just plain silly.

I love yoga because I confront the very worst parts of myself – judgment, impatience, anger – look at them, then work hard to let them go. Not 100% successfully, but it’s a process. I get impatient at times, and it is in those times that I injure myself (fall on my face in Crow Pose, bruise an elbow in a handstand). So it’s metaphoric and yet painfully real when I push through things I am not ready for, physically, mentally, or emotionally. But the other side is utterly triumphant when I do something that, 28 days ago, was not a remote possibility (chaturanga dandasana and the aforementioned Crow Pose, if even just for a moment or two).

So I sign up and strap in for the next 28 days. Coincidentally the same number of days in February, the cruelest of month in our calendar from now on. Pretty sure I’m going to need that eye pillow…