Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Celebration (with hate)

If you take the number 175, which is the number of posts I've published (seriously, that's the number..."Good God," you say, "it feels like 175,000"), divide it by five and then divide that number by seven, you get the number five. And in celebration of that incredible and wonderfully odd number, here are five things I hate:


Look, I understand its function. However, it should be treated like the automatic 18% gratuity for parties of five or more - except opposite. An email sent to any number of people over three should automatically disable "reply all". You should have to confirm that you really, really do want to reply all. Then you should have to follow up with a captcha entry that no human being alive could decipher. You should have to jump through so many hoops that you eventually say, "Fuck it, I'm only telling [insert sender's name here]." Because believe me when I tell you that there is absolutely nothing that YOU need to say to any organization at large. In fact, if we're being honest, there's really almost nothing that the organization at large needs to say to YOU. Delete and move on.

Yeah, like THIS ever happens.

Come on! Isn't there enough suffering in the world without adding to it the mind numbing MC Escher task of untangling paperclips? At least at Christmas, just before I throw the wad of lights into the backyard and walk away, I'm drinking a stiff egg nog.

Get some sleep.....
Of course I don't have to tell you that this is how all manner of spooky things (apparitions, serial killers, clown masks, possessed animals from pet semataries) get into your closet in the first place. Then they hide until you're about to fall asleep and start creaking around just to scare the shit out of you and possibly murder you and/or stomp around in your psyche and suck you into a staticky TV. Just close the doors when you're finished and I'll thank you from the depths of my chest cavity area.

What fresh hell is this?
*see also snack bags with naught but dust left inside
Can you just finish whatever it is and throw the carcass away? Because when you put it away, I think there is more. And then it's like drinking water when you were expecting 7-Up (*see also: vodka). It's just a real boner kill.

Uh, yes they were.
And speaking of boners, put that phone in your crotch where it belongs. You think Steve Jobs vibrated it that strongly so it could sit on a table top?? I DON'T THINK SO. He knew better than we what we need and want, so stick it. Of note: It really isn't any quieter when you leave it to vibrate and skitter across the table than if you just left the little dinger noise or bottle cap popping sound on. Enjoy the silence! And shove it into your lady/man parts.

Thanks for celebrating with me! What a thrill ride these past 175 posts of drivel have been.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My cat - and the litter box of life

He is totally judging you. And you're not doing well.

My cat is an asshole. 

He's been peeing in my kitchen in one specific spot for absolutely no good reason. He also likes to pee in empty laundry baskets. Now I admit that on occasion I do let an unfortunate litter box situation occur but as soon as I notice, I correct the problem. This time it's as if the cat is engaging in some sort of showdown with me. 

Because he's an asshole. 

But I forgive him, because well....he's a cat. And at night he lays on my chest and purrs and it's magical. According to some Buddhist someone or other (I can't remember who) a purring cat in your lap, or on your chest, is just about the most perfect moment of positive energy transfer that you can have. The cat's contentment is literally buzzing on you. So the asshole cat will live to piss another day because he purrs. 

I guess it's a quid pro quo relationship. Although I do feel that I give more; he doesn't even have a job.

I'm not so forgiving of others around me, however. I can't seem to extend to people the same amount of compassion or absolution as I do something that lets loose his bladder in the place where I live and eat. A wrong word, a wrong tone, a perceived slight or even a whiff of judgement cast my way...these are transgressions which can cost people their time with me. 

Assuming they want it, I'm not very free with my time, or my feelings, and I tend to clam up (idiom!) and retreat into myself when I've felt snubbed by someone. But I extend to my asshole cat a clemency he has neither earned nor deserves. When people say they're a "work in progress" I tend to bristle. Seems like a really great excuse and a nifty way to shrug off any responsibility, doesn't it? It's similar to the phrase, "I'm just keeping it real," which we all know is what you say directly after being a *total* douche. 

But if I'm going to "keep it real" then I pretty much have to admit that I'm a "work in progress." DAMMIT. I'm a woefully flawed woman, kind of an existentially unfortunate litter box of a human being. It can't be helped.There is too much wine to drink and food to eat and so very many books to read. 

I guess I need to treat others as I treat my cat. Maybe we should all treat each other as we treat our pets, or if you don't have a cat, then you can use how I treat my cat as a guide: he's an asshole. But I like how soft his fur is and sometimes he's nice. The times he's nice make up for the times he's an asshole. 

Can it be that simple?

Don't ask him. He doesn't give a shit. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Too Many Words

This morning the serendipity of one became my own serendipity. In the most unambiguous way, a happy occurrence of events took place. I saw something that shut me up (which seriously hardly ever happens) and made me realize that language and words get in the way of so many of life greatest and most meaningful events.

We usually think that talking is the means to understanding and that talking is the way to resolution or greatest depth of communication. But consider the following:

  • When saying hello to someone you've missed, it's the hug that conveys the most. 
  • When saying goodbye to someone you love, it's the hug. 
  • When walking next to someone in a moment of anxiety, it's the hand holding that brings comfort.
  • A baby knows nothing of language but understands the comfort and love being communicated in the cradling and the touch. 

I think it's why we love things like Instagram, Vine, even the nefarious Snapchat. We say the most to each other in moments devoid of words and language. This strikes me deeply, since words and language seem to be my gift. What I feel best at is something so trivial; it will never measure up to what I can say with a look, or a touch. 

My serendipitous moment came to me this way:

(Thanks, Carrie, for sharing what meant something to you and meant so much to me.)

They say nothing. But you and I both know after seeing this that they communicated something so profound to us. We know more than they could have ever explained with feeble words. At the end, he is unsure that she knows, and so he uses words but I don't think he needed to. We don't know what he says but we do. His words are entirely unnecessary insurance.

If I have one wish for you today, it's that you will think of your language when you are saying nothing. I wish that you will take a moment and reflect on what you really want when it comes to the people you love - friends or family. Because what I would want most, if I could have anything at all from the one I miss in my very core, is a hug.

The rest would be details.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The gifts of grief

Every year, as the anniversary of my mother's death approaches I start getting dopey and mopey. Decisions are impossible (even decisions like, "what's for dinner") and I don't want to talk very much. I want to smoke ten thousand packs of cigarettes...even though in my usual life I'm a non-smoker.

It will have been eleven years in May since my mom died and what I know is the following.

Losing your mom is a natural part of life. It's not a supreme tragedy when you compare your grief to the family who has lost a child, or any other loss, really....but what I also know is that comparing grief is worthless. Quality and quantity have no business in grief. What you feel is what you feel and it doesn't matter why. I know this.

Some people take a really long time to process grief and some people move through it quickly. Neither one is correct or better or worse. Losing someone or something close to you becomes part of the fabric that makes your life and whether you see the thread every day or not is personal for you. Sometimes I stare at the thread and I feel like it might strangle me, other times I keep it at the periphery. How much time I spend with it is deeply intimate to me alone and it's okay to honor whatever time I spend or don't spend with it. This holds true for all life experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly. How we process our lives is our decision alone.

Everything that happens to us as we amble along this path leaves its mark on us. People we meet, places we see, people we lose and the minutia of our days inform who we become and who we grow into being. Seeds are planted all along the way and when they're ready they sprout. Grieving my mother has taught me so much about myself.

She was my very best friend in a way that still honored her place as my mother. She was my confidante, my role model (sometimes in how not to be, but mostly in how TO be) and she never disapproved of me in a way that made me feel unworthy. In all ways, she lifted me up and inspired me to be the best version of me that I could be. And so her absence is remarkably hard.

But her presence, if I'm willing to see it, is miraculous. It doesn't mater if her presence is because I make it so in my head, or because I choose to see things that aren't there, or because she's really an ethereal guide speaking from the Great Beyond. I see and feel her influence in myriad ways. And it helps me grieve her little by little as I grow and change as a person.

For me, the grieving will never stop, because I am never the same person from month to month and year to year. As I become a different me, I grieve her physical absence anew. But I also know that if I am open to honoring what she left me: notes, cards, friends who hold memories, and memories of my own, then she will help me and guide me along my road.

It's been eleven years. In the blink of an eye.

Photo Credit: [ henning ] via Compfight cc

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Memory Lane

Tonight I was looking through a box of "old things" with my sons. Mr. Ten delights in going through the piles and boxes and bags of things I keep like a good archivist does (read: like one with a moderate hoarding issue does). Whatever. I like to keep things.

Keeping things makes me feel grounded in my own history. I've never been able to get rid of items just because a year passed without using them, or because I didn't actively appreciate them. Sometimes things live in boxes under beds or tucked away in corners of the attic or basement for quite a long time before they resurface, and when they do it's like clouds parting! Tonight in the midst of cold and snow, the clouds parted and we found a box of my old writing - as far back AS THE NINETIES!!!!

"Mama, how old were you then?? Is that from a typewriter??"

The nineties, you guys.

We read a few things I wrote my senior year in high school, for a local newspaper and the very first thing I looked at was an article about a cyclist visiting our fair Village. When they asked me to read it aloud, I got four sentences in and had to stop because all four sentences began with the word "His"....

My dear sons,
Please don't ever have four sentences in an opening paragraph of writing begin with the exact same pronoun.

It got a few laughs, I admit it. Not as many laughs as the paper I wrote in college for a class called, "The Sociology of Baseball" however. This one stole the show.

In the first, Mr. Thirteen thinks it wildly hilarious that I took a class in college called, "The Sociology of Baseball." He will learn the beauty of the elective course in due time. I let him have his laughter. In the second, what got us all really going were the remarks of the instructor. I remember this class as being one where I figured I could get an easy A, raise my GPA and maybe grab a date or two. Win, win, win.

All of that happened and I have a paper where the poor old coot teaching the class waxed poetic over my abysmal writing. If memory serves, the class was filled with guys on various sports teams who ALSO needed an easy A and my best guess is that a paper written by someone about to graduate with a degree in English Literature was an especial treat. Well, in fact, it was an "excellent paper - smooth, elegant style with a transcendent air." I was awarded twenty out of ten possible points. My sons were impressed.

Tonight's little jaunt into the ancient ages of the nineties have left these boys with the distinct impression that I was supposed to make something of myself. And Mr. Ten asked me, "So....Mama, HAVE you made something of yourself?"

Oh dude. Probably not. But it's your bedtime now and the Duke game is starting, and I have to finish the application for the mortgage refinance and probably fold some of your clean laundry....I don't know what I've made of myself and maybe it's not for me to know.

Perhaps someone else's memory lane will tease out my worth someday. For now, let's be happy to brush our teeth and snuggle into our cozy beds. We can make more of ourselves tomorrow and the tomorrows to come.

 Photo Credit: lovestruck. via Compfight cc