Friday, December 30, 2011

Be flexible

Prompt for December 20: Be flexible: Sometimes life does not go according to plan. Tell us about a time where you had to be flexible and change your plans. How have you made changing your plans work to your advantage? 

In October, I went back to Fayetteville

The night I was scheduled to fly home a terrible thunder storm rolled into Northwest Arkansas. The plane was grounded and what should have been an easy boarding process became an endless, hours-long wait. 

Sometime between eating a dubious-looking airport sandwich and re-wrapping my sprained ankle, I became unwillingly engaged in conversation with the three ladies sitting across from me. 
I do not usually talk to strangers in airports. I am a book-open-ipod-in kind of traveler. Really, give me some classic Southern rock, a novel, a Canada Dry and I'm good to go.
These ladies were in town for the War Eagle Craft Fair (who knew?). As it turned out, they were from Lompoc. Lompoc is a small town about an hour south of mine most notable for being home to an Indian casino, a prison and an Air Force Base. After some gentle interrogation on the part of the apparent ringleader, it was discovered that I knew one of their sons in a friend-of-a-friend way. (Ok, truth, he sold my ex boyfriend car stereo equipment and I still had his card in my wallet because I'm a crazy pack rat.) I soon tired of the interrogation and excused myself to limp toward the cafe in search of an Americano and an electrical outlet. 

My flight eventually boarded around the time I should have been landing in California. After spending some time on the tarmac and additional time issuing dire warnings that we may be rerouted to an airport in the desert, we were finally wheels up. 

After five hours and the bulk of Uncharted TerriTORI later, we landed at LAX. Due to my sprained ankle and the fact that my ass had been asleep since we were jostled about over The Rockies, I was unable to bolt out of the plane like I usually would. When I finally struggled out of the plane, the Lompoc ladies were waiting for me. 

The ringleader related a long story- the gist of which was that they were stranded. At LAX at 2 am. I somehow found myself agreeing to carrying the three ladies and all of their luggage north with me in my tiny tiny car. 
I blame the time changes and the fact that I'd been up for nearly 24 hours.

Forty-five minutes later, the ladies, their ten bags and I were squashed into TheEgg and headed north. The Matriarch suggested that we drive through Malibu. She neglected to inform me that this would add significant time to our trip. The ladies in the backseat promptly fell asleep and snored nearly all the way up PCH. The Matriarch stayed awake the whole time. She alternated between asking me extremely personal questions and telling me every minute detail of her diet and medical health. By the time we reached Ventura, I wasn't sure if I wanted her to keep talking to help me stay alert or go to sleep so I could have some peace. 

After creeping through the low-laying fog on the coast I finally delivered the ladies to their respective doorsteps. I found myself with an empty car and a package of wax-paper wrapped apple turnovers finally homeward bound. I did my best to follow The Matriarch's driving directions, but between the fog and the winding roads I found myself lost on the dirt roads that run between the strawberry fields. An hour later, I finally found familiar territory and then the highway- a good twenty miles off track. 

I crawled into my bed as the sun was coming up, exhausted but no worse for the wear.

Those ladies were nutty, but they were probably the only reason that I made it home safely that night. And the apple turnovers were delicious. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Prompt for December 19: Challenges: What did you wrestle with in 2011? What did you learn? What challenges do you see in 2012?

I work for a man who reminds me of my father. 
By now we all know that I have ... issues... with my father. I have actively excluded him from every event in my life for the past four years. He doesn't even have my cell phone number.
To say that having a boss who resembles him presents a challenge would be an understatement.

I struggle to communicate, to cooperate. Sometimes I fail epically. I continue to struggle on, though. Not all of the conflict I've had with my boss is my fault. He makes mistakes, too. He is impatient and defensive; perhaps I remind him of someone too. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. This is my issue. It is not my boss's fault that he reminds me of my father. 
Not all of their shared traits are negative. 

At the end of the day, issues aside, I love my job. And so I struggle onward.

Self compassion

Prompt for December 18: Self compassion: Were you gentle with yourself in 2011? Tell us about how you were compassionate towards yourself in 2011. Or maybe you want to be more compassionate in 2012. How will you be kind to yourself?

In January, I declared that 2011 would be the year of love and self-indulgence.

Outwardly, I failed miserably. I didn't splurge wildly or over-indulge myself in anyway. I didn't throw caution to the wind or take chances. I spent much of the year stressed about work- under rested and over caffeinated. I ended several friendships and set serious boundaries in others.

I think that last part- the friendship ending- was the most compassionate thing I've done for myself in a very long time. I've come to realize that self- indulgence and self-compassion don't have to be about giving yourself a free pass or being wildly frivolous. It can just be about saying no. It can mean taking time for myself; refusing to feel guilty; raising my standards; choosing not to give it my all.

So maybe I failed on a large scale, but I won so many smaller battles. In 2012 I can only hope for more of the same. I hope to continue to set boundaries and reasonable expectations for myself. I hope to take time out for my sanity, and to learn to place blame where it is warranted. 
I suppose a little bit of coddling and frivolity are in order too.


Reverb 11
Prompt for December 17: Make: What did you make this year that you're proud of? Was it a success or did it flop and you learned something about how to make it better next time? Do you have any special handmade projects planned for next year? 

One of my earliest memories is of weaving baskets with my mother. 
 As a child I thought that everyone's mother sewed them elaborate First Eucharist dresses of tulle and taffeta or historically accurate Laura Ingalls outfits (complete with a sunbonnet!). I didn't understand that other parents bough things like playdough and Christmas ornaments.
My mother passed these skills on to me. I made my first queen-sized quilt in the fifth grade. In high school I sewed a red satin flapper costume for a Roaring 20's themed dance. I made my own bridesmaid dress for my favorite cousin's hippie wedding. I cooked dinner for my siblings and I every night after my mother went back to work when I was 13. As I grew older I realized that not everyone has this same skill set, it blew my mind when friends couldn't sew on a button or hem their own pants. 
I realize now that this skill set, these "domestic arts" are important, something to be proud of even. There was a time when I was made to feel that these skills, "women's work", wasn't useful or valuable. For a few years I stopped sewing and baking and "making" in general. 
This year, I decided to change that. I started making again. And I did. I let my creative juices flow.

This is the creation of which I'm most proud:

Obviously, I did not make LittleMiss. I did, however, make the super awesome tutu she is wearing. The materials for the tutu cost me about $17, and the construction time was about an hour to an hour and a half. It wasn't difficult or inconvenient to make-I made it sitting on the floor in front of a Say Yes to the Dress marathon. The biggest challenge was probably choosing the colors of tulle. But it wasn't about the money or the time. It was about creating a birthday present for Little Miss. She was super excited about her birthday present and insisted on donning it immediately. 
Seriously, isn't she the cutest thing?... I'm at that creepy stage in my twenties in which I covet other people's children but don't actually want any of my own.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Prompt for December 16: Give: When and to what did you give your all this year? How do you define "giving"?  Describe what it means to give, and how you plan to give over this coming year.

"Giving" for me does not usually have a positive connotation. "Give it your all" usually references emotionally exhausting experiences. I have a tough time finding a balance between being supportive and allowing someone to take everything I've got. I allow the people in my life to use me up emotionally. I support and I give until there is nothing left and then I become resentful. 

I resent the people I love for needing me too much. Or for not needing me as much as I need them. For not loving me as much as I love them. Or for loving me too much. I lash out. I'm cold and cutting. My distaste for them is vocal, brutal and unrelenting. I turn people's words around on them and spin situations so that the retelling highlights others' flaws. 

I am a bitch.

Giving is hard for me. It is never enough. It is altogether too much.

This year? I will give only what I can spare, what I can afford to lose. I will give love, but I will not give up my dignity. I will give forgiveness, but I will not sacrifice my needs for the wishes of others. 

Ordinary Time

Prompt for December 14: Ordinary Time: Tell us about an ordinary week in your 2011 life; describe your routine. Do you hope that your day-to-day, week-to-week life remains much the same in the coming year, or are you trying to shake things up? How will you do that?

My work life winds around a never ending series of staff meetings. They run a gambit from mind-numbing to absurd, and they're peppered with moments of unintentional humor. 

I wear many hats: assistant, babysitter, dictator, confidant, MeanGirl, disciplinarian, advisor, comic relief.
Each day is different; each has its own challenges and triumphs.

I come home to a big goofy Rottweiler who thinks she's a lap dog, a comfortable sofa and a bottle of red wine. 

I "drink about it" with friends on Friday afternoons and Tuesday evenings. I take refuge at BestFriend's house where we watch DVR'd episodes of PanAm and Glee and The New Girl; drink; plan her wedding; emotionally recharge. 

On Wednesdays Lovegood and I take a long lunch. Lunch is the only respite we get on a day dominated by staff meetings. We go to a local steakhouse where I order sweet tea, "the salad with the scary cheese, but hold the scary cheese" and a bowl of soup every week. Our server's name is Dom and he reminds us of Lames. 

Thursday is my "Saturday". On Thursdays I do my laundry. It takes hours. I am extremely particular about the entire process. I sort my clothes very carefully. I use time- honed combinations of water temperatures and laundry products to achieve my desired results. I hang-dry and hand-wash. I starch and iron every wrinkle, collar and cuff. I fold with a precision born from years of folding ninety dollar tank tops. Laundry, I suppose is my own weird sort of therapy.

My world is small, insular, safe. I've worked hard to make it this way. I've worked hard to build my routine. I enjoy being a creature of habit. I might shake it up a little this year, but right now I love the monotony. 


Prompt for December13: Achieve: What do you hope to achieve next year? 

Let go.

I want to let go. 

I want to find a way to "cut the fat". I want to exorcise my demons. I want to streamline my life.

I need to minimize my mental and emotional clutter without running away and avoiding my life. 

I want to focus only on the things I can control. 

Sanity. I want my sanity back. I want to feel stable. 

So. That's what I'll be doing in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Future Self

Prompt for December 12: Future Self: Write a letter to your future self, telling the future you about what you hope for you.

My dear Girl, 

We've had a handful of shitty years. 
Let's move on, shall we?
This year we're going to move forward. We're going to stop letting our life be about the people who have hurt us; the wounds; the brokenness.

Put on your grownup clothes, darling. It is time to own it.

Own your life. Grab it all with both hands. Take chances. Stop being afraid of getting hurt.

You'll never get what you want if you don't ask for it. Loudly. 
Let go of all of the bastards weighing you down. You deserve better.

So dance all night. Drink too much. Live with abandon. These are the best years you've got. Stop hiding your light under a bushel

2012 will be your chance to be exactly who you want to be. Take it.

Love you, mean it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Past Self

Prompt for December 11: Past Self: Write a letter to your past self, telling the old you who you've become. Did you live up to your own expectations?

My Dear Girl,

I see you so much more clearly now, full of determination and uncertainty. Bless you for that. In some ways it won't ever change.

I see you, a secret dreamer, with plans to "run the map" as that Kenny Chesney song says. We're not running the map, child. But we're generally happy, and certainly challenged at work. Our talents are recognized and appreciated, which is really all we ever wanted, isn't it?

We didn't go to law school after all. Life got in the way. But its alright, child. We both know that was really Daddy's dream all along.

Speaking of Daddy, we don't call him that anymore. We don't see him anymore. All of those things we feared in our heart-of-hearts turned out to be true- and so much more. He hurt us. So so much. But we turned out alright. We learned to be independent and we learned what not to be. We didn't see him for a few years. When we did all of the anger had turned into something softer. He's old now and kind of pathetic. But still bitter and horrible and all of those other things we don't need.

As for Mom, she surprised us. She turned out to be more than we'd originally thought she could be. But beware, child. Don't ever forget that you are not the chosen one. Mom will only let you down when yous tart to expect too much.

Be nice to TheFish. She doesn't know how to tell you, but she needs you. It will almost be too late before you figure it out. Daddy was right about only one thing. One day you will wake up and you will realize that all you have left are your siblings- if you aren't careful you won't even have all of them. It might be too late. It is fucked up how right he was.

We've had our heart broken by friends and lovers, by the people who were supposed to protect us and by those who didn't care at all.

We've run through a lot of bad friendships before we figured out how to spot a good one.

We had a couple of near misses. For awhile our light went out. I still don't know how we made it through, except by the grace of God. There are still a lot of dark days. You will find support in unexpected places, from people who do not have any obligation to help you or even care. Grab that support with both hands and hold on. You will need it.

Now, child, don't be alarmed. It isn't all tears and anger and fights and darkness. There is joy and giddiness and unexpected bounty. There is grace in the most unlikely of places. You will see kindness and compassion. You will laugh and dance and experience rapture. Grab these, too, with both hands.

Do we have regrets? Yes. Have we made mistakes? Absolutely.
But, my dear girl, we have loved and we have taken chances. And it has made all the difference.

Keep your chin up, my love.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Prompt for December 10: Anniversary: Tell us about an anniversary you marked in 2011; maybe one you noted for the first time.

I work with the public. In retail, actually. Black Friday (or the day after Thanksgiving) is busiest day of the year for retailers... and thus the bane of my professional existence.

It is also the bane of my personal existence. My brother died the day after Thanksgiving two yeas ago. Last year I took a week off of work and (due to cancelled-at-the-last-minute travel plans) spent much of that time sleeping and avoiding the world in general. I don't like to do something to honor my brother of this day. There are other days I prefer to honor, other days I prefer to remember.

This year, due to my promotion at work, I was obligated to spend the whole stupid Black weekend at work. With Christmas music. And crowds. And stupid Christmas music. I wasn't looking forward to it at all.

I was a walking wound. Over caffeinated. On edge. Under rested.

But I didn't want to make a big deal about it. I didn't mention the significance of teh day to anyone. Only one of my co-workers mentioned it to me at all. Interestingly, it was a coworker who didn't know me two yeas ago, had only heard me reference the date in passing months ago. It meant a lot to me that she even remembered.

And then, on Saturday, my boss and I had what began as a minor disagreement.

The image of what we must have looked like is laughable. Him: tall, Hispanic, gesturing wildly and booming. Me: shorter, pale and red-headed, frazzled, shrill. We nipped and snipped at each other like a Rottweiler and Pomeranian. I'm sure it was a ridiculous scene.

The disagreement ended with him yelling at me, quite loudly, in front of my staff and storming away.
In an equally unprofessional (and unsurprising) turn of events, I promptly burst into tears.

It was miserable. I don't relish a repeat of any part of the weekend. 


Prompt for December 9: Cry: Where or why did you cry? Did someone make you cry? Was it happy or sad? Describe a good cry you had in 2011.

I'm not much of a crier. But maybe I've gotten soft. I've cried more the last six months than I had in the last two years before that. 

I've cried publicly. Notably, in the midst of the bulk goods at the local natural foods store. I'm sure passers by thought I was devastated by the price of nutritional yeast.

I cried at work in front of my boss. Huge gulping, gasping sobs that I couldn't even form words around. Poor kid looked totally freaked out.

I cried over lunch to Lovegood in a steady stream of leaky tears that blurred my vision and had me covered in (allegedly) waterproof eye make-up.

Probably most embarrassingly, I cried at work in front of the district HR manager when he mentioned giving me a raise. They weren't tears of gratitude. I don't know who was more horrified.

I'm a basket case (I've never really understood that expression). I feel as though I cry all the time. Maybe its not what I think. Maybe my problem isn't that I can't emote, or that I'm bad at it. Maybe I built of 25 years of unshed tears and now they're pouring out unbidden. 

Maybe I was supposed to be a crybaby all along and life got in the way. 
It does that, you know.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Prompt for December 8: Safe: Where did you feel safest this year? Describe the person, place or thing that made you feel safe in 2011.

I am not a person who generally feels safe. I check under my car in parking garages and shine a light into my backseat when I enter my car after dark. I keep a baseball bat in the track of the sliding door in my bedroom. I am diligent about helmets and seat belts and respirators. I get nervous if strangers stand too close to me or make eye contact or follow me when I'm out alone.

Even more important to me is emotional safety. I protect my feelings and keep most of my thoughts and opinions to myself. I don't really confide. There is only one person who always makes me feel safe. When everything is pear shaped, she is the person I depend upon to take care of me. She's the only person I can be vulnerable with.

This is BestFriend:

(It was impossible for me to find a picture of just the two of us that wasn't at least two years old.)

BestFriend gets me in a way that I can't explain.

She's the only person who can convince me that its going to be okay. She has a tendency to call me out of nowhere on the days that I'm falling apart. She knows when I need her before I figure it out. She's unshakable in a crisis. She makes me laugh harder than anyone else.
She's my port in a storm.

So when everything is pear shaped, chances are you'll find me frowning and quiet on the sofa at her house. We'll be drinking wine and eating carbs and watching Say Yes to the Dress, mocking tacky brides and planning her wedding to ManFriend. And when ManFriend comes home from work or the golf course, we'll change the channel and start cooking. I'll pour more wine, ManFriend will talk about his day and BestFriend will invariably burn herself. They'll make me laugh and the last of my melancholy will melt away. Later, I'll climb in my car and head home, steady after spending a few hours in safety.

1,000 Words

Prompt for December 7: 1,000 Words: Post a 2011 photo that's worth a thousand words.

This is my younger sister, the one I call "TheFish". The guy is her boyfriend. He has a lip-ring and calls her "dork-o".

I took this picture when I visited TheFish in Oregon for the weekend. We were in a tiny hole-in-the-wall in north Portland. It was one of those places that's a bar and a pizza joint and pool hall all at once. I was drinking a lovely Oregon Pinot Noir and he had a beer called "Got Hops?" which made us all laugh. The picture was an accident; I was trying to adjust the flash settings in my digital camera.

TheFish was the one of the four of us that our father hurt the most. She has every right to be bitter and angry. She has the right to distrust men and suffer from anxiety and depression. I am so grateful that she is healthy, free of the madness that flows through us; that she is able to trust men; that she has a boyfriend who calls her "dork-o" and acts like she hung the moon.

She gives me hope that one day I'll be ok.


Prompt for December 6: Money: where did you spend your money this year? Did you save it instead? What, if anything, would you like to do differently with your finances in the coming year?

I bought a car.
A very silly little light blue Korean-made car with a manual transmission and an impractically pale interior. It looks suspiciously like an Easter egg.
I love it.

And my father didn't get to make this decision for me.

The day my sister and I spent in the local high school parking lot and surrounding neighborhood learning to drive TheEgg was priceless. If I damaged the clutch learning to drive it on all of these damned hills, well, then I'll replace the clutch.

And you know what? My father was wrong. Girls can drive a stick shift. I love mine so much I'll probably never buy an automatic again.

Six months later, I still love the pale blue color. It makes me happy. If I get a ticket because of the silly color, who cares? It is my car; I will pay my ticket and no one can say a damned word about it.

This car is like me: fun, dependable, a little frivolous, and smells of coffee and Burberry perfume.


Prompt for December 5: Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens... what were your favourite things that you discovered this year?

1- Dream by Pure Romance: I went to a coworker's Pure Romance "party" earlier this year- mostly out of guilt. I am NOT into group sex talk. However, when the woman running the event said that she uses this to soothe her son, who has ADHD, at bedtime, I was curious. I have a lot of sleepless nights. I've tried lot of cures and tricks and medications. Nothing has really worked. This spray isn't a miracle, but it helps. It smells nice and it helps me settle down on the night that I'm feeling a little anxious or panicky. It has also helped cut down on restless sleep- Falling asleep and staying asleep is pretty awesome.

2- Victoria's Secret Daily Leggings: I am a fan of stretchy pants. I own an immense number. Almost all of them are Victoria's Secret, but I have bought stretchy pants everywhere. $5 Target leggings to an embarrassingly pricey pair that I got at the Juicy Couture store of all places; stretchy pants are my most common impulse purchase. I own two pairs of gray and black animal print, but the rest are black. I wear them always: travelling, yoga class, under long sweaters and dresses, with boots and flats. The best is when I wear them with my pink pumps.

3- Americanos: I've been a coffee drinker for years, but I never really loved coffee until this year. I was introduced to the deliciousness of espresso by BestFriend and my life was instantly changed for the better. I am obsessed with Americanos. Obsessed. I love the taste. And I love the way they give me a caffeine boost without giving me a coffee stomachache the way lattes and mochas and all of the whipped-flavored-foamy creations always did.

4- Tervis Tumblers: I impulse-bought one with a red lid and Razorback on it at Dillard's in Fayetteville. I love it. It lived up to all of the Tervis hype. It keeps my cold drinks super cold and it keeps my Americanos piping hot. I bought another one with my monogram on it a few weeks later. It is amazing!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Prompt for December 4: Leap: What leap of faith did you take this year? Did you hold your nose and jump off the end of the diving board, or did you look before you leapt? Were you scared, or was it a relief?

I'm not one for leaping. I don't leap. I don't even hop. Not even a little bit.
I am a feet-firmly-on-the-ground kind of girl. And not always in a level-headed way. I'm usually planted somewhere between level-headed and paralyzed by fear.

But I've realized that this fear is ridiculous. It comes from my parents. All my life I've been told all of the things I'm NOT: capable, smart, strong, brave, pretty, thin, worthy.

And that's bullshit. Every word of it.

So I didn't leap. Not really. But I took baby steps. A lot of baby steps.

-I learned to drive a stick shift (actually, I bought a new car with a standard transmission, then I learned to drive a stick) because my father always said that women can't drive a stick.

-I ended toxic friendship(s!) because I deserve better than people who make me feel guilty for being exactly who I am.

-I went back to Arkansas because I deserved closure. Because I missed my friends. Because I wanted to bid that life good bye. Because I didn't do anything wrong.

-I came to terms with my mother. She'll never love me best. It is time for me to stop expecting things she can't give me.

-I quit smoking. I don't need a crutch to get through the day anymore.

-I forced myself to be honest. Always. Even when it hurt. Even when it made me look bad. Because lies and betrayal hurt.

... and lots of other, less significant steps.

Maybe, hopefully, if I keep placing one foot in front of the other, I can do the rest. I can come to terms with the rest of the soul sucking muck that bogs me down. I can let go and be successful and happy and anything but my father's daughter.

Maybe next year I can leap. Maybe. Hopefully. I don't know, but I think so.


Prompt for December 3: Celebration: What did you celebrate this year? What do you hope to celebrate next year? (I know, I know, I'm days behind!)

Things I celebrated: old friends, new friends, family, love, victories, closure, new adventures, over coming challenges and facing demons.

As for next year? All I can ask for is more of the same.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Live for Moments

Prompt for December 2:
Live for Moments: pick a vivid memory from this year- maybe one when you felt most alive; or when you felt most wounded, happiest, fulfilled. Tell us about it in the most vivid detail you can- sights, sounds, smells, feelings.

It was windy outside. The wind was crazy: whistling and whining and flinging things through the valley. I had struggled to keep my tiny EasterEgg on the road and was relieved to have made it to work safely.

I entered the building juggling my too-big purse and too-big Americano while trying to untangle my too-big sunglasses from my too-big hair. I could barely see through the red-blond cloud the wind had wrapped firmly around my face. My Americano had splashed over the lip of my cup and scalded an angry red blotch from the web of my hand past my wrist.

I set my coffee and my bag down on a counter and tried to shake it off- first the coffee on my arm, and then the I-blew-out-my-hair-with-a-cyclone look I was rocking.

My coworker, Tigerlilly, a particular favorite of mine, popped up out of nowhere. She grinned at me from underneath her inky black never-a-strand-out-of-place hair and said, "I'm glad you're here! I didn't know you would be in today!" I smiled at her as I tucked my sunglasses into my bag and gulped my coffee. "Your little brother just walked in, too!" she continued.

And, just like that, with a flash of her adult braces and a flip of her hair, I was devastated.
Every cliche about being metaphorically sucker punched happened in the next millisecond. My heart stopped. My breath stopped. Everything was quiet.

"What do you mean?" I forced the words out.

"You know, Lames. Your little brother." She was still smiling. A distant part of my brain realized she was making a joke about a coworker with whom I've become close friends.
I could see where the joke was coming from. He's a few years younger than me; we bicker like kids; we have silly inside jokes and nicknames.

I managed to hold on to my smile and say something flip in response- I have no idea what.
I walked away feeling nauseous, dizzy, breathless. The worst part? She had no idea that she'd just punched me in the throat.

The irony of Lames being the next person I encountered was not lost on me.
He drank my Americano and listened with sympathetic eyes as I told the story. It came rushing out in disjointed sentences and fragmented thoughts. I was sucking in deep choking gasps of air and fighting back the looming panic attack.

His silence was perfect.

"She didn't know" and "Its going to be okay" or any of those other things people say in situations like this one weren't what I needed. I knew that Tigerlilly didn't know.
I knew that she had no idea how much the loss of my brother still colored every day; that the pain festers and bubbles because I can't talk about it. Probably she had no idea that I have a dead brother at all. I also knew that it wasn't going to be okay. I'm never going to be okay with my brother's death. I'm never not going to feel the emptiness of the LittleBrother sized hole in my life.

This is the worst part of grieving- the unexpected reminders. I can steal myself for birthdays, holidays, specific places and people. But these reminders that pop up when least expected and sucker punch you? There is no way to prepare for them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Humble Beginnings

I've decided to join Reverb11.
I've been neglecting my blog and thus my mental health lately- two things that are infinitely tangled to together. I've been looking for a way back, and so here I am. Reverb11.

Prompt for December 1:
Humble beginnings: where did 2011 begin for you? Describe where you were- be it physically, emotionally or otherwise.

I rang in the New Year at a party with work friends. We had these parties fairly often to celebrate- milestones or Saturdays- it didn't matter what. The house was packed with coworkers in fancy dresses and sparkly ties. My tiara fell off and was trampled when I got caught under the mistletoe that was still up from Christmas. I used a sharpie to scrawl my signature on "my side" of the beer pong table. We consumed dozens of bottles of champagne. It was a giddy, sparkly mess.

I was bored. I was tired of drinking. Tired of these people. I felt a deep down restlessness that I didn't know how to name. I didn't know at the time that this giddy mess was the last in the long line of giddy messes. Our era had ended.

A few days later I received a promotion at work. I was put in charge of the largest department with the most personnel. I'd taken a chance in applying. I was technically under-qualified, but I knew I was up for the challenge. This department had not had a leader for a few months, and the previous department head had been beloved. I had been promoted from outside of the department. Most of the people who now worked for me did not know me. They did not care that I was smart and capable and hard working and funny. I was an outsider.

I had to grow a stronger spine and thicker skin. FAST.

It became clear that huge and immediate changes were necessary for the department to remain productive. The place was in shambles. The procedures were outdated and directly conflicted with company policy. Important files had been misplaced. The filing cabinets hadn't been touched in over five years. Unethical practices were the norm. Beloved or not, the previous supervisor had not been very good at his job.

I had thought that I would be able to rely on the people who had worked with me previously for support. No dice. On top of that, the individuals who were supposed to be my assistants had been my competition for the position. Some of them had been counted among my friends before my promotion. Some of them were part of the giddy mess. I couldn't look to them for anything more than the barest civility, let alone support. I was met with opposition and insubordination at every turn. Every small procedural change was a battle. I thought that if I heard "Well, that isn't how Joe did it" one more time I would scream. I had fantasies of just throwing myself on the floor in front of everyone and throwing full-blown kicking-and-screaming toddler tantrum. Thankfully, sanity prevailed

My boss wasn't able to be very much help to during this transition, but I didn't want to be in the habit of relying on him. I knew that if I was going to command the respect of my department and be an effective leader I would have to do it alone. I needed to make the tough calls and have the awkward conversations without someone holding my hand or standing behind me like an enforcer. I had to find the support I needed outside of my department and outside of my branch of the company.

I was lucky. There were plenty of people who were willing and able to help me find the answers I sought and institute the changes I needed to make. I actually found allies where I least expected them, and developed friendships with the unlikeliest of colleagues.

Some of these challenges are ongoing, some took the better part of the second quarter to be resolved, but by the time Valentine's Day rolled around the worst was over. My friendships had been irreparably damaged, but things had turned around at work. New challenges were on the horizon.

I honestly don't know if I learned more about my new job, my old friends or myself during those first six weeks.

January 2011 was a lion fight and I won. Barely.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Time Around

There is some old cliche about returning to the scene of the crime.

A couple of weeks ago I went back to Fayetteville. Tits was getting married and it was time for me to get it together and face my demons.

This wasn't the first time that I had seen my old friends and caught glimpses of my old life. I'd gone east for a Sister's big Texas wedding three years before and further East for a whirlwind weekend in Philly a year after that. Then Justin died and everything was so pear shaped that I didn't know how to respond to the Sisters who reached out to comfort me from thousands of miles away. My interactions with my former life had been limited to sporadic Facebook messages from Roommate (who is a happily married lady now, barely recognizable as the hell raiser I once knew) and postcards from the Globetrotter- the only one of us who always knew exactly who she was.

So I got Tits' black and red invitation (appropriate for two Razorback alums, no?) and I held it in my hands for awhile before I could bring myself to open the envelope. The invitation itself wasn't a surprise- Tits had sent me a message requesting a mailing address a few weeks before. The message had been a surprise, but I had dutifully responded with the requested information.

I rolled the idea around in my head for weeks before I decided to go. Skinny's lack of support and the doubt in my mother's eyes were part of the motivation to go. I needed to prove to myself that they weren't right, that it was a good idea, that I was strong enough to return to a place that represented the best and worst times of my life. So I made a flight reservation, announced to Facebook (and effectively the world) that I would be attending Tits' wedding.

The response was so positive. More positive than I expected- Tits was so excited; women I hadn't seen in years were happy to hear I would be in attendance, wanted to spend time with me while I was in town. I was a little overwhelmed, in the best way possible. Let me be clear- it was not the Sisters I lacked faith in, it was myself. The TexasJewess (who is not really very Jewish and no longer Texan) offered to fetch me from the airport and house me in her guest bedroom. I had planned a hotel and a rental car, but her gesture effectively knocked down all remaining hesitation.

Before I knew it, I was counting down to the trip. Then (after a trip down PCH to LAX spent fielding work calls on speaker phone and fighting Southern California traffic) I was boarding a plane. On the flight my iPod seemed to know that I was headed backwards in time. It played all of the songs I loved when I was nineteen and all of the songs with memories attached. Tenacious D, Jason Boland &The Stragglers, Lucero, Pat Green, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed. I closed my eyes and let it all wash over me: giggling through "Fuck Her Gently" on the way to Tulsa, sitting on a makeshift stage thisclose to Jason Boland singing about pearl-snap shirts, learning to two-step in a champagne soaked foyer to "Fishin' in the Dark".

I was met at the airport by TJ who was exactly the same and completely different- still tall, bold, loud and lovely... but softer somehow. Her Texas twang was gone and she was happier than I'd ever seen her. She ushered me out into the cold air and I breathed in the Ozarks for the first time in five and half years.

We spent the morning of the wedding day walking around campus. It was absolutely deserted due to Fall Break, but I'm glad it was empty. There were things I needed to see, to come to terms with and hundred of writhing bodies in Polos and neon would've added to my anxiety. The only downside to the empty campus was that no one was around to let us into the sorority house. So many things were the same: Razorback Stadium, the "Pi Palace", my old dorm. And so many were different: Old Main was under construction, the fraternity house where I had spent so much time is now a parking lot, there is a mall on campus, new houses on fraternity row.

I had a momentary panic as I was seated waiting for the wedding to begin. I wasn't sure I could face the girls that I hadn't seen in years, answer the questions, smile in the face of all of the overwhelming memories.

The wedding turned out to be the sweetest little hometown wedding I've ever seen. It totally represented Tits & Mr. Tits. I actually got a chance to talk to the bride at the reception and she made me cry. I caught up with old friends and laughed and drank and even danced a little. After some hesitation on my part (and being paged over the loudspeaker) I participated in the sorority wedding ritual. I felt a little awkward about it, but I remembered more than I thought I would, and it meant a lot to me that my Sisters wanted me to participate.

I didn't escape the event unscathed, however. We went out to the bars after the reception. I fell on Dickson (like hundred of coeds before me) and ended up with two skinned knees and a sprained ankle. I should have known better than to wear the blue pumps that were a gift from Manonna. Such things have bad juju. I insisted that I was fine, but my sisters' husbands and boyfriends rushed to my aid anyway because as one of them put it "Honey, you're not fine. You're bleeding." I suppose that it was a fitting end to the evening. No reunion is complete without a little humiliation.

Before I left TJ told me that she was glad to see me doing so well, that I'm healthier and happier than I've been in years.
I was skeptical because I felt scraped raw by the whole weekend, but I guess she's right.
As angry and confused as I've been these last couple of months, the desperation is gone. I feel like I've won some kind of battle. The war may not be over, but for now this life is mine.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dear Steph, Get bent. Love, MK

I read romance novels when I'm upset. Dramatic historical novels with crinolines and horses and dukes and more plot twists than an episode of Desperate Housewives. 

Before I was packed up and sent home to California with "crazy" practically stamped on my forehead, I was speed reading through the Regency era. Don't misunderstand; I have little respect for the romance novel genre. The books are silly and formulaic at best. They're anything but original, and sort of insult the intelligence of the women to whom they're marketed. I don't read them for the literary value... I kind of loathe them, really.

Its just that nothing brings out the crocodile tears in me faster than some lucky bitch in a corset getting her happily-ever-after.

I hate crying.

Totally fucked, right? 

I don't really have an explanation for it. Maybe it's because I don't believe in happily ever after. Or because I was scolded for crying as a child, teen, adult. Maybe I'm just plain twisted... or maybe I just need to get a fucking life. I have no idea.

Anyway, here I am reading some crap about an orphaned vicar's daughter and her horse groom lover who is secretly an earl, and bawling my damned eyes out. I'll be up all night crying for the mistreated girl who has no idea that the servant she's going to run away (from her evil uncle) with is going to make her a pregnant millionaire any minute. I don't even know if I feel sorry for her because of the evil uncle or jealous of the handsome man. 

I've always been afraid of becoming the kind of woman who has a drink and a couple of pills in the evening to deal with the burden of living: her white girl, first world problems. It seems that as long as Stephanie Laurens her ilk are around, I don't have much to worry about in that arena.

Monday, January 17, 2011

We Built This City on Rock 'n Roll

 SkinnyBitch has found a job at another company, and is in the East Bay for a month-long new employee training program. I went to visit her over the weekend, and we went into TheCity on Saturday. I love love LOVE TheCity! We watched football in a sports bar (Go Steelers!), went drunk souvenir shopping (note the ridiculous sunglasses below), ate at the Cheesecake Factory on the roof of Macy's and so much more. All in all, it was a pretty fantastic weekend.