Ruminations on Grief

There are a few experiences in your life that change you in a fundamental way. There’s no way to predict how much, and even when you are well-prepared, these changes often take you by surprise. For example, when you are expecting a child, it seems like everyone you meet will tell you having a child will change your life. Of course, you nod your head and agree, because you know a child will change your life. But you have no idea, until you have a child, just how much your life will change.

On the other end of the spectrum, the death of a parent will also change your life. And again, no matter how prepared you seem to be, how much you resign yourself to that immutable fact, the truth is you have no idea how this momentous experience will change you. Perhaps it doesn’t change some people, but I can only speak for myself.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of my momma’s death. I wish I could say it was easier this year than last, but I can’t. In some ways, it was worse. For the last week or so I have been definitely out of sorts, crabby, and prone to uncontrollable bouts of tears. Simple tasks just seem so damned difficult. I see her face everywhere I look. I went to breakfast with my BFF and I was fine until a woman about my age came in with her mother – and I was torn between feeling angry that she still had her mother and feeling a loss so great it literally took my breath away. I felt like I had been gut-shot.

The loss I expected. The anger, I did not.

So, I’m angry with this poor woman who was simply taking her mom to breakfast. I wanted to stand up and say to her, Do you know how fucking lucky you are right now? Do you? You sit there and you’re having a conversation with your mother, and I don’t have mine, I HATE YOU.

That can’t be normal.

And at lunch the other day, the waiter was so damned….ENTHUSIASTIC. I mean, he was like a guy from a Secret Waiter Cult, so over-friendly and insincere I wanted to stab him with a spork. Like, shut up, bring me my sandwich, and shut the fuck up! “Anything you need, just let me know,” he says, and I’m thinking, Can you bring my mother back? No? Then leave me the FUCK alone, but of course I don’t say that. I just imagine him with a spork sticking out of his eye.

That can’t be normal, either.

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Grief is a really sneaky, slimy buggering bastard. It will come up from behind and breathe down the back of your neck, making every hair on your body stand on end and every nerve tingle as if it’s on fire. Most days leading up to the 22nd I had no emotional control at all. My eyes would start leaking if someone simply said, “How are you today?” So embarrassing when you pump gas, go in to pay, and then start crying when the attendant says something so innocuous. I took to wearing sunglasses at every opportunity, even indoors, even when it was cloudy or getting dark.

So, of course, in this state, I just don’t want to be around people. Not just the poor innocent in restaurants or gas stations who have no idea when they greet me I’m thinking of sharp implements, but the people that know me or see me on a regular basis. I feel a bit guilty feeling so crappy and sad, and I don’t want to make other people feel sad when they look at me, leaking at the eyes from a simple “Hello,” so I try to stay to myself, ignore the phone (not difficult even on the best of days) and just shut down for a while.

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My momma and I were very close until her drinking affected my children. At that point, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life, and told her I couldn’t have a relationship with her as long as she was a drunk. I can’t tell you how that broke my heart and how I wish I had those eight years back. Still, later she thanked me for doing it, and told me it was the right decision. Was it?

Sometimes, I don’t feel….worthy? I guess? …to be her daughter. She was one incredible woman, let me tell you. Here is just one example: after over forty years of debilitating and destructive alcoholism, she quit drinking and got sober all by herself. Yes, you heard that correctly. She went through detox on her own – and once she decided to get sober, she did it. She went to meetings, but she did it all on her own. If you have any experience or knowledge about alcoholism, you have some idea of how difficult, if not downright impossible, that is to do, and she stayed sober for the rest of her life. We were able to reconnect and get past the pain of the drinking years, recapturing the closeness I remembered as a girl. I know how incredibly lucky I was to get my mother back and I appreciated it Every. Single. Moment.

She was far from perfect, but she was an admirable force of nature, she surely was.

Big shoes. My momma had big shoes.

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I’m a changed person since Momma died. I didn’t expect that. I have gone through a lot of difficult experiences over the years . Up until Momma passed, I felt as if I had finally recovered and was on my way to becoming the type of person I wanted to be – maybe the kind of person I was meant to be. When Momma died, it just knocked all the pins out from under me. I’m not sure who I am anymore, even two years later.

Then I feel self-indulgent and selfish.

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Onward. I know Momma would be pissed off if she saw me wallowing like this (and I’m quite sure she can, actually) and so, on with the Big Girl Panties. I will remind myself of the following:

1. I am nowhere near as strong as my mother, but there’s no shame in that. I highly suspect there are very few people as strong as my mother.
2. It’s okay to cry. It’s not weak or stupid.
3. I am going to miss her for the rest of my life, so I might as well get used to it.
4. Stabbing innocent people with sporks is probably illegal and it’s really not socially acceptable.
5. Grief is spectacularly selfish. She’s fine where she is, and probably already running the place.

Am I okay?

Yeah. Not great, but okay. Okay is good enough for rock and roll.

Onward.

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A Monday Meme

I was a little crabby last night, I’ll admit it. Lots of work, very little sleep, and not enough caffeine can do that to a girl. After a good night’s sleep and an injection of high-test coffee, I’m feeling much better today. But, for your enjoyment, here’s a peek inside the strange planet of my brain.

If you HAD to get a piercing right now, what would it be?
It would be a piercing. Duh.

How long have you been with your boyfriend/girlfriend?
You mean I can have both? Interesting. Wish I had known that a long time ago.

Could you go out in public, looking like you do now?
Why not? I haven’t been arrested in a while.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Duran Duran is hungry like the wolf. I’d like him to bite me. Heh.

Who was the last person you promised something to?
I promised a friend I’d never tell she tried to kill someone with an energy drink. Whoopsies!

Think back two months ago, what was your relationship status?
Like I can remember that far back. I can barely remember what I had for lunch.

Has anybody ever told you that you have pretty eyes?
Um, the guy in the coffee shop. He was looking at my boobies when he said it, though, so he might not be the best witness.

Have you ever got changed in front of anyone?
Okay, look. If you don’t clean up this sentence structure I’m likely to have a rupture. Gack. Horrible.

Do you know anyone called Matt, Josh or Jake?
Um, I know a Josh. Why? What did he do?

Do you have anyone of the opposite sex you can tell anything to?
Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Are you wearing any makeup?
Not a lick. Take me as I am or get the eff out of Dodge. Like I care.

Is there anyone that always calls you bubba?
Not always. Sometimes they call me bitch, but I prefer “Your Divine Goddessness”.

Have you ever given up on anyone?
No, but I’ve thrown up. Does that count?

Is there someone you always go back to?
Only if chocolate is involved. And maybe fried chicken.

Would you date the same sex?
Same sex as what? Please to clarify.

Do you think you will kiss someone tomorrow?
What’s wrong with right now? Come on, pucker up, ya tease.

Who called you last?
I wasn’t last, I was first.

Which is harder, telling someone you love them or that you don’t?
That’s what is known as a rock and a hard place.

If someone said, “I don’t talk shit about people,” would you believe them?
Usually people who say that do nothing BUT talk shit about people. What, do I look like I fell down with yesterday’s rain?

Last person you called?
I’m sorry, that’s classified information. Please enter your password to continue.

When someone says “we need to talk,” what runs through your mind?
I pretend I’m skiing down a mountain slope with the cold breeze blowing through my hair, and freezing me nutz off.

What do you need to say?
I need to say you are a real nosy fuckah and if I need to say something to you, you’ll know it. I’m hardly the wallflower, yanno.

Is there someone who you instantly smile when you talk to them?
It’s difficult to talk and smile at the same time. However, I have a long list of people who make me smile, whether we’re talking or not.

Where is your cell phone?
It’s that pile of smashed plastic parts in the corner over there.

If you had a plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go?
Obviously, if I had a plane ticket to “Anywhere”, that’s where I’d be going. Dumbass.

Do you like where you live?
It is an adventure of major proportions. :)

Are you a forgiving person?
For the most part. Some things I can forgive, but I never forget. Hey, if I was perfect I’d be lunching with Baby Jesus.

Where’s your favorite place to get ice cream?
Out of the freezer.

What did you do today?
I ran with scissors.

Kids one day?
One day is about all I can take anymore. Heh.

Is anything bothering you?
No, anything doesn’t usually bother me. It’s the other stuff.

Was 2009 a good year for you?
Not so much.

Do you think people think bad things about you?
You have evidently mistaken me for someone who gives a shit what people think.

Who are you texting?
None of your effing business. Geez, who the hell are you?

How late did you stay up last night and why?
I stayed up until I fell asleep because I was tired. How ’bout that?

Who was the first person you talked to today?
The goblin under my bed. He wanted more dirty socks for breakfast.

Have you ever ridden a horse?
Yep.

Are you anything like you were at this point last year?
No. I’m totally different. I was replaced by a pod person and now I’m someone else. Dumbass.

Are you wearing jeans right now?
I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable, unless it’s underwear that’s too small.

What’s something you do when you’re mad?
Stick pins in the appropriate voodoo dolls. Then I sacrifice a chicken.

Are you a patient person?
Sometimes, unless I want it RIGHT NOW.

Would you rather be mad or sad?
Well, that’s a helluva choice, isn’t it? I’d rather have what’s behind Door Number Three.

Do you think you can last in a relationship for 3 months?
No, the question is, do you think YOU can last? Let’s hang, motherheifer.

Do you ever use words like stoked, souped or sick?
Dude, that’s like so gnarly.

Closest green object to you?
Shirt. I’m wearing it. You can’t get much closer than that.

What is your current mood?
Three guesses and the first two don’t count.

If you could go back in time and change something, would you?
What’s the point? You can’t outrun fate and it’s foolish to try.

Favorite color?
Oh PUH-LEEZE.

What’s your favorite smell?
You mean my favorite AROMA? Because you SMELL with your NOSE.

What are you thinking about right now
I’m thinking about how I get sucked into these memes and how I wish I knew who wrote them so I can stab them with a spork.

What should you be doing?
I am too damned old for people to tell me what I SHOULD be doing. So step the EFF off, motherheifer.

Do you like working in the yard?
Yeah, about as much as I like sticking a coat hangar in my eye.

What color are your eyes?
Laser blue. Sometimes they shoot flames.

Is there someone you just can’t imagine your life without?
My kids.

Were you happy when you woke up today?
I can’t remember that far back.

Do you believe in true love?
Sure. It’s right up there with Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.

Has anyone laid on your bed besides you?
If they did, I hope they had a hooting good time and changed the sheets.

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Ramblings Late on the Hump Day

And it was a booger. I understood that August was going to suck, for me. I just didn’t realize how much it was going to suck. It will be two years at the end of this month that my mom passed away. No, I’m still not over it. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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There have been a lot of things rolling around in my head. It’s like a pool table out of control in there. I have had a Very Busy Week, and it looks like it will turn into a Much Busier Week. It has been a time of frustration and trials with a few really nice things happening. One of them is the publication of my short story, “The Blood is Not Enough”, in the August 2010 Vampire Edition of Skive Magazine. It’s the first story listed. *blush*
Skive Magazine is one of the largest literary magazines in Australia, edited by Matt Ward. Isn’t that cool?

I am really happy about this for a few reasons. I wrote the first draft of this story when I was in a workshop with two of my oldest internet friends, only they weren’t friends yet. We have stayed in touch over the last eleven years, I believe it is. Amazing. Anyway, at this workshop, writing prompts were posted all the time. They became more and more elaborate as time went by and we all got to know each other a little better.

I had never written a horror story before, and remember, this was before the whole Twilight craze. I don’t remember what the prompts were, but you had to choose between three different scenarios, or characters, maybe a list of items. I saw the prompt and thought, “How cool, maybe I can do that,” and so I did. Trouble is, I got to the last 200 words or so, and realized I’d gotten caught up in the story and I hadn’t included any of the prompts. I quickly wrote them in, and the ending actually came out quite funny, even though it was a dark story. (Heh. I’m twisted, don’t look surprised.)

I received good feedback, and was pretty proud of that story. Until Brenna and Peter started speaking to me in the middle of the night and poking me with sporks. It was quite annoying. I knew the only way to shut them up was to write them and wear them out. So, I changed the end of the story. And a few other little things.

Still not satisfied. Yammer, yammer. I think I took apart “The Blood” letter by letter, word by word, paragraph by paragraph. Even wrote Brenna’s mother’s backstory. I harassed requested a few crazy cooperative colleagues to read it over and give me feedback about what was wrong with it. The best advice I received was from a close friend of mine, Taer, who told me to chuck the entire beginning and start over. That was an eye-opening experience for me. I normally wouldn’t have considered that, because I liked the beginning — but it wasn’t the right beginning for the story, can you dig it.

So after all this time, the final draft found a home. It had been rejected a few times, and I stopped sending it out because I wanted it to appear in a magazine worthy, and I can’t lie. The story means a lot to me and the rejections stung for a moment, although I didn’t let it depress me. I know better.

To this day, Peter and Brenna still mean a lot to me and I’m glad that people are getting to meet them. I feel really good about that. Now, if I could only get fan mail or a naked minion out of it, I’d be ecstatic. Heh.

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I take a lot of my inspiration from music. One of the greatest musical influences on me as a young lass was Queen. Love, love, love their music, always have, always will. I saw them in concert February 8, 1977 when I was but 19, and although I may have forgotten the majority of what happened in the 70’s (don’t ask, don’t tell, heh) that particular concert will never be one of them. It. Was. Amazing.

This is one of my favorite songs:

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I know! No one like them, ever. That Freddie, what a voice. *Sigh*.

I always get this picture in my head when I hear it, of a young man back in the early 1900’s, who just arrived in America from some foreign country, maybe Italy or Greece. He’s wearing knickers and (I think they called them) a newsboy cap. He’s in a big city. He’s running the streets to survive, and he thinks of what his life might be like in a year or a hundred years. “For my life, still ahead, pity me!”

Imagine my shock when I poked around and found out this was actually Brian May’s idea of a science fiction short story. You can read the true meaning of the song here. Still, I have my own interpretation in my head. Music and short stories, flash fiction all have that in common. You may mean one thing when you write a story, and someone else could take a completely different meaning from it. Weird.

Never would have taken it in a sci-fi direction. I wonder what that says about me as writer. Hm.

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Oh, one more thing. I write in my head a lot. I mean, a lot. Inside my head, I am articulate and every word is perfect. When I try to squeeze those words out of my mouth or through my fingertips, the words get mangled like they went through Grandmother’s wringer washer, with the rollers that liked to nip small fingers. I cough on them like giant hairballs, and I just can’t seem to express what I want to say very well. I hate when that happens. Do you ever do that? You know, write letters or blogs in your head, or stories, novel outlines, then when you grab a pen and pad you’re as constipated as if you had eaten five pounds of Wisconsin cheddar cheese?

Yeah. It’s like that.

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