Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christmas ……

…… in pictures.

This is kind of like showing your vacation slides to guests back in the 60’s – 70’s …… I think. Only you’re not being held captive in my living room. You can close this window any time you want.
Lucky you.
🙂

I walked into my bedroom to find Jack, appearing very comfy in a stack of gift boxes.
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I’m sure he was trying to make a point. I’m just not sure what it was.
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Oliver was napping on my bed, pretty much out cold, and Daughter #2 decided to either make an art project with him, or bug the hell out of him. I’m leaning towards the latter.
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She kept adding articles on top of, and around, him. Just trying to see how much he’d take before getting ticked. Evidently he took a lot.
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Until he could take no more.
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There was much karaoke-ing.
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Daughter #1 worked at Lush for the holidays.  This company is so green (in a good way) that they use packing material that looks like styrofoam, but it dissolves into a watery foam when you add water to it. Which we proved.
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We thought it was pretty cool.
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Son #1 and Oliver napped together. You can’t really see this clearly, but Oliver’s face is snuggled up against Son #1. He prefers to sleep like that.
And so does Oliver.
Ha!
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Tonight Son #1 and I met up with my wonderful friend Beth and her lovely family at Rockefeller Center.
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We went to the top.
You’re welcome. 🙂
(These were taken at almost the top)
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These were taken at the very top.
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This one’s a bit blurry but Times Square is in the center of this picture. They’re setting up for the ball drop (the long vertical line of lights).
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OK, that’s it. If you’re still here then you’re a trooper.
🙂

Happy Saturday.

Ugh ……

…… I feel so crummy.

Yesterday I spent the entire day in my pjs, but not in a good way like Christmas Day. I mostly just laid around and used up a ton of Kleenex. I think Daughter #2 and I have killed an entire forest.

I felt a bit better this morning and made myself get out of the apartment by making an appointment to get my hair cut.
It worked, I got out of the apartment.
Then I cleaned up around the apartment while the girls went shopping and Son #1 got himself ready (I only say this because that usually takes a while).
He and I walked downtown and met them at a movie theater to see “Saving Mr. Banks”.
It was very, very, very good.
And it made me cry.
I think it made everyone in the theater cry, especially a woman in front of us, who I thought was going to have a break down. Seriously, she was crying …… that hard.

That made me feel better …… about crying anyway. Physically, I was going down hill. I was running a fever and just wanted to get home.
So here we are.
Waiting for pizza to be delivered and watching an ongoing marathon of “Parks and Recreation”.

The excitement never ends.
🙂

Happy Friday.

Fa La La La La …….

…… La La La ….. La.

It’s 11:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on Christmas night.

It’s been a a mostly quiet day, except for all of the karaoke singing that’s been going on most of the day here in the apartment.
I meant to bring this gift out last night, for all to enjoy, but I forgot. So it came out this morning. Right before the stockings that Santa left in my bedroom came out.
Whatever.

The karaoke set up is pretty sweet. It’s two microphones, with a stand that holds an iPad and/or a cell phone, and a decent speaker. So you can use the iPad to use whatever Karaoke songs are out there …… and believe me, there are too many to name.
I truly thought that I would either hear a knock on the door, or my phone would ring, telling me to cease and desist, or inform me that I’ve been evicted. It was that loud.
The kids sang rap, Broadway, 80’s, 90’s, Madonna, Elton, Spice Girls …… you name it, they sang it. And it was fun.
So far, no knocking or phone calls.
So far.

Last night I Skyped with the two Texans as they opened their gifts. Unfortunately, the biggest gift for Son #2 did not arrive. Unbeknownst to me. So now I get to go back and forth with eBay to see if we can come to an agreement.
Ho. Ho. Ho.

Daughter #2 arrived here with what appears to be a sinus infection. I think we’ll be looking up a clinic tomorrow.
Unfortunately, the same day she and Son #1 arrived, I, too, felt like I was coming down with something. Today that something has blossomed into a stinking cold. I think.
I rarely get sick. Really.
Of course, I come down with all kinds of serious illnesses, but rarely do I get a cold or a virus.
Lucky me.

So between Daughter #3’s on going allergies, Daughter #2’s sinus infection and my cold, we’re using a boat load of Kleenex.
Tis the season.

We started watching Christmas movies yesterday and at the moment we’re up to “Christmas Vacation”. We may not make it through all of this one, as we’re all pretty tired from just hanging around the apartment, singing and watching movies. We’re spent.

We broke tradition this year and didn’t leave the apartment. Over the past several years we’ve always gone to see a movie on Christmas day. I took a vote today and it was 5-0 on leaving the apartment. And so we didn’t. Well …… Daughter #1 and I left to take the recycling down the hall. And I left one other time to take the cat poop to the trash. Don’t be jealous.
It was more excitement than most people can handle.

We have all stayed in our pj’s all day. Well, Son #1, Daughter #1 and I took showers …… and changed into different pj’s, but the costume de jour has still been pj’s. I’m quite proud of that.

I attempted to call various relatives tonight …… and by the 5th person …… and the 5th voice mail …… I was trying really hard to not take things personally. Thankfully, my brother answered when I called him. And then other family members returned my calls.
Ho Ho Ho.

All in all it’s been a very peaceful, musical, and nice Christmas. I’ve had a few moments of melancholy, but I suspect that will always be the case.
I miss him.
I wish he were here.
And things were different.
But they are not.
And all things considered …… life is good.
In spite of.

I hope that you all had a peaceful and joy-filled Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Peeps.
🙂

The Holiday Approaches ……

…… and I’m not dreading one moment of it.

Well, except the fact that my two Texans won’t be joining us, but they chose to stay south. I wish they were here, but I understand their choice.

This week I’ve been creating lists of all of the things in the house I need to either move to NY, give to the kids, sell, store, donate or trash. There’s a lot of stuff. A whole lotta stuff. I don’t intend to bring much at all up here, aside from some personal affects. I don’t plan on keeping any furniture at all, which leaves 2 king bedroom suits, 1 queen bedroom suit, 1 full bed, and 3 twin beds plus dressers. I have an almost full sized pool table/air hockey game and a beautiful baby grand player piano that I haven’t decided what to do with.

I also have a really cool Nordic Trak Home Gym, that’s pretty amazing. But I have no room in NY for it. Or for many things.
I may even decide to sell my 2000 red Mustang convertible that Jim bought me for my 40th b-day.

I have a kitchen table, dining table plus buffet, 2 sofas, serval charis and ottomans, recliners, love seats, king dual temperpedic mattresses (oh how I love those), plus tons and tons of kitchen stuff, 2 fridges, 1 freezer and a front loading washer and dryer.

Add to that the 50 ” tv and surround sound system, plus 4 other flat screens and it would be MUCH easier to just sell the house furnished.
Totally.
Do you know anyone that wants a huge house at a great price that’s fully furnished?
Now that would be a miracle.
🙂

Back to NY …… Son #1 and Daughter #2 made it here last night. Daughter #2’s suitcase didn’t make it with her flight, but it did follow closely behind, so she just stayed at the airport to see if it made it. Thankfully it did.
Yesterday it was in the 60’s here.
I could be in Houston for that warmth.
Ugh.

Today we hung out around the apartment, except for Daughter #1, who went to work and D #3, who went to babysit today. For $15/hour. I think I may take up babysitting because …… REALLY?!!!!

I went to Harlem to read to my class today. One little girl was so glad to see me that she gave me a hug as soon as I walked in. Who can’t love that?
🙂

After I came home Son #1 and I headed off to a private screening of “August: Osage County”. I have no idea how I got these tickets. I just opened my email yesterday and there was an offer for 2 tickets. For free. I checked “Yes” and printed them off and we went to the theatre tonight. Got great seats, settled in, and started people watching. Which was good for us because Bernadette Peters sat in front of us. The guy with her looked like Joel Grey, but I couldn’t get a close enough look to make sure. She, however, I had no doubt was BP. And let me just say this about her (and Son #1 agrees) …… she looks FABULOUS!!!! At first, I wasn’t sure that it was her because she’s older than I am and I thought she should look it. Alas, she does not. Plus, she doesn’t look tightly operated upon, either. And she seemed very kind when she SPOKE TO ME after the movie!!!
Indeed.
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Down from her a bit was that woman who used (?) to be on the NY Housewives reality show. She was the “countess”, but I never cared for her. She was with a girl friend.
The auditorium was kept rather dark so it was difficult to see if any other celebrities were there, but I have to believe that there were. I have to answer a survey now that I’ve seen the movie. The director was there and he introduced the movie.
It was very, very good. It was very, very funny in places and very, very difficult to watch in others. It’s not a comedy.
It’s dark. But it’s about a dysfunctional family, which we all have, only this one has more DYS than many.
And it takes place in Osage County, where I used to live at one point, so I could relate …… a bit.

So now you’re all caught up with me. Mostly, I think. The rest of the week is just time to hang with the kids, and Skype with the Texans Christmas morning. I miss them.
But I’ll see see them in a little over a week. Then off to Tulsa for V’s daughter’s wedding, and then off to California for the Soaring Spirits board retreat with some of my most favorite people in the world!

I think that all just made me tired.
Now if I could sleep during regular hours, that would be great.

Night, Peeps.
And Happy Monday/Tuesday.
🙂

A Perfect Description ……

…… of grief.

Sent to me by a friend (thank you H), who thought of me.
And I’m passing it on to you. Because it says it so much better than I can.

5 Lies You Were Told About Grief
by Alison Nappi

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Source
“What if we never ‘get over’ certain deaths, or our childhoods? What if the idea that we should have by now, or will, is a great palace lie? What if we’re not supposed to? What if it takes a life time…?”
~ Anne Lamott

It isn’t true that you have to get over it. It isn’t even true that you have to want to. No one else can understand what you have lost. No one else can bear the burden of your tribute to a love, to a life, to an identity now gone. What a privilege it is to feel deeply.
Something happens when you entwine your fate with someone else’s. If they go somewhere you cannot follow, part of you goes with them, and it is like birthing a baby who comes out of you: still and limp.
You are helpless as you watch the labor of your deepest love, your most sacred creation disappear under the dirt without you.
You want to hold it in your arms and join it in a sleep that never ends. You want to claw at the boundary of the earth between the two of you with your fingernails, but someone grabs you and pulls you away, and all you can do is wail.
You become hollow. You are missing a chunk of yourself, and no one can really see it once you put on your creamy lipstick and your designer dress, and you pluck your eyebrows and paint your fingernails and toenails to match. No. No one can see what you are missing; you look so well put together.

“The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see — the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me… our souls contained more scar tissue than life.” ~ Katie McGarry

Maybe your closest friends think you are lonely, but it is worse than that: you have lost the part of yourself that you loved most. The last period has been stamped onto the page, and yet somehow you were left behind, running your fingertips over a leather bound cover slammed shut.
You are a character in a story that is over, and since this never happens in the fairy tales you were fed in your most formative years, you are lost. You no longer fit in the world, and there is no star that can grant your truest wish.
And yet there is hope, but it is not the hope you want. Your sadness becomes all you have left and you begin to cherish it, to worship at its feet so you never forget the most important thing that ever happened to you.
You hold it in your body and you feed it all your love, all your light, so that it stays, so that you can be closer to death. It will never sneak up on you again, because it never leaves your doorstep.
And they will tell you that you’re expected at the office by nine. They will recommend that you still go to church. They will expect you still to celebrate at birthdays, and pretend it doesn’t pain you when you must change your grocery list. No, you mustn’t cry when you have to put back the soy milk because the only one who drinks it is gone.
Well-meaning friends and family will repeat the lies repeated to them in their hours of need, but they will not reveal the truth. They will not tell you how angry they were when this trite advice was handed down to them, how they took it with a joyless, tight-lipped smile, and an insincere “thank you,” just as you will do.
They know no other way. There were things they valued more than their grief: unsmudged eyeliner, making their friends feel comfortable, staying unemotional at work.
Their platitudes won’t help you at all, but you’ll hear them so often from so many directions that you will begin to wonder why you can’t heed them. Instead of realizing the obvious truth: that the advice is terribly flawed, your conditioning will tell you that it is you who are flawed, adding the burden of guilt to a heart already gasping for air.
There are many lists of trite advice you can read about grief, but they will only add to your confusion about why you can’t seem to sync your feelings with the grief map sanctioned by your culture.
This map is supposed to tell you what is normal, but that map was not made for you. It was made to keep the engine of our cultural machine running. It requires your numbness. Refuse, my friend. Refuse with all your might to be numb.
I have no trite advice for you. I have nothing prolific to say. I’m not going to tell you to get therapy or accept how life has changed. I offer you this in the spirit of “you-are-not-aloneness” and “there-is-no-scheduledom.” I give this freely from a place of “I-don’t-know-how-you-feel-but-I-sure-as-shit-know-what-it’s-like-to-be-devestatedism,” and “This-is-how-I-feltity.”
Can anybody hear me?

1. The Lie: You should be over it/him/her by now.

The Truth: No one has the authority to tell you how you should feel, when you should feel it or for how long. Do you hear me? There is no normal when it comes to grief. There is no quantifiable estimate of how much value who and what you have lost has added to your life or for how long you should be sad about that loss. You are not a machine. Numbers: days, weeks, months, years are meaningless.
Death and aliveness are inextricably linked. You may stop weeping (or not), but you will never forget the love, the adventure, the grandiosity of the effect that your beloved lost has made upon your life, and your character. In this way, death will guide you for the rest of your days.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly — that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” ~ Anne Lamott

Your life has changed forever. The touch of death is a part of you now, woven into the tapestry of your new and unfolding experience.

2. The Lie: You should stop talking about him or her / Stop living in the past.

The Truth: The only people who cannot bear to hear you speak of your beloved are those who cannot accept their own mortality. They are people who have never grieved. They either don’t know loss, or they buried themselves with their loved ones. Trust me when I tell you, they have their own mountains yet to climb.
Those who would have you silence yourself, choke on the words that you must speak, are people who do not know their own souls.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare

I’m not a psychologist. I’m a writer, so you must know by now that I am having a love affair with words. I know how to make them sharp and pointy. I know how to make them sing like music. And most importantly, I know that they keep me connected to everything beautiful in this world, and the next.
Speaking of your loved one can keep their presence with you from far across the boundaries of the point where life meets death. It is a way to honor them, and a way to honor your feelings. It keeps their love alive in you. It extends the meaning of their life into the world in powerful and meaningful ways. It gives them back a voice in a world hell-bent on forgetting.
It’s okay to speak of them, to them, and even for them when there is good that can be done by you because they have lived. What better way to honor a life, than to extend this love to others?

3. The Lie: You have to move on with your life (right now).

The Truth: This advice is an act of violence against a grieving heart. It is a kick in the ribs while you lie hopelessly seized by despair. Whatever it is your loved one would want, it is unlikely that he or she would want an avalanche of guilt entombing you with your grief. You have enough to climb out of, enough rebuilding to do.
In many ways you are restarting your life from scratch, especially if your beloved lost was the central pin you’d built your life around. For many of us, there is no life to get on with; the lives we were living are irretrievable.
We must begin again, and we don’t want to begin our new lives on a foundation of unacknowledged, disrespected grief.
Being with your grief may require you to sit amongst the rubble. You may have to watch a city crumble. You may have to let go of who you thought you were, in order to make meaning out of the meaningless tragedy of death. Someday you will rebuild this city, but it will be new, updated, your tastes will have changed, you will be more wholly yourself and your kingdom will reflect that.

4. The Lie: You could have prevented this tragedy.

The Truth: If your loved one passed in a sudden or unexpected way, somewhere inside you is a voice asking what you might have done differently that would have changed the course of events that led to the death of your beloved lost.
The truth is that the factors that influence the course of our lives are bigger and more mysterious than what we did and did not do. To hold yourself accountable for any reason is to deny the greater context in which life happens, and that is a dangerous choice to make, because it will eat a hole in your spirit that you can never fill without asking much scarier questions. Bigger questions.
How will I live with this loss? Will I survive this sadness? Will I ever love again? Who am I now? In what manner will I go on? How do I want to spend what’s left of my life? How can I honor my loved one’s life? And death? Is there more? What is the meaning of living? How can I find fulfillment now?
Why the fuck am I here?

“Watch the ones whose only option left is to lean into the questions. The ones who are uninhibited by the unknown because they’ve jumped into that gaping hole and found themselves, by grace, unswallowable. Watch the ones who willingly stand with Feist and say, “I feel it all” even when it scares the shit out of them. It’s not brave to have answers.”
~ Mandy Steward

5. The Lie: Time heals all wounds.

The Truth: The truth is there are losses you never get over. They break you to pieces and you can never go back to the original shape you once were, and so you will grieve your own death with that of your beloved lost.
Your grief is your love, turned inside-out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. When your sadness seems bottomless, it is because your love knows no bounds.
Grief teaches us about who we are, and any attempt to crush it, to bury it with the body is an act of vengeance against your own nature.
If everyone felt, honored, respected and trusted their true feelings, this world would be a different place. Instead of reacting, we would respond. Instead of judging, we would see ourselves in everyone. Instead of consuming, we would notice that we cannot fill the gaping wounds inside of us with trinkets.
If instead of pretending we are okay, we would take the time to wail, to weep, to scream, to wander the woods day after day holding hands with our sadness, loving it into remission so it doesn’t turn cold inside of us, gripping us intermittently in the icy fingers of depression. That’s not what grief is meant to do.
Grief has a way of showing you just how deep your aliveness goes. It’s a dagger shoved down your throat, its handle bulging like an Adam’s apple protruding from your neck, edges pressed against both lungs, creating a long, slow bleed in your chest that rolls down the edges of your life, and you get to handle that any fucking way you want.
If you have been sitting on old grief from your childhood, your failed relationships, the loss of a family pet when you were nine, and any other losses you were unable to honor in the past, this left-over grief will also come through the broken damn. Let it.

“Grief does not change you… It reveals you.” ~ John Green

And herein lies the gift that cannot die. It changes the course of your life forever. If you allow yourself the chance to feel it for as long as you need to — even if it is for the rest of your life — you will be guided by it. You will become someone it would have been impossible for you to be, and in this way your loved one lives on, in you.*****

Six Years ……

…… and not enjoying the counting.

Here are a few pictures from my day.

I had lunch with my friend Kelley, who also finds December 18th a difficult day.  It’s the day that her husband proposed to her, at this tree (well, not THIS tree, but at the tree that stood here that year). After lunch we both walked towards the tree and then went our separate ways. We both had memories to process and thoughts to think.
I spent some time there, right up at the base of the tree. This was the first time I got that close. That sucker is huge!

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Then I spent some time watching the skaters. It’s such a neat place and the tree is a beautiful background.
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After spending time there I walked around the area, taking pictures of the various Christmas decorations:
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I attempted to go in the Magnolia Bakery, but it was hugely crowded, plus a bride and groom were taking pictures in there. Not exactly what I wanted to watch while standing in line. But I’m happy for them. Whoever they were.

I spent some time browsing the Metropolitan Museum of Art store. I love that place. I can kill a good hour looking at all of the cool things they have.
I bought some Christmas cards, only to later realize that my address book is back in Houston. So if you don’t get a card from me, that’s because your address is down south this year.
Sorry.

I walked home after that and worked on a few things in the apartment. Then Daughter #3 and I went to a small group dinner/Christmas party with our church group. I hadn’t planned on going, but I figured it was a much better idea than sitting home alone tonight.
And it was. I’m glad I went.

It’s now after midnight here, so one more year down.
It wasn’t a difficult day, but I did feel wistful …… and sad at times.
I know that’s par for the course.

I miss that man.
And though I’m where I want to be and life is good …… I always will.
Always.

Technically ……

…… it’s not even winter yet.

Yet I give you exhibit A:

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Yesterday I didn’t think to take a picture of the CNN sign, but it was 22, at its lowest point.
I KNOW!!!

Here are a few more more exhibits:

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This shows the snow in the window frame:
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This is at Columbus Circle (pretty, isn’t it?)
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This is the play I saw last week.  It wasn’t all that great.
But I got to look at Daniel Craig for a couple of hours. And while he’s no George, he’s not half bad.
🙂

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This is one of the window displays at Bergdorf’s.  Santa’s arm goes up and down as he drinks his hot chocolate. It’s pretty cool. 🙂
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This a piece from a nearby museum that currently has an exhibit of ceramic art. The artist is from Finland. He made this piece not long after several children were shot there one afternoon, while on a school outing. (I am neither advocating, or against gun control here …… I’m just showing/explaining a very haunting/interesting piece). All three children are wearing school uniforms. A boy and a girl are on their knees, begging the girl who stands before them. The kneeling children have real eyes (deer eyes put in by a taxidermist). The standing child has no eyes. But she does have something they don’t have. She’s holding a gun …… a pistol …… behind her back.  Eyes are the windows to the soul …… and she has no soul.
It took my breath away when I saw the gun. I stood looking at the piece for quite a few minutes, smiling and thinking they were maybe asking her to choose them to be on her team. And then I moved to the right …… and saw the gun.
This artist often uses children and/or animals and places them in “adult” situations in order to shock the viewer.
He did a good job with me.
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Daughter #3 has a friend here who came in Friday night. They’ve been busy hitting the city ever since. I’ve seen very little of her, which means that she’s having a good time. In spite of the cold. She’s a huge wimp when it comes to cold weather. Kind of how I used to be …… only a year ago.
Sigh …..

So last night was our comedy gig. And while I was very nervous from the very first night of class, I wasn’t nervous last night.
Yesterday I was hit by a wave of grief, that kind of came out of nowhere. If you can consider 3 days before the “death day” out of nowhere.
I had to be at the club at 7:00. At 6:00 I was still crying, and praying that I could stop.
Thankfully, I did. Though tears prickled my eyes during the subway ride to the club. But as soon as we got there my mind was on everyone else and on hoping that I wouldn’t forget any of my routine.

We all met upstairs and got a little pep talk and received the order we were going to perform. Daughter #3 and I were the last two. She was after me.
I couldn’t believe I wasn’t nervous at all. I watched my friends go up and do their routines, after the hostess did her gig, and our teacher/my friend Kelly did her gig, and after one of the headliners, Judah Friedlander, did his gig. Yeah, he’s a little famous.
🙂

When it came my turn to get up on the stage I just walked right up and felt instantly right at home. The crowd was great. It didn’t hurt that I had two sorority sisters and their husbands there, plus Beth, and another friend. And then Daughter #3 had several friends who also know me, so at least there were several people who were going to either love me, or act like they loved me. 🙂

But I seemed to click with mostly everybody. It was impossible to see anyone’s face because the light was incredibly bright in my eyes, but one of the tables right in front of me was full of wonderful people who laughed a lout. Like huge, guffaw belly laughs. Right from the start.
I felt like I owned the stage for those 6 minutes.
And that felt wonderful.
I know that Jim was watching and was/is very proud of me.
And of Daughter #3, who did a fabulous job.
She’s hilarious!
Hopefully she’ll let me post her video, too. I just haven’t seen her long enough to ask. 🙂

Tomorrow I start my volunteer job in Harlem at a Head Start school. I’m really looking forward to that.
Son #1 and Daughter #2 will be arriving this weekend. What’s more, Daughter #2 will be looking at prospective jobs while she’s here.
I KNOW AGAIN!!

Daughter #3 finished her internship at the school on Friday, so she’s now on the job hunt. She is now the proud owner of a Masters degree (those degrees have 1 and 2 record with me, so I’m not that thrilled …… yet).
But she has decided to stay up here, too, which I am THRILLED about.
Who knew that I’d be up here, let alone have possibly half of my kids up here?!!

Sons #2 and #3 are staying in Texas for Christmas. Son #2 has school through the holidays and Son #3 wants to make money. I tried to get both of them up here, but their minds are made up. Besides, Son #2 doesn’t really like to travel all that much. He’s a homebody. Which I totally get.

I have no plans for the 18th. I may walk to Rockefeller Center and stare at the tree for a while …… and remember.
And remember and remember and remember.

And I’ll also wish my sister, brother and stepdad a very happy birthday.

Happy Monday/Tuesday, Peeps.

From me and my tree.
🙂
Photo on 12-17-13 at 12.22 AM