Friday, July 29, 2016

The Morning After...

She woke up to light streaming in from around the blinds. Really bright light. Holy shit, why was it so bright? When she started to roll over the pounding in her head and the whirl in her stomach stopped her. Oh this was going to be a bad one all right. She closed her eyes and rested back on her pillow. Just exactly how much did she have to drink last night?

Then she heard it.

The slow steady breathing that did not match her own.

Oh shit. That much?

She cracked her eyes open and turned her head slightly, yep, there was a body there. Dammit.

She silently took stock of her surroundings. She was in her apartment. She was thoroughly hung over. She was completely naked. And she wasn't alone. Great. This was just great. 

How in the world did she end up here?

A really bad end to a fairly decent, at least at first, marriage. That's how she ended up here. That was the base of it all, right? 

The dream you share together turning in to a nightmare you can't wake up from. Leading to a little bit then to a lot of drowning your sorrows. Which leads to... the soft snores would have made her shake her head, if shaking her head wouldn't have lead to clanging gongs between her ears.

Yesterday had been the final day. The divorce was final. Months of negotiations, the you take that, I want this had finally finished. Their household split down the middle. The kids were adults so at least they hadn't had to negotiate that part, but 35 years of marriage, of a shared life, had taken a lot to unravel. Or at least the details took a lot. The actual marriage seemed to split apart fairly easily and quickly a few years ago. Like they had both been holding their breath for so long that once they each exhaled what had seemed solid tumbled like a house of cards.

You did this.

You did that.

You never.

You always.

Bit by bit, chip by chip, card by card. It all falls down.

Then it was over. They were done. 

Except for the details. Who got what. Fights that started: Why do you want that? You never even liked that! And ended in Fine! Take it! But that means I get....fill in the blank of what ever piece of useless shit there was to take that you thought would hurt the other one the most. They sold the house and split the proceeds.

She cried the day they signed the papers. 

"Why are you crying? You said you wanted to sell it!"

"Why aren't you upset? We worked so hard to buy that house. We raised our kids in that house."

"You said you wanted to sell it!"

"Of course I wanted to sell it, we aren't living there anymore. But it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt."

"Jesus Christ, I will never understand you!"

"And that's the fucking issue isn't it?"

Their realtor clearing her throat uncomfortably, "So....the proceeds are going to be put in trust..."

There hadn't been a lot of public outbursts like that, thank goodness. But there had been enough that she had changed her routines to avoid people she was too ashamed to look at anymore. And for the rest? Well there was always a nice ice cold martini. With enough of that chilling your blood you could look anyone in the eye. 

The bed shifted as he rolled over.

Or other places.

Now the detailed part was over. The money was divided. The physical things were sorted. The final paper work signed. Done. Over. Time for a celebratory drink. 

Here's to the end of 35 years of marriage. Now what...

Another drink apparently.  A few more toasts. 

And then...

He woke up and rubbed a hand down his face. Then looked over at her watching him. He reached out for her hand. Tracing the space where her wedding ring had been.

"Well this complicates things doesn't it?"

She pulled her hand back and sat up ignoring the pounding in her head and then got out of bed. Finally ready to face the new day.

"Not really."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Well that was embarrassing...

"I am so sorry, I am really not sure why I'm doing this."

Stranger wipes away my tears because my arms are strapped in to equipment and I can't move.

"It's okay, you're not in trouble or anything. I'm so sorry I've upset you."

"No, I am so sorry. I am fine. Really. I have no idea why this is happening."

"Well, my guess would be because you are in a lot of pain and stressed about what the results of this test will be, but that's just my guess. You aren't the first person to have this happen."

Well that might be true, but I would guess I was the most embarrassed and maybe the only one shouting in my head, "KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF! JESUS CHRIST DON'T BE SUCH A WIMP!" And maybe the only one who wasn't stressed so much about what the results will be as much as stressed as to what the results won't be, or more specifically that there will be no results. That there is nothing that can be fixed. That this is just not a real thing and I am being a baby about it and just need to suck it up and get over it.

That was the mid-point of my MRI today. The part where they zoomed me back out of the tube because the results they were getting weren't diagnostic. Too much movement on my part. And I swear to god I wasn't moving. I was holding still. Relax she says, breathe evenly but not deeply. How in the world am I supposed to relax and not breathe deeply? Shallow breathing is going to make me pass out. Right? I've spent my life learning how to belly breathe and now you want me to take shallow breaths? How is that even possible? And how am I supposed to relax when I'm worried about my breathing? And take these fucking headphones away. They are giant and uncomfortable and annoying. There isn't room in that tube for me, the equipment, the bolster pillows AND these fucking headphones. 

Yeah, I was starting to get a little tense. Because I am REALLY good at blocking things out. I am good at ignoring pain. I am good at reading in a busy space and never hearing the world around me. I worked in an open office with 4 people on 4 different phone calls and a small space creative meeting in the "living room" behind me without ever missing a beat. I am great at "not being there" but what I am apparently not great at is holding still for long stretches of time.

I was a pro at keeping still while they injected the dye. The stinging shot of the lidocaine got an extra deep breath and that was it. The needle in to the joint capsule (the tech told me "I tell people it's kind of a twinge but I've been told by people who have had it done it's a little more than that." Umm... yeah, It's a little more than that. Holy shit.) and the dye filling the area. All of that I went through like a statue. Even when they had to figure out creative ways to keep my boob out of the way. Sorry, you made me take off my bra and put me on my back, where did you expect it to go? I even sneaked a peek at the x-ray they used to guide the needle and show that the dye had filled the capsule. "Does this bother you? Some people get a little squeamish." "Oh heck no, I think it's fascinating."

Then came the first round of the MRI, "Are you moving?"
"No. I'm still."

"Because we are showing a lot of movement. Just really relax and keep your breathing even and we will try again."

And so they did. Which didn't work. Which led to the conversation outside of the tube. Where she told me the images were shit and not worth anything and I needed to KEEP FUCKING STILL, but she said it really professionally and nicely and I broke out in to tears anyway. This is where you came in.

So I apologized for crying. She apologized for making me cry. I told her the headphones were more uncomfortable than they were helpful. She took them away and put plugs in my ears. Which, just so you know, having people mess with my ears is one of my least favorite things ever. So that was a little extra treat. Then she zoomed me back in the tube where I concentrated on not moving, on not breathing deeply, but not holding my breath either, and wishing I was someplace else, but not losing focus on where I was because I didn't want to twitch at all, and trying really hard not the think about not twitching, because thinking about not twitching only makes it almost impossible to not twitch. 

They did that series of scans, zoomed me out, put me in a different position, thank god, and then did another series of scans. Then they let me go. Of course she treated me with kid gloves as she got me off the table and escorted me back to my dressing room. Which PISSED ME THE FUCK OFF. But once you cry in front of someone for no reason you can't really blame them for assuming you are a fragile flower who might break down at any point. 


I get it. I really do. As a former therapist who studied chronic pain, and what it does to people and then worked on people who suffered from it, and know people who suffer from it, I get that I am broken down from over 3 months of daily pain. I get that I am probably, as Brent put it, in more pain than even I realize. Because I have a high tolerance. But because I have been tolerating it for months now I have nothing in my tank for anything else. I have very little patience for other issues. I have a short fuse as far as my temper goes. I am not feeling creative at all because all of my resources are being used in managing the ache in my shoulder. I get it. I understand it. I know why it's happening. But oh holy shit it didn't stop me from being so embarrassed I wanted to crawl under that fuzzy blanket and hide but couldn't because THAT WOULD BE FUCKING MOVING AND I WASN'T ALLOWED TO MOVE.

So yeah....

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June Gloom...

Three things in May. This is the first thing in June. Well aside from a few quick lines on my "do something with this" lists and one or two false starts. But this one, THIS ONE, I will publish no matter how crappy it turns out. Because it's a brain dump. And obviously I need a brain dump. (Feel free to skip reading this one because it really will be just a long whining brain dump meant to try and clear my head. I'm not looking for a pep talk or a pity party either, really it's just about emptying out the trash, purely self-indulgent shit.)

Things that are blocking the way...

Politics. The current political situation has me stumped. I know we think every year is the worst year. I know we believe every campaign is the ugliest. I know we think every outcome could be the worst one ever. But doesn't it feel like it's actually true this time? Like we really are just sitting on the precipice of a disaster? Like we have forgotten how to speak to each other? How to bridge divides instead of encourage them? I have started blocking websites from my Facebook feed. I never used to do that. I read a lot of opinions and articles that I don't agree with because I think it's important to understand where other people are coming from. But lately the things that people like and link aren't meant to lead to understanding. They are meant to justify. They only speak to people that already believe what they are saying. Trust me if we are having a discussion and to prove your point you link me to or I am giving you serious side eye. And please for the love of facts learn to distinguish between an opinion piece and a news piece. I know that the media doesn't make that easy, but try.

Health. So much frustration over my shoulder injury. I see a specialist next week which hopefully will be great. But meanwhile I am seeing a year's worth of work slipping away while I can't lift weights. I have heard all of you and yes, I know it will come back sooner than it took to get it originally, but it's just frustrating that I am losing it in the first place. And it does suck to be in pain, no matter how mild the pain is compared to what others deal with daily so I should just be grateful and quit complaining... (ANYWAY)While I'm being ungrateful for my mostly good health I'm limited in how I like to work out and having a really hard time finding motivation to fill those gaps with the things I don't enjoy as much. I am never going to be one of those people that like working out so I rely heavily on habit and lovely biceps to get me through it all.

Weight. Such a vicious cycle. I'm frustrated over my weight (see above can't workout the way I want rant) and when I get frustrated I eat like a 5 year old. Okay, yeah, I always eat like a 5 year old, but when I'm frustrated I ONLY eat like a 5 year old. Also reading a book on the neuroscience of weight and seeing that not only what I've always thought is true about weight loss and maintenance is true but it's even worse than that so I'm now torn between just following what the book recommends and stopping the whole dieting nonsense forever and ever and wanting to lose 15 pounds before September because HELLO...high school reunion... knowing that I cannot possibly lose that much weight in two months and if I try I will just be making things worse in the long run so I might as well have a pan of brownies instead because HELLO...fuck you.

House hunting. I am overwhelmed here. We've been looking for a long time because we kept changing our minds on actually moving. And since we don't HAVE to move we have the luxury of looking for the right place. Which doesn't exist. We have come close a few times but there is always something. The big thing being prices. We have a really reasonable mortgage here and it's hard to give that up. But we also have things here that just do not work for us that we can't change so we need to give it up. Finding someplace that we both like, that fits what we need and that doesn't make me break out in a cold sweat and stop sleeping for a week has been more of a challenge than I ever thought it would be.

Just overall blah. Once the things start stacking up it gets hard to move through it all. I know that a mildly depressed swing usually leads to a mildly manic swing which is great and really productive and wonderful but holy hell waiting for it and not being able to trigger it sucks. Because right now I'm in that space where the writing isn't happening and not only that but when I read things I've already written I hate it all. Which I know is completely unreasonable and will go away as soon as I start my upward swing because I'm massively talented and really pretty much a genius, just wait a few weeks and ask me. I just have to keep from destroying all of the work in the meantime.

I'm in that head space where things that wouldn't usually bug me do. Where things that should remain inside my head voices are begging to be let out. Where the petty slights and nonsense from people feel like actual problems.Where I am not replying to people online because I know that I am not really looking to fight with them, I don't really think they are what I would say they are right now, I just don't have my filter on at this moment and me without a filter isn't something the average person would be able to deal with without taking it personally. Because telling someone that they are a fucking idiot who doesn't have two brain cells to rub together to get a spark of an idea tends to be taken personally for some reason...I am sick of people and their nonsense. Hell I am sick of myself at this point. (thus this whiny blog post)

So positives. I know myself. I know that the way I feel today is the worst that it gets. That my baseline happy personality insulates me even on the worst down days. Like right now I stopped writing for a minute and watched a bird outside because it was bouncing from tree branch to tree branch and the sunlight filtering through the leaves gave it sort of a dancing in a disco vibe so that was awesome. I know that a really down cycle like this one is usually a sign that I am bored and ready for a big change. Which, to be honest, I've known for awhile, I just haven't figured out yet what it is I'm doing next. But there is a next coming. I can feel it just outside my reach. I just have to figure out what it is I'm going to grab this time. Because there is always something. Some new thing to do or try or read or write. A new hobby to try on. A new brilliant story to write. A new writing challenge to conquer. There is something waiting. I know it.

Brent and I are spending the long (extra long since he is taking Thursday and Friday as Intel days off) weekend helping C move in to his new place and then we are spending the rest of the weekend together as a family and that's always recharging. Which could be where part of the ennui is coming from as well. Too much time on my own, the difference between Brent working two days in California and three is bigger than you would think. Or at least right now it is. In a few weeks it won't be a big deal at all. Just need that pendulum to swing.

So here we go. One thing for June to post. It's a start.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer Kick Off!

"Hey, Hannah! I have been looking all over for you. A group of us are going to get together Monday for a BBQ. Did you want to join us?"

"Oh, thanks, Josh, but I've already got plans with my Dad for Monday."

"Oh, that's cool. I don't do a lot with my folks anymore. I should probably give them a call soon."

Hannah smiled, "Yeah you probably should. Have fun though. I'll see you all on Tuesday."

Hannah went back to her desk and checked her "To Do" list. She needed to stop by the farm stand over the weekend and pick up strawberries for the strawberry short cake and wanted to look at what flowers they had ready for planting. That's how they would spend most of the day. Baking grandma's shortcake recipe, then gardening, then eating. It didn't seem like a lot but tradition made it much bigger.

She remembered the first time she got to help make the strawberry shortcake. She was started on mixing dry ingredients with the promise that when she got older she would be allowed to hull and slice the strawberries. She had so looked forward to the year she was given the paring knife and set to work on the berries. It was a pretty good trick, she didn't even realize until a few years in to the hulling and slicing that it was actually the worst part of the job. Dad always handled the whipped cream, he would whisk it by hand in to soft perfect peaks. When she did it, it was with the mixer. He would just shake his head, "How can you tell it's exactly right if you can't feel it?"

She glanced at the clock, one more hour until the long weekend started. Almost time.

Monday morning Hannah was up before her alarm would have gone off on a work day. Wasn't that always the way? It was fine, she had a busy day ahead and might as well get started on it. She had picked up the berries at the farm stand and some marigolds. Her dad liked marigolds. They were colorful and helped keep away bugs. He was very practical that way.  She would have probably gone with morning glories, those were her favorites, but they took a lot more work to keep tidy. Practicality wins the day.

After showering and tidying up the house a little Hannah watched the clock. They'd get started on the dessert around 10. That would give the shortcakes time to bake before the day warmed up. Then everything could cool while they did a little gardening and a little lemonade drinking in the shade. Maybe more lemonade than gardening, but that was tradition as well. Though this year she had a bit of a surprise to add. She hoped he would like it.

One fifteen. Sun high in the sky, gardening in full swing. There had been some weeds to pull and one of the flowers they had planted last time hadn't made it through the winter so she had pulled it out. Then the new marigolds were planted adding their own sunshiny faces to the day. Not bad at all. Hannah poured two glasses of lemonade out of her thermos and then opened the small Tupperware container she had stashed in the cooler as well. There were macerated strawberries and lime in this one and she stirred a tablespoon of the mixture in to each glass.  She sat back under the shade of the oak tree and took a sip. "What do you think? Nice add right? Yeah, I know, you'd like it better with a shot of bourbon." Hannah laughed.


"Josh, is Hannah going to make it? You invited her right?"

"Yeah, I did, but she said she was busy with her dad today."

"Her dad? Are you sure she said her dad?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Her dad died in Afghanistan like 6 years ago."

"Oh shit, I had no idea..."


Hannah reached in to the cooler and took out a covered bowl of strawberry shortcake. Placing it on the gravestone next to the glass of lemonade. "I miss you, Dad. Happy Memorial Day."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ghosts in the machine...

I posted a story today and a friend "liked" it. Not really an odd thing to happen but this was an online friend I haven't heard from in years. I quickly posted on the link tagged her by name telling her how happy it made me to see her name and then snap...the "like" was gone. Which tells me there was a mistake made. Either she hadn't intended to "like" the article (it happens to all of us when we are scrolling quickly) or I shouldn't have drawn attention to it. Either way I hope she saw my post and I hope it made her smile.

She is one of those people you meet online that becomes really important to you. I am lucky enough that I have a few of those people in my life. People that you never would have ever gotten to know if it weren't for the internet. And then you wonder how in the world life could have ever gone by without you knowing them. They are so much a part of who you are that the thought that it was just a random thing that you became friends? Inconceivable.

She is also part of an even smaller group of those friends that I have had the chance to meet in person. And she was even better live than online. Most of the people I have met have been. With just a few exceptions and one doesn't really count as an exception because I wasn't terribly fond of them online and meeting them in person just firmed that opinion up...

ANYWAY...she was great in person as well. She is one of those people that is strictly no bullshit. When she wasn't using her picture as an avatar people assumed she was a young man. She was that blunt. I loved it. Smart, sarcastic, funny, she was my kind of people. And she is also extremely loving and caring. A great friend. In fact when my dad died I had this thought when I got home from the funeral that all I really wanted to do was go see her. That somehow she would be able to make me feel better. Or maybe prevent me from wallowing. Tough love. I just wanted her. Online had to do. But she was still there for me.

Until she wasn't there anymore.

See the reason I haven't heard from her in years is because...


It's obviously...

I have no idea. Her reasons were her own and she didn't share them with me. On confident days I assume that she just pulled back from everyone and decided to retreat to the "real world" as people often do. On self hating days I am positive that I said or did something that was insensitive or idiotic (as is my way) and she just couldn't even with me anymore.

But I don't know. And I don't get to know. That's the way life goes sometimes.

But now I do know that leaving her on my friend list was the right call because now I know that she is still around. Still reading things. Still seeing what she chooses to look at. And I am hopeful that what she saw today was an old friend who still loves her dearly. And I know she is still out there. Like a ghost in the machine...

Doing the mental math...

I added another layer to my workouts last week. The mental component.

 Here was Monday's inner dialog:

"Since my shoulder is hurt I will not be in the free weight section just the machines and I will be upstairs after that on the cardio machines. So I should be fine working out at my normal time and normal gym."


"Drop Brent off at the airport and have my workout done by 6:30, should be in and out before there would be an issue."


"I can either go in late morning or early afternoon. Or I can skip it and just dance while I clean house since I'm still not going to be able to lift."

Why all of this adjustment in my head? Because there is a guy at the gym who has crossed in to my "possible creep" zone from the "friendly person" zone. Now he's probably still just a friendly person who has some personal space issues. But I don't know for sure. All I know is that my years of training have put me on edge when he is around.

What years of training you ask?

Well some of you ask. The rest of you know. My years of training of being a woman navigating the world.

See we all do it all the time. We watch where we park. We watch where we walk. We pay attention to how people talk to us. Where they look as well as what they say. We learn early to pay attention to that voice in the back of our heads that helps decide if we get in the elevator with you or we don't. If we can leave our drink with you when we go to the bathroom or if we don't. These are things we do. 

This guy? He is probably fine. Maybe. But maybe not.

I work out 5 days a week. A lot of people do the same. You become what I call nodding acquaintances with the people at the gym and then some people want to socialize as well. I don't encourage that. I am not ever going to enjoy going to the gym. I'm just not. I do it because of health reasons. I do it because if I am always going to be this size and always going to weigh the same I might as well have cool muscles while I do it. I do it because I love cake like a.... well like a Denise loves cake. (There is no other comparison that works, except maybe like a Denise loves cookies) I am never going to be one of those people that thinks of food as nothing but fuel. I love good food. It makes me happy. Like hum a little song and do a little chair dance happy. The gym is work so I can enjoy that. So I don't want to socialize at the gym. I want to do my work and get the heck out of there. 

But some people like to socialize. And as I was raised not to be rude I am polite to them. 

So when a guy who works out at the same time I do said "Hey we match!" I smiled and said, "On Monday's we wear purple." Not many guys are going to get this joke but still it needed to be made. And I didn't think much of it. Much. It was odd enough that I told Brent about it and he said, "He's totally flirting with you." Which I said was nonsense. One it's a lame way to flirt and two I look a hot mess at the gym so not really flirt ready. 

Then a week or so later on a Friday as I was struggling through my last set he walked by as he was putting his weights away. We chatted briefly about being glad it was Friday and how everyone seemed to be struggling that day and ready to stop working out. 

The next week he introduced himself. Okay fine.

Later that week as he walked past me and I didn't see him he reached out and squeezed my shoulder.


Okay, so I'm a very touchy feely person. Everyone who knows me knows I will pat your arm, touch your leg, rub your shoulder, but this is still a stranger I've said maybe 25 words to. And he squeezed my shoulder instead of just saying hi.

Then the last alarm. I was sitting in my car finishing my coffee when someone knocked on my windshield. I startled, looked up and there he was waving at me. 

So now he knows what car I drive.

This is the mental math women make. Is he just a super friendly guy? Or is he a potential issue? I know how much weight he can lift and it's more than I can so I know he's stronger than me, I know he knows what kind of car that I drive, I know he knows my name, I know he knows what time I usually work out. What I don't know is if he is okay or not okay.

So I will adjust my life for awhile to make sure I avoid him. Because though he might be perfectly fine. He might not. And I don't know. But my creep meter has been pinged and I would be stupid not to listen to that alarm bell.

And now the segue....

So this is why I shake my head when people want to talk about poor defenseless women in the bathroom with these creepy men. (Remember they want you to understand it's not about transgender people, it's about the creeps who will PRETEND to be transgender because they were somehow worried about breaking some sort of bathroom taboo on their way to break an actual law but now they are free to molest or rape at will) Women have been on guard in public restrooms for as long as they have been aware of the world. We are on guard in all small spaces. Or large ones. Or medium size ones. We walk to our cars with eyes scanning constantly. It used to be with keys clutched like Wolverine claws but now nobody has keys so we walk a little faster.  It's the reason why you have gun advocates saying women should walk through parking garages with their hand in their purse on their concealed carry weapon. Being a woman means we are on guard. It means we pay attention to things men don't. Who is parked next to us? Is that guy following us or just walking in the same direction? Was that an accidental bump on the Max or did that dude just touch my ass on purpose? We learn where to hit you so the strength disadvantage is nullified. We learn to listen to that inner voice.

You want to make the world a safer place? Great. Get on it. But it's a much bigger problem than the make believe one you are focusing on right now. 

Until that point women will continue to listen to their inner voices, watch for potential warning signals, park under street lamps, watch who is walking near us, go over the soft areas (arch of the foot, side of the knee, balls, throat, eyes, backwards head butt) and you continue to think of us as helpless and child like (yeah, don't get me started on the number of times my relationship to my child has been compared to Brent's relationship with me during this whole bathroom debate). Women have to be aware of potential dangers because for some reason unless it's wearing a dress the world isn't taking much notice.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

And the years go by....(National Poetry Month #30)

First glance
Shy smile
Flirtatious wink
Casual contact
Hands held
First kiss
Hand on the back of the neck
Shiver down the spine
Tentative explorations
Learning the language
Passionate embrace
Heart racing
Breath caught in your throat
Mouth gone dry
Then wet
Shivers leading to shudders
Heart pounding
Deep breathing
Legs shaking
Fingers tracing
Deep sighs
Contented happiness
Shorthand language
Hand holding
Knowing smiles
Deep contact
Hearts beating together
Last looks