Sunday, October 19, 2014

I would never...

A few months ago I was driving down Bethany and reached the overpass for Highway 26 as I crossed over the bridge I thought to myself, "Hmm...I wonder where I would have ended up going?" Because I should have turned left on Laidlaw over a mile earlier. But I hadn't. I was driving on autopilot. Not sure where I was going because I realized I was not where I wanted to be before I got there.

At the beginning of the summer when C was still home we were headed to the gym one Tuesday morning. I pulled out of the neighborhood and turned right on Springville and headed in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be. Because for the past month on Tuesdays at that time I had gone to PT. I normally go to the gym right after I drop Brent off at work, not later in the morning. But with C home we were going together so it was later in the morning. But I still turned right instead of left. Habit.

Once in Florida after working close one night and then having to get Brent to work by 6 AM the next morning I remember being almost all the way home and having no memory of the drive from the time I left base to where I was. About 15 minutes worth of driving. Just not there. Habitual driving. I learned years later about how the brain forms habits and patterns and that we do a lot of things like that without ever being completely conscious of them. It's a great system actually. Keeps us running efficiently. Except when it fails.

When C was a newborn I woke up one night to the sound of him fretting (he didn't cry when he was hungry or needed changed, he fretted, he was an amazing baby). Anyway...I reached over to pick him up and he was gone. Not lying between Brent and I. I patted down the bed and couldn't find him. The panic started to hit as I realized I had lost the baby. Where was he? Then I realized he was in his own room in his crib. He wasn't in the bed with us. But I will never forget that moment of panic as I had no idea where he was.

Last Thursday Brent left work early. Well early for him, he got off at five. As we were driving home an ambulance passed us. We watched people who had no clue how to get out of the way and just stopped in the road instead of even attempting to pull over. Because we had the discussion about it the ambulance stuck in both of our heads. Later that night the news reported the tragic story that someone at Intel had left their baby in their car while they were at work. That's who the ambulance was for. The baby did not survive.

As I watch people react the first thing you normally see is the "How could that ever happen? How could you ever forget the baby?" Well, if you aren't the parent that normally has the baby, if it's not your habit to drop the baby off, if the baby is sound asleep and you never look in the back seat...if you are tired, if you are thinking about something else, if you get distracted...

And then people will say, "There is NO WAY I would ever do that." And it's true there might not be anyway you ever would. Most people never do. But is that as much luck as anything else? And then there were people who were shocked that not one person noticed the child all day. And I thought, I was in that parking lot right about the time the dad was discovering his life was now completely destroyed. And I had no idea. I don't make the habit of driving up and down the rows of cars looking in their backseats. Does anyone?

I lost C. In that moment between sleep and awake I had no idea where he was. Now it worked out just fine that he was in his own bed. But what if it had been the other way around? If I had thought he was in his crib and he was in our bed instead and I has rolled over on him not remembering he was there? What if I had gotten out of bed and tossed the blanket on him when I got out? None of that happened, but what if?

I cannot imagine what that family is going through. To lose a child, and to know it was at your own hand? Unimaginable. How does the marriage survive? And they have another child. How do you trust yourself again? How do you ever start to forgive yourself? And to know that almost everyone you meet has judged you. That there are people who assume the worst of you, not just that you made a tragic mistake with unimaginable consequences but that you obviously must have done it on purpose because there is no way THEY would have done it.

I can't take that stance. No, I never forgot C in a car. I never forgot I had him. But that's because when he was a baby I was a stay at home mom. Of course I had him. I always had him. And by the time we were switching on and off who took him to day care and school he was old enough to let you know he was in the car so there was no chance to forget him. But there were times where we had to check with each other, "Are you picking up today or am I?" He is the most important thing in our lives. Brent and I were extraordinarily doting parents. And we didn't always remember who was supposed to be on pick up duty that night. It happens. Thankfully we never had any sort of tragic results because of autopilot or forgetfulness.

Now maybe because I know what it's like to absolutely forget something important to you and have someone tell you "If it was important you wouldn't have forgotten" and knowing that's not true I have more understanding. Maybe because of that moment of losing C when he was a baby and I was exhausted I understand that it can happen. Maybe because of the moments where I am driving on autopilot I understand that habits can take over. Or maybe it's because I cannot imagine adding my own judgement on a family that has to be devastated that I cannot see jumping on the "hang them high" bandwagon.

Or maybe it's just because as I age I realize more and more that "I would NEVER!" most often really translates to "I have never..." Because you don't really know what you would never do, you just know what you have not yet been faced with.

Our local news gave some really good tips to make sure you "would never" and I'm going to pass them along here along with my condolences to that entire family. I cannot imagine what they are going through and I am so sorry for their loss.

1. Always leave something needed for your day (purse, phone, briefcase, computer, etc.) on the floor of the back seat so that you are reminded that the child is back there esp. if the youngin' is asleep.

2. Always arrange with the daycare center, babysitter, etc., to call the parents if the baby is absent (much like our schools do)

Thanks, Sherri, for sharing these tips.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Scary Stories...

How do you feel about scary stories?

I don't read a lot of them. Pretty much just Stephen King and Joe Hill. Mostly because I like the characters. King writes in such a way that I feel like I know the people in the story. Even if they are going through something completely out of the realm of reality he grounds his characters so much that you feel it; like it could really happen. His son writes in a similar fashion. So much so that I am sort of waiting for the day it's revealed he doesn't really have a son and Joe Hill is just a new Bachman.

I don't watch them. Scary movies just aren't for me. At least not for the most part. I don't like the jump out and boo moments. So the slasher films are out. The torture porn is for sure off the list. I think they are disturbing in a bad way. Not disturbing in a good way like a good suspense story. Though I did watch The Strain on TV and that sort of counts I guess. But it's more creepy than scary. And The Walking Dead, I've read and watched those. Though they don't really fall in to scary stories for me. Horror, sure. But not really truly scary.

Absolutely don't do haunted houses. They take the worst parts of scary movies for me and condense them in to one event. It's all jump out and go boo moments. When I was growing up our church had a harvest festival every year on Halloween night. You know to keep us all from going out and celebrating the devil's holiday. Well when my sister was in high school they somehow convinced the church to let them do a haunted house every year. I wouldn't go through it. Hated them. Wouldn't do it. Couldn't make me. Until the year she decided to make me. And when Jeff Wenchel popped out of the trap door and grabbed my ankle and I kicked him in the face I never had to do it again. I don't care for being scared.

So what does it say about me that I still wish I could write a really solid scary story?

One that creeps you out.

Like look over your shoulder because you can feel someone behind you creeps you out?

Turn out the light and then have to turn it back on again creeps you out?

I know I can write a story that makes you cry. It's okay, you can admit it.

And I've written plenty that made you laugh. I'm fucking hilarious.

Now I want to write one that gives you the shivers.

So what does that say about me?

Don't scare me, I'll scare you.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Joy and grumpiness...

I posted on Facebook earlier today a list of things that were making me grumpy right now. And chief among them was having no ideas for a blog today as well as not enough grumpiness to construct one. I tried working myself up in to a state about the idiocy surrounding the fear mongering the media is successfully doing regarding Ebola. But then a friend made a joke that I made another joke about and it was off and running. And even later I polished my first joke and had a new one.

"Is it a coincidence that Ebola and Obama are both 5-letter, 3-syllable words? That is a little TOO big of a "coincidence" if you ask me." That was my friend Jadey's first joke. Which is outstanding.  My final spin on it is: It goes much deeper than that! Ebola and Obama both start with vowels and end with the letter A. You know what else starts with a vowel and ends with an A? AMERICA. And USA. Which just goes to show that Obama brought Ebola to the USA to be the END OF US.

Which makes me laugh. Not just because I made the joke and I tend to find myself fucking hilarious but because I could drop that as well as the joke I made about it being a truly socialist disease all about sharing bodily fluids and redistributing the germs in to any discussion on line right now about Ebola and it wouldn't even be the most ridiculous statement made. Not even close. So it's funny because people are insane.

I am also a little grumpy because I had a set back day with my cold. You know those days where you are pretty sure you are over it and then the next day hits and you are exhausted and unwell again? Today was the second day. So a little grumpy. I was planning on going and doing a few things today but didn't. I will have to tomorrow. I am out of peanut butter. It's a catastrophe. But I couldn't stay grumpy about it because there were pictures of happy babies on my news feed. And who can stay grumpy when there are happy babies to look at?

I also re-watched the video of the guy skipping the rock on the frozen lake. Oh my gosh that makes me laugh. Brent missed it when I posted it yesterday so I showed it to him last night. His reaction? "Gee that reminds me of someone." Which made me laugh again because when I had first posted it I made the comment that he and C would say I acted that way at Disney. Truly I act that way whenever something really tickles me. He is used to it. I am the person who has been busted more than once dancing in the aisle at Target after all. And he knows that if I am staring out the sunroof in to the sky I am probably watching a hawk fly and I will do it until I lose sight of it. And act like it's the first time I've ever seen one.

And then today when I saw the rock skip video posted on another site I read the comments and a large number of them mentioned that they thought the guy was stoned. Because who acts like that who isn't high right? Which made me laugh again because that's a standard joke. My sober straight brain is everyone else's brain high as a kite. I don't do drugs. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to alter my consciousness anymore than it normally is. No urge to find out either. I like my off kilter world, thank you very much.

So I didn't have quite enough grumpiness to fill a blog but I had enough joy to balance it out. And that's fine by me. Joy is better.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to start thinking about a wandering chicken and her adventures in the world...

And no I'm not going to explain it any more than that. Making you all confused makes me laugh as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I really don't want to miss a thing....

Part One
Part Two

Rebeccah stayed off the computer for the rest of the evening. She just couldn't bring herself to even turn it back on. What the hell had that been? She looked at the glass of wine she had poured before sitting down. Was she turning in to some sort of blackout drunk? Maybe she hadn't had half of that glass but the whole bottle and just couldn't remember. She actually double checked the bottle in the kitchen to make sure. No, just a bit gone. So she was now hallucinating sober. Great.

After a fitful night of not much sleep she headed in to work. There was a flyer on the windshield of her car. She pulled it off and saw the bold printing LOOKING FOR ANSWERS? and had to laugh. If only it were that simple she thought as she crumpled the paper and tossed it in to the trash.

Walking in to work she bumped in to a man handing out leaflets. "Don't throw it away this time, Rebeccah." he said very softly as he handed her a copy of the flyer she had tossed just a few minutes earlier. Oh, well that wasn't creepy at all she thought shoving the leaflet in to her purse.

When she got to her desk she pulled it out and looked at it. It was a notice for the local AA meeting. There was one that night after work. So whoever was monitoring her computer was also spying on her at her car and thought she was an alcoholic? Was this one of those family interventions? Somehow she really didn't think so.

And that's how Rebeccah found herself in a local AA meeting listening to people share about their struggles with alcohol. She didn't speak, she really didn't feel it was her place. But she listened although nobody stood up and told a story about hallucinating aliens feasting on their friends or any real hallucinations at all.  She stayed for the whole meeting and as it was breaking up one of the gentlemen who had shared a story came over and shook her hand. "Thank you for coming, I wanted to give you this. It's your first meeting chip."

"I don't really think I need one. I'm not actually sure that I belong here..." Rebeccah trailed off realizing just how much she sounded exactly like an alcoholic making excuses for why she really wasn't one.

"You might find it comes in handy." He pressed the chip in her hand and closed her fingers around it. Then made a very subtle nod toward the door. Rebeccah guessed that meant it was time to go. Once she reached the street she opened her hand to look at her new sobriety badge and saw it wasn't an AA chip at all but a token for a cup of coffee and a nearby diner. She was beginning to feel like some sort of spy.

She walked in to the diner and started to take a seat at the bar when a waitress took her by the elbow, "Your friends are already here, Rebeccah, come with me." Again with the first name basis from complete strangers. She was seated at a table with the man from the meeting and three other people. One looked like the guy who was handing out flyers earlier but the others she didn't think she had ever seen before.

She looked around the table and started to speak when the guy from the meeting held up his hand and mouthed "Wait" then one of the women she had never seen before pulled out what looked like a giant lady bug and set it on the table. She flipped a switch on the side and it started to hum softly. "It mimics the sound of a dragonfly's wings and keeps mosquitoes away. Well, that and other things."

Rebeccah looked around the table, "So you've seen them too? I'm not crazy?"

"Well we don't really know you well enough to say if you are crazy or not. But..." the leaflet guy said.

The woman with the lady bug smacked his arm lightly, "Don't tease her. You remember what it was like at first. No, we don't think you are crazy. We've all seen them."

"So what are they? And what do we do? And shouldn't we tell someone?"

"Slow down," the gentleman from the meeting said, "We'll try and get you answers, but you have to understand that you aren't going to like all of them. And that you will probably just have more questions when we are through. First, when did you see them? How did it happen?"

Rebeccah told them her story. It felt good to let it all out. Though as she was listening to herself talk she realized it sounded completely crazy. When she was done she looked around the table half expecting them all to either laugh at her or tell her how nuts she was, but what she saw was a lot of nodding heads. Then she listened as they told their stories.

Lady bug lady had first seen them when she was a child. Her parents were big party people and one night she had woken up thirsty. The house was quiet so she thought all of the guests must have gone home, when she turned the corner and saw the living room she saw a scene very much like Rebeccah had in Hawaii. She had gone right back to bed and spent the next decade plus trying to convince herself it had been a nightmare. She probably would have succeeded except she was an emergency room nurse and heard stories from people who had come in to the hospital on psych evals of the same sort of thing. People don't share hallucinations.

The man who had handed her the leaflet had a story very much like hers. But he had been late to a party. Stopping by the party after working a late shift as he walked up to the house he saw it all through the front window. He had yelled and run for the house but by the time he got through the door they were gone and all of his friends were acting as though nothing had happened. He thought he had lost his mind.

The worst story was from the man at the meeting. He had woken up one night with one of them attached to his head. The spike drilled in to his brain. He could feel it pulsing as the thing sucked his blood or lymph or what ever it was they were taking. He had screamed and the thing looked down at him, tilting it's head and moving the spike, he felt it shift just as he passed out again. He woke up later to the party going on full swing around him again. He hadn't touched a drop to drink since then thinking it was an alcoholic's nightmare. It wasn't until he shared the story in an AA meeting that he found out he wasn't the only one. And that he needed to be very careful about whom he shared it with.

And that's where the last woman at the table came in. She had been at the meeting he had told his story and had brought him out for coffee afterwards. Introducing him to others that had experienced similar things. "We've all seen them. We tend to call them aliens but I'm not sure that's true at all. They feed off of us, after all, that seems to suggest that they've been around as long as we have. Parasites maybe? We don't know. But what we've gathered through the years, through stories like yours, is that they prey on large groups. Alcohol is always involved. We aren't sure if it's necessary to be in the fluids they are feeding on or if they use it to mask the side effects of what they are doing."

"Side effects?"

"Yes, the blank spaces that happen in an evening of drinking. The hangover the next morning. We think those aren't caused by alcohol but by them. The blanks obviously being when they feed and the hangover from the loss of whatever it is they are taking from us. It's no wonder why people are dehydrated if something is feeding off of them in the night."

With that Rebeccah remembered the sound of the sucking and shuddered.

"Oh, I'm sorry, dear. I don't mean to be so very matter of fact about it all. I forget you are still new to everything. It will be less difficult later. It will never be easy. But it will be less difficult."

"So if there are a lot of us who have seen them why don't we tell someone who can do something? I don't understand."

"Why didn't you tell anyone?"

Rebeccah gave a half smile, "Because I thought I was crazy. I get it. But if there are more than one of us? If we all have similar stories? Wouldn't more people come out of the woodwork and support us? There have to be people who have never said anything, right?"

"Sure, people would believe us the same way they believe the people who say they were abducted by aliens. If you haven't seen it for yourself it's too crazy to believe. And they won't let you find others if they can stop you. Why do you think we stopped your internet searches last night? You are lucky we found you first."

"What?"

"Tell me what you know about alcoholism. Specifically about the DTs."

"Oh the delusions people get when they stop drinking, I've heard about those, awful, really realistic scary things that....Oh. I see. People just think you are an alcoholic and have the DTs?"

"Worse than that, we think if they find out you've been trying to find others, to stop them in any way, that they will cause them. The siphon works both ways. They can drain us or fill us with..." She shook her head, "We don't know what it is. More alcohol? The stuff that knocks everyone out to begin with? Or maybe they just know where to poke in our head to cause issues. I'm not positive that they can't cause addiction. If they can make you an alcoholic they have a steady food source as well as a silent witness. Nobody believes an addict right? So they monitor. They are at AA meetings listening to stories, they are searching the internet for chat groups that might be talking about them. They are in bars. They are everywhere. But we can't see them. You don't see them unless they are feeding."

Rebeccah was starting to think maybe she was crazy. Or at least maybe they were, "They are everywhere but you can't see them unless they are feeding?"

"Think about your story. You were in the hallway, right? Nobody left past you. How did they get out of the room? We think they exist in our world but possibly on another plane of existence. Have you ever wondered where science fiction writers come up with things like phasing in and out? We think they have seen it as well. Or heard about it from someone who has. They are here, but not completely, except when they feed. So they have to make sure we are unconscious to do that. Most people will never see them. A night out with friends, maybe a little blank spot in the evening, but maybe not, depending how smoothly it's done. A little rough around the edges in the morning, but that's to be expected from drinking right?

It's just when something goes wrong, when someone sees something they shouldn't have, that's when their system breaks down. And our job is to get to that person first. Like we did with you."

"So now what? What do I do?"

"That's up to you. Now that you know you aren't alone you get to decide your next step. What do you want to do? We have people who go to meetings. We have computer experts. We have drug and alcohol counselors. We have emergency room nurses. We have psychologists and neurologists all in our ranks. We each add to our network. Trying to protect those around us. And protect ourselves. Where and how you fit in is up to you.

You won't see any of us again. It's best if we aren't seen in groups. But you will be contacted again next week by someone asking if you are interested in some volunteer work. Answer yes and you are a part of us, answer no and you won't ever hear from us again."

That had been five years ago. Rebeccah had said yes. She learned from the group. The things only seemed to feed in groups, at night, from people who had had more than three drinks. So her own rules were set. Early evenings and light drinker Rebeccah was born. Her part in the support system was meeting new people and giving them a place to vent safely.

She also listened closely when people talked seeing if she could pick out a hesitation in a story, a slight waver to a voice describing a nightmare, anything that might identify someone who had seen. She worked at prevention. The more people she could keep sober and in at night the less opportunity there was for those things to feed. So she told her story over and over. Not the real one. Not the whole story. But the one people could hear and understand. And each time they went home early she was relieved.

She hadn't had a hangover in 5 years.

She also hadn't had a full night's sleep without nightmares.

And she couldn't stand to be around anyone drinking a milkshake.

The woman she thought of as her first sponsor was right. It got less difficult. It never got easy.





















I still don't want to miss a thing...

Part One

As Rebeccah watched her friends head home for the evening she felt good about the little white lie that made it happen. She had told many variations of the story over the past 5 years and always felt a little thrill of victory when it worked to break up the party earlier than normal. It wasn't that she didn't like her friends to stay out late or have a good time, not at all, she just wanted to protect them.

The Hawaii story was true. Right up to the part where she went back to the party. She actually did leave early and then go back but she had made it all the way back to her room. She was brushing her teeth and thinking about her friends still all having fun in the party room while she was all alone in her's. She was too amped to get to sleep so she might as well go back for another round or two right?

The door to the party room hadn't completely closed and was unlatched when she returned. Pushing open the door she looked in to the room to see her friends...

And this is where her world stopped making sense.

Lying on couches and passed out in chairs the whole party was out cold. And standing over each of them was...well...a thing. Tall, skinny, spindly arms and legs, with round heads and giant black glassy eyes. And out of each of those heads was a long semi-transparent spike that was now firmly planted in the head of each friend still at the party. She could see liquid moving up the spikes in to the aliens... It had to be aliens right? Or bugs? It couldn't be bugs. Surely bugs this size would have caused some sort of mass hysteria. Rebeccah stifled an hysterical giggle as she thought about complaining to housekeeping.

Slowly backing out of the room she tried to decide what to do. Then she heard the sound. The slurping. The same sound as drinking a particularly thick milkshake. But it wasn't milkshakes. It was people. Her friends. Her knees gave way and she slid down the wall in the hallway. Knowing she should scream or run or anything other than wait there for her turn. But she was shaking so hard she couldn't move. Her voice was lost. Her breathing was too shallow. She was going to pass out.

The door to the room opened and Rebeccah thought she would scream.

"Hey! What are you doing out here? The party's inside! I'm grabbing some more ice, head on in!" No alien. No giant bug. Just James. With an empty ice bucket. Awake, laughing, oblivious.

Rebeccah slowly stood up and looked in to the room. Her friends were all drinking and laughing. No creatures. No one passed out. Just a party.

She headed back to her room again. Obviously she had had too much too drink. That was all. She had passed out in the hallway and hallucinated everything. She laid down on the bed and tried to get to sleep but as soon as she closed her eyes she could picture the scene again and worse hear it. Slurp...slurp...slurp...

She just made it to the bathroom in time. And that's where she spent the next few hours. Terrified. She tried everything she could to convince herself it hadn't been real. But the details were too clear. There was no moment where she thought, this is where I blacked out. It had happened; she knew it. When the alarm went off to catch the shuttle bus she couldn't do it. Fear kept her rooted to the spot. She did miss the eclipse and the sunrise. That part was true. The group of friends she had been partying with had missed it as well. They were all too hungover to get up.

They were all too hungover. She wasn't.

If she had had enough to drink that she passed out and hallucinated in the hallway why wasn't she hungover? She had been vomiting all night, but that was the reaction to the sound, not the alcohol. But still, she should have been hungover. Dehydrated. Headache. Nausea. Where was her hangover?

The rest of the weekend was a blur. She had forced herself to get out of the room and go to the wedding. To act as normal as possible. She didn't have anything to drink though. The thought of it turned her stomach. Every time she saw someone who had been in that room she could see the being, the bug, the alien thing drinking from them. People started to ask if she felt well. No, no she really didn't. She called it a night early.

Once she was back on the mainland she tried again to forget. To convince herself that it had just been a nightmare. Maybe none of it had happened at all. Then one day she found herself searching the internet for "common drunk hallucinations" and "are there aliens among us" after the third search, the one where she Googled, "drinking life from people" her screen went dark and her computer shut down. When it restarted there was nothing there but the C:\>_ prompt.  Then a message. "Stop searching. They are always watching." Then the computer shut down again.

She might have screamed.

I don't want to miss a thing...

"One more round?" Jeremy pointed at the empty glasses.

"None for me, thanks, I'm going to take off here in a second." Rebeccah picked up her phone from the table to drop in her bag.

"You always bail so early! Come on the night is just getting started!"

Rebeccah smiled at her friend Allison. "Not for me. The night is just winding down for me. But you all have fun."

Greg leaned back in his chair, "There is no convincing her. Trust me. She always leaves early. Two drinks, done by 11. I've never seen her vary. Unless it's one drink and done by 10."

Allison looked at her phone. "Well it's only 10:30 you still have a half hour. So share your story. Why the early leaver? Why the limits? I know you aren't an alcoholic because," with that Allison waved toward the martini glass in front of Rebeccah, "and I know you aren't an early to bed person because I've see you online answering work emails at 1 AM. So what gives?"

"Just a choice I make. No real reason."

"Please, there is nothing you do that doesn't have a reason. You are the most methodical person I've ever worked with. So spill." Greg checked his phone, "You have 25 minutes to tell your story."

Rebeccah sighed, "Fine, but please understand this sounds a little preachy and it's not my intention. Keep in mind that you asked."

Jeremy nodded. "We did. Now go."

"Okay, you want to know why I leave; why do you stay? What is your number one reason for staying out when I go home?"

Allison shrugged her shoulders, "I'm not ready to go home I guess."

Jeremy shook his head, "Easy, I don't want to miss anything."

Rebeccah pointed at Jeremy, "Ding, ding, ding. You don't want to miss anything. That's was always my reason as well. It would surprise you to know I used to be the last one to leave. Every single time. I was the rally girl. The one you could always count on for one more round, for one more go. I couldn't imagine leaving because I might miss something. Until Hawaii."

"Hawaii?"

"Friends from college were getting married in Hawaii. A group of us all went. It turned in to a mini-reunion wedding party drunk fest extravaganza. Lots of late nights drinking on the beach sharing stories followed by wedding brunches and family meet and greets and hangovers beaten back by more Mai Tais.

Now part of why they planned their wedding in Hawaii was because there was going to be one of those 'once in a lifetime' moments coinciding with the date. There was a full lunar eclipse happening, and because of the time and where Hawaii is the apex of the eclipse would happen right as the moon was setting and the sun was rising. So there would be this moment where the shadow of the moon is there and the darkness hits then the sun rises and lights the sky again."

"Aww...."

"Yes, awww, great symbolism. And a great view from the top of the volcano. Which meant getting up at 4 AM to catch the shuttle bus to the base of the hiking trail and then a half hour hike up to the spot to meet the bride and groom and the small group of us that were going to start the day with them. Their day. The beginning of their new life."

Jeremy made a face, "Oh I see where this is going."

"Yes, you do. So the night before a group of us decide to grab one quick drink before heading back to get to bed early. One drink turns in to two turns in to three, but I'm really going to leave. So around midnight I say my goodbyes and head to my room. But as I head down the hallway from the party room back to mine I think to myself that I don't want to miss anything so I turned around and went back. The next morning I missed the shuttle bus. I missed the hike. I missed the moment. The one thing that I could never actually get back, I missed."

"Ouch." Greg made a pained face, "But it happens right?"

"It does. And I realized that it happened to me a lot more than I was comfortable with. Every decision you make means you miss other things. Staying at the party until the end means you miss those hours of sleep, the sunrise the next morning, not being hungover for half of your day. For what? For a few hours with a bunch of drunks? Look back over all of the parties you've ever been to, the things that happen late in the evening are never the good things. They are the fights, the misguided hookups, the vomiting, the yelling at strangers, the one drink too many parts. And by not missing that you are missing the good things in life. The pure clean moments. The sober light of day moments."

Rebeccah looked up at the ceiling and sighed, "I told you it sounded preachy. But it's how I feel. I never wanted to miss anything so I ended up missing something I could never replace. I vowed from that moment on that I would weigh my choices better. And part of that is making sure I make them mostly sober. So one or two drinks is it. Leaving early is it. Not worrying about missing something because I know there are other things I won't miss because of that choice."

"Wow. Okay, now I feel badly for always asking you to stay."

"Don't, it's my choice, Allison, not anyone else's. But it's one I have never been sorry I made. The best part is I haven't had a hangover in five years. Not even a touch of a headache. I get the social fun part of the evening at the beginning when everyone is still feeling a little mellow. I get one or two tasty beverages, then I am done and tucked in bed for the night knowing I will feel great in the morning. It might not work for everyone, but it works for me." Rebeccah looked at the clock on her phone and then held it up to the group with a smile, "And with that, I'm off for the night."

As Rebeccah packed up her things and settled the bar tab the other three decided that they would call it an early evening as well. When people heard her reason for calling it night early they usually did. For at least one night. Sometimes for more. As she saw her friends headed home early for the evening she felt good about telling them her story, even if it was only half true.

She only left out the part about the aliens, and really could you blame her?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Empaths are complicated...

While we were back in Michigan this weekend we got to be part of a big family announcement. Non-baby related. That was important to get out since the announcement was from Curt and Rachel and they are at that stage of just past newly married where people are constantly asking about babies...

Anyway...Curtis has been in school for the past few years getting his degree in (and I have no idea what it's really called so I am making up the degree but you will understand what it is by the words I use) Anesthesia Nurse Practitioner. He finishes in December so really close now. What it means is that for the past few years instead of making his normal salary as a nurse he has been back in school. And Rachel was finishing school as well. And working. Basically newly wed completely broke stage of life. So now he's graduating and...Ta Da! He already has a job offer! It's very exciting and fabulous and it's 3 1/2 hours away from Kalamazoo.

Which as you all know, is how far away Bend is from Portland so...

Well at dinner when the announcement was made Kim got teary eyed. Rachel worried. Curt worried. Moving that far from mom is an issue. Kim kept saying it wasn't that she was upset they were moving, it was that she was proud of Curtis. Which is true. And a lie. She is upset they are moving. And proud as well. She was both. We all knew it. Hell, I've lived it. I know exactly that feeling of "Yes! You did it! Fabulous!" that is right away mixed with "No! You are supposed to stay here!"

But then it led to a discussion on being an easy cry.

Rachel admitted she would cry as a kid when other kids got in trouble. It just bothered her so much. Empathetic. You all know I cannot be yelled at. It makes me cry. And I cry when I get angry. And I cry at Kleenex commercials. And books. And movies. And bad temper days. And a really beautiful sunset....

So yeah, we are all easy touches.

Which then Dave (Kim's husband) and Brent were both like "It's AWFUL!" because it is. It's unfair in a fight. If you are in an argument with your spouse and your burst out in to tears they just want you to stop. You (or at least I) still want to resolve the argument, you cannot stop the tears but you want them to ignore them so you can still carry on. But you are crying so they won't. Ugh.

And then for Brent it's even more baffling to him. He does not understand that crying is just something I have accepted. I wish that I didn't cry when I was mad, but that's the only time it bothers me. I'm okay crying at a book, or a movie, or a Facebook post, or getting misty because I understand how Kim is torn between pride in her babies growing up and sadness that they are growing up.

In fact, I think a good cry every once in awhile is completely cathartic. Watching a movie or reading a book that just wrecks me? I might complain a little, but I feel better afterwards. It's like there is just a build up of emotion that needs out. Like a pressure cooker. And releasing it through something that doesn't really matter keeps it from becoming too overwhelming in the things that do.

Because I am strongly empathetic. I totally get why Rachel would get upset when other kids in school would get in trouble. I have a really hard time not feeling all the feels when I hear someone's sad story. I get it. I get them. I feel it. And I cry about it sometimes. And I don't want to change that about me. Because I feel things very deeply I feel things very deeply. Circular, I know. But if I didn't feel things the way I do. If I didn't see the world through that lens I wouldn't be me. And I really dig me.

And I know that my empathy is a big part in how I relate to everyone. I have friends with different world views, I like hearing about them and I can usually understand where they are coming from in an argument. Empathy. The blog I wrote earlier today about taking a moment to be helpful to people. I get what it's like to be that mom with the car seat struggling to get through a door. So I stop and help. Empathy. Watching the world around you and getting more and more frustrated and heartsick that you can't change everything? That's empathy as well.

So yeah, being empathetic is tough sometimes. Right now I feel super proud of Curtis and Rachel and excited for them to be starting this new chapter in their lives. And I feel a little heartache for Kim. Knowing that she wishes them nothing but success and happiness but wishes it was a little closer to home. Trust me, I totally get that part, but 3 1/2 hours is totally doable.

And I completely understand that being sad doesn't mean you aren't happy.