Monthly Archives: August 2009

>Mothers and daughters and perception

Standard

>I finished reading Yasmin Crowther’s, The Saffron Kitchen, about an hour ago. The imagery and comparison of pre-Revolution Iran to modern day Iran, with bits and pieces of modern day London, made me feel like I could walk the dirt roads in Mazareh myself, or navigate the Underground. From the moment I closed the back cover of the small, hardcover novel, I felt the tears building, but they wouldn’t quite come. A little over an hour later, the tears fell in large drops, onto the kitchen floor, my shoulders heaving in long, silent sobs. My poor husband just stood there, not quite sure what to do, other than hold me and let me cry.

The story of a mother and daughter, and two worlds, so different and misunderstood, striving to occupy the same space.

Dancing through the pages, I saw myself, my mother, and my daughters, of which I have three. Being misunderstood and striving for acceptance are emotions which are very close to the surface lately. I don’t think I was ever a mama’s girl, but if I was, it was long enough ago that I don’t remember. Even on our best days, there is always tension brewing just underneath the surface, an argument waiting to happen. I wish I was closer to her, but we have this problem of not really understanding one another. I feel like I disappoint her somehow, and sometimes, I’m disappointed in her. Even within that seemingly mutual disappointment, life goes on.

To me, she’s an anachronism. Small and almost frail, not in the greatest of health, she’s quick to judge, and doesn’t tolerate weakness in anyone, especially her grandsons. She wants free reign to speak her mind, and usually does, but can’t/doesn’t/won’t understand how doing so can hurt people. It’s as though the gentile filter is slipping the older she gets, and she has quite often, been angry with me when something she has said doesn’t sit well with me.

Frequently, she tells me as though she feels like she can’t say anything to me without my getting upset. And she may be right. With her, I’m a little thin-skinned and quick to temper. I know it, but I seem at a loss to stop it from happening. At the root of it, I know I don’t understand her or where her emotions come from. I don’t know what’s going on in her heart, her soul, and her thoughts.

A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets. I don’t know my mother’s secrets or how they color her reaction and response to life.

Just within the last 6 months, my eldest daughter and I have been at stiff odds. She’s nearly 15 and therefore, a veritable genius. I, of course, am a functional moron in her eyes, but she tolerates me because I’m her mother, doddering old fool, such as I am. Within the last two weeks, though, things have really come to a head with her, and myself, and actually, my mother.
My eldest had to carry the burden of the children when their dad and I divorced and it took a heavy toll on her. Honestly, we never really talked about the divorce, heavily, until two weeks ago. My mother was here visiting, and in 15 year old stroke of genius, she was rude to her grandmother. Not overtly, but there was a definite, and purposeful slight. Needless to say, Grandma did not handle it well. But, it did lead to opening up a conversation between my eldest and I that was 3 years in the making.

We were up until 2 am, both of us talking and crying, trying to understand one another. There was a point several months ago, wherein she told me she was more comfortable at her father’s house. Until that night of soul sharing with her, I couldn’t understand why. I had been replaying countless nights of staying up late with her, watching sappy movies and having popcorn fights, laughing and talking and wondering how she could possibly be more comfortable with him.

“You’re different than you used to be.” She said.

For a while I didn’t say anything. She was right. To her, I was different. To me, I was the old me, the me of my youth. The me that her father fell in love with. I had reclaimed that part of me that for so long had been lost in soccer games and PTA and crock pot suppers. I had never looked at the last several years from that particular perspective for the kids. I never realized how different I seemed to them, post-separation and divorce. I never realized how NOT being the soccer mom, PTA, crock pot cooking mom that I was before could possibly be hard for them to deal with, because I had been in such abject misery trying to fill that role. I just assumed, I suppose a subconscious supposition, that if I was happy, that they would be happy. Dad was comfortable because, to her, he had not changed.

Don’t get me wrong, by and large they are, but her revelation stopped me in my tracks and made me realize she looks at me the way I look at my mother. I don’t think my daughter and I are as harsh with each other as my mother and I are, far from it. But I do think that if it’s not carefully managed, it could reach that point.

Just as I don’t know the secrets of my mother’s heart, my daughters don’t know mine. All growing up in the city, they don’t completely understand the comfort the country gives to me. My husband is a soft spoken, old-fashioned country boy, in sharp contrast to their father, and that is tough for my daughter to understand as well. I’m much more laid back than I used to be, and good deal more spontaneous, and again for her, that is a lot to which she must adjust.

The mother and daughter in this book face the same struggles in not understanding one another. In making the attempt to learn more about one another, a small bridge to understanding is built. Concessions can be made here and there. However, the more important lesson is that each person’s life is sacrosanct, inviolable, belonging wholly unto that individual.

My life did not become forfeit the day my daughter was born, just like my mother’s life didn’t, and her mother’s and on and on and on. As women, as mothers, we often sacrifice so much of ourselves to be wives and mothers forgetting who we really are, negating years of self development in our own childhood. Knowing how hard I’ve had to fight to get back to my own center, the years and tears and pain that it’s taken, I know that I do not want my own girls to go through that, if I can at all help it, even if that means learning the lessons and sharing my experiences, my secrets with them. Opening that bridge to understanding that my life, my mother’s life, like theirs, is my own, is her own, is their own.

Things with my eldest are better. She is nearly 15, so Goddess only knows how many more tempestuous days we have ahead of us, but in opening up my trove of secrets, maybe she can understand me, and I her, a little better. My younger daughters are 8 and 5, and while they somewhat remember the ‘old’ me, they are growing up more with the ‘older’ me and won’t have such a shock to which they must adjust. I can only try, however, to make my mother see that even though she is most definitely entitled to her opinion and her right to speak her mind, that doesn’t negate the fact that others may very well not like it and not respond in a positive fashion to what she’s said or done. I don’t want to have a negative relationship with her, or even a tense one.

I just have to remember that I don’t know the secrets of her heart anymore than she knows mine. And maybe, just maybe, that’s ok.

“Far away, the stone woman sighed out across the land, a flute, a drum, a song, a whisper, and Maryam walked alone into the foothills beyond Mazareh. She looked up at the sky where clouds tore apart in a slipstream of wind. Soon the seasons would change and coarse grass would grow again through the melting snow. Then there would be new knots for her to tie in the desert straw strands, and fresh wishes to be made, along with other stories to be told of the dead and gone, and of lives just begun.”
~The Saffron Kitchen

Advertisements

>small and quiet, by the sea

Standard

>

photo taken by me, thanksgiving weekend 2008 

“Self-respect cannot be hunted. It cannot be purchased. It is never for sale. It cannot be fabricated out of public relations. It comes to us when we are alone, in quiet moments, in quiet places, when we suddenly realize that, knowing the good, we have done it; knowing the beautiful, we have served it; knowing the truth, we have spoken it.”

Whitney Griswold

Posted by Picasa

>Blowing Shit Up… Sarah style…

Standard

>It’s Friday and I have my first physical therapy appointment today… YAY! In the interim, my dear, dear friend Sarah has submitted a guest blog written in her usual stream of consciousness, make-you-laugh-so-hard-you-cry-and-then-maybe-find-a-point-so-touching-you-really-cry, way. Her bio, in her own words: I’m talkative and sassy, with a day-job that most would find utterly boring, but I find fascinating, (I do risk analysis for about $2 billion worth of investment securities, which means that I spend my days staring at Excel spreadsheets). I’ve been married for a little over three years to a swell guy that’s at least as crazy as I am. I am starting to get really snarky when defending myself against the “So-when-are-you-going-to-start-a-family?” question, which seems to be asked more every day. I love to cook, but love to eat even more, and have been trying to lose the same 15 pounds for the past two years. My pasttimes include sleeping, breathing, thinking up new insults to shout at crappy drivers during my daily commute, and watching my ever-changing hairstyle. I read because I can and write because I must.

When I was bothering to enter my food choices in the Weight Watchers “Points Tracker” on Friday, I realized it was July 31st. (Note: I like how the “Points Tracker” doesn’t judge me for having hot chocolate, a piece of string cheese, and a mini Mint 3 Musketeers candy bar for lunch.) You’d have thought that I would have realized this before now, being that yesterday was July 30th and the day before that was July 29th, and so on. But, I honestly haven’t paid attention to the days recently, which is very unlike me.

For example, my dad’s 52nd birthday was July 16th and I totally forgot it. Not like “Oh dad, I bought you a card, I just haven’t mailed it yet.” More like I was finishing up my mid-year performance review and signing my name at the bottom of the review and saw the date next to my manager’s signature and said, (out loud), “Holy crap, it’s my dad’s birthday”. About 20 minutes after I got back to my desk, I got a text from my sister, who was on her lunch break, that said “I completely didn’t realize that it was dad’s birthday until I had to sign my timecard today. Did you get him a card?” I texted back, “Nope.”

I finally got my butt in gear this past weekend, more than a week post-birthday, and got him a card at B&N, patron saint of all things Sarah. Then, two days ago, I was working like mad, minding my own business, when my phone buzzed. It was a text from my sister. “What did you get Mom and Dad for their anniversary?” Shit. “Shit. Nothing. I haven’t even mailed Dad’s birthday card yet.” Text back from sister: “Good, me neither. But, I should.” (And this wasn’t just any anniversary, it was the big 3-0. Yikes.)

Clearly we are neither of us winning “Daughter of the Year” awards so far this year. But, I digress. That whole spiel was to give you some indication of how oblivious I’ve been, holed up in Sarahland with my dented iPod nano and a stash of snacks. The year is two-thirds over and I don’t think I’ve done nearly as much as I’ve wanted to this year. Now, don’t ask me what I had hoped to do this year, because I can’t tell you definitively. (Incidentally, a lack of goal-setting and not knowing what I want more than likely contributed to not having done what I wanted to, but that’s another story.)

Mostly, I’m starting to worry that I’m running out of time.

I’m starting to worry that I’m running out of time with my husband. It’s probably not completely unfounded or totally irrational, and I’ve been told that it’s normal, but all of that doesn’t make me feel better about it. He’s deploying to Afghanistan in October. I know, it’s not earth-shattering news, and it’s not even surprising. I’m a military wife, I should expect it right? Right. But, I don’t think that that’s supposed to make the process any easier, especially for a first deployment.

He was supposed to leave last year, about one month into my treatment. We filled out about a forest’s worth of paperwork so that we could convince a Department of Defense medical review board that yes, I really did have cancer and yes, my husband really was my only caregiver. That paperwork kept him here for a year. Not that I want to prevent him from deploying- I understand that it’s his job, and I knew that he would probably be deployed many times throughout his career when I married him. It will be a great opportunity for him, and he will learn so much.

But, I’m still just a little bit anxious that he won’t come back.

When we were first dating and into the first part of our marriage, I sort of worried about him all the time. My husband is brilliant and calculating and analytical, so naturally, when he joined the military, he wanted to be an EOD tech. Well, let me rephrase that- he wanted to be an EOD tech which is why he joined the military. EOD is “Explosive Ordnance Disposal”, government jargon for “bomb squad”. It’s an incredibly hard program that has an attrition rate over 90 percent and is second only to Navy SEAL training in physical, mental, and emotional difficulty. (If you’re really intrigued about EOD as a profession, and you should be, because it’s horribly fascinating, check out the movie “Hurt Locker” that was released in theaters this May.)

It really took me quite a while to wrap my head around the fact that my husband, (in his own words), “blows shit up”, for a living. In the summer of 2006, after I had moved down to Florida with him but before the shindig that was our October wedding, I noticed that the box some of our wedding supplies had come in had a light switch on the side. Hubs had to teach a class on those improvised explosive devices you hear about on the news all the time, and so he partially constructed a fake one for the class with just a little light bulb inside as a prop. Do you know how strange it is to find out that your husband made a fake IED out of the box that some of your wedding stationery came in? Very.

So, you can understand why deployment is a big deal for him. It’s not like he’s in the military as a mail sorter or an executive assistant or something (not that those jobs are not important); it’s just that his career field is directly tied to conflict, so his work suddenly becomes more relevant in a deployment situation.

I’m starting to miss him already, to miss him for the things he’s going to miss- holidays, birthdays, and those random sleepy weekend mornings when we don’t do anything except hold each other in the hopes that we can make time go slower. (That actually hasn’t happened yet, as far as we can tell.) I think he’s starting to miss me, too. When he’s leaving for work in the mornings, he kisses me just a bit longer than he did just a few months ago. When we’re going to sleep at night and he’s all cuddled up behind me, (don’t tell him that I told you that he’s a cuddler), he holds me quite tightly. It’s not uncomfortable, but it is a noticeably tighter than usual; normally, he only holds me that tightly when I’m sick or something, (ie: most of last year).

I’ve always had some trouble falling asleep, and often lie awake for a while every night. These days, I’m lying awake for an hour-and-a-half to two hours because I don’t want to miss any time with him. That probably sounds hokey and stupid, and much clichéd like that Aerosmith song from “Armageddon”, but it’s what I’ve found myself involuntarily doing, night after night, for the past few months. I even made an appointment with my gyno because I thought my birth control meds were screwing up my sleep cycle. I did get new pills, (which make me less bitchy, so that’s a plus), but the insomnia stayed, along with the sporadic weepiness.

It comes along at random times, angry and hot and vicious. It’s the nastier older brother of the depression I was treated for when I was in college. That was a crazy time in my life- my maternal grandfather had been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 83, my parents sold the house that I had grown up in and moved in (next door) with my grandparents, and I was taking an academic overload that semester so that I could graduate in four years with a triple major and three minors. You could say that I pitched a pseudo-grown-up temper tantrum that lasted most of my junior year. The insomnia and sporadic weepiness was driving me nuts. I thought it was the birth control meds, (which I’ve been on since I was in high school for various and sundry reasons). My gyno gave me an antidepressant instead, and I felt like me again, after a few weeks.

I’m going back to the gyno this coming Friday to discuss how I’ve been doing on the new pills and to talk about whether I’ll need another antidepressant. I stopped taking the other one four years ago when I got better, (turns out my first depressive time was probably situational), and I think I might need one again, not because I’m a slave to pharmaceuticals, but because I hate the way that my brain makes me hate myself sometimes. I didn’t tell Hubby this right away, because, well, I’m not sure why I didn’t tell him. Probably because I didn’t know what to tell him. Plus, I wasn’t sure if it was my body adjusting to the new birth control meds that might be causing the funky mood stuff, as they are sometimes wont to do.

But, about a month into the new pills, when I was sure my body had adjusted to them as well as it was going to, I didn’t feel that much different. My mood swings were better, but I was still having these little bouts of anger within myself, these little episodes, that were totally irrational. And even when I was thinking these irrational thoughts in one part of my brain, the other part was thinking, “This isn’t right, and you know it.” And I would stop thinking irrationally and the thoughts would dissipate until the next episode. And when I say irrational, I mean, crazy irrational- thoughts like, “I didn’t make a new batch of sweet tea so my husband will get mad at me and leave me”.

(If you’re backing away from your computer now and wishing that Merci were back so that you wouldn’t have to hear crazy talk, I don’t blame you.)

My husband is the sweetest guy and so laid back, pretty much the polar opposite of the person my psyche assumed him to be in that particular episode. When I finally got around to telling him about the whole, “Hey-I-might-need-to-go-back-on-antidepressants” thing, and was describing to him why I thought I was going nuts, he didn’t understand until I gave him that example. He said “oh”, very quietly and hugged me hard, which only made me cry harder, and for someone who cries a lot, (by “a lot”, I mean at least once per week), I HATE crying. It makes my already stuffy-from-allergies nose that much stuffier. That was a month or so ago, and the really crazy part of it is that I haven’t had any of those thoughts since, and no crying episodes. Ok, so that’s a lie- I cried when we watched “Bolt” last weeekend, even though I’ve seen it before; I always cry towards the end because I’m a total sap.

I told him that I didn’t like the way that I felt, that I wanted to feel normal again. “What’s normal?” he asked. “Well”, I said, “I don’t know exactly, but I’m pretty sure that this isn’t it. This isn’t how I’m used to feeling.” So, there might be some antidepressants in my future. We’ll see.

As dark and depressing as this blog may have been, I didn’t mean for it to be that way. I really didn’t. It’s just that this is the first really grown-up thing that I’m going to have to do. I’d lived my entire life in a town of 5,000 people until I moved to Florida with my husband, and the change nearly broke me. The traffic was scary-terrible and there were so many people and they weren’t friendly like the people back home. (When imagining my home town, think “Mayberry”, and you’ll get a good approximation.) And I really couldn’t have managed it, at first, if it wasn’t for my husband, even though that probably makes me sound woefully codependent. I’m just such a homebody that I never would have moved to a place where I knew no one and had never been before if I didn’t have him.

But, now, for the next 7-9 months, starting in September (or late August, we don’t know for sure), it will be just little old me, holding down the fort. And we have a house now, as compared to a less-involved apartment, so there’s more to do. I have to learn how to cut the grass. The only time that I’ve ever used a lawnmower, it was my paw-paw’s riding mower and I just drove it around the yard without actually mowing anything. This is a much smaller yard, but it’s not a riding mower, and I’m paranoid that I’ll run over my own foot. I’ve been assured that this is nearly impossible with the safety features that the mower has, but I am so incredibly spastic that I’m sure if it could happen to anyone, it would be me. I actually cut myself with a teaspoon once. (The thought of using the weed-eater is also starting to become intimidating.)

For minor electrical, automotive, and plumbing-related issues, I’m going to be the first line of defense, before calling up the specialists that will charge so much I’d have to sell my left ovary to pay the bill. I always jokingly referred to Hubs as a “useful mammal”, (a line John Malkovich’s character says to Nicolas Cage in “Con-Air”), but I’m only now, three years into living with him, realizing how useful he truly is. He does all the maintenance on our cars- oil changes, minor body work, replacing the brakes, etc. He does all the home-repair stuff, and not in an “oh-my-god-the-wiring-is-so-awful-that-the-ceiling-fan-comes-on-when-I-turn-on-the-left-front-stove-burner” kind of way. In a “geez-you-really-are-MacGyver/Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor” kind of way.

It’s a lot to live up to. And even though I’ll miss him like mad, I’m secretly looking forward to the challenge, like it’s the next big step that I’ll have to conquer before I’m worthy of calling myself a grown-up. (Though I will take the car to Jiffy Lube for oil changes- my spasticity is such that I wouldn’t trust myself to jack the car up and have it stay perched on the jack stands while I’m crawling around underneath it.) I’m not sure what that worthiness would entail, but I think I’ll feel quite accomplished when Hubs returns to the States and I can show him that not only is the house still standing and in one piece, but it’s clean and habitable and in working order.

It will be a lot easier to keep clean without him in it. Being a boy-type-person, he attracts dirt the way that atoms have electron affinity. And by dirt, I don’t mean that he doesn’t bathe- he does daily. I mean that he can go outside to the mailbox and return immediately to the house, a journey of maybe 60 feet roundtrip, and have bits of nature attached to him. It’s quite strange. So, I’m looking forward to having the house be neater than it usually is.

I’m also looking forward to living on my own schedule only. So, if I want to spend my entire Friday evening at the gym, I could. (I got that gym membership because I need to work out, obviously, but also so that I’d have something to do rather than spending all my evenings at home alone.) I can eat Rice Krispies for dinner and be perfectly content with it, or I can whip up and entire meal out of Bon Appètit and eat it all myself. The past few years, I’ve been a bit envious of the girls I went to college with who moved off to bigger cities and had amazing social lives and lived for themselves. I think this will be a teeny bit of that- not the scary dating scene bit, (which does not appeal to me), but the glorious solitude that comes with spending time with yourself.

I discovered last year, when nearly all my days were spent alone, that I’m not as extroverted as I once thought. Or maybe not as extroverted as I once was. I still enjoy conversation, even inane conversation, but I really like my quiet time. I once wrote, in the blog that I kept in college as a diary meant for no one else, that I enjoyed being the only one awake- whether it was because I was the last one to go to sleep or the first one to wake up. I think I was starting to realize the value if flying solo then, even if I didn’t realize it.

I have scheduled some things for me this fall/winter, to give me something to look forward to every month so that I don’t live only for my job. My dad’s flying down to Tampa in October and going to the U2 concert with me as an early Christmas present. I bought a plane ticket for November, so I’ll be home for Thanksgiving for the first time since I left home three years ago. I’m going home for Christmas, and possibly going to see my best friend at some point in the early spring. My mother-in-law wants to fly down here and take me seashelling on Sanibel Island some time. I think my schedule of events will help pass the time.

I’m also planning to visit DSW once a month or so for a new pair of shoes. By reviewing my grocery bills, I realize that more than half the money spent on food was for Hubby’s food, so I figure I’ll use what I would have spent on food for him on shoes for me instead. I plan on having quite a collection when he returns, probably none of them practical. (Well, only just practical enough- in the sense that they will all provide my feet protection from the elements, sort of).

So, if you happen to be in Barnes & Noble or DSW or Sephora or Baskin Robbins any time between now and next spring, there’s a good chance that you might run into me, and if you were to ask how I was doing, I’m sure I’d say, “just fine”, and actually mean it.

>Dodging Buses – Guest Blogger, Melissa

Standard

>Yep, still mending. So today, my wonderful friend Melissa, from Recognizing Me, is filling in for me with a blog a lot of us can relate to, I’m sure.

My job sucks. The corporate culture is one of stepping all over each other in the endless quest to get to the top. There is regular finger-pointing, name calling and attempts to throw each other under whatever bus is passing by on the downtown connector. The drama is off the charts.

I checked out a long time ago. I’ve been dragging myself out of bed each day and slloowwwly making my way into the office – partly because of sheer dread and partly because of the miserable Atlanta traffic. My only goal with my current company is to collect a paycheck until I can find something better.

The culture has only gotten worse given the current economy. People are afraid to lose their jobs, so they are trying to shine the corporate spotlight on themselves at whatever cost. Look at me! I’m doing my job! I punched my time card on time! I stayed until midnight in my frantic attempt to impress you! See, I don’t deserve to be laid off or fired!

People tell me I should be happy that I have a job, especially with the high unemployment numbers thrown in our faces each night on the evening news. I suppose. I do make good money. I have collected awards to add to my resume. I do get to work from home once in awhile. What more could I want?

Hmm… let’s see. I want to be treated with respect. I want the male dominated industry that I work in to not be threatened by a successful female. I want my company to practice what it preaches in its marketing slicks. I want to feel confident that my team will deliver for me without a million excuses or the regular “that isn’t my job” attitude. I want the actors in the crowd to take a bus to Hollywood so the rest of us can move on from the daily drama.

I desperately want to tell off the people who regularly try to throw me under all of those buses – fortunately without success. I want to dash through the halls of my building doing a running rendition of the Truffle Shuffle from Goonies, while flailing my arms and making weird mouth noises. I want my co-workers to see the insanity that they are causing.

Sigh… but, I do nothing. I keep my professional hat firmly planted on my head so as not to risk my job or my reputation. I smile and act like I care about the latest product-of-the-month or the most recent corporate rah-rah chant they’re forcing down our throats. I put in my time each and every long-ass day.

Secretly though, I’m plotting my escape. I plan to drive off into the sunset on one of the buses I’ve been dodging for years. That way, they can start looking over their shoulders for me.

Maybe I’ll see if Chunk wants to join me on the ride. I’m sure he could give me some pointers on improving my Truffle Shuffle.

>The Crone wants to stay home – guest blogger Rhi Bowman

Standard

>Day, uhm, day, hell, I forget what day into my recuperation this is, but it’s been a while it seems. I took an Ambien last night so I could sleep (first time ever taking a sleeping pill). I’ll just say this, next time I take one, I’m alotting 12 hours for sleep and time to wake up. Today’s Guest Blogger is the fantabulous Rhi Bowman. Rhi Bowman is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C., where she lives with her wonderful husband and spoiled rotten cats.

My mother-in-law has never been an angel. In fact, she’s spent most of her adult life being a non-contributing burden on society.

I’m not being mean, I’m being real. But, take my words as you will.

You see, my mother-in-law is mentally ill. She’s also from a generation that didn’t know as much about the mind as we do now.

In the 50s, when she’d hit manic mode, they’d shock her out of it. She spent most of the 60s and 70s in a doped-up haze. Today her health is managed with a handful of pills and frequent doctor visits. My husband describes her as “loopy.”

Besides being cracked in the head, she’s healthy. Or, at least, we thought she was.

Last Monday we got word that she passed out in her drive way, right behind her car. Fortunately, a neighbor saw her and called for an ambulance. After almost a week in the hospital, she was sent to a nursing home for patients with mental issues. She’s actually having a good time. All these years of junk food addiction have caught up to her. Turns out she’s diabetic.

We are 13 hours away and relieved. We’re relieved she’s got watchful neighbors and good insurance. But, we’re still worried about the immediate future.

Not a day goes by that we don’t discuss what we should do, could do, will do when she finally passes. We can’t move there, my husband’s job isn’t available in his home town. She can’t move here, her insurance won’t follow. Besides, she doesn’t want to.

And, it’s not her passing that we worry about; we know what to do when that day comes. We worry about every day in between now and then.

I keep asking, “What if she passed out behind the wheel of her car?”

My husband, an only child, is still mourning the death of his father this past winter. He is trying his best to both look out for his mother’s best interests and keep her happy.

So, here we sit, in a situation no one wants, feeling bad for all we can’t do and guilty for this truth: We wish she’d died first.

It’s awful to admit, but it’s true. Dan’s father was a hero to many. His life touched and improved the lives of everyone around him.

His wife, on the other hand, is a taker. She’s an endless drain. She’s not thankful. She’s not loving. She’s never done anything to make our world a better place. But, she is still alive and we’re charged with her care.

We’ll do our best. We’ll smile and push through.

The Crone says she wants to go home, she wants to die in her bed. So, we’ll have people at her house daily. They’ll help her bathe, they’ll run her errands, they’ll clean her house. But, we’re taking the car keys away. And, we know: No matter how much money or time we spend, no one will ever be able to fill that woman’s dark heart with love.

She’s a Crone from a different dimension.

Because we love her, we’ll honor her final wishes and continue to feel guilty for wishing her winter would hurry up and dawn.

Blessed Be.

>Rx: Kahlua and milk and Robert Frost – Guest Blogger, Abby Byrd

Standard

>Today’s guest blogger is Abby Byrd. Abby Byrd learned the necessity of having a pen name the hard way. She has been published in Verbsap, blogs for Skirt! magazine, and is working on a collection called “Smart Girl: Essays from the Fringe”. More work at VerbSap Blog at Skirt. Her latest publication can be found at Vagabondage Press. Many thanks, Abby, for helping out while I’m forced to type left-handed in 20 minute increments!!

Boxes. Everywhere. Besides arousing my irrational fear of cockroaches, the presence of boxes suggests transience. I’ve moved eight times in the last ten years, so I’m intimately familiar with the process. I’ve become comfortable with constructing and deconstructing boxes, labeling them in thick black Sharpie, stacking them, ripping them apart at the last minute for something I was sure I wouldn’t need. But I never get used to leaving, to the ending inherent in each new beginning.

This time, it’s my roommate Natalie who’s moving, her dishes stacked in separate piles and her bubble wrap still neatly rolled as she sleeps. She’s excited to go back to upstate New York to a new job and to her family. As any friend would, I want her to do whatever makes her happy. As long as, of course, it doesn’t involve leaving me.

Stanley Plumly, the venerable white-bearded poet, once said in a creative writing class that all poetry is about loss or longing. I extend his theory to everything that we, as human beings, create. As a species, we’re obsessed with getting what we want—and keeping it. Try this: make a list of your worst fears. I’m willing to bet that most of them involve loss. My nightmares are never about monsters, at least of the conventional sort; they’re about losing the people I love, my job, my health, my mind (the latter, I fear, may have already happened).

As Buddhist thought teaches, our craving and our clinging—our attachment—is the cause of our suffering. But attachment comes naturally to us. Waking up next to my partner, I lean over to nuzzle him and breathe in his scent, and something clicks in my mammalian brain. This is my mate. I am safe; I am satisfied. We are imaginative, symbolic thinkers confined by animal bodies. We can conceive of forever, but we cannot attain it.

This is perhaps our greatest single challenge as a species—to accept that nature marches on and takes us along with it, willing or not. I’ll never be able to stop myself from attaching, knowing full well what loss feels like. I’m only human. But I can temper the loss by reminding myself that change is inevitable. Being constantly aware of the possibility of loss imbues everything with a bittersweetness—which is not, I’ve found, such a bad lens through which to look at life.

So I will reluctantly help pack boxes, and when the apartment is half-empty, I’ll get up from the bare living room floor and fix myself a Kahlua and milk, which is what Natalie would want. If I feel heartsick and averse to eating, I’ll make myself force down a yogurt. Which is what she would tell me to do. I’ll remember all the things we learned together: recycle cans, not men, for instance. And when I move out two months later to begin with love of my life, I’ll remember, even in my giddiness, just how fabulous it was having her as a roommate.

I can’t promise I’ll do any of these things gracefully, without weeping or small tantrums. Ah, as Frost’s lonely wanderer muses, when to the heart of man/Was it ever less than a treason/To go with the drift of things,/To yield with a grace to reason,/And bow and accept the end/Of a love or a season?

>One Love – Guest Blogger, Jay Schryer

Standard

>While I didn’t do much this weekend, what little i did do has worn me out! So, you have a whole week of fantastic guest blogging lined up. Today’s guest blogger is my dear friend, Jay Schryer. Jay first encountered the Goddess during a near death experience at the age of 19. Since that time, he has spent a great deal of time studying various religions including generic Paganism, Wicca, Asatru, Buddhism, Shinto, and Cherokee spirituality. He is very interested in searching for universal answers and trying to find common threads among the different religions and spiritual systems of the world. Within the past year, he has turned his search more inward, listening to his own intuition instead of the voices of “experts”.

Mostly, Jay is just trying to find himself, and his place in the world. You can read more about him on his blog Porsidan, where he explores spirituality, life, and the meaning behind it all.

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should.

One life
With each other: Sisters, Brothers.
One life, but we’re not the same –
We get to carry each other.

Carry each other

~U2, One

I love the music of U2, and I really love this collaboration between Mary J. Blige and U2 on their hit song, One. I love the melody, and her voice is just incredible. The first time I heard this version, I was left speechless.

Songs lend themselves to different interpretations to different people. Many people only hear a beautiful, slightly-haunting love song. Bono himself has stated publicly that the song is about inner turmoil within the band, and how they almost split up after a concert one night. For me, this is an intensely spiritual song, a gentle reminder from the Goddess telling us what life is all about, or rather what it should be all about.

We live our lives on the surface. Office politics, PTA meetings, the endless shuffling of ourselves and our children from place to place, event to event, activity to activity. Fast food and TV dinners have taken the place of dinner at home. Rolodexes and daily planners filled to the point of bursting, we hurry up and wait through our days and collapse into silent heaps of desperation at night. Rinse and repeat, over and over again.

We give of our time, but only half-heartedly. Emails and text messages, tweets and status updates, a quick call to let someone know we’re running late, traffic is horrible. Yeah, yeah, I’ll be with you in a sec. Just let me check my email real quick. I can’t stay long, got places to go and people to see, ya know.

And the whole time, we’re starving. We’re aching for human touch, for a genuine connection. We long for someone to sit with us, to be with us, to listen to us, and to really hear what we have to say. To bond. To sympathize. To be able to look into the eyes of another human being and say: “Yes, I see you. I see the real you. I see the you who is hiding underneath everything you pretend to be, everything you have to be out there. I see your hopes, your dreams, and your fears. I see your wounds, and your scars – the battles you have fought along your path to this moment, this time. I see your pain, your shame, and your suffering. And I see your strength, your determination, and your courage that it took to move beyond the pain, and to heal yourself. I see the love that is you, reflected in the love that comes from you. In short, I see myself in you, and I want you to see yourself in me.”

That’s all anyone ever wants, really. To know that we’re not alone, and to know that we are understood, loved, and accepted just as we are. We’re starving for genuine human connections, just as we’re starving for our connection to the Divine. The good news is that it’s right there…always with us. If we can just learn to slow down and give it to each other, we can heal ourselves, and heal the world around us.

Because we’re one, but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other. Carry each other.