Wednesday, November 28, 2007

getting things done.

i was overcome by the wave of dread, almost immediately upon returning to the bay area from thanksgiving at disneyland with the fam.
like, the plane stopped, the lights turned on, and my stomach sank.
i felt dreadful, the entire drive home, and once i got home i just curled into a ball on the bed and cried.
the trip to disneyland was so fun, and so Family, but it really highlighted that my mom, who was mainly my Family my whole life, is gone.
the amazing fireworks were so beautiful, so awe-inspiring, and made me think of mom so intensely that i cried almost the whole time, both from the beauty of them and from the solid knot of missing mom inside me.
(seriously, i can't overstate how incredibly beautiful the fireworks were. if you get a chance, please make sure you see them. everything in disneyland shuts down for them in the evening, like, 9ish, so they're hard to miss. get a spot on main street, so you can see them over sleeping beauty's castle. you'll pee in your pants.)
it was all a really powerful reminder that i may be able to go away from my problems, but my problems are just waiting for me to come home.
then, the day after we returned, and i had felt so shitty, i got sick and felt terrible, physically.
so rather than getting to work on all the things i was feeling concerned about not having done, i just lay in bed shivering and blowing my nose for a couple of days. it made me feel crappy about myself, and i felt guilty, like i wasn't really THAT sick, and should have been toughing it out and doing my office work regardless of my physical symptoms. this nasty little voice in my head was hissing at me the whole time, about what a baby i was being, and how lazy and self-indulgent.
day before yesterday, the first day that i felt kinda okay, i did some minor errands, and felt like i might pass out a couple times while i was in conversation with people. i felt really light-headed. it was ana's bday, so me and shannon went to dinner with her and all the important people. it was a very low-keyed affair, in the best way. it suited my energetic and mental abilities perfectly. ana's dad is still really sick from his chemo, so she's been stressed out and had no time to think about herself. i am so mad at god/the universe/whoever for making her go through this. my bday was so shitty this year, and the whole period of time surrounding it was so dreadful, i feel very very sad that she is having to go through it, too. i mean, yeah, i dealt with it, but no one else that i love should ever have to.


yesterday was the first day that i felt good enough to get stuff really done.
i woke up earlier than i have in a while, which isn't that early, but was still a coup for me.
i got out of bed, took a shower, got dressed and plopped down in my office.
duders, i paid SO many bills, it's off the hizzie.
i spent roughly $10k in bills yesterday. a large part of that was property taxes for yumi and giving shannon my half of bills and household expenses. but still. that's a HELL of a lot of money on bills. it seems like the more money you have, the bigger the bills.
i spent all day working on bills and my desk.
i spent an embarrassing amount of money buying some file folders, to help me with my organization.
i am terrifically organized in my paper/financial world, compared to the other people that i know of comparable age (except liesl.) i've got a filing system. i have years worth of bills, bank statements and taxes, all bundled according to year. i have a desk and paper clips and a new tape dispenser from fred flair that looks like a snail. the point i'm trying to make is that i am not doing poorly. but i'd like to be doing even better.
so, i bought these files, called 'tickler files,' which is an unfortunate name but nonetheless their name. i think it's going to be really helpful. i created a bunch of files, and filed stuff, and generally slogged through my 'in' basket.
it was a really productive, satisfying day.
shannon spent the whole day digging again. he's a digging machine. not really on purpose, but still. the drainage ditches (french drains, for those of you who are interested) on three sides of the house are done. there's just one little section on the last side that needs to get done. we have a bunch of dudes here, working on cement today. so, shannon had a bunch of prep work to do for their arrival. i took him out to dinner to thank him.
we ended up eating a totally grodie meal and fighting the whole time. in the end of the fighting, in the middle of the groders meal, shannon asked me to marry him, for reals. we'd already agreed to get married and were in discussions about the logistics of the marriage, and in fact, that was what we were fighting about, but there had been no formal proposal. it was such a funny time to do it, over this gross meal, after bickering, but i cried nonetheless. then i had to cough a lot, because i am getting over my cold and my whole internal drainage system is all out of whack. but it was lovely. so, we're FORMALLY engaged. wedding plans will be disclosed as we make them.
everything is feeling better, now that i am not feeling sick and i am able to get things done.
tomorrow i'll hit the gym for the first time in a while. i had a training session last week that basically crippled me for disneyland, and then i was sick, so it's been about a week. i'm ready to go back. therapy friday, chiropractor saturday.
just inching my way along, you know?

Monday, November 19, 2007

a list.

things i miss about mom:
- the embarrassing mom nicknames she called me, in notes, emails and voicemails
- the sound of her voice
- her laugh
- imagining us as we got older
- the answers to all the questions i forgot to ask
- looking forward to going to redwood valley, to see her

ana's dad is dying of cancer right now.
they're doing hospice, and she's wrestling with all the stuff we all have to wrestle with in that sort of situation.
that feeling of fear, like you're fucking things up.
that feeling of having no idea what you're supposed to do.
that feeling of standing on unsteady ground, where just as you get used to the situation one way, it changes forever.
all the changes are for the 'worse.' (who knows what's better or worse, but the changes are not usually improvements in the usual sense.)
once something is gone, it's gone forever.
now is the time of Lasts.
Last time you heard their laugh.
Last time they went outside.
Last time they fed themselves.
Last time they walked unassisted.
death is the winding up of the spool of thread we've spent our lives unraveling.
then, in reverse, we unlearn the things we learned.
walking. eating. talking.
until we're babies again, sleeping most of the time, except to eat or poop or gaze into space. maybe cry and get cranky.

you guys, it's all so precious.
i know i'm not the first, or last, or most eloquent person to try to address these issues, and obviously they are the kernel of all of human existence, but still.
please endeavor to make them as important as they are.
please don't say things in haste.
please don't leave things unsaid, undone, unexplored.
it WILL all end.
it's just a matter of time.
and since we never know when we're getting towards the end of our lives, we really must assume it'll happen at any moment.
please do everything you've every really wanted to.
please do not assume you have unlimited time.
be so brave.
please live in the middle of knowing that this all could be over any second, so everything is important, because it all is.
i know it's a cliche, but it's also the most important thing in the world.
more important than hurt feelings or embarrassment or fear or self-preservation.

i'm done preaching.
i am going to my dad's now, to pick up me and shannon's plane tickets to la.
we're leaving for disneyland tomorrow.
if i don't talk to you before-hand, have a wonderful thanksgiving.
please give genuine thanks for everything in your life, the good and the bad.

Friday, November 16, 2007

bzzz, bzzz, bzzzz.

my little brain has been buzzing with activity lately.
it's a good thing.
i am filled with curiosity and an honest commitment to learning about things right now.
the problem is an overwhelming amount of things that i would really, really like to be working on, all at the same time.
examples include:
-cooking - reading cookbooks, cruising epicurious, shopping for utensils (hello, food processor!)
-french - i bought a french magazine, and am trying to slog my way through it, with my mom's old french/english dictionary and one of those '500 french verbs' books. slow going.
-design/house stuff - reading house magazines for ideas, set up idea notebook, research eras of design, thrift store shopping, researching green building options
-personal productivity - research various systems, finish reading 'getting things done,'
-chores - reorganize closet, vacuum, find places for all of the stuff i keep bringing home from mom's
-writing - do some, research classes, read some books about writing

it's a lot.
i have been getting a fair amount done, in general, but i'd like to be more organized about it. i am pondering setting my interests up like a school or work schedule, where i set slots of time everyday/week for various subjects, so i am sure that each interest gets its own undivided slot of time. so, say, doing an hour and a half of design research 3 days a week. working on french for an hour every morning. whatever. you get my meaning.
i'm not sure it'll work, but i'm pondering it.

me and shannon brought the dog up to RV yesterday.
i bagged mom's clothes, or, at least some of them. armed with 4 bags of kitchen-sized bio-bags i packed all her pants and long sleeved tops. all undies and bras. all work out clothes. all were put in bags, labeled, and taken to the local goodwill, where they were dumped into bins unceremoniously with other people's crappy stuff. it was hard to see her stuff reduced to so many bags of crap. (clearly she isn't the sum of her belongings, though the staggering quantity of her belongings does go a ways towards representing the vastness of her being, in quantity, if not quality.)
seeing her stuff allowed/forced to mingle with strangers' stuff, her sweatshirt in a pile on top of other people's sweatshirts/jeans/whatever, was terribly painful. it felt like they owed her a special bin of her own, or a ceremony should have been performed to commemorate the magnitude of meaning of them being allowed the privilege of passing along her clothes to others. and, i looked at her faded sweatshirts, with their frayed cuffs or necks cut off or the purple jersey button down with the little cow patch sewn on, and i know that no one will sense the vibrations of my mom, and people will pass these things on the racks because to them they are just ratty sweatshirts, and they can't sense the mana inherent in them. those are just weird old exercise socks, or those are just some bright purple stretchy pants, to them. to me, they are artifacts of the life my mom lived, and proof she existed. i hate that the physical stuff that lasts is always so impersonal and the really important stuff, the intangibles like her voice and smell, are the first to go.
i kept her favorite hat from her radiation days, and it still smells like her. it's been hard finding stuff that still smells like her because everything smells musty in her closet. lots of stuff smells like mildew, from drying too slowly in the freezing cold laundry room during the winter/fall of her malady. but this hat smells like her still. i have been wearing it all morning, periodically taking it off to bury my nose in it. i am both comforted by it and afraid i'm ruining it by wearing it, adding my own smell in and wasting one of the last known repositories of my mom's smell. before this, i couldn't have imagined the panic i'd experience about the loss of something so commonplace. i would have stored things in air-tight canisters if i knew. i would have archived every voicemail.
at this time last year, we had no idea that this year would look the way it did. at this time last year i couldn't have conceived of the idea that mom wouldn't see another thanksgiving, christmas, birthday. i couldn't possibly wrap my brain around that. this time last year i was learning how to walk dogs, settling into our new house in silverlake, making my way through classes i would eventually have to ditch at the last minute.
things can change so dramatically, so quickly.
we packed mom's stuff until we didn't have any more room in the trunk, then headed home. (stopped for my celebratory espresso shake along the way, and to drop off hats and cancer books to the cancer resource center in ukiah).
we cried heading home, about everything, holding hands on top of the center console.
i wonder sometimes if it would be less painful to just never go back to Yumi (mom's ranchlette). it seems really appealing at times. even driving up there, through this heart-grabbingly beautiful scenery, is painful. i have driven up so many more times under duress, because mom had cancer and i was going towards her and the cancer, or away from her and her cancer. i didn't have enough time to lay a foundation of cozy feelings about it. now it's almost solely pain.
i know, i know.
it wouldn't work and i'd never do it anyway.
but i think about it.
being up there, where it's like mom laid out in teeny farm form, just reminds me now of how gone she is, physically.
i am not at a place yet where i can take much comfort in spiritual presence or something like that. mostly i am still pissed about the absence of her familiar form.
plus then i could let allen shamble off into his destiny.
he played a cd of his band at 11 for the last hour we were there. they sounded good, but it's weird that he jams out to his own cd. is that common for musicians to do? my minute experience with such things left me feeling profoundly embarrassed when forced to listen to my own voice on cd. i can think of very few things i'd like to do less. but anyway, he jammed out. they have a gig at the konocti harbor inn and resort, which is a really big deal for them. i snickered in my head, thinking of its old incarnation, packed to the gills with old sun-flayed alcoholics. it's got a white trash history that's hard to shake. it seems to be where bands go to start to die, though it used to be where bands went to finish dying, so perhaps it's coming up in the world. the website looks pretty professional. anyway, allen was stoked on his cd and stoked on the gig. so, kudos to him.
okay, i feel like i could keep going, but i need to get dressed to leave for therapy.
thanks for checking in on me, by the way.
sometimes it seems like everyone else is kind of over mom's death (not really, but you know.) i feel like everyone is going to get bored with my blog, now that i the dramatic stuff has passed.
so, if you're checking in and reading, thanks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

grief work.

i went to therapy on friday.
my therapist has started practicing out of her house, which is about a half hour from my house, but north, so i don't have to slog my way through marin and san francisco to get my heal on.
it's pretty sweet.
i've been feeling really frustrated.
i'm so tired of being sad, that i've been avoiding the sadness, and avoiding everything, really.
binge reading. sleeping late. a whole day will disappear without me noticing it.
and i've been realizing that there are whole chunks of the last year that are so sad, and were so painful to experience, that i find myself avoiding them, which really isn't like me.
and i'm not getting other stuff accomplished, like paper work, or projects around the house.
i'm just vegetating an festering. well, not festering. that's an icky word. how about marinating? that implies a sense of non-movement, and intensification of things, but without making us all think of pus.
so, i've been marinating.
therapy was really helpful.
she set me to the task of doing 'grief work,' which is a practice basically as embarrassing as it sounds. immediately i felt embarrassed, just thinking what it *might* consist of. and, i'll admit, the actual practices of it are as embarrassing as i'd imagined. but i have resolved to not let my embarrassment stop me.
i have a really bad habit of not doing any of the practices that my therapist tells me to do. i benefit hugely from our talking things out, but i don't think i have ever once really tried anything she suggested i do out in the world. this is probably linked to my disinclination to accept book recommendations. i think i know better, so i take what i want and then ignore the rest.
but i haven't been especially impressed with my solo processing abilities, when it's come to my grief.
i mean, i have, in the sense that it's impressive that i didn't turn to hard drugs (thought about it) or reckless sex acts (thought about it) or just getting in my car and driving away (thought about it) to help get me through this hardness. my coping mechanisms allowed me to get done what needed to be done; to compartmentalize things so that i was only working on what was necessary and saving the extras for later; to be as present as possible with everything that happened; to be able to laugh and cry, as needed. all of these are impressive feats, no doubt.
but now that the emergency is over, and my time is like a vast snow covered meadow, lacking definition or features, swallowing me without my realizing it, i find i am not moving forward. i am, because we all are whether we mean to or not, but not in a purposeful manner, which is my preference.
clearly i can't process this kind of thing through sheer force of will, or through wishing it were so, and i seem to have reached the end of the effectiveness of my already acquired skills. so, i am opening myself up to the cringe-inducingly named 'grief work.'
i'm not even going to describe it, because that will make it more jokey, which is the opposite of what i need to be doing. i need to be making it serious for me, and personal and healthy. so, no details.
i did it for 15 mins-ish yesterday (i'm supposed to aim for 30-40 mins, but i couldn't make it happen) and i will admit that i felt pretty good afterwards.
i'd like to be more effective at getting stuff done.
my therapist also encouraged me to place my own structure in my life, since i don't have external stuff defining it. i am committing to doing an hour a day of paperwork, work for my money/real estate/adulthood/mom's death stuff. i am doing research on design and architecture, so learn more about things i'd like to do with our new house. i am continuing to cook bravely and be an active participant in the household.
and, the fact that there is always so much more that needs to be done, does make me feel bad, but i am writing down the productive things i do everyday, in an effort to focus more on what i *am* accomplishing.
if having more money, and owning homes, and grieving for my mom, are my job now, i am setting myself a schedule, and sticking to it.
i have only just started, to there hasn't been any monumental earth-shifting transformation yet, but i am making tentative, but discernible baby-steps on everything, and that is something.
okay, now i have to do my 'grief work,' while shannon is outside doing yard stuff. i absolutely can't do it while he's inside to hear me, and i've avoided it long enough.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

does there always have to be a title?

the grey weather suits my grey insides.
shannon is having a really hard time, and i am having a hard time with him having a hard time. i keep thinking i'm ready to take on more of other people's emotional stuff, but i keep finding out that my capacity is still terribly limited.
i just get so tired, from my own crap, that taking on anyone else's, in anything other than little bits, just sucks the air right out of me,
but i also feel like an asshole for constantly having to tell people that i am basically not interested in their problems because all i care about are my own. that doesn't make me feel very good, either.
i just don't usually know that i can't handle it until it's too much.
i'm already missing my mini-vacation with brett and gina.
it's funny how just going and hanging out at someone else's house makes such a big difference.
i realized at one point that i hadn't thought about my mom's death for a few days.
it's not like i wasn't thinking about mom, it was more like i wasn't feeling sad about her.
then i got a little freaked out about not thinking about it, or not feeling sad for a few days.
but i also really enjoyed the break.
and here i am, back in my life, surround by things i need to handle, that i am not really handling, feeling a little smothered by everything, so i am going to see a movie.
is this a good way to handle my problems?
who knows?
but it's what i'm doing and i am going to go with it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

getting settled.

i'm back from my holiday in la.
it was lovely, as usual.
i was a little out of sorts on monday, and am feeling out of sorts today.
i think it's just me getting weird from having too much alone time.
it's beautiful today in 'luma.
sun's shining, but the air is crisp. it's nice to have something to warm at least the front half of our little icebox.
i'm just going to spend some time getting settled again, probably just today, and then tomorrow i begin gitting 'er done.
i bought some amazing boots in la, and a yummy striped cashmere sweater. some other stuff, too, but those are the stars.
missing mom today.