Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beautiful Burden

Jonathan said it best, "Damn, Baaba... I think The Universe owes you a break!"

Boy howdy. Last week I told Tonto, Laura and T-man that my new policy/mantra is "No More Damned Drama!" Seems said Universe is trying to make me eat my words, and wash 'em down with a largish glass of ... hell, something murky and unpalatable. Well, thank you so much, but I'm full already! It's been said that the stronger one is, the more one gets tested. I think I've proved that one already, but evidently I get the opportunity to prove it again (times 3). No quarter given.

I was talking to someone the other day about the "Beautiful Burdens" in my life. In the movie Freedomwriters, Hilary Swank is talking to Scott Glen (playing her father) about the efficacy of her role as a teacher to minority kids - whether she's making a difference or not and whether it's worth it or not. Glen replies, "You've been gifted with a beautiful burden, and I envy you that." It was an aha moment for me. It defined so much for me.

I've been blessed to have so many truly wonderful people grace my life - many of whom I've (physically) cared for, too many of whom I've had to say goodbye to. My Beautiful Burdens. Having not met them would have left an emptiness, I know it... a sort of wondering what had been missed. Conversely, having met them and shared their experiences has left my heart permanently scarred, changed... in the same way that the scarring of a deep wound will change the texture of skin. The wound heals, we move on, we work through the pain, but the reminder is always there.

Beautiful Burdens. I don't regret a moment, good or bad. If I have a regret, it's that I can't save everyone I care about. Instead of taking the bullet for them, I seem to be the one to arrive on the scene just after the shot has rung out. I get to show up in time to put pressure on the wound and say, oh so soothingly (for all the good it does), "I'm here."

My burden, my beautiful fucking burden. Glory be. Evidently I run so deep and so strong that I get to be here (as in: it's my purpose on this earth) to hold people through the shit-storms of life. I suppose I'm strong enough, and I fully appreciate the beauty, but, ohgod... the burden, the unyielding sorrow. I suppose that possessing a soul that has stretchmarks is a good thing, but really... E N O U G H already, just for a little while. Please? I say that, and yet... like the field medic, there's not a single person I'd refuse, much less think of ignoring.

I'll take it all. My Beautiful Burdens. Mine. It's what I've been given. I'll own it. I'll stand.

Watch me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Lies In Wait

"Most people would rather hear a good lie than the truth any day."
~The Spitfire Grill

"I'll tell you whatever you want to hear until you see it my way."
~Tom Johnson

Really? Are we as humans so fragile? Sad, but yes, it seems true. I deal with the public constantly, in situations where many of them feel prompted to lie. I can spot it from a mile off. But my big question is, why bother? The truth WILL OUT! Then you end up with a bigger pile of dung than you started with. Ergo, lying is like willfully over-eating when you know you've already got bowel distress. The shit will hit the fan. Guaranteed.

But, I guess the even bigger question here is why would anyone want to hear a lie over the truth? What is it about humanity that it wants to be coddled, and blindly so, it seems? What's the point of a security blanket that's covered in lice? Don't sugar coat it for me, don't try to cover it, give it to me straight.

When John was diagnosed with cancer, I made him tell me the infinite details - stuff he would keep from others to shelter their feelings or fears. Understandable that he didn't want to give people information that would make them frantic. But, I needed it. I had to know what we were facing. I couldn't have coped any other way. By the same token, given my experience as a caregiver, I always shot straight with him. When he would ask me about my experience with others, what he could expect, I never pulled punches. Did it hurt to be that blatant? Hell yes. Infinitely. But shielding him from inevitablilities would have hurt both of us more in the long run.

I'm not saying we all should go around hurting each other's feelings. No no no. But, if someone asks me, "Does my butt look big in this?" If it does, I'll let 'em know.

On my wedding day back in 1990 to my ex-bowl of oatmeal, I had sincere doubts. I didn't have the cojones to ask anyone if I was making a mistake. I think it's because I feared the answer and I didn't want to disappoint anyone. But, when I left him 8 years later, people came streaming out of the woodwork to say, "I never understood what you saw...." So, that taught me that if I have a hunch, a strong feeling, that gut level oh-jesus-this-is-wrong gig... I'm speaking up. Hate me forever for it, but it's better than me hating myself for not saying something.
As it is, the people in my closest circle are people I can count on for honesty in any given situation (and they can rely on getting the same from me). There are only 4 people in that circle. You know who you are. I cherish you, and I so highly value the care you show in tellin' it to me like it is. I may not always agree, but it means the world to me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Weighting Is The Hardest Part

"Complicate this world you wrapped for me
I'm acquainted with your suffering
And all your weight it falls on me
It brings me down
And all your weight it falls on me
It falls on me
Hold me up to those whom you've deceived
Promises you break you still believe
And all your weight it falls on me
It brings me down
And all your weight it brings me down
It brings me down
Collective Soul, Heavy

Being the empathic and empathetic person I am, it hurts when I can't help someone, when I can't seem to make a difference. I'm all about making people feel better, making their lives better. When I'm disallowed I get sad; when my best attempts aren't good enough I get frustrated. Such has been my mood for the past two days. All I want to do is make it better and there's nothing I can do - I can't change the lightbulb because it doesn't want to change.

And the Greek chorus sings: Oh what the hell doth she speak of?!

I have a dear friend who is, seemingly, bent on destroying his life. He acknowledges the problem, has even reached out for help, but then pushes back when help is proffered. I can't imagine how distressing it is to be inside his mind, to want nothing but to dull the noise, but he goes about it in all the wrong ways. He knows that, and he knows how to change it, but...

*sigh* I know he's been put in my path for a reason. I admire him on so many intellectual levels, and the guy has tremendous heart. So, who am I in all this? What dragon have I been sent to slay? Where is it? Where's my trusty sword? I don't know. It's hard to know. Mental illness and alcoholism are vicious "muthahs." I just want to lend the dude some feisty gypsy spirit. I want to see him shine - I know it's in there. But I feel helpless, inept, inadequate. I hate that.

Sure, I know. Just being there is something. But for me, just being there isn't enough - nowhere near enough, and it never has been. If someone is in my circle, I'm the lioness that will fight the hyenas to the death, need be it. But, how do I fight a ghost-hyena? How do I fight an invisible entity? How do I fight for someone else's spirit?!

I don't know and it brings me down. Still... I'm here. I'm here. I'm here. I'll do whatever it takes, please the gods. Let me help, let me be a shelter. Give the dude a break from the reign.

Friday, July 25, 2008

...And The List Goes On

Here it is, Friday again. Weeeeeeee! On the lighter side of somewhere, I'm going back to the top 10 list. Only this time, these were all spoken by inhabitants of my household (myself included) - gods have mercy. We have fun. I tell ya, if it wasn't for the cheap entertainment....

1. Is that a sponge, or is that poop?

2. I have the fattest man ankles you've ever seen. I'm not kidding. Stop laughing!

3. "Are my shoulders even?"
"Yes, but your boobs are lopsided."

4. Would you like my old pony saddle? Maybe for decoration, or to put on the cat?

5. "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I once ate a cockroach on a dare. I chased it down with whiskey if that's any consolation."
"No, it's not at all."
"But it was good whiskey!"

6. Anger management?! The hell?! Who the fuck are they to tell me I need anger management. Dammit. Fuck 'em.

7. I have standards. They're just pretty much undefinable.

8. "You know, Ghandi said, be the change you wish to see in the world."
"At least change your underwear!"
"The underwear has to want to change...."

9. "I had an MRI and they didn't find a thing inside my head."
"Wow. Nothing at all?"

10. "I'm no pet psychologist, but that cat is deranged." (spoken in near perfect Al Pacino mimickry)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I May Be Poor, Black... I May Even Be Ugly...

... but dear God, I'm here. I'm here.

Once again, I'm following Laura's lead. I loved her write up about It's a Wonderful Life. It got me thinking about the movies and the lines from movies that make up a lot of our (Laura's and mine) conversations. We rarely talk or email without reference or inference to some movie. Two such movies immediately spring to mind (she's nodding already, I can assure you): The Color Purple and Steel Magnolias. We've pretty much got the entire scripts for those two memorized.

Much like Laura gets her Tom Sr. "fix" by watching IAWL, I get my Laura "fix" by watching The Color Purple. I would like it regardless, but the fact that the movie is (basically) about female friendships and relationships, and it actually speaks to me ("ohhhhh, speak, speak, speak to me, Lawd....") is something of an oddity. (Same with Steel Magnolias.) I tend to be a bit of a misogynist at heart, so my truly deep relationships with other women are pretty limited. Over the years, there are so many lines from that movie that Laura and I have relegated to each other and our friendship, that there are even a couple of them that we've even shortened to acronyms. Yeah, it's that bad (or that good, depending on perspective). Our relationship is, by turns, that of Celie and Nettie (the sisters), or Celie and Shug (the friends, but sans the lesbian twist). In writing this, I just realized that I always cast myself in the role of Celie, and Laura is always Nettie or Shug. We both play the role of Sophia. What's really funny is that Laura and I are about the snowflakiest white girls on the planet, and yet here we are donning black south accents with regularity.

Whenever we get to see each other (not often enough with 2,546 miles of distance between us - it's been two summers ago now), we yell, "Ne-TIE!".... "Ceeeee-lie....." But, slapping the lines from the script to-and-fro notwithstanding - for me, hands down, what sealed this flick as the cinematic icon of our friendship is Shug's song, Miss Celie's Blues. To my mind, it says everything about the bond that Laura and I share. We've been there for each other through it all - life, death, good, bad, ugly, men, no-men, funny, sad, drunk, sober, broke... name it. Sistah, we two of a kind.

I don't fawn over people (well, not much), but I'll go on record here. Laura's been my dearest pal going on 18 years now (and to think that I almost threw that baby out with the bathwater back in '98!), and she is one of the very best of the best in all the world... she's had my back at every turn.

This one's for you, Laura. PMTP. Missin' you somethin' fierce today, pal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yes (Wo)man

Sitting in the waiting room at an appointment yesterday, I had the opportunity to skim through several magazines. It's not something I'm prone to doing - magazines just ain't my thang. I zipped through an article in "O", Oprah's magazine, called 54 Ways to Say No (polite ways to refuse). It's inspired me to come up with ways to say Yes (enthusiastic ways to agree to participate) - part of my insistence that we give more of ourselves and be less selfish and wrapped up in our own little ball of yarn. I don't have 54 of them. Well, I probably do, but I don't have time for 54 of them. So, here's my short list.

Sure, I'd be happy to.

I'd love to do that!

I'm a little stretched for time, but I'll make it work.

Yeah, why not?

You got it!

It's not normally my job, but lets see what we can do.

Well, it's a bit outside of my comfort range, but I'll give it a try.

I've never done this before, but why waste a chance to learn something new?

It's the least I can do.

(with a Bruce Willis grin) It's what I live for. (or if you feel like throwing in some flare) It's my raison d'etre.

Just try'n stop me!

Always a pleasure to help out.


Of course.



You betchya.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Time Piece

Time is what I am contemplating, the fleeting nature of it. Talking like Yoda too, I am, yes? Yesssss....

It's good, it's all good, but it goes so damned fast sometimes.
The trouble, doll, is not moving mountains, but
Digging the ground that you’re on
If it’s true that good fortune gives no chase
We got just what it takes

Jakob Dylan, Something Good This Way Comes

This is my new favorite tune. It just feels good. Feels the way I feel. For those of you out of the loop, Jakob was one of The Wallflowers (you've seen them quoted here many times), and is Bob Dylan's son. Give a listen. Sit back, slow down, and enjoy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What You Want... Baby I Got It

People, people, people... we need to talk... *heavy sigh* Welcome once again to the hallowed odeum of the Church of the Wayward Gypsy. Sit. Stay. Good flock.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T... find out what it means to me...

Whatever happened to our old friends Common Courtesy and Basic Decency? Is it so much to expect from each other? I'm beginning to think so. Maybe I was the only one "raised right." Well, me and a handful of others. A small handful. So small. Baby hands. Premie-baby hands.

Whatever happened to acknowledging a gift when it's bestowed? Easy really... a heartfelt thanks (hell, here's one where you get to fake it if you can't make it come), a phone call, a short note... no? How about giving recognition for a kindness? This morning at the gas station (poor starvin' Birddog!), a gentleman (there's a word you don't get to hear anymore!) opened the door for me. I looked him in the eyes, smiled and said, "Thank you!" He appeared shocked at my gratitude. Understandable. I've seen similar situations where the person shuffles by, barely muttering a curt "thanks." Said gent was obviously a blue collar worker, he being scruffy lookin' already at 5:30 a.m. No matter. He earned my R-E-S-P-E-C-T by extending a Common Courtesy based on Basic Decency, and I returned the gift. The exchange took perhaps 10 seconds.

Last week as I walked up to the entrance of the grocery store where the shopping carts are kept, I arrived seconds ahead of an elderly woman. Rather than grab a cart, jam past her and head for the goods, I grabbed a cart and handed it off to her with a smile and a Vanna White-eqsue sweep of the hand. The woman was very obviously utterly delighted. Score another for CC and BD! Again, the exchange took all of 10 seconds.

Again I haul out the ol' saw and ask, why is it that people (strangers) don't say hello to each other any more as they pass on the street? What is so dadgum difficult and dangerous and...and... invasive about nodding in someone's direction and saying, "howdy" ? ! It's a lonely old world, don't be so friggin' cheap.

See... I'm not talking about huge chunks of time out of the day, or about efforts that take gargantuan strength, or buckets of cash (the gods know I'd be totally screwed on CC and BD if they did!). As the saying goes, it's the little things.

Now, before y'all roll your eyes and give me the look, I will raise my hand and be the first to acknowledge that I'm no paragon of virtue. Yessiree, friends n' neighbors... I get busy, I get crabby, I forget. Sure, I do. However, by and large, I try hard to be aware of my fellow humans, and the notion that I - faulty and fallible as I am - may very well be the only beacon in someone's day. Why? It's ingrained in me - yeah, I was "raised right." Beyond that though, I've been on the flip side. After all, I'm the girl who woke up this morning, disenchantedly feeling like no one in the world ever gives a rat's ass about anything, and then suddenly there's a scruffy guy, holding what was surely a really lousy cup of gas station coffee and the door for me.

Thanks dude, whoever you are, for being my beacon on the all too dark shore of oh-god o'clock this morning.

Y'all get on out of here now. Go forth. Be kind.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Well now. I've discovered something new to emerge from the Gypsy Revival Paradigm. Didn't even know it was there, but it makes sense that it is. I had a glimpse of it a few months ago, but didn't recognize it for what it was. I'm no longer an enabler. I found out that I will now refuse to quietly acquiesce, much less lend support, as someone does their damnedest to destroy themselves and all that surrounds them.

For anyone who really knows me and knows where I come from, you'll recognize that this is a tremendously huge change. As the daughter of an abusive alcoholic, life growing up was all about keeping the peace at any cost. Adulthood meant keeping everyone happy no matter the cost to me personally. Bendable Barbie. "I'll do anything. I'll give you anything. I'll say whatever you want to hear. Just please keep the calm and don't hate me." Really... 46 years of life spent that way. What a crock of shit, eh? It's one of the things I've despised most about myself, but just didn't feel I had the chutzpah to change it.

Yet, without fanfare it seems, it has changed. The other day I was rather irate because someone I care about saw fit to take advantage of my good nature in order to fuel his self-destructive bent. (Relax, it's no one you guys know.) At first I thought, "Eh, I'll just brush it aside and let it ride." But the more I thought about the situation, the more annoyed I got. The more annoyed I got, the more I thought, "Well geez, Barb... speak the freak UP!" So, I did - calmly, confidently, cogently, and directly. In response I got a mostly feeble apologetic excuse. Normally, I'd have waved a hand and said, "It's ok." Not this time. Instead I responded that apologies and excuses mean very little to me (especially excuses!) and that action is the only thing that gets my attention. I made it clear that I expected to see change, and I absolutely demanded respect. I got a sheepish look, a hug, and an "I'll do my best" in response. That I can accept - I do acknowledge human frailty, after all.

I walked away feeling, not so much vindicated, as whole. Wholly myself, wholly in charge of me. I needed that. Hell, I've needed that for 46 years, haven't I? Some might understand the entirety of what that means, others may not. No matter. I know.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost, The Road Less Traveled

Saturday, July 19, 2008


It's been quite a week emotionally. I've been dealing with my own internal conundrum, and it's had me restless and anxious in spirit. I think part of that is because I can't quite define, much less label what I feel. There's great beauty in loving and being allowed to love again. However, at the same time, it's in conflict (not quite the right word either) with feelings I still have for John. (The dude isn't any less alive to me just because I've found someone else.) It's not a feeling of guilt, not at all. It's more of an overwhelming feeling, more a feeling akin to being too full after a rich meal (I've never been able to handle surf n' turf - too much good all at once). Can't quite fit the lid on my coronary tupperware container... my feelings are... disorganized.

Murphy Brown once said, "Men are like Dove Bars. One is great. Two will make you sick."

Uh huh.

It's helped a lot to talk it out a bit with Tonto and Timothy (who both know me well enough to pooh-pooh my self-inflicted notion of psychosis). To at least give the damned thing airspace, to put it out there. Acumen is good for the soul. The consensus is (and I am amalgamating and retrofitting words from others here), "Grateful Jesus in the dark, Barbara Ann! Let it be. Slow the fuck down. Don't make yourself crazy with it. Just enjoy it for what it is."

Yeah. Sure. Okay. But.

And then last night I
wrote this. And now I feel better. Yards and miles better. Nothing like a bit of focus and locution to get the soul gunk sorted, or to acknowledge (in this case) that some things just aren't meant to be sorted. They is what they is.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Whine Not

The news this weekend was all over Phil Gramm's declaration that we are a "nation of whiners." No, no... relax. I'm not about to wax political - *shudder* - perish the thought (although IMHO, Gramm can go pound sand).

It got me thinking. Thinking about the whiners I've known (and quickly distanced myself from) in my life. Thanks to Mom ("Stop that whining or go to your room!"), I have no tolerance for whining. The people I hang with tend to not be whiners, and if they dare so, they get the full Brunt o' Barb. "Tough up!" (thanks, John) is up there on my favorite phrases list. But, you know the people I'm talking about... every little physical ache and pain needs to be reported, every emotional stumble needs to be pronounced. Endlessly. All of the bad things that happen to them are never their fault and there's nothing they can do to change any of it. Translation: I don't want to work hard enough to change anything externally, much less work to improve my own attitude on the situation.

Fie. Bah.

Whether the physical circumstances themselves can be changed or not, attitude comprises a huge percentage of whatever issue is at hand. Chop wood, carry water. Do what you can in the best way you can and the rest will follow. Or not. But at least you'll have your dignity, and maybe some kind of sense of humor. Trust me, I've seen and been through enough to know that without those two benchmarks, it's tough to stand up at all. But it does take work.

Lest I be misunderstood. Ain't nothing wrong with asking for help. I've been on both sides of that equation. Asking is different than whining. Whining is, "I've got this thiiiiiing going on and I don't know what to dooooooooo......", and expecting someone else to figure it all out for you. Asking is, "Hey, I need your help. Here's what's happening, here's what will help. Whatever you can or can't do is okay by me." You've already analyzed the situation and decided on a course of action, and with any luck have adjusted your attitude around it. Big difference.

Tim calls "adjusting your attitude" acceptance, as in, "you need to find acceptance." It's a popular notion and definitely one that has some merrit, but I don't like the word acceptance. It's just too passive for a gal like me. Enacting an attitude adjustment is much more proactive. But, hey... whatever works for you!

So... tough up. Or go to your room.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On the Flip Side

It's a very Summery Sunday here. These are the kinds of days that those who live in the PNW don't tell anyone about. We prefer to let y'all think it's rainy and cold all the time, lest you all decide to move here. Hey, it's not that we're out to bogart all the natural beauty, but the roads are crowded enough.

We spent yesterday rearranging half of the house. The office is now officially only an office again... with two computer tables, two computers, a file cabinet and shelving. I've moved my artsy-crafty stuff back into the "spare" room - my original studio before the arrival of the short-lived (stay, that is) very strange roommate back in November. In all honesty, hard work though it was, I like it. I'm beginning to feel like I have a home again and not just a house to live in.

Didn't someone once say "love makes a house a home"? Not to fling emotional mush out there.. what - me?! No, never. But there is something about sharing a life with another person that just plain makes things richer... better - especially having come way too skin o' the teeth close to losing it all again. Even the stupid little stuff, like hauling out trash, or folding laundry, y'know, the everyday tasks, dumb stuff - I dunno. It just seems, um, more something.

Yeah, yeah... I know. Ruminating should be my middle name. But, see... here I am, making space for new, and still replaying old movies. I just finished writing a "speech" that Terri asked me to pen for the upcoming Relay for Life - talking about my experience as a friend, mate, "caregiver" etc. during John's illness. So, I'm rehashing all that, and at the same time looking hopefully forward. It's an odd mix.

Anyway, having both ends of the spectrum at the forefront of my consciousness, just has me really appreciating what I've had and what I have now. It's like... having Christmas twice. It's the birthday that doesn't end. I get a second shot at time in the sun. *sigh*

It's all good. I'm off to bake cookies.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Filter Change

Mama said "think before speaking"
No filter in my head
Oh, what's a boy to do
I guess he better find one
I'm never speaking up again
It only hurts me
I'd rather be a mystery
Than she desert me
Oh I'm never speaking up again
Starting now... Starting now...
One more thing
Why is it my fault?

John Mayer, My Stupid Mouth

No filtering system, c'est moi. Can't tell you how many times my alligator mouth has gotten my sparrow ass in trouble. My valor never did shake hands with discretion. Some applaud my outspoken manners, others shy from 'em. Shy from 'em? Nah... more like run screaming for the hills. And I'm not just talking about when I say something direct and pertinently harsh to a given situation. Even when I'm being lighthearted and humorous I often get The Look. You've seen it (you've maybe even given it... maybe even to me...), the one that says, "Ye Gods, what is wrong with that woman?! Is she off her meds?!"

As for me, I've learned to live with it. I've learned to live with the notion of often having to hang-doggedly say (later), "Hey, I didn't mean to offend..." or, if I'm feeling particularly feisty, "Y'know... that's just me, and if you don't get it, learn to deal." Either way, as mentioned before, I think Barb was a very apt name for me.

I don't know where the balance is any more. As previously discussed, I used to be extremely shy and said nothing about anything - wouldn't say shit if I had a mouthful, as the saying goes (unless absolutely pushed and then all the wrong things would come out in a nonsensical blurt). Now, I can't seem to keep it in - whether angry, funny, sad, basic blather, what have you. Nor do I really want to... it's just... I'd like it if folks didn't take me sooooo friggin' seriously. I don't! I've been told (by my closest friends even) that I can be intimidating. Puh-LEEZ! It's just me... I'm just a silly human, prone to foolish whims, many of which manage to verbally find their way out. Let's revisit "a quality is not always an asset." So, yeah, I'm full of words - in addition to being (all too often) full of shit - and it all comes tumbling out, heedless of path or target.

Pass me the duct tape... or learn to deal... *wicked grin*

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile
There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile
~Warren Zevon, Keep Me In Your Heart

So sad. A former coworker of mine took his own life Friday night. He had a beautiful spirit and was a gifted artist - what a tremendous loss. Having often talked to him and having knowledge of some of the issues in his life, I can understand why he felt there was no other way out. I can't imagine trying to stand in the face of some of the things he'd been through. I saw this (or something like it) coming months ago, and I tried to let him know I was there for him; tried to let him know he wasn't alone in The Vasty Wasteland. It wasn't enough. I'm heartbroken that it wasn't enough. I don't feel guilty exactly... just... ill-equiped.

Life is so precious. It causes me pain that someone would have absolutely no hope in something better. As Pollyanna as I've been accused of being sometimes, it should be noted that I've been down that road, and perilously close to the edge of the cliff at the end of it. Had it not been for people in my life grabbing the back of my shirt and yarding me away, I dunno... would I have? could I have? Maybe. Possibly. It's a damned dark place. But, I think (I have to believe) that somewhere inside of me has always been a fighter, that feisty gypsy, a spirit that says "move along, gal... there's better a better side of somewhere out there." But, oh, that darkness and I are on nodding terms. Sure, it's from afar these days, but too close once is close enough forever to remind me that I want to stay far away from it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again... as hard as it is, it's in reaching out to others that we minimize our own pain. It's in saying, "I will risk the agony of loving again" that the courage to care about another person is born. It's in caring about another person that we find the strength to preserve our sense of self. Regardless of direction, folks - be it your need for a lifeline, or your need to be a lifeline... reach out, reach out, reach out... please... it's a big old lonely world and we need each other. (Once again, I'm as guilty of getting wrapped up in my own tangled ball o' string as anyone else is - so I'm preaching to myself here as well as y'all.)

And it's a ripple effect. You change someone's day (good or bad) and they in turn change someone else's day, and that person... yeah, you get the picture. Make it worthy.

...Only me beside you.
Still, you're not alone.
No one is alone. Truly.
No one is alone.
Sometimes people leave you.
Halfway through the woods.
Others may decieve you.
You decide whats good.
You decide alone.
But no one is alone...
...You move just a finger,
Say the slightest word,
Something's bound to linger,
Be heard.
No acts alone.
No one is alone.
~Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Notable Quotables

I'm taking a cue from Laura and posting the top ten quotes I heard this week. These are from real people here in the real world (a couple of them are my own). I'll leave you to guess who said what, and let you imagine why....

10. It's a shame your father didn't pull out in time!

9. We've been conditionified to accept it.

8. Nice outfit... goin' for the $20 slut look, or the $40?

7. I don't know what the fuck I'm saying... it's all blah, blah, blah...

6. I wouldn't play in his backyard, y'know?

5. That ranks right up there with the whole hellfire and damnation schtick.

4. We don't want you falling down. If you fall down you could get hurt and then you'd risk injuring yourself.

3. Oh, good God, Agnes! Take a laxative!

2. You want reason? Did the point somehow get lost on you that we're discussing politics?

1. He couldn't find his way out of his own asshole with a flashlight.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th! It was definitely a day of celebration for me... I got to liberate the lad from the hospital! WoooHOOOO!!!!

He even had enough energy that we joined his family (they are a country unto themselves, I swah...) for a picnic and fireworks at the park in Bellevue. The weather was perfectly behaved. A fine time was had by all and the fireworks were actually much more impressive than I expected. Even the Bellevue Philharmonic (I still can't say the two words together without smirking though) was not bad at all. See, Bellevue Philharmonic puts me in mind of that scene at the end of The Fisher King where Robin Williams is directing all his fellow asylum-mates in a rendition of "How About You?" I digress. Anyway, the whole dang lot of us had a good time, and it truly amazed me to watch Scott enjoy his family, and them enjoy him, and just feel all the love and kick back after a week that wanted to rip everyone apart. Sometimes good things happen. Really really good things.

Of course, the sardonic side of me says, "Don't get too cozy, gal... the gods are merely winking in your direction for a moment."

When we got back to the house, I sat out back, staring at the stars and contemplating just how different this 4th of July felt from last year. Hell, last year, I think I took some of John's old morphine and crawled under the covers before the fireworks even started. Celebrating anything was just not part of my mindset. But this year... this year, I get assimilated by a whole 'nother clan, hauled out in public, and... I dunno. It's just. *sigh* When the spinning stops, someone hand my brain back to me. A year ago I was so so sad and alone; a month ago I was thrilled and hopeful; less than a week ago I was scared shitless; four days ago I was giddy with relief; yesterday I was happy and thankful; today feels almost normal, but restlessly so. If it makes no huge difference to Anyone or Anything else lurking out there in The Vasty Wasteland... could I please just have a calm stretch for a while? Thank ye kindly.

Still, for all I've got, and all I've been blessed enough to be able to hang on to... whew. Thank all the gods.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Circuit Breaker

"Time will eventually lead to irreparable circuit failure."
~Data, Star Trek The Next Generation

Every now and then someone will raise the question, "Which sense would you most hate to lose?" It's always a toss up... vision vs. hearing. To not see another sunset, or the smile on a child's face, or watch snow dancing down to earth. Unthinkable. But then again, to not hear that perfect musical strain that makes my pulse race, or the birds chattering the day awake, or laughter. Unimaginable. Life would go on, sure. Adapt or die. But...

After talking with Scott yesterday afternoon, I realized that there's a seventh sense that I would most hate to lose. The ability to communicate in words. Yes, non-verbal communication can be highly efficient, but for me, words are meat. Words are building blocks to skyscrapers, the chemical breakdown of the perfect apple pie, the vision in the sunset, the voice in the quiet. It would, probably literally, make me crazy to not be able to communicate in words, to have the circuit tripped that makes me lose that gift. I can't imagine Scott's frustration at having a perfect thought and not being able to form the sentence that conveys it. Agonizing. Yes, it's all coming back, but slowly.

It's all made me acutely aware of what a treasure this is - this capacity I have to write, my somewhat limited gift of gab, the pool of vocabulary I go swimmin' in. I'm not certain I could cope should the day ever comes when my ability to articulate feeling is lost, gone forever. So, I rededicate myself to my craft. Whether these words get read or not, whether they change the flow of the tides or not, no matter. They are my life's blood.

"County library? Reference desk, please. Hello? Yes, I need a word definition. Well, that's the problem. I don't know how to spell it and I'm not allowed to say it. Could you just rattle off all the swear words you know and I'll stop you when...Hello?"
~Bill Waterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Close Shave

Psst... I think I'm not a virgin any more. Last night was a first. I was so nervous, but it was good for me. I think he really enjoyed it too. Yep. I finally did it. I shaved a man's face.
Tell me something... why is it people feel such a need to define a relationship? Why does there have to be a label of some sort slapped on it? Without giving Scott and I so much as a moment to breathe and figure it out ourselves, everyone seems to want to put us into a group. His nurses try to call me his "significant other"... ugh... I deplore that term. Others call me his girlfriend. Bleh. At 46 years old, I don't think of myself as anyone's girlfriend. And though the man is quite youthful, at 54 I think he's matured past being a boyfriend. I was also refered to as his "special friend"... that one made me laugh. Sounds like I belong on the mental rehab ward. Others have, egads, mistakenly refered to me as his wife. The point is, we haven't even figured out exactly who we are to each other... so why the push from others to speak it?

The other day the speech therapist was working with him while his son, Mike and I were in the room. She touched on people he knows. She asked, "Who's this man?" He answered, "Mike." She continued, "And he is your...?" "My son." She pointed to me and asked, "And this woman's name?" "Barb." "And she is your....?" Scott smirked and didn't say. The therapist, thinking that this was one of the times he was at a loss for a word, tried to give him consonants to get him started, "It starts with a 'g'...." I said, "Um. I don't think it's that he doesn't know the word. We just haven't defined it yet." Scott grinned. She moved on to days of the week. I was thrilled to hear him say my name a mere 24 hours after I was certain I'd never hear him say anything again.

For me, it's enough that he's here. It's enough that he lets me care about him. It's enough to see his smile every day. It's enough that the connection is there. Word-freak that I am, this is one of those times that I don't need definition. I don't require proclamations or promises. The proof is in time, in the little moments, in the long haul, in the seconds that a look of understanding gets shared. Do I love him? Sure I do - that's easily done. Does he love me? I don't know. I would hope so, and if he doesn't he'll learn to. It's enough.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Out of the Woods

And the good news is....

Scott is doing remarkably better. Amazingly so, in my eyes. Compared to the frightening shell of a man I woke up to 48 hours ago, I'm totally impressed. His muscle control is almost completely back; he's entirely cognizant; he's speaking in whole, if halted and not always correct, sentences. I'm so relieved that I'm almost giddy. They're moving him out of ICU today and into the rehab section of the hospital. If all goes well, he could be home with me by the end of the week.

His family keeps thanking me and that's just driving me nuts. I mean, I guess I understand why they feel the need to thank me, but the repetition of it isn't necessary. I'm just glad I was there, and as usual, I simply did what needed to be done. That being said, once again the power of family, and more specifically family love, has struck me. The Spring clan has rallied, and it's made me aware of just how devastating this could have been had the cards not played out the way they did... had the stroke happened while he was asleep, had I not immediately noticed that something was 'off', had the emergency response been less than adequate... it made me aware enough that I bawled my eyes out after they left last night. Cried out of relief, thankfulness, compassion, and the overwhelming sense that, once again in my life, I was in the exact place that I needed to be at the exact time.

Life is a funny thing.