Tag Archives: grief

Too Sad For Therapy

I rescheduled therapy today. I probably really needed to go to therapy today. But it’s a 90 minute commute each way on public trans, and I couldn’t fucking stop crying and, though I’ve said in the past that my near total lack of shame has accommodated a great many bus cries, there’s a difference between a few tears sliding from under my sunglasses and outright, unstoppable bawling. So I didn’t go. Also I was having unusually severe IBS symptoms and, in truth, if it was just the IBS, I could’ve bit the bullet, taken extra Imodium and peppermint oil, donned a very loose sweater and gotten my ass to therapy. But I’dve been super fucking uncomfortable the whole time and clenching distractingly out of a worry that I’d poop on my doctor’s white couch*.

I cried yesterday too, but only for like 20 minutes after I WebMD’d the symptoms** of this mystery shoulder pain I’ve been having for a few days and concluded, via the Internet, that I was dying.

My appointment today was at 2:15, but it took until around 1:45 for me to stop weeping ‘n shit. I didn’t know how long it was gonna take, but I still can’t get to my doc’s office in half an hour, so I guess I really couldn’t have gone.

My husband and I like to play one of three games when it’s just the two of us: Scrabble, blackjack, and chess so, in the hopes that it’d make me feel better, we spent like an hour playing blackjack on our bed. It did help. Probably more than therapy would’ve because I’dve just cried the whole damn time and my doctor and I would have probably come to the conclusion that I’m sliding into another depression, which would’ve made be cry even more because of how fucking unfair it feels whenever I start to get depressed.

I think my depressive episodes come saddled with a twisted and customized version of the five stages of grief:

Denial: It’s just a shitty week, I’m fine. Not cutting or scratching, that’s proof, right? This isn’t happening again, it’s not.

Anger: I can’t do any of the things that were moving my goddamned life forward and everyone who thinks they can help me through this can just fuck off.

Bargaining: I wish I was just stupid. Like really fucking stupid. Really stupid people don’t get depressed, they get sad but not depressed. Can’t I have that? I want it.

Depression: I’m worthless, I’m subhuman, I can’t eat, I oversleep, I can’t have orgasms, I’m a pollutant and a cancer. All I do is take from everyone around me and I don’t have enough strength to fight through this to give anything back.

Acceptance: I’ll always be like this. Even if this goes away, it will come back. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Acceptance is probably the most dangerous stage ’cause it’s usually the point at which I feel the most suicidal. It’s also, arguably, a vital pivot point, simply because I tend to acknowledge that this particular depression could actually dissipate (even if I insist it’ll come back). Depending on how well I can convince myself of the transience of my episode, I could feel more motivated to work really hard*** to get back to regular.

They don’t always go down like this, but right now, I’m oscillating between blaming the fallout of my hormonal IUD removal coupled with my lack of proper sleep the last few days and fearing that this an actual depressive episode rapidly hurdling over the horizon. Today, I’m probably leaning toward the latter. Or maybe not. I really haven’t been sleeping properly for like the last 5 or 6 nights. I get up and night a lot and have trouble getting comfy. Exhaustion and depression can both make me cry a fuck ton. Both leave me fatigued. Both make me irritable.

So, in short: I guess I have no idea what the fuck is going on. Except yes I do. I mean, I’m pretty damn sure I do. The best I can hope for is to land on that unsteady target where I’m just depressed enough to spin it into something cool, and not lose my motivation completely, but it’s not like I can arrange that shit. I could be staring down months and months of near-lifelessness and my mother’s infuriating commentary on how much weight I’ve accidentally lost (she doesn’t seem to be 100% convinced of the “accidentally” part, she thinks I should try harder). I could be going into a mental and social hibernation indefinitely. Again.

So, my doctor let me reschedule our appointment for tomorrow afternoon after I told her about my IBS symptoms. The rescheduling was a massive relief at first, until I realized I might be just as bad or worse tomorrow. I guess the best I can do at this point is to expect that in case it happens. Preparedness…

-LB

*I don’t have anal incontinence, so this really wasn’t likely at all, but my Pride and my Vanity have convened and are in agreement that you should know: I don’t have anal incontinence.

**Don’t do this. You know better. I know better. You type in “fatigue” and come away, definitely, definitely with stage IV esophageal cancer, even if you know you’ve been getting poor quality sleep lately and don’t drink or smoke.

***Depression is hard fucking work. You have to try to keep your life together but you’re probably pretty hobbled. So, it’s basically like having gravity turned up while you struggle to lift the same amount you were lifting comfortably a week ago.

God God Damnit Damnit

Well, there went June. I mean I was in California for half of it, and I’ve been pretty sad for the rest. My grandma died the evening following the previous post, so, like 5 weeks ago at this point. It got really ugly. The last few days she was in hospice, we were all kind of hoping she would just go. Watching her struggle to catch her breath and then feeling my stomach drop in between breaths as the pauses got longer and longer and I thought, this is it, she stopped breathing was pretty brutal. The last 2ish days she was really loaded on morphine and lorazepam so she wasn’t really even there, but there was a really brief window when she was still lucid and I got to say goodbye to her.

Fuck saying goodbye to your loved ones forever so hard. It’s the roughest thing I’ll ever be grateful for. At this point, I’ve lost 2 really important people in two different ways. My dad died without warning and the shock was unbelievable…and the regret and the guilt and the wondering if I had a hand in it and the accusing other people of having a hand in it, but not to their face because: You’re a fucking backbreaker who worked your husband into the ground (I’d say “literally” but my dad’s not buried in the ground, he’s in a mausoleum with mostly strangers and now my grandma)…is like maybe the quickest way destroy a relationship with someone. Probably. Not that it was great to begin with, but at the end of the day, we were all shellshocked and miserable and shitty to each other. I had to watch my grandma die. I saw her shut down piece by piece. I saw her fingers turn blue as she got less and less oxygen with each breath, I watched her chest heave reflexively in a morphine twilight, I saw tears of pain gather at the corners of her eyes that she didn’t even know were there.

I heard her whisper in Sicilian: Mama, I’m coming to be with you.

God god damnit damnit.

I’ve been ignoring how unsteady I’ve been since she died. I went back down to my normal dosage of meds because the extra olanzapine was making me really tired. I had a panic attack in San Diego. I cry when I think about this, so I don’t think about it a lot. I’m motivated to shower and drink gin and impulse buy shit off Etsy. I made a Pinterest board of things I wanna put on my back deck. I won’t ever actually put them there, but in my mind (and on the Internet), I have a killer back deck. I haven’t picked up a guitar since I borrowed one in Carmel like over 2 weeks ago. Sometimes, without provocation, my heart pounds real hard for several minutes and then goes back to normal. The last thing my grandma ever ate was a pancake and they had to stop feeding her when she started to choke on a piece. When I think about pancakes, I cry. That reality is 100% not workable.

I missed 3 MMA classes in a row, but the third time was to see Serengeti at one of my city’s myriad summer street festivals/glorified block parties with sponsors, which, at the time I decided was worth it, but I’m gonna be like, cursing his name at the gym on Sunday when I barf on the floor after 90 seconds of jump roping. I’ve been trying to work out at home. I’m not a self-motivator. I need my class. For many reasons. But live music is also a tonic, so it wasn’t a loss, really.

I’ve been smoking cigarettes kinda. I quit 2 years ago, but watching my grandma suffocate slowly warranted a number of cigarette breaks in the hospital parking lot with my sister. The cognitive dissonance was not lost on me. But I really needed some timeouts, so whatever. I have an e-cig. I have more than enough vanity to keep me from using it in public. Nobody looks cool smoking a e-cig. It’s not really the same anyway. I had intended to go home after the Serengeti set last weekend because I had no other reason to be at the festival. I hadn’t slept much so I wasn’t drinking because I didn’t wanna fall asleep in the grass. But I hung out for like an extra hour just to bum cigs off dudes which is really easy so I made the most of it. I bought a few packs in California – which were unnervingly inexpensive compared to here – but I purposely left them behind places so I would only smoke like 2 or maybe 3…which I guess means they were sorta, kinda way more expensive than they are here cause I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. I’m not real worried about it. What I am worried about is that I made my husband promise not to let my buy any more cigarettes but I very frequently want one. Like right now would be one of those times. I just feel like smoking a lot, which is generally indicative of: a) I’m drunk b) I’m anxious or c) I don’t know what to do with my hands right that sec. Thanks to all the weed in my life, I can have orgasms again and my husband has been out of the house a lot the last few evenings which are the only times I watch porn ’cause we don’t like the same kind of porn so “c” is not really a problem. (Trying super hard not to think too much about that last sentence, ’cause it’s just depressing.) So I’m sitting here puffing on my e-cig. I am unwashed and I do not look cool.

So, here’s something that’s fucked up and terrifying and one of the gifts you get when you come from a line of mildly inbred Italian hill people: my grandma died because her lungs shut down. She never smoked in her life and she never let my grandpa smoke in the house. She was rarely sedentary and spent a lot of time outdoors. She ate really well. She took care of herself. But she got a cold or something sometime this past spring and it triggered an autoimmune response that resulted in her lungs overproducing heavy mucus and basically strangling her from the inside out. The reason this is so scary to me is because so many people in my family are carriers of autoimmune disorders, including my mom who’s a type 1 diabetic. There’s actually this freaky subset of couplings among my grandma’s cousins wherein the children of those couples have a 1 in 4 chance of developing an autoimmune disease. 4 kids came out of that batch, one got diabetes, one got MS and one got scleroderma. I wanna say the 4th one is safe, but my grandma probably thought she was too until a fucking cold turned her lungs into rocks at 89, which is exactly my point: this shit could happen to me too. And, as with my grandma, I might not know until I have 2 weeks left to live. So from now on, I’m gonna be massively paranoid every time I get the sniffles ’cause they may be my last. Or something. I’m not a doctor. I could be wrong about all this. Paranoia is part of how I grieve.

I’ve been subject to this weird glut of deaths in the last 8 years and the thing we all keep telling each other is that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. It doesn’t matter how well I understand this concept or how threadbare that platitude has become by this point, I always think I’m fucking it up. My grandma lived a good life. She was happy and virtuous by her own measure. Unlike me, she was a person of faith, so she probably felt a brand of comfort and homecoming in her last days that I’ll never know. She was industrious, humble, sweet and nurturing. She always put herself last. When relatives came to the hospital to say their last goodbyes, they’d say, “I’m gonna pray for you.” My grandma would respond, “No, I’ll pray for you.” And she did. When she died, she was the most beautiful person at her funeral. She was buried in the dress she wore to my wedding. She was stunning.

I’m bothered that I’ve been able to keep as much together as I have, which isn’t to say I’ve been keeping it 100% together, obviously, as evidenced by the panic attacks and low motivation and nicotine cravings. But I still feel like I’m not giving my grandma the reverence she deserves. I asked my therapist what’s the weeping equivalent of a standing ovation. She said she didn’t know. But I hope I figure that one out because my grandma earned it.

-LB

Fuck, Fuck, Shit, Shit, Fuck, Etc.

Super brief:

I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks for a handful of reasons, the main one being my grandmother is dying. She was moved to hospice this morning. We’re not sure how much time she has left, but it may be as little as a few days or las long as several weeks (the former looking more likely). I won’t have time to be here (which sucks ’cause I miss being here) because I’ll be out in the suburbs with my family. This is a massive, massive loss for me. My grandma practically raised me. Watching her suffer is agonizing. My doc upped 2 of my meds to help me deal with the anxiety, distress, sadness and panic attacks that come with losing the person who sang me lullabies, tucked me into bed for about half of my childhood and shared cups of coffee with me over Italian soap operas. This hurts so fucking bad. I feel like I’m gonna snap in half. But I won’t be here for a little while. Then I’ll probably be here about 11 times a day for a bit, then things will return to a shittier version of normal. I miss reading your posts and your comments. I miss your support. I miss my blog. But I can’t do this right now.

Ci vederemo qualche giorno in avvenire.

-LB

Helping…ish?

Goddamnit. I would think that in the 3 weeks I’ve been going to therapy half as frequently, I’d be writing here constantly because I’m filled to spilling with all the feelings and my tendency is to want to articulate them, but I’ve been busy as fuck with the goddamn sky falling this past week, and even though I know it’d be therapeutic to hammer out a post, I’ve mostly been hanging out with my favorite guitar (its name is Calvin. For 3 separate reasons).

But the sky is most certainly falling. My uncle-in-law died ahead of schedule (he was given 6-12 weeks and only made it 2) so almost nobody got to visit him and say goodbye, the thought of which make me sick to my stomach with regret because when someone’s dying that fast, like, don’t fucking tarry. Just make room and go. Lesson uncomfortably learnt. So This past Thursday was the wake and Friday was the funeral. Both events lasted most of the day. My husband and I each brought a flask of whiskey to the funeral. This is not something I’m accustomed to doing, but it is something I did do and getting buzzed in a cemetery on the most beautiful spring day that ever happened anywhere was moderately surreal and probably not the classiest thing I’ve ever done. But funerals are hard. And I kept my shit together, so whatever.

The sky is falling on Colorado too, in case that’s of interest to you. My sister has strep and her roommate brought home bedbugs and 2 nights ago, some drunk strangers her other roommate brought home almost broke Big Sis’ new couch by fucking super loud and hard on it within earshot of the entire house. Like, what the hell is wrong with you? Go screw in the bathroom like a normal person. Idiots.

But the most disconcerting was the 50 minute phone call I had with my stressed-to-the-breaking-point mom last Wednesday. I called her ’cause I needed someone’s address and it should’ve been a 3 minute call, but ballooned into this…thing. This thing that required me to avoid being an asshole to my mom which can be a genuine challenge because sometimes she just plain invites it. My grandparents are doing very poorly and my mom is shouldering way too much of the work needed to keep them comfortable and not dead. She’s been sleeping like 2 hours a night, dealing with my grandpa’s dementia, my grandma’s failing kidneys, the horrible pain resulting from my grandma’s failing kidneys and – between the two of them – this ancient, stubborn Sicilian couple who refuse, out of pride, to consider dialysis and/or a night nurse.

My mom very obviously needed to unload so I let her talk, and when she started talking, she started crying and it was really evident by the tone of her voice that she’s basically a raw nerve at this point. So I let her talk some more and mostly just listened. Like many people in crisis do, she shot down most of my suggestions as logistically impossible. I don’t know why people sometimes react this way. I think when you’re that shot you need something to lean against and, in some cases, you end up leaning against your last shred of control by way of an exasperated argument angled at whoever might be trying to help you. I think if she deemed any of my ideas doable, my mom would internalize them as an indicator that, despite working herself down to the marrow, she could have been doing it better. The mind recoils.

But in all the years I’ve been in therapy, I’ve learned that being heard is more important than almost anything, so I tried to keep my mouth shut. Which is another thing I’m not accustomed to doing, but hey, week of firsts. When she was out of things to say and things to cry about, my mom told me she felt better. I done good. Like not even by accident. I mean, the phone call was happenstance, but everything else was me acting like a decent human being to this person who has the peerless ability to topple my wellness in a fell fucking swoop. I was nice to my mom and it was weird.

So there’s a part of me that’s deeply resentful for the things that happened re: my mom in the weeks and months after my dad’s death. I moved home temporarily to take care of her (nobody actually ever asked me to do that, the whole family just assumed I would). I guess my dad would’ve appreciated it. But losing my dad the way I did was arguably the worst thing that ever happened to me. I say “arguably” because there are some super unfortunate contenders for that #1 spot, but, in terms of flashbang tragedy, Dad’s sudden and untimely death left me like…concussed…in the soul. Is that a thing? It sure felt like one. The summer after he died was hard as fuck. My mom regressed into this awful, helpless state which left her 100% unable to support me emotionally. The whole summer she kept asking me why this horrible thing was happening to our family. I didn’t know. Nobody that close to me had ever died before. I was a grief neophyte. She never asked me how I was doing or if I was Ok or if I needed to talk. She did cry a lot and refuse to eat, fucking up her blood sugar but still giving herself insulin so that I’d find her passed out on the floor occasionally. Dunno if you’ve ever tried to lift a person who’s gone completely slack but it’s not very easy. It’s pretty hard to tell what the worst part of that summer was, but a candidate might be the limited symptom panic attacks I was having. I’d be sitting in the class I was taking or just listening to music or bumming around and my heart would start to race and pound and I’d get really nervous. My dad died of a heart attack so the shit my heart was doing as a response to bereavement and shock was twisted into firm evidence that I was next on the list and that I was, at all times, one misstep away from a heart attack of my own. I got kinda into morphine that summer, which probably didn’t help things. Good stuff.

Anyway, after a while I got so angry with my mom’s behavior that I stopped talking to her for 8 months, 5 of which I spent in Rome, so that made it a lot easier to avoid her. I got SO much shit from my family for cutting off my mom. To this day I still think that 8 month cold shoulder was justified. In the years since then, she’s been many flavors of difficult and frustrating. I’ve spent way more time in therapy talking about my mom than my dad – Dad being the reason I sought help to begin with. So being a shoulder for my mom to cry on last Wednesday felt a little like a betrayal to myself. That’s kinda fucked up. It also goes against everything I believe in about treating other people empathetically, but I frequently jettison my integrity on that point when I deal with my mom. Cognitive dissonance, man. (Cognitive Dissonance Man would be the worst superhero. Or the best. I can’t really decide.)

But she really needed someone to talk to. She really needs some sleep. I’m not a monster. I’m also not a martyr, but I’d like to think, at this point in my life, I can actually refrain from being a dick to my mom even if it’s sort of my natural state. So I think she’s a little better now. I’d call to check in, but that just feels weird to me. This isn’t a vengeance thing. If one person in my family is suffering, we all suffer. My mom will, quite likely, be losing one or both of her parents soon. She wasn’t there for me when I lost one of mine. There’s a juvenile part of me that wants her to know how that feels, but to what end, really? Forgiveness is hard, but the discomfort is likely temporary. Regret, on the other hand, never really goes away. And anyway, isn’t it technically a win for me if I manage to be compassionate here? Or, at the very least, reassurance that I didn’t grow up to be my mom? There. I think I made it palatable for myself.

-LB

What I’m Actually Upset About

I’m having a hair problem. It’s bugging the crap out of me. I stopped straightening my hair like maybe 10 years ago because I realized I actually really liked my natural texture. I had these really nice, uniform, loose spirals that behaved perfectly with almost no styling. Like I’d just wash it and forget about it and be left with this awesome head of long, flowing curls that changed colors according to the season: strawberry blonde in the summer and a deeper auburn in the winter. Killer. Loved my hair. Embracing your natural hair texture is kind of a big deal for girls and women because so few of us have tresses that align with conventional, Western beauty standards, so we torment ourselves with expensive products, cumbersome tools and wasted time to achieve attractiveness (which is ultimately bullshit, but really hard not to buy into). I was pretty haughty about my ability to skip that nonsense.

So my curls are gone now. I dunno how or why. I started noticing it a little over a year ago and started going to greater and greater lengths just to get my damned Adonis hair back, but it’s gotten to a point where it just kind of hangs in these sloppy, uneven waves. It looks dumb. My hair looks super dumb. I’m pissed. I asked my sister-in-law about it because she’s a hairdresser and she said that sometimes it just happens. She said it’s usually meds or hormones, but for some people, your hair texture just changes. She followed her comments up with, “I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear.” It really, really wasn’t. But I appreciated that she took those feelings into account. Since it’s been so long since I’ve had to style my hair, I don’t really know how to do it anymore. I don’t have tons of hair and it’s not very long anymore (about to get even less long next week when I actually let a professional touch it, which I rarely do because I NEVER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT IT BEFORE), but it takes me like a full hour just to blow dry it into a shape I can live with, only to have that shape unfurl into a sad, limp mess 30 minutes later.

I’ve tried every weird tip and trick I could dig up on the Internet. In the last week, I bought a curling iron, a diffuser and some way too expensive products, all of which was a waste of money which I know I can’t really afford this month, but I’ve become obsessed. Last night Husband had some of our gaming friends over to play D&D. I didn’t participate. I didn’t even greet them when they showed up. I holed up in the bathroom with a whisky tonic, some T. Rex and a curling iron trying not to burn myself and trying not to cry and then lamenting my choice of tunes because Marc Bolan had this going on:

Marc At The BBC

And the whole while I was grappling with this searing hot curling iron, I was like, FUCK YOU SO HARD, MARC BOLAN WITH YOUR GODDAMNED CHERUB CURLS, YOU ASSHOLE. Because at that point I was starting to forfeit some of my rationality, which was probably resultant of the whisky and the iron burns. Good. Productive.

But truly, I am becoming obsessed. And, in my estimation, my hair is too frivolous to spend this much energy on, but, as I’ve said many times before, I’m pretty vain, so my fixation is becoming emblematic of everything in my life I see as a failure. Things could be so much worse.

Things are so much worse.

Last week, we found out that one of the cats needs surgery to correct a badly healed femur she broke when she was a stray and probably still a kitten. She has arthritis (she’s only 3) and is probably in a good deal of pain. The surgery will cost us about $3,000. That’s a lot for us. Realistically, we might have to cancel our honeymoon which we still haven’t taken even though we’ve been married for over 6 months. We already bought plane tickets and planned a 5 stop itinerary from central to southern California. Awesome. My grandmother was admitted to the hospital two days ago because her kidneys decided to take a nap or something and the buildup of whatever your kidneys are supposed to filter out (I’m not good with human anatomy, I’m just relating what I was told) caused her to develop type II diabetes, which has its own set of complications because she weighs 98 pounds and has almost no body fat, so there are very few places on her frame that can support an insulin injection. Awesomer. One of my uncles-in-law was, this past weekend, given 6-12 weeks to live after years of battling brain cancer. He does not want to be resuscitated. He’s going and very soon. THE MOST AWESOME.

I’ve been crying a lot. I reached a breaking point the other day after a phone call from my mom became an exercise in masochism as I let her start yelling and arguing with me when there was nothing to argue about. Mother’s day this year falls on the 8th anniversary of my dad’s death and my mom just can’t handle it.So we agreed to celebrate the day before, primarily for my grandmother’s sake who really, really deserves to be celebrated this year. I mentioned to my mom that my mother-in-law pointed out (without resentment) that last year my family got my husband and me for both Easter and Mother’s Day and she’d really appreciate it if we could be with her family for one of those holidays this year. I also pointed out that she’s about to lose her brother, so it’s important to me that we spend time with my in-laws. Even though there was no scheduling conflict, Mom started raising her voice as if I was trying to weasel out of something, even though I made it clear that we will be seeing her for Easter, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day with her on May 9th and Mother’s Day with my in-laws on May 10th (I declined to point out that this arrangement is going to be extremely emotionally taxing for me because I didn’t want to give her another foothold in her concocted conflict that she didn’t seem to realize was completely one-sided). What I did say was that, while I recognize that May 10th will never be a happy day for anyone in our family, over the years I’ve learned to cope. Her response: WELL I HAVEN’T.

Oh yeah, and as long as I’m enumerating my current misfortunes, I just remembered that 4 days from now will be the anniversary of the death of my childhood best friend who was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in Afghanistan while she was working as as diplomat for the State Department. She was on her way to deliver books to some schoolchildren when her caravan was struck by a car bomb. She was 25 and was moving up the ranks in her department at such an unprecedented rate that I have little doubt she could’ve been Secretary of State or even President one day. She was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known and the world is a shittier place without her.

So I’ve become fixated on my hair. Because my hair is superficial. Because my hair doesn’t yell at me. Because I can waste time fucking around with it, channeling all my frustration into garbage pile that’s hanging off head right now and not think about the forfeiture of my honeymoon, my grandmother’s faulty organs or my uncle’s impending death. I don’t have to think about how I lost my dad and my friend prematurely if I’m focused on avoiding another curling iron burn. That shit gets REALLY hot.

There are 2 things I wish I had available right now. I wish I’d bought a 100lb heavy bag (punching bag) for the basement like I was gonna so I could practice my MMA technique (i.e. punch and kick the crap out of it) to blow off some steam. And I wish I still had therapy twice a week. I had to start going once a week because, in light of the money problems we’re looking at this month, I can’t afford two sessions every week. I would be getting out of therapy right now, actually. I might be running into one of the homeless dudes I chat with when I’m in that neighborhood. Those dudes are so goddamned friendly and so goddamned positive and I almost always get a hug and I could really use a fucking hug right now, even knowing that it would probably make me start sobbing, but I know they’d be cool about it.

So, right now, because I wasted most the of day in bed recovering from a migraine, I’m gonna finally get into the fucking shower. I’m gonna try to avoid fucking around with my hair. I’m gonna try to spend some time playing my cajon (it’s a Peruvian box drum that you can play with your hands, if you didn’t know) because I think the tactile sensation of hitting something coupled with the aural sensation of the massive booms I get out of that thing (my cajon kicks ass) will do me some good. But, frankly, I’m probably gonna cry in the shower because I’ve been feeling a monolithic sob welling up in me the whole time I’ve been writing this and if it doesn’t come out soon, I might end up barfing instead of crying. If I had a dollar for every time in my life that I said, “when it rains, it pours” I could probably afford that second day of therapy. I guess I just have to stick it out.

-LB

If Our Paths Never Cross Again, I Hope You’re The Last Thing I Think Of Before I Die

I have that exact relationship with someone. It’s kind of torturous, but also, I’ve become sort of complacent about the parts of it that hurt really bad, so I’m like…experiencing very high functioning torture that I mostly ignore. I think it’s working out.

I had a dream like 2 or 3 months ago wherein I was watching an hourglass filled with dark brown sand run out, and I guess I understood I had like maybe 2 minutes left to live. So, really, the only thing I could do was decide what my last thoughts were gonna be. Dream Laura decided on the lyrics to this song:

I can’t speak for Dream Laura, really, because she does a lot of things I probably wouldn’t do and neglects to do a whole shit ton of things I would definitely do, BUT, “Going To Georgia” is plausibly the most human art thing I’ve ever gotten to experience, and I guess Dream Laura reasoned that she should indulge in one last sublimely human thing before she stopped being a human and would thereby be a total poser by trying to participate. And also dead.

I used to think about this more frequently, but sometimes I wonder what my dad’s last thoughts were when he was dying. He died like really fast, so he might not have known he was dying and his last thought could’ve been “I should retie my right shoelace, it’s kinda tight” by default, which would be unfortunate, but, in the years I’ve been dealing with various incarnations of grief, I’ve been trying to remember that the sum of my dad’s life was a lot greater than the last things he did. It helps me not be so bummed that I didn’t get to say goodbye. My last conversation with my dad was about voiding a check. It lasted roughly 5 minutes and then I went to my second job interview ever and then 2 days later he was dead. But, maybe he did know he was dying. I wonder what he thought about. I guess I sorta hope he thought of me and my sister, but I don’t think I’d be offended if he thought about something or someone else.

This is kind of a one-who-got-away situation for me which, inherently, has some elements of grief ’cause your options are either to a) pine and hope wistfully like a big, dumb idiot or b) do something realistic that brings you tangible joy. I guess that’s a false dilemma. You can do both. The one who got away (who I’m gonna call Gilgamesh because I looked around just now and it was the first name I saw when I glanced at a pile of books – and is also an appropriate nickname for other reasons, so that’s cool) shows up in my life in small measures maybe 4 or 5 times a year. That’s sorta weird, maybe, because we used to see each other every day and he spent most of his time at my apartment. I guess it’s not really that weird because that was a long time ago and the separation was fairly gradual and partially spurred on by location changes. It takes like actual effort to maintain friendships with people who live hundreds of miles away and I’m super not good at holding up my end sometimes.

So, um…Gil…the idea of that ever actually working out in any scenario strikes me as complete lunacy and I don’t know how much of that is manufactured by years of far-flung honesty dumps (go ahead, picture it, I know you want to, I can see inside your brain right now) and how much of it is my realistic understanding that Gil is a terrible partner and it requires so much energy just to keep up with him that I’d probably run myself into the ground trying. I probably already did at least once. Gil feeds my mania. Gil, himself, has bipolar (or at least mentioned in passing that he was diagnosed once but he refuses to treat it). I would believe Gil has bipolar. He’s incredibly impulsive and he never sleeps. One time we fucked on my birthday and it was terrible. We were both terrible. I’m trying really had not to analyze myself over this, but this dude is kind of emblematic of all things kinetic in my life, so when shit slows down, I’m inclined to feel Gil’s absence more acutely, and it’s probably not super healthy, but I indulge in this neat little mixture of craving, restlessness and nostalgia like just for the fuck of it. Why not? If I’m gonna have a feeling and I can’t do anything about it, then I should probably just have the damned feeling.

I’m gonna be in San Francisco in June which actually means nothing because Gil doesn’t live there anymore and hasn’t for at least a few years, but I’m still gonna be on the lookout for a preposterously tall, skinny dude destroying old guys at chess or getting hammered and writing letters on the beach at 1 in the afternoon. I don’t even know if he does either of those things anymore, but if he does, he’ll be doing them on the other side of the country because, Laura, he doesn’t live in San Francisco anymore, dummy. That doesn’t mean I’m likely to rid myself of the assumption that he’s gonna be around. When we do connect, it’s pretty arbitrarily, so there’s no reason why we both wouldn’t be in a city neither of us lives in at the exact same time and then run into each other just ’cause.I did really well in the Logic course I took in college and this paragraph is making me feel entirely undeserving of that high mark (conceding that Formal Logic and common sense are not the exact same thing). I’m being kinda ex-Catholic at myself right now, which is to say I’m denigrating myself when it’s not really called for, but seriously, Gil and I will not be running into each other casually in San Francisco in June.

So, Ok, death, right? I feel like I already popped my cherry re: me facing death ’cause of that time I was gonna kill myself, so I’ve given more thought than I assume most people give to the very last seconds of my life. I really don’t wanna fuck it up ’cause I only get to do it once. I won’t be able to regret it, but that’s cold comfort (which I won’t be able to feel, but still). Mountain Goats lyrics are a perfectly fine choice. John Darnielle has, arguably, made my life a little better, so maybe he can go ahead and make my death a little better too. Sure. Fine. I probably won’t screw that one up. But, hey, the needlessly poetic and exquisite anguish that comes with missing the ever-loving fuck out of Gil is among the most genuine emotions I ever get to feel, so maybe that’s the better choice. I don’t actually need anything from him ever again. I’m pretty satisfied that we met and I’m pretty satisfied with the time we spent together (except that sex time), even if that time feels unhappily truncated when I think about it too hard, which isn’t terribly often. He’s more of a totem at this point. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s weird. I feel weird.

Anyway, the album Alopecia by WHY? is coming to the desert island with me because it’s pretty magnificent. My reason for mentioning it is the presence of the lyric:

“Even though I haven’t seen you in years, yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere”

And it’s a little bizarre to have that feeling and then to have someone articulate it for you and you sorta wanna punch something, but like out of relief or maybe even euphoria or maybe I need to have a conversation with myself about when and why it’s appropriate to punch things. I’ll do it later. Here. Dig this super dark song in the meantime, and maybe think about your own mortality and then try to accept my sincerest contrition for ruining your day:

-LB

What To Buy For The Person Who Has Nothing (Due To Dying)

So, just a quick note here, ’cause this is a family tradition of mine I think is really great.

My dad was the best person in my family to buy gifts for. He was like a happy little kid and it didn’t take much to make his face light up – a Simon & Garfunkle album he forgot he’d loved decades ago, Johnny Cash’s autobiography, a movie he’d been dying to see that my mom wouldn’t watch with him because it was too gory and she’s a wuss. So after he died, it really sucked that we couldn’t have that experience anymore. I mean, it just made you feel like the most accomplished person on Earth to see him bounce up and down on his tip toes (something he did when he was excited) over something so small.

So, after a few really depressing holidays, we found a solution. It’s now a tradition in my family to “buy” my dad a charitable donation for Christmas, Father’s Day, his birthday (and sometimes his death anniversary just to turn my crappy day into someone else’s good one, because someone should be happy on May 10th and it’s probably not gonna be me). We like to get my dad gifts from Heifer International because you can pick out a specific animal like a goat or a pig or a flock or chicks – even trees and vegetable seeds. It’s a great charity and I really believe in its mission.

So, if you have a loved one who is missing this season and you wish you could give them something special and are frustrated that you can’t, I encourage you to give in their name. Anything helps and I think it’s a very dignified way to honor the memory of someone you loved, especially if they once took care of you. It feels really good and it does something good.

Pick any charity you like. I also like Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, but you can pick whatever appeals to you. Grief sucks extra hard around the holidays and this really makes my family and me feel better and miss my dad a little less. I know he’d be proud to know how many families around the world have been helped in his name.

So glad tidings, warm thoughts and happy Whatever You Celebrate This Time Of Year!

-LB