Monday, July 06, 2009

My Life Through One Artist's Work

Totally snagged this off of Alex. How brilliant! I'm usually iffy about these things, but this one has me tickled.

The instructions are:
Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, answer these questions.

Pick Your Artist:

Tom Waits

Are you male or female:

Describe yourself:
Trampled Rose

How do you feel about yourself:
Fumblin' With The Blues

Describe your current boy/girl situation:
I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You

Describe where you currently live:
Way Down In The Hole

If you could go anywhere you wanted to go:
Good Old World

Your favorite form of transportation:
Downtown Train

Your best friend is:
Old Shoes (And Picture Postcards)

Your favorite color is:
The Black Rider

Favorite time of day:
Midnight Lullaby

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called:
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
or maybe
Frank's Wild Years

What is life to you:
Shore Leave

What is the best advice you have to give:
I Don't Wanna Grow Up

"Well, God bless your crooked little heart,
St. Louis got the best of me
I miss your broken-china voice
How I wish you were still here with me
Well, you build it up, you wreck it down
You burn your mansion to the ground
When there's nothing left to keep you here,
When you're falling behind in this big blue world
Oh you got to Hold on, hold on, You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
You got to hold on"
- Tom Waits, Hold On

Rockin' Leettle Bitty Miracles

I know people (people like Tracey, who I adore) are praying for me. And sending warm fuzzies my way. And positive thoughts. And whatever else they believe in the power of. You know how I know?

I got pulled over TWICE on my way home from the funeral. TWICE. And NOT twice for the same violation. Oh, No. The first one was for going ten miles over the speed limit - which I usually watch so carefully - and for having a passenger without a seat belt on (My sister feels very guilty. Particularly as she is the type of driver who will not start the car until your seat belt is on.). The second time was because one of my taillights has apparently gone out.

Both times the police officers let me go.

I did not cry. I was calm. I was respectful. I did say that we were returning from a funeral but I made no hysterical point of it and both gentlemen would have been completely justified in giving me a ticket.

One said with a bizarre logic and semantic somersault I cannot even sort out in my head, that he could cite me for three different violations that would equal about $375 in fines... but "this time we're just going to call it even." I don't even know what that means. Of course, I don't care how absurd it sounds. I could have just kissed him.

I drove the rest of the way home gripping my steering wheel with white knuckles and feeling like I had a target painted on my bumper, but I feel truly blessed that this night ended sans ticket. It may not seem like much in the general scheme of things or in comparison to what HAS happened to me, but it's kind of nice when the universe sees that it is about to place that straw - the straw that would break the proverbial camel's back - and you can almost FEEL it ease up. Like, "Yeah... you know what? I've been hearing a lot about this one lately. She's had enough."

A mile from the house my sister said, "Well at least we didn't get pulled over three times." I nearly jumped out of my seat. If I had gotten pulled over at that point, I'd have made HER pay the fine.

Oh, and one more highlight from this weekend:

Prior to the actual funeral today we are all standing around, smoothing our clothing and checking each other's make-up and the men's ties and such. Everyone is a little tense and we're sorting out the details of who gets in what car and steeling ourselves for the ordeal of the viewing. My mother breezes in, holding a prescription pill bottle in the air and says brightly, "Does anyone else need Xanax?"

Um, yeah. I love my crazy family.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Pieces of My Fourth... or Fireworks: Not as Entertaining as an Anatomically Augmented Car

I am woken early in the morning, as I still lie in bed recovering from last night's ill-advised drinking, by the shrill (it seems) tones of my mobile phone. It's my father. He is calling to say my grandmother died late last night (she has been ill, this was anticipated but also somehow sooner than I had expected). The funeral will be tomorrow night. Everyone is in town for the holiday but no one has anything to wear to a funeral. How long will it take me to get there and can I bring enough clothing to dress five of my closest female relatives for a formal Southern funeral?

I rush out to work to get a few things done in case I have to miss work Monday. Pulling my car out into the street, the sky is shockingly blue and my iPod shuffles on Josh Radin's "Brand New Day" and it occurs to me that I cannot remember looking up at the sky in months. Somehow on what I know will be a daunting day, I have a moment of feeling absolutely tremendously happy to be where I am and driving my car and breathing the air and just living in my skin.

My younger sister and brother-in-law arrive in town and we pile into my car and head out for the town where the funeral will be. After packing an entire suitcase full of appropriately somber clothing from my closet. And shoes for five women. Earrings for five women. Slips and cardigans and various sundry extra Anything They Could Possibly Need for five women. And clothing for myself. And my sister and brother-in-law's things as well. You get the idea. My car is overflowing with funereal clothing and looks like a goth gypsy caravan.

My younger sister introduces me to the wonders of The Lonely Island's SNL skit "I'm On A Boat." I mean, really? "If you're on the shore then you're sure not me, oh"? Wow. I am in awe. I'm so out of the loop. Note to self, must start watching television periodically. Apparently it has its moments.

We spend the last 20 minutes of our trip driving, overcome with fits of HYSTERICAL GLEE, behind a bright orange Cadillac with enormous truck tires and a huge pair of shiny metal ... well, what could only be intended to be a strikingly realistic representation of testicles swinging from the center of its rear bumper. We reach stop lights. We pull out camera phones. We try my camera phone. The resolution is too poor. We try my brother-in-law's camera phone. The people in the car next to us at the next stop light gesture wildly, making certain we are seeing what they are seeing. We ALL laugh hysterically together. Pointing. Incredulous. This goes on for miles. We have names for The Car. We start playing music we feel is appropriate for The Car to sing to if it were, in fact, able to sing along. We name the far less interesting and thus inferior cars that are driving next to The Car. The Car drives right up to and past the street we need to turn at to reach our destination. Pulling into the driveway, we cannot stop laughing.

As we were driving into town, fireworks began to go off in the distance. Blooms of red and white over the treetops. A single moment of the holiday surprising us in the midst of our crazy, difficult day. The bursts of light, silent from this distance, repeat and grow larger and change in color... Reflecting off the pendulous scrotum of the absurd car in front of us, making us all dissolve into new whoops of laughter.

We arrive. I am hugged by roughly a dozen people in rapid succession. We exclaim over how much weight people have lost and the pink streak in my adult niece's hair and my parents' dogs skitter around in excitement. My 8 year old niece who, as far as I can tell, only puts up with most people because they can reach things she can't and have mastered the ability to buy things (which she also cannot yet do), rushes me as I break from the cluster of people and grabs my lapels and pulls me down to close to her so she can kiss my face.

My baby brother's 4 month old daughter is curled up in a ball in the middle of a big old bed that has been slept on by members of my family during summer vacations for decades. She is a sweet, chubby pink ball of angelic sleeping baby and his expression softens and I say, "She's grown so big." He smiles and his normally dark face opens up and he just says, "yeah," softly.

We sit up late watching old home movies. My father keeps accidentally rewinding and replaying things because he's had too much wine. My sister-in-law (the glowing, miraculously good-natured and breathtakingly lovely mother of my new niece) sees many of us as children for the first time. She coos and is excited with each familiar face revealed in its childhood incarnation. We tell stories about foolish things we had forgotten. My father falls asleep on the couch and we listen to him laughing 20 years ago.

1am, the house is dark and everyone has found a bed or a couch or a recliner to sleep in. The house is silent except for my father's snoring and the whir of the old outdated fridge. One of my sisters tiptoes into the kitchen and whispers to me, "Is there anything to drink in here besides buttermilk and booze?"

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July... here's a dog staging his own personal reenactment for our viewing pleasure.

Nothing says independence like an explosive wielding dachshund.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
- Mother Teresa

That is where I am trying to be. In a place where I focus on how much I love the people I have lost. I want that to be my driving emotion. More than one person I care for died in the shooting. I am focusing on the loss of Allan, but that is because it is so large to me. I feel I need to find a way to understand that one loss so I can process all the deaths that took place that day.

I have every one of their phone numbers in my cell phone and I cannot figure out what to do with that. I started to text Allan one day. I was somehow disoriented enough to start typing a message I can never send.

Sometimes something hurts so much that it feels like it has a physical presence. It feels large and looming. The loss is enormous and surrounds me and makes me feel as if I am seeing everything through a haze. As if it has swallowed me whole.

I realize that the loss is so tremendous because of how much love I have for the people who died in front of me so suddenly, all in one day. So I am trying to find a way to focus on that love. If I must be swallowed by a whale, let it be made of something good. Let me be overwhelmed by how much I love them. Let me take that love and use it in how I interact with the world.

I'm not angry. Perhaps I should be, but I don't have room for anger. The man who shot my loved ones is dead. He took his own life. He is irrelevant and was, to me, from the moment they died - although we did not learn of his death until weeks later.

I have lost so much in the last year and a half. My last tenuous shreds of illusion about safety. My plans and even my desire to marry. Family members have died. And friends. Friends who were some of the most remarkable people I have ever known. This is not a disingenuous and distorted memory of the dead. I tend to be appalled at the rosy cheeked perfection with which people remember their dead. No, each of the friends I have lost were truly unusual and remarkable. Death came and took the best from among us. I do not want to be made up of loss.

So here I am, loving. Loving until it pains me in ways I could never have imagined. Loving like something in my chest cavity is straining to cry out and make itself heard in the ether. I am going to accept it and try to find a way to take joy in my capacity to love them. I am not going to let it close me down or prevent me from loving other people. I am not going to let myself swim in this suffering.

I will love so much that there will be no more room in me for hurt. Only love.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I've been away for a long, long time.

I've just redesigned this blog and the coming months may see some additional changes. I'm fine tuning at this point. We'll see where it takes me.

I am going to blog again about film and random topics of interest for my fellow females and/or people who like to read a female perspective. I am. But I think that, if I'm going to start writing again, I'm going to have to embrace the fact that this is going to get personal. When my personal life was simple and mundane and smooth sailing, it was easy to focus on pop culture. But in the last year that just became impossible. So I stopped writing. And I MISS writing. I miss capturing little moments of life and fleeting ideas about the grander scheme of things in the happily haphazard format of the interweb essayist. I miss the freedom of saying things I need to say.

I'm in the trenches right now. Anyone who actually checks this blog (Yes! All three of you!) will remember the loss that took place in my life last year. I am sorry to report that I suffered another sudden and violent loss just a couple of months ago... made more bewildering by the fact that this time when I lost a friend I was actually standing next to him. A close friend of mine was shot and killed in front of me. Right now I have no idea how to interact with the world without acknowledging this loss. I'm not even certain I will come out the other side of this remotely the same person. I mean, my wicked wit and self-deprecating sense of humor are intact - have no fear. But I'm not certain about the rest of me.

For the first time I can remember, I understand what it is to be lonely. I've always liked as much time to myself as possible. Incongruous in a woman who is, essentially, a world-class social butterfly. But true nonetheless. I like my own company and I have never really understood loneliness. But it's hard to connect with other people now, and I sense that a lot of people who know what is happening in my world may be uncomfortable with me. There is a chasm between me and everyone who has not experienced this loss. There is a strangeness between me and anyone who is uncomfortable with death. As if death hangs about me and they don't want to stand too close to it. I am taking a sharp look at just how short life really is, and how suddenly and unexpectedly it can end. I am realizing that I don't actually want to spend my life alone, and it shocks me to have to face that. And of course, more than any other factor creating this gaping lonliness - one of the closest people in the world to me is gone.

Now, not everyone has someone in their life like my friend, who I'm going to call Allan here for obscure personal reasons other than it actually being his name (because it isn't), but if you do - then this will make sense. There are some things in life that we go through that are almost impossible to understand or accept about ourselves without seeing ourselves as a victim. I have had far more than my share of tragedy and, other than discussing a limited number of those topics relatively anonymously on here, I don't tell people in my everyday life just how many horrible statistics apply to me. I work hard to make certain that people who know me in my daily life are given the impression that I sprang into existence fully formed and happy as a clam. My history exists for them in broad and vague strokes. Allan was one of those rare people that I just let SEE me. He KNEW. He knew all the awful, ugly and terrible things that I don't tell people. Allan was wonderful and wise and knew I didn't want his pity. I just wanted him to know me. And he accepted that. He let me be wholly self and unguarded in his presence.

When we met, years ago, we were both going through horrible, painful breakups. The kind that are massive ordeals and change your life and involve discussions with accountants and creditors and burning things in the backyard and resisting the urge to throw your telephone or run anyone over. We spent many nights sitting on the back of my car, rehashing horrible conversations with our exes and congratulating each other on managing to breathe and wake up in the morning and not say mean things to strangers just for spite. We worked on creative projects together and met for emergency I-Need-To-See-Someone-I-Actually-Like lunches. We told each other all manner of Things No One Else Knows. Over time we developed such a shorthand that we would design a set or discuss a project seamlessly in stream-of-consciousness juggling matches in which we finished each other's sentences and solved each other's conundrums. He was one of those rare friends who become a safe place. Someone who you can hand a piece of yourself to and trust to hold onto it and guard it and treasure it and not laugh at the parts of it that are weird or silly or funny looking.

He was gentler than I have ever known how to be. He was the most intelligent person I have ever been close to personally and he absolutely refused to see that about himself. He had a biting, wildly off-kilter wit that my world seems drab and hollow without. He took a piece of me with him. I am traveling through the world a little more alone than I have ever felt before. I'm not sure how to live in a world that doesn't have him in it. I'm a little bit lost.

So I think I'm just going to have to accept that, if I am to write at all, this is going to become increasingly personal. I mean, I will dig up favorite quotes and photographs again. And I will share my rants about the horrors of dating (Yes. I've been dating. I don't know why. Because self-flagellation would leave marks, I suppose.) and the terrible films that get made these days and all that nonsense. But I'm healing. And it's probably going to be obvious every little step of this journey. But maybe I need someone to talk to. That can be you.

All three or four of you.