friends

Clichés are dumb, but they tend toward truth…

On Tuesday, I took Kobe to the vet and was there for less than an hour. When I returned home, I had two rejections – one for a contest and one for a fellowship. Being a writer is filled with all sorts of delightful occurrences like these…

*Sigh* I’ve been in a sad funk. Apparently, even if you care nothing about a person, it still bums you out when you’re told by them that Nazis should kill you. Who knew? The fight with Husband and the assault on my senses, which was snow flurries on April 30th, didn’t add any merriment to my life either.

Luckily, I have a great friend named Kellie, and during my downward spiral, I read her newsletter that was about dragons – of all things. Anyway, the message came across as you can either lie waste to everything you’ve built with fiery breathe – OR – you can polish and repair the minor nicks in your scales. I’m still not in a great mood, but I took down the firewood platform, cleaned the floors, and rotated the living room furniture today. As I write from this new spot, I feel better. Kobe is supportive of the move, having curled up to my right. (Of course, he walked away when I picked up the phone to snap a shot. I’ve never seen a more picture-shy dog in my life. The vet’s assistant can attest to this as she spent seven minutes trying to take a picture of him for his file but only has a fluffy blur of ¾ of his face)

So, I guess the take away is that life – especially the writing life – can be daunting, but there are people out there who can help it along. I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I believe in signs (see a recent previous post about that) but here it is, May 3rd and the flowers are out,

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the frogs are lounging in the pond,

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and no Nazi’s are currently at the door ready to take me out.

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(As I’m preparing to post, I do want to say this minor shift in surroundings and thought has gone to remind me how lucky I am, and the amazing friends I have, so shouts outs to Nina, Gina, Mary, Jim & Julie, Betty, St. James, Dan, Wendy, I can go on for a very long time… Seriously! What was my funk about exactly?)

The GORGEOUS May/June issue of Ink in Thirds is out and one of my pieces is included with the likes of the amazing Timothy Gager, Tara Isabel Zambrano and Meg Tuite!

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Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

Cheers!

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A Different Thanksgiving

I was still feeling strange last Thursday, that’s why this post is a week late. My essay on attending last year’s International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day appeared in the My View column of The Buffalo News on the 8th – Election Day. I didn’t know if I was going this year or not. I decided last Thursday that I would. It’s a good program and a good place to be before the holidays begin.

Thanksgiving being held on different dates, the fact that my family often celebrated on the weekend before or after the holiday and the time factor blur what this is: the 20th anniversary of an argument that changed my life.

I’d let it go if I could. I was three days into not smoking, XO Man had invited me into his life, I was planning to go back to Texas and I was happy. Then my mother and I got into a fight. It left me devastated and feeling unworthy of love, happiness, or progress. Instead of going to Texas, I stayed in a miserable spot, started smoking again, and stopped growing as a person for a long time.

At Christmas, my mother was the opposite; full of delightfulness and laughter. I didn’t trust her. My “big” present was cash, which is what I wanted. I’d also gotten a bag of little stuff. I don’t remember now – whether I found them before or after – but there were a pair of earrings in that bag that I really liked but I didn’t have time to send her a thank you note. I wore them to her funeral; I haven’t worn them since then.

I suppose that is a pattern that repeats. I don’t know what my mother was going through when she picked that fight. I doubt my stepson realizes how pissed I was last year that I was not expecting him, his girlfriend, and her best friend to arrive the next day. I didn’t have time to clean properly, Husband had told me in no uncertain terms that the wedding reception was not going to be here and I told him to tell Stepson because I didn’t want to get involved in it. No. That morning, I got a request from an agent. I had no idea when they were going to arrive, or if they still were so I was working on getting my book submission perfect when they walked in demanding all of the attention.

Last Christmas, I tried to be tolerant of Stepson’s abysmal behavior toward all of my guests and his father and I could cope until he shoved something in my face and told me to do something with it. When I refused, he walked away telling everyone I was acting like a bitch. After that fight, I have no interest in having a gathering here over the holidays, if ever again.

I’m truly grateful that Shirley Palmerton invited Husband and me to her home for dinner today. I’m thrilled to be spending this day with fellow writers and their spouses. It’s good to have found this tribe. For Christmas, we’ll be at Husband’s brother’s house. I’ll bring some food there because Niece must have her quiche so she shall. We’ve agreed to no gifts, which is a huge relief.

The novel had a hiccup and now I’m dreaming the end. It shouldn’t take much longer to finish once I sit down to wrap it up. I had another flash picked up by 200 CCs. Thank you Paul A. Hamilton. And thank you Christopher James for my faux pas. I’m truly sorry and while I am still embarrassed to death, it’s a lot harder to pull that off than I thought, especially today.

I’m grateful for all my friends, the writers and artists, the editors and designers, the singers and actors, teachers and medical professions, builders and retail workers, musicians and thinkers of different points of view as well as the people who agree with me. If you think I left you out, know you’re in a class by yourself and I didn’t want anyone to think I was playing favorites…but we know, don’t we?

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

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*These are my Creekside holiday reflections. Your experiences may vary.

Suddenly: My least favorite word

I’m starting this post the day after I found out some sad news. John Vega–Juan to some–my Johnny is dead.

When I was younger, I went through some really hard times. A man who I still love and respect made me promise that I wouldn’t kill myself. I don’t make promises lightly. Scott Greene wouldn’t let me off the phone until I promised. And so far, I haven’t.

Some of the words in that conversation involved his not respecting that choice and how horrid it would be since I’d be leaving a child behind, and that when I was older I’d see what a stupid mistake it was since things do get better, and since he was recently off his psych rotation which involved him saving someone’s life, I decided to believe him.That’s what I remember.

Things did get better, and I’m grateful. 

This is so hard to talk about. I fear Bible Thumpers–many of whom are my relatives and from reading their Facebook updates and likes, are very judgmental–will start throwing stones at me for broaching this subject. I want to throw stones, too–and rocks and ashtrays. This hurts.

Wednesday started with my thinking there were an awful lot of cell phones going off on the NPR shows I was listening to. I’m not a cell phone person. I have a contract with the terrorist network so I buy my minutes at the grocery store and complain about my land line. Living in a valley is not easy, nor pretty. There is no cable and we can’t get a dish to lock on to a satellite, thus many of my texts end up stuck in some sort of a time gnome that spits them out to their intended recipient days, or even weeks, later. 

The chirping I heard was my phone alerting me to a message. Jim had texted me before eight a.m. wanting to know if I was free in the afternoon. I replied that I could be, but I didn’t have a vehicle and I asked what was up. There was no reply. I went on with my day, did Pilates, took a shower, and drank my coffee. Knowing my phone’s idiosyncrasies, I sent an email to him, basically saying the same thing. Within minutes, he replied that he was on his way over. I had hopes that Johnny was over there visiting and had time for a chat. I put on makeup.

What was it? A year ago? Two? Jim and Julie had a drum circle led by Steve Bell at their home. Christ! The night before that I’d been up late drinking with my brother-in-law and I was wobbly hung over, but since I’d already Facebook accepted the invite to the drum circle, I was going to be there, so I was. Aren’t Facebook acceptances to events just like promises? 

Oh, how drumming and throbbing heads do not go together! I did think about making an appearance and disappearing…then Jim took a phone call and I overheard that John was on his way over.

I can think what I want, can’t I? I ended up in a grouping with him and Betty and Jim and oh, I forget who came and went, but I drank a lot of water. The way John would pull out his phone–the way he held it–it looked awkward and wrong. Maybe there was an injury I don’t know about, but regardless of where I was sitting, the phone was pointed at me when he answered it–though I don’t recall hearing it ring or vibrate. In my head, I came to believe he was taking pictures of me. I’m allowed these thoughts, aren’t I? Until I’m proven wrong, at least. NSA? Want to weigh in on this? Slice my experience of electronic reality with a fishing line and divide it as sharply as a piece of cake… 

I ended up staying very late at that party, as did John and Betty.

Let it be known that I think Betty is an awesome, talented, smart woman. I really do, but once it came out in conversation that John was an old boyfriend of mine, it seemed to me that she meant to keep us apart. I could be completely wrong; these are just my reflections and memories–fallible at best. If she reads this, I hope she realizes that too. 

Around the table on the deck, oil lamps were lit and wine was drunk. I had one glass of red. Sans Betty, I think–wishfully–that Jim and Julie would have faded into their yurt and John and I could have patched the tell-tale threads that we needed to have snipped, fixed, fixed up, to fix us and make us more complete. Again, I can’t say this is true at all. Maybe John wouldn’t have stayed so long if Betty wasn’t there as a buffer. I don’t know. It just felt like there was more to say.

Nothing happened except John left, then Betty, then me. 

Arriving home, I found out that my brother-in-law’s flight had been canceled. He couldn’t reach Husband on either the land line or his cell phone. He’d called my cell, but as I’d left my phone in the truck, I’d never gotten his three voice mails. My step-son had picked him up and brought him back to our house. I–high on the experience I’d just had–talked to him and he agreed that yeah, the way John held his phone; he probably did snap a picture of me.

Flattery on top of flattery.  

Within the next few days, I told Husband what happened. I told him I wanted to talk to John again. When I said to Jim that I wanted to talk to John, he hesitated, but it came to be a possibility. John was willing to meet me at Jim and Julie’s house–safe, mutual ground–to chat.

For the longest time, the meeting hung in the air as vague and wispy as spider silk. I nudged a few times. A few weeks ago, at the end of August, Husband and I were driving down Sharp Street when a turkey flew out in front of us. It was scary. I reminded Jim again that night that I might not live forever and I really wanted to talk to John before I was gone.

You’ll think I’m making this up, but it’s true. I’d bought a ticket to Mary Aker’s book launch party the minute I found out about it. Johnny committed suicide on Friday, 20 September 2013. Saturday, I half-assed ironed my shirt and went to the library. After, I came home. I decided to iron my shirt properly. I saw something big in the bathroom window. The biggest turkey with the reddest and bluest wattle I’ve ever seen was circling the windows of the lower greenhouse.  Husband came down and looked at the turkey. The huge bird stuck around long enough for me to slip out of the front door and retrieve the camera that was in the truck. We got two pictures, then he wandered off, like his message had been received. I saw him cross the street.

At Mary’s book launch party, I met up with Jeff Schober. I’d been to his book reading at the West Falls-Colden Library a year and a half ago. After that awesome experience, I found out I could volunteer as a librarian on Saturdays. He and I talked about that, and his new book. The sky was clear when I left the book launch, it grew darker as I drove home. The rain was harsh and I was on unfamiliar roads.

As I’m writing this, the Season Premiere of “Parenthood” is on. It’s not lost on me that Christina’s friend Gwen just consoled her with these words when Christina was hesitating about running a campaign, “If you want to do something, you just do it. You don’t wait.”

I wish now that I had insisted and met up with John but I didn’t. Onward… 

When I found out John killed himself, I announced on Twitter that I knew I wasn’t the only person who had two old flames commit suicide, but it felt that way. “Da Missus”–and by extension, Lx– let me know that they were there for me. I talked to my sister. I talked to my best friend. I talked to my cousin. I’m grateful to them all for their love and support. Thank you Tracy, Sheila, Teresa, Alex, and Yvonne.

The next day, today I found out John used a gun and that there was a note. I don’t know the caliber. I don’t know what his last words were. I don’t think I’ll be privy to that, either. What I did find was an awesome complimentary note from Ken Robidoux on Facebook. He wrote about meeting me at AWP in such sweet terms. Mia, Meg, Greg, and Yvonne congratulated me on the story. I don’t know if any of them know how awesome it was to find that on my Facebook page on Thursday.

Even though John wasn’t actively in my life, I hate that he’s gone. Other people in my life have died, but until him, I didn’t get the outrage and pain that suicide brings to the living. I hate myself for feeling I could have easily have been that selfish when I was younger. I hate that he chose that end. I’m pissed at him, and I feel sorry for him and his children and even his future grandchildren who won’t know what a funny, great guy he was. I don’t know why I miss him more now than if I’d heard that he had a heart attack or got hit by a bus, perhaps it’s survivor’s guilt–that I should have been able to do or say something–anything to avoid that end.  With Mark, I heard he did that and I thought “good choice.” I’d worked past his abuse, I didn’t care anymore. I don’t know, we all make choices…If I hadn’t met Mark, things with Johnny might have gone a different way. But they didn’t and magical thinking isn’t something I want to do. I just want to thank people and be grateful.

Writing, crafting, editing, rewriting, it’s so lonely, BUT it’s not like when I started sending things out in the nineties. I feel so much more connected to the community of artists and my friends because of the internet. In the nineties, I wanted to write a column for a tiny newsletter a used record shop put out. They didn’t go for my pitch, but unless I asked for the opportunity, I never would have thought about writing columns, or trying to connect with readers on a regular basis, and so I thank Burnett for saying no. Had he said yes, I might have burned out with columns. Instead. I’m years into this blog and grateful to every single view, comment and follower. Thank you all. In case I die, I want you to know you’re held in high esteem in my eyes and I appreciate the hell out of you, even if we don’t agreed on politics, religion, or some other silly thing that we won’t even remember should one of us not be around tomorrow.

 

The Obituary

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*These are just my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.

Blaming the Rain

Taking Alex’s advice, I am doing what I can do…

This is a picture of the creek I live by. The house is to the right.

060503_1933[00]The iris bloomed last week.

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The tomato and pepper plants are in the garden.

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This is the interior of the portico with the wisteria growing up the side.

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I saw these blooming outside the hallway window last night.

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Due to the way the creek changed this year, we have a swimming hole.

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The peonies started to bloom this week.

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Besides the political nonsense and the environmental destruction, I’ve had a lot of disappointment with my so called writing career recently.  I knew there were going to be days (weeks) like this, but that doesn’t make them pass any faster or lessen the sadness, so I’m posting pictures of the things that I’m grateful for, besides my tremendous friends, family, Husband and colleagues. I truly am grateful. I’m just having a bad few weeks and I know, I need to get back to writing, submitting and repeating and I will. It’s just hard to find the desire right now.

I’m blaming the rain.

My dreams haven’t been helping with the sadness. “Dexter” was my boyfriend in one. I’d cheated on him and he wasn’t going to kill me, he was just going to torture me. I’ve never woken up more fearful, disturbed, and upset than after that dream.

I don’t know what to blame for that one.

(*These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your outlook on life may vary.)

My Birthday: The Day After

In the picture, you’ll notice there are 5 flowers. You may not realize that I ruined Husband’s joke by being nice to him when he gave them to me.

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(Aren’t they gorgeous? And they smell wonderful, too.)

You see, he once bought me two roses. *Sigh* I explained to him, then had Chyo reiterate that, no, two flowers aren’t acceptable. One is. Three are. Five, six, seven, that’s all good, but TWO? No. He asked about four. I said, no…

Well, lately he’s been working with “Norm” and I know that’s stressful, so when he came home with four flowers, I had it in my head that four was fine. He made me read his card, and there was a cute little explanation. Also fine, except it wasn’t.

Husband wanted me to be upset and remind him that “four” wasn’t an acceptable number so he could say, “Fine, I’ll go back and get another flower.”

And he was going to storm off and get in the truck…and bring in the fifth flower he had already bought and had had wrapped up separately to me.

(I know, “Aw!” Right?)

(And yes, I do feel a little icky for complaining about him in my last blog post)

My birthday was filled with awesome phone calls, emails, and FB posts. One of my best friends brought over pizza and wings for dinner so I didn’t have to cook or dress to go out, and I didn’t get a rejection so yeah, it was a very good day.

(These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may very)