Anyone who writes every day gets ideas for blog posts all the time. I’ll often write something in my head as I’m toodling around doing other things. If I don’t record the musings, they’re usually lost. Like the blogs I write in my head about my childhood.
There’s always stuff to say.
I generally write from wherever I am. When I wake up I start with an idea then the rest comes out in things I remember, weird stories, truthy observations. I try to end on an up note. There’s always a positive spin that can be found. Particularly when you’re adamant about keeping your chin held high.
Also, when you throw open all your baggage for the world to see, you gotta go high. You can’t just purge all the time. Some bloggers say you need an outline and a purpose and all of that. I do stream of consciousness because I trust my subconscious to do better than anything my conscious brain might be able to string together.
The subconscious is writing. The conscious is writer’s block, at least for me. So I just let it flow.
Sometimes it resonates, and other times it’s more of a confessional that only I am going to particularly care about.
Today I woke up thinking, why is everything always about me?
I woke up a little tired of myself.
One thing I’m going to say about mental health is that at some point you gotta put down the introspection and get out of your own head.
I’m lucky because all day long, all week long, most of what I’m doing is helping other people. Lately, there’s been a lot going on in that department that I mostly can’t or don’t want to talk about; I’m in it so much of the time, and some things are tricky, or hard. But let’s just say that people need a lot of help, and when you’ve gotten any good at helping, the need can swell to gargantuan proportions.
I had a kid yesterday and he turned a corner and started doing better (yay), but he had a little residual pain from one of the procedures he had done, and the parent wanted to know how long the discomfort was going to last and this went on for a while until I did something I rarely do and I said, “You know I have patients with cancer, and we really need to keep this in perspective, because he is going to be okay.”
I rarely do that because every little scrape deserves empathy and care.
But when you get to the point where you’re stuck just handwringing, it’s time to get real.
I sort of feel that way about myself and dating.
I’ve said what there is to say about it.
I might want a person in my life, and yet there is no one here right now to even have drinkies with. Actively dating makes me crazy, so there’s no more jumping on the internet to solve that predicament. Es no bueno.
Any kind of entanglement with men, even an innocuous kiss, is like playing with a loaded gun at this point. Lips, beware!
We know that. We know all the sweet and sorry reasons. We know that I like myself just fine but that little things can still affect my sense of peace and balance.
We know that it’s probably better if I stay away from anything in pants, and we also know that avoiding it altogether is a bit dysfunctional. I mean, lighten up for goodness sake!
We know that the only answer is to chill, to be friendly, do things, meet people, and let life unfold.
We can put a good spin on it all, and hold our head up.
And here’s what I keep saying that we need to be doing:
So when I get to the point of blah blah blah dating blah blah and I land on other things, I talk about them too, even though this is a dating blog.
We need to cleanse our palate and switch gears, so that’s what I try to do as much as possible.
Yesterday I had lunch with my Dad’s girlfriend. My Dad’s been dead for many years, and Bessie hasn’t been his girlfriend since forever. But she was his girlfriend when I was little, and since my mom and dad remained friends, and since Bessie and my dad stayed friends…..we never lost contact.
First thing you’re going to need to know is that she goes by Marybeth. That’s her real name. But just like the way I always called my uncle Billy, Billy, (not his preferred adult name Bill), the name I got stuck on as a kid is the one I have to use, forever.
But to you, she’s Marybeth.
Marybeth was always kind of girly and fussy growing up in a way my mother wasn’t, and in a way I was both fascinated by and unable always to relate to.
I was a grit your teeth kind of a tomboy raised mostly by a single mother who smoked a pipe back when she was a feminist. That was in the seventies and I only saw her smoke the pipe once, but she had a pipe. And castanets, and tools.
My mom would do things like take out the toilet herself, or knock down a wall on a whim.
But Bessie had long nails and she wore this stick blush that I used to like to play with. I could never stay out of her make up. I liked her pink make-up, even if I did eventually cut off all my hair and listen to punk.
I found out something that blew my mind yesterday.
When my dad kissed Marybeth behind the cooler at work, she was twenty-two. You heard me. She was a baby!
When they broke up, she pretty much just went away, which was weird. A lot that happened in my childhood was a little weird, but I was always safe and loved and kids don’t question things as much as adults think they do. They’re too busy trying to get around the world in jacks.
I think we’ve given kids the wrong voice, and too big a voice in adult affairs. They can angst about grown up problems, but they aren’t supposed to. They’re supposed to be kids, and stuff like divorce needs to stay a grown up problem. Sure kids have to adapt, but they don’t have to angst if they are loved and well taken care of.
I try to get kids to let the grown ups worry about grown up things and just be a kid.
It doesn’t always work perfectly. There’s some sadness and there’s missing the people who have to leave, and I did miss Bessie. But I was ok.
At various times, Bessie would make an appearance, but it’s been quite a few years since we’ve seen each other. It’s been so many years, that last time we really talked, my kids were tiny.
I’d never been to her house. I got to meet her cats. I got to see all her antiques, all her stuff. And I got to remember the things I lived with at my dad’s. Bessie still has a lot of those things, and I remembered many of them.
After forty-five years, I still remembered.
I was also treated to something you have to wait forty-five years to experience and it’s that at this point in our lives, Bessie and I are more like contemporaries than anything else.
And here’s what’s funny. She never married, and after Dave died, she’s remained single. Dave was the guy after my dad. They were together many years and he died in 2004 from colon cancer.
Okay that’s not funny, that’s just what happened.
Here’s what’s funny: Bessie and I, we had lunch and rocked it like the fabulous single older ladies that we are!
There was one exception, and it made me feel like the loved and taken care of little girl I used to be. We stopped in at a farm store because Bessie lives in Petaluma and they have Aggie stores with cool stuff. She mentioned turquoise boots and I was all – let’s go look!
I found a pair of boots I was determined to buy, and she was hell bent on checking the price and I kept saying, whatever, I’m getting them and when we got to the cash register I understood what she’d been doing. She bought me those cowboy boots! With the turquoise trim!
The boots are spectacular and something I’ll cherish forever. But getting to feel like a kid, with a grown up taking care of me and buying me something like that? Priceless! Bessie basically said it was for every holiday she’d ever missed.
Bessie and I could not stop talking and what I learned was that she may have been all pretty blush and nails, but she’s every bit as tough as my own mother. And that’s saying a lot.
She’s also a hoot who dresses pretty awesome! I made her pose for some pictures, because her boots were made for walkin’! That picture at the start of this? That’s her! She was also wearing a faux fur black vest and a leather cuff. I’m not kidding.
We shared a few dating stories and she told me one that made me feel less crazy. She went out with a guy only once or twice but something happened and for some reason this guy caused her to ruminate and fill pages of her journal with the usual Why God? stuff.
We both just shook our heads. I mean why does a sister lose it over some dude she barely knows? Why does she temporarily lose her mind over that guy, and not someone else? Why does she lose her mind, even briefly, when she’s got a lifetime of doin’ it for herself behind her?
Who knows! But apparently we all do it. All the single ladies do it once in a while, Except maybe two or three ladies, and they have dogs they dress up, or horses or a hundred cats.
We also talked about the traveling she’s done, and her friends, and some recent landscaping she had to swallow hard and pay for. There was a lot more besides boys. She’s got a life she’s into and she also has been Marie Kondo-ing it up something fierce.
She’s even in a FB decluttering group!
If you can imagine an avid antiquer who used to have a store and a job cluttering decluttering – well try. Bessie’s home has cute stuff everywhere. EVERYWHERE, and she told me she’s already purged a lot. She also has a couple of storage units.
She had come across some papers relating to my dad and wanted me to have them. She also wanted me to have two quilts that my grandmother made. Next she wanted to know what things of hers I wanted when she kicked the bucket. Ugh, I hate that.
Actually what I wanted was this tiny framed photo of her and her family that I’d always looked at when she shared an apartment with my father. I just like it because I remember it. Apparently it was from when she graduated from USF. I didn’t know she went to USF.
By the time I made it out the door I also had in my hand a cribbage box, like the one that belonged to her dad. Cribbage factors big in my childhood memories. Everyone drinking and smoking and playing cribbage – the grown-ups.
My dad used to play dominoes and suddenly I remembered something awful. Long ago, I threw away his set of dominoes.
This is painful but I have to tell this story because when people suggest that I don’t understand true depression or mental illness, this story pretty much buries that idea.
People say that I don’t understand depression because I maintain that parents or anyone with people in their lives, but particularly parents, are not EVER allowed to kill themselves.
I said this when Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain ended their own lives. People had a lot of empathy but not me. I was pissed, for the kids and partners. I was angry because though I have empathy up the ying yang for anyone hurting who’s still alive – you kill yourself? Well, I’m just done with you.
To think about it, to feel so bad that you feel like jumping off the roof – all good. But if you actually do it words like selfish, self-absorbed, narcissistic…..those are the words I’m left with. Because you destroy other people. So suffer already. Show some care for other people and suffer.
When I look back on where I was in my head when I threw away my dad’s dominoes, I’m just shocked. Because that wasn’t the act of a very sane person.
I’d rented a dumpster. This would be my third. My first was when I was with Robert and we’d just accumulated too much trash. My second was when I emptied Placerville when my dad developed Alzheimers and had to move. And this time around I was just buried under it all and needed to get rid of some things.
My relationship with Peter was tanking. I’d already asked him to move out and he was in an apartment in Richmond. My kids had been really difficult teenagers. My father and grandfather were dead.
I needed to purge.
The weekend I had the dumpster was also a weekend when something kind of funny and traumatic happened.
I came home and ate a brownie on the counter and it had a strange flavor and then I had to say to Will when I was folding laundry that I thought that I was about to have a seizure or that aliens were in the process of abducting me.
Luckily I only ate part of the brownie. Because if I’d eaten the whole thing who knows what might have happened.
Keep in mind I hadn’t smoked weed since I was in high school. Maybe one other time thirty years ago, but basically, I was like a virgin – especially regarding edibles which these days apparently are psychedelic.
Anyway, I was high for three days. I had to miss a day of work and I stayed in bed all the time thinking that my dogs were narc agents who were going to rat me out.
When I came down it was Sunday and I had to fill up the dumpster. I think Peter came over to help me and I ended up super annoyed to the point that when he asked me what he should put in the dumpster I said “You. Throw yourself in the dumpster!”
I was annoyed because I was cleaning up everyone else’s messes, both literally and figuratively, all the time. Now I was coming off a high I didn’t ask for, and I was about to have another failed relationship to contend with.
Instead of laughing at my dumpster comment and understanding why I was a bit of a (lunatic) histrionic mess, Peter left and blocked me from ever calling him again. That’s when everything ended, forever.
I was in that state when I got to my game closet and lost my mind.
The games were a symbol of every lost and shattered dream I’d carried. Divorce, How many times had I bought a new game, only to have my kids not want to play? Or bought a game and they wanted to play, and I couldn’t carry the experience on my own, no matter how hard I tried. Sometimes I had a glass of wine in my hand when I tried. I did. So in a fiery fit I took everything in that closet, including my dad’s dominoes, and hurled them into the dumpster like Bette Davis.
It was awful.
And it was awful for a year.
Then it slowly got better.
And here I am now, a person who would never ever do that. Not ever.
I wish I’d been there to hug myself, but that’s another story. To my credit, I held my job and life together even though clearly, I was not well.
As I was leaving Bessie’s house she said – wait, do you want my Dad’s ukulele?
You can bet that I said, yes.
She gave me the most beautiful wooden ukulele.
It belonged to Ernest Canfield Thayer, Jr. Born 1908.
Last night I tuned the ukulele and with the help of You Tube, I practiced a few cords.
Meanwhile, Bessie and I were texting like teenagers, talking about how much fun we’d had.
I wished that I hadn’t gone crazy and thrown out my dad’s dominoes. So I went downstairs and looked at his armoire. He had a glass case where he kept his trinkets and little things. I have had it untouched and intact, since he died. It’s under my protection, and since I got my crazy straightened out, it’s safe.
Sometimes you have to remember the actual hard times you’ve lived through to even notice how okay you are now.
Worrying about a kiss or a guy you never did get off the ground with is nothing. It’s the eye-rolling story you tell at lunch with the ladies. It what makes you poke fun at your silly girly self.
Buried deep, there’s some real drama and tragedy. And I think when we lose it now over something small like the stuff I normally write about, our bodies and minds are really lost in an old memory or feeling.
That guy’s shirt reminds me of my father.
And leaning into his chest really brought that all back. The patchouli is new, but you remind me of my father is all.
There’s also a killer pair of cowboy boots I get to wear with a flirty little dress at the festivals this summer. Take that, chin.
And that is the circle of life.