Protected: Fresh Hell

June 10, 2020

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

May 20th marks 18 years since my dad’s suicide, but by the radio silence surrounding the date every single fucking year one would never suspect it’s anything other than just another Spring day. We don’t talk about it. We never did, really. My mom lived with me for two years after the event and she’d sometimes turn away from Mariska Hargitay and wonder out loud “what the hell was he thinking” in a tone that was both puzzled and annoyed. I don’t know if she missed him or not; she never said and I didn’t ask. I know that life with my father was oppressive for my mom, so perhaps she was more relieved than sorry. I don’t know. We didn’t talk about it.

I grew up with the understanding that the nuclear family of my parents and older sister was complete before I showed up, the sick, squalling interloper. I grew up with the understanding that my dad had a hard time tolerating me. And by the time I was in my mid-teens, I could barely tolerate him and it became a mutual affliction to be around each other for any length of time.

However, my dad and I reached an uneasy détente once I was out of the house. It was a shaky peace that exploded occasionally, but all in all we got along well enough when I was in my own home one thousand miles north. When I’d fly or drive down for a visit, we had great conversations about flying buttresses and pilasters, and Job and Solomon. He knew everything and then he was gone.

I’ve never had the “I wonder why he did it” conversation with my sister. She and my father were extremely close, and if anyone has any idea of why he killed himself it would be her. But whatever she does or doesn’t know is treasured in her heart where it belongs. I don’t know what she knows; I can only imagine what she feels. We don’t talk about it.

I’ve brought the subject up with my son over the past two decades, but rarely and only superficially. I don’t discuss it with my nieces or nephews at all for much the same reason I don’t discuss it with my sister. They were much closer to my dad and I wouldn’t hurt them for the world by bringing it up.

Last year when the anniversary of my dad’s suicide came around, the silence thundered so loudly in my head that I made an appointment with a therapist. She was a lovely person. I was able to talk to her about all sorts of things, but over ten or twelve visits I never mentioned my father. Then 2020 arrived and our new insurance plan at work doesn’t cover mental health services. Some people might have $150 a week to spend on therapy, but I’m not one of them so I guess I’ll continue not to talk about it.

A man, his song, his guitar

December 10, 2018

I’d been looking forward to seeing Colter Wall in concert at the Tower Theater in OKC for months. I adore his “Imaginary Appalachia”, and most of the songs on his 2017 eponymous EP.  I anticipated loving 2018’s “Songs of the Plains” just as much.

Eh…no. He didn’t perform a single title from “Songs of the Plains” that I would pay $1.50 to download, and I don’t understand why a songwriter of his talent would perform “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” and “Oklahoma Hills”, unless he thought an Oklahoma audience expected those two old classics to be dragged out and dusted off. (No, please and thank you.)

Keeping in mind that I freely admit to being musically challenged, Colter did me a heckin disappoint on Saturday night. I’m a fan of indie music; I am not a fan of country music. Colter has obviously gone more country in his latest EP and judging from the number of drunk cowboys who raucously enjoyed the show, he will have no trouble keeping a following. Losing one old dame like me isn’t going to hurt him, but I definitely wasn’t a fan of the Red Dirt sound he cultivated at the concert Saturday night. The only high points for me were when he performed “Sleeping on the Blacktop” and “Kate McCannon”.

But can we talk about opening act Joshua Ray Walker for a minute? He exemplifies the kind of music I’ve always loved: One man, one guitar, and his own songs. The poignant lyrics of “Canyon” touch the heart and solidified me as a fan of this amazing young busker.

The second opening act, Joshua Morningstar, was cringe-worthy. He somehow managed to be both manic and lackluster, and his open calls for weed from the mic were juvenile. He apparently doesn’t know that Pauly Shore played that tired old shit out in the 90s.

But let’s get back to Joshua Ray Walker. He was the shining star in my concert sky that night. Quiet, polite, vastly talented and somewhat bashful, he’s lucky Auntie didn’t hug him around the neck after his set.


Protected: Cri de coeur

November 8, 2018

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Anyone who thinks this song reminds me of some lover obviously doesn’t know me.

Terminal loneliness

May 19, 2017

It’s been five weeks and one day, and I promise I’m not going out of my way to keep track. It’s just an unshakeable knowing from someplace raw and bleeding, a place that feels like it is never going to heal.

It feels unsurvivable. It feels like an event incompatible with continued existence, which I realize is all incredibly stupid, but…there you have it. If I can’t be honest with myself in my own blog, why bother blogging at all?

This loneliness feels terminal. I know it’s not, but it feels that way.

I hate this fucking dystopian post-Slevin world.

So I asked God…

April 19, 2017

I felt as if I might be turning into a parody of pain, some caricature of suffering with my grief over losing Slevin. Six days of a heartache so acute that it physically hurts and extravagant tears that just keep coming. I’ve wanted to put together a Slevin playlist, but I’ve resisted because surely – surely – that’s not normal or healthy. I’m already painfully, albeit peripherally, aware that I’m doing a very bad job of comforting my two other dogs (who are at a loss about how to behave with their alpha gone) and my husband (who is grieving just as deeply, and with a lot more fortitude and selflessness than I). I’m trying to find “normal” in a world stripped of its most familiar landmark, but I’m failing.

Other than announcing Slevin’s passing to his informal FB fan club, I’ve pretty much stayed away from social media. Then today I logged onto FB and saw that God had a new post. Ask him any question, he said. So I did: “Is my dog Slevin with you? If so, can you send him home?”

If you don’t know who God on FB is, it’s a humor page. So yes, I’ve lost my mind and resorted to asking a snarky cartoon God to send my dog back.

Then I scanned through some of the other 300+ comments and was surprised by how many people asked about their dogs. Dozens of them. There were questions about Dumpling who passed last week and about Buddy who died a decade ago, and the message was always the same. Could God please send them home because their mommy/daddy/families are heartbroken without them.

It occurred to me that maybe it’s supposed to hurt this bad, and maybe I’m just supposed to let it.

Here’s what I’ve got so far for that playlist I’m never going to ever until later this evening or by Friday at the latest put together as a memento mori:

Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.
Let Her Go – Passengers
Caroline – Colter Wall
Nothing Compares To You – Sinead O’Connor
A Long December – Counting Crows
How Do I Live – LeAnn Rimes
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Here Without You – 3 Doors Down
Sideways – Citizen Cope

Baby, I miss you so much.

My Lucky Number Slevin

April 15, 2017

Day Two in a post-Slevin world: Bleak. Two forty-five in the morning, and I’ve woken myself up crying.

As long as I’m up and battered by grief, and consumed with thoughts of the best dog in the world, can I talk about his name?

To me, the world is divided into people who recognize the name and those who don’t. If you recognize the name, I can just stop here, right? Nothing else needs to be said. There’s the grin, the nod, the unspoken acknowledgement that I gave my yellow Lab the. Coolest. Yellow. Lab. Name. Ever.

But if you don’t recognize his name, it’s really a quick story and I’d like to tell it.

It starts with a chubby, green-eyed yellow Lab, picked from his litter on Friday, October 13, 2006. I’ve always considered Friday the 13th a lucky day, so I wanted to name my puppy something to do with luck, without going down the “Lucky” road which, to me, is a cat name anyway.

Luckily for me (see what I did there?), I’d recently seen the movie, “Lucky Number Slevin”. It’s not normally my type of movie, what with being extremely bloody and violent, but the writing is excellent and the performances are just over the top enough to be charming. The movie details the fall-out from a racetrack bet made twenty years earlier, a bet on a horse named Lucky Number Slevin, and a young man who uses the alias Slevin Kelevra. So Slevin became Slevin Kelevra Blood (yes, that’s my real last name) before I even made it home from picking him up.

Okay, so he never looked like much of a killer, I admit. But still…his was a very cool name and when I called him at the dog park, he was the only dog to turn around.



Without Slevin: Day One

April 14, 2017

This is such a First World problem, we’ve all been through it, he was just a dog

There’s no such thing as “just a dog”, and especially not in Slevin’s case. He was the answer to the age-old question, “who’s a good boy?”

Slevin. Always Slevin. Forever Slevin.

The first day in 3836 days (ten years and six months and one day) of a world without him in it, and I feel like I’ve woken up in some foreign place where everything looks unfamiliar and I don’t speak the language and I don’t know my way home.






November 6, 2016

So you raise a child and you make so many mistakes that you sometimes wonder how this boy stayed out of jail and off drugs. You have friends who made far better parenting choices whose grown children fight ineffectual battles against social dragons that are beyond your imagining, and you feel sympathetic horror for those parents as their child fails again and again. You can’t take any pleasure in that, not one moment of schadenfreude. Instead, you feel a sickening thrill that’s akin to running up to the edge of a cliff and almost going over. The best you can feel is relief that you somehow – not through one single effort of your own – avoided the same fall. Your heart knows, that could have been me down there on the rocks. It should have been me.

You see your son grow up and you stand back in awe over the person he’s become: The depth of his compassion, his wisdom, his common sense – all of those things in spades. And you acknowledge that he is this marvelous person not because of your questionable parenting skills, but in spite of them.

And you see him with his own child, and you know that everything good is going to be passed down to another generation, in spite of all the baggage you dragged along as a parent and sometimes – admit it, don’t shy away from the truth – you made him drag along for you.

You realize he doesn’t see your failings; or perhaps he does, he just has heart enough to pretend he doesn’t.

And you’re thankful for heroes.