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.

Advertisements

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.
55100026

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.

55100023

 

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.

 

20448_1171817141255_7365529_n

 

 

This is in response to, “A Letter to Liberals” by author Michael Charney. His blog can be found here: http://www.chasingglennbeck.com/homeblog/2013/5/2/a-letter-to-liberals.html#.UYRcmoIyHdU

Hello, Mr. Charney –

Let me take a moment of your time to introduce myself. I’m a West Coast transplant currently living in Oklahoma, in a smallish town about 30 miles east of Oklahoma City. I live in a single-family home with my boyfriend and two dogs. Being older than you, we have no children left in the nest. Our sons are married with sons of their own and are living on opposite coasts.

Our house is very simple. It’s a good 75 years old, perhaps older. The plaster interior walls can’t completely hide the round vents that give evidence to the fact that this house was once heated by woodstoves. It’s a small place, less than 700 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom. The plumbing gives us problems sometimes, but in the six years I’ve lived here the landlord has always been quick to repair any issues that arise. I believe so firmly in living within my means that the rent is always easy to pay – on time, every single month. My landlord deserves his money no less than I deserve what I work for. We have a small HDTV on which we stream movies via Roku and Netflix because I refuse to pay for cable television – just another example of making sure we always live within our means.

Do you hate me? No? Then I feel safe in asking you to continue reading.

Like you, I work in Human Resources. I’m the payroll manager for a minority-owned security company that boasts a sterling reputation among our industry peers, employees, and customers. I’m also the published author of short fiction and non-, one young adult novel, one novella, and more ghastly poetry than you can shake a stick at. Seriously. I’m the worst poet since Rod McKuen. (At least no one can blame me for “MacArthur Park”.) I’ve always worked, often more than one job at a time. Staying home to raise my son was never an option and I’m not sure I would have done so even if given the chance, but I certainly don’t revile women who choose a career as homemaker and mom. That’s the lovely thing about the little movement called “Women’s Liberation” that came out of the 70s. Women are free to pursue professional careers or raise children. Typically we do both.

Are you hating me yet?

We are a spiritual family. My boyfriend is a Vietnam-era veteran who still embraces much of his Southern Baptist upbringing. Although I was raised Lutheran, for almost 20 years I’ve practiced a little religious philosophy you may have heard of called “witchcraft”. Surprisingly to some, not surprisingly to others, my boyfriend and I have no problem reconciling our beliefs. You see, we both believe in cherishing the earth and loving every single creature that walks, crawls, flies, swims or slithers across its surface. (Well, maybe the b/f isn’t so fond of things that slither. That’s okay. His heebie-jeebies didn’t stop him from helping me safely remove the snake we found in our bathroom last year. That’s the grand thing about love: It overcomes the heebie-jeebies every time. I adore him for that.) I don’t need weekly sermons to remind me that the Creator expects me to obey a certain moral code because that code is simple: Love one another. Help one another. Be good to one another. If you listen closely, I think you’ll hear the words of the wise and wonderful man you call your savior, Jesus of Nazareth, in those rules.

The other week when a little girl crashed her bike in the street outside of my house, I ran over to her. I helped her to her feet, examined her boo-boos, and walked her home to her mother. Contrary to what some might believe about “my kind”, I did not whisk her off to become the weekly sacrifice at a local witches’ coven. Witches don’t practice human sacrifice, nor do we worship satan. In fact, we don’t even believe such an entity exists.

Are you hating me now? Silently or overtly?

I don’t recognize any church dogma which tells me how I should feel about gay marriage or abortion. Among a multitude of other blessings, the Creator gave me a wonderful combination of intelligence and compassion that allows me to come to my own conclusion about such things. When it comes to gay marriage, I don’t care who is marrying whom as long as only consenting adults are involved. Any loving couple (or sextet or octet, I don’t care) who choose to commit their lives to each other are welcome to do so as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I rarely give the matter any thought at all. When it comes to abortion, I have stronger opinions, but when it comes down to where the rubber meets the asphalt, it’s not my place to make a decision for any other woman or to cast judgment on her for her choices no matter how far removed they might be from choices I’d make for myself.

How about now? Do you wish I didn’t exist?

To sum it all up, I’m a single mom and grandmother who lives her life with a quiet determination to abide by the Pagan Rede: Do no harm. And more than that, I try to do small, good things when I have the chance, although I confess that I don’t go out of my way looking for opportunities for demonstrating compassion. The opportunities seem to find me as often as necessary to remind me that we’re all in this together, and if we don’t start acting like it, we’re in big trouble as a country and as a species.

No, I don’t hate you Mr. Charney, and I never did. I hope the goodwill is mutual. The only complaint is that your “A Letter to Liberals” was admittedly not autobiographical, and I question why not. This piece, “A Letter to Conservatives” is entirely my story. My life is open to scrutiny and I can tell you right off the bat that anyone looking will find both good there and bad. I’ve done wrong, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and some of them were fairly egregious. I guess that’s what being human is all about.

I guess we’re not so different after all, are we?

VA Stories

March 30, 2013

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the VA Hospital since Mickey moved in. “A lot” translates to maybe eight day-long trips while Mickey had various ailments looked into including a broken shoulder (mea culpa) and cataract surgery. So it’s not like it’s become my second home, but eight visits is a lot to someone who eschews hospitals and had never been to a VA hospital even once prior to 2010.

An amazing thing about the VA hospital is the cross section of society you meet there. I expected to see veterans, yes, but the word “veteran” conjured a very definite mental image in my mind that I’ve discovered was nowhere near the truth. Yes, you meet the almost stereotypical dignified, white-haired veteran with the carefully coiffed wife sitting quietly by his side, but you also meet the crazy Nam vet with the greasy hair who’s cussing everyone, the pockets of black veterans speaking in slang that I can only understand a fraction of, young men with empty eyes, dying men with eyes full of pain, young women vets who carry an incredible amount of pride on their tiny frames, and lesbian vets who think a tall woman like me is the cat’s meow for some reason. And the most amazing thing of all is how many of them (white-haired vets with coiffed wives excluded) seek me out to tell me their stories. Amazing stories. Wonderful stories.

Yesterday it was Henry. An elderly black man that I had a hard time understanding at first, until he whitened-up his vocabulary enough for a pasty person like me to follow, which I thought was very sweet of him, considering that I was just another middle-aged white woman in the human sea that is the ER waiting room. He started out telling me that he’d taken almost no game this year. His eyes filled with regret. Not one single deer. I didn’t tell him that I’m a vegetarian, I just let him talk. He talked about going out hunting with his brother-in-law and bagging about a dozen rabbits, then discovering that dialysis had made him too weak to carry them out. There he was, he explained, in the “woods” with a dozen freshly killed and gutted rabbits and him too weak to take them home. But thankfully his brother-in-law hiked out for help and someone brought a truck and he got those rabbits home; he wasn’t sure why he bothered since his wife couldn’t cook a decent rabbit stew even after all these years of him bringing them home.

He told me about how in his time he wasn’t allowed further east than 8th street. “Your mama wouldn’t let you?” I asked. My own naivete astounds me sometimes.

No, it wasn’t his mama. It was the whites. Unless a black man was hauling garbage or mowing lawns, he wasn’t allowed past 8th Street.

Then he told me how he missed beans. Lord, how he missed beans. Something about the potassium in beans being deadly when you’re on dialysis, so he couldn’t have them any more. He remembered coming home from school and his mama would have a big pot of beans on the stove and a huge pan of cornbread, and you didn’t want to be late getting home or you wouldn’t get seconds.

And he told me about how he listened to the staff at the VA talking to people and how he was convinced the world had no sense left at all any more.

He asked me if I wanted to go outside for a cigarette. I didn’t want a cigarette, but I wanted to go with him, so we did. And we stood on a veranda under multiple “No Smoking – $75 Fine for Violators” signs while he smoked an unfiltered cigarette with hands misshapen by age.

He told me that being married to a military man was a special responsibility (I didn’t bother to tell him that Mickey and I aren’t married – I don’t think that was the point) and that he hoped I understood. I told him that I wasn’t sure if I did or not, but that I would try to understand better than I had before.

Then we went back inside and we watched the news and Henry got me laughing so hard about Obama flying B-52s over Korea that I’m sure I disturbed the people around us.

And then Mickey came out of the back and I said good-bye to Henry. We won’t meet again in this world, I’m sure and I’m sure he was sure of the same thing. It was in his eyes.

Perfect

August 6, 2012

Perfect

That’s what you called my thighs as we tangled in each other, and as I lie here with the wetness we made together drying under me, that’s what I call this relationship: Perfect.

If you opened your eyes, I’d see they’re the same robin’s egg shade of blue as the sheets. But you don’t open them; they are shut and shaded with a dark fringe of lash.

Perfect, the stubble of two days on your cheeks and chin, the casual shock of black hair falling over your forehead. Perfect, the musculature of your naked frame in a semi-fetal position amongst the bedding. Perfect, the scent of our sweat.

We have the same expectations of each other, the same desires. Neither one of us wants more than the other can give. There will be no heartache or longing. We understand each other.

Perfect.

I rise earlier than you and shower alone, and then hurry back to the bedroom where I can stare at you while I pull on my clothes. Your beauty is breathtaking and for just a moment I wonder how I can leave you here like this.

If I live to be one hundred, I will never experience a love as perfect as ours.

Careful not to wake you completely, I lean over and caress your hair with my cheek.

“I have to go,” I whisper.

You half-turn, half-reach for me, half-asleep. “Already?”

I kiss your lips, which are dry with the morning. “Good-bye.”

Rolling my bag to the door, I take one more look at you and I realize that I have never and will ever know a love as complete as ours. That realization is so profound that I could cry, but I’m too happy for tears.

I step out into the hallway and shut the door behind me, thankful that you never asked me, “What’s your name?”

Perfect.

When Love was Easy

August 6, 2012

Love was easy in the days
When adolescence barely crested the hill
Into adult.
The sunrise was giddy
The sunset was fire
And all we knew and all we cared to know
Was the landscape of each other.

Shuttles and war exploded
And bills and obligations
Obscured our view and
Love wasn’t so easy to find
When wallets were empty.

But now I look back and
Oh, the love wasted in worry
Unseen for all the bulk rate mail
And unopened letters!
Where was I?
Where were you?

You were there
As was I, although I didn’t always know it
And love was always
Just as easy as your warm embrace
Your julipped drawl
And the brilliance of your crystal eyes.

I’m very glad that, due to health care reform, insurers will no longer be able to drop patients who become critically ill. I’m very glad that the Medicare Gap for seniors will close, allowing them to afford prescriptions that are beyond their ability to purchase at this time. I’m delighted that sick children can no longer be turned down due to pre-existing conditions. I’m happy for the families of college students that they will be able to keep those students on family insurance plans through college and beyond. I’m very happy for all of these long-overdue reforms. I just have one question: Why do I have to pay for it?

I’m among the class that got you elected, Mr. President: The working class. You remember us, don’t you? We’re the “little people” who you promised to look out for. Better take a good look at us while you can because, thanks to the health care mandate, many of us are about to sink into that dreadful class, the Working Poor.

I’m a single working professional. I also clean offices on the weekend to make ends meet. I know when my dog’s vaccinations are due and I save up over the months in order to take him in on time. I see my doctor twice a year for high blood pressure, and I save up in advance for those visits also. I save up for my annual car registration renewal. I save up over the summer for the boots I know I’ll need every other winter. No, I don’t buy new boots every year. I save up over the winter for the sandals I know I’ll need every summer. No, I don’t buy new sandals every year. Mr. President, I have shoes in my closet that are part of my wardrobe that I purchased while you were still battling Mrs. Clinton for the candidacy. I keep my work clothes in good order; I have to because I can’t afford to replace them. I regularly wear one skirt I purchased on the clearance rack at Lane Bryant in 2006. My newest skirt is two years old.

My van is a 2009 Plymouth Voyager with over 120K miles. I paid cash for it in 2007. I have no credit cards, no TV, no smart phone. I take no vacations. I have no savings or retirement plan. I live simply and – what seems to be unheard of in this day and age – I live within my means. I read tarot cards for the little money I need to support my hobby, which is painting found pieces of wood or glassware and from which I derive exquisite enjoyment. I don’t go to the movies. I have no living room furniture because it got old and I couldn’t afford to replace it, but that’s okay. My living room is filled with bookcases and tables that were given to me and it’s quite nice, if I do say so myself. I rent a 75 year old house that has some structural issues, but I love it because I’ve made it into my home. I enjoy my life, even though I live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Why do you want to take what little I have from me? Is it because I’m too happy in my little world where I can pay my own way and where I ask for not a single dime in handouts? I guess I don’t fit the profile. I’m not on assistance and I’m not independently wealthy. Ergo, there is no glory in espousing my cause.

Health care reform mandates that I purchase insurance or pay a penalty. It will be affordable, you say. How do you know, I ask? How do you know what’s affordable to me? I’ve seen the tables. I work in accounting; I understand math better than most people. According to the calculations I’ve seen, I’m going to be required to pay up to approximately $150 a month for health care insurance. That’s a day’s lunch to you, I’m sure. That’s a month’s worth of groceries to me. “Affordable” is such a subjective word; you have no idea how it terrifies me.

Mrs. Obama, have you ever cried when you received your electric bill after a particularly hot or cold month? I have. Have you worried about Bo when he was sick and you couldn’t afford to take him to the vet? I’ve worried sick about my Slevin. Is your dog so much more important to you than mine are to me? Is Bo somehow worthy of health while my Slevin is not, simply because I didn’t marry the “right man”, or earn a scholarship to college? Is the fact that my babies are everything to me meaningless, as long as someone somewhere will get to see a doctor while me and my dogs will not? Because I can assure you, paying for mandatory health care insurance will destroy my health and the health of my companion animals (as if my health and theirs can in any way be considered separate issues) in a way that you cannot or will not understand.

One last question, but it’s rhetorical: Why is it that no matter what the issue – health care reform, foreign war, immigration, tax reform – why is it that the cost of these always falls onto the backs of we Americans who are working the hardest?

Reactivating Activism

June 15, 2012

Frankly, I thought my days of being an equal rights, women’s rights, human rights activist ended 35 years ago. Once I saw the wage gap close, I lost interest in the feminist movement; I figured it would continue to close, silly me. After all, feminine or masculine, we’re all the same in my mind. With the exception of the few years that I was married to an incredibly chauvinistic man from a part of the country that I always associated with gentlemen, a California girl like me had little exposure to anything akin to sexual discrimination, and so I turned my interest to the animal rights movement. All of my efforts turned in the direction of saving our animal brethren from misuse, mismanagement, and mistreatment by humankind.

Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger changed all that when he censured Representative Lisa Brown for saying the word “vagina” during a debate on abortion.

Let me put this out here in print so there are no misunderstandings about where I stand. Abortion rights, in my opinion, need serious constraints. Again, this is JUST MY OPINION. A perfectly healthy woman carrying a perfect healthy fetus should not be allowed access to a late-term abortion. Unless she’s a complete idiot, a woman knows by the second month whether or not she’s pregnant. If she can’t decide what to about that pregnancy by the time she reaches the end of her first trimester, too bad. I sympathize with, understand, and feel badly for women who are faced with whether or not to carry a pregnancy to full term as they approach that 12 week mark, especially those women who were impregnated by rape, but after that I feel a woman has made her bed. Procrastination, denial, whatever – to me it doesn’t matter once you’re past that first trimester. You’re pregnant. You’re going to give birth. Deal with it like so many of us have throughout history. If the health of the mother is at stake or if the fetus has serious physical defects, that’s another story entirely – late-term (or “partial birth”) abortion might be the only viable option for many women placed in that horrible position. My heart goes out to those women and to their unborn progeny, poor things.

So now that I’ve made my own personal beliefs about abortion public, let me continue. Because my anger isn’t about the abortion issue per se. My righteous indignation springs solely from issues regarding the First Amendment.

Why can’t Lisa Brown say “vagina”? She has one, after all. Why shouldn’t her opinion on the abortion issue be heard? After all, when it comes down to where the rubber meets the asphalt, abortion is a women’s issue. Why aren’t more women on both sides of the issue speaking out?

Is it the fault of the media? I admit to ignorance here because I don’t follow mainstream news. Does the media ignore pro-life movements run by pro-life women? Why is it only stuffed suit Christian men who are speaking out on behalf of the pro-life contingent? Is the media silencing pro-life women by refusing to publicize their agenda? Or is the popular opinion true that pro-life women are sitting idly by like good little wifeys while their men (the ruler of the household according to at least two of the world’s major religions) do all the talking?

All we hear about are pro-choice activists. I think it’s about time for pro-life women to step up and voice their opinions in a way that can’t be ignored. Let’s get this discussion going between those who are the most impacted: Women on both sides of the issue. Conservative women. Liberal women. Women who stand somewhere in the middle like me.

Women, sisters, come on! Are we going to be silenced on this issue, represented only by the militant few? I cry bullshit on that. We did NOT come from a man’s rib. Mankind came into this world via our vaginas – one road in, one road out.

Let’s all be heard. Ladies, no matter where you stand on this issue, do not be silent. Now is not the time.