All posts by fallingbackonfunny

LANDSLIDE

I’m sure there’s some psychological term for this transition time. Truth is I laughed off the whole idea that Id be so emotional when my kid graduated High School. I really truly didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. I am so happy for her I could scream. She’s been accepted to the School Of Bio Chemistry within her University. She’s so much smarter than me. With this big beautiful anything can happen world in front of her. She maneuvered a move across the country at 13 years old, entering a middle school where she knew ABSOLUTELY NO ONE. I cried that day I dropped them off after we moved to Colorado. I thought “what the fuck have we done to these kids?”

 

She made High School Cheerleader, made great friends, made good grades, excelled in DECA, joined a private cheer team and loved all of it, made Varsity Golf Team and is headed to State next week. We made the decision to move for many reasons. I honestly think it was the very best thing we did for our kids. I am beyond proud.

 

I’ve cried a LOT lately. I go long periods and don’t cry. And then I purge. And Im obviously having a purge period. I just finished a 3 Day Cleanse. I feel good. I got microdermabrasion this week to detoxify my skin, I deleted some “friends” from social media and from life that did not feed my soul well. I got engaged. I got a build date for my new home. I’m going to watch my kid graduate in 14 days and its so many changes at once I feel overwhelmed.

 

The Seniors had what’s called a “Bridge Dance” last night. I helped decorate and chaperone. It was the last time Ill ever be at that school. It was my last school event as a Mom of a kid in school. I watched the kids laugh and dance to music and hug each other and sign yearbooks and be stupid, exactly what they are supposed to be….kids. And I cried on a bridge at how quickly time flies. In that moment I missed my Dad so much it physically hurt, I thought about my High School experience, the friends I had, the ones I’ve lost, the completely unsullied body and mind I had at 18. So much had not happened yet. At 18 there is LITERALLY endless possibilities. You aren’t hardened by the world or politics or mean people yet. You don’t carry many preconceived notions. You don’t have regrets yet. You don’t know. YOU DONT KNOW. And its the most beautiful thing I can even think of.

 

I could see myself on the bridge at 18. I saw her and wanted to say…so very much. Don’t cry over boys that don’t love you, hug your Dad more, bring your sister along more, stay out of the sun, date more boys, write more, love more, argue less, be more patient, you’ll have 2 BEAUTIFUL children after all the heartache of miscarriage so don’t worry, kiss him sooner, tell him sooner, be more approachable, go home more, GO HOME MORE. Don’t wish the toddler years away, take MORE pictures, say yes more, be less reactive, love every minute, don’t buy that stupid fucking $2,000 sofa…go to Spain instead! FORGIVE. Then FORGIVE some more. Don’t be an ass. Wash your face more. And be ACUTELY aware that even in the moments that time seems to stand still, and you are frozen and wishing for time to pass faster……it is passing. So quickly that you cant grasp it. HOLD ON. Hold on to the moments. The boring, long, never seeming to end moments. HOLD ON TO THEM. You will blink. And you will be watching your own girl on this bridge.

 

But you know what- it all unfolded the way it was supposed to I suppose. And as I watch my child transition to adulthood and leave grade school, I am honoring the fact that its not just HER transition. I am 46 years old. Divorced. Almost empty nester. Building a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Newly engaged and doing things now I’d have never done at 26. Life is funny. Life is unpredictable. Life is sad and tragic and beautiful and happy and joyful and goes so fucking quickly. I look in a mirror now and see wrinkles and crepey skin and age spots and a lifetime of experiences. Transitions are hard for me. Very very hard. This feels like the biggest one Ive ever had. Im a ball of emotions lately. Just gonna roll with it. I don’t know what else to do.

 

“Landslide” has always been one of my favorite songs since I was a kid. For all of my life the lyrics ” I’ve been afraid of changes cuz I built my life around you” were completely about the end of a romantic relationship. As I’ve grown older, stronger, I’m blown away to listen to it so differently now. I built a life around my children. I have no regrets over that. And I admit now- Im afraid of what my life might look like without a kid at home. But here I am. And I’ll be fine. And she’ll be fine. And the world turns.

 

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too”

S.N., ‘Landslide’

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AND THE GOODBYE MAKES THE JOURNEY HARDER STILL

I remember when we were discharged from the hospital and the nurse walked us out to our car to check that the car seat was installed correctly. Then she handed us the carrier with the 3 day old baby in it and said “have a nice day”. I looked at Patrick and looked at the baby and looked back at Patrick and said “holy shit…what the hell do we do now?”

 

And the following 18 years have been full of “holy shit…what the hell do we do now?” Any asshole can become a parent. There’s no application process or background check to see if you’re stable enough or able to calmly and responsibly raise another human fucking being. I’m proof of that. I have messed up, misspoken, grounded the wrong kid, not followed through with threats, let them watch too much tv, cussed too much, yelled too much, let too much slide, helped them on homework when I shouldn’t, let them skip school when they were “kinda sick”, ignored them, hovered over them, and a plethora of other horrible awful shit that parents are not “supposed” to do. I’ve also done a handful of things right. I think.

 

Lately I cry for no reason. I blame it on hormones. Menopause. Being stressed from the build. But honestly…some of it is this overwhelming feeling of loss. I “raised” this little person into a human and she’s about to fly. And the grief I feel is overwhelming. And I didn’t expect that AT ALL. I am an independent loud mouthed strong woman. I am also a Mommy. And its what I’ve been to her for 18 years. It has literally defined me, right or wrong, for 18 years. It’s such an odd juxtaposition to want your kid to go AND stay. She’s ready. Im ready. She NEEDS to fly. It’s time. We are both women now in each others’ way. And at times we are snappy and irritable with each other. And I wonder how that happened…that my little girl became a feisty, opinionated, hard headed, capable woman. And then I realize that’s EXACTLY what I wanted. How funny it is that sometimes when we get what we want it’s bittersweet. And how funny that I’ve never meant the word “bittersweet” more than I do now.

 

Did I hug her enough? Did I fight for her enough? Did I help her enough? Did I help her too much? Does she know how to do laundry correctly? What if a boy hurts her? What if she sleeps through class? What if…..

 

There’s no fucking warning label or book that can prepare a woman for going through menopause, building a home, running a business and preparing for her first born to move away to college all at once. And Im far FAR from gracefully navigating this time period. More like stumbling clumsily while an emotional roller coaster wages in me.

 

When she counts the days down, each day, as to how many days of school until graduation it’s like a knife stabs me in the gut each time she announces it. I am unbelievably proud of her. And happy FOR her for all that’s ahead. Excited really. The sky is the limit when you’re 18. But I also need to pause and honor my feelings…of loss, of transition. Im transitioning from band aid giver, taxi driver, form signing, lunch making Mom to one who calls a time or two a week. And that’s scary for me. But as I type…I realize…its been a minute since I’ve put a bandaid on her, driven her ANYWHERE, or signed anything or even made her lunch. And I guess that’s part of growing up. I can honestly say this is, so far, the hardest part of parenting….the shift in roles, the transition, the change.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was never meant to be a PERFECT parent. I was meant to be HER parent.
“Oh very young
What will you leave us this time
There’ll never be a better chance to change your mind
And if you want this world to see a better day
Will you carry the words of love with you
Will you ride the great white bird into heaven
And though you want to last forever
You know you never will
(You know you never will)
And the goodbye makes the journey harder still”

~ Cat Stevens “Oh Very Young”

maddie

 

DANCE

I haven’t written as much lately as I used to. I’m not sure why. Busy. Business. Building a home. Life. Or maybe it’s that the topic I’m called to write about is too hard to write about and putting it off means it wont happen. My oldest child graduates from High School in less than 3 months. And it is hitting me like a ton of bricks. This past summer when we were taking her Senior pictures I remember being so grateful that I had another football season, basketball season, competition season to watch her cheer. Those have passed. She has her last cheer banquet this Thursday. And there will be no more cheering.

 

There will be turning in uniforms, passing on warm ups to the younger girls, passing on the duties of Captain, picking up a cap and a gown, mailing graduation announcements and some last final exams. There will be a Senior Sunset event and then she will walk across a stage and into the world. And you can say she can visit. You can say I can call her, facetime her, text  her anytime. And I can. But it isn’t the same. And we all know it isn’t the same.

 

I miscarried several times. Many times, actually. At the age of 27 when I discovered I was pregnant AGAIN I just cried. I truly didn’t know if I would ever be a Mom. It was an incredibly stressful 9 months. I don’t think I believed she would actually be born healthy until they laid her in my arms. And every little picture in my head of a fair skinned, blue eyed, blonde haired little girl went out the door and was replaced with the most beautiful olive skinned, green eyed baby will a full head of black hair. And in that moment I knew that things don’t come as we WANT them to. They come as they wish and often bigger and better than we could’ve dreamed. I technically became a Mom that day. She made me a Mom. But I’ve become a Mom every day of every year that I’ve woken up for over 18 years.

 

I taught her to walk, talk, and brush her teeth and drive. But she taught me more than I could ever type. Mostly she taught me what unconditional love is. There is no love like that of a Mother and Child. I never knew how fiercely protective I could be. I never knew how hard I could love, how angry I could get, how anxious and nervous and worried I could be….until I became a Mom.

 

She is MORE than ready to tackle the world. I’m not worried about that. I’m also very happy for her. What’s ahead. Its so exciting. College, new friends, endless possibilities….

 

But I’d be lying if I said I’m not mourning the end of a period. And I’m just gonna let myself do that. It’s the cliché-ist thing in the world to say “time flies”. Because there were moments when I had a 3 and 4 year old that the days seemed endless and long and exhausting. But I’m telling you….time FLIES. She grew into a beautiful ,funny, intelligent, capable human. An adult human. Not just BECAUSE of her Dad & I but also in spite of all of the mistakes we made. And we made our fair share. I don’t think I could prouder. I truly don’t.

 

In addition to being addicted to Schlotzky’s while pregnant with her, I also played a few songs over and over- Eminem’s “Slim Shady” (which I credit for her obsession with rap) and Leann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”. She’s definitely danced. And experienced and done all of the things she wanted to do. And that is what life is about. Not things, not money, not titles….its about friends and fun and experiences and going for it. It’s about moments. Lots of little beautiful moments. Madelyn as this stage ends, look back and be so grateful for all of the things you got to see and do. Then turn around, face forward, and RUN to what’s ahead. It’s my experience that nothing WONDERFUL ever came from standing still. Climb some mountains, travel, love, do your best, be kind, stand up for what is RIGHT even if you’re alone, turn the music up, and make a difference. And DANCE.

 

maddie dance

DRUMS IN AN OFFICE

I haven’t written in 2.5 months. I haven’t wanted to. Truth is I do not like the Holidays so I just hope to slide through them each year. It’s like I take a deep breath the day of Thanksgiving and don’t let it out until January 2nd. Been that way since my Dad died. And I have no other explanation than that. I slid through these Holidays. It wasn’t bad. It was my first Christmas away from my kids in 18 years. That is not easy. I suppose it never will be. But I saw family and traveled and touched the ocean and that’s good.

 

 

When I was 15 and a Freshman in High School my friend came to live with me for a few weeks. Her Dad was entering a rehab facility for addiction and her Mom was under a lot of stress and had a younger child and it was just good to have my friend with me, in a routine, away from the ugly for awhile. She did not talk much about it.  I hadn’t yet had my first sip of alcohol and thought “wow why can’t he just stop drinking, what an asshole to do this to his family”. I remember it was the first real encounter I had with addiction. I did not understand it at all. Had no clue really what it meant. And 31 years later there’s not a lot more I know. Except that it still hurts people. Destroys families. Breaks relationships. Causes un-mendable fractures. And kills. It kills.

 

I partied in High School and in college. And by partied I mean drank on weekends. Drank too much. Got drunk at parties. Tried pot, acid, ecstasy. Didn’t like any of that. So I just stuck to alcohol. Then I got married and had kids and rarely, if ever, drank. And for 20 years I’ve partaken in the occasional girls night out obligatory Cranberry & Vodka. It makes my tummy hurt. Wine gives me a headache. A cold beer is ok once in awhile. But I just don’t care much about it. So when I began dating a recovering addict a year and a half ago it was no problem to give up drinking. He didn’t ask me to. I wanted to. I’ve had a few drinks in the past year but if you told me I could never drink again I wouldn’t give two shits. So I have ABSOLUTELY no fucking idea what it means to be an addict. What it feels like. What it does to your own body and soul and ego and life. I cant possibly understand. But sharing a life with someone who is a recovering alcoholic (with 8 and a half years clean and sober) has exposed me to more than I ever thought I’d be exposed to about addiction.

 

I cannot write from Dave’s experience. I cannot write from the experience of the MANY amazing recovering addicts I know now. But I can listen and I can learn and I can try to empathize. Dave and I have had MANY talks about addiction. What it did in his life. The effects it had. The damage it did. The fact that after more than 8 years without a drink he knows there is no cure and once an addict, always an addict. Truth is, Dave lived a very different life than I did before we met. Truth is, I judge a little. Truth is, I am human and I cannot help the way I feel about some things. I think the biggest thing I have learned from Dave is that it was a choice to pick up the first. It was never a choice after that. And the shame, guilt, embarrassment, hurt and regret come in big fat wrapped up packages that you cant return.

 

Two people I knew died in the past few days. I don’t know all of the details about one of them. He was funny. I hadn’t talked to him in 25 years but he was too young to die. The other was my friend. We hadn’t seen each other in years since she lived in Dallas but we talked a LOT over Facebook. She sent funny videos of drums and hilarious memes and cussed a lot and made fun of people and I loved her. Such a dry sense of humor. Quick witted, intelligent, bold, and easy to talk to. But I suppose those are the things she wanted the world to see. It’s not my story to tell. So I wont. She has three wonderful children who I hope know how cool she was.

 

As I’ve been messaging many mutual friends over the past few days there’s been two sides it seems. Those of us posting and crying and yelling at addiction and pissed and wanting everyone to know how bad it is. And then there’s those who say “shut up, not our business, don’t talk about it”.

 

If I know you, love you, allow you in my life, then its my fucking business. And if you are sad or struggling or sick…..PLEASE don’t shut up. Please TALK about it. To me, to anyone. Stop the fucking stigma. STOP IT. Stop being polite about it and quiet about it and shameful. Because you can talk and ask for help and live another day to climb a mountain or you can stay quiet and die.

 

There are 8 million and one opinions and studies and philosophies about addiction. I don’t care right now. Don’t care. Don’t want to hear how YOU think it should be treated. Because right now Im just pissed. And my smile is broken. And I foresee a few more pissed off smile-less days. And that’s ok. After that I’ll listen to the opinions. Im in a funk. I tried to climb it out. I tried to sleep it off. I tried to exercise it away. None of that is working. So Im writing. And Im going to accept the sad and sit in it a few days and then Im going to get my ass up, tell my friends who aren’t strong that Im standing for them, figure out how I can help, and spray paint cuss words on the septic tank on my land….because she was supposed to do that. And now I’ll spend some days deciding the perfect poetic nasty awful curse words I can use.

 

I will get up tomorrow and the day after that and open messenger to look for her meme of the day. And it wont be there. And I hate that. My heart hurts.

img_1201 looking up

 

I AM DEPRESSION

Telling people you have depression is not exactly a fun things to do. I have a degree in Psychology. Ive worked with troubled teens, in a jail, in a high school, and I KNOW what depression is. And yet I still hold this stigma against it. I carry embarrassment. I feel the need to explain that Im on Prozac FOR ANXIETY NOT DEPRESSION. Why do I feel the need to do that? Because I don’t want to admit I have it. I don’t want to look weak or have people look at me differently. Because its not cancer, its not brain rot. Its just plain old , ugly ass, yucky, shitty, depression.

 

I think I always had it. Several of my relatives do. But it reared its ugly head when my Dad was killed. And it got worse with brain rot. I tried an anti depressant for the first time 11 years go and HATED it. It had awful side effects so I quit. Months went by before my doctor said “hey lets try something else.” When she said “Prozac” I thought I was becoming some silly suburban cliché. I have my physical health, great kids, a job I love, freedom, good friends….what the fuck could be wrong with me that all of that is not enough? And it took me some time to know that I could have everything in the world and it wouldn’t mean I didn’t have depression. I have depression. And Prozac and exercise and sunshine and mountains keep depression from HAVING ME. Im lucky that medication works (most of the time) for me. For some….it doesn’t.

 

And here’s the thing about depression….it most often doesn’t look like a sad monster in a corner. It is smiles, happiness, joy, health, hiking, friends, a good relationship, great kids, sleeping ok, succeeding at work, and LOOKING like all the shit is right where it should be. And sometimes all the shit IS where it should be. But my mind doesn’t work like others. And sometimes depression looks like anxiety, paranoia, lack of sleep, sadness, isolation, anger, pessimism & meanness. That’s the thing about it. It looks like it looks. And I don’t know what that will be each day. And managing it is what I do. I am acutely aware of how Im one of the lucky ones. Im happy. Im successful. Im good. Most of the time. And I know some aren’t.

 

I have depression. I have depression. I HAVE DEPRESSION. I treat it with Prozac, exercise, sleep, talking, writing, reading, sharing. So if you had an idea in your head of what depression looks like….you are probably right. It looks like smiles and family and hiking and friends and tears and the Mom next door and the kid at school. It looks like beauty and ugly and loneliness and joy and laughter and all the stuff. ALL. THE. STUFF.

 

I have depression. And its ok if you do to. Its OK. It can feel like a lonely walk. But you aren’t alone. You aren’t.

I have depression. Depression doesn’t have me.

jen

PLANS & ALARM CLOCKS (Advice for M)

I haven’t blogged in a bit. Because all that I want to write about is Maddie’s Senior year and her leaving for college and I feel like if I write about it, it makes it so very real. But guess what…its very very real whether I write about it or not.

I looked at the calendar the day before school started and realized she cheers at 10 regular season games, has Senior Sunrise, Senior BBQ, Senior pictures, Homecoming, Prom, Senior Sunset & graduation. As of right this second Ive watched her cheer at 3 games already, been to Senior Sunrise, Senior BBQ and Senior pictures. And its flying. Flying. Flying by.
I had several SEVERAL miscarriages before Maddie. As Ive talked about before. Some of them very late term. One at 19 weeks. It was so devastating and to this day I still struggle with it. With all of the losses. And Id go through them all again to have the two amazing kids I have today. There are days I feel like the shittiest parent on the planet. Days I wonder why I got the privilege of having kids because I sure as hell don’t know what Im doing sometimes.
My kids have heard me cuss since birth. I listened to Eminem on full blast while pregnant. I let Andy eat dog food for a week straight when he was 3 because its all he would eat. And I was tired. And it has protein. I did homework projects for my kids. Because I needed them done. And I didn’t have patience to watch them glue a volcano together. They watched the unedited version of “Friday” one night after I went to sleep. When they were 6 and 7. I let them watch WAY too much tv, play WAY too many video games, call people assholes when they were being assholes, skip school when they weren’t really sick, drive without permits, talked about drugs and sex very openly. From the moment they started asking questions. I let Andy drink coffee, at a young age, because it helped his ADHD. I laughed at the video of him sledding down the school’s main staircase last year that led to his suspension. I even passed it on to friends. When he drew a penis on his scantron sheet for his Algebra test, I laughed. I was pissed. But I laughed. I have been so far from a great parent (in a normal person’s eyes) that its not even funny.
And yet they are funny, smart, witty, socially intelligent, opinionated, driven, kind, assholes, lazy at times, normal average, happy people. Somehow.
I always said if I got my kid to 18 years old with no jail time and no pregnancy then Ive succeeded. I set the bar for parenting super high, ya’ll. And here we are. She’s months into her 18th year. No jail time. No pregnancy. I call it a win.
And she’s so stressed about college its crazy. Way more stressed than her hippie Mom. Somehow we have this idea that at 17 or 18 a kid should know EXACTLY what they want to do with their lives, know which college offers that, apply to that college, make sure you took the proper pre requisites and stay on that exact path. FUCK. I didn’t know what type of GAS to put in my car at 18. Let alone what the SHIT I wanted to do with the REST OF MY LIFE! Because at 18, the REST OF YOUR LIFE is a fucking long time. And now at (almost) 46 I know….its not really that long of a time. So Im writing this to Maddie to let her know what she needs to worry about. Because its not what you want to be when you grow up, how much money you want to make, which college specializes in what, how you get an internship, when you want kids, and every detail of what you want your life to look like.
Because the most beautiful part of life is really the NOT knowing. SOOOOOO much of your life will be planned. Your professors will tell you when papers are due. Your bosses will tell you what hours to be at work and when you get vacation. Your car will remind you when you need an oil change. Your phone will beep with a reminder when you have appointments. And thats all fine.
But please remember to not always set an alarm clock. Dont always do what people say. Dont follow the crowd unless the crowd is headed for love. Go skinny dipping, stay up late talking to your friends. Watch the sunrise with a boy and a yoohoo. Go on a road trip with girlfriends. Take a few Fridays off. Dont plan everything. Say yes. Dance a lot. Then dance some more. Ride on the back of a motorcycle. Go watch a not so well known singer in a dive bar somewhere in Texas. With a boy. Get a tattoo. Swim in the Pacific. Pet some llamas. Change majors. Maybe twice. Join a sorority. Or don’t. Be kind to unkind people. Trust me. This one is hard but trust me. Cut your hair short once. Keep your toenails painted. Have an amazing fucking playlist on your phone. Make sure Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen are in it. Hug your Dad. A lot. Save some money. DON”T spend your money on fancy clothes or apartments or Pottery Barn decor. Spend your money on EXPERIENCES and places and trips and friends and t-shirts. Write letters. Its a lost art. Give some money away. To people who need it. And walk away. Expect no recognition for that. EXPECT no recognition for anything. But do good things anyway. Because thats what decent humans do. Explore some religions. Be one. Or don’t. Take some solo hikes. When someone hurts you, forgive them. FORGIVE them. It doesn’t mean forget or trust again. It means FORGIVE. Trust me….its more for you than them. Give people second chances. Not thirds. Follow your heart…not always your head. Wear nice underwear. And cry when you need to cry. Dont hold that shit in. It festers and makes you sick. HAVE FUN. And don’t always be in a rush. I was always in a rush. It took 40 years to learn to be still and enjoy the very moment I was in. Instead of always worrying about the next moment. You are smart. You are funny. You will be just fine. And whatever it is you decide to do, you don’t have to decide now. Or next year. Or the next year. I promise it’ll be ok. Planning is over rated. Sometimes its cool just to let whatever is going to happen,  happen. Dont always set an alarm clock. In fact…if you do life right….your goal is to not need an alarm clock. Change the world. But right now, this week, this month…enjoy your senior year. Every last second of it. Im so freaking proud of you.
“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance”
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DIRECTIONS & LOVING BROKEN

I wasn’t going to write. Or blog. Or think. I wasn’t going to. It’s a fucking date on a calendar and giving it this much power is stupid and silly and getting very old. And in year 12 without Dad it is different than year 6, year 3 or year 1. People say time heals. I guess it depends on your definition of “heal”. The pain is less intense. Less stabbing. Less gut wrenching. But that’s it. That’s all that changes. The first few years are shocking and just trying to breathe. The next few years are trying to breath deeper and learning to live a “new normal”. And the long run is….well…I don’t really know what it is. Im in it. Im in the long run. Im over a decade past losing my Dad. Most of me thinks I should be over it by now. I don’t cry much about him. I don’t even think about him some days until well into the afternoon.

 

Its funny…when he died he was 53. I thought that was so far away for me. I was 33. The closer I get to 53, the more I realize how incredibly young it is. My Dude is 52. And it doesn’t escape me how weird that is. 53. I think of all of the ages I have been. And the fact that at any age, any day, anytime, I could have my last day. And so could you. We don’t get to know ahead of time what age that might be.
My dear friend lost her 25 year old sister last week in a tragic car accident. I cannot begin to imagine the pain her parents are in. My heart hurts so much for whats ahead of them. I don’t think the pain of loss differs depending on if your loved one suffered for quite awhile and you knew it was coming….or it came so suddenly you stopped breathing in an instant. I don’t know. I don’t think it matters.
So I keep telling myself every year that I will NOT allow August to be sad. That I have moved on and healed and I can be happy. And all of that is true. I have moved on. I have healed some. And I am very happy. Doesn’t matter. I realize at year 12….it doesn’t matter. I wrote a blog once about broken hearts. Its like a beautiful brand new vase. Your life. And as you grow in years and encounter love and people your heart will inevitably break. And not just once. It will break and heal and break and heal. And just like a broken vase…you can glue the pieces back together but you will always see the seam, the scar where it broke. What I know at 12 years out is…YOU CANNOT UNBREAK THE BROKEN. You can fix it, you can glue it, you can counsel it and pray for it and turn it so the back where its broken faces the wall…in hopes that no-one will see it. But its still broken. It will always always always be broken. You can never unbreak. Its true with arms, legs, hearts, vases & trust. You can wear a cast and mend the bone, date again and learn to love, glue the vase, and try to trust. But it doesn’t make the break go away. It happened. It happened. And it CANNOT unHAPPEN.
I suppose life after loss is about learning to live with the break instead of hiding it. My Mom moved a lot after my Dad died. She said she was looking for something that wasn’t there. That makes so much sense to me now. Grief is ugly and sad and messy and makes no sense and has no time limit. It affects every single solitary aspect of your life. Your marriage, your parenting, your decisions, your trust, your ability to love. And maybe I spent a bunch of years looking for something too. That wasn’t there. I could say those years were wasted and I regret them and could’ve met Dude sooner, been a better parent sooner, moved on sooner, maybe fixed my marriage. I maybe could’ve. But I didn’t. I wandered and flailed and veered and swerved and drifted. Lots and lots of people have lost their fathers. What the fuck is wrong with me that I let it affect every part of who I am? Hell…..I don’t know. I don’t know. I suppose even the smallest of events can change a person. And this was far from small.
12 years out I no longer analyze why. Or how. Or what if. Or maybe I should’ve. Or pretend to begin to think Im ever going to be the same. I tried for YEARS to get back to her. The HER before 2006. It took this long to realize she died that day too. There is a road I tried to travel that would have been the road I traveled had he lived. I tried to make it the same. I tried. But standing on the edge of a cliff trying to DEMAND that a road appears is slightly insane. And you can wish for it and hope for it and pray for it until you’re blue in the face. And then….in year 12…you stop staring off the cliff and begging for a road to appear where it just isn’t. And you turn your 45 year old ass around look at all of the other roads…..and pick one. And you quit trying to fix the broken vase. It broke. It was so very sad. So very unbelievably heart wrenching, gut punching, life changing sad. And there is absolutely NOTHING you can do about that. Except hold the broken vase, learn to love it broken, turn away from the cliff’s edge, and decide to move….in the DIRECTION that was meant for you to move.
I miss you, Dad.
Stood alone on a mountain top,
Starin’ out at the great divide
I could go east, I could go west,
It was all up to me to decide
Just then I saw a young hawk flyin’
And my soul began to rise
And pretty soon
My heart was singing’
        Bob Segar, ‘Roll Me Away’
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ABOUT ASPEN

Every year for 10 years I knew that the end of July and first week of August would be difficult. I sort of anticipated it. But this year it snuck up on me. I guess thats a good and a bad thing. The fact that I didn’t DWELL on such an anniversary is good. I didn’t plan for it or see it coming. And honestly I didn’t plan a trip to Aspen so close to that shitty day. Just kinda happened. Or did it?

 

Aspen is this place for me. This PLACE. Its funny because I run my mouth about the elite, billionaire, fancy pants, big house owning, “keep the riff raff out” group of people. I don’t NOT LIKE them. They just don’t get it in my opinion. Money doesn’t make you blind. It just makes you not have to look. If you know what I mean. So in October of 2014 when I took my first trip to Aspen it was literally just to see the trees changing colors (which is seriously breathtaking- do it as soon as you can) and to see where my hero, Hunter S. Thompson lived and wrote…I didn’t expect to like Aspen itself so much. It was going to be the opposite of what I stood for. Damn hard headed hippie liberal…of course I can’t like “bougie” shit. Its against my code. ;)-
Only I did. I loved it. Loved the $600 a night Hotel Jerome that I stayed in. Its history, the J-Bar that is attached where Thompson wrote and hung out. I loved the vibe, the quaintness, the feel. I loved it. I admit it. I love walking the ridiculously over priced shops in the square on Main Street. I love celebrity spotting. Theres always some. I love the fact that EVERYONE of the locals are healthy and in shape and eat organic and DO NOT allow plastic bags in the town. Love that EVERYONE rides a bike, walks, hikes, and is outside WAY more than inside. I love the tourists from all over the world and listening to their accents in the restaurants when they sit near you. I love the Bob Marley quote spray painted on a billion dollar Gucci Store front. I love it.
And then I found Woody Creek. Hunter S Thompson settled here in 1969. For $15,000 he put a down payment down on what he would call Owl Ranch. A sprawling ranch pretty close to town center and about 10 miles from Aspen. $15,000 wont buy you a hamburger in Aspen now….so there’s that. And at the center of town is a little quirky restaurant called “Woody Creek Tavern”. Hunter hung out here, ate here, probably wrote here as well. His picture is everywhere. On the walls, in the bathroom, on the tables. And so we ate there Saturday. At the table to our left was two couples who looked to be in their 60s. Lots of plastic surgery going on (hey if I could afford it Id be all over that shit), some 20 karat diamonds and some handbags I think were flown in from Italy. On the ground. Outside. This is NOT a fancy place. We’re talking plastic chairs, bird poop and a certain “aroma” in the air. Dude- its Colorado!  At the table to our right was a guy wearing a skirt and dreadlocks and carrying a purse with tons of tattoos on him and everything he owned in a duffle bag. I dug it. The Tavern has a philosophy they post that talks about including EVERYONE. EVERYONE. The richest of the rich, the bougie, the eccentric, the poor, the homeless, the artists, the writers, the people who OWN Aspen, the G- Wagon drivers and the ones who walk down from the mountain. Its so fucking cool I can’t even.
Some may call it a tourist trap. A place to “sell out” the whole Hunter S Thompson thing and make money for “the man” with overpriced hamburgers and t-shirts. Eh. Ok. I see it. But what I take away is a place for everyone. And I couldn’t dig it more. I remember my first time there thinking “I am home”. Its quirky and weird and eccentric and happy and friendly and beautiful.  As is Aspen.
My Dad LOVED Colorado. We vacationed here often as kids, he vacationed often as an adult with his motorcycle buddies. It is where he died…not far from Aspen. So Im drawn there I suppose. Im very much like my Dad. I don’t know if he ever got to see Maroon Bells. I doubt he’d have paid the entry fee…LOL. But as I hiked the Bells for the first time yesterday instead of just staring at it from the touristy shore….I thought of some things. I sure hope he got to see it. And not just SEE it from the shore where the busload of tourists were taking pictures. I hope he got to WALK though it. Stumble on rocks at 11,000 feet, see moose and field mice and flowers that grow WAY up there sporadically and beautifully. I hope he got to see the view of the Bells from the back that very few will ever get to see because they don’t stray off the “tourist path”. I hope he saw a lone buck in the grass eating…and made eye contact and had an unspoken conversation with nature. I hope he stood in a field of aspen trees buried way back behind the lake and thought “god damnit Im one lucky son of a bitch”. Even if he never did…..he has now.
I love you Aspen. I love you Colorado. I love you Dad. I miss you. 12 years is a long time. Of all the things Ive learned in life- knowing that I can sleep when Im dead is the best of them. Go, go, go, go ,go. While you still can. Stray off the path. Fuck the path.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – HST
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AND SO IT BEGINS & ENDS

Im headed to Austin and San Antonio tomorrow. My sister just built a new home in Austin and my Mom just built a new home in San Antonio. The three of us decided that 2018 was the year of building houses. Im bringing Dude with me. And my daughter. And her friend. I can’t wait to eat real Tex Mex, drink sweet tea and see my nieces. One of the reasons we are going is to take an official college tour of UT Austin. Maddie has always loved UT. We toured it with her when she was about 9. And with my family living there I feel like she’d be ok there. Its so far away from me, though. Im very conflicted.
When I left Texas, I get the feeling part of Texas left me too. It’s no secret Im a little lefty looney for Texas. Maybe not for Austin ;)-. I never really felt like my political or religious beliefs jived. Maybe its because I spent way too much time in the BURBS. I really regret not living in the heart of the city when I was younger. Dallas is a pretty amazing city. With art and music and food and a history. And a fucking football team that everyone talks about. I have one grandmother and a brother living there now. In Dallas. Part of me feels like my history is slowly being erased. As I spend less time there, have less family there.
I am emotional about doing an official college visit. She was JUST in Kindergarten. And when those assholes that told me “time flies, enjoy every minute” and I scoffed because my kids never slept, ate dirt, climbed walls and drove me crazy….I TRULY wish Id listened. Really listened. Because time flies. It flies like you cannot imagine. It creeps and lingers and crawls and makes you want to pull your hair out. It makes you wish they’d just sleep through the night. Just eat real food. Just pee in a toilet. Just sleep in their own bed. Just get to the age where they are in school all day. Just get out of elementary school. Just get a license so you don’t have to drive them anywhere. Just. Just.
And here we are. She has one year of high school left. I know how that will go. I barely see her as it is. She is ALWAYS at cheer practice. There will be football season, competitions, golf season, friends, parties, trips. And it will fly by. The seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days, the months. They will fly by. And a year from right now Ill be buying her dorm things. And the things that happen between this moment and that moment when I pack her car are all that we have. And I will soak up, complain about, enjoy, cry through, laugh, plan, and take pictures of….all of it.
Part of me feels like we are going home to visit. Like she may go home to go to school. Like she may be a million miles away from me making new friends, going to class, learning hard lessons, doing some things she shouldn’t, learning, growing, and becoming a person. And wasn’t that the goal?
Despite what some may think….I love Texas in my soul. Its like a sibling, I can make fun of it….you cannot. Colorado has become my home. Love it here more than I ever imagined. I belong here. I will most likely die here. So I take my girl home this week to decide if UT is where she wants to go. And I pretend that its no big deal. That its just a college visit. But I know what it really is. I’ll walk beside her quietly at the tour. I wont interject opinions (as hard as that will be). Because this is HERS. She turned 18 last week. My job as a parent will never ever be done. Ever. But I am acutely aware that my roles have lessened. That I did all I could do the best I knew how. That she’s funny and smart and capable and ready to leave. And as much as that hurts…..its exactly as it should be. Here’s to Austin. Here’s to Texas. Here’s to my daughter…and the choices she gets to make. I hope she knows whatever she chooses that its the right thing. And it will eventually lead her to where she is meant to be…….even if it’s a 1,000 miles from “home”.

 

“Oh very young, what will you leave us this time
You’re only dancin’ on this earth for a short while
And though your dreams may toss and turn you now
They will vanish away like your dads best jeans
Denim blue, faded up to the sky
And though you want them to last forever
You know they never will
(You know they never will)
And the patches make the goodbye harder still”

CAT STEVENS, “Oh Very Young”

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AND SUCH IS GRIEF

On August 7, 2018 my Dad will have been dead 12 years. And I truly cannot fathom that. And I don’t really want to write this blog because Im sick as shit of hearing about my grief so I KNOW you are. The funny thing is I am a very happy person. I love life. I go on constant adventures. I laugh a LOT. I have amazing kids, friends and a pretty great guy in my life. I love my Mom, sister and brother. But there is something present in every day of my life, in every minute, in every second, that I cannot ignore. That is just THERE. And over 12 years has become part of who I am. And NOT recognizing it seems to give it more power. So I chose, a few years back, to address it as often as I felt necessary. If I speak TO the grief, speak OF it, face it….acknowledge that it changed every single solitary thing in my being…..it feels a little better.
Months will go by and I live what I call a “grief-free” period. And then something will happen. It can be little. It can be almost nothing at all…and it triggers some grief. This past weekend my kids were mostly gone with friends, Dude was on a boys camping weekend, most of my friends were out of town and I found myself very STILL. I am not often still. Or alone really. I go, go, go. And it’s designed that way. STILL is a place that provides quiet and thought and I don’t always do well with that.  So Saturday night, alone, I rented “Wild” again. With Reese Witherspoon. The remarkable story of how Cheryl Strayed walked the PCT in honor of and because of her mother’s death. I’ve read all of Cheryl’s books, watched her speeches, and soaked in all of her words. I get her.
I have seen that movie 5 or 6 times but each time I get something more out of it. I think what I mostly get is confirmation that Im not nuts. Cheryl was so very close to her mom. Her Mom died at 45. My Dad was 53. And died in a motorcycle accident. Her Mom died 26 years ago. And to this day it affects WHO she is, what she does, HOW she does things. And just after her Mom’s death she lost herself. And had to find herself again. And I GET that. To my core…I GET that. Every person on Earth does grief differently. I had an image of a line. With a beginning and an ending. “Shock, denial, sadness, acceptance, depression, learning to live again, the END.” Done with grief. In approximately 2 years. I gave myself two years. Check mark.
 Ive been wrong about so many things in my life. But I couldn’t have been “wronger” about grief. It is ugly and pretty and joyous and sickening and painful and long and lonely and confusing and irritating and interferes with everything you do. And it lasts. I don’t want to say “forever” but I will. Because 12 years later I believe that. I think I need to accept that its never going away. That Im not weird or strange or fucked up because I still grieve all these years later.
Grief is a thing. And she can walk up while you’re busy having fun and slap you in the face so hard and so surprisingly that you are jolted. And you hate her for it. Cuz you shouldn’t be this way all these years later.
There’s a few lines that Bobbi (Cheryl’s Mom) says in the car just after she’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer. And of the 5 or 6 previous times Ive watched the movie I never really HEARD those words. This time I HEARD them……
“I was never me. I was always a mother and a wife. I was never in the driver’s seat of my own life”.
It makes me cry as I write those words. How incredibly sad to realize that….as you are dying. I HEARD the words and realized my Dad’s death taught me the same thing. That Id better get the fuck in the driver’s seat and start steering. Because time is not promised. Not even a little bit.
I’ve said before that Im not the same girl I was on August 6, 2006. Everything about me changed. Everything. My grief has changed the way I parent, the way I live, the way I love, where I live, what I say, my marriage, my courage, my heart, my life, and all of the fibers in my being. And if you ask me if I’d change that….the honest answer is I don’t know. I don’t know. How can I know. I can only know that I am here today writing this. Sharing this. Opening this wound…so that maybe some other NUT JOB who doesn’t feel normal, who makes mistakes, who ends a marriage, who loses a parent, who buys some land in the mountains, who goes through a tragedy….will not feel so alone.
And the truth is….I don’t have a magic, feel good, get through grief better book to write. Cuz what the fuck do I know? Grief is a bitch. You aint getting over it. You aint avoiding it forever. You aint gonna drink it away or sex it away or write it away or cry it away. You are going to avoid it as long as you can and then she’s going to catch you. And rip your heart out. And you can only feel it. And live through it. Because you will. You will live through it. Question is……HOW are you going to live through it.
Get busy living. And quit “shoulda’n” on yourself.

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”  – Cheryl Strayed

 

“Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world. It’s hard to get by just upon a smile Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world I’ll always remember you like a child, girl….” – Cat Stevens

 

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