Struggling & Surviving

I know it’s been awhile. While I don’t like that it’s been so long, I am doing my best. I’m not going to make promises to do better because… I don’t want to set myself up for failure. If I can do better, I will.

I don’t even remember where I left off…

We did find a place to live, it’s in Burnsville. I’m so happy to be going back to that city. Even though I don’t care much for the name… BURNS-VILLE? Who came up with that? How? WHY? Ok, I couldn’t take it anymore. I did some research and if you can believe Wikipedia, “The name Burnsville is attributed to an early Irish settler and land owner, William Byrne. His surname was recorded as “Burns” and was never corrected”. Hmm. The city council must’ve been Irish too…

Anyway, we’re moving into a townhouse. It’s close to just about everywhere we go. I’m really excited. I think moving day will be July 28th. Now, if I could find the energy to start packing up boxes…

Work has been slow (and partially nonexistent when my car was out of commission). So, at the request of a friend, I applied for another job (to do in addition to, not instead of). Not many hours, which is ok with me. I’m still doing physical therapy for my back and am not 100% yet. It is a PCA job and while it’s nothing I’ve done before, the fact that my friend thought I would be good at it, really means a lot to me and makes me want to do my best.

Still, making ends meet is difficult. I know it is for most people. So what else can I do?

I can write.

I subscribe to a lot of writing newsletters, calls for submissions, writing groups etc. And I’ve found many writing projects, all of which pay. There is at least one a month, to keep me busy until November.

In May, I answered a call for submissions from “ChickenĀ Soup” for the _________’s Soul about stepping outside your comfort zone. Trying something new. So I wrote a piece called “Mic Drop”. They say the selection process is a very long one, so not sure if/when I’ll hear back on that. I was just happy to have written and submitted something.

For June, I submitted and essay and a poem to a woman who is putting together a book called “Celebrating Sisters”. If you follow me on FB, I’m sure you saw the call. I wanted to do it. I wanted it to be an uplifting story. I wanted to let people know that even though Natalie is gone from this earth, she is not gone from my life. In some ways, I feel our relationship has gotten deeper. Stronger maybe. I believe she is ALWAYS with me. That’s really what I need. Someone who is totally focused, 100% on ME. šŸ˜›

I shed a lot of tears. I listened to her music as I wrote. I went through pictures. I cursed her. I told her I loved her and still love her… it was exhausting.

For July, I’m attempting to write for “Nevertheless We Persisted” about a turning point in our life.

2016 was such a terrible year for me… and there were many gifts that came along with the grief. I’m going to write about that. It’s due July 7th, so wish me luck!

August is about Risk. September is about Setting Boundaries. October about Mother’s of Angels and November on Redemption.

So that’s what’s been going on over on this end…

What have y’all been up to?

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Dogs Are People Too

* To prevent confusion, I wrote this post a couple of months ago. It’s been sitting in my “drafts” folder… waiting to be finished I guess. So, here it is. Enjoy.

Last night I went to my mom and dads… mostly to see them but to see the doggies too. Deano and Niles, they are quite the pair.

Deano is a prima donna if I ever met one. He’s around seven years old? I’m not sure but my parents don’t do much to dissuade his thinking that he is the king of the castle, everyone else is just allowed to live there and care for him. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I don’t say it with judgement. I’m just trying to paint a picture.

Niles on the other hand… I think of as more of a court jester or a peasant. He was Natalie’s dog and like Nat, he’s a bit of a trouble maker… or is getting senile? I think they are close to the same age… anyway, Niles lost an eye a couple of years ago and his remaining one isĀ failing. It’s a good thing the two dogs love each other because they need each other. While Deano gets a playmate, Niles relies on Deano to get around. Deano is Niles’ seeing eye dog. Other than needing his eye treatments, Niles is a pretty low needs dog. He’s content to be in the same room as people and not have to be the center of attention.

All of this info brings me to my point.

While at mom and dad’s last night, the two dogs sat outside the little gate of the dining room, whining. They aren’t allowed in the dining room because of all the accidents.

Speaking of accidents, I had to pee. I excused myself and when I came back, there was Deano, sitting on his two hind legs. Still whining. Tears in his eyes like “I stayed at your house, remember? Why won’t you hold me? I NEED ATTENTION!” So I scooped him up and held him for awhile. (I don’t do much to correct his thinking either, come to think of it…)

When I set him down, there was Niles. Looking up at me with his one good/mediocre eye. Not saying anything or whining or crying.

“Does Niles like to be held?” I asked

“He does, it’s just a little more awkward because he’s bigger than Deano.”

I grabbed Niles and hugged him to my chest. I held my breath as his kissed me all over, bathing me in his saliva. I kissed him back. His ears, the top of his head and I tried to imagine Natalie there with us.

It wasn’t long before Deano got jealous though and started to whimper.

“I held you first, it’s not your turn.”

He cocked his head to the side and barked.

Then mom came around.

I set Niles down and reached for Deano.

Would he let me pick him up? Of course not! Mom was here! Not only was mom better but he watched me to make sureĀ I saw himĀ rejecting me and illustrating I wasn’t the only one who wanted him.

To keep me in my place, I guess.

Well buddy, she was my mom first, soĀ whatever…

What’s the point of all this? I don’t know. Does there have to be one? I guess I just found it highly amusing and wonder how in the world people can think animals are stupid.

 

This Will Be My Last Post…

Breathe. This will be my last post, written as a 38 year old.

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Saturday is my birthday. Last year at this time, I had a psychic reading done. It was an emotional experience and I recall her telling me that my New Year’s Day should be celebrated on my birthday day. It is the beginning of a new year, for me.

And this year? Man, am I ever ready to be done with THIS year. It has been a difficult year, more specifically, a difficult 6 months.

It has been a year of greats. Greatest year of loss. Of grief. Of growth. Of curiosity. Of finding purpose. Of productivity. Of creativity. Of dancing, ever so carefully as to not disrupt the balance of things. Crying when I need to cry, screaming when I’m angry, asking for help when I can’t do it on my own. I have lived more life in this year alone than in all of my 37 previous years combined.

I am grateful. I am angry. I am sorrowful. I see more beauty and focus less on the ugly. I try to understand it rather than judge it. I have a long way to go AND I have come a long way.

October 10th will be the one year mark of my working. It’s not a lot of hours but it’s what I can do to feel good about myself and it beats the hell out of being unemployed.

I have survived (thus far) raising a teenager… (and a husband).

I have lost a son and a sister.

I have gained the strength, confidence and trust of strangers because some part of each of our stories intersect.

I moved from a townhouse to an apartment and have actually MET some of my neighbors, as in more than the ONE I knew at the townhouse we lived in for five years.

I started this blog and have written consistently, twice a week, since March. I have begunĀ writing a book.

I deserve the t-shirt I saw the other day. It had a picture of a Buddha sitting on a Lotus flower and it reads “Mindful As Fuck”. Yep, that sums it up.

I had been feeling nervous about turning another year older… like it was going to somehow sneak up on me and take me by surprise. HA! IN YOUR FACE. YOU’RE ALMOST 40! By now, you should be living in a house. Working a job that pays at least minimum wage for 40 hours a week. Know how to change my own oil in my car. You know, adult stuff. Do it. All. Right now. Or, you fail. You fail life.

As you can see, sometimes spending too much time by myself is not a good thing.

Just as I was having trouble breathing, I got an email. “Another 9 Inspirational Older People Who Still Kick Ass”. There was a video link for one of the examples, watch it now,Ā here. Seriously, go watch it. Are you watching?

Wasn’t that INCREDIBLE? A.Fucking.Mazing! And one of the judges said something to the effect of “I hope I can move like that when I’m your age” What? I’d hope to be able to move like that at ANY age!

Anyway, watching that video… it was inspiration for me. It eased the tension and anxiety. Helped me to see clearly, life isn’t over. Sometimes it can feel like that but I do know how to navigate (for the most part) and I have two more guardian angels to watch over me as I do my/our work of being our best selves and leaving the world a better place than we found it.

 

 

Unapologetic

Sometimes, when you have a deadline, anything goes. This is one of those times. I don’t usually plan what I will blog about, like Ernest Hemingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It usually just comes.

Not tonight. Tonight I am overwhelmed. Over tired. Over stimulated by noise and under resourced.

This post will basically be an update. Housekeeping, in a way. And, I’m not sorry. šŸ˜›

Nothing new on Natalie. It still hurts to breathe. I still wonder, when I speak about her in the past tense, why don’t people look at me like I’m crazy? Why do they look like they know what I’m talking about? I guess a better question is why do I keep expecting someone to be surprised and tell me I’m wrong? It’s all been a very long, very real (but not) nightmare? Because there is still a part of me that is wishing for this not to be true…

I was at Bath & Body Works yesterday and while checking out, the sales girl looked at my Visa card (which is customized and has a picture of Natalie on it, you know, with the rainbow-colored wig? Her eyes are looking away and she’s got a half smirk, half kissy face?) and she said “Is that you? No, who is that?”

“That’s my sister” I replied.

“What a great picture! She looks like she likes to have fun!”

I smiled briefly and said “she did.”

I found myself feeling my way around this unfamiliar boundary. Did she notice the past tense? Ā Do I tell her the rest of the story? Do I tell her that she’s gone? That part of me went with her?

I grabbed my bag and wished her a good rest of her day.

It felt good, not explaining. I wondered why I had been doing so before.

Because she was so important to me. She still is, just in a different way.

I wanted people to know that yes, she did like to have fun. She liked to work. She loved her family and her friends and her poor damn near blind doggy. That she was incredibly, immeasurably talented and that the world is now deprived of that. That her heart and soul, expressed through her voice and music would now only echo as a recording. But thank God, for those recordings…

Dammit. Someone tell Hemingway he forgot crying, in addition to the bleeding. The “ugly cry” we’re so afraid to show people (I am, anyway). You know the cry, right? The shiny, red, puffy eyes. Mascara, not that I’ve worn any since the end of May, running and leaving black streaks down your face. Snot bubbling and running. Face frozen in what could be considered a smile, if not for the tears. That silent, deafening, grief. You can’t get enough air in or out. Your head starts to throb in time with your blood pressure… Fuckin’ A, Natalie. WTF?

I wasn’t going to write about her. I didn’t know what I was going to write, but it wasn’t going to be about her…

So. What else? We are STILL moving. Kinda. We have one more car load of stuff and the townhouse will be done. Cleaning is pretty much done. We do still have the garage though. We’re trying to decide if we should find out who wants any of this stuff (Salvation Army, Disabled Vets, GoodWill etc.) and saying fuck it, it’s the rental place’s problem now. They can charge us and we’ll give them $10 a month…

My Acme date. To do stand up or not to do stand up? I had entered into Acme’s Funniest Person in the Twin Cities competition sometime in April. I was given the date of July 5th to perform. I was starting to panic. Should I push myself? Give myself time, it’ll be around again next year? Less than two weeks away, I was feeling the pressure. Finally, I decided to email the person in charge. I briefly explained what I was dealing with and wondered if it was at all possible to get a later date. I didn’t expect her to change anyones schedule and if she couldn’t do it, no problem- I just wanted to check out all my options. Maybe I’d be ready, maybe not. She emailed back a few hours later with her condolences and gave me Aug. 23rd as my new performance day! OMG, the relief! I’m so grateful. It’s good to explore your options.

As for moving in, we’ve got some serious wall space we need to cover. Not everything has found its place yet and we’re thinning out a ton of our belongings just because it’s too much. I don’t want to feel weighed down by anything, anymore than I do.

I guess that’s it for now.

See ya Wednesday, where if I were to plan on what I was going to blog about, it would be a response write to another blogger’s piece on the past!

Sassy Nat
The picture on my Visa debit card, only it’s cropped much tighter! Basically her face, telling me “I’m not judging you for spending money but do you REALLY NEED that?”