Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fulfilling self-assignment

Rifling through this month's journal (I am using a ""Decomposition Book" each month, a la Natalie Goldberg), I found a assignment I had given myself as a result of my working through Julia Cameron's Walking in this World: to post one of my most obscure poems on my blog.  Since this is the last day of the month, I wanted to complete at least one more creative task for August and decided to post this evening's verse here.

But of course, there is an interesting story to this poem. I am a big fan of the Personal Universe deck. I think I have written about it here before, but feel free to Google away.  However, my room is a wreck and I am not really in the frame of mind to clean, so I thought I would let an app that I like to play with, Ghost Radar Legacy, generate the words for me.  Google that one too, if you are curious.  (I am getting a bit lazy with the linking, sorry.)

So anyway, for your obscure enjoyment - my verse about not wanting to be obscure, I guess:


"What I Want"

What I want
is to be more than useful,
meaningful
beyond this space
beyond this time
my words more than scattered consonants
dissonate
discovery subterranean
like Richard III unearthed,
in London for a parking structure
mundane, I want the conversation -
alone -
to last.

(c) tbj 8.31.14




Monday, March 3, 2014

Faithful Companions and Unconditional Love


Ever since June of last year, I have slept with death in my house.  The night my mother died, I felt it slide in under the door like a poisonous mist, creep through the air of sadness that hung palpable, on stealthy panther feet.

Since that time, I can sense when death is about, scratching out with its hoary talons to snatch someone else I love away.

I looked into my mother's eyes the night she died.  I told her she was the best mother in the entire world, thanked her for trying to make me into a good person, acknowledged her sacrifices in bringing me into this vale of tears, and told her we would be okay, that she could go.

A few hours later, she did.

My dog, Kruzer (named by an animal shelter and we kept it, not wanting to confuse him) kept vigil in the yellow chair beside her hospital bed the last week of her life.  He sat, sentinel, the night she died.  And he had to go outside, restlessly roaming the yard after she died, as if he couldn't contain his grief.  When the funeral home directors came to pick up her body, he howled as if his heart was breaking and then showed his teeth from the gate, knowing that they were taking her away from us, from the house, from him, for the last time.

Now I am giving him medicine to increase his appetite so he will be more comfortable.  I am coaxing him to eat a bite of food.  I am racking my brain to come up with ideas of natural remedies so I don't feel so helpless fighting against this.

But I looked into his eyes tonight and saw the same thing I saw in my mother's.  That he was already destined for another world, and he looks to me to say, "go," release him from the bonds here.

My husband says I'm wrong, takes very little I think or say or do seriously, and for once I hope he is right.  He dismissed my feeling the night my mother died that she was on her way.  And he is dismissing me now.  I hope he is right this time.

Some may be horrified that I am equating my dog's decline with my mother's demise.  I acknowledge this.  But my dog is a sentient being.  My dog has shown me unflagging, unconditional love.  No human has ever done this.  My mother came the closest.

It's something in the eyes.  The windows of the soul.  The soul escapes, even when the windows are closed.  For this, I weep.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Death, Dying, Endings and Me

It's been a strange day.

I have been living through this grief process shit now for over 2 years.  On June 13, 2012, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  She died on June 12, 2013, one day short of a year from that diagnosis.  One day short of a year to make decisions, know that the end was more than likely imminent, and get "her affairs in order."  Except she didn't.  In the midst of dealing with the fact that I can't call and kvetch or bitch or cry to her, I am having my guts ripped out dealing with the twisting in the wind of her estate, her dilapidated hoarder house, giving away her horses, discovering that her belongings were stolen, house broken into repeatedly, memory disgraced and disrespected, funeral not paid for, and the grave has no headstone.

Deep breath.

For the past three weeks or so, my dog has been eating less and less, and becoming more and more lethargic.  Today my dad paid for a vet visit with his vet for my dog.  Our vet four days ago told us it was a "sour stomach" and nothing was wrong.  My dad's vet says that it's elevated calcium and liver enzymes, and most likely parathyroid cancer.  Either we do an expensive blood test or we watch him get weaker and weaker and die.  So we did the blood test.  And now we wait a week.  And then go from there.  I want him well, but failing that, I want the absence of pain for him.

Meanwhile, I look at another sentient being who has given me absolutely nothing but unconditional love and watch him approach death.

I know that to live is to eventually die.

I get it.

This fact does not make it hurt any less.

And of course, life conspires to cry along with me.

A week ago I received Ariel Gore's memoir, The End of Eve and just finished it today.  I am bereft with sorrow for her, and reliving my own mother's illness and death, making the inevitable comparisons.  Intense writing at its best, this is a talented author's masterpiece.  She has always written in such a way that I felt her words, but this hit me on another whole level.  Highly recommend it.



Right now my life is full of changes.  It has been an overwhelming couple of years.  In the midst of all of this, I have discovered I am living a life I hate, and basically I want to escape being myself.  I am discovering what I really want to do, but also what has blocked me from it - an insidious self-hatred that poisons everything I do.  I am tired of trying to analyze its source.  I am more interested myself in the psychic surgery to remove its roots.  Failing that, I look toward the ultimate escape.

To answer Mary Oliver's rhetorical question, what to do with my one precious human life?

Fix it or forget it.

(Image from URL: http://www.mailman.columbia.edu/academic-departments/epidemiology/research-service/death-poverty)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014. Day One.

All in all, a better day than usual.

I actually slept a full 8 hours.  This only happened a handful of times in 2013.  Spending the first 6 months worried about my mother's health and watching her die, my decades of experience of shortchanging myself sleep held in me in good stead.  So sleeping 8 hours was a big deal.

I actually took the time to make a smoothie that contained 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 20 g of protein and 3 g of fat.  It's my own design, but I did not have time to make it more than 2 or 3 times in 2013.

2013 was a year spent taking care of everyone but myself, in a lifetime of taking care of everyone but myself.
I am hoping to reverse this.

"The body is in need of no defense.  This cannot be too often emphasized.  It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning roles it cannot fulfill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish."    - A Course in Miracles

There is a Buddhist precept that reminds us to be mindful of how rare - and therefore, how grateful we should be - to find ourselves in a human birth on earth.  The body is part of that.  The Soul is an even bigger part of that.

Right now, I am going to focus on taking care of both.




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.....

Goodbye, 2013.

You were a shitty year, and I am glad to see you go.

When you leave, you will take with you the last time my family was whole.  You will take my illusions that certain things matter.  You will drag behind your bedraggled ass my innocence, my ability to blame things on an earlier generation, and my desire to be something else.

So tonight as I spread out the Tarot cards to see just what I was supposed to learn from this fucked up experiment called 2013, I am not going to miss you.  I will not mourn your passing.

You are a bitter old bitch.  I can't wait until you are gone.


Monday, November 11, 2013


It's been a long time since I have blogged.  Life has strewn me thin and thinner in places and much has happened.
Much of this blog has been discussion of my struggles with life, whether it be my depression, my physical health, or whatever.  And some of it has been my struggles with expectations of those around me and involved in my life.  Life has tried very hard to teach me not to have expectations of others.  That way, when someone else does the right, responsible or ethical thing, I can be pleasantly surprised on those rare occasions, rather than being in a dull state of disappointment continuously.  Often I forget this lesson and then feel devastated by life, et al, all over again.
In the past year, I have watched cancer take my mother's life.  I felt helpless as I continued to beat my head against the work post, giving too much of my life and energy to maintain status quos.  For this reason, I lost many opportunities to work out lifelong issues and spend time with mother before she died.  Sure, she lived in my house, and my husband stayed with her so she was never alone, but I owed her more than that.  I owed her myself.  And I failed.
In the past 10 years I have spent an astronomical amount of time trying to be a wife and mother.  Because my husband has never been much of a provider, and for 8 of those years has made little or no contribution to the family financial situation, I have been forced to work a great deal harder than the typical wife and mother. This has added even more stress to my life.  And I am not graceful under pressure.  So my home life has been less than idyllic.  All I can say for sure is that I have loved my children fiercely, and sacrificed whatever was necessary to take care of them.  My health.  My happiness.  My own interests.  My friendships.  My sanity.  My time.
All the same, I did the best I could.  I was not always able to spend as much money on them as I wanted to.  I was never able to spend the time I wanted to with them.  Since marrying my husband, I have often had to take his part of responsibilities in addition to my own.  My older daughter resents the last 10 years, when I stopped being a single parent and started doing something besides working and then coming straight home and focusing only on her.  So now she has told me that she has not been happy since she has had to share my focus and is moving out as soon as she legally can.  This happens to be the day after tomorrow.
So back to expectations.  I expected that if I sacrificed whatever I could, I would be the recipient of gratitude, not resentment.
So when I look back on my life, it's not real impressive.  It's full of dull aches, unrequited caring and compassion.  I am a warrior with fatigue that permeates ever part of my being, My health, emotion, physical, mental, spiritual, is teetering.
So now, having lost a mother, I am now losing a child.  Life has decided to do this to me in the space of 7 months.  I fear for my younger daughter, who is feeling abandoned.  My husband spends his time on the couch, watching football and sitcoms, and playing on his computer or iPad.  No job, no job prospects.  No financial support.  And is apparently incapable of providing emotional support, focusing long enough to have a conversation.  More expectations on my part, I suppose.
I feel that I am living in a nightmare.  This weekend I spend two days attending the estate auction of my grandmother, who died 4 years ago.  I keep waking up and wanting to call my mother and talk to her, cry to her, and be heard by her.  Only she was the one who could understand me.  Only she was with me from the beginning of my life.  Then my firstborn hates me, denies the 18 years I have spent taking care of her, and leaves me as well.  Meanwhile, the dead weight of my husband doesn't budge, seems blissfully unaware that anything is going on at all, and is only impacted by running out of cigarettes or me asking him to do anything other than lie on the couch.
I worry.  I worry about what is going to happen to my youngest when I finally work myself into a state where I can no longer take care of her.  I worry what will happen to her if I am not able to fully function as both sole responsible parent and sole breadwinner until she is fully an adult and can take care of herself.

In regards to the Bukowski quote above, I know my original dream was to become a fusion of mind and soul, spiritually attuned while being grounded and stable.  However, lately I have felt like a soul who has lost her mind, and definitely her moorings.  Insanity does not feel good.  If I could choose to change my course - and I will fight like hell to do so - I regain my mind, and intellectualize my life.  I feel most comfortable with this.  It's as if the emotional shock has caused a gigantic regression in all my Aspergian traits and I need to disengage.  Problem is, I don't have the strength to do so, unless forced to do so.  I am scared of what is going to rip off that band-aid.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Updates on my life...

I dropped off the blogisphere after my attempt at the topic du jour exercise, and I do have the desire to drop back in.

At this point in my life I need a distraction from the stress and overwhelming, oppressive responsibilities in my life.

Yet I don't want blogging to be yet another responsibility, another "have to" in a long, long list of have-tos....

Yesterday I spoke with my mother's home health nurse.  She suggested that we look into Hospice at this time for my mother.  In the back of my mind, ever since I learned of her diagnosis last June, I have known this is a possibility.  I knew that people get cancer, that cancer can be fatal.  I knew that mother had this thing called cancer.  But I consciously fought against making that connection.

The home health nurse stated that people who get discharged from home health and into Hospice sometimes do get better and get discharged out of Hospice and back into home health.  The thing is, I don't consider home health to be for the healthy.  So Hospice, to my mind, are the people who are even farther removed from health.  She said she had this conversation with my mother two days ago.  My mother has not brought it up in conversation with me.  Of course, we don't have too many long conversations as she usually falls asleep when she is talking to me.  Staying awake is not her strong suit since she is now taking Percocet and morphine.  So I have no idea what to do or where to go from here except into the dark night with her.  And hope one of us keeps from losing her mind to guide the other.

In the midst of all this, life goes on.  Work demands more than ever.  If 12-14 hours was the accepted minimum, it is demanding 16-18 hours now.  I just don't have it anymore.  So I rush and I delegate more than I ever have, then I stress about what I delegate, so I stay awake worrying away and not sleeping the hours that I am not there.

My oldest is getting ready to go to her first prom this year.  She has fanagled  going to a prom as a sophomore, and she - with typical self-centeredness and lack of concern for others that marks all humans her age - is characteristically hateful and cutting whenever she does not get her way.  She wants the last money for the family's groceries to be spent on her nail polish.  When she decides she doesn't like that $8 nail polish after all, she wants fake nails bought for her.  Then she breezes in and has a meltdown because I won't give her my only decent make-up.  Then I have to keep an open ear, because whenever she is denied her way, she turns around and says something cutting and cruel to her little sister, passing on the misery.

My youngest reels from being a victim of her sister's hormonal maelstrom to watching her beloved grandmother sink farther and farther away from her to spending less and less time with me as I try to support the household financially single-handedly, show her the love kids need to grow up at least somewhat functional, and make sure she has clean clothes that match somewhat (her father is color-blind).  It is a testament to her strong personality that she takes each day as it comes, expresses her emotions clearly and appropriately, and keeps her spirits up.  I want to be like her when I grow up.

So pardon me while I regroup.  My posts, I hope, won't always be dark.  I will try to keep managing my depression while pretending to be Super-Boss, Super-Mom, and the part of Supportive Daughter.

And in the back of my mind, I will dream of the day I will be a real writer.

If I live through this.