Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Colossal Robert J

Yesterday, I went to the funeral for Bob. 

I have to say at the outset that Bob is my best friend’s dad and my other best friend’s father-in-law (yes, my two besties married each other.). There are many so layers of powerful emotion to sort through for all of us over the next year or two or lifetime, but for now in this space, today, this is my personal memorial to Bob—a space for my grief. 

Bob was a big guy. Seemingly giant stature, colossal hands, bold eyes, big voice—although he spoke less than the people surrounding him—when he spoke, he commanded. He had a slow way of speaking, a Southern drawl and was an economist of words. He was sharp as a tack, slightly (and slyly) irreverent, and incredibly kind but with a dry, wicked sense of humor—an individual; his own man and no one else’s—no lemmings allowed—always proud of the weird roads we travel.  And although he never said so, I know that he liked me very much. Kindred souls, him & me.

Bob was one of those people I checked in with from time to time.  We never phoned or went for coffee, but, when opportune, I would request advice or look to him for a signal of approval or frown. I trusted him as a checkpoint. I believe that there are people in the world that reflect better than any mirror. There are people, friends, lovers, mothers, best friend’s fathers that can see something in you that you can’t/won’t/are too busy to see in yourself. Bob was one of those mirrors.

Bob’s son, B, is my friend in all of this life (and certainly in the next one). B is also a mirror. Genetic trait? Some ancient caste? A long-forgotten curse? (Maybe some research is due here. Road trip?) Maybe it has something to do with knowing someone for most of his/her life—the ability to see and reflect what ever the hell is going on below the beautiful calm surface. I think it’s a higher calling. One of the gifts, a third eye, a super power—part receiver/part reflector. There are so many reasons that B and I are friends—almost 3 decades now—to many reasons to list. He is, for me, a true measure, an honest gauge in my life. If B is worried about me, I should be too. 

I’m lucky to have one of these men in my life, but blessed beyond belief to have known two.  Even though none of these words seem enough and I’ve already blown the economy principle, with my whole heart, I honor Bob. I cherish the way he loved my friend and his son. I’m grateful by his interaction in my life. I will miss him in my own quiet way. And we are much more alone knowing that he is not there to mirror, to chat, to listen, and to take up space in his favorite chair. Saying that Bob will be missed is so painfully true.

Bourbon up. Cheers to a real Southern gentleman. Safe travels, brother.

(P.S., Bob, if you are reading this, I’ll help M look after B. No worries.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Avoiding Bourbon: The Story of My Heart, 8/E Revised

It’s good to remind myself that bourbon is tough on me. There are days when, no matter what the question is, bourbon is the answer. I like the burn, the smell, the complexity of tastes, strong & sweet, harsh & smooth, the way it burns out all other tastes in my mouth. A good, stiff drink.  That’s what bourbon is.

It’s also pretty: amber, viscous, light-filled. Seductive. One large, melt-less ice cube, crystal glass, solid to the touch and taste.

Say when.

When my job is crazy stressful, when my life is chaotic and wild, when the grief rolls over my stinking, naked body, when I am un-centered and ungrounded, bourbon is bad. That’s also when I crave it most. A quick (almost instant) way to erase the first layer of shit from my mind.  A mind erasing elixir that takes the edge off my fear, my grief, my boredom, my self-loathing. The trouble is that after that first layer is mined away, it’s very quickly down the bourbon hole. (Happy birthday to Lewis Carroll, btw.)

Some nights the bourbon hole is safe and warm, a lovely place to hide. A few hours there, wake up groggy but blank—the mind erasing worked! I’m more clear. But in the other nights, the darkest parts of myself lie in that amber, awaiting: that drunken, lazy, mean, sad, lonely, pathetic, ugly, old, horrible troll living under the bourbon bridge. I’m so serious, so sad, so alone, and just barely alive. 

Taking this to the shrink is always interesting.  I’ve heard that all people have an inner critic (their own version of my bourbon troll) that lives inside. People have their foils, their nemeses, and their own access points to those inner critics. Mine is brown liquor, what’s yours?  Dealing with all the hurt and rejection in a lifetime is a lifetime’s amount of work—an ongoing puzzle with missing and lost pieces that surface in the strangest places.

I know I’m scaring you. I promise that it’s okay. I’m becoming more and more aware of my bourbon troll and I’m avoiding bourbon as much as possible these days. My days are tough right now: work is crazy, grief is circling, chaos is swirling. I’m raw. It’s not time for a drink. 

This is written and sounds as close to a full-blown alcoholic as I’ve ever sounded, but this is me getting really honest about my main addiction: death.  I’m a super-processor, a super-feeler, a super-taster. There is nothing casual about me. I’m just not a casual girl (sorry brothers.)  I’ve always flirted with, and at times craved, death. You are not surprised. I’ve said it before.

Because I feel it all, I’m so connected to my humanity; I need a break from all that "super" from time to time. I’ve found that break in thrilling myself scared with sex, love, drugs, bourbon, rock-n-roll, illegal cheeses, car crashes, railroad tracks, etc. All of these behaviors were thrilling as a young person. I was daring, and often, dared---sexy, brilliant, bold, magnanimous, mysterious, ALIVE, young. In middle age, these behaviors are disgusting and frowned upon. (Oh, how I hate to be frowned upon. Please don’t frown at me.)

I’m learning new behaviors—ways of coping. The shrink helps with that too. It’s about measure and pacing for me. Taking my time to consider why I’m drinking, why I’m driving so fast, why I want someone’s hands on me.

It’s painful. I slip back into the old habits of a young woman, a young woman who had space for all sorts of ridiculousness. Now it just seems sorry. Pathetic. Irredeemable. 

Stick with me. I will drink bourbon again. There will be love and sex and music and dancing in due time. For now, I’m pacing myself. I’m avoiding bourbon. I’m avoiding love and entanglements of the heart. I’m staying strong and clear. I will slip up.

I will get back here and keep trying to stay in this space—holding space here for myself as I grow (again) into this strong, soft, sweet, beautiful adult woman that I’ve always meant to be.



Friday, January 16, 2015

Let's Hide until Spring? No, Wait...

Winter, for better or worse, is the space held for life--it's a pause in the cycle, a pause to renew, restock, re-nourish the soil. In the frozen death of frigidity and in the hallows of wind, life lies, under the crusted protection of ice, in wait. In the bareback cold, miniature mites die off, fleas, mosquitos get the hypothermic ax, while other lovelies dig deep and hibernate. Can we find a warm place to stave off the languishing silence of winter?

I will hold this space for life anew.

I'm not waiting for spring, though, don't mince my words, love. I'll shiver and shake here for awhile in this cold, dark place, and when the sun comes back, I'll shine brighter for the downtime, no?

Let's dance, motherfuckers. Shake that ass.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Resolutions: Do You Know Anyone More Resolute?

Although I feel obligated to create resolutions in the new year, the truth is that I like giving myself challenges. Last year, I met my resolutions.

2015 is all about doing more things that are scary and safe. It's time for me to go out on some limbs in life--to shake/wake myself up.

Here goes:
1. Take a spinning class (6 weeks)
2. Finish book of poetry and send out for publication.
3. Finish the Adena Brook story/ies and send for publication.
4. Learn to dance. Partner dancing is a lost art and I suck at being led.
5. Play 4 open mics (gulp)

And a few totally not scary & very safe resolutions:
6. Eat a green salad or drink green juice every day.
7. 100% quit smoking (I need to quit trying to quit and give it up, girl!) I know I don't smoke that much but then why do it at all? (She asks herself.)
8. Finish moth tattoo.
9. Learn new jokes.

I thought about adding teetotaling and celibacy to this list but instead I vow to imbibe high-end booze and have awesome sex instead, always asking, "Is it worth the calories? Is it delicious?" Life is too short for mediocre liquor. Life is too short for mediocre sex. To a Top Shelf 2015.

(The all-or-nothing concept doesn't always work in practice, but I think when it comes to sex & sin, it's a good idea to have some standards. Good booze is expensive. It will force me to drink less and enjoy it more. Repeat the same thinking for sex. Less is more. Quality over quantity.)