Sunflowers and Snow

I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.

Taylor Swift

I wish I’d done everything on Earth with you.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Spoiler warning for the Open Water movies)

I used to write on more days than I didn’t. But for so long I felt blocked. Like I’d tied myself into this emotional knot that I couldn’t untie and kept tightening.

It still feels that way, but all I know is that I have to write again. I have to be able to speak about my feelings and not worry about people’s approval.

Nearly two months ago, someone I loved deeply died unexpectedly. Our time together was short, but he was someone I admired and got along with really well for years. None of my words can properly convey what he meant to me. My deep admiration of him in every way.

The way that when I found out, I exploded in grief and lost the last bit of hope and sanity that was tethering me to life. I’d been deeply struggling for two years, and to quote a different Taylor Swift lyric, “I’ve been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break, and burn, and end.”

But he made me believe, despite everything, that it wasn’t true. That maybe in our middle age, we could begin a beautiful new chapter together. Mourning the fact that I’ll never be a mom has taken up a lot of my grief space for a long time. He wanted to adopt and/or foster with me. To get me a dog because I’ve never had one and all I’ve ever really wanted was to pour my love into other creatures. I truly don’t care about anything else. Not money, not career, not anything compared to how desperately I’ve always just wanted to love. And to be loved.

Last year, I went through a huge phase where I watched every non-jokey shark movie I could find, and then when I ran out of those, moved on to bear and crocodile movies. “Open Water 2” didn’t even have sharks, but still was about people stranded in a deadly situation, fighting for survival. In each of them, the thing that broke me the most was when one of their significant others dies, and they have to let go of them or leave them behind, or they’ll die too.

Matt and I watched a bunch of movies and shows over the phone, since he lived in a different state. But he visited once — only once, sigh — and we watched three movies together in real life. The last one was “Open Water,” about a couple who miss their scuba boat and get stranded in the sea with sharks. After the husband dies, the wife is left alone. She eventually takes off her scuba gear and slides into the ocean to her own ostensible death.

In the other movies, there’s usually at least one survivor, but sometimes it’s only one. And in the case of the bear movie, it’s not clear whether she’ll make it. But they keep fighting.

I don’t begrudge the “Open Water” woman’s choice to take off her scuba gear. All I know is that I can’t. If for absolutely NO other reason than that he never wanted me to give up. He believed in me more than possibly anyone ever has. I was only just starting to believe maybe he saw something in me that I didn’t, and these past two months, that spark disappeared.

I’ve been so incredibly lost in the sea, even before we became romantic, and since he died, I’ve been drowning. It’s gotten a bit easier and I’ve had amazing love and support from incredible people. I’ve had some really fun nights where I laughed more than I have in months where I literally couldn’t even smile.

One line has helped me a lot, from “Sleepless in Seattle.” Tom Hanks says:

I’m gonna get out of bed every morning … breathe in and out all day long. Then after a while, I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out. And then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for awhile.

I haven’t been doing the greatest job at this. Because I did have it great and perfect for awhile, and I knew it. There was never a time that I took him or what we had for granted. He treated me like absolute gold, and I tried to do the same.

But now it’s gone. I’d give absolutely anything to have him back in this world, even if I never got to speak to him again. Just for him to still be here. He was the most incredible person.

That isn’t how it works though. Life is so fucking unfair. He deserved so much more time.

So all I can do now is try to live the way he’d want me to. Not hating myself, not being self destructive, not feeling like I’m walking through a constant nightmare. Until I can do that for myself, I will do it for him.

Part of that means writing again. I have to be able to share memories of him. I have to climb out, keep swimming — all the metaphors.

And maybe one day I’ll even write something funny again. He said I was the funniest person he’d ever known, which was crazy because he knew so many funny people. He WAS so funny.

But that’s how he felt, so I’d love to honor that again. He read all of my blogs. One of the things that brought us together was “Annie.” He loved Little Orphan Annie and My Grandmother and months earlier when we were just friends suggested we watch “Annie Live!” together when it aired. It was our first virtual watch.

He wanted me to believe in life again. I have so few tangible things to remember him by. But I can do this. Celebrate him by trying. Taking my vitamins, going on my Peloton, working even when I’d rather stay in bed.

Breathing in and out.

It’s weird that the last blog I posted was from February 12, 2021. I had no way of knowing that exactly one year later, I’d spend one of the only few days I’d ever have with someone so incredibly special.

He always encouraged me to write again. So I am. Sometimes it will be about him; sometimes maybe about my breakfast. I’d love to do recaps again. I told him I was thinking of making a new blog just for recaps, and he was very encouraging. He was about everything.

For right now, it’s time to force myself to eat something.

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And that’s how I choose to remember it.

~Rilo Kiley

I don’t remember why I picture my grandparents’ backyard, the way I do.

There were tall rows of corn. His garden was beautiful.

Even as a kid I related more to my tiny, before-her-time grandmother who chain smoked while my grandfather was at work, more than the marathon-running Marine who chided her for the smoking.

While he grew corn. And onions. And is the reason I’m obsessed with seeds, despite being terrible at gardening.

Indoors was where they introduced me to records. Specifically, the Grease soundtrack. Then Broadway Annie.

I don’t remember where that record player was. Just the smoking confessions inside and proud gardens outside that looked and felt endless and gray under Long Island skies, while smelling like life itself.

And I miss them.

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Cindy Lubbock’s Radio Show

One day, I’ll write another blog about funny things again.

But today and others haven’t been those days.

And I miss writing. I started blogging in the first place because I wanted to be a voice in the night, like Cindy Lubbock on her radio show.

That was 15 years ago, but feels like 10 lifetimes.

I know I’m not alone in feeling alone this year. But that’s one reason I wanted to write this.

I wanted to say that I’ve been crying since I woke up on my 45th birthday today and put on “Impractical Jokers” just to survive.

My Lyft driver had ladybugs on the mask she made herself, and we bonded over life.

My baby brother and his beautiful wife gave me the most beautiful yellow rose (favorite flower, in the spirit of Gia Carangi) bouquet I’ve ever seen, and there’s a gift from my middle brother on my desk that I’ve saved for my birth time: 2:41. Half an hour from now.

The love I’ve received in between then and now is immeasurable.

I want to wrap this tragic world into a bow, but just can’t try to anymore.

But maybe even that is a bow unto itself. Maybe it’s okay to not have answers, to not know what the next step is supposed to be.

One of my friends posted this on Facebook:

“Unpopular opinion: I don’t think your life has to have a purpose, or you a Grand Ambition; I think it’s okay to just wander through life finding interesting things until you die.”

I’ve spent my past 45 years trying to find love and hope. It’s taken me this long to realize that probably every one does.

So I’m posting this. Because maybe someone needs that voice in the night, even if it’s 2:30 in Colorado time. And maybe that voice doesn’t have to be perfect — just there.

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Boxer Shorts

It was a sunny day in 1993. My mom was sitting next to her mom on one of those bubbly pool chairs at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont.

She was horrified by my outfit. Do you remember that episode of “Major Dad” where Elizabeth leads the quest to allow boxer shorts as acceptable apparel? Well I was rocking “Jurassic Park” boxers and hiking boots that day, along with a turtleneck tank top.

Today I’m wearing hiking boots though I didn’t mean to, and when I looked down was fully transported. To the day that feels like yesterday, when everyone was still mostly here.

My mother’s mother chided her for being so closed minded. It was a 180 from that 1982 day at Roosevelt Field when my Nanny (what I called my grandmothers) demanded I wear the Lollipop jeans she picked out for me.

“I think she looks fine,” Nanny said in her smoker’s drawl, though it had been years since she’d had a cigarette. Probably 😉

That moment, her words, the exchange will never leave me. Because I don’t think my mom even cared about my ridiculous outfit; I think she wanted not even her mother’s approval of her daughter, but to protect me from criticism.

To protect me in general.

My mother is a grandmother now and I see that protective nature even more, now that she has two granddaughters who have to navigate this often-mean world.

Those granddaughters dress up in costumes and when they’re in normal clothes, rock unicorns and mermaids on their t-shirts.

And when they’re old enough, I’m going to plan a “Jurassic Park” movie night!

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Dead Bodies and Bloated Heads

Do you know how many times I’ve thought of dying?

Because there are so many.

The first time I ever truly thought about killing myself was in the bathroom of my parents’ house back in 1997. I was 22.

Then I thought about my still-so-little brother living upstairs. The person who’d given me any reason for living, in so many years. I thought about how in the rest of the world my death could be explained to the one remaining pure soul I knew.

It couldn’t, so I didn’t.

I’ve on and off wanted to take my own life so many times since then and especially these days. What everyone says is don’t! We care and your life is important!

I want that to be true. More than almost anything.

And/so I’m writing this now because I’m in a dark pit and maybe you are too. But/so maybe you can feel this and know that for whatever the fuck the reason or the light, we need to.

I’ll do it if you will.

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I Don’t Want To.

One of my favorite scenes ever is from “Felicity’s” “The List.” After a year of pining for Ben and finally getting to be with him, she realizes how much of herself she’s been compromising, just to not “freak him out.” So she tells him this:

I’m an emotional person. I feel things and, I need to be able to get upset and to talk about how I’m feeling. I mean that’s just-that’s who I am and, I can’t change it. I don’t want to. And the thing is, you knew that. You knew it and you still pursued me. Because, you want something with me – you’re just not strong enough to have it. Which, in a way makes you a coward.

She was right on all levels and just after this speech is when she went for her infamous haircut. Another moment of being like screw this, I like myself and if he/the world doesn’t, that’s fine.

Different parts of Felicity’s speech speak to my heart at different times. The one lately that’s been hitting hardest is how her voice breaks when she says that the saddest part is he’s going to wake up one day and realize what he lost.

And that it was going to be too late.

I am so imperfect. One could even call me a massive fuck up.

But when you get my heart, you get my heart. VERY few people do. It’s not just about romance. I care about my friendships and have been burned by them just as much as my romantic relationships. When I was in my early 20s, one of my best guy friends told me I tended to become bosom friends with women who were emotional vampires. I’ve been blessed with incredible girlfriends who definitely aren’t; but he wasn’t wrong and his words stuck with me.

I mean. Vampires are sexy! Tbh, I think I simply deep down like being sucked dry. I love the feeling of being important, desired. Necessary.

But then once they’re done, so am I, ‘cause: proverbial blood loss. Also when Felicity says that the saddest part is that Ben is going to wake up one day, realize what he’s lost, and it will be too late?

Yes. I am the same way. I’ll pour my heart, body, mind, and soul out for someone. They only get to reject it so many times; the. I’m just done and it doesn’t come back.

My life has taken so many wrong turns. I already was messed up when I was younger, but now in my 40s? Gah, to quote Bridget Jones, who is now young enough to be my daughter.

I feel like I have nothing to show for my life but fuck ups. Some days I exhibit more pluck and I’m not even really depressed today. But I wanted to talk.

Because that’s another thing. I really need to share my heart, my emotions, neuroses. To quote someone from last week, I am “a lot.”

And probably, I’m not going to stop being a lot.

But to the people willing to love me, the ones whom I love back, I will be the good “a lot” too. I know I’ve been selfish in the past and stingy with my time.

Now I’ve spent so much time feeling so very alone, and have better focus on what truly matters.

Like Felicity, I can’t change who I am. I just can’t. And I don’t want to.

Improve, fix my faults? Yes, always. I will die trying to do that. Never will I say “This is who I am so just deal with it” when it comes to my MANY personal flaws.

But maybe for the first time in my life, I’m going to look honestly at who I am and not just what’s wrong with me, but everything I have to give.

And then give it when the time is right. ❤️

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Mixing Up the Routine

One reason I love yoga is that it reminds me of cheerleading. Including a downside, which is how when I first try a routine, I can’t keep up and am like omg I’ll never get this, and everyone is smart but me! I was always the last to get a new cheer down. It took a LOT of explanation, patience, and repetition. But once I got it, I never forgot it.

I miss CorePower Yoga’s studios SO much for myriad reasons, but one is that I was still definitely not ready for Level Two and barely survived the Hot Power Fusion classes, but muscle memory and repetition were starting to slowly work their magic. I was getting better, and most relieving of all to me, I was beginning to remember the routines, especially when accompanied by my two main instructors’ playlists.

It’s been hard to motivate myself to do yoga at home, even though I have a mat and there’s great free options right on the TV, and I know I feel good once I’m doing it. At very least, once I’m done 🙂

But beyond the obvious, like my room doesn’t have a barnlike ceiling or people massaging and spraying rose oil on me (usually), it’s really intimidating to start a brand-new routine. I’m SO glad to have learned so much IRL first because I recognize so many poses and terms now and don’t have to look at the screen to follow along.

But then there will be something new, or the TV teacher will go much faster through a sequence than I’m used to and I’ll be like hey, my CorePower instructor was much nicer!

Since I’m not very good at Staying In The Moment, tonight as I was doing this 20-minute complete body (video? What would it be called?) I was thinking about this. I HATE learning new things when I’m bad at them. If I’m good, then I love learning!

But one thing I really was starting to learn at CorePower was that it was okay to be the worst in class, because especially with yoga, it’s not about that. And muscle memory and repetition really do wonders.

So when I started falling and slipping off my mat trying to do this twist thing, I remembered my other instructors saying it’s about “your practice.”

And I started thinking hey maybe instead of feeling bad because I haven’t learned taekwondo or become a ballerina during quarantine, I could practice this (video??) and make it a goal to keep up with it. If I can memorize all of Carmen Electra’s Blue DVD routines, I can memorize this and eventually do each move!

Just as I was feeling confident despite not being able to half-Britney my leg to the side (YET!), the instructor is all “So this is kind of fun,” and does this insane flip thing that not the 1984 Olympics nor the 1993 Rock and Roll skating show starring Scott Hamilton nor Buffy could have prepared me for.

“Well there goes that quarantine plan!” I lamented to myself. But then he goes, “To many, that’s simply ridiculous! And you can feel free to skip it.” Letting me off the hook from the flippy thing, but not my overall goal.

I won’t say that I have to do it every day. I will try. And I still dabble around with other routines. But this one, doable if I practice, 20-minute routine feels like a totally bite-sized goal I can set for myself right now, and that feels good.


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Wild Nights

[Books] were the world I could lose myself in when the one I was actually living in became too lonely or harsh or difficult to bear.

I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward
in the direction I intended to go.

Cheryl Strayed, Wild

I grew up as a voracious reader — learned at three years old through my mom who read books aloud and taught me how to read them for myself while cooking dinner, via magnetic letters on the refrigerator.

For years and years, books were my very best friends. When I was four, I became obsessed with Little Women, and refused to answer to any name besides the character I decided to be that day. When I was six, I didn’t mind sitting on endless lines with my parents at boring estate sales, so long as I had the next Nancy Drew book or three on hand.

Then came every book written by my beloved Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, followed by The Baby-Sitters Club. Countless worlds and characters, not to mention all the other books in between.

As I got older and outgrew my childhood series at least chronologically, there weren’t any series that grabbed me anymore, or authors who seemed to see inside my soul on a regular basis. But I kept reading books, especially when I commuted to and from the city on the Long Island Railroad for several years. There’s nothing better than being in the middle of a book, but standing in the tiny, crowded bookstore at Penn Station in front of the New Release section, picking out a brand-new adventure based on nothing but a title and my gut was a close second.

I don’t remember when exactly I stopped reading books on a regular basis, how soon it was after that. I never stopped reading. The Internet is surely to blame for a lot of my lack of book reading, but it’s also kept me reading. As much as I love movies and television even more so, my days are spent reading pretty much non-stop. Maybe it’s something as small as a Tweet or as big as a lengthy article on psychology or history; sometimes it’s excellent writing about a ridiculous subject like “Vanderpump Rules.” But my brain still loves to read.

So many times I’ve acquired books — paid for them myself, received them as gifts, taken them out of the library. “This will be what switches me back to my old self,” I always think as  I hunker down, ready to once again pick up a book and become transported for an entire afternoon, especially if it’s raining. Those were some of the best days of my childhood.

Instead, I’d fall asleep within five minutes, or start the book but abandon it for no discernible reason. I’ve started many books in these past years, but finished very, VERY few. I think I finished one altogether last year: Guts by Kristen Johnston. It was excellent, and I highly recommend it! But for someone who used to run out of my HUGE pile of library books on family vacations and need to go to the bookstore to find more, one book in one year is a travesty.

One of the books that I began but stopped reading was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I saw the movie in 2015 and fell in love with all of it — the film, its story, and especially Strayed’s writing, which was featured in the movie. I read her book of quotes and started reading Wild. Why I stopped, I have no idea.

A few days ago, I ended up getting lost and walking an extra couple of miles in the hot sun, much of it uphill. At first I was frustrated, but then my memory was triggered of how when I first saw the movie and started reading Wild, I’d think of it every time I wanted to quit something. I’d think of putting one foot in front of the other, and so on and so forth. No race, no deadline, no competition with anyone but myself and the temptation to give up. When Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, she had an end goal, a final destination. But what mattered even more was everything that happened between the beginning and that end, her mental journey even more than the physical one.

As I walked, I realized how much I wanted to read all the details of her punishing experience, all her beautiful words that were on the pages between the front and back covers. How much I needed them. I wanted to experience every moment of Strayed’s life-changing journey. I wanted my brain and soul and even body to absorb every word on those pages like when Dark Willow scans that book at the end of “Buffy,” Season 6.

(I had to throw in at least one TV reference.)

Basically, I didn’t want to revisit Wild because I felt I *should* read a book. I felt a powerful urge combined with a calm knowledge that if I simply began the journey, every moment of it would bring riches and a greater understanding of life and the world at a time when I am absolutely craving that with every fiber of my being. I feel raw and ready for something life changing and want to experience that vicariously through someone whose writing makes me want to highlight every other sentence; it’s so poetic and insightful.

So the desire was there, but what of all the bad habit responses I’ve developed over the years when it came to books?

Well, Wild is a different kind of story, so maybe I could take a different kind of approach. I told myself: two pages a night. That’s it. There is no reason to overthink two pages, to make excuses as to why there’s no time, or more important things to do. There is no need to set aside three hours to create A Perfect Day Of Reading like I used to enjoy.

There is only the need to begin. 

So I did that. Sure enough, even though I was totally interested in what I was reading, my body immediately felt tired and sleepy. After two pages I wanted to read more but allowed myself to complete my tiny goal and have that be it for the night.

Last night, I did the same. I’m into what I’m reading; I’m just in terrible shape and need to build up those muscles again. I know that soon enough, those two pages will turn into more. Simply from the five I’ve read so far, I feel richer from Strayed’s words and stronger from my choice to sit down in bed and add this to my nightly ritual. I feel like I’ve turned a key in a lock and am so excited to see what discoveries await.

Wild cover

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Shadows & Sunlight

Normally if I leave the office in the first place, it’s to go to Target or Safeway. Those are in a long row of stores where if you walk on the sidewalk, you’re in a shadow. When it’s cold, it provides a welcome barrier from the wind.

Today I had to go to the bank that’s in the middle of the parking lot, and it wasn’t cold; it was sunny. Walking in the middle of the parking lot took my breath away for a moment, as everything looked and smelled and felt amazing. Those moments are precious and I knew the elation would fade, but I made sure to appreciate it while it lasted.

As I continued toward the bank, I realized that something about the open space in the parking lot reminded me of being at the beach. The long walk to and from the parking lot was sometimes nearly as much a part of the experience as the beach itself, and it seemed fitting that there was a man changing his shirt next to his car.

After I got my money, I wanted to get a Pokestop that required my walking towards that strip of buildings. Normally I’d just have stayed the course and walked back in a straight line, in the shadows.

Today I decided that after receiving my balls and berries, I’d go a tiny bit out of my way to stay in the sunlight. And that it was time to start doing more of that, literally and figuratively.


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I Am Hannah Baker (With Less Gorgeous Skin).

As I try to digest/get through “13 Reasons Why,” I’m realizing why I didn’t binge it through in the first place.

It’s an ugly mirror. There is a part where amidst the saintifying of Hannah because she’s dead, someone says that she was drama, all the time, and it was exhausting.

And I realized that I give myself too much credit for not ending my own life. That for two-plus Hannah’s lifetimes, I’ve spent far too many days simply muddling through.

Today was bad. My depression will win in the end if I don’t get help.

A couple of months ago, I posted in this manner and people reached out and maybe you think I ignored you, but I didn’t. Things just very quickly feel insurmountable to me.

But I know that so many of my friends are currently struggling as well, and just aren’t as mouthy.

During episode eight, I Couldn’t Even. Watching Hannah filled with hope as she read her poem about black lace panties and miles of skin, only to have it thrown back in her face, was awful.

Luckily, I got into an hours-long messaging session with one of my best friends ever. Someone whose bright brown eyes sparkled at me in seventh grade and woke up my spirit that had been very broken after getting sent to a weird private school.

Today my spirit felt broken again. It scared me, how much I related to Hannah Baker. But/so what I realize about why it’s so hard to watch, is that it’s one thing to recognize the pain you’ll cause everyone around you if you commit suicide. It’s another thing entirely to recognize the pain you cause just by living with this demon of a disease and not getting help.

I’m so sorry for being exhausting. That is not written with a drop of sarcasm.

Usually when I write things like this, I tie it with a mental bow, but I don’t have one right now. I still feel intense emotional and mental pain. But I know others are experiencing it as well.

I didn’t die today. If you’re reading, remember that you didn’t either. And maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.

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