Monday, October 23, 2017

PLEASE ASK FOR HELP

1-800-273-8255
@800273TALK


who ever said "time heals all wounds" is a fucking asshole and a dirty liar.

eight years ago today my little brother made the heartbreaking decision to end his own life.

that wound is still very real.

sure, i don't flat out break down and cry and need days to recover whenever i think about it now, but i still think about it. ALL. THE. TIME.

birthdays. holidays. seahawks games. whenever someone orders a miller high life. whenever veteran suicide is in the news. whenever i think about family. whenever i think about tattoos.

how he would be 35 now. 

can i imagine him as a 35 year old? i still can't imagine myself as a 35 year old and i'm 37 now.

if you die the second time when the last person says your name, steve still has a few years left to stick around.

i've never been mad at steve. unfortunately i understand suicide. i've been in that dark corner. i've fought that demon. i've stared into the abyss and, somehow, always found a reason not to jump off the ledge. i'm heartbroken steve didn't find that reason the last time, but i can't be mad at him.

steve suffered a massive TBI just a few months before. he literally had half his skull opened to relieve pressure on his brain after an accident. this 27 year old kid went from being super physically fit, extremely independent, creative, vivacious, to having to relearn everything, medical bankruptcy, being dependent on others and losing his life as he had it set up.

the TBI also brought to the front some PTSD from being in the first wave of OIF/OEF that has cost thousands of soldiers their lives after returning home. i won't get political. i will just say we NEED to take better care of our soldiers. (please check out the IAVA to see how you can help prevent veteran suicides and support OIF/OEF soldiers).

the hardest part for me is that for the last 8 years i've wondered if i could have helped steve.

we weren't close. we weren't ross and monica by any stretch of the imagination.

i didn't get to grow up with steve. he lived with my dad and his mom. we spent spring break and 2 weeks during the summer together. i think i learned more about him while cleaning out his apartment after his death than the whole sum of our childhood.

i knew basic things growing up- he was the bratty little brother trying to keep up with the older brothers at any cost. he was the daredevil willing to do the dangerous stuff. he was vibrant and creative. when they moved into the new house, steve painted his room in BRIGHT primary colors- red on one wall, yellow on another, blue on a third. he had a massive bright red chair. he was always drawing, his pencil portraits were breathtaking. he was great at sports and almost as good at tattling as i was. 

cleaning out his apartment i got to see how organized he was, everything in it's place. his art work was all over the place- drawings, wire art sculptures, off beat decorations (chicken feet slippers on the feet of a bookshelf still makes me laugh). talking to his coworkers and friends after the funeral i learned how dedicated he was to people and how dedicated they were to him. pictures showed a kid that liked to have a good time with friends- outrageous costumes, adventures, just hanging out on the beach.

the only time steve ever called me was on my birthday, just a few weeks before his (both september babies), only a month before he died. he called to place an order for tacos, no sour cream, extra tomatoes, delivered right away please. i told him the delivery fee would be really high and the tacos would probably be cold by the time i got them to him. he was ok with that.

it should have triggered me. as cool as it was for him to call me, it should have made my ears perk up. it was so out of the blue and so unexpected, i should have been more aware. i have a hundred excuses- it was my birthday, i was getting ready to go out with friends, i didn't know how hard his recovery was going, i didn't know...

if i had know. if i had taken the time to connect with him more as kids. if i had...

if i had been able to tell him i get it. i get dad/brother pressuring you to grow up and pick a career. i get feeling alone when you're surrounded by people. i get having everything in your life not turn out how you planned. i should have offered to let him come stay with us while he recovered. i should have told everyone to fuck off when they told me it wasn't necessary to drive to seattle and see him while he was in the hospital. i should have...i should have been a safe place for him. i should have tried harder to let him know he wasn't the only one. i should have found a way to let him know he had more options than he saw. 

so yeah. wound: not healed.

all i can ask, all i can beg of people now is PLEASE ASK FOR HELP. ask in bold words. some of us aren't smart enough to catch onto nuanced taco orders.

PLEASE ASK FOR HELP.

being stuck on this side with the should haves, the what if's, the regrets, it's selfish to say, but IT SUCKS. please don't do that to someone.

and YES, there will ALWAYS be a someone with those regrets.

PLEASE ASK FOR HELP. if you can't talk to friends or family, please call the suicide hotline, hit them on twitter, go to their website.

PLEASE. ASK. FOR. HELP.

call me. hit me up. ANY TIME.

i'll bring tacos, no sour cream, extra tomatoes. we can have a miller high life and talk. any. time.

ps: steve, you would have love/hated the seahawks game yesterday. they ended up winning, but there was plenty to yell at the tv about before the final whistle. love you kid and miss you every day.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

born into it

as a kid, my love of books started early. reading them, writing them, "publishing" them.

my grandmother used to buy those early-start books for me- you know the ones where you trace the letters, learn sight words, simple math. i LOVED those things. and it showed. by the time i started kindergarten i was at a second grade level. i made it through a week of kindergarten classes before they moved me into first grade (the school wanted second, but as a september baby i would have been WAY younger than the other kids).

i've known i am a writer forever. journals, terrible plays, short stories. i've never DONE anything with it, but i've known it's a part of me since back in the day.

the other thing i was born into? natural defeatism and procrastination.

as easy as writing came to me, so has putting off writing. also the ease with which i convince myself that everything i DO write is total crap.

isn't it nice to be blessed with SO MANY natural gifts?

hashtag: blessed.

hashtag: sarcasm


BUT. the last few months i've been working on shifting a LOT of things. self perception, goals, resuscitating some long lost dreams.

one of those dreams has always been DOING something with writing.

and so, with the encouragement of a very good friend, i signed up for some writing classes this last weekend.

AND I WENT.

not sure which is the bigger miracle.

the first class i signed up for was: micro fiction (flash writing): 1000 words or less.

i know it may not seems like it, but this is something that has piqued my interest for a while. bj novak wrote a book of short stories that ranged from 2 words to a few hundred words. it captivated me and took a huge chunk of the fear out of writing for me. you don't need to be a stephen king or a jk rowling to be a successful writer.

i am NOT going to write the next great american novel. in the traditional sense at least.

but micro fiction...that's something i can sink my teeth into.

one vein of micro writing is the 6-word story.

hemmingway is attributed with writing "for sale: baby shoes, never worn" to win a contest for the shortest story possible.

in the class the presenter gave us 5 minutes to write a 6-word story.

so i started:

hot coffee. all over. terrible idea.

starbucks coffee: never purchased, only rented.

i saw red. you honked anyway.

i'm terrible at six word writing prompts.

the room went silent. except jim.

writing prompts before coffee. pure torture.

alone with my thoughts = just alone.

"beautiful sunrise." said the blind man.

"can you hear the music?"flatline.

several coffee stories. can you tell it was early in the morning on a sautrday? WHO SIGNED UP FOR THAT SHIT? oh, i did.
 
i cranked out a list in 5 minutes. then i realized several people around me were struggling to come up with one. well huh. that came a little more naturally than i expected.

and so a flame was lit.

i now have several projects spilling out of my writing journal. every time i sit still for a second my brain just starts dumping 6 word sentences all over the place. now to wrangle them and actually COMPLETE one of them. 

goal: see it to the finish.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

distraction

it's been a few days since i've written anything again.

i've been WRITING. like, with a pen. i've been leaving myself stoner notes in my phone- there's some really great stoner theories i'm working on about the battle for success for women, the evolutionary advantages of the alpha male in the current business world, chicken scratch on religion, music, dreams, friendship, reincarnation- you know, the usual stoner thoughts.

but i haven't gone anywhere with them or done anything with them.

i've been distracted. the standard go to excuse for being good old fashioned lazy.

i've been distracted waiting to hear about a job interview (a week with no response is a pretty sure sign i didn't get it). i've been distracted watching friday night lights before it was removed from netflix (then i bought the dvd's so that's not a worry anymore). 

i've been distracted by thinking about how distracted i am.

all in all, i've been lazy. i'm drifting again. just when i think i get my bearings or a plan in place, something happens.

i get a solid weekly schedule laid out, meals planned, events lined out then the teenager gets sick and doesn't want to eat for a few days or he falls asleep as soon as we get home in the afternoon and it throws the schedule off. and, of course, as soon as there's one bump you may as well throw the whole plan away. it's the way of the distracted.

i used to have gumption. it still shows up on a rare occasion.

i used to spend 6 hours in the emergency room with a screaming toddler with an ear infection, scramble to find a babysitter and still make it to my college classes at 8am the next morning (and always on finals week. kid had amazing timing).

that went away somewhere.

sure there's still nights of staying out way too late and getting my ass to work ready and on time in the morning.

well, there were back when i still had a job to get to anyway. but not so much the last few months. i still manage to get the kid to school and picked up on time. so. that's something. but there's not much in the in-between.

jumping tracks- i think the single greatest benefit to waiting to have kids is the development of conflict resolution skills well before the teenage years. if you wait until you're, you know, not in high school to have kids you may have learned some skills out in the wilds of life. like how to deal with a messy roommate. how to live with someone that drives you insane without letting it ruin your day. how to not let arguments completely detail you. you may have a chance to learn about yourself and what triggers you have, how you react to things, how to personally deal with things. learning those in the middle of an argument is difficult at best.

the teenager went all out in an argument the other night. pulled up every, single, nasty thing he could think of and threw it at me. even threatened to get physical with me. and then doubled down the next day refusing to apologize because he's not going to apologize when he doesn't mean it.

i know why some animals eat their young. 

it's still bothering me, 2 days later. it bothers me that he can be so mean and callous and know EXACTLY what darts to throw and has PERFECT aim every. single. time. it bothers me that i let it bother me. it bothers me that he attacks weak spots that i regularly attack myself. TRUST ME, there's not a moment in the last 4 years that i haven't questioned my decision to have my oldest son move out. for the longest time i felt like i was giving up and what kind of a parent gives up when it's difficult. then i slowly realized i didn't give up, i asked for help, from his other parent. ISN'T THAT WHY THERE'S TWO PARENTS? to help each other? what weakness is there in asking for help from the other person whose job it is to help?

but, the teenager still likes to throw this at me. being a bad mom. giving up. sending his brother away. HE WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE YOU KNOW. getting beat up and locking himself in his room out of sheer terror WAS GOOD FOR HIM. IT TOUGHENED HIM UP. you know, years later, with plenty of distance and counseling and support. BUT IT TOUGHENED HIM UP. if i roll my eyes any harder they'll get stuck in the back of my head.

I KNOW I MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE. i asked for help to protect BOTH my kids. it wasn't healthy or safe for ANY of us. if they choose to see it differently, i can't change that.

the younger one also likes to rip on me for cutting off my mom. HOW CAN YOU JUST GIVE UP ON PEOPLE? *sigh* it's not giving up. it's making a choice to love myself. it's choosing to protect myself and my family from abuse and injury. it's choosing not to expose my children to known monsters and damage.

i don't know where this train was headed. the tracks just wandered out into the desert and ran out.

I DO HAVE GOALS. i did finally turn in an application at a business i REALLY want to work for. i signed up for 2 writers workshops next weekend. i'm trying to convince myself to sign up for nanowrimo. well, maybe not the *actual* nanowrimo, but like an inktober for writing. an accountable challenge to write something every day.

you know, something small and manageable...like...you know...200 words a day...

because, you know...

*headdesk*

Friday, September 29, 2017

what do you call a church that isn't a church?

i've been slacking on my 200 words.

i've been thinking about them, i've been writing some stuff down, but i haven't *really* been getting it done.

instead, like the great slacker i am, i've been binging friday night lights again before netflix takes it off on sunday.

priorities, i have them (all five seasons on dvd, i will have them too as soon as amazon prime delivers).

watching friday night lights, starting to settle down into fall, too much time to think...it makes me think one thing: i wish i could go to church without going to church.

i mean, really, outside of church, where is there a group of like minded people that have the support network, sense of community, sense of do-goodness, sense of family?

i mean, if it weren't for all the religion, i would go back to church in a heartbeat.

i just really can't do the religion thing and it would be exceedingly tone-deaf and hypocritical to just play along or pretend. not my jam.

i miss the part of growing up in church, as fucked up as my experience was, of belonging somewhere. which is, specifically, how they get people in the doors.

how many lifetime movies have there been about someone feeling lost, looking for answers, and wandering into a church?

they're looking for something. they're looking for somewhere to belong, and try, really try to think of another place that has that, without the religion part.

it doesn't exist as far as i know.

sure, there's hobby groups. there's clubs. there's sports- but those all go away. religion has lasting power. i mean, kids sports- i belonged to a group for a while. we had shared interest, would talk, get to know each other, but then season ended, teams changed. people went about their way and it was all lost.

why can't there be a non-church?

a place where you can meet up every week and build that community. instead of sermons we'll talk about ways to budget better. instead of sunday school we'll have recipe exchanges and how to seal with family.

sure, we can talk about the ten commandments:

love thy neighbor: ways to build a community and peacefully resolve property disputes.

honor thy father and mother: what to do when your teenager teenages.

thou shalt not steal: building a neighborhood watch and building a network of trust and mutual protection.

sermon on the mount: the best kama sutra positions for every couple (too far?)

i just.

i miss having a place where i belong, but i know for sure religion isn't for me.

so who wants to start a non-church with me?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

deep thoughts



braces are low key plastic surgery.

using a new conditioner is kinda like cheating on yourself- you keep smelling something new and different all day long and you wonder what hussy has been up in your own business.

alex trebek is really bad at small talk.

pat sajack is an absolute asshole.

i'd rather watch pat sajack or alex trebeck any day over drew carey.

these are the deep and profound and shockingly sober thoughts that have been taking up my brain space the last few days.

remember when i did that huge brain dump and was enjoying the empty space? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENES.

i shouldn't be allowed alone with empty brain space.

why are adult coloring books so stressful?

is a single hard boiled egg a sufficient dinner?

would it be weird to wear a shirt i wore on a date to an interview? is it too date-ish and not job-ish enough?

isn't an interview kinda like a first date anyway?

i'm rewatching friday night lights on netflix before they get pulled off on october 31 and i'm realizing i really miss just a solid feel good show. i binge watch heartland every time a new season drops. i could watch parenthood over and over. friday night lights had me crying, AGAIN, within the first 30 minutes. YES, i've seen it...well...many times before. AND I STILL CRY.

i've spent A LOT of time trying to figure out why. i know it's scripted. all of it. but part of me really, truly, with every fiber of my being hopes that there's really pockets of the world out there like these shows. i wish i could move to town and be a part of a place where families really take care of each other. they fight. they butt in. they are messy but they still make it work. where, at the end of the day, people stand up for what's right. they make the hard decisions. it just- it all works out. and i know it's not the first time i've ruminated on this thought. i know it won't be the last.

it's just that there's a network built into each of these shows. my network is a little sparse on it's best days. kinda more like a single dial up modem that can't get a connection on it's worst days.

DIAL UP. the thing before internet was just everywhere. remember those days?

where you listen to the actual dial, that horrible screech, and you pray with all that you have that you manage a 52k instead of a 26k connection?

BECAUSE...fuck...i don't even know what websites were around then. not google. what the hell did i even look at on internet explorer or the super fancy netscape navigator?

i honestly don't remember. weird how you block out parts of your life like that.

i still have no fucking clue where i bought books in my tiny town when i was a kid. mandy books were only available on the bottom of the back shelf in the christian bible store.

babysitters club books?? it's a mystery.

also, for a kid that LOVED books, i never knew how to look up anything in the library. i knew exactly WHERE my favorite books were. to this day i could direct you to the exact shelf and the exact space on the shelf for some of my go to books. could i tell you the author or publisher? no way in hell.

which actually makes me really sad because there were these BOSS books about different famous people- louie pastour, betsy ross, helen keller, the wright brothers, they were white books with almost school house rock type illustrations. i read those damn things over and over. could i find them again now if my life depended on it? only if the colville library hasn't rearranged or thinned their books in the last 30 years...which...may be a possibility.

well, crap. no sleep tonight. i'm going to be using the google machine to look up images of childrens historic literature all night to see if i can find those damn books again.

UPDATE: google is magnificent. i give you, the value books:
30 years of wondering, 3 minutes of google
 

Monday, September 25, 2017

when it was good, it was very very good

the last two days have been the kind you wait for and wish for more and, if you're smart, learn to appreciate for every. single. moment.

the weather has been absolutely perfect. the sun is shining during the day without scorching the earth, the warmth is holding well into the evenings. the teenager's attitude is coming back around, my attitude is coming back around, in this moment, in this breath, everything is good. and i love that i've learned to recognize and appreciate these moments.

yesterday the teenager and i sat down together and planned out the week. today we followed through on those plans- we did the grocery shopping, made dinner, sat down and ate together while we talked about school then afterwards he helped pick up without being asked, and *gasp* took out the trash without being asked.

i know we've gone back and forth, and we'll keep going back and forth. there's a learning curve to being 14. good lord- when i look back at my freshman year...how did any of us survive?

but he's a good kid. he has a good heart and he's starting to figure things out. we were able to talk about the football protests last night. he wanted to know what the big deal was so i explained from as many sides as i could- how some military feel, how some players feel, how some politicians feel, why it matters to so many people, why it matters to fans, players.

it's a lot to think about and there is no one right answer. it's important to not only have your opinion but be able to hear and understand other opinions. more than the issues at hand, that's what i want him to learn. the ability to see and understand both sides is an invaluable asset. ambidexterity of thought. to know what you believe and stand for, you have to know what else is out there. snap judgements are east. informed decisions are where the work comes in.

but, circling back around, it's been a good few days.

and the best part? i don't feel like i'm waiting for a shoe to drop. i feel like i'm starting a trend for us. and that's a BIG difference.

when you're counting the winning streak instead of waiting for the loss, it's a nice shift in perspective.

things are good. in this moment, in this breath, things are good.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

exciting saturday night

and, in another installment of my swinging single life, i find myself at home, settled snugly into my couch- into? onto? either way i'm camped out, watching rom-com movies from the 90's and pondering how the hell we all thought meg ryan's hair was cute.

also: i miss the big oversized sweaters from 90's movies. remember every saundra bullock movie? i've never stopped searching for the perfectly worn in oversized sweater that made me look adorable and not like the trash heap from the fraggle rock.

also: watching "you've got mail" really, REALLY makes me want to open a children's book store.

i feel a little empty for words tonight. this week has been a fairly intensive round of deep dives. it's time for something nonsensical and simple, but even that isn't coming to me. i know that i could pull out any one of the too many journals i have floating around, but right now i think i just want to enjoy having a little empty head space for once. i've done a whole lotta processing. time to enjoy the cleaned out brain space before it fills back up (which im sure will be tomorrow).

beach books and a snuggly blanket are the ticket right now.