Posts Tagged ‘death’

The Last Goodbye

August 10, 2018

I have been thinking about this blog for days now.

You may have noticed that I have not written for a few days now either.

I was saying goodbye to the love of my life.

I never thought that I would write that sentence or that for the last year and three months I would be so involved with a man who I would have the opportunity to say all those things.

Love of my life.

Soul mate.

Partner.

The best thing in my life.

The best thing in my sobriety.

And yet.

There they were, over and over and over again, these declarations of the rightness or, the validity of, the beauty and power of love, lauded all over me.

I have had the greatest love of my life ever these past months.

Yet.

I had to leave him.

I can’t explain why, oh, I could, but I have no inclinations to air it all out, suffice to say what I wanted was not available.

I thought I was alright with that at first.

I did.

I thought this man is so damn amazing, so handsome, smart, kind, tender, sexy (fuck do not get me started) and funny, god damn is he funny, no one, and I mean no one, has ever made me laugh the way he did, ever, that I could deal with anything that the relationship handed me.

I kept it off my blog.

Oh.

You could catch glimpses of it here and there, but I never really talked about him.

And then I did.

Back in January.

I broke up with him.

It was like death.

It was so anguished and sorrowful and painful that I had friends reaching out to me to express concern.

I was vague, in the blogs, and it could have easily have sounded as though I had lost a loved one.

That is what it felt like, a death, I felt like death, I had never experienced such grief.

I remember relating to him later that I had not felt the depth of despair that the break up caused as when I had lost my best friend at 32 in a surprising and awful accidental death.

I felt more grief in my person when I lost the love of my life, that loss was harrowing.

But as my therapist once reflected to me, “you never really broke up.”

We couldn’t not be together.

We tried to be friends.

We tried to be compatriots.

We tried to not see each other.

We couldn’t.

We saw each other and then the inevitable swan dive back into the romance, the heat, the passion, the relentlessness of it, despite knowing that it wasn’t the best for me, I continued, I was in love.

I am in love.

I still am in love with him.

I still have this hope that something will shift, change, a magical thing will happen.

I know that is fantasy, but it is there.

In reality I also know that was has happened inside me, on the interior, in my heart, has not be sustainable.

I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I was hurting myself too badly.

It is hard to be a psychotherapist and try to hold onto something so painful, but try I did.

Of course.

I did fuck loads of work around the relationship.

Inventory after inventory, looking at myself, my patterns, how I love, the previous relationships and what they looked like for me.

I looked at patterns of attachment with my parents, I explored my psyche, I prayed, I meditated, I asked consistently for help and guidance from my support network.

No one ever really told me what to do, but so many could see that it was not a working relationship for me that, well, worked in my benefit.

God damn did I try though.

A part of me, larger than I perhaps wish to admit, still wants to try, to beat my heart a little more on the impossible wall that I was trying to scale to get to the place the relationship could flourish and grow.

I can’t though.

So I did the thing I never ever, fucking ever, thought I would do.

I asked for no contact.

Today was day one.

And there was no contact.

Although, truth, I felt him in my bones and body all day, an unremitting ache that has me in its grip, the burden of showing up for work and clients when all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and cry myself back to sleep.

Sleep where I may perchance to dream of him.

I fucking asked for no contact.

On one hand I am appalled.

No texting.

No phone calls.

No emails.

No social media.

On the other hand, I am quiet and proud of myself.

It was horrendous, it was the hardest decision I felt such an ache for the loss of connection I cannot put it into words.

And I knew.

I knew, damn it.

That it was for the best.

That it is the “right” thing to do.

What ever the right thing to do is.

I am barely holding on here writing this.

I want to detail all the last words and gestures, the sweetness, the sadness, the anguished tears I shed, but I cannot sully it with my words and my sharing.

These last two nights I have been with him and I have no desire to share any more of it than that, the last two nights I have been with him.

And I miss him horribly.

I will be crying for a while.

There is so much loss here.

I have to give myself time to grieve.

So.

Forgive me for not sharing anything more.

I am devastated and that will have to suffice for now.

Devastated.

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Back In The Groove

February 21, 2018

Second day back to work.

Second day with clients.

A day of therapy.

A day of supervision.

I’m beginning to feel more grounded and returned than I was yesterday.

Hell.

Definitely more so than Sunday.

Sunday my flight out from D.C. was delayed so I didn’t get to do a lot of the things that I had told myself I was going to do.

In the end I am hella grateful that the flight was delayed.

I was able to spend a few more hours with my best friend and that time was invaluable to me.

I had such a fantastic time I cannot even begin to enumerate it here.

It was also a lovely weekend away from social media and perhaps the first time that I also stayed completely off my blog.

I was happy to do so.

I was happy to be present and connected and aware of all the things happening for me.

I was horrified to get back to social media and see a school shooting and that a person in my recovery community had overdosed and died.

I was like.

Fuck.

Is it worth it to even bother with Facecrack?

I do like Instagram, I won’t lie, I like photographs and I find it really compelling to see different places that I want to go and travel too as well as appreciating images from my friends lives.

I have a private Instagram account, so I’m not overly inundated with crap, but Facebook has really not been a platform that I have enjoyed in some time.

I don’t post much to it and I don’t like to spend too much time on it.

I check in with it, mostly I feel to stay connected to my cohort at school, we have a group and there is often things that get posted there that are relevant to my school program.

Hell.

That was how I found out about the graduation application and processing fee.

I was able to deal with it a full three weeks prior to some members in my cohort who didn’t know that there was an application, let a lone a fee, for graduation.

I received the last bit of the application paperwork that needed to be filled out today.

I sent in the survey that the school requires as a sort of exit from the program and sent it in.

One more thing down.

And speaking of school.

This is it.

I have to get my PhD application together by the end of this week.

I just took a look at my syllabi for the next weekend of classes and saw that I have a modicum of breathing space.

I don’t have to devote any time to homework for school this weekend, I’m ahead of my reading and my assignments that are due aren’t due until March 10th.

Which means that I have the weekend of March 3rd and 4th to work on them.

Which means that this weekend, which is what I had pretty much planned on doing anyway, is clear to work on my PhD application.

I don’t think it will take too much time, but I do want to put in a nice effort on it.

And I still have a full weekend anyway.

I’ll be back in my group supervision on Saturday, and my Thursday and Friday are both full of clients.

I saw a new client tonight and I have another new client on Friday.

I’m back to eight clients a week.

I also will be meeting with my ladies on Sunday that I normally work with and my person up in the Castro before my new commitment on Sunday at 7:30p.m.

I want to do yoga, it’s been two weeks without, and I desperately need a manicure.

I have a busy weekend.

I have a busy week, it’s just Tuesday and it’s already been busy.

But.

It hasn’t been horrendous.

It was a gentler easing back into my routine than I could have asked for.

Today I had therapy, such a good session, and after I got out of the session, I received a text from the mom that my little lady charge was sick and they had a pediatrician appointment.

It happened to be just blocks from where I was and the mom asked that I meet them at the doctor’s office.

I had enough time between my therapy session ending and having to meet the mom that I was able to pop into the Whole Foods in Noe Valley and get groceries for the week.

A huge time coup for me.

Then I met the mom and the baby was asleep and I got to take him and stroll down 24th street and go to Martha’s Bros Coffee and the bench outside the cafe opened as I walked out with my coffee and I got to sit in the sun and drink coffee and soak up some heat.

It’s been cold, cold, cold in the city.

And to sit, granted wrapped up in my hoodie, jean jacket, scarf, and half-gloves, in the sun as it warmed up the front of the cafe, was glorious.

My job can be really stressful juggling three kids, house work, cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, and such, but it can also have these absolutely wonderful pockets of time that pop out of nowhere, when I need some time, a reprieve, a gentle break in routine.

And I find myself being able to be still.

To be able to reflect.

It is a gift.

I spent a lot of time thinking about my time in D.C. and how very grateful I was to get to go.

To see the things I saw.

To have the experiences I had.

Glorious.

The company, the environment, the quality of the time.

Exquisite.

And so very much-needed.

It was a sorrow to part.

I won’t lie.

It hurt to say goodbye after such a grand time and I felt desolate coming back to San Francisco, which is not an experience I have much had.

Usually I find myself happy to come home.

And I am happy to be home, but I already miss my friend.

Hell.

I missed my friend before I had even gotten to the boarding area of my flight back.

In a way I was also grateful for that.

It showed me just how much the time had meant to me.

A lot.

So much.

So very much.

I can get lonely in my routine and my comings and goings and doings and I had such splendid time with my friend that I found myself facing some loneliness coming home that I don’t usually acknowledge.

Thankful for it too, that realization, and those emotions tied to it.

I have such a rich emotional life.

I am aware.

I am alive.

I am loved.

I love.

Simple.

Although not always easy.

A blessing always, though.

Always.

A gift.

This exquisite life.

This grand love.

The.

Greatest.

Gift.

Push Button Baby

August 1, 2017

I saw a couple on the side of the road as I zoomed down Lincoln Way frantically trying to kick over the starter on a vintage Vespa.

I chuckled to myself.

The old Vespas look so fucking cool.

I know.

I used to have one.

It was such a pretty girl.

But.

Man.

It was such a hassle to get it started or it would conk out on me out of the blue.

Like coming down Laguna Honda in the fog going 40 miles an hour.

I got tired of that really fast.

That.

And the freaking horrifying sprained ankle that I got when the kick starter jammed and I folded my ankle in half.

That was no fun.

Months, years really, of healing.

The doctor was shocked it wasn’t broken and then told me it was too bad it wasn’t since the sprain is slower to heal and how badly I had injured it I would be lucky if it was healed fully in a year and a half.

He was right.

It took that much time to heal.

Actually closer to two years, if I’m honest, I had to be really careful and there were times when I could feel it was still injured.

It put a bad taste in my mouth for every having something vintage like that again.

Truth too.

I wasn’t prepared for the amount of maintenance and well, it turned out it was a knock off Vespa, despite the registration issued from the DMV, it was a knock off Vietnam Vespa and no body in town would touch it to repair it.

So.

I got rid of it.

I had it recycled.

I got it off the road.

I wasn’t going to be responsible for someone else getting injured on it and when the mechanics at the shop told me all the issues with it I was shocked that I hadn’t hurt myself more on it, I could have easily crashed it out.

Granted.

There were some gleeful moments on it when someone would pull up to me on it at a light and chat with me about it, the scooter really was well done, no one had a clue it was fake.

Certainly not I.

I was a tiny bit bamboozled you could say.

Any way, that’s an old story and not the point.

The point is.

Thank fucking god for my scooter.

I live in the Outer Sunset.

I work in Glen Park.

My internship is in the Mission.

My school is in the SOMA.

I have supervision in Hayes Valley.

And.

Therapy in Noe Valley.

I have to get all over the city.

And the scooter is quick.

Of course, I do have some anxiety about what will happen when the fall comes and the rains that generally come with the fall.

I will either have to get used to wet weather riding or figure something else out.

I can ride in the rain.

I have done it.

I do not like it, but it’s doable.

I was talking to my friend yesterday as she was getting the last of her household packed up for travels back to France and she looked at me and said, “drive safe poulette (her term of endearment for me–sexy girl, although literal translation is chicken, I like to think of it as “chick” or chickadee), maybe it’s time you got a car.”

Yeah.

There’s that.

Aside from the fact that it would be handy to go to Burning Man.

Heh.

Still haven’t gotten a ride yet, still hedging my bets with a rental, but that too is beside the point.

I don’t know what exactly the point is.

I haven’t had a car for over a decade.

I got rid of mine two weeks after moving here in 2002.

Fuck.

Nearly fifteen years with no car.

Lots of bicycles.

And two scooters.

I do like my scooter and I do so appreciate getting around on it.

I just have time concerns now that I didn’t have before.

I mean.

My schedule has always been full, but then I added in graduate school and graduate school added in an internship and um, ha, since, I’m a therapist in training, I have to be on time for my clients.

I get done with work at 6p.m. and I have clients at 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, and I have been assigned a new client to see on Fridays now at 6:30p.m.

My first child client!

Bring on the child and family hours!

Ahem.

I digress.

This whole blog is a digression.

Sometimes when I don’t want to write about what I want to write about, I can go off on tangents.

Shadrach.

Scooter accident.

Dead.

Today.

10 years.

I had a little contact with his mom today after she posted a photo of visiting his grave.

Add onto that saying goodbye yesterday to my darling French friend.

Great recipe for sadness.

I felt heavy with it this morning when I left my house to go meet with my supervisor.

I got to Hayes Valley early and had a fifteen minute window so I called my person and shared about it and he said, “you sound sad,” and there it was, the sad, the heaviness in me, it was sadness.

Tears welled up and spilled down my face.

Yup.

Sad.

So we made a plan to meet at a church in the Inner Sunset after I got out of supervision.

It was so good.

I got right with God.

Then we went for tea at Tart to Tart and had a good session.

We sent my friend from Paris a good-bye photo of the two of us having tea, my face a little wet with tears, and my person smiling to beat the band, ugh, not all selfies are sexy.

Ha.

Oh.

Sadness.

I had my cry though and things began to shift.

I came home, made a nice lunch and then did some school work.

Because.

It’s that time.

I have two syllabi posted up and I checked them out and ordered books for class.

I sighed and realized I was pretty burnt out with the emotions.

And I decided.

You know what?

Nap.

I need a nap.

And that’s what I did.

It was perfect.

I had a little rest then got up, prepped some food for dinner and I could feel the sad had moved out of my body.

I got my things together and hopped back on my scooter, went to my internship, dealt with progress notes and paperwork and then saw a client.

By the time my session ended I was feeling great.

So nice that.

Go.

Be of service.

Feel better.

I scooted home.

Zipped by the park, rode the curves of Lincoln Way, smelled the bonfires at Ocean Beach and though it was cold and a bit foggy, I felt lifted, carried, loved.

I miss you Shadrach.

But.

You would be pretty proud of me.

Ten years.

You think the grief would have gone out of my body, but sometimes it is still there and needs expressing.

I’m grateful I didn’t squash it.

I just had it.

And I’m grateful for the emotions.

I get to have them.

Feelings.

It means I am alive.

And after all the death I have been witness to.

Well.

That’s a fucking miracle.

So glad I still get to be around.

Happy.

Joyous.

Alive.

And.

Free.

So Many Things

July 24, 2017

This Sunday.

Although I did not set foot out of the Sunset.

I almost didn’t get out of the Outer Sunset, but I did manage to scooter up to a lovely little church shrouded in the heavy fog this evening.

Wow.

The fog tonight was no joke.

It was super spooky riding home and the visibility was little to none.

I went very slow.

Grateful to be in a neighborhood that was quiet and sleepy and muffled.

The few cars I did pass basically blinded me with their headlights refracting in the fog.

So careful.

So slow.

I don’t want to die.

I say that with and without tongue in cheek.

There has been a lot of death around lately.

I joked, in a rather morbid way, the other night, the God must like taking folks in July.

“What is under that fear,” I asked her today.

“Well…..” she said somethings and got closer and closer and then, “I’ll drink and then I’ll die.”

“So, you’re afraid to die,” I said softly.

I am too.

I remember the first time someone spelled that out to me.

I hadn’t made the correlation from the resentment I was holding onto to the point that I was ultimately afraid that I was going to die, that so many of my fears stem from that oh so basic fear of death.

Oh.

There’s littler fears, smaller fears, the classic ones that come to my mind are always the same, fear of being unlovable, fear of being abandoned and alone.

Always they come up.

But tonight.

Well.

It was just plain old fear of getting hit by a car on my scooter because the visibility was so bad.

I was very glad I had my scooter jacket on.

Aside from the fact that it’s a great windbreaker and it has padded elbows, shoulders, and a back piece, it is also pink and has reflective fabric sewn into it.

I’m pretty visible.

I mean, nothing is 100%, but I would say that I have more visibility than someone who is riding in a black jacket, that’s for sure.

I’m running around in loops.

Get to the point.

Today another person died.

Taken off life support.

I knew her a little while after I got into recovery, she’d been around, on and off, for at least ten years, maybe eleven of my time doing the deal.

Always a bright light, always a lovable woman.

She came in and out a lot, there were many times I saw her after a relapse and they were not pretty.

But.

She got out and she was doing well and had relocated back to the Midwest and was doing it, she had two years when she died, had gotten married, had a great job, she was a step mom and happy, and you could see it in her photographs and in her cute little quips and fuck, she just recently recommended to someone in our community who recently had a baby that they reach out to me as she knew I was a “great nanny.”

She’d been a nanny too.

We often times would commiserate about our families, and more often swap pictures of the babies we worked with, our charges, and we would share stories of endearment about them and our nanny adventures.

It takes a special kind of person to love unconditionally children that way that she did.

That’s what she was doing.

Swimming.

Teaching a child how to swim.

If I understand the story correctly.

And she drowned.

She was pulled out and they tried to resuscitate her and she spent some time in the ER, but she never came back.

She passed this morning and once again I find myself taking a big break from social media and trying to titrate how much I take in.

I did reach out to a dear friend of mine and offer some support.

He’d dated her and though the relationship hadn’t lasted, I know how very important she was to him and how much they still stayed in touch.

He was devastated.

He’s got a great support system though.

And I think of the community and support system I get to be involved with, all the gratitude I have for my fellowship.

And.

Yes.

Sigh.

I think about Shadrach.

He would have run the marathon today.

He was supposed to ten years ago today.

But that was not what happened.

Ten years ago he was hit on his scooter and though not outright killed, he was in the ICU on life support for a week, he was killed that night.

He just hung around long enough for us all to say goodbye.

And sometimes it feels like there was never enough time to say goodbye or never will be and I keep going on living and when I used to feel guilty I just feel graced now that I get to be so exuberantly alive.

I bitch about going to yoga.

But fuck.

I get to go to yoga.

I get to do so many things.

All the things that he didn’t get to do.

And I wonder about this woman too, what things did she not get to do.

I am grateful that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was at the best place she’d ever been in her life and that God took her at the peak of her experiences.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not sad.

God damn it’s sad.

She was so freaking young.

I’m forty-four.

I think she was about to turn 40 this year.

I just recall that we were close in age.

Sigh.

Shadrach would be 42.

I don’t feel the sads the way I did a week or so ago when I was walloped with emotion, but it is there, soft, and slow, and muffled, like the fog, creeping in and nestling down in my heart.

So.

I lit some candles and I will have a moment and I have looked at his handsome face today in the photographs I have on the wall.

And I will say thank you friend for showing me how important it is to live to my fucking fullest every damn day.

Sometimes it’s tiring.

But.

Fuck.

I get to be tired.

I am so lucky to be here.

If life was fair I would be dead.

I am not.

I am here and I promise.

YOU.

I will keep loving with all my heart.

Loving so damn hard.

Regardless of how much it can hurt to live.

The pain is worth it.

I get to live.

I get to love.

I get to.

I am so, so graced.

 

It’s Not Time

July 16, 2017

To write this blog yet.

But.

Well.

It wants to be written.

Even though I opened up my WordPress site and sat and stared at the blank screen and thought, I don’t have a thing to write about.

Denial.

I should fold my laundry and put it away.

I will wash my dinner dishes.

So instead of starting to write I got up and put my laundry away and I did the dishes.

I even pre-emptively filled the kettle for a cup of tea after I finish writing.

I know, hot tea, sounds excruciating to think about in July, but it’s July in San Francisco, I’m in bunny slippers and thought for a minute about turning on the heat.

It’s chilly here in July, unlike anywhere else.

Although there was some warmth in the city today after the fog lifted and I got out of the Outer Sunset, I even put on a little sunblock just in case.

Anyway.

I digress.

It was when I was filling my kettle that I realized that I was avoiding the elephant in the room.

Or the plum, as the case may be.

I bought a plum today.

A beautiful, gorgeous, fat black plum.

I’m not a big fan of plums.

I mean, they’re nice and all, but I wouldn’t typically choose to buy a plum, not really my thing.

A persimmon?

Get the fuck out of my way, I’m buying them all.

But a plum?

Nope.

But.

Ugh.

I usually buy one around this time of year.

And it’s not because it’s stone fruit time.

I want stone fruit I eat cherries.

I love cherries.

Or.

Yellow nectarines.

So good.

Not the white ones, only the yellow, and not peaches.

I know, what kind of monster am I?

I don’t like the texture of skin on a peach and the fruit is typically too soft for me, I know friends who would kill for a perfect peach.

Me?

Not so much.

But.

There I was at Gus’s Community Market on Harrison and 17th in front of the plums and I saw it and just reached for it.

My heart in my throat.

Tears prickling my eyes.

I picked out the biggest, prettiest plum in the pile.

I thought about him.

I wrote a story about it once upon a time, a children’s story, about sharing.

I called it “Shadrach and The Plum.”

It was about a little boy and how he shared his most precious treat, a big juicy sweet plum (insert some ee cummings here and an icebox please) with a little girl at school who had forgotten her lunch.

He sat down next to her with his brown paper bag and saw that she had nothing in front of her, her parents had sent her to school with no lunch, he thought to himself as he took the food out of his paper sack, “I’ll share my lunch but not the plum, plums are my favorite, she’s can’t have my plum.”

He asked her, “do you want some of my lunch?”

She nodded eagerly and pointed to what she wanted, “I want the plum.”

He didn’t say a word, he just handed it to her and ate his peanut butter sandwich and drank his milk.

I heard about her later when I read the story I had written to his family.

In hindsight I don’t know if it was the best idea, they were still grieving, it was their first Christmas without him and here I was some girl from San Francisco wearing flowers in her hair and her heart on her sleeve reading a story about lessons we learn from our friends.

Because.

Well.

Shadrach was like that.

He would give you what you needed without question.

I might get teased about it later, I might be razzed, but he always saw me so much clearer than I saw myself.

His death anniversary is coming up.

Sigh.

Ten years now.

And sometimes it still feels like I’m in that ICU at General holding his hand, or in my room on in that crazy old Victorian on Capp and 23rd, sobbing my heart out into a pillow as I prayed and prayed and prayed to God.

I knew better than to ask God to save Shadrach, I pretty much knew he was gone, I never said boo about it, I never tried to change anyone’s mind about their hopes and I certainly did not express any of my doubts about him waking up from the coma to his family, I just kept showing up and asking them what they needed, put I kept asking God to help me through it and the only way I knew how was to not focus on myself.

How can I be of service?

I was brought up that way, in my recovery community.

“How do I do this?”  I called a friend who had just lost a mentor, a man who had 43 years of recovery and who I also knew quite well, the past week.

“You show up and help his family and you ask ‘how may I be of service?’ and you help them that way, and that’s how you get through.  And through you will get.”

He told me how brave I was and how much he loved me and that I could hang in there.

I did.

And I do.

I still hang in there.

I still show up.

I saw that damn plum and almost cried, but as a reminder that I get to live today I bought it.

I did what I needed to do today and I went where I was supposed to go and when I saw someone in my community who was losing it over the recent loss of our young mutual friend tonight, well, I held her hand and I didn’t let her run out of the room.

I just held her and hugged her and hugged her more until she got all the sobs out.

“You don’t do this alone,” I told her, “don’t run out.”

“I can’t handle all this death, it’s too much,” she said and tried to break away again.

I hugged her some more and then I told her some stories.

I told her about losing my best friend to a scooter accident, my best friend who was sober, who was committed, who was about to run the SF Marathon.

The same marathon that is about to be run here on the 23rd of this month.

The signs just went up by the park and I thought of Shadrach, I thought of how beautiful he was when he was running and how strong and graceful.

I thought of the last thing that I said to him, the best gift the moment, that moment when you realize you have to say something or regret it for the rest of your life.

Although, of course, how could I know?

“Shadrach, I just have to tell you, if I never see you again you have to know how beautiful you are right now, you are just glowing,” I touched his arm.

He raised an eyebrow at me and was about to say something witty and cryptic and instead he smiled at me and hugged me to him.

That was the last thing I said to him.

Well.

It was the last thing that I said to him when he was still coherent and not brain-dead in a hospital bed for a week before his family pulled the plug.

I shared my story.

And.

I told her about another woman we both know and how she lost her best friend on the day of his one year sobriety birthday, how he was hit by a bus coming home from his anniversary party.

I mean.

Fuck.

I told her she didn’t have to do it alone and that she was strong enough to shoulder it and that she was lucky, lucky that she got to feel the depth of love she felt for this person who just died a few days ago, that she could be grateful for the time she got to know him.

I hugged her again.

I’m a hugger.

And.

Told her to call me and lean in.

It’s not easy grieving and sometimes I felt like the sadness of Shadrach’s passing would never leave me, but it did.

Well.

That’s also not true, but it lessened, or I got used to it I suppose.

Although seeing that big purple plum sitting on top of a Mason jar on my kitchen counter brought it all home.

I still miss my friend.

He taught me so much.

Not just how to love.

But.

More importantly, that I was lovable and worthy of love.

A lesson that took many years to sink in.

But in it did.

So.

Tonight.

I will raise my plum to my lips and taste the sweetness and let my fingers be sticky with gratitude and love and memory and honor my friend and all the gifts he gave me, so many years ago now.

All the love he planted in my heart that has grown and flourished and bloomed.

All the things.

All the love.

And.

Always.

The best.

The sweetest, coldest, juiciest plums for you.

Always.

 

 

Seasons Of Grief

July 11, 2017

“I know we’ve never been very close,” she said to me, touching my arm, “but how you are walking through this, I just wanted to let you know, it is brave and beautiful and there are a lot of people sending you love.”

I gasped.

I wasn’t expecting that sentiment.

She continued, “and I know it’s probably really hard to understand, but sometimes,” she paused, “sometimes God breaks our hearts so that they can hold more love.”

I burst into tears.

She hugged me and went her own way.

I see her now and again.

Here and there, in rooms of churches, on a folding chair, with a group of acquaintances, a smile, a wave, but not much else.

I saw her tonight.

I touched her arm.

She hugged me, we both cried.

Our community lost someone today.

Someone very dear.

Someone who shined very hard when he was with us.

He was taken far too young.

I have known him for eleven years, I met him early on in my days of recovery.

I kept seeing him in my mind’s eye tonight, when he was so new, so fresh, such a kid, such a little fucking punk, with this huge heart and pretty face, and dirty skinny black jeans and his punk rock attitude and dangling cigarette sneer on his mouth.

All hiding a very scared frightened kid.

All that bravado and machismo hiding vast reservoirs of tenderness.

I was thinking about a particular afternoon.

It was sunny, we were all in the courtyard of this church at 15th and Julien in the Mission.

He was in Giants regalia and so was Silas and so was another fellow and they all had their arms wrapped around each other, and the smiles, the grins, the love radiating off them was glorious to behold.

I kept seeing that in my mind today and the tears would just start and how I got through the day without telling my boss I don’t know, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and the kids wanted to play with me and I wasn’t the most present.  I kept getting texts and messages and phone calls and reaching out to people in the community.

I had to stay the fuck off social media after a while, it was just a constant stream of his face in photographs, so many of his goofy, stupid, grinning face.

The last time I saw him I smacked him.

“Stay, why don’t you,” followed by a hug, and a “knock it off our you’re going to die.”

He laughed.

I laughed.

We hugged again.

He died.

He died last night.

He over dosed.

I cried.

This morning, literally in my oatmeal.

I got the news and I was shocked.

Perhaps not surprised, I mean, I wish I could say that it was more of a surprise, but I knew what he did, I had heard his story so many times.

“Oh, yeah, gah, shooting up with a dirty rig and piss water from a public toilet down by the Civic Center, sticking the needle in my groin cuz I couldn’t find a vein.”

I countered with, “doing so much blow I throw up after snorting a line, all over my blow, so I let it dry out and I cut it, chopped it, and snorted it.”

High fives all around.

There is a kind a levity and humor, gallows humor, that comes with sobriety sometimes.

And joy.

So much joy.

His face when he smiled, when he played music.

So much fucking talent blown.

Ugh.

I remember loaning him some money, I can’t even remember when or for what and I just told him to not bother paying me back, “keep it and when you’re fucking famous and world touring you give me a backstage pass.”

“Deal!”  He said, “I love you, I would have given you a backstage pass anyway.”

I hope he’s got the best backstage pass right now.

I hope he’s playing up there with Hendrix and Jeff Buckley, with Lemmy from Motorhead, with all his favorites, just fucking jamming the fuck out.

Happy and smoking a cigarette and woo’ing the ladies.

He was a pretty boy, he was.

It hit home today.

And I was reminded of another thing that a friend said to me when my best friend died, almost ten years now, his anniversary fast approaches, at the end of this month, that “grief is not linear.”

It does not have a time frame.

It does not have a schedule.

It does not have an end or a beginning.

It will come in waves.

I saw a man tonight who used to work with my best friend and we both just sobbed on each other, it was too damn familiar, all the faces, all the people pressed together, all the tears.

I looked at him and said, “you better stick around, you just better.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” he replied.  “I heard the news and I thought of _______________ and I heard your voice and I just couldn’t not be here, I’m so glad you’re here.”

So many hugs tonight.

So many tears.

So many friends from my early days in recovery and all the memories and joys of seeing them.

And.

A reunion.

An old friend who let me go a long time ago was there.

We’d had a falling out of sorts, I don’t even know exactly all the details anymore, but we’d been best friends after my best friend died, she walked me through so much of that process and grief and we were super tight for two or three years after that and then a misunderstanding, a communication that misfires, conflict that we tried to resolve and just couldn’t.

She saw me.

I almost didn’t recognize her.

She stood up, we hugged and we both burst into tears.

There were a lot of “I’m sorry’s” and a lot of “so good to see you.”

We exchanged numbers.

She just friend’ed me again on Facebook.

Desmond.

You little fucker.

I really did not need you to die to reunite with my old friend, but I’ll take it as a parting gift, my sweet boy, that your passing brought so many people together tonight.

There were moments today when the tears wouldn’t stop falling and then.

Then.

Oh.

There were moments, so very many, when I was exquisitely alive, so alive I almost felt guilty.

Almost.

This life is so precious.

I will not waste it.

I will cram as much as I can in.

I will live.

I promise you.

I will live.

And I will love.

With all my heart.

So fucking hard.

So.

Hard.

I promise you.

All the life you did not live.

I will live for you.

And then some.

Promise.

Tired

June 23, 2017

And wide awake all at the same time.

There was a moment today when I just thought to myself, I am not going to make it through the day.

Not enough sleep.

Too many hours at work.

Client that needs to be seen after work.

Party for a friends studio opening.

And I was asked to come in earlier tomorrow to work.

I thought I was just going to pass out.

The little lady was close to taking a nap and I hazarded a distinct longing to put her down for a nap and cuddle with her and sneak in a nap myself.

But.

No such luck.

I also didn’t want to super caffeinate.

Although I came daringly close I did not succumb to the temptation and powered through the day.

My thoughts kept me company and I kept myself moving around the house a lot and kept telling myself that it was almost Friday.

It still was a long day.

But I made it through work and I got to my internship and I had a really good second session with a new client.

Two clients this week and I’ll be adding another client next week.

Slowly it builds.

I felt really good doing the session and decided that I could rally afterward and go sneak over to my friend’s open house studio opening.

I really wanted to have a grown up moment that was a social, even if it was just for a little snick of time.

I hadn’t any dinner so I knew that it would be short-lived and watching the fog roll in over Twin Peaks I was pretty assured that it would be a quick visit.

But it was good and I got to see an amazing work space and reconnect with Burning Man friends and talk a little about the event and when folks are going.

I haven’t found a ride yet and there was a moment when I thought, fuck it, wouldn’t it be nice to not stress and give up the ticket and spend the time here in the city with people I love and then I was like.

Um, no.

Hahahaha.

Sure, there are people who I want to see here, but the fact is if I don’t go to Burning Man I’d just be working anyhow, it’s not like vacation, although it completely is, but it’s outside of my time frame of paid vacation and I wouldn’t just take the week off without going.

Plus.

It’s the ten-year anniversary of my best friend’s death and he’s the reason why I went in the first place.

My heart, tender, feeling that loss, but not so achy as it’s been in the past, just tender, just there and I know there will be feelings that come up.

And there will be a conversation with him, somewhere in deep playa, out past the Temple where I am sure between the Temple and the mountain range my friend still resides, just a little part of him, I didn’t take all his ashes, but enough, enough to know he’s there and there are many places that I connect with the memory of him and also with the aliveness of him, the way I live my life a reflection of the gusto he went after life with.

I am sure he would be proud of me.

OH.

Hello.

There are the tears.

I knew you were around.

I watched the fog roll in over the top of Twin Peaks from the deck of my friends studio in the Mission and it was the same height and approximate distance from the hospital ICU, General, where my friend spent a week in a coma before the family pulled the plug and harvested his organs for donation.

There is always one strong memory for me, pressing my face against that window, my fevered brow, the hotness of my heart, the tears always on and off, more so off when I was at the hospital–it was only in the privacy of my own room in the dark as I prayed to God on my knees to get me through the experience that I would allow myself to cry–the coolness of the window and the dark, heaviness of the fog rolling in over Twin Peaks.

A blanket of sorrow and felted love thrown over the entirety of the city as though we all grieved the loss of my friend.

So.

Yeah.

I might be a little tired, but I’m not bailing on Burning Man.

Nope.

Sure.

I haven’t gotten a ride together yet, but that will happen and hopefully it won’t be as crazy as the ride up was last time.

I have gotten a couple of nibbles from my post on the ride share board, but nothing solid, it always comes together, I’m not too worried.

It’s more a matter, at this point, of getting a playa bike and finding time in between the comings and goings of my life to do some preparation.

I have people I am responsible to, my own recovery to attend to, and God damn it would be nice to get in a yoga class this weekend, but yeah,  a new playa bike and some sourcing of other items that are always nice to have and I’ll make some time, find some time, create some time, and do a little shopping when I can.

Side bar.

The mom just sent me a message about my work performance and told me that I really was “Mary Poppins sister!”

I’ll take it.

Anyway, this Mary Fucking Poppins, will be riding again under her parasol out on playa again this year and enjoying the hell out of not being a therapist in training, a student, or a nanny.

Just a girl.

Out on her bike.

Riding towards the painted calico mountains with secrets and love to share with an old friend.

“I finally was the ball, Shadrach, you’d be so fucking proud of me.”

You Look Like

June 30, 2016

Mint chocolate chip ice cream with cherries on top.

He said as I walked by.

“LOVE YOUR HAIR,” he added, giving me the nod for extra special emphasis.

Thanks dude.

Everybody likes to look like ice cream.

Well.

I do.

I did have to laugh a little at myself though for the outfit I was rolling down the street with, or up the street as the case may be, heading to the spot I spend my Wednesday evenings at getting right with God.

I had come home, started my laundry and rubbed one out.

Hey.

Look.

Sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Although I could have taken up an offer I was made this afternoon.

“How about ten months?” He texted me.

“Um, hmm, I’ll think about that, let me get back to you,” I replied.

I got back to him a few minutes later, I already knew the answer, but it was fun for a moment to consider.

“Get your year and check back with me,” I replied.

Mother fucker.

REALLY?

Like the third one in a week.

What is up?

Did no one get their birthday last June?

What the fuck is in the air?

My hormones I suppose.

The blood is high, I can tell you what.

My cycle won’t hit until I get back from New Orleans.

Great, I thought tonight as I stripped down to hop in the shower, my breasts a good half size larger than yesterday, great, I’m ovulating or soon will be.

Meh.

I do not need to head of to New Orleans with plans of getting laid, I have other things to think about, do, go to, experience.

Was I heading to New Orleans with a partner, it would be the perfect place to wander romantic in the warm night rains and make out under a lamp post.

Just nibble my neck there and there and then we’ll stroll through the French Quarter and maybe a few cemeteries, because, well, death is sexy, no?

Anyway.

I took care of business, and then laundry and then the shower and in between packing for the trip and being on top of the clothes being in the wash, I had, um, a curious assortment of an outfit as I walked out the door.

And.

I have to say, I pulled it off.

I don’t know how, but sometimes more is better.

Leopard print leggings.

A mint colored nightshirt with candy skulls in pink and white piping, topped off with a sea green sweatshirt and of course a big mountain of cotton candy pink hair with some pink roses and a sequined star clip.

Because sequins.

Hello.

I probably look ridiculous.

But.

Fuck it.

It made me happy and I was cozy as fuck.

Because, bitches, it’s cold out there.

Freaking foggy, chilly, cold, etc, etc, etc.

It was 50 degrees this morning when I got up and socked in with fog, which never really lifted.

It got a tiny bit sunny in the Mission, but the fog that had burned off was rapidly being replaced by 3 p.m. with a fresh batch of cold as fuck rolling in over Twin Peaks.

Hello summer in San Francisco.

They are not kidding.

And the Outer Sunset?

Shut the fuck up.

It was never not foggy out here.

I don’t suppose it ever really burned off.

When I hopped off my scooter and came in and greeted my house, “hello house,” I immediately turned on the heat and lit up some candles.

Welcome to summer, break out your scarves.

I am so looking forward to being somewhere warm for a little while.

I’m sure the heat and the humidity will lose their luster pretty quick, but right now, it sounds fantastic.

A warm run of nights where I can walk outside bare skinned to the air and drift in the warm magnolia scent of summer.

Bring it the fuck on.

One more shift at work and then I’m ghost.

I’ll finish work at 6p.m.

Scooter home.

Grab my rolling suitcase, which is 95% packed, and head out the door to the airport.

I will probably call for a car.

I could try the MUNI and the BART, but I think I’ll also be hitting rush hour commute time and I don’t particularly care to risk being late on the flight.

I would rather get there a little early and blog from the waiting area at the gate.

Tomorrow!

I fly out tomorrow.

My flight is out of SFO at 10:41 p.m.

I’ll have a brief, less than an hour, layover in Las Vegas, then onto Houston, Texas, with another brief layover and transfer.

What with the time change I will arrive in New Orleans at 8:24 a.m.

I’m not excited about the indirect flight, the two change overs are going to wreck me for sleep, but it was worth it to get the discounted ticket, otherwise it was going to be another three to four hundred dollars to fly direct.

I figured that was money for the Air BnB.

Or for the experience of being there, restaurants, souvenirs, tickets to places, should I swing into the New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, it’s actually close to where I am staying, or just for riding around the French Quarter on a street car.

The disjointed travel was worth it.

I’m not upset and it worked out well for me timing wise too.

I’ll hang out and have a nice leisurely breakfast somewhere fabulous in the hood where I am staying and roll into my Air BnB at noon.

A swim in the pool?

A soak in the tub?

A fresh change of clothes, a sexy sundress.

And then off to explore a little and a late lunch before for going to the conference and hitting the registration and the big night get together.

I’m so ready.

Saturday I am really going to play by ear.

I know where I will be in the evening, at the conference, but I really do want to do a little exploring, walk, shop, dine, see what New Orleans has to offer, and also, what do I have to offer to the city, since I am such a taker.

How can I go and best be of service to the situation?

Make amends for the time previous I was there and my behavior, it was not so pretty.

I’m wild with excitement.

And I’ll keep you posted on all the adventures.

Promise.

See you next from the gate at United Airlines flight 455 SFO.

Happy.

Joyous.

Motherfucking.

Free.

Congratulations!

March 7, 2015

Greetings, and congratulations on your acceptance to California Institute of Integral Studies!

Dear Carmen,

Congratulations! I am delighted to inform you of your acceptance to the California Institute of Integral Studies.  You have met all of your admissions requirements and have been fully accepted to the  Master of Arts Weekend program in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Integral Counseling Psychology for the 2015-16 Fall Semester.   You will soon receive an acceptance letter in the mail.

 

HOLY SHIT.

I’m going to graduate school.

Oh my.

HOLY SHIT.

I’m going into debt.

Who cares!

I’m going to graduate school, graduate school, graduate school.

Gonna get me a Masters of Fine Arts.

And learn how to spell.

Or at least sit quietly and listen to what other people need, that’s the point of being a therapist, and being of service, that’s a nice thing too.

I ran upstairs to tell the mom at work.

I had put down the monkey for his afternoon nap and coordinated with the mom at lunch about what marketing needed to be done, what I was going to make for dinner, and retrieval of said grocery items that needed to be bought.

I picked up my phone from the counter where it had been re-charging, I re-charge my phone frequently, I take a lot of photos of the boys at work and that will zap the juice from my phone faster than you’d expect.

I have been in the habit of checking my e-mail of late and I did just that before heading out the door.

I caught my breath.

There.

There it was.

I could barely read it.

I just saw the congratulations part and my whole body filled up with light and love and gratitude and I could feel the breath tangle up in my chest and tears stung my eyes.

I got in.

“I never once thought you wouldn’t,” my dear friend told me later on the phone, “I never doubted.”

I didn’t really either, but I also didn’t want to be too cocky about it.

I felt like it was happening almost without me giving it much thought, I just kept taking these little tiny steps, little bursts of faith-based actions, and there it was the culmination of those efforts, ever since the confrontation with my employer out at Burning Man.

I am reminded of that day, the morning after I got yelled at by my boss, and how it changed me, how I allowed the change to happen within me.

There was an art piece out on the playa that my darling friend and I walked to the afternoon after the ridiculous rain storm hit and the gates were shut down and I had spent five hours hiding out in the Commissary.

It was “The Wheel of Fortune.”

A circle of doors that led where?

As it turned out one opened the door of a Major Arcana Tarot card.

I walked in through Death.

How apropos.

I had come to the realization that I was no longer going to be a nanny, or at least, that I had to do something different, and that graduate school was in order and that I had to change, my employer didn’t have to do a damn thing.

I had to change.

The death of self, the death of the idea that I knew better, the death of my old hopes/dreams (being a highly sought after published writer with all sorts of fame and monies), the surrender to the Universe that I really did not know what was best for me.

But that I hoped.

True.

To live a life of purpose and meaning and service.

My friend and I walked around the circle and looked over the cards on the back of the doors–the art work was superlative, dandy steam punk inspired, gothic, rich in rendering, there was a circular velvet covered bench to sit on in the middle, the open blue sky above.

I, in my mind, had decided I was going to exit through the Lovers door.

I mean, that’s what Burning Man is about, another of my unrealistic hopes, to find a lover and partner at Burning Man, get me some LOVE on.

Love

Love

But after talking and sharing with my friend about the epiphany I had when I did some inventory on my job and shared it with a fellow the previous night and the perspective he gave me, I completely forgot about exiting through the Lovers Door.

“Let’s go see some more art,” she said.

We got up off the bench, still chatting, and without realizing it, I walked, not through the Lovers door, but rather.

The High Priestess.

Oh.

The goosebumps on me when I realized what I did.

I walked out with my friend into the open playa, we had little adventures and saw much art, but that door stood open in my heart and I embraced what I needed to do next.

Then I took little actions.

I”m not saying that Burning Man completely made it clear to me that I was supposed to follow this path, but yes, as a matter of fact, it did.

I was also ready for change and despite being in a lot of fear about what it would look like, I knew that it had to happen.

I remember that night when I got back to camp after the event had opened the gates and the masses held back with the rain had been let in, I sat down in the little Bambi Airstream, my gilded cage, and booted up this very laptop.

I looked up CIIS on the web and I RSVP’d the open house for fall 2015 admissions.

And well.

Jesus on a raft.

It looks like I’m going.

Especially as I just paid the non-refundable enrollment fee of $300 to hold my spot.

I also tried to navigate the financial aid forms too, but I got a little overwhelmed and stopped.

Enough actions for today, I need to remember to enjoy this, this feeling, rich in gratitude, love, abundance, joy.

I can take tonight and bask in the glow.

I believe I have earned it.

I won’t be resting on my laurels for long, I promise.

But for the moment.

Oh.

It does feel good.

It does.

I’m going back to school!

 

 

I’m Going to Atlanta!

January 30, 2015

I just registered for the conference.

Woohoo.

I started looking for flights, but as I won’t really be able to buy the air plane ticket until after my direct deposit goes into my account at midnight, I figure, I’ll be waiting until I get home from work tomorrow.

First step on the way to the dirty South.

Hotlanta here I come.

I still can’t believe I will be going there in July.

However, not only may I get to see a lot of folks, some from here in the city, I found out in the last day that another two friends are also going, I may get to see my eldest niece as well.

That would be pretty cool.

I haven’t seen her in about 10 years.

My sister sent me a message that she, my niece is in Atlanta doing school and working for FEMA.

Whoa.

Cool.

It’s a little ways off, 154 days, but the preparation to go has to start pretty quick.

The airlines are averaging about a $475 ticket round trip for the time I am looking at.

There is supposedly a discount through an airline agency that links up to the conference website, but I wasn’t able to navigate it to find out what ticket prices were.  I will be doing more exploration soon.

Ha.

I just figured out the site and I actually found cheaper tickets via another website, not by much, but probably by enough that I will buy my own airplane ticket and by-pass the event site.

Then.

On to housing.

My friend got a hold of me and let me know that he had not actually booked the hotel room.

So we are looking at AirBnB.

I’m sure that something will come up from that.

But again, stuff to attend to quickly.

I suspect that the hotels and motels will be overwhelmed with requests for berths.

There are not hotels with vacancies within eight, nine miles of the venue.

That’s a lot of rooms that have already been booked.

There are dorms, apparently, available at a couple of the universities, but frankly, though I am ready for graduate school, I am not ready to stay in a dorm ever, ever, ever again.

I am willing to pay a little more to stay in a spot a little nicer.

Plus, if I’m splitting a room with my friend then we can probably get something decent.

I am super grateful that I bit the bullet and regisered.

The cost is $100.

Just enough to make me know that I will go.

The investment in money is important, but the investment in me and my life is the most important.

I am over the moon that I am allowing myself this trip.

I have been thinking about it since I missed the last convention in 2010 and a lot of people in my community went and raved about it, it was in Austin that year, this is definitely my year.

Oh sweet Jesus.

I just got completely sucked into AirBnB.

I need to stop.

I wont’ be booking tonight.

I can spend time over the weekend checking out all the options and doing the research.

I can also shoot my friend in Atlanta a message and see if he has any suggestions.

I have plenty of stuff to do this weekend.

Might as well add-on one more thing.

The biggest thing is done, I registered and paid for the conference.

The rest of it will fall exactly into place as it suppose to.

The next thing on the agenda is, drum roll please, taxes.

Yeah.

Woohoo.

Time to get those suckers done.

I am awaiting the response from one of the families I worked for to see what, if any, there are declaring in regards to deductions for child care.

I have gotten response back from the two other families and I just need the last and then I may proceed with the taxes.

I am ready with all my stuff.

Once I have the pertinent information it shouldn’t take me much more than an hour to do the deal.

Then I get to do the FAFSA forms.

It was suggested that I apply for financial aid even before I receive confirmation that I have gotten into graduate school.  It apparently will take some time for the application to be processed and the school advisor said the sooner the better to make sure that I can pay tuition when it is due.

I still cannot believe I actually applied for the program.

Sometimes when I am at the park and mediating a melt down between a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 1/2 year old over the same shovel I am so far from doing anything else, it seems absolutely impossible that I could do or be anything other than a nanny, for the rest of my life, amen.

Then I ride my bike and feel a twinge in my shoulder, the same one that has been bothering me for almost a year, or my ankle, yeah, that’s right, my ankle still hurts, and I think, I can’t get done with being a nanny fast enough.

I must have work that doesn’t rely on my body keeping it together for another ten to fifteen years.

Of course, the graduate program is just the first of many steps that will need to be taken before I can be a licenced therapist doing the deal and making decent money.

I figure, and I am not joking, that I’ll be 47 or 48 before I have my own practice.

I’m 42 now.

The program takes three years.

The accruing of hours will probably take another couple of years.

That puts me at 47.

I might even be lowballing that estimate.

I may be 50 before I have my own practice.

Regardless.

I am not afraid of the work.

Work has never really terrified me.

Sometimes, it tires me out.

Today was hard, this week really, has been long.

The eldest boy was home sick again and that makes for longer days.

The upshot?

Lattes every morning this week from Ritual and lunch three times out, paid by the family, once at The Crepe House and twice now at Tacolicious.

That’s a nice perk.

Plus all my fruit this week courtesy of BiRite.

I can hang with that.

Ah yes.

Work.

Taxes.

Travel.

Throw in some sex and I’ll have it all.

I’ll pass on the death bit though.

 


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