Thursday, March 29, 2012

morning joe.

i knew there wasn't any cream for my coffee before i woke up this morning. i knew there wasn't any milk in the house, either. not that i can abide by milk in my coffee, but at least it would be something.

i knew this because wingman and i used half of what was left of the cream yesterday to make butter. which i thought would be fun for him. and it was. so he decided to use the other half and shake it until it made whipped cream. which he flavored with sugar and declared delicious. he put what was left in the freezer. so, no cream for my morning coffee and a happy kid. i figured i would get up and get some in the morning on a walk to the little store. or, that honestly, it really wouldn't matter if i had coffee or not. a lot of days i just don't.

last night i watched the duke drink the last of the milk and figured i'd get that with the cream. around here cereal is an afternoon snack or a weekend breakfast. so we didn't need it first thing. so i could get it anytime tomorrow. later.

when i woke up this morning it was from a(nother) fitful night of sleep. it was windy and rainy and cold. the cats gave me grief, the duke irritated me because he's nearly 15 and the way he 'cares' about something is very different from the rest of the way regular normal people with already developed frontal lobes 'care' about the same thing. i held my tongue, which i cannot stand, which was best, and which only fed my irritation.

so by the time everyone who was awake had been fed and i closed the door on getting the duke on the bus all i could think about was a nice big cup of hot coffee. in my favorite cup. the one that the duke bought me for mother's day last year after i broke my former favorite cup in a fit of glorious conniption. actually, i was just being pissy at the exact same time my cup decided to slip from my grip. it really was a coincidence, truly, but it looked like so much more. more dramatic. more intense. like how you wish it would look when you WANT it to look that way. when really, the way it usually goes it that you furiously stalk out in a swirl of anger and all your DESERVED self righteous glory only to have to return sheepishly because you forgot your car keys.

anyway, where was i? oh yeah. so i headed to the coffee maker, pleased to see there were just enough already ground beans left over for my one cup so i didn't have to wake the sleeping wingman by grinding more. wingman who gets up far too early for this mama who wants just 15 minutes of no one talking to her a day. 15 minutes. that's all i ask. no cats. no kids. nobody. this does NOT happen if wingman wakes up right when everyone else leaves for the bus, for work. because after i feed the cats and everyone else and then they leave, the cats take their first nap of the day. ALL of them. and, it's quiet. just like that.

if wingman wakes up, there is no quiet. 

i look for the scoop and it's not where it lives on top of the grinder. it hasn't fallen to the side or the back of the grinder either. and for a moment, i panic. there is one scoop for coffee in this house. i don't use anything else to measure. i feel like if i do, it won't be right. i am not a coffee snob in the world at large. i will have coffee from a gas station or a convenience store or a styrofoam cup with powdered creamer. if i accept your offer of coffee i will drink whatever coffee you offer me in any way that you offer it. i will drink instant, i will drink flavored. because i suffer from migraines i learned early on that coffee of any kind will stave it off. sometimes beggars can't be choosers. BUT in my little life here inside this house, i have one cup of coffee a day. that's it. and if it's fucked up by any measure then i cannot drink it. won't drink it. it's simple as that. i don't 'need' it until i don't have it and then it sucks. it's such the human condition. well, if you're in the first world.

but there's something else about the coffee scoop. the coffee scoop came with us across country from our other house. our other life. not in the truck. on the truck. on the back of the 26 foot long loaded to the rafters moving truck. the truck that had gone, by then, over countless mountain passes through countless miles of blizzard and snow and ice and just complete shit weather. the truck that held our life before in material form, and our borrowed hope for what lie ahead. simply by moving us forward. mile by teary mile.

and by the time i noticed the scoop we were three days into that god awful trip. in some other state. at some other gas station. at some other fucking subway which for most of the trip was the default food because it simply was the least of all evils. i was on the phone with my mother in law, trying not to gripe, trying to keep it together so when the boybarians and the husband and the trip companion all came out of the subway i wouldn't be crying. so i was walking and talking on the phone and i walked around the back of the truck and there it was. the coffee scoop. from the kitchen. my kitchen. my kitchen with the sky blue tiled counter and the view to the back pasture. the kitchen that i discovered my passion for cooking in. the kitchen that for years fed my family and friends, that hosted all the holidays and birthday parties and gatherings.

and because we needed it up to the minute we pointed the truck and the car east, and because there literally LITERALLY was not one square inch of space left, we left the old, worn out, white mr. coffee behind in that kitchen. on the counter. but i grabbed the scoop.

and there it was. on the back ledge of the truck. just sitting there. like someone put it there. i assumed when i grabbed it that i tossed it into the car or a bag or box. that's what i intended. and yet. there it was. and it hadn't fallen off. through all the shit of the first three days of what would be an eight day trip i never again wanted to repeat in my life, there was the fucking coffee scoop.

i took it as a sign. i mean, at that point i took EVERYTHING as a sign. the way you do when you're heartbroken or lost or drowning. or, all three. i figured that if that coffee scoop could hang on to the back ledge of the moving truck and not fall off then maybe, just maybe i could, too. hang on. not fall off.

it took some time for that to happen, but, it did. eventually. eventually it does. we just need to be patient. time. distance. it comes. i know that now.

so i look again for the scoop. i look next to the new, black mr. coffee. i scan the dark granite counter top. i look again by the grinder. and finally i locate the scoop on the side of the counter on top of the nest of plastic containers that live in the wooden box on the floor. for lack of anywhere else to put them. for lack of usable drawer space due to the mice who are probably gone but the lack of my really giving a shit since i moved here prevents me from really caring or reclaiming the drawers and thus the box of plastic containers lives on the floor at the side of the counter. in some ways i am resistant and petty. in some ways i am hanging on, but not in the good way. but, no matter! there's the scoop!

i grab the scoop. happy to have found it. i scoop the coffee into the filter resting in the basket and pour in the water and hit the 'on' button. and that's when it hits me. that's when i remember i'm out of cream. and milk.


the coffee is now bubbling and gurgling away. my cup is ready on the counter.

i go to the window and i look at the sky. it's dark. it's windy. it's spitting rain. wingman isn't awake yet. and even if he was, i don't have cash on hand to make a quick run to the little market down the hill that has the five dollar minimum for purchases made with a card. i'd have to drive. to the bigger store. farther away. but not until wingman woke up. and the irony is the one morning it'd be convenient for him to be up early, he's not.

i take a deep breath and look back up at the sky. and down to the broken bird bath. to the shit yard i can't stand. with its endless pine needles and lack of charm. i am beginning to really turn on the dark when two more things hit me. both at once: there's the buddha. under the tree. just like he used to be at our old house. oh by then it was just a stump. it had been an old plum and had fallen years ago in a storm and the stump was all that was left. the stump and the buddha. right there. still there. he came with us here and has a new tree. not minding the weather or the yard or the endless pine needles.

and that's when it also hit me: wingman's whipped cream in the freezer. the whipped cream he made from the last of the cream left yesterday. he only had some of it to taste, and then froze the rest. so i went to the freezer, and there it was. the cream for my coffee. just waiting for me to find it.

the thing about life is that some days it's just harder than others. worse still is when some days turn into a string of some days, into months, into years. for whatever reasons we hold onto or are thrust upon us. sometimes it seems as if we'll never have enough of what we need or want, sometimes it seems as if all we have is too much of what we don't. too much of what holds us back and holds us under.

but the beauty in life is that it just is. there. everything is right there. it's just up to us to hang on. to be patient. to use time and distance as salve and salvation. to take a deep breath. to see the sign.

to remember that what we need is always right in front of us. it's just up to us to see it. to notice it. to reach out, and take it.

be blessed,


Friday, March 16, 2012

in any other town.

last night a new-ish and has become dear friend took me to sushi. just us girls. i only met her last year but she is adored by me. we are the same age and come from the same place. the same coast, the same state, the same vast valley, the same hometown. she went to high school with my first husband. i went to high school with her husband. she didn't know my first husband, but knew of him in high school. in high school her husband and i were friends, and i once witnessed him, fully clothed in a nun's habit, fall down a full flight of stairs and not spill one drop of his beer.

it was a BYOB restaurant. i brought champagne. we ate. and sipped. and laughed a LOT. at one point 'it' came up and she looked me in the eye and said something to the effect of, 'it's been almost 20 years since my father passed away and it still hits me. and i still cry unexpected tears sometimes, and sometimes i'm mad at the universe. i still grieve.'

and i let out a bit more of that breath i always forget i am holding. forget until i am reminded.

which brings me to what i wrote on the plane about how i felt about being in new orleans. how i was reminded to let out that breath, and breathed just a bit easier than i have in a long time:

when i was in new orleans i had a sense of everything being just as it should be. i couldn’t name it. i didn’t talk about it. but i just felt, right. after so long feeling a bit adrift, un-tethered by death and loss. i felt like how i felt and there wasn’t a need for qualifications "well, it's *only* been 6 months..." "well, it was so hard at the end..." "well, i *am* so far away from my family..."

i loved the way people are broken in the south. like they are everywhere else. only in the south it somehow seems okay. okay to be broken for a time. it seems like in the south they give you however long it takes. because we all make ourselves whole in the way we know how. or the way that gets us by until we learn how. we really just need as long as it takes. that's all. and i felt like i could have all the time in the world there. i don't know how i know this from being there just 3 days, but i felt it. i did know it. deep down.

i loved the way it was okay to drink too much and to laugh too loudly in the south. it’s okay to talk to strangers. the fully clothed ones at least. the ones still able to stand on their own and don't have to be held up by a pole or a bar or a friend. in the south it's okay to stay up past your bedtime. it’s okay and even encouraged to engage in debauchery. and how sometimes that’s just what a soul needs. at least some souls. while i couldn't make a life of that, it made all the difference at the time.

in the south i was reminded that moments come and you embrace them. and let myself be okay with the fact that the only thing i’ve written about since my father died is my father. dying. that it’s amazing that i am as whole and as sane as i am to begin with so fuck'em if they don’t get the joke. i do. the south reminded me that that was enough. me getting the joke. in the south i got the joke. and wrote another poem about my father.

i loved being in a place that knows its death and despair and can still throw a parade. to know tragedy and still be able to take simple pleasure in sitting with a cold drink, enjoying the sticky warmth of a sleepy southern sun. i learned that in the south it’s really truly okay to grieve, to STILL GRIEVE even if it makes others uncomfortable. again, i don't know how i know this from 3 days, but i felt it. i did know it. deep down.

without a single conversation on the subject that i can't stop writing about, that i still cry about, i felt understood in the south. i made no apologies, and nobody asked me to.

so that's a rough and unedited written on the back of a boarding pass on a half night of beer soaked sleep synopsis of me in new orleans. and it seems strange to be so taken by a place i was only in for 3 days. but that's just how it happened. like love at first sight. you just know. without any reason or logic or comprehension. and you can't explain it. you just know.

and the only way i can attempt to explain it (because that's just how i do) is to recount an interaction i had with a shouldn't be as gorgeous as he is lad named spencer. he was one of the waiters at the fantastic commander's palace where along with two of the dearest to me people in the world the three of us celebrated turning 40 this year. there were balloons at the table provided by the restaurant and at the end of the meal spencer gestured to them and asked

"would you like to take these with you?"

i didn't even think about it. uncharacteristically.

"you know, i think i will."

he untied them from the table and made a loop, knotted it, and slipped them over my wrist.

"normally i would never do this. just walk around in public with balloons. in any other town, i would NEVER do this."

he looked at me for a minute.

" 'in any other town...' well, that right there is new orleans, ma'am. in a nutshell. you got it."

yes, i believe i did. get it.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

your moment(s) of zen.

i have never had a good nights sleep. in my life. that might be a slight exaggeration, but when i say slight...i mean minuscule. tiny. i'm sure i have, maybe, it's just that my sleep is so often nearly every night disrupted by my dreams. which are intense and demanding, often scary and terrifying, sometimes funny. and sometimes i get to have sex. but RARELY. especially RARELY with people i would ever choose. on those occasions i am ALWAYS interrupted by the cats. or the 3 am thoughts.

apparently i feel STRONGLY about dream sex. who knew.

i live a parallel life in my dreams. i have all 5 senses, i taste i touch i feel i smell i see...all of it. and i am active. i run i jump i cook i cry i handle weapons and herd cats. literally. that's one of my two stress dreams, the herding of cats.

i have been every imaginable person and sometimes i am me. and sometimes i know i'm dreaming and sometimes i don't. sometimes i can pull myself out and sometimes i can't. and sometimes i ache to stay. not for good, just for longer.

i wake up completely exhausted nearly every morning. sometimes i'm scared or panicked or happy or perplexed...sometimes i'm unbelievably sad. but, mostly, i'm exhausted. completely wiped before the day has even begun. well, the waking day that is.

and i've often noticed bruises i cannot explain. and once i woke up after a dream about caring for barnyard animals with a rash on my face. true story.

but it doesn't keep me from lying down. i love to sleep. sleeping is my favorite. it's the dreaming that gets me. the sleeping is heaven on earth. even when i was a baby. especially as a depressed teen. and good lord after having children i cannot believe i squandered my early adulthood sleep on staying up to drink and dance and canoodle the night away and THEN went to a 5 am barista job. what a jackass. i'll spend forever trying to make that shit up.

but my absolute favorite part of sleeping is that moment right after the loss of understandable tangible consciousness and right before actual full on sleep. it's so brief and fleeting, but it's unmistakable in its purity. i can get it most nights, but not all. just knowing it exists is sometimes enough. a beautiful quiet clean slate.

that moment represents all that is right in this world. devoid of pleasure or pain, it's weightless and floaty, but not drifting. like an exquisite hovering. being. in its purest form.

i don't do drugs but i can imagine this is what people seek. this one moment. hoping against hope that it lasts longer. just a little longer. just one more minute.

anyway, if that moment had a soundtrack it would be this song. and i say that because i dreamed about that moment last night. and this was the song that was playing at the time. so for your exquisite listening pleasure i bring you this installment of your moment(s) of zen.

sweet dreams.


Friday, March 02, 2012

it never gets easier. just different.

i thought i saw my father this morning. he was in a delivery truck across the street. looking into his side view mirror, out his window, trying to make his way into traffic. i was stopped at a red light.

this man, not my father, looked exactly like him. he cocked his jaw exactly like my father did. exactly like his grandson, my son, does. he had my father's hat, and his clothing. he was my father in the later years. when i barely knew him, before i knew him again. before he got sick.

and he even had that nervous, tentative way about looking out at the traffic through the window, back to the side view mirror, trying to find his way in, to keep moving, that my father did.

my father loved to drive. but not in traffic. he liked driving slowly, long distances.

i actually didn't realize that it wasn't him until i started to point and say, 'hey, wingman. look. it's pops.'

my mouth opened. then closed. my hand touched the window. the light changed. i drove home.