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Archive for June, 2005

movin’ and shakin’

i am moving- again. it has been less than a year since i packed up everything i own and walked it down the block, and i would be immensely happy if it could be at least three more until i did it again. but no such luck. the swell of chicago condos must march on. my place is apparently going for $390k. i mean, this is a nice apartment and all, but seriously- four hundred thousand dollars? when i was growing up in richmond, that kind of money could buy a house with a three acre yard and an elevator. here, just a two bedroom condo rehab. the world’s gone mad.

speaking of going mad, apparently i need therapy. or at least, J thinks it’s a good idea. i agree, i have been a bit of a mess lately, with mood swings to rival a six flags ride, and bouts of minor depression, oh, and the fact that i’m obsessed with my dead parents. and antisocial behavior- if that’s what it means when you’re always crabby and you can’t make friends. (these are all my words, not his). lately i just feel blank and desperate. i can feel totally alone and isolated sitting in the middle of a crowded room. and- i think this is J’s issue- i have been getting my familiar born-to-run feelings again. a few weeks ago, out of nowhere, i drank a whole bottle of wine and decided i was furiously mad at J (who had the NERVE to go out with his friends and then call me several times to tell me where he was and when he would be home, the bastard), so i ran away from home, thirteen-year old style. i went down the street to my old (now my new again) house, and lay down in the back yard and fell asleep, deliberatly hoping that J would be worried when he got home. he was. luckily, he found me right away, and then we had a ridiculous fight, in which i tried to act like i was the one who had been slighted, and told him several times that i had HOPED that he was worried. in the morning, it all came back to me in an oily haze, and i felt like the biggest asshole on the planet. i’m lucky he didn’t dump my crazy ass right there. he was very hurt, but also very forgiving, saying that he had panicked when he got home and i wasn’t there, and that he didn’t know what he would do if he lost me. and the night before i actually told him that this was the reaction i wanted! i’ve never done something so mean hearted and vindictive, especially to someone that i love who in no way deserved it. it was so clearly just a plea for attention, which he would willingly give me at any time, if i just TELL HIM WHAT I NEED. i have such a hard time asking for what i need, and a nearly impossible time asking for help. when did i become such a passive aggressive coward? and where did all of this anger that i have come from? i love J more than anything in the world; he is so sweet and understanding and good to me. and yet i still find myself questioning our relationship, wondering if this is the right thing for me, so scared of a future that involves counting on one person.

he’s right, i do need a therapist. and i’m such a stuck-up hippocrite for being so surprised that that’s true. J has worked so hard on himself and this relationship, has made it such a priority to be the man he thinks i deserve, the absolute least he deserves is the same effort from me.

(and synge, don’t think i am missing the irony of being told i need to go to therapy. talk about the pot calling the kettle crazy…)

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i never thought it would happen to me. i thought i would be safe. i saw it happen to my other friends, read about it in magazines, saw it in the movies and on tv, but i thought i would be different. i thought i was stronger. but it has happened.

i am obsessed with wedding planning. and i’ve got it bad.

i buy every wedding magazine i can get my hands on, even the ones in the sealed plastic bags with the free budget planner notebooks and the target gift registries. i log on to indiebride or the knot at least twice a day. i can’t wait to go to flea markets this summer and look for interesting stuff for centerpieces. recently i even had the urge to rent “my best friend’s wedding” and “runaway bride” JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE ABOUT WEDDINGS!!!!

i have a problem. it has to stop. the wedding is still a year away, and i have everything done except for buying the flowers and writing my vows.

i fear i am lost.

tell me i’m not completely out of my mind. tell me this is normal. at least tell me this is normal for ME….

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Dear Vixanne,

i agree and disagree with you. all grief is indeed very different, and losing a parent is not like losing a child, that’s true. but, ironically enough, when i lost my parents, i felt very similar feelings of isolation and exclusion to what you have felt, and much of that came from how other people ‘expected’ me to grieve. everyone seemed to think that it was so much ‘worse’ for my grandparents to lose their children than it was for me to lose my mother, because your parents are supposed to die before you and your children aren’t. maybe that’s true, but your parents aren’t supposed to die before you’re thirty, and even if they are, it doesn’t make it any easier. everyone ‘expected’ me to be over it by now, because i am young, and resiliant, and i have my whole life and future ahead of me. so now it makes people uncomfortable when i talk about my pain, and it makes them feel guilty when they tell me their mother’s day plans, because they don’t know how to ‘handle’ my grief that has lasted so much longer and affected me so much more than it ‘should’.

true, your grief and mine are very different, just as our experiences and our personalities are very different. but i think that there are also a lot of similarities which you don’t see.

i very much mourned the future when i lost my parents; every day i mourn the fact that they are not with me in my life to see the directions i am taking and that they will never see me grow or know my family or my achievements. i do feel that my mother’s death is a reflection of me as a woman and a person- through my most formative adult years, i didn’t have a MOTHER, i still don’t have a mother, i don’t have that most essential of female relationships that every other woman in my world has, and that makes me feel freakish and abnormal and faulty. no one knew knew what to say to me when they died- sure, i got the prerequisite ‘i’m sorry’ and ‘ how are you?’, but no one really knew what to say, yourself included. just because there’s a card for it, doesn’t mean people feel comfortable discussing it with you. i do have many many memories of my parents, but they are fading every day, and for many of them, there is no one left who shares those memories; they will die forever when they leave my mind, because all of the people in those memories have died. i certainly felt bitterness and jealousy, and i still feel bitterness, every time i see a mother and daughter or a father and daughter laughing and talking together. it makes me FURIOUS that that can’t be me, that my parents were taken from me while other people will have theirs for their whole lives. and lastly, yes, hundreds of people mourned my mother and my father, but i mourned them, and still do mourn them, very much alone, every day. in fact, the further i get from their deaths, the more alone i feel in my grief. because i’m supposed to be over it.

because grief is supposed to be simple.

but you and i both know that it is not.

for anyone.

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day by day

i fear i am falling back off the blogging wagon. some days it’s easier to write than others. in fact, i have fallen off the writing wagon in general lately, and that’s no good. but i have a workshop and a new writing class both coming up soon, so that should help me stay focused. sad that i need such structure to keep me on task, but such is life. i have been distracting myself lately with wedding stuff and finding a new apartment (my building’s going condo, so we have to go), and apparently i can’t mentally walk and chew gum.

we did find a new place- well actually, an old place. we’re moving back into my old building, four doors down the block. in an uncharacteristically shrewd bargaining move, i talked my old landlord into renting us the third floor unit in my former building- the owner’s unit, a three bedroom, and the nicest aprtment in the building- for $300/per month less than he was asking. it had been vacant for three months, and i knew that he was desperate, so i thought he might bite- and he did! talk about a renter’s market…if anyone wants to rent an apartment for a great deal, move to chicago, now’s the time. now i have my old yard back and more space than i know what to do with. J is thinking of turning the back sunroom into a meditation room- just because he can- and we will now have an official guest bedroom, so if any of you east coast slackers ever want to go (mid)west, you have a place to stay. it is a little more money than we pay now, but not a ridiculous amount, and i figure if you’re going to splurge it might as well be on your home. i know all of you homeowners out there are going to tell me i should buy, but i’m just not ready yet (nor is the chicago housing market, by my budget). one major life commitment at a time- talk to me after i’m married and through grad school.

i am just a little worried about J’s reaction to the new place though. he seems a little weirded out about moving back into what was essentially my old apartment, in a building with all of my friends. he says he feels like he’s moving further into my life, and that strikes me as an odd phrase from someone who is planning to marry me in a year. as i see it, i spend a LOT of time with his friends, much more than he has ever spent with mine, so in fact moving in there kind of balances the scales. i know that the extra money worries him too, but as i see it, we have the money my parents left me as a cushion for us and in order to enable us to live a little more comfortably, so why not use it to live in a really nice place? it’s really only $150 more a month than we were looking to spend, and that’s what, like two dinner dates or a couple of cab rides a month we’ll have to cut out? i do not count on my parent’s money, and i have never squandered it, but dammit, my parents are dead and that really sucks, so why shouldn’t i get some happiness from the money they left me? i have so much guilt and so many bad feelings about that money, i am trying to get to a place where i can just enjoy it- not waste it or depend on it, but enjoy it and appreciate the security and flexibility it offers me. using it to enable me to live in an apartment that i love, in a building full of people that i care about, with a yard where i can dig in the dirt- that is how i lose the bad vibes of that money. and that’s okay……..right?

damn. i need to go back to therapy.

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is anybody out there?

or am i writing this for an entirely empty room? lurkers, unmask yourself (if you exist)- i’m feeling neglected here…

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right after my mom died, my dad gave me a book called ‘when bad things happen to good people’. i never read it. when my dad died i looked at the book and thought it was ironic that he was the one who had given me the book and now he was ‘good person’ i was missing. when my mom died another friend of mine gave me a book called ‘motherless daughters’ which i also did not read for a while, though i eventually stop/start-ed my way through most of it (the crying made it hard to read, hence all the stopping). this summer i will attend a writing workshop in iowa city led by the woman who wrote ‘motherless daughters’, hope edelman; the workshop is called ‘writing about family’. yesterday one of my closest friends told me that she had some irregular, possibly pre-cancerous cells on her cervix, and would have to go in for minor surgery and, if that didn’t work, she might have to have a hysterectomy. this morning i broke down crying on my way to the gym, overcome with a terrible sadness, suddenly absolutely exhausted by the world. i am tired of trying to fix everything. i am so tired. i am tired of bad things happening to good people. i am tired of worrying that more people i love might die. i am tired of putting forth a brave face, and being positive, and supporting everyone else, and taking care of everything. i want someone to take care of me. i want someone to make everything okay. i just want to stop and be happy for a while.

i want my mommy.

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digging for roots

today i spent the entire afternoon on my hands and knees in the dirt planting my vegetable garden. the weather was hot and the work was strenuous, but there are few things in the world that i love more than sitting in the sun wiggling my toes into the dirt, so overall it was a wonderful afternoon. i finished the day dirty, tired and amazingly satisfied.

crouching there, placing each tiny little plant into the earth, i thought of my mother. when i was growing up, every single saturday morning i can remember found my mom in our back yard, on her knees, messing with her flowers. i would wake up, usually hours after she had, to a pan of bicuits on the kitchen counter, a pitcher of sweet tea on the back stoop and mom, dressed in an old sweatshirt and cutoff jeans with a bandana holding back her hair, half covered by plants somewhere in the yard. she loved her garden, it was her haven. she told me once that that was her release after a long and emotional draining work week, the only time she could really call her own. though at the time i didn’t understand how working could be a release from working, now i understand. just the sensation, the satisfaction of doing a job that you want to do, on your own time, in your own way, and for only your own reward, is an amazingly calming thing. gardening makes me happy in a way that few other ‘hobbies’ can; part of that is the activity itself and part of that is the nostalgia and sense of private indulgence i associate it with.

as i realized how much i share my mother’s love of gardening i was faced with the fact that i am like her, and unlike my teenage years, when that would have terrified me, i found that idea very comforting. maybe it’s because my parents are gone, but now i’m pleased when i notice their traits in my own actions. it makes me feel closer to them, it reminds me that they were a part of my life and they will always be a part of me. when i catch myself making up silly songs, i remember that i am like my dad. i catch myself making facial expressions that remind me of my mom. i hear the tone of my voice and it sounds like dad. i share both their good traits (curiousity, generosity, friendliness) and their bad ones (arrogance, impatience, lateness), but the important thing is that i am LIKE them, they are still in me. i am their daughter, here or gone, and no amount of time or distance will change that. they are my roots, they are my foundation. though i am my own plant now, producing my own fruit, it is my parents who first helped me grow. to grab for another plant metaphor, i guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

wow. all of this, found in an eight by four plot of dirt. who’d of thunk it.

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