life just really isn’t fair

the other day I found out that my uterus is falling out and I have to have it removed

the next morning, my father died

then, I broke out in a horrible rash that I finally got looked at today because I haven’t been able to sleep due to outrageous itching in my lady-parts

you know how it is almost orgasm-inducing to finally give in and scratch a really bad itch that you know you shouldn’t mess with but when you cave, your eyes roll back in your head and you can barely breathe because it feels so good…try that on your clitoris

it’s practically indecent

so the itch is due to an infection due to the cream that the ob-gyn used when she examined my faulty bits down there

but, while today’s doctor was inspecting the hinterlands she glanced at my thigh and said, honey, you’ve got shingles

seriously

no. seriously

I lost it; all snot and tears and woe is me

she said, I’d hug you but I’m pregnant and you’ve got shingles so actually, I’m going to get as far away from you as possible

mom said, what can we do to help?

I said, shoot me

my brother said, a little too quickly, okay

rat fucker

 

Processing

One thing I’ve realized this year is that I have done the majority of my processing by myself.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself around it – just thinking about it.

I have some really amazing friends. I have people available, if and when I call on them. There have definitely been occasions when I have shown up on doorsteps in tears, but more often than not, I have dealt with the bulk of this on my own.

Usually I am more dependent on others, more in need of hashing out every detail and getting affirmation from anyone and everyone who was willing to listen, more in want of advice and guidance from those around me.

But not so much this time.

Maybe because the way it all played out felt enough like middle school that I was didn’t want to create more of it. Maybe it’s because I felt alienated from an entire group of friends. Maybe it’s because I’m embarrassed by all of the drama. Maybe because I figure that everyone is sick to death of listening to me. Maybe because I understand that other people also have hard stuff in their worlds and I didn’t necessarily want to be my narcissistic self when others needed support. Maybe I imagined that no one could understand the absolute insanity of all that was happening.

I leaned on different people for different reasons: different pieces of the drama: like the friend whose son is also a felon or the friend who has offered spiritual guidance to help me remain standing.

I’ve written about it, receiving support from my readers, but so much of what has happened I kept under wraps in my writing because it hasn’t been appropriate to make some things public.

And things kept under wraps are things that I process alone.

It doesn’t matter why or why not. What matters is how I’ve done this.

Has it been good for me?

That’s the main question here.

Has it made me stronger or is it that I haven’t fully dealt with my shit?

I live alone. I do most things alone. I go to the desert alone. I don’t talk on the phone.

I am absolutely a classic introvert but I hate saying that because suddenly it’s hip to be socially awkward and avoid people.

I spent most of the year hiding out – avoiding the possibility of running into anyone that I might not want to encounter.

I feel like my trips to Utah have been the saving grace but maybe it’s been a really unhealthy way of isolating myself?

Because sometimes I am really lonely.

But I might be just as lonely if I had leaned on 50 of my best friends every day all year long.

And now I hesitate to reach out because if I am sick and tired of my world of shit, I can’t imagine how sick and tired of it other people are.

I like to think that it’s been really good for me to stand on my own.

I’m at the rambling point now so I’ll stop.

And most likely pack up the truck and head west.

 

my dilemma

Someone I know and respect just posted something about the atrocities imposed on bulls as part of the bullfighting culture in Portugal.

Things we don’t like to think about.

But then there’s this…

When I was 13 and was still an innocent child and yet also a budding bleeding hearted liberal, my family went to Spain.

We travelled all over the country going to castles and vineyards and eating tapas.

My mother who was the most incredible tour guide ever, always wanting us to experience the true culture of wherever we were, announced that Bullfights were on the agenda.

She’d never had a bad idea before so we all said yes.

My parents were concerned that their daughter, Elly May Clampett, wouldn’t be able to handle the murders, that they had a plan for extricating me from the arena if it looked like I might run into the ring to throw myself in front of the matador’s sword.

I surprised everyone, mostly myself.

I fucking loved every second of it. A good bullfight is a glorious thing.

It’s insane. You are hanging on the edge of your seat from the second the bull is released into the arena.

Six matadors. Six bulls.

It’s horrible when you think about it – truly cruel.

And yet, I was cheering them on.

Then, just to add to the experience, my mom found out about an artist who had been a bullfighter and lived in a tiny old stone home within the walled city and he painted using bulls’ blood.

And he had taken in a young orphan boy named Frederico and raised him and we came home with a portrait of the boy painted with blood.

So when I read that bit on Facebook, I felt a little defensive.

Does that make me a bad person?

alone

I blew off paddle boarding with friends today to instead go alone with my dog.

I had to force myself to go to the coffee shop to have some human interaction before I hole up for the rest of the weekend.

I did not bring my dog because he didn’t want to sit in the hot car.

I keep looking for him.

I spoke to him in the car.

He was at home.

He loves to paddle board. He willingly hops on and is good for at least an hour before he needs to stretch his legs. Sometimes he sits at the helm, others, he scouts behind us for attacking sharks.

He loves to watch birds.

He’s afraid of buoys. I found this out recently when I got close to one and heard a sudden splash behind me. I have no idea if he backed off accidentally or jumped off to swim away, but either way, he ended up in over his head out of utter terror.

With entertainment like that, who needs friends?

 

the discerning art collector

Whenever I walk past Pier One I look at the display windows and wonder, who finds mass-produced art attractive and actually wants it hanging on their walls?

Admittedly, it’s quite snobby of me.

I believe in one-of-a-kinds, originals, cool shit you find in the back of a thrift store, or art produced by friends.

So as I’m checking out at the Salvation Army the other day, I saw this hanging on the wall:

And I’m totally excited because it’s a real canvas stretched on a real wooden frame and there’s even a layer of gesso on some sections.

Convinced I’ve scored, I hang it on the wall, sit back and appreciate my new bird.

Then I notice that it’s hanging a bit cattywumpus and when I take it down to adjust, I see the sticker on the back:

Pier One Imports.

Guess who like mass-produced art.

Utah vs Colorado

I went to Moab this weekend to have dinner with my son.

What I am aware of when I go to Moab, is that I don’t call it going to Utah.

When I “go to Utah” I am going for desert and solitude and nature.

When I go to Moab I’m going for an urban experience, so the two barely feel like the same place.

When I am there, as beautiful as it is, I feel incredibly disconnected from the rocks around me; I’m distracted by cars and people and coffee shops and parking spots and sometimes even schedules.

But my boy is there, so there I go.

Tourists abound – it’s like a monstrous bus opened its doors and dumped out thousands of passengers then went away and came back with another busload.

The people are there for thrills, Arches, and shopping for Red Dirt T-shirts.

We have tourists too – they’re here for ruins and train rides.

The thing I notice the most about the adventure tourists is that they tend to be really uncomfortable in their bodies – these are people who do not spend a lot of time outside connecting with the dirt beneath their feet.

Everything in Moab is about the adventure; boatingbikingclimbing4-wheeling. It’s a scene.

My son loves it – he gets sick of the crowds, but as a river guide, he is right in the thick of the action – he’s part of the energy that creates the scene.

It’s a world that I used to be a part of but no longer am. I am conscious of bringing a little bit of country with me when I sit down at the dinner table at the restaurant owned by the boating company which caters to people in hiking boots and brand new Keens.

I used to feel so cool when I was a guide there. Now I’m totally not cool and totally okay with it.

After dinner, as I was leaving town, I thought about the fact that I no longer fit into that scene and I realized that after close to 23 years in a rural ranching community, I am very much a Colorado gal.

Albeit a Colorado gal from New Jersey.

2 hours away from each other, my town and my son’s town are like night and day – I feel like a hick – unsophisticated, working class, an intimate participant in the landscape of my home.

We work hard and get dirty a lot ’round these parts. W e are comfortable in our bodies because we use them and because we have a connection to the land.

On my way south to my very remote camping destination, I stopped at a used gear store on my son’s recommendation and my observations were proven correct.

In Moab, people buy pearl button shirts and straw cowboy hats at the same place they buy climbing equipment and wetsuits.

Hip, trendy, cool.

Over here, on this side of the border, we buy pearl buttons and hats at ranch stores.

Utilitarian.

 

 

Yep, my dog is THAT dog

My next door neighbors have two female black labs who Elvis crushes on big time.

If there is any sign of life next door, he races over, impossible to detain, deter, or dissuade, hoping that he’ll get to see the girls – even if only for a moment.

Said neighbors are getting married this weekend and they have family in town which equates to lots of activity over there and lots of “Elvis, get back here.”

It’s already embarrassing, but tonight…

There’s a man outside, Elvis’ substantial ears perk up and he’s running before I can even open my mouth. So I hurry over, yelling, “I’m so sorry.”

I’m far enough behind to be useless if he tries to eat someone, but close enough to see him run up to the wine casket and pee on it.

“I’m really so sorry. My name is Sally. I’m the neighbor with the wretched dog.”

Then I call the dog and attempt a graceful and hasty retreat.

I look over my shoulder at the father of the bride to say a quick toodleloo and watch my dog vomit all over their patio.

shitdamn

fuck

I am not shitting you

So, I do have this thing about people flossing in public.

Personally, I think my thing is totally normal and appropriate and I’m not sure I understand how there could be any other perspective, but apparently there is, as was proven today in the cafe.

But before I get there, let’s just take a quick look why I dislike watching people fling food bits out of their mouth across the room with a shredded thread.

It’s gross.

Enough said.

So today, I actually had to ask a customer to stop flossing while standing over a table talking to someone who was eating IN A RESTAURANT.

What could possibly be okay about that?

I hesitated to say something, but then I thought, “Food is being flicked onto someone’s panini.”

But the most astounding part…

He actually asked me what was wrong with it?

Dear god, help humanity.

Closure?

I looked up the word “closure” in relationship to relationships and this is what the dictionary gave me…

“a sense of resolution or conclusion at the end of an artistic work”

Would we call a failed relationship an artistic work?

That’s kind of pushing it.

So I hit up the Urban Dictionary and here’s what I got…

closure

1. To attempt to ‘move on’ following the termination of a relationship with another individual.
2. When used in a sentence, insinuates that the individual using the word is the same individual who was the target of the ‘break-up’.
3. A word used by overly-emotional, self-centered ‘drama queens’ (mostly women and gay men).
4. Individuals using this word generally will utter the word ‘chapter’ during their often one-sided conversations.
5. A word created during the 90’s which was borne out of individuals unable to cope with relationship failure.
6. Individuals using this word insinuate that the more stable party is responsible for all of the ‘closured’ individual’s problems, as well as the War in Iraq, airbag safety issues, the Democratic National Convention, dustless chalk, nipples on men, PMS, and bad-hair days.

So where am I going with this? Why did I feel the need to look this up in the dictionary? Was it because I have wanted some sort of closure for the last seven months?

Right? I’m not a gay man and I would never use the word “chapter.”

Nope.

In light of the above, I embarrassingly admit that yes, I did want closure. I didn’t need to clarify why we had split – that was very clear. But I wanted to understand what the fuck happened in the aftermath?
Things that he did, or didn’t do, were so fucked up and cruel and hurtful and careless that I honestly just couldn’t believe they were happening.
But I actually didn’t need him to explain it. I have plenty of language for that going on in my head.
What I honestly needed was a chance to say all of the tens of thousands of things that have spun through my head in the last 7 months, to him, not to my friends, my therapist, and random strangers.
And they needed to be spoken, not screamed.
I ran into him yesterday. I saw him and thought that I’d blow by with a quick “hi,” but that’s not how it turned out.
It was only the second time I’ve seen him since last autumn and the first time amounted to “How’s the weather” in terms of depth or content.
We talked about the fact that we had never actually talked after things shook out. There was never a final anything. We “broke up,” and then, within days, the shit started hitting the fan with the litany of cruelties that took me down.
And down and down and down.
And it just became a mess.
Being a woman of words, I have this belief that if I say something well, the other person will understand and show some compassion and maybe even remorse.
If they don’t then I just keep talking, thinking that they will finally see the light, but really, the other person just tunes out and shuts down.
I often (almost always) walk away from conversations involving my hurt heart, with a lot of self-doubt, regrets, frustrations, and 52 reasons to spin out about every detail of the interaction.
And 52 million things that I wish I had said because, in hindsight, if I had just said ____________ then he would have understood and regretted hurting me.
So we had this lengthy chat and I walked away, went back to work and began to hyperventilate; loud, body-wracking sobs and tears that didn’t stop running into the dishwater all afternoon.
I didn’t want to talk about the details with anyone – I just wanted to sit with it while I cooked. I know that I need to feel this incredible sadness and grieve what I haven’t yet grieved.
Did I get what I needed?
I did receive some valuable bits.
He was kind and respectful.
He listened.
He saw one big piece from my perspective and admitted that it was “fucked up.”
I didn’t yell.  I said everything that I needed to say without going on ad nauseam. I didn’t try to hold him accountable for other’s actions. I wasn’t sarcastic or condescending or demeaning. I didn’t barely swore. I was calm and rational and very very clear.
And I didn’t fall apart.
(All things I do more often than not.)
I owned and apologized for some really shitty things that I had done.
In other words, not only did I maintain my dignity, but as I ruminate on the exchange a day later, I am satisfied with it.
I’m not wishing that I had said things differently or said more. When I think of things that I would have liked to add, I am thankful that they weren’t included because they are the things that would have made me look small or petty or pathetic or bat shit crazy.
I’m not cringing in hindsight.
I was able to try to set things right from my end. It takes two to tango as we all know.
That which he apologized for…it was what I wanted, and I appreciate it, and I also realize that it’s not the apologies that I need. The remorse can’t begin to undo what has been done.
What I needed was to be heard and maybe understood a little bit better.
To speak my peace.
To say, “You destroyed a family that loved you.”
Without expecting anything much in return.
I needed an opportunity to regain my dignity which I, maybe not lost, but definitely compromised in my unhinged moments.
And regain it I did.
The sadness that I am feeling today is deep. I am exhausted. And yet, I understand that this is part of the process and that I will eventually feel some relief.
And I don’t have to beat myself up for one more mismanaged moment.
So did I get the elusive “closure”?
I don’t know.
But I think I can probably go to the coffee shop now without fear, without ending up on the floor of the kitchen having a full-blown anxiety attack.
And that’s worth a whole awful lot these days.

one of life’s greatest questions

I went to Walmart the other day; a day that had begun with snow and cold, but by the time I got off work and headed west, the sun was out.

I pulled into the parking lot and as I stepped out of the truck I caught a glimpse of what I might look like to the people of Walmart…

or just look like the people of Walmart.

I have this coat that is a magnificent, $4, ankle-length, fake fur number that looks like I’m wearing a buffalo. This was paired with lime green, knee-high rain boots, and, a purple crocheted beanie adorned with appliqué flowers.

I paused, considered how I would feel if I saw someone I knew, shrugged that off, and proudly marched in to get a container for bringing wood into the house.

What I came up with is absolute genius: a turquoise plastic laundry hamper with wheels and a handle just like a roller suitcase.

And what better way to save bags and save the planet than to put all of my purchases into the laundry basket and wheel them on out to the truck.

Admittedly I felt a teensy twinge of self-consciousness (just enough to notice) and then I decided that I actually didn’t care and I though it quite funny instead.

Which then brings me to this important question…

Where exactly, is the line between “I don’t give a fuck,” and, “I’m batshit crazy?”