I have started this post about 20 times in my mind. The original effort keeps coming off as snarky, shitty even – and worse yet, I managed to once again get real comfy with doing what I do best: Belittle myself and all the trappings that come with that. Make light of my accomplishments. Poo-poo my struggles. Minimize my insecurities and my vulnerability.
To which I say, Fuck that.
And I can probably only write this from a place of honesty right now because a little podcast that is now absolutely ginormous and epic has saved my life and thousands of other lives. This post may or may not turn out to be about that.
Shit’s hard, y’all.
My husband and I packed up and moved across the country. That was not easy. Being new, in a new job, in a new city, in a new state, Is not easy. If anything, being new is definitely one thing: It is vulnerable. I have had to get over saying “I don’t know how this works here”, I have had to get over being in the wrong lane 1000 times, And I have definitely had to get over not having enough room for all my shit. If anything, I need less shit. I want to go explore my new city, but I am so fucking tired. It is literally all I can do to drag myself off the couch to eat something. Which is another thing. As tired as I am, I still have had plenty of energy to gain 10 pounds. No, we have not eaten healthy anything since we’ve been here, but time is of the essence and sleep is a hot commodity. Cooking anything, healthy or not, has not been a priority.
None of my friends are here.
But I knew all this before we started. I knew what I was up against. I guess I just thought I wasn’t too old to do this, or if I was, I wouldn’t feel it. Trust me, I feel every bit my age lately. And It’s not like I regret the decision to move. I don’t. I know it was the right move to make. I’m really glad that we did it. I know that it will get easier in time. That being somewhere 100% new doesn’t get comfortable overnight. I know that I will have time to explore and do all the kinds of things that I used to, and not be so tired all the time. But right now, I can’t see the light at the end of this particular tunnel. Yesterday I woke up at 4:45 AM (my new wake-up time, SUPER NOT AWESOME) with a giant sleep wrinkle in my face, and it did not go away until 1 PM. Everybody said DRINK MORE WATER! Newsflash, I’ve been drinking lots of water. The problem is I am almost 50 years old. My skin just doesn’t do what it used to do. It’s OK, I’ll get used to that too.
I’ve cried a lot. Sometimes it’s a release. Sometimes it’s because I’m sad. Sometimes it’s because I’m frustrated. I know I need to find someone to talk to – I was used to going to therapy every other week and add Find a Therapist to the list of Shit I Need to Do. So many things are not the same. All the old things were so…familiar. Comfortable. Easy.
And despite all of this, I am happy. I do love it here. It’s going to be great. I’m just impatient, and I want it to be great right the fuck now. I know it’s going to take more time then I’m giving it. So when I feel this way, I just have to slow down and think about all the great things. It’s beautiful here. The ocean is right the fuck there. I see it everyday when I’m driving to work. I can walk outside at lunch and barely break a sweat. There are a million things to do. The food is fantastic. I have not had a bad taco since I got here, and I have had many tacos in a month. But I am tired. And my perfectionism Is really trying to take over. I won’t let it. Things are not perfect. They are not going to be perfect. My need to show you something different – in writing, in what I say, or on social media – the need is strong, but keeping it real seems more important. I’ll show you a tree. I’ll show you the beach. Occasionally you’ll see Tired Old Me. And that is who I really am right now.
And oh, how’s this? WE MOVED ACROSS THE FUCKING COUNTRY. We sold half our shit, sold 2 vehicles, packed up the rest of our shit, packed up 2 cats, drove across the motherfucking desert, lived without most of our belongings for 12 days, started new jobs, got drivers’ licenses, insurance, an apartment, HOLY SHIT WE DID ALL THAT!!! I have to remember, this was a Big. Fucking. Deal. Don’t play it off like “oh yeah well people do it all the time blah-dee-blah you’re not special.” True, I am not special, and also true, people do it all the time. AND YET STILL. It’s a huge accomplishment that we did it. Or even thought of doing it. CELEBRATE, and FUCKING HOORAY.
I think sometimes my penchant for needless worry makes it hard for me to want to do anything outside of stay home and try to make the apartment look neat and clean, or do other things that really aren’t adding anything to my personal enjoyment. So, circling back to that little podcast that grew into a monolith: Every Murderino knows exactly what I’m talking about. Karen and Georgia have made it possible for me to just do the damn thing, and not think about it. WHO CARES IF IT’S NOT PERFECT. IT IS PERFECT BECAUSE IT’S NOT PERFECT. I was trying to live by this philosophy already, but then they came along and made it OK for everybody to do it. I’m just so grateful that they talk to their listeners about mental health the way they do, And make it OK for us to feel whatever we’re feeling, whenever were feeling it. No one can dictate that. I wanna tell you that this life that I have moved to is Instant Awesome. It is less than that at this time. And it might not be awesome for a while. Right now, I’m just trying to roll with the punches, get some sleep, drink some water, not go crazy.
I am not sure how much more we can all take, those of us that want and expect decency to prevail in this Upside-Down we are in right now. It’s all so gradual, right? I mean, everything that’s happening may not have really touched you or a person you love yet. You have health insurance from your employer. You are in good health. You are not an immigrant. You are not a Muslim. Or brown, for that matter. Or a woman.
But there’s going to be a time when a category rolls around that hits you. Because they are gunning for everyone that is not rich and white and male.
The Republicans of the House of Representatives, save 20, voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act today. They have passed the American Health Care Act, which will leave millions of people without access to medical insurance coverage. It also guts Medicaid. While this bill would still have to go to the Senate, to committee, back to the House, blah blah blah before it passes, the point is: Republicans cracked open a few cold ones to celebrate making dying for millions of people a more affordable option than paying for health care.
So I hope that goes down realllly smooth for ya, fuckers. Come on back home to your constituents. We are waiting for you. If you want a class war, you might just get it. The poor, the elderly, the women, the immigrants, we are all waiting for you. Come back and face us at town halls. Come back and hear more of the complaints that you’ve been hearing for months, except now they will be louder. More vehement. More desperate. If you didn’t like it when women cried at your town halls or children questioned you, prepare yourselves.
I mean, what difference does it make? You’re winning, right? That’s what matters.
For everyone who is empathetic out there – for those of us who know in a short time, we too will feel the long poking stick of GOP “justice” and “freedom” – man your battle stations. The sound in the distance is sirens. If you have just been thinking all of this is a bad dream, now is the time to wake the fuck up. There are elections for mayors and city council places happening right now. Get educated about the candidates. Vote. Write letters. Use Resistbot. Run for office. Do anything except think this is all going to go away. Do anything except wait for someone else to save this particular princess, that statuesque lady in the Harbor that other countries used to look toward in order to find safety.
It happens gradually. The Death Star wasn’t built in a day.
Well kiddos, it’s been a beautiful nightmare. So much (fill in the blank with your favorite expletive noun) has happened this year that it only makes sense to count it down, say goodbye, write retrospectives, and come up with an all-time winner for worst fucking moment of 2016. I’ve got quite a bit of reflecting to do, so go make your tea or grab a snack and sit on down to read one more piece on why so many of us have had pretty much the roughest year psychologically and emotionally in a long time. If you read all the way to the end, maybe I’ll throw in a good moment or two. Mmmm. On second though, fuck that. This is about setting fire to this piece of trash.
I give you the 10 worst moments of everyone’s 2016. These are NOT in order of importance in impact to the universe or myself, because sometimes you just can’t rate losses of this magnitude (Although #1 really is #1, and the winner.) Don’t think that if I leave your personal worst moment out, I am doing so on purpose. I just think that this is a fairly comprehensive list of our collective groan into the void.
10. David Bowie
While I wrote a short piece on how Bowie’s death affected me here, so many great writers and musicians wrote volumes around me about how his music spoke to them. I was fortunate enough to see Henry Rollins when he came to Dallas for his spoken word show, and he also told an amazing story of an encounter he had with David Bowie while he was on tour. Even though Starman was ill and knew his time had come, none of the rest of us were ready. Leave it to David Bowie to be ahead of the rest of the world on everything, even his own mortality. If you’ve never really listened to his music, I urge you to really put it in heavy rotation. Decades of greatness await you. He was and will remain an icon, and while it seemed TOO SOON! for the rest of us, there is a part of me that will always know that his star-dust is somewhere in the ether, just beyond my periphery, waiting to shower the world with a life that will last beyond the ages. My gratitude overflows for all that his life brought to mine.
I haven’t been able to write about the death of Prince yet due to the outpouring of emotion about it every time I fitfully start and stop again. I am 46. To say I grew up with Prince is an understatement. Before I even knew it was Prince, I undulated in a Utah basement to “Do Me, Baby” in whatever way a 12-almost-13 year-old girl can undulate. Barely understanding what all the innuendo meant at that age, I learned soon enough that it was bad, bad, bad when my mom found the lyrics sheet inside the 1999 album. Mortified, she freaked out, and it cemented my absolute infatuation with him forever. An accomplished EVERYTHING player, writer, musician, style maven, I can’t say enough about what his music did for me – nay, to me, as a weirdo teen that didn’t really fit in anywhere. There is a sense of freedom through pain in many of his songs, even if that pain is not evident. Whenever I listen to “Last Night I Spent Another Lonely Christmas”, I am filled with a sense of heartbreak as if it were my own. Parade was another full album filled with nonstop hits, meaningful snippets, gorgeous writing and overall mastery of the exact moment in time in which we were all living. From the super fun even if overplayed “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Little Red Corvette”, to the gospel vibes of “Seven” and “The Ladder”, to the sultry funk of “Erotic City”, “DMSR” and “Sign o’ the Times”, dude had a catalog of unending magic and rawness and ability. The unrelenting wizardry of a generation’s anthem in “Purple Rain” will be covered, coveted, revered, and praised for years to come. I could list songs for days. Suffice it to say, people who tell me “I have never been into Prince”, for them I feel kind of sad. You are missing out on an a musician that only happens once in a great while.
I think about what pain the Artist himself must have been in toward the end of his life, and I will for eternity be gobsmacked by his death. I never wanted him to stop making music, producing, having other people tell crazy stories about meeting him – I never wanted it to end. Like Bowie, he was an influence beyond time – and goddamn if I can figure out how to evoke all that his music meant to me. His lyrics, and more even still his feeling – his use of dynamics and his vocal histrionics have a way of reaching through the space between me and the airwaves, and his voice pulls me through to whatever place he inhabits.
Give “Lady Cab Driver” a listen sometime – because the last line in that song will always speak to me:
“Not knowing where I’m going is galaxies better than not having a place to go.”
8. Alan Rickman
Goddammit, Alan Rickman. I was not and still am not ready for him to be gone from this earth. A superb, versatile acting talent with a voice that was at once distinctive, at once arresting, how can we count the ways and roles in which we have loved you? Hated you? While his portrayal of Severus Snape was the role of a lifetime, stuff of legends, I first fell in love with Alan Rickman in a small movie that I’m surprised even came my way in Closet Land. It is a powerful, raw film of startling lasting power – I watched it some 20 years ago and will never forget it. With only two characters in the entire movie – Rickman as a cruel, deft police interrogator and Madeline Stowe as a children’s author and Victim of the State, it is definitely an actor’s and screenwriter’s film – one based solely on acting talent alone, no scenery, no graphics, just two people giving forthright and intuitive performances. Panned by critics at the time for its stark settings and overall in-the-face-ism regarding subject matter, independent films were not nearly as widely accepted or acclaimed then. Had this film been released today, I would imagine a better reception. Give it a watch if you can find it. But beyond this little-known performance of Rickman’s, he enjoyed success at so many levels of his long career – accomplished stage actor and Tony award winner, hated villain Hans Gruber in the action classic Die Hard whom we are all too happy to see fall off a building,director, Snape. Whether you read the books first or not, he at once assumed the picture in your head of Snape, a character we find out so late of his goodness, his purity, his devout love, and his frailty. I have no doubt in my mind that Alan Rickman, were he to have lived longer, would still add to the massive list of career accolades. His performances in so many films will continue to be among my favorites. I have a friend who often says she would listen to Alan Rickman reading the phone book. I concur. That voice will stay with us even as he goes to whatever realm classically trained actors aspire toward. I can only imagine a land filled with vast expanses of scenery for him to describe, other great legends who have left us to act with, and one unifying director that is the Universe to call him up.
7. Carrie Fisher
We have been hit hard in the last week or so. Luckily, I will never ever forget standing in line in 1977 with my reluctant mother to see Star Wars – A New Hope at the age of 7. The first images of the Princess as a hologram were figured into my childhood psyche and when The Empire Strikes Back barreled into my life with full force (heh), I was changed forever into the deep-seated nerdling I am down inside. Her on-screen relationship with the debonair Han Solo, the back-and-forth quips, her outright femaleness in her portrayal of a strong, smart, gender-defiant rebel caught in love and in war, is a performance that will last a lifetime for me. To learn later of her struggles with mental illness and to discover her prolific writing is a gem that I will just keep taking out and polishing. And because When Harry Met Sally was a movie which spoke to me personally, her easy yet embattled depiction of Marie will always be one of my favorites. “You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.” I don’t know how many times I have uttered that phrase, trying to have the exact same intonations as her character. But to digress to her more famous role, what young brunette girl didn’t dream of looking like Carrie Fisher in a golden bikini? I know she hated it, and I was much more jealous of her General Organa outfit, but there’s a reason why men my age swoon at the thought of Leia and the idyllic embodiment of poise, strength, and flat-out sexiness. She truly is gone too soon. I feel like she would have had further roles in upcoming episodes of the Star Wars legend, and I hate not getting to see this come to fruition.
6. Debbie Reynolds a DAY LATER
At this I just say, what the fuck. I mean, I guess it stands to reason that the death of her daughter was an event that she could not withstand, and while I am of a generation a little too late for the genius of Debbie Reynolds to have truly grasped me, I appreciated her long-standing performances in Singin’ in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown from a young age. She has an extensive filmography, one that I will relish looking back on, and more than anything, I am saddened by her loss for people of my mother’s generation who grew up and older with all of these performances. I suck because I can’t write paragraphs about Debbie Reynolds, but I know enough to write that her life was filled with talent, stardom, and constant work – a presence among female actors and a role model for many aspiring young women of her day.
5. George Michael
I had a poster – this poster – on my closet door (ha!) at age 15:
Look, I have vivid memories of loving Wham! even if all of their songs weren’t giant hits in the US. I was listening to “Young Guns” a couple of days ago and heard the line “this young gun says caution pays” BUT I REALLY THOUGHT HE WAS SAYING “ABORTION PAYS” and who knows, MAYBE HE IS, although that would be weird and you know, not pertinent to George Michael. When I was in junior high, I was a cheerleader (gross) and had the everlasting pleasure of doing a choreographed dance routine at least one million times to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and will remember parts of that dance until I am old and grey (much to my chagrin). But as I got older, George Michael’s solo work had great prophetic meaning for me – his amazing cover of Stevie Wonder’s “They Won’t Go When I Go” haunts to this day. His popular, mournful “Waiting For That Day” and “One More Try” are beautiful tributes with a voice that is like pop-soul honey. Listening again to his who-knows-how-platinum hit “Father Figure”, it is a) beautiful, b) possibly creepy and mostly c) delivered with pure feeling. Again, a master of dynamics, Michael soars and ebbs just when we need him to do so. I didn’t know where he was for the last 10 years or so, but I sure as fuck didn’t think he’d just vanish. A man whose voice was praised by Elton John and Freddie Mercury, don’t take George Michael for a pop star lightweight. He has plenty of soul-wrenching material that only he could have delivered to us. I don’t think it’s easy for many Americans to really understand the significance he had on British popular music, but his is a voice I will miss and revisit repeatedly for the rest of my life.
4. Leonard Cohen
Let’s face it, Cohen was also a little bit before my time, but I always have been in awe of his incomprehensibly vast amount of writing he has left with the world. There is shit that is Cohen that you don’t even know is Cohen. I can’t write a retrospective of 2016 and NOT include him, as there is a generation directly in front of mine who saw decades of the volume of work Cohen published. Writer, poet, lyricist, singer, producer – Cohen was enigmatic and all-encompassing. Delving into the heart of his subjects with a deft hand and an unflinching eye, his words span years of heartbreak, longing, joy and sorrow for all who dare to go with him on his journey. Worldly, religious, introspective, prominent – his influence is one too great to ignore. At 82 when he died, Leonard Cohen accomplished enough for 5 lifetimes. Like Rickman, his voice is one that you cannot but peg, so distinctive and deep that it sounds as if it is coming out of the bottom of the ocean up through decades of gravel, mud, water and waves, until it breaks over us with the realization that life is finite and infinite all at once, and we are pulled back down into his undertow.
I am not sure where I read or heard this first, but it is beautiful, tragic, and exactly Cohen:
I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.
If I am dumb beside your body
while silence blossoms like tumors on our lips.
it is because I hear a man climb stairs and clear his throat outside the door.
From Let Us Compare Mythologies, 1956
3. Gene Wilder
I am quite sure that my first memory of Gene Wilder, even though his career was already in full swing, was the enigmatic and eccentric character that only Wilder could have pulled off in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Could I write paragraph upon paragraph about that performance alone? Absolutely. The somersault, the boat ride, the off-hand snide remarks to children (CHILDREN!), his effortless demeanor and his flawless physical presence in that role is incomparable. Only later in my life did I come to appreciate his genius in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and Silver Streak. He turned to writing in his later years, and kept his condition of Alzheimer’s a secret from the public – but at 83, Wilder died with an outstanding career to his credit and fans of every age due to his roles.
2. Muhammad Ali
I can’t write more than has already been written about Ali. I came to enjoy watching boxing in the last 20 years or so, long after he had fought, but the reverence with which people speak of this man is so deep, so prevalent, that I was drawn to listen to his memorial service which aired in full on NPR after he died. Not one but almost every recounted tale from Very Famous People of how Ali was a presence in their lives brought me to tears. Fighter in so many more ways than one, we can’t imagine the significance of the role he played not only in sports but socially, culturally – a poetic server of justice, a fearless yet real and rough man of morality and complexity, a Bearer of Truth for all who dare to look at it in the face. I am not the one to write this. He is eloquently eulogized by the one and only President Barack Obama:
“But I actually think the world flocked to him in wonder precisely because, as he once put it, Muhammad Ali was America. Brash, defiant, pioneering, joyful, never tired, always game to test the odds. He was our most basic freedoms – religion, speech, spirit. He embodied our ability to invent ourselves. His life spoke to our original sin of slavery and discrimination, and the journey he traveled helped to shock our conscience and lead us on a roundabout path toward salvation. And, like America, he was always very much a work in progress.”
1.5 Sharon Jones
It was like I just found this voice, and then she was gone. From the opening moments of “Stranger to my Happiness” I was very much SIT UP IN THIS CHAIR AND WTF FUCK THAT LET’S DANCE HOLY SHIT. A female James Brown. Everything I had been waiting to hear. And fuck me, she’d been around for a long time and I was JUST hearing it. Where had I been, where did this voice come from, who is she and how can I get more? Just wow, if you have not listened to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, you are missing some amazing music that will grow to be a permanent mainstay in your listening habits. She is the embodiment of soul, funk, power, and unabashed joy for her art. And stage presence? Jesus. It is a crime that I did not get to see her perform. Even in her advanced illness, she did not give up or in. What a fucking voice. Unparalleled. Standing – no, dancing amid the upper realms of what the Great Aretha created, the world gave us, for a brief, shining moment, this powerful, strong, gorgeous woman who sang her heart out Every. Single. Time.
1. Worst Moment Winner: Trump for President
If we all don’t agree on that, get off my blog.
One more day, everyone. Let’s get through it together, in one piece, and always remembering those who went before.
Rolling down your street, full gear on, helmet and everything, Bambi legs, sweating, and possibly looking a little (alright, A LOT) out of place? Wow. What the fuck does she thing she’s doing? Look at her.
That’s right, take a gander. That was me. 6:48 yesterday evening. Technically 6:57, because the first 9 minutes were spent standing casually on my sidewalk, trying to look like I was waiting on someone. In my skate gear. Like you do in the suburbs. That was after 3-5 minutes of sitting on my porch, putting my skates on, only to immediately fall on my ass the minute I tried to stand up. Oh, and the extra 60 seconds it took to roll timidly back in the house to get mouth guard and helmet. Because holy shit, if I was going to fall down IMMEDIATELY, who knows what’s in store, riiiiight? Oh, and the few more minutes I took to roll around in my front room to make sure I was not going to just completely forget what my legs do.
Was I scared? Yup. Terrified. I have not put skates on in over a year. We recently moved to a neighborhood where there is an amazing 9-mile trail, very tame and paved with concrete sidewalks, around a little pond. I had built up “skating the trail” to such monumental heights that I actually began convincing myself that there was no way I could do this. But I badly wanted to do this. None of these thoughts, of course, are rational. I am a decent skater. Not a great roller derby player, because there is a very distinct difference, as many of you reading this can attest. But I more than mastered the art of, you know, circling. I have skated many a trail. Some difficult. Some that other skaters never would even try. So it’s not like it’s a foreign concept.
Bur you retire, you get comfortable in not really knowing pain on a daily basis any longer, and for some of us, those skates aren’t that easy to just don with any kind of confidence any more. Then you start wondering if you ever even had confidence in the first place. And if you did, was it warranted. Go thee forth into this downward spiral of Self-Esteem Rabbit Holes. You get the picture.
This particular rabbit hole left me staring at my skates longingly, but making 1001 excuses as to why I couldn’t put them on. A great deal of the excuses were rooted in the psychological damage I inflicted on myself while playing roller derby. Sometimes the skates were too hard emotionally to even look at, much less wear. But you know what, nothing feels the same way forever. No feeling lasts. Things change. And for me, that has been beautiful. Even if painful. The beauty is in the reality that I get to write this story. No one else does. No one else defines me. No one else gets to tell me I’m ok, or not ok, or not enough, or just right. People can, and do. And yet:
That is my job. My singular job. For whatever time I get on this amazing, fucked-up, ironic and devastatingly gorgeous planet.
And the old moves, the feeling of being a little unsure or awkward but getting better with every step, came back. Did I cross over the Dreaded Wooden Bridge? Not last night. Will I? Maybe. All I know is that with the wind blurring my vision just a little along with weird, hesitantly watery eyes for some unknown reason, I felt like my soul let go. Like it doesn’t matter that people saw me. That you saw me.
What the fuck do I think I’m doing? I don’t have a clue. But right at that moment, in all of the intense vulnerability and joy that bubbled up inside of me, it was the most perfect skate of my life.
I am sitting here in flannel pajama pants and a long-sleeved thermal shirt while I bake a loaf of bread. BECAUSE IT’S THE GREATEST SEASON OF ALL. It was 92 degrees today, but who’s counting. Call me a basic bitch or whatever you want, but I stand proudly by my love of All Things Pumpkin and the crackle of fires and really any reason to be in a kitchen making things and putting those things in jars or my mouf, whatever happens first.
Fall, motherfuckers. There’s no other season. It could be Permanent Fall and I would never be happier. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Fall. Starbucks has made a fortune off of Fall. They really don’t even need to exist in any other season. I can make my own damn coffee, but what I cannot make is a nonfat pumpkin spice latte. I’m sure I could, but it wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have to stand in a line full of chicks in boots and coats asking for half a Splenda in their shit.
So there’s not much to this, I just wanted to share with you all my love of now, and the month to come. Because hey, it’s Texas, and that’s all the Fall you get. Then it turns into a weird and dreary wasteland full of filthy cars and sad, dry tree limbs. But hey! OCTOBER!!! Here we are!! Gotta go drink my tea with some milk and spices in it while I listen to Frank Sinatra and make a hat out of leaves.
GO FOR A WALK! BUY SOME FLANNEL!! EAT PIE ALL DAY!!
Disclaimer: If you usually come here looking for laughs, you might find a few in this post, but you might find it more poignant. If you hate poignant, you might want to just roll out now. I can’t give you everything.
I decided that after years of neglect and basically just throwing all things I wanted to avoid into our garage, it would be a good idea to rethink that philosophy and try to get in there and clean it. I thought about this for 8 years. That’s right. EIGHT.
This was, undeniably, a task I did not want to tackle. It seemed insurmountable. I mean, I had successfully avoided the Garage Issue for a long time. Because honestly, as soon as we moved into this house we immediately turned the garage into The Land That Time Forgot. You could technically move around in there, but not well or without difficulty. It was filled with useless stuff. Oh, did you need a double vanity with a granite top? What about a power washer? Perhaps I can interest you in a smoke machine? It was a cornucopia of shit on which we could have made a fortune on Craigslist.
But as I said, this shit was daunting, and it wasn’t just a bunch of big weird stuff, there was plenty small stuff as well. SO MANY NUTS AND BOLTS. Just strewn everywhere. So messy and dust-laden and spider-filled. “Let me in there,” my spirit called out. “Fuck you,” answered my weary heart. Until one day. One beautiful day in a Texas July like no other July. We had a streak of cool weather (and I mean waaaaay cooler than normal) and I just bit the bullet, opened the garage door, and stared at things.
I think I stared at everything for 10 minutes. Then something in my brain said, well, nothing’s going to happen if you just keep staring at it. And thus, I began.
It really amounted to throwing almost all of it away. And by “away”, I mean I set all that shit out on the curb. I started, and then my husband joined me later that weekend in Project Free Prizes for Neighbors. We had people there looking through our stuff as soon as we set it out. And honestly, that made me happier than any amount of money Craigslist could have ever brought me. 1) It was gone RIGHT THEN and 2) someone wanted it, they got it. For free. That’s great for them, and all we had to do was walk down the driveway with it. I gathered and organized much of the nut-screw-bolt situation we had going on, placed it on shelves that made sense. I organized the boxes of Yule decorations I wanted to keep. Shit was clean-ish, y’all! I felt a huge sense of not just accomplishment, but a true sense of weight being lifted. I declared to anyone who would listen that it was perhaps the greatest thing I have ever done. It felt THAT GOOD.
I have been successfully parking in my garage ever since, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s leaps and bounds better than it was.
It’s not hard for any of you to read between the lines of metaphor. But for those of you who are musing to yourselves “ok your garage is clean, welcome to being an adult and not living like a fucking hoarder” I say: It’s bigger than that. Way. It’s taken 8 years for me to deal with the crippling obstacle that was my garage. That doesn’t seem like very long when you compare it with the lifetime of other shit I had successfully (or not) avoided in LIFE. I avoided it at an extremely functional level as far as your little eyes could perceive. The twisted beauty of a garage is that as long as you keep the door closed, no one really has any idea of what kind of mess is behind it. I treated my own person much like that garage: Just a void where I pushed away anything I thought didn’t matter. What a shocker when I realized that it actually mattered very much. I avoided by drinking. I numbed by taking meds because they helped me be “even.” I comforted myself with the all-encompassing fuzzy blanket sewn with the Love of Other People’s Problems. I CREATED A LIFE AROUND ALL OF THIS. And I woke up every day with my first utterances being angry, hate-filled, woe-is-me-isms. Good times, y’all. Good fucking times.
Fast forward, and skipping all the therapy and delving and soul-searching (because hey, that shit never ends, we can talk about that ANY time):
It has been over 6 months since I’ve had a drink.
It has been over 8 months since I’ve taken prescription medication.
I AM NOT LOOKING FOR YOUR PRAISE. This is what has worked for me. It is my experience. It is not everyone’s. And while I can be proud of myself, I’m not special. I am just like everyone else, with my own issues and ways of dealing with them. But that’s just it, isn’t it: I’m dealing with them. Not just pushing it into a hidden space.
I wish I could say they have been the BEST MONTHS OF MY LIFE EVER, and while they have been infinitely better than many times in my life, I’ve been raw, vulnerable, and without any door to fucking hide behind. It is uncomfortable. It is sometimes painful. It is, at all times, awkward and surprising and immobilizing and unfathomable, and a giant dichotomy inside my brain that I mostly don’t have any way to resolve. And that is why two words are the only ones that can make any sense to me most of the time:
Because hanging on is for suckers.
I guess now everyone gets to find out who I really am without that door hiding the mess. Including me.
Should be fun, and I’m really not saying that sarcastically at all. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. And, more than anything, I am completely cognizant that it took all the other experiences to get here. I am grateful for every single minute that has led me to where I am, for a garage that I’m not scared to be in, and a door that’s open for perhaps the first time.
2) Got this at a garage sale and have already remembered how to play “Faithfully” and am working on “Royals” and will master the entire Tori Amos catalog by September. MELODIES ONLY CHORDS ONE SWEET DAY
3) Baked a tasty-ass apple pie for a friend’s unbirthday (32 does NOT get a birthday.)
4) Got an awesome text from my tattoo-artist-apprentice husband who apparently can’t wait to see me in action with this sweet keyboard.
5) DID DISHES, YO
6) Got these figs off my own fig tree
7) Got to see great friends all day long
8) Ate cake balls
9) Opened up a liter of cherry Dr. Pepper like a champ. Not figurative. Sorry about your pants, guy.