Archive for the ‘grief’ Category

Fuck!

Monday, January 18th, 2016

jesus wept again

What an awful week.

I have been struggling with the shock of losing David Bowie and its attendant triggers, and then the more prosaic helpless rage of dealing with my malfunctioning website that some fucker has been trying to hack.

I can’t add anything to the many beautiful words already written about David Bowie and his impact on music and culture. Lots of us feel the loss so personally that it has permeated everything…I am playing his music in my head every day. I am thinking about what it means to face death when you don’t welcome it. A new and heartbreaking perspective for me.

I can’t handle it. I can’t dwell in this sadness without going under so I am turning to hate.

Want to join me?

If you too are having an awful week for whatever reason, I invite you to redirect yourself to the cleansing joy of righteous disdain if not downright hatred.

I could not have discovered this awful girl at a better time!

Her name is Jessica Gebhart and she is featured in a video series called Denim Dudes.

Stop what you’re doing and watch this 35 second video. It is heaven. It will take your breath away.

Thank you Jessica, you are a fucking gift from god and I hate the ground you walk on! Never leave me.

First World Problems

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

converse nope

Let me start by telling you how mad I am that I can’t have a pair of limited edition Converse sneakers with little lions on them.

I wish I’d never seen these fucking shoes but unfortunately for me, I subscribe to a couple of fashion sites for cutting edge men’s street-wear. If you recall, I am a gay man in a woman’s body.

A few months ago, one of these sites showed me an overpriced Japanese jacket meant to look like a souvenir jacket from Korea or Vietnam, the kind with embroidered tigers and maps on them. When the jacket sold out, I was mad that I’d passed it up.

So the Converse shoes reminded me of the jacket and even better, they were affordable. But they were sold out everywhere by the time I clicked on the email. The more unattainable they are, the more they promise the key to perfect happiness.

But just a few days earlier, I was horrified to learn that the Rihanna Puma Creepers I already have in black were released in pink. How could this happen without me being notified?? I found out from a girl in the mall who was showing me some cheap make-up, and she must have been amazed that a 62 year old woman wanted those fucking shoes as much as she did, if not more. We bonded in our sense of thwarted desire.

After a tense search of the entire internet, I found a pair on eBay. Problem solved.

But not really. Not at all.

This obsession and longing for material goods is the foundation of our economy but it serves a deeper purpose, for me, anyway.

It’s the ultimate First World Problem, in that it masks other First World Problems that I simply can’t handle.

Those problems are grief and loss. They are persistent like a toothache. I can’t bear the reality of them, and when I can’t distract myself with more superficial problems, I have to take myself to bed. When I take myself to bed, I know I would give anything to not wake up, but just blotting out a few hours usually gets me through the worst of it.

Last year, I became Facebook friends with a guru from Tibet. I liked his wisdom and his sense of humor. So I asked him how to cope with grief. When I told him that I’d lost a son, he replied that mortality was high in Tibet; families are used to losing children.

I felt he was chastising me but perhaps he was merely being factual.

Why was I making a big deal over my loss? Families in Tibet lose a child but still have to worry about typhoons and lack of plumbing and hunger and disease. They expect life to be hard and it is.

The guru directed me to a philosophy than might help to redirect me but like everything else I have tried, it was a hurdle beyond my capacity. Mindfulness, Dialectic Behavior Therapy, Tonglen, support groups, grief studies, Radical Acceptance, nothing matches the force of this unspeakable grief and loss.

I have spent most of my life saving baby teeth, book reports, handmade crafts, mother’s day cards, school photos, birthday party photos, baseball cards, rock collections, and I have lovingly organized them or displayed them.

I have boxes of Christmas ornaments, many hand made by my sons, but no sons to hang them on a tree or to open presents with.

Christmas will pass, so the sense of deprivation will be less acute but it will take a lot of limited edition sneakers to pull me away from the fucking abyss.

In Chennai, India, there is historic flooding, the worst in 100 years. Three million people are without basic services and 269 people have died in this epic disaster. I can’t imagine how desperate these people must feel because I only know First World Problems.

Feeling ambivalent about living is a First World Problem, and I guess I’ll have to wrestle with it in my White Privileged manner, wearing my pink Pumas if they ever show up.

Bad Therapist

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

bad therapist

Once upon a time, Max went to a residential rehab where we hoped he would finally be saved from his addiction. There, he was assigned a therapist who was working toward his MFT license.

Lawrence was a nice guy who genuinely liked Max very much. Who wouldn’t? Max liked Lawrence too, especially because he didn’t preach about god. In rehab, Max relapsed several times. It wasn’t going to be the magic ticket, I came to realize.

I visited often and soon became friends with R, a ‘spiritual adviser’ there. She was single and wondering if she’d ever meet someone nice. I suggested Lawrence, who she barely knew. R and Lawrence went out and fell in love, bam. They were soul-mates.

Lawrence left the rehab after falling out with the administration. He offered to see Max on the sly, a breach of the rules.

Max left rehab and got a job. But he was pretty shaky. Lawrence was seeing Max alone, and with us, his parents, for family therapy. We wanted to support Max any way we could, but I had my doubts about Lawrence. He didn’t seem to know what he was doing.

Max started using dope again and Lawrence kept his secret. One night a friend called to say that Max was in her living room, fucked up. We raced over to get him, our darling baby, and got him admitted to a rehab where he could detox.

That rehab was a bad mistake. They discharged him early, suffering from insomnia and withdrawal. Max called Lawrence that night but Lawrence didn’t call him back. In the early morning, Max jumped onto a busy highway.

Here’s the thing. For the next nine months that Max was alive, Lawrence offered to resume counseling him but didn’t try to direct him to a real doctor who knew how to treat depression. Lawrence was still trying to get his MFT.

At Max’s burial,  I hugged Lawrence and said, ‘I’m not mad at you.’ He replied, ‘I’m not mad at you either.’ He offered his business card to someone.

Time passed and R was one of my dearest friends. I could talk to her about anything, but not about Lawrence, who was now her husband.  I accepted this as the price of our friendship.

One night at my computer, I read something scary about the drug Neurontin. I knew that Lawrence took Neurontin and that he had suggested Max try it, too.

So I emailed Lawrence for the first time. I sent him a link to the study and wrote these words.

I came across an article about Neurontin in my email tonight. You should probably not be taking this drug, nor should you have urged Max to take it.

In the morning, I received an email from R:

you just sent an email that crushed Lawrence to the core. it was cruel. it was unnecessary.you also betrayed my trust.

i dont understand. You crossed the line with me. i ca’t trust you. what was the point of that? He does not deserve this.
Weve had this conversation before. what you set out to do you accomplished. You really hurt him and me by proxy.
 What ever he did he was only trying to help Max.
 Lawrence can never see or look at you again. That was just so cruel. I really wish you had not done that because it means we can not be friends. You are too dangerous.
 My husband is lying here tortutred. Good job.

R never spoke to me again, and blocked me from contacting her again. But before blocking me, she wrote this:

Max walked in the [rehab] broken very very broken, already.

Last week on the TV series Web Therapy, the worthless therapist character told someone defensively that her patients were ‘already damaged when they come to me.’ It was a funny line because no one would ever say such an awful stupid thing.

Window Blinds: A Fight To The Death

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

new sign unpacked

We are moving box by box, until Monday when the moving truck comes to take the big stuff.  The new house is nice, and a neighbor from across the street gave us a bottle of wine and some cookies to welcome us. We bought huge rattan porch chairs from a guy on Craig’s list, and sitting on the porch enjoying a gentle sea breeze is genuinely idyllic.

But then there’s the window blinds.

I have never had one single thought about window blinds. They played no role in my existence. But that’s over. We’ve entered into a tense conflict over what kind of blinds to get. I want real wood. He wants faux wood, I guess made of vinyl. Wood is expensive and bla bla bla. But vinyl blinds seem creepy and not homey. Why wants vinyl anything?

I kept on promoting wood, and my husband kept on noting that he couldn’t tell the difference, so fake wood was fine. We got increasingly frustrated. It became one of those ‘just admit I’m right’ argument. I suggested that the one who cares most should trump the one who doesn’t fee emotional invested.

I went into another room feeling angry, wronged, resentful, and wounded. Who gives a shit about fucking blinds, I thought. Why give a shit about anything.

I wondered whether the fight was really about control, fear, loss, insecurity. For me, yep, all those things, plus grief, going through old schoolwork and mother’s day cards, art projects, stuffed animals, used hypodermic needles.  I have to keep all these things in my heart while letting go of them physically. At least some of them.

Meanwhile, the motherfucking blinds. I wish we could just get curtains instead. And I need to buy a pink toilet to match the bathtub. I don’t care what it costs because life owes me a pink toilet.

And Now I’m A Fucking Midget

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

PRINCESS tiny

I’m sad to say that Pico is gone, as you might have predicted. Life seemed so miserable for him.

I will blame myself for making the call, because I don’t know how long he would have lasted, despite the chronic pain and cognitive issues.

I miss him terribly but I’m not traumatized, because it seems like I’m already stuck with permanent PTSD that time won’t budge.

However! I am still capable of being dismayed.

I fucked up my back when I had to carry Pico inside from the backyard. He was only 40 pounds but I managed to lift him improperly.

So after whimpering (i.e. screaming) about my back for two weeks, I went to the doctor. The first blow was when she measured my height. I am supposed to be 5′ 6″ but now I measured 5′ 4 1/2″ for a loss of one and a half inches of valuable height!

Fuck me! I can’t believe this, even though I know that age and shitty bones lead to shrinking. What next? A dowager’s hump? I’ll probably go bald and whatever else is available to elderly women. I had to have ex-rays of my back, which revealed a degenerating spine or something that sounded like that. All those years of weightlifting, for nothing.

I’m going to get physical  therapy for my back, but for now I have two new prescriptions plus a bottle of Pico’s narcotic pain-killers.

To further drive home the old age thing, my husband and I were talking about TV hosts and we couldn’t remember Larry King’s last name. It was a moment of shared horror as our eyes met and we silently acknowledged that our brains have turned to mush.

Trying to retrieve Larry King’s last name was like gazing into an infinite black hole where a memory bank used to be. I hate Larry King now. I would say He’s dead to me, except now I’ll probably remember him as a symbol of senility, both his and mine.

The Solace Of The World’s Ugliest Jeans

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

I’m watching the life feed from Ferguson tonight, like I did last night.

Ebola is “vastly” worse than reported. tribal slaughter in Iraq and Syria, Israel vs Gaza,  Nigeria kidnappings, drones on Yemen, Robin Williams.

Let us look to these jeans for salvation. They are the ugliest jeans I’ve ever seen in my whole life, I’m pretty sure. There is something magnificent in such ugliness, you can feel the artistic striving for an indelible statement. A statement that transcends all the horror of current events.

ugliest jeans ever

These long-rise One Teaspoon pants have an exaggerated, slouchy fit. Heavy fading adds lived-in charm. Hidden elastic bands cinch the waist and ankles.

Right?

ugliest jeans ever rear

And with open-toe stiletto heeled booties, no less.

Whenever you find yourself filled with existential dread or sorrow, look at these jeans. That is my RX for mankind this evening.

Peaches, Grief, Guilt and Restraining Orders

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Ary Scheffer - 1814

As I write this, we still don’t know what caused the death of poor Peaches Geldof but we are human, most of us, so we feel the tragedy. For me, it was yet another trigger, a blast of PTSD, complete with unwanted images of her dead body, what position she was in, wondering how her family will live through this. Looking at pictures of her adorable babies, reading her loving descriptions of them, struggling with the very idea of deliberately leaving them.

She is none of my business but I refreshed my google search for news, every few hours. Just like I did with L’Wren Scott. How dare these people leave their loved ones, how dare they leave strangers like me to wonder in horror at the big hole they left, to feel like the last page of a book was torn out before we could know how it ended.

I wish I could stop taking it personally but such is my PTSD or Complicated Grief or whatever pathology can be assigned to my condition.

In the days leading up to Max’s birthday, I was more anxious than I realized. I had a fight with my sister over plans for his birthday dinner. Weeks have passed but she still won’t talk to me.

In the days following his birthday, I felt better. I could feel him inside me, not like a dark companion this time but like part of my heart, myself, a good part. I felt lighter, I guess.

But nope, I was not really okay. I sent a curt email in the middle of the night to a close friend’s husband, who knew Max. In the morning, the friend emailed me, hysterically blaming me for destroying the husband and being a monster.

Stung at being the monster in someone else’s narrative, I debated this in escalating emails that resulted in her blocking me both on facebook and in real life gmail. Now I am officially a monster who would dare to make someone feel uncomfortable about Max’s suicide. And I have lost a friend. Maybe they would like to file a restraining order.

I have already suffered the shock of a restraining order! The fiance who refused to talk to me filed a restraining order, citing a fear for her life. It did not pan out, obviously, but it is the post post-modern way of telling someone to shut up or else.

If I could file a restraining order against myself, I would. I would accuse me of torturing myself when I least expect it, with waves of anger, remorse, and morbid preoccupations. I could make me stay 100 yards away from myself and my place of employment.

Meanwhile, one of my facebook friends, needless to say a complete stranger, told me that she was depressed today, more than usual, and wants me to call her. She has a physical handicap and that must be hard. I don’t want to take this on but I will, because even though I’m a monster in real life, on facebook I’m still a nice and compassionate person. For now, anyway.

Death by Scarf

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

etro scarf

I am now officially obsessed with death by scarf, following the news about L’Wren Scott. I didn’t want to believe that this really happens but as it turns out, hanging is the most effective method of suicide. Better than jumping or pills.

I am always prone to morbid thoughts but this is a dark endless loop. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything! I am just preoccupied with the question of Why, now that I’ve satisfied the compulsion to know How.

Let’s say her lover dumped her. Let’s say her business was on the rocks. These aren’t reasons to leave the world, to end your life forever, with so many possibilities ahead of you.

I know next to nothing about L’Wren Scott but I admired her as a designer and knew that she moved in a rarefied social circle. Maybe she had demons her whole life long that she hid from her closest friends. But didn’t any of them have enough insight or empathy to see that she was struggling?

I don’t want people to leave this way! The shock and the horror are unbearable. There are always answers. Let us reach out to anyone who seems more depressed than usual or who is experiencing a stressful life event.

Don’t use a scarf. Don’t leave us here without you.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

Chris Christie: What a Fucking Cunt!™

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

chris christie pig improved

 

You know, I actually have mixed feelings about Chris Christie. On the one hand, he is a total cunt and a shameless lying pig who needs to go to jail. On the other hand, the daily tidbits about his various lapses of decency and ethics provide a welcome relief from the tragedy of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I can’t handle the sadness. I can’t dwell on the horror and the loss. I need Chris Christie more than ever, and he is stepping up. He has come to the rescue with his idiotic critique of his own appointee’s high-school record, therein behaving like the vindictive middle school bully that we all suspected was the real Chris Christie.

What a fucking piece of shit this guy is. Funneling Hurricane Sandy money to political allies and rebuffing calls for oversight of this money is even more egregious than the bridge fiasco. Mishandling this money while Sandy victims wait in vain for someone to answer their questions ought to qualify Mr. Christie for a nice long jail term.

The thought of this cunt getting away with his arrogant abuse of power is too much to bear. But I’m grateful for his continuing malfeasance. The mere sight of him incites my wrath and indignation.  It’s the best, most reliable antidote to sorrow. May it never lose its power to distract us.

Charlotte’s Web

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Magnum Opus - Garth Williams

 

Recently, some words from ‘Charlotte’s Web‘ surfaced from my unconscious. (If you’ve never read Charlotte’s Web, I don’t know what you’re doing here. We are probably from different planets.)

When Wilbur sees Charlotte’s egg sac, he asks if it’s a plaything. Charlotte replies:

“It is my egg sac, my magnum opus.” “I don’t know what a magnum opus is,” said Wilbur. “That’s Latin,” explained Charlotte. “It means ‘great work.’ This egg sac is my great work – the finest thing I have ever made.”

This is how I feel about my children, how I imagine all mothers must feel about their children. They were my gift to the world. And they are gone, one from the world and one from the nest.

At least Charlotte got to go first. That is the natural order of things. There is no consolation for me, but there is art.

What a wonderful book! It is so full of wisdom. I always thought it was about friendship, but it is also about death. I guess it’s about everything. When I read it to my kids, I remember feeling upset by Wilbur’s panic when he thinks that Charlotte’s children are leaving him.  It triggers my fear of abandonment.

Wilbur was frantic. 'Come back, children!' he cried.

Watching the last season of ‘The Wire’ the other night, I wondered if Templeton, the unscrupulous reporter, was an homage to E.B. White’s Templeton, a rat. Maybe all roads lead to Charlotte’s web.

Here is an excerpt from Eudora Welty‘s review of Charlotte’s Web, written in 1952 (which I found here)

What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done. What it all proves–in the words of the minister in the story which he hands down to his congregation after Charlotte writes “Some Pig” in her web–is “that human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders.” Dr. Dorian says in another place, “Oh, no, I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.” The author will only say, “Charlotte was in a class by herself.”

~

*illustrations by Garth Williams