Thursday, September 30, 2010

birthdays, rivers, and cemeteries

Six years ago, I spent my birthday at the cemetery; Matt was away on a yearly retreat. I've always loved old cemeteries, so this was not out of character. Plus, this one has woods and water, so it is extra nice. Wandering around, wondering about all the people, their stories, their lives, trying to figure out who is related to whom, and by what routes.  Reading so much in the simple names and dates: the sea captain who seems to have married several sisters, each one in turn, as one after another of them died; the wives who appear to have died in childbirth; the sons and daughters whose death dates far precede their parents; connecting birth and death dates to historical events, guessing as to what was going on.

Five years ago, it rained for two weeks solid, between Matt's and my birthdays. We planned a camping trip for his birthday, but found our usual campsites washed out by the rain. We spent the night in a hotel, and drove out to the river in the morning. We set up camp beside the river, already fast and flooded from the rain. We made camp breakfast, which includes an insane amount of food, as he didn't like to have leftovers to pack back out. As we sat by the fire, eating breakfast and reading his birthday books, the river rose. In the few hours we were there, it split the banks, turned into waterfalls and rapids, devoured rocks that were tall stepping stones when we'd arrived. Watching from the banks, it was so beautiful - dangerous, amazing.

Matt loved rivers. He needed them. Most of our adventures included rivers of some kind, from the very first place he took me from his childhood, to the Colorado, the Swift, the Rainbow, the Mississippi. The river where he died was our sanctuary; it was refuge from the stresses of living in a populated world. Last year, July 12th was the first dry sunny day in nearly 6 solid weeks of rain. The river was flooded, fast, dangerous and amazing, though we had no idea of that until it was too late.

So it occurs to me this morning, the river has always been beside us, and I have always been walking in cemeteries, alone.

Friday, September 24, 2010

All that glorious suffering.

Suffering is a treasure, for it conceals mercies;
The almond becomes fresh when you peel off the rind.
O my brother, staying in a cold dark place
And bearing patiently the grief, weakness, and pain
Is the Source of Life and the cup of Abandon!
The heights are found only in the depths of abasement;
Spring is hidden in autumn, and autumn pregnant with spring.
Flee neither; be the friend of Grief, accept desolation,
Hunt for the life that springs from the death of yourself.

-  Rumi

I do have a hard time with all this Treasure of Suffering stuff. My life, my heart - pretty darn good treasure before. Source of life, springs of goodness - all that. For now, I take these poems, these lines, as ~ this is supposed to be desolation. This is supposed to be pain. Drink it down, my friend; this is the cup you have.

I am off to shovel goat poop in the rain.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

open for suggestion

My birthday is coming up. I've already been older than matt for awhile, given that he died 3 months and 3 days before his 40th birthday, and I am 11 days from mine. Birthdays were rather quiet in our family. Matt did not like to be showered with gifts, or really have a big fuss made over him, or near him. He did allow me to make him cake, mostly because I really like to make cake. Elaborate, goofy, long-involved-process, cake. His favorite, from when he was a kid, is duncan hines cherry chip cake with cream cheese frosting from the can. He hadn't seen it in stores for years, and - knowing me so well - he told me that a from scratch, organic dried cherry bits cake with homemade cream cheese frosting was just not going to be It. I'd already been concocting that masterpiece from the first time he mentioned it. Foiled. Eventually, my mother tracked down a case of said cake mix (yes.) so he would never be without. There is still a bag of cupcakes in the freezer at my parents' house, and spare cans of frosting.

All of which is entirely not the point of this post.

Last year, in the two weeks between matt's and my birthdays, I sent myself on a crazy, grueling 15 mile, 4 summit hike, and a much slower 6 mile hike. A wee nuts, but I needed the woods. This year, between matt's and my birthdays, I am going to goat school, where I will be with around 100 other people learning how to trim hooves and give shots. I booked an extra night at the inn so I could take off on a good hike after being near all those people.

Also not the point of this post. Except that last year, there was no cake. I wasn't eating anyway, and in no way wanted to acknowledge my entrance into this world. And, making myself a cake, knowing matt and jake aren't here to eat it - not so much. I'm still not much for celebrating, but this year, I want some cake. My plan is to make cake, and share it with a friend and her three and one year old kids, because I like them, and they like cake. I may or may not point out that it is my birthday. Only, I really miss someone noticing, and caring to think what I might like. So. Though you all won't be here to eat said cake, I am inviting you to participate in my birthday, if you'd like, by making cake suggestions. If you have a favorite/preferred recipe, or a favorite cake to eat, or you had some awesome concoction at some restaurant, but you have no idea how to make it, leave me a note.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Guiding You by the Hand

What I long for, you know would kill me;
What I think will kill me, you know will heal me.
Loving you, I enter a darkness where I can't see anything.
"You do not need to; I am guiding you by the hand."

- Rumi

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This made me laugh. No small feat. Helps that this is how my mind works too.


Spent the last hour or so on her blog. Her daughter was killed by a rogue wave, with her daughter's husband as witness. Her words have got me crying today in a way I haven't, and that "haven't" has been wrecking me. Tenderness is what I need, and tenderness is what smashes me most. Her blog adds my father-in-law's pain to my own today, and I can't hold on to them both, but it also, oddly, helps. Matt was his whole word, along with his grandson. Ray can't talk to me. Can't see me. It is too painful for him. I talk to his wife, and I am so glad and thankful for her.

Anyway. Though she lost her daughter, not her Love, her words are so specific, so perfect, so awful and hard and beautiful.

I have to stop crying. I have to go outside. I have to do something with the stupid cup of this day. As she says, "this is the land I have been given to walk." (I mean, to mix my metaphors.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Garden of Love

In the always-green and boundless Garden of Love
There are many other fruits than grief or joy.
My awareness is not bound to imagination or illusion
There is another state of being which is rare as You.

- Rumi

Monday, September 13, 2010

deleted, and crime

There was a new post, but I took it down. Posting this in case anyone saw the title for the deleted post, and was concerned about crimes going on over here. There was another crime here yesterday (the second in a month, after five years of nothin'), but it wasn't violent, no one got hurt, the guy was arrested, it didn't directly involve me, and everything is alright.

Well, of course, not everything. But in the realm of crime, everything is alright. 

now it's just getting weird: crime spree

I have lived here for five years, plus a month. In those five years, there has not been any crime here that I've known about, other than a few homeless folks camping in their tents in the woods, and I have no problem with them. Sunday morning, early, I was taking boris to the dog park around the corner. There is construction going on next door to my house, where the violent crime of a few weeks ago happened. As we walked by, we got out of the way of someone trying to move the giant truck full of concrete building pavers. I said to the dog, oh, he does not look like he knows what he's doing, we should probably just cross the street. As we walked, I watched the guy drive over the curb and bump out into the road. He stopped in the middle of the intersection, grinding the gears, stalling the truck, then getting it restarted. He did this every few feet. I noticed that one of the big straps used to hold the load secure was dragging under the massive tires, and whenever he would try to move forward, the truck would skid, stuck on said straps. So one of the stalled-in-the-road times, I went over to the side of the truck and waved at him. He just stared at me. So I went around to the driver's side, and he still just stared at me. I yelled, Roll down your window! He did, and I told him what the problem was, and maybe he should fix it, though (I said), maybe it doesn't matter. I have no idea.

Walking away, I was kind of laughing, thinking - I wonder if he's stealing that truck? Maybe he hotwired it, and that's why it keeps stalling. Nah. That would be silly. Then I was just messing around with myself, saying, well, if he IS stealing it, I probably should have really studied his face, in case I have to describe him to the cops. If he's stealing it, he must have wondered what the heck I wanted when I flagged him over. Citizen's arrest? Walking back, I saw the man had dropped a parcel of concrete pavers on the side of the road and just left it there. I figured, oh, maybe someone sent him over there to pick the truck up, as a favor, and he is just doing the best he can. He probably didn't even notice losing that side of the truck. I certainly know what it is like to be having a supremely bad day where nothing is going right. Felt kind of bad for the guy. Rough day.

This morning, I opened up the paper. And saw: man steals large construction vehicle loaded with concrete pavers. Officers have charged the man with operating under the influence, driving to endanger, and allegedly stealing the vehicle from a nearby construction site. No one was injured, and the man is being held at the county jail.

And what did I do, immediately? Picked up my phone to call matt, and tell him - hey! You know that guy I saw yesterday? He really WAS stealing that truck. And here I was, all Polly Helpful, pointing out ways he could make his get-away go far more smoothly.

So glad no one was hurt. I already feel kind of awful that I didn't call someone about suspicious driving behavior, but I did talk myself down on that one yesterday, thinking - what do I know, and I'm just being silly. Maybe big trucks are just really hard to drive. But if someone had been hurt, I don't think that would have gone down too well for me, that I saw it starting and didn't stop it. Thankfully, I do not need to go down that particular road. However, I will say, that if I see anybody driving and behaving oddly again, I will call the police. It was just sheer luck it was early enough on a Sunday that that guy didn't hurt anyone.

All of which to say - two crimes in less than a month, right next door to me seems just a wee bit silly. And,  once again be so bummed that Matt is not here to shake his head at me and my "helpfulness."

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I think this might be the first time the 12th has coincided with a sunday, since sunday july 12th 2009. I don't have it in me to look, and it doesn't matter. I feel so badly that I am not better at praying, or disciplined at all with meditation. I feel like I am not sending him enough love, not helping him enough on his journey, not realizing it is his journey, and I also am just so destroyed I can't, I try to pray and I end up vomiting. I used to be able to handle the enormity, and lately I cannot look at it at all. That's it. That's all.  I know it will shift. Later, I will force myself to do yoga, I will possibly force myself to sit and pray, I will hurl myself at afternoon Mass, and this day will end. Maybe some goodness will come.

And in related/unrelated thoughts - I was thinking yesterday that we/I need a new word that means: "I don't have anything to say, what you wrote just really got me, and I feel so much, relate so much, and love you, and really don't have anything at all to say because there aren't any words in there that mean anything at all, and anything I actually type means pretty much nothing in comparison, plus I am crying too much to type."

Words are symbols anyway, right? Made me think of when Prince changed his name to some unreproducible character, and then had to be called "the artist formerly known as Prince." Can we come up with something that says all that, some new thing that refers back to all of that that doesn't have any word at all?

Friday, September 10, 2010


I notice that a lot of my comments on others' blogs sound... very angry. I did not used to be an angry person. These days, I am quite angry, and angry that I am now an angry person on top of that. So angry that life took the pretty decently happy, silly, peaceful, non-angry person I was and shoved me through the anger-maker, like a giant angry-sausage making machine. No one needed more anger in the world. I was a pretty good "force of love" before, even if useful only to myself. I ain't no "force of love" these days, and knowing that makes me feel even farther away from who I was when he was here, from our life. And it makes me feel even more crazy. This is not my world, this was not my world, what freaking planet IS this? Eh. I think I need to find something that makes me feel even a little bit like myself.

My time at the farm ended yesterday. I had been volunteering at a very dysfunctional farm, off and on, since March or so. A place where no social skills were required, which was good, because I have none. A place where the entire place is in constant, massive disarray, so there is always something to do. Since the anniversary, my interest in slogging out there has seriously waned. But I kept going. I was out there yesterday, picking tomatoes, pulling carrots, and just thought - oh, this is my last time out here. It wasn't a "thinking about whether I am done here or not" thought, it was a decision made for me, somewhere in me. And though the place is a constant vexation, I started feeling very sad to leave it, to say goodbye to all of it. I felt like I was saying goodbye to life, to ONE MORE THING that has to go. Which is silly, because this place was not part of our life before, I only found it After. But I think it is just the leave-taking, triggering off the Real Things. Time is moving along, and that is just sad. So many things that would have been easily let go of, with not even a thought, are suddenly massively precious.

Anyway, I am heading off to a dairy farm today to see if they need fall and winter help with their creatures. Working with animals was what I'd wanted from the start. For a brief time last winter, I worked on an alpaca farm, weighing babies, giving shots, holding animals down, breathing with them while they had little minor surgeries done. I felt like Me: sit here and breathe with this creature, and then go muck out that stall. Awesome. But the farm owners had just hired a young man to manage all the regular daily chores, and in deep winter, there wasn't much for me to do. Plus, I find alpaca a bit odd.

I think it's just that difference between non-human animals and plants - I often spent whole hours being pissy while weeding or trimming or planting. Then I would realize how pissy I was being, and choose to do something else, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But animals require just that little bit more conscious attention, and I often notice this new angry person has been much quieter during that time I've been tending critters. I snap back into myself, without even noticing it. I only notice it after-the-fact, like - hey, I remember you. I am so sad, for me, for the me I used to be. Shit. I hadn't been crying, now I am. I need to make myself a list, as Dan did. Though I think I will call it "things that don't suck," because the angry person needs just that little bit of edge.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

now appearing in a cookie near you...

free thought

I know you are free, my love.
I am glad.
I am not. Not free, I mean. I know, if you can, you are trying to hold on to me.

I know you are free, and I love you. Even in this, 'cause that's how I roll.

I got the sh*t end of the stick, it seems, and I hate to be so bitter and not see any good. The good is, you are free. Except you were here too. I hope you know where you are, and are having a really cool time. If you aren't at all you anymore, where would the fun be in this adventure for you? I am trying to still be me, and that is way harder than it seems.

I am thinking of you. Hope you are picking that up, out there where everything is thought. (at least I think it is).

Friday, September 3, 2010

in the hatch

Reading a comment from someone on Widow's Voice, who signed it "widow. Day 156."

It is a bit of a siege, isn't it.

Sometimes I feel like Desmond, in that first season of Lost (sorry - geekness slipping out here): down there in the hatch, with his highly structured routine of some kind of health shake / healthy diet, followed by a workout, keeping his creative intellect alive with music and reading, being "fit" even though there was nowhere to go and no way of knowing how long he would have to stay there, or if any world even existed outside of that hatch - all with the one goal of being relieved of duty so he could rejoin his love. He just had to not let the world blow up before he could get there. Just that one thought - must get home.

...Keep vision of my love alive in me. Must get home. Must do job while here. Must keep self from going crazy and letting world blow up. Keep heart connected. Home is somewhere. Do job while here that may or may not mean anything at all. Must get home.