Sunday, December 21, 2008

Year in Review

By all standards 2008 was the hardest year of my adult life. In January, my relationship of 3 and a 1/2 years to my boyfriend Ryan ended and I moved out of our place (we'd lived together for almost 2 and a 1/2 years) and in with a new roommate. As I adjusted to this new situation and the inevitable whirlpool of emotions around it my Dad continued to deteriorate as a result of the terminal lung cancer he was diagnosed with in November 2007. He left this world on September 29, 2008 and in some ways it's like time has been put both into slow-motion and high speed fast-forward. With every passing day it sinks in a bit more that the world I live in has not been and will never be the same now that he isn't in it. The ripples of his death resonate in ways that I think I've only begun to feel. Some days it's like I can't accept his absence without feeling like a gaping abyss is opening up beneath me and it will suck me in forever. Other days it's as if everything is the same as it always was. After all, I didn't see my Dad all that often with him living in Florida and all. But when I really look at the world around me closely it isn't the same. Everything is slightly off - the colors wrong, the objects ever so fractionally out of place. And that is how they'll always be until I adjust to the world without my father in it and it becomes my new reality.

In this new world, so many situations that would have seemed cliche now reveal themselves as a natural part of grieving. The saying "you learn who your friends really are" when applied to times of difficulty is 100% completely true. I saw friends who I mostly thought of as "social" friends rally around me during my Dad's death and support me in ways I never imagined they would. I watched as people I thought I was close to drifted away, possibly unable to deal with the difficulty of death. I was reunited with one friend whom I'd fallen out with a few years ago and our friendship both picked up where it had left off and quickly moved forward as both of us had grown and changed so much since our falling out. She came back into my life right as my Dad was nearing his end and she offered up much support without hesitation or a thought for anything that had been difficult between us in the past. At the same time I finally let go of trying to maintain a one-sided, frustrating friendship with someone who loved to call me part of her "family" yet became so increasingly self-involved and invested in being a professional victim that she couldn't even muster a few words of comfort or support for either my breakup or the death of my father. In both situations I was 100% true to myself and chose my paths very consciously. I'm thrilled to have my former friend back and, frankly, relieved to be done with the other. I have no time to suffer fools and anyone who can't spare an iota of their energy in one of my most difficult periods is no friend of mine.

So all of this must seem pretty grim. And yet, as the year draws to a close, I often find myself feeling better than I have in months and months. I still miss my father desperately and I know that is nowhere near ending. But instead of letting everything that's happened this year pull me into some bottomless pit of despair I keep pushing forward into the future, making decisions about my life that focus on progress and personal and professional growth. When I need to put the brakes on and spend the day sitting around in my pajamas watching DVDs and sitting with feelings of loss and loneliness and melancholy, I do just that. I sit with it. It doesn't define and inform my entire existence and I make no decisions based on it. And then the next day or the day after that I stand up, shower off those gray hours and keep walking forward even when the steps feel heavy and uncertain. I don't write this to brag or to present myself as invincible or to get sympathy for being some long suffering victim. I write this to remind myself when I feel completely the opposite of invincible that each day ends and the experiences of that day are as finite as anything else. I remind myself of the last ten years where my Dad and I had the best relationship we'd ever had. I remember the times Ryan and I were truly happy. I think about all the great music I've been lucky enough to help make. I think of all the fantastic songs in the world and how I get to listen to them whenever I want. I think of friends present and past and how each one of them played some role in me being where I am today and how much I cherish and have cherished them. And I remember that every year ends, even the hardest one so far.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"I don't think I'll wake her. I'll just sleep with my pearl-handled Beretta"

Wow, do you remember this?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Maybe tomorrow, maybe someday..."

I've been so busy between work and trying to get finances together for beauty school and trying not to let the tides of grieving for my Dad pull me under that I seem to neglect this blog more and more. I'll often push the button to start a post and stare at the blank box with an equally blank mind. It's like there's so many things swirling around in my brain that I can't put anything down in a sensible way.

When this happens to me I tend to try and lose myself in music and let it wash over me, bringing some kind of succor. The song "Talk of the Town" by The Pretenders is my favorite song by them as well as one of my favorite songs, period. It's full of perfectly crafted pop brilliance and enough wistful melancholia to fill me with both a sense of longing and a feeling of being lifted up. So it's pretty perfect for right now.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Wisdom of Athena

I just got 3/4 of a new tattoo done today! I'll be going back in a few weeks to fill in the black night sky, some black on the shield and helmet, the owl detail and the outer frame. I am SO happy with it already!! It might be the endorphins from getting tattooed, but I am in the best mood I've been in for months. I ran all the way up the hill from the bus and could barely keep from yelling out in excitement as I walked home. Thank goodness for new ink!

Original artwork here. All praise to Clio at Black & Blue Tattoo. She may be "only" an apprentice but her work speaks for itself and it says "FUCKING AWESOME!!!"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ice Queen

It's pretty much a given that I will make a post every few months (or weeks) with fabulous photos of Siouxsie Sioux that I find on the web. You can either bask or move on, but you're life is less awesome if you do the latter.

I found these following images on Digitalhuckle's Flickr page. I love the way they span from androgyny to exaggerated femininity and Siouxsie works them all.

And here is the Siouxsie & The Banshees song I am currently obsessed with.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Teen Dramatic

The first guy I ever "dated" was a drama major at Emerson College named David. He was friends and schoolmates with my best friend Sarah and we fooled around once during one of my weekend visits to Boston. Nothing really happened between us for months and months after messing around, but I got it in my head that I was madly crushed out on him. Mind you, I was actually madly crushed out on a "straight" high school classmate of mine named Hubie, but I was deeply in denial about it. Hubie and I would hang out endlessly and fall asleep on his dorm room bed in the middle of the evening. Well, he would sleep. I would lay next to him holding my breath, hoping he'd nudge his leg against mine one more time.

As Hubie and I hurtled toward an inexorable climax of sorts in our relationship, I somehow managed to start "dating" David, who had now graduated from Emerson and lived in New York City. I don't even remember how it happened, but our relationship mainly revolved around our telephones and mailboxes. We'd have long conversations that involved me curling up on the bench in the dorm room phone booth as we blathered on about anything and everything. I remember loving the time I spent in the phone booth talking to him - it was terribly romantic and seemed like exactly the kind of thing two lovestruck youths should be doing with their spare time. The epistolary side of our relationship was even more flushed with giddy, gushy, love-ness. David would write me these long, poetic letters with dark, vampire-ish, theater major overtones and send me little gifts along with them. One such gift came in the form of a mix tape that contained a ton of songs I forget and one song that stood out from all of the others: "Pearly Dewdrops' Drops" by The Cocteau Twins. I'd never heard a song like it in my life. And even though I couldn't understand a fucking word Elizabeth Fraser was singing, the song spoke to me on some visceral level. It filled with me with longing and melancholy and I was sure it was about someone as tortured, lovelorn and angst-ridden as me, and I played it until I wore out the tape.

Eventually, I went to visit David during a round of visits to some NYC-area colleges. I remember this really emotionally contained goodbye I had with Hubie where we joked about being a married couple having to separate for a vacation and then shared a too-long, too-tight hug. But it was nothing compared to how emotionally unprepared I was for having A Boyfriend in the Big City. After spending 24 hours with David I fled back to the apartment of a friend I was also visiting in Brooklyn and broke up with him via phone. It was a cowardly thing to do but I was 18 and he scared the crap out of me the way he seemed to want to devour me whole. I guess all of that intensity was fine over the phone or in letter form. But in person? In New York City? It was more than my naive little self could handle. I returned to New Hampshire and my barely-concealed object of love. It wasn't long before Hubie and I finally fooled around and, right afterward, he became distant and detached and found a new best friend; a girl this time. Even though I can look at that whole time with heaping spoonfuls of bemusement, the song that I associate the most with that whole period still works its magic on me as if I were 18. Although it holds more of a wistful, transcendent tone than it did back in my drama-laden days of yore. I still have no clue what in the world she's singing about. But I think I like it better that way.