Saturday, October 18, 2014

Songs and tears

I only cried once, each of the last three days.  I'm writing that because it's good news.  It really is.
After work on Wednesday, I got to spend time with Kim and her daughter Alexis.  It had been since July, and plenty has changed in both sets of lives.  We shared a bottle of red (not the six year old), a run through the woods being silly, and popcorn and ice cream on the couch during a movie.  I missed choir rehearsal, but I really needed my friend.  I cried on the drive home.
I didn't work on Thursday (so thankful).  I had time to make warm breakfast before physical therapy, an absolute luxury.  PT is hard and leaves me hurting, but I am making progress in my neck.  Not yet my arm :( 
I walked 7-some miles around Calhoun and Harriet.  I needed the sun, and the activity.  I hurt too much to run, but I think it was better to enjoy the day.  I took the opportunity to call my mom on her birthday.  I went to acupuncture, which seems to help even more than the PT.  I wound up with time to visit Jean, my best friend and mother to the only baby who doesn't make me cry.  I cried driving home - actually I yelled in equal measure to the crying, loudly and at length.  Finally, I got to end Thursday with my monthly massage - my friend Amy worked the tension out of my hips from all that walking and emotion-holding, and worked on my exhausted being for longer than our allotted 90 minutes.  Since we are bartering voice lessons (for her daughter Mikayla) for my massages, I got to put my money back in savings this month, which really helps.
Yesterday, the day opened with a phone call from my choir director, whom to my joy has become equal part leader and friend.  She had news for me which she knew would take a big stressor off my heart, and it was good, again, to talk with a friend who cares.  I joined Zach for brunch at Keys, that old haunt of ours; Carol and Mary Jo remembered us from years ago, presenting us with a plate of "TOTS!"  We both needed the positivity.

I was looking forward to the afternoon but the tears still came on the way home.  Music has always been how I work through my garbage, and though the cynic in me cringes at the cheese factor of this song, it has become quite the trigger for me.  It's the words.  It's the mention of her wait, and her smile.
Followed shortly by this one.  Feeling my tears as they dry, and holding on for dear life.  Dear God do I love singing this song.  

I ended the day with dinner and discount student facials with Kat at Aveda.  I don't have the money for any of this, but I need to be touched and to feel cared for.  I even let myself buy a new lipstick and have promised to myself to actually wear it for no reason this week.

OK, so I may have cried a second time last night on the way home.  "Sometimes, there's just no way to hold back the river." (Stole that one from a book I'm reading.)  Crying seems to be the story of my life.  I very much feel, in most of my daily moments, that I'm going numb.  Turning bitter and into someone I don't like very much.  However, singing also seems to be the story of my life, my ultimate catharsis.  Writing I started doing when I was 12, which would make it seem also to be a life theme, but singing began even four years before that.  Almost 30 years, I've been singing.  It's the only thing that can put me all-the-way-back in touch with my heart, even if that means I have to keep crying.  I think I would be afraid to try and write a song that might touch someone like these songs (and so many others) touch me.  Or maybe I'm just afraid of how deeply it might break me open.

Point of all this being, today, that I was so grateful for a few better days, and the people that shared them with me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


In the course of reviewing the years of writing, I came across this.  It's perfect.
She met her now fiancé in the month after writing this.

Thoughts Down River Road

a path I've come to know is
down the river road
its familiarity meets me strangely
which makes all the motion slowed

a life has its trials
and my feet remind me I'm able
to press on through many things
to find what is stable

there are men on the path too
running with their tops unclothed
and of course I'm free to look
but it's not what I wanted showed

my demands are proving too high
though what I hope for isn't perfection
and so I'll tell you with a sigh
I guess it's called a connection

~Erin Manthey (my housemate)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What a day

I woke up to the sound of a text message today; the light in the room told me that it was far past the time I was supposed to get up.

The tones went off 30 seconds after I walked into work, precisely one hour late.  Could it be an easy, not-too-sick patient?  Not on a day that started like this - instead, it was severe COPD exacerbation.  Despite her long experience of her disease, was she calm?  You know the answer.  The rest of the trip was a yelling match that WE WEREN'T HELPING HER!


By the time we were transferring her downtown, she was re-oxygenated and calm enough (courtesy of a lot of Benadryl) to apologize for "behaving badly" - which brought an uneasy round of laughter all around.

Exiting through the ER, I saw the profile of my first post-divorce crush - which ended rather embarrassingly six years ago.  I didn't have anything to say, but I would have said hello if our paths had crossed more closely.  Instead, I simply watched him leave.  It was better that way, but it gave me a perspective on time that I didn't really need.

There was time, later in the day, to finish another of my new Italian lessons - one thing I'm truly able to enjoy.  Then, despite the wind, cold, and drizzle, I pushed myself to finish my scheduled run after work.  Two miles felt like too small an accomplishment, but I know I have to start back at the beginning.  I got home and the heat was finally on, which was the best. thing. ever. 

I've deleted everything I've written since the crushing first week of August.  I haven't hurt inside like this in a very long time.  In one of my now-deleted posts, I said I was going to write a new version of "What I Want," a version without such hurt and confusion attached to it.  But every time I've come here to write, I only feel defeated.  There are no more words.  I so very sincerely don't know if I want to know men at all anymore.

Instead, I've gone back to the beginning of my blog.  I've reread them all now and deleted about 40 posts.  I've been writing my heart and being vulnerable for too long.  I've been patient, kept praying, accepted the good parts of doing life alone, accomplished many goals - I did everything I was "supposed" to.  It's a relief, now to be done. Truthfully, I deactivated my Facebook twice; I thought it would be easier than it is to create a new account, connecting to a few select people. Truthfully, I made this blog private twice, changed it back twice, and will probably change it back again tomorrow.  In doing that, I happened to cancel all my followers, which is kind of sad but is also ok.

I still feel like all my hopes and plans got yanked from beneath me in the same week. I'm trying really hard to care about something - anything - and I just don't.

Truthfully, I almost didn't go back to choir; I feel like a fraud.  If this is the best God has for me after all this time and all these words, I can no longer swallow that bitter pill.  I refuse to. I've put so much time, effort, and money toward a new career, and now it would seem to be for nothing.  I've worked so hard to be whole and well in my body, and now pain and biweekly therapy appointments comprise my life again.

I need hope.  I feel like I'm barely treading water, as close to giving up as I've ever been.

I do still feel compelled to write.  I'm just not sure about what anymore.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Five dollars and a chance encounter

I spent a good hour in Target this morning, buying groceries for a one week detox diet.  I wouldn't normally ascribe to such a thing, but this is my [maybe misplaced] attempt at positive self-care.

I was standing in the spice aisle, searching hopefully for a smaller container of lemon pepper than the one I'd found, when I heard, "Excuse me, ma'am?"

He was a simply but cleanly dressed (why does this matter?) black (or this?) man.  Humble eyes, soft speech.  I looked at him inquisitively.

"I wonder if you could help me buy some lunch today?"

I've never been approached like this before, not in a Target and out of nowhere.  But it was something about the way he asked.

I asked him, "What did you have in mind?" (I was actually thinking I'd walk to the in-store café with him.)

He looked down and said, "Maybe $5?"

I almost never have cash on me, but Erin and I had a garage sale yesterday, so today I had a tidy sum. Plenty of judgmental things came to mind, such as, "He doesn't look homeless," and, "I wonder what he's really going to spend this on?"

But then I thought, here I am filling a cart with food for one person - healthy and somewhat expensive food at that - and I'm debating lemon pepper, of all things.  I made some extra money yesterday, and I make some extra money singing today.  I work an overtime shift tomorrow.  My mom filled my gas tank last week - and put some money on my Starbucks card -  just to do something nice for me when she knew I was sad.

Let's be real - I have plenty.  Most days it doesn't feel like it, most likely because I grew up without a lot and still make do without a lot, but I do have plenty.  In fact I'm writing this outside the coffee shop where I just paid $4 for the cold-press coffee I'm drinking, and the ability to use the internet.


And...what if he's really hungry?  I have never in my life had to consider asking someone for money to eat, not even when my dad, our only source of income, was unemployed.  Hell, I have been trying to lose weight since I was eleven. years. old.  How hard must it be to approach a stranger like that, no matter what you're asking for, not knowing how they will respond?

I had a five, and I gave it to him. I watched him disappear around the corner into the bread/granola bar aisle.

Here's what I'd like to think:  I was dressed pretty simply myself - just my old, somewhat stained capris (sale at Kohl's), tank top (sale at Target), and sandals.  No make up (as usual), hair in a messy bun (also as usual).  With my cart of vegetables, beans, some chicken, and looking at spices, maybe I looked like I appreciated simple, good food - and I sure do.  Maybe I looked kind and approachable.  Maybe, to the eyes of those who truly go without, I even looked wealthy.  Maybe all that calmness that so many tell me I exude makes me more easily approachable.

Maybe he was just desperate.  I don't know.  But I'd like to think that something about me told him I was safe, kind, and someone he could ask for help.

I've been taking a sort of Facebook vacation lately, a vacation from unneeded reminders, drama, repetition and ridiculousness, and I don't share publicly all that I write.  But before I get on my expensive bike and head to my yoga studio for class (a sure luxury, albeit a very affordable one, this felt important to share.  There is much I want to change, but I want to be a grateful and generous person, and I'm appreciative of a chance encounter that shifted my perspective