Today I woke up in a sweat. ‘My dad is dead. He is not alive.’

I had to say this aloud for the umpteenth time because, once again, I dreamt that he was about to die and I was trying to save him. His death “happened” in December, but it keeps happening in my mind, in my sleep. I’m losing it.

Wacky Wednesday Without One Working Post Idea

It has now been five months since my dad died. Everyday of “dead dad” life is unpredictable still. As much as I focus on the sad elements of grief, I’ve noticed that for the last two or three weeks, I haven’t had an upsetting nightmare. For the last four months, I have dreamt of my dad almost every night. At first the dreams didn’t vary much–I’d know in the dream that my dad was dying and I desperately fought to get him to the hospital or do something like that because it just might save his life. I’d wake up crying, disoriented, unable to calm down. For awhile there I was afraid to sleep because I didn’t want to dream.

My sleep cycle is still all fucked up but it’s not so much because of the nightmares.

If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know that I took a long hiatus from which I’m back. The headiness of starting a blog as a place to unload and maybe even share something that someone might identify with made brainstorming about different posts easier. Taking a break from writing has let my brain become sluggish. Or it’s keeping the writing muse away. Never mind the cause. The point is that I’ve been forcing out every word of this post. Words aren’t coming together very quickly or smoothly. So here’s my plan:

I’m going to keep myself to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting schedule whether I have a specific topic to write about or not. The premise behind this is that if I just write on schedule, my writing muscle will strengthen up and the post ideas will come.

That’s all for this one, folks. I’ll try to be more interesting on Friday:)

The writer is in.

I’ve been silent for a few weeks now. If you’re still following me, thanks for waiting it out. The last month has been tougher than the ones before it because of final projects and exams that I had to grade. When my “day job” makes my emotional state go beyond the limits of what I can cope with, then all extras (like this blog) have to go.

Well now I’m back. One academic year down, hopefully only a few more left to go before I’m no longer the student, but the professor. Do you wonder how I’ll ever be straight edge enough to effectively hold down a job as important as teaching college students? Yeah, I wonder, too, but I don’t sweat it all that much. Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned that things always change. A shitty situation becomes less so over time; likewise, happy moments don’t last long enough. This helps me trudge along even when I feel like the loseriest of the losers, the worst of the worst…I could keep going but you get it, right?

Another truism I’ve come to accept is that the one thing I’ve wanted the most for a very long time now is to be a professor. It’s the bull’s eye on the dartboard. No matter what, I gather up my darts, line up, aim, toss. This’ll be on repeat until I land my shot.

So, dear readers, I’m back and I hope that you’ll keep reading. You might enjoy the things I’ve got lined up for the blog. Stay tuned queens!

Inspiration for writers

“To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal but you have to care.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Everything I write about is close to my heart and knowing that another writer, a well-respected and much read one at that, believes that this is fundamental to good writing. As long as I’ve been literate, I’ve always been a writer. Sometimes I have things to say that might inspire, and other times I have only depressing things to put down on paper (be it real or virtual). May I never stop and may that be the case for you, dear readers.

“We must remember that everything is ordinary and extraordinary. It is our minds that either open or close. Details are not good or bad. They are details.” –Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

I always say, I’m not a good or bad person. I’m just a person who does and says things that are either good or bad. So it is with writing. We must observe what seems so ordinary until we remember just how extraordinary it is that things exist, that they provoke contemplation, and that they fuel our writing. Depression, in my case, closes my mind to the beauty of the world, but sometimes I come back to earth and remember that life is amazing. My heart, for instance, beats rebelliously no matter what I think or feel about myself. It fights for life as do my lungs. Heart and lungs never stop and even in the last moments of life, they both struggle, they both fight for life.

Memories of my father, No. 1

My dad died without grandchildren. I think that he would have been a wonderful abuelo. My dad did, after all, have good qualities, too.

He was generous.

When I was a kid, he rarely came home empty handed. He always had a candy, or ice cream, or both. On very rare occasions, he might bring home bikes, one for me, one for my sister. If the ice cream truck rolled down our block and he had money, he’d give me enough to buy some for all the kids, not just my sister, brother, and me. So I bet that if he had had a grandchild, he would have doted on it.

I also believe that his grandchildren would have loved gardening with him. I know I did.

Throughout the first of what would be his last two springs, he and I gardened every morning that I was there. At first, he’d help me by clearing weeds with his machete or doing some other thing that he anticipated I’d want him to do. Eventually, he would tire himself out—he had cancer, after all—and just sit out there with me. I would be cleaning up the tomato plants, watering, planting new flowers or vegetables, while he sat behind me, in the shade, telling one story after another. His grandkids would have been awed into silence and stillness listening to and watching their grandfather tell stories about Guatemala’s “wild west.”

Sometimes I close my eyes and I can feel the warm California sun on my skin as I pick a ripe tomato off the vine. If only I could hear his voice enthralling me with another story.

To write or not to write?

My blog is a newborn and as it’s mother I’m trying to put the baby on a schedule. So far we have Monday posts about my life in general and the topics can range from drug use, graduate school, being brown, to something actually lighthearted (the fact that I can’t think of an example of a “happy” post is probably a good indication that I’m way too cynical at the moment). On Fridays, you can expect a post about grief since my dad died recently and I’m trying to figure out what in the fuck to do with that? How does one process deep loss? I sure don’t have an answer but writing through it is one way of working it out.

Writing and its close relative, Reading, is what I’ll post about on Wednesdays. Hence, the category title “Reading about Writing and Writing about Reading.”

I’m currently reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. The title speaks for itself; it really is a book of advice from her perspective as a lifelong writer whose father was also a writer.

RX refill day=short reprieve from physical pain

Chronic pain is a motherfuck. It makes me feel so dejected, so hopeless about my future, and it makes me wonder if I’ll ever find relief. For now, the only relief I get is from the meds my pain doc prescribes. I’ve never been one to support the pharma industry, but you know what, chemical pain relief is what makes it possible for me to get out of bed, walk, interact with others–basically, be a human being, the thing I once was before all this turned me into a living, breathing letter P for pain.

Today is refill day for me and boy does that lift my spirits. A part of me thinks, ‘how sad that this is what makes me happy’, while another part of me thinks, ‘fuck it, It’s not my fault and I won’t judge myself for doing what’s within my power to alleviate my own suffering’.

Whatever the source of chronic pain might be, I’ve discovered that it’s an invisible disability for which professors, bosses, lovers, friends, family, etcetera, have little sympathy because living in agony isn’t something one can understand without actually feeling it.  What I typically hear is, “Just suck it up. Get your shit done. Go to work. Don’t complain. Think positive.”

Um, yeah, okay, thanks for the great advice. Not.

If only it were that easy to just be “normal” and do all of the things that it takes to maintain a non-homeless life.

How do people get up and go everyday?

Today is one of the worst I’ve had lately. I couldn’t sleep last night. Dawn came before sleep did and then my alarm went off. I just couldn’t face the day. My anxiety took over. Even the thought of stepping out of my bedroom was too much to handle. It feels like the world is suffocating me and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t fix anything or anybody. I can’t even help myself anymore. When I was a teenager, I used to cut constantly. I’ve had stitches and staples on both of my wrists and I’ve had alcohol poisoning three times. I’ve tried to kill myself in big ways and in little ways.

What am I to do?

The weight of everything I’ve ever lived is breaking me and all I can do is watch as it happens. I live in constant physical and mental pain and I can’t do it anymore. There’s a part of me that wants to live, that loves to explore and that has hopes and dreams for the future. The part of me that’s always in pain and that can’t stop reliving past abuses is drowning out the other me.

I’m failing…

Started out writing about nothing until it turned into something…

It’s so trite to start something off the way I’m about to, but here goes.

I was supposed to post on Monday but I didn’t so I’m posting today instead.

What can I tell you? It took three lines of a prescription stimulant to get me to sit at my desk and write. I wonder what you’re thinking as you read this? Perhaps you’re wondering what I look like? Or, maybe you’re wondering if this chick needs help? What if you really are interested in what I write and all you want to do is to keep reading? This final possibility is the raddest one of all because there is no greater satisfaction for a writer than to know that someone wants to read more of what they’re saying.

I don’t have a specific topic for today but maybe one will emerge if I just keep writing. The weather where I live is so shitty–as it is in most of the U.S. right now. I grew up in a place where the sun comes out every day and I’ve gotten used to it. My body and mind crave the sunshine. From where I’m at now, I don’t recall having seen the sun since February 14. Almost ten days ago…

I’ve been locked away in my apartment where it’s warm and where I can be safe from the judgement of others. Or maybe a more accurate statement is this: where I can be free of the stupidity, the arrogance, and the insensitivity of others, and of myself toward other people. Actually, neither statement is true because all I have to do is answer the phone or open my mail to be reminded of how some individuals are so tactless.

Here’s a concrete example.

My bf’s mom died two years ago. His dad started dating right away. After more than three decades of living one life with one person, he undid it all for whatever reason. Less than a year ago, he met a woman online, started dating her, and decided to move her into the home where his wife died, where her ashes are, without any regard as to how this might affect his adult children. Then he decided he was going to marry this person. Everyone will have an opinion. Mine is that at his age, you expect more thought, more deliberation, and greater concern for the feelings of others. But this hasn’t been the case for this sad trio who lost the person who completed them and held them together.

A few days ago, we received a “save the date” and I couldn’t believe how insensitive the “fiancés” are. In fact, I was appalled by their lack of tact. Do they really expect a son to return to his mother’s home to celebrate his father’s marriage to a woman he hardly knows and who has made not one attempt to get to know her boyfriend’s children (yes, a “boyfriend” in her sixties sounds so fucking ridiculous).

My anger relative to this situation stems from a deep well of anger, hurt, and resentment I have for my parents. Neither one was strong enough, or loved my siblings and I enough, to choose their children.

My mom let my dad abuse her and us without ever saying to him, “ENOUGH! YOU WILL NOT HURT MY CHILDREN!”

My dad never said to himself, “I choose my family over alcohol and I will never lay hands on them or hurt them with my words again.”

So has my boyfriend’s father chosen wrongly. Instead of holding his family together, grieving with his children, and together finding a way to continue living without Mom, he has chosen himself. He has chosen someone he doesn’t know over the two humans he helped bring into this world, and over the woman he loved for more than half his life.

And that is what people do to each other. And this is how writing about nothing becomes about something.

Until next time dearest readers.

Grief Post 2: Johnny Cash sang about it, so fuck it, I’m gonna cry, cry, cry

Yesterday I attended the first meeting of a “Grief and Loss” therapy group at school. We’ll be meeting once a week for 1.5 hours through the end of the semester. Over the last five or six years I’ve had one-on-one sessions with a therapist, but this group thing is something I haven’t done since I was in my early 20s. I don’t know if it’ll help, but if you keep coming back on Fridays, you’ll get to go along for the ride with me!

This first meeting was focused on introductions and reading a list of guidelines that emphasize the importance of confidentiality–in other words, it wasn’t much of an opportunity for getting a feel for the other members. But that doesn’t really matter considering the revelation I had about something that I’ve been struggling with since childhood.

Crying has always been a point of contention in my (nuclear) family, which consisted of my dad, mom, younger sister, and younger brother. My mom always chastised me for crying, going as far as calling me a crybaby. To this day, my siblings and my mom make fun of the fact that I cry easily and often. Even I’ve gone along with the “joke” though I know that I’m participating in the invalidation of an important expression of emotion. What I realized by the end of the group’s first session is that in the two months since my dad died, I’ve been rebelliously letting the tears flow whenever, wherever, and however they need to. By doing so, I’ve been empowering myself while simultaneously forcing emotionally-stunted people I interact with to look directly at raw emotion: my deep grief.

What’s the point? I’m not quite sure, yet. Will I reach some mind-blowing revelation about grief, emotion, empathy, and/or emotional avoidance? Right now, I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’ll keep exploring this and share my thoughts with you as I do, dear reader.

P.S. Earlier this week I was late in posting because I was suffering massive withdrawals. And now, I’m late posting this, which should’ve gone up on Friday, because I scored and have been high as fuck for the last two days. This is the junky cycle of pain and pleasure. Oh the irony.