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.
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:)
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!
“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.
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.
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.
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.