Oh, Christmas Tree

Good night, sweet Christmas Tree. Time for another season of hibernation. All the ornaments have been removed and all that needs to occur now is to dismantle you. While I wish you could have enjoyed a more festive Sarah this holiday season, at least you got out of the confines of your thick plastic bag for a month.

I think as you came out of your bag, I went in. I was suffocated by the lack of family. The disappointment of loss. The heartache of death. And fear of the unknown. How things have changed since you last came out, dear Christmas Tree. And I have to wonder, what will be different when you are awakened from your slumber next November?

I hope that I’m back on track. That I’ve let go of a lot. That I’ve moved forward instead of backward. That I’ve forgiven and have been forgiven. That I’m healing. That I’m remembering with reverence. That I’m loving like I’ve never loved before.

Yes. Next Christmas, dear Christmas Tree, every little thing is gonna be all right. Or I’m throwing your sorry ass in the trash along with the cremains of my holiday spirit.

 

I’m a paid spokesperson…

Today I decided that I was through with my funk. I said “Funk off, funk, I’m over you already.”

Really though, I decided that since I cannot change anything that has happened in my life I should just go ahead and embrace it. Oh, okay. I’m not going to embrace it. But I’m through letting it slap me around. So, in preparation of moving on, I ate a Totino’s Party Pizza, drank a Mtn Dew, and now I’m ready to go (cracking knuckles as I type…). Bring it. I’m coming out swinging.

I’ve also decided that I’m not going to tone down my writing because I’m afraid of offending someone. I’ve edited and re-edited millions of words since beginning this blog and I’ve come to the conclusion that the purpose of my writing is to express MY feelings. And then, sadly, I realized that I’ve never been “ME” before. I’ve always edited myself for an audience. For family. For a spouse. I have had this strange need of gaining everyone’s approval. And despite trying to make everyone happy, I always manage to piss someone off. So, that being said, since I’m going to make someone angry anyway, I’m just going to be myself. This means that I’m going to say some swear words now and then. I LOVE words (well, except for the word “moist”) and there are times that the true experience of a situation cannot be expressed without dropping some foul language here and there. I say swears. There. I’ve said it. I am proud of who I am, potty-mouth and all.

Besides, I have a FABULOUS story that I’m going to tell in the next month or so that is fraught with naughty words. I cannot tell the story without them. I cannot insert “BEEEEP” instead of the actual words that were spoken because it would detract from the story. And to alter this particular story, well, that would be a tragedy, because it is the story that is going to make me a STAR. Bet you can’t wait, right? I know, me neither.

Okay. So now that I’m done being in my holiday funk, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Christmases were pivotal in my young life. What stands out to me were all the years my mother added to my dollhouse furniture collection. I was obsessed with Lundby products. Lundby is a Scandinavian company – I suppose they were the IKEA of the dollhouse world – and I was the only kid I knew who had any of it. It was soooo awesome. The lights really worked, the cabinets really opened, the toilet seat went up and down… it was uber-cool. I played with it for hours on end and every holiday season I poured over the latest catalog searching for what had to go on my “most wanted” list. I’d circle my choices with a big, black marker and pass it on to my mom, who would use her lunch hour perusing the toy department of Lazarus in search of my holiday treasures.

Gosh. This picture brings back memories. All my Central Ohio friends have to remember how awesome Lazarus was… it’s a tragedy that they are no longer around. I worked at this particular Lazarus many moons ago. Remember the Talking Tree? Man. What incredible memories. 

Anyway, Christmas morning, I would wake up and creep down the stairs, knowing that mom came through with the goods. She would watch with anticipation as I opened them one by one and cried out with great joy. She once told me that she really looked forward to  finding those furnishings for me. I cherished them so much. Fortunately, I still have most of them. And, true to Scandinavian design, the stuff that was made in the 1970’s (when I was an avid collector) is still in style today. The 70’s never got stale in Sweden. Just ask ABBA. 

Now, my sister owned the actual doll house, I just owned the furniture. And when we went our separate ways, she took the house and I took the furniture.

 

Funny how the same thing is about to happen in my current world… my ex-husband is now the sole owner of the house I’ve lived in for the last five-and-a-half years and all I’ll be left with is the furniture I brought with me. It’s okay, though. I got an apartment nearby and am truly looking forward to doing my own thing. Everything is going to be okay. Deep breath. Again. It’s gonna be okay.

So, it’s the last Christmas I’ll be celebrating in this particular house. The tree is up. I’m ready for the kids to come home Christmas morning and open their gifts. I think I’ve obtained the items on their most-wanted list. Maddy has been anxious to add to her Monster High doll collection and I was fortunate enough to find two of the “hard-to-find” dolls a while back. My joy bubbled over the top as I greedily swiped them off the shelf, knowing that Mad is going to flip her lid when she opens them Christmas morning.

This must have been what mom felt like when I opened my beloved Lundby toys on Christmas morning. This simple parallel brings me that much closer to her – the first Christmas we’ve had since she died. I didn’t appreciate the levels she went to in order to ensure that I had a Merry Christmas. And I’m sure that Madeline won’t cross that threshold until she has children of her own.

Just as I’m doing now.

 

I love hush puppies

To help me through my holiday depression I’ve been watching a fair amount of movies on television. I’m currently watching “White Christmas” on AMC. Since this particular network is geared towards airing “classic” movies, it is often fraught with ads for senior citizens – like the constantly running ad for AARP insurance. “Let’s leave a little something for the kids,” the advanced-aged actors say. And it makes me sad because if I were to die tomorrow, my kids would have absolutely nothing monetarily to gain from my passing. Oh, and probably hate Christmas because they would be reminded of my demise each time the holiday rolled around.

For the past eight years I’ve depended on a man to cover me on his insurance and now that we’re divorced my life is literally worth nothing. This makes me sick. Sure, I have a few things to pass on to my children like beautiful silverware and a few other tidbits that my mother has given me over the years. But, if I were to die tomorrow, well, that would suck on so many levels.

I’m not meaning to be morbid here. It is a fact that I’ve lost many people this year so death is sorta on my mind. And aside from these deaths, I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of loss. I had a miscarriage. My marriage, which was WAY broken, finally died a very fitful death. Even though we were not very financially secure throughout our marriage, losing any sort of income is cause for hyperventilating. I’m starting over. And right now, I’m worth nothing. At least in a fiscal sense.

So, what does one do when faced with this situation? I’m 43 and I have nothing to show for my life with the exception of two beautiful children. I’ve not been anything but an excellent caregiver to my children, especially over the past eight years. And, unfortunately, this is difficult to convey on a resume. I can hear it now: “Oh. You’ve been a mom for the past several years. Good for you.” Re-entering the workplace is gonna be a bitch.

I recently took a test on what my ideal line of work would be. It turns out that everything I’m trained for is something that grates on my last nerve. I don’t like tedious work (like benefits administration, filing, or running reports). I don’t like conflict. I don’t like negotiation. Basically, what this test reported was that I should be a writer. Yeah. Okay. I’m on it. Easy Peasy, right?

I’m certainly not lacking for material. I know my posts have been few this year, mainly because of my “mental health” vacation, the ridiculous amount of loss I’ve experienced and divorce proceedings, but I have to say that I’ve garnered more material in the past 12 months than I’ve gathered in my entire life. In other words, this year has sucked big monkey balls. I’m working on writing about all of these events but many of them have just been too painful to write about. I’m not quite ready to rip off the band aid. I just got the bleeding under control and am not sure I’m ready to start hemorrhaging again.

I know it will come with time – that time heals all wounds – but this year has nearly taken me out. I’m tired. I’m cranky. And so ready for this year to be over. And you know me, I have to find the humor in things. Until I can do that I’m not ready to share.

Too bad I need a paying job right now. Maybe Santa will bring me an agent this year.

 

Look out, world. Here I come.

So, I just returned from watching the movie “Young Adult” with Charlize Theron. It’s brand new in theaters today and since I love her and I love quirky stuff, I thought this would be an excellent option for spending a night by myself.

Boy, was I wrong. It made me dissolve into a big old mess. Basically, this character is so unhappy with her “life in the big city” that she goes back to her hometown and makes an ass of herself. It was so uncomfortable to watch and while I initially LOVED her character (a diet Coke guzzling, small dog owning, writer) I ended up thinking that even though she had gone through some major trauma/drama with her friends and family, she didn’t take anything at all away from her experience. She was going to go back to the same old life that made her miserable. She was going to remain the same narcissist that she’d always been. The final line in the movie was her narrating “Look out, world. Here I come,” but the expression on her face was – I don’t know – disdain? Disgust? Disappointment? I couldn’t decipher it. It made me so sad.

Why don’t we learn more from our mistakes?

I know that I’ve often wished for a chance to start over. To make things different. I’ve had several moments in my life where I’ve had that very chance but instead of feeling relief and excitement, all I can feel is fear. I feel so small in the face of a new adventure instead of grasping it for the breath of fresh air that it should be.

Oh, I always look back on these “new beginnings” and can nearly always pull out some sort of comedy that will make the pain of change seem less threatening. It’s always easier to look on it in hindsight. But here I am, facing another gigantic change and while I’m trying to grasp it for the new beginning I’d like it to be, I have to admit that I’m scared.

I know everything will be all right. I know that ultimately I’m going to look back on this and find the humor in it – like I always do. But 2011 has been blow after blow in the emotional turmoil department. And I like to think that I’ve learned some things about myself – that I’ll be able to take away some good life lessons from my experiences.

And if not, I’ll be revisiting this post somewhere down the line.

But in the meantime, Look out, world. Here I come. And I’m saying this not with disdain. Or disgust. Or disappointment.

But with determination.

 

High Hopes and a guy named Steve.

I understand that my website is giving some people the warning that it has “malware”. I’m looking into that and working on getting it fixed as soon as possible. I apologize for any inconvenience or if your computer unexpectedly blew up when all you were trying to do was get a dose of Sarah.

I’ve been writing a lot in my head lately but none of it has been making it to print. There’s been so much going on that I can barely keep up with it all. Don’t worry, it will all come out eventually, but for now it’s living in my cranial cavity with the stock-boy I’ve lovingly named “Steve”.

I’ve often said that my brain does its own thing – that we merely co-exist – and over the years I’ve come to accept the fact that I have no control over how my brain works. I’ve lived with this knowledge for a long time and was fine with it – up until just recently. I had to give it a name. That’s where Steve came into play.  See, Steve lives in my head. He “rents the space” if you will. I guess it’s more like a co-op. He not only works there, but he partially owns it, too. So, whenever I’m out of ideas, Steve stocks it with something new. If something gets knocked off the shelf, Steve picks it up. If it appears to be too cluttered, well, honestly, Steve doesn’t do a damn thing about that. He just kicks back in his hammock and takes a nap. I’ve considered firing Steve over this but I’m not quite sure if I’ll find anyone else who will apply to be my brain manager. It’s a tough job and the benefits suck. Since Steve hasn’t filed any grievances over his position, it looks like Steve is here to stay. Honestly, I need him. I cannot manage my life AND my brain. Something has to give.

Okay, Steve. You’ve hogged enough blog space. Back off.

Yesterday was a super poopy day. It came after a day of GREAT news – the news that Ben remains to be CANCER FREE (YAY!). So, in the delicate balance of the world known as yin and yang, there had to be some baloney to even out the YAY factor and yesterday was quite a dump. First, I got my feelings hurt. Now, this would have been tolerable but it just happened to be the start of a shit-ball that rolled into gigantic proportions. I’ll spare you the details of just HOW my feelings got hurt but know that it knocked me on my butt and held me down until the next bit came, which happened to be the news of a little friend relapsing.

Dammit.

I hate this sort of news. My friend reached out to ask how I delivered the news of Ben’s relapse to him. Just thinking of this time-warped me back to how I held him on my lap as I told him the devastating news that the beast had returned. The tears. The fear. The unknown of what my friend and her daughter are facing is heartbreaking. And trying to encourage her to be cautiously optimistic. To have HOPE.

Hope is tricky. We’re supposed to have this unending supply of Hope. It’s supposed to come to the rescue and banish all yucky thoughts into oblivion. Hey! We can overcome this obstacle! We have HOPE! Can that ant really move that rubber tree plant all by himself? YES! He has High HOPES (please refer to the song “High Hopes” made famous by Frank Sinatra and Shirley Feeny from Lavern and Shirley). Supposedly, our determination takes over and we can overcome ridiculous feats all due to the beauty of HOPE. Honestly, I’m having trouble with Hope. I want to state why, but then this post would turn into a missive proportional to the epic War and Peace. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

It’s what I get for not writing regularly. My brain is swirling with activity and up until recently I could feel Steve scrambling to make right of the chaos. No, wait. I feel that swinging sensation of a hammock rocking back and forth. Dag nabbit, STEVE! I’m docking your pay.

Seriously, though, yesterday was heartbreaking. On top of everything else, a very sweet woman died yesterday. Her name was Kelly. She was a dear friend of my sister, Cassi. They were buddies in high school and Kelly would often come over to our house. I was enamored with her. She was so funny and seemed to embody joy. Her laugh was infectious. I would sit outside of my sister’s room listening to them chatting with each other about high school stuff. Being six-and-a-half years younger than they, I found it to be quite fascinating banter. Kelly was sweet. Her heart was bigger than Texas. She came and sat with my sister and me at the hospital the day our mother passed away. Her genuine tears mourning the passing of a sweet childhood memory. I felt like I was 10 again whenever I was in her presence. I sincerely enjoyed her. The last thing she posted about on her facebook page was something to do with how crazy the show “Toddlers and Tiaras” was. The last thing I ever wrote to her was a couple of weeks ago. I told her that she was my hero and that I had my very own pair of “Kelly Underoos”. Her reply back to me was “I love that!”.

Kelly had been sick for quite a long time. Doctors couldn’t find what was truly wrong with her. She had been treated for multiple heart issues but with no relief. I think – and Steve concurs – that maybe her heart was simply just too big for this world.

My sister told me yesterday that Kelly was afraid she was going to die alone. Unfortunately, this is what happened. A friend went to pick her up yesterday for a doctor’s appointment. When Kelly didn’t answer her door, her friend gained access from the landlord and found Kelly dead on her bed. Her earthly life over. The pain now ceased. A beautiful light in this world extinguished.

But she was alone. And lonely is a word that has been sneaking around my life over the past few months. While I PROMISE I will divulge more about this as soon as Steve permits, I can state briefly that the changes I’ve experienced this past year have left me very lonely. I’ve realized that relationships that are critical to me haven’t been taken seriously. I haven’t fully appreciated them. I’ve had my head so far up my own ass and wallowing in the doldrums of “how can this be happening?” that I haven’t stopped to appreciate everyone who has so lovingly been there for me throughout all of my turmoil. I’m sorry for that.

I’m sorry for a lot. I’m sorry for hurting those I do truly love. I’m sorry for hurting those I don’t really know. I’m sorry for not furthering relationships with my family after losing my mother. I’m sorry that I’ve been so consumed with my lack of Hope that I’ve failed to see all the beautiful things in my life. I’m sorry for not giving Steve more free time to enjoy the wonderful world that is my brain. I’ve been keeping him too busy and overworking him with the pain and strife and fear I’ve allowed to sneak in to every crevice I have.

I’ve forgotten who I am and have allowed the events in my life to carve me into something else. Instead of taking the events that have occurred and allowed them to ADD to who I am, I’ve allowed them to take over. I’ve shrunken like a cold, wet puppy that can’t find its’ way home and allowed life to alter negatively instead of grabbing it by the beautiful horns and letting ‘er rip.

But no more. I fully understand what’s important and there my focus shall lie. And, with Steve’s help, we’ll find our lost Hope.

Rest well, my dear Kelly. I got your message.