About Me

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In this blog I have created a haven, a place I allow my deepest emotions to go and sit. I can write easily about what I’ve accomplished. This biography I can recite in my sleep. But I’ve always written poetry and in diaries since I was a teenager. I continued to write poetry in my journals, and not until 2006 did I show them to anyone. I generally write every day, at the present in memoir form. I haven’t written poetry since my mother died in January, 2007. I didn’t write at all between her death and the death of my father three years later in January, 2010. On my father’s birthday in March, 2010, I began this blog, to honor my father and to help me grieve. But I also desperately needed to write, and this stream of conscious style emerged. I needed to find my organic voice.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Soooooooooo, it's been a while: Nuts and Bolts

The last time I posted was about ten days ago. Life has happened between now and then.  A new anti-anxiety medication has happened between now and then, and thrown my life into a bit of a spiral. Which I do not enjoy. At all. I feel like I"m hanging on by a thread MOST of the time----don't need some freaky side effects to flush my consciousness down the toilet. So I told the doctor NO. And I was proud of that. It means, though, that I have to deal with this continuing anxiety sans medecin. Bummer. Big weekend coming up.

But since my last rant, which I am sure qualifies as one, I am finding that jumping back into life too quickly isn't working for me. Y'all know I volunteered to be a wedding planner for a friend as her wedding gift. My thinking was that taking on a loving project would help balance the inner sadness that's still just below the surface. I threw myself into the planning of this wedding, and I though I am on top of things,  I am exhausted. Happiness has its price, too, when one is still grieving.  What's up with that? Overall, this was a good idea, but my last few weeks of sabbatical are covered with layers of work--getting ready for school, which starts insanely early this academic year, preparing myself mentally to go back to school/work after a year no one should have to endure, and have a happy face on: Gee, my sabbatical was SUPER, thanks for asking! My sabbatical project was completed, and I"ll post it on our dept's email so I don't have to answer the same questions a thousand times to people who really don't care anyway. Seems like a waste of time and energy, doesn't it?

This weekend, K and I are flying to CT to clean out my father's attic and garage, and sell his remaining car. We will also be going to see the gravestone in place for the first time.  I was brave enough to contact my father's dearest friends to come and help at the house. They had offered, on the day of the funeral, if I ever needed anything, to let them know. I cried when I got their emails today. They'd already conferred, gotten my dad's crew together, and said when they'd be there. A colleague of my father's had offered the same, and volunteered her husband as well. And they said yes, too. What a testament to my father, that they loved him so much that they'll come and help *me*.  His goodness continues to resonate.  My heart is so full. My beloved aunt and cousin are coming up for the weekend, too.  My sister? Don't know. I don't want my brother in law to come "help" so he can go shopping through my dad's possessions.

In order to prepare for this weekend, all bank statements and check registers, executor log, all needed to be copied for the attorney; documents for the house, car and investments all needed to be pulled for the meetings I need to squeeze in while we're there.   I hope I remember to pack underwear and contact lens solution.

I am continually surprised by the amount of grief I am experiencing on a daily basis. I'm out and about, doing life, but there will be a spike, something that unlocks the box in which I am keeping my grief at bay. It's good that as time as gone by I recover from these bursts more quickly. But they do still come. It is difficult to talk about my father without tears welling. I'm okay with that, now, and am less embarrassed, because I can move through them, into another conversation, and go on...

Looking back on life since Christmas, I see the enormous range of growth I have been gifted. I am transformed. I see priorities so much more quickly, clearly. I have enormous reserves of strength and I am brave beyond what I *ever* knew I could be. I am much more vulnerable to beauty, to sadness, to joy.  Sounds like I"ve gotten my shit together,  huh? Hell, no. I'm still sleeping on the couch because I cannot yet face my bedroom. My goal is to have it ready for the beginning of the school year; I think this weekend's journey will help toward that. Another piece of closure, another door opens for my own growth.

We will be seeing friends this time, too. Staying with our beloveds M and K and their kids. Hope to see Rita, my mother's childhood friend; hope to see V, the woman who loved my father like the father she wished she had, and whose generosity made me love her, too.  Always, so much to do in so little time. And always, far from home. I am craving hugs from my niece and nephew and  longing for the beach.

Send me the vibes to achieve what I need to, and what I want to....I hope the Universe finds me worthy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Medicating Grief

It's pretty dumb that I am actually posting an entry today. Today is the six month anniversary since the death of my father.  I've spent the entire day on the computer and in my jammies. So many plans to make, emails to write and to respond, JESUS: it was like having a office day. At least I was at home and in my pjs. Finally made plane reservations for our trip to CT to do some final things with Dad's house: the attic and the garage. Okay, that and the wine collection, the hundreds of books,  the china still in the cabinets...I think it'll just be the two of us, K and I. And frankly, I'm a little on edge today.

I have, like many others going through the deep process of grief, wished for something magical to help take the emotional pain away. But there is also physical pain associated with this process.  We are traumatized. This is automatically reflected in how the body works, how it responds. Is it wrong to seek out meds that may mitigate some of this suffering? God, no. But should we rush to medicate ourselves? No. And we certainly should not take to self-medicating with alcohol, food, recreational drugs, reckless behavior...

I saw my doctor the other day, and told him about the spikes in anxiety I've been experiencing even though the more traditional elements of grieving seem to be lessening. All I have to do is see a list with more than a few items on it, and my heart races, I start sweating, and I can't think clearly. I feel stupid and crazy. Well, his reaction was to have me try a new anti anxiety med.  It's called Klonopin, for those of you interested. *Disclaimer: my physician is a great guy. He listens, responds, and is always willing to help with pharmacology as well as more holistic approaches* However, in my short experience with clonazepam, it is not for me. Firstly, I was a zombie, literally for four days. A stupid zombie. I feel asleep in yoga class with NO warning. More like passed out. Missed the whole class. I was a danger behind the wheel,  I slept like the dead during the day, and then could not sleep at night, finally falling asleep as it was getting light out. Which brings me to my next point. My life does not normally allow me to sleep until 11am and yet....there I was, several days in a row. Thank god it's summer time and I'm not teaching. (Karl couldn't wake me up over the weekend)  So today, I also missed yoga (it's at 11am), which I know may sound whiny, but it's a big part of my overall wellness and has really helped with the grief process. And so the decision was made. I am calling the doctor tomorrow to let him know I plan to discontinue Klonopin and staring again with the Ativan, which works well enough with NOOOOOOOOO side effects. I just have to work harder at dealing with the anxiety spikes.

As you might imagine, I did some research on Klonopin (clonazepam), and it is usually prescribed for people with bi-polar disorder. I have not been diagnosed with this disorder. I really bristled at this.  I may feel crazy as I go through all this grief stuff, but I feel remarkably certain that being zombie-fied is not the healthiest way to go about the healing process. Is this my doctor's fault? ABSOLUTELY NOT. He was trying to help me because he knows I'm going about this process in a largely drug-free manner: sitting with and experiencing bone-crushing sadness, fits of crying, and then more  positively, drinking lots of water, exercising every day, and choosing positive things to do each day. So I'm thankful he was so willing to try and help me.

Okay, so where  am I going with this? I just made reservations to fly back east to finish up my dad's house. The attic, the garage. Flush of anxiety, flush of fear. So much to arrange, so much to *touch*. This is hard. I feel the energy of my dad in his things. Even still. The watch of his I have, his rings, his photographs. I"m afraid of what we'll find in the attic. Not like bats or mouse poop or anything, but memories. His handwriting on ancient boxes. Seeing what he has saved, what he thought was important. I have to be honest when I am there: what was important to him may not be important to me. This may kill me, but I am going to try and stick to it.  And then there's the garage. All important things to him. He was a DIY guy. He was a sentimental man. The thought of emptying its contents into a dumpster may crush me. No, I'm pretty sure it'll crush me. That's where I hope our hired man will be able to come in to help. He is the man my dad used to do lawn and yard work. I hope, HOPE, having him there will help.

I am incredibly hesitant to call my sister. I really don't want her there for this. She'll bring the kids --there is no tv, radio, internet or phone at the house. She'll be worried about their sadness, as I would be, and then she'll be distracted and not work. This happened in February. And my brother-in-law? Banned. Banned. I will not have him in my father's house after he barely ever visited him while he was alive. So he will not be welcome in this final process, which he will view as a "shopping opportunity." I will say this to any face that opposes me. I am fiercely protective of my father's house and his things. They already have his beloved Mustang. The brother-in-law has, literally, shouted belongings he wants while my sister and I were talking on the phone.  I have a lot of anger toward him. I think he used my father, took advantage of him because he is the father of my dad's only beloved grandchildren.

Ooh. I"m in a toxic place. Gotta sign off to decompress. This  post did not go where I thought it would.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm in a really weird place right now. My life is re-starting and I feel completely overwhelmed and not ready. I headed out to Washington DC to take lessons with my mentor/teacher; jumped into coaching repertoire for some upcoming gigs. It was a very focused In on Friday Out on Monday. Home for a few days in time to enjoy the midnight premiere of the Twilight movie Eclipse with my gurls (for which we all made t shirts)..and in the next day turn around and head out to Salt Lake City for a national conference --The National Association of Teachers of Singing, over the holiday weekend. Knowing virtually no one was a boon--an emotionally void experience which is good still for me. HOWEvER, it turned out better that I'd imagined; my roommate, a woman and a colleague who invited me to attend, was the best possible roommate for this experience. Enjoyed some very fine dinners,  attended a few well-presented sessions, and I slept very well each night.  By the third day of the conference, I was done. Full. Ready to go, carrying my notes from sessions, the new music I'd purchased, and a small gift for my husband.   Out of fourteen days, I had been home two. This is not the grounded living I need right now.

Mail piled up while I was gone; estate mail, mostly. Bills, invoices, taxes, and the cable company in CT requesting their equipment back...shall I beam it to Manchester, CT? Frustrating. I am keeping them in this pile...keeping them from me so that I can be free from them.  This time away from the grief reality has been both invigorating and confusing.

While in DC with my teacher, I took lessons, hearing my voice for the first time in many months.  We spent time together talking about singing, going to an opera, and eating delicious food.  We did, as we have done, talk about my family and its shrinking nature....I had a significant grief burst, but got through it. It felt WONDERFUL to sing to work, to focus. A matter of life and death: mine. She said "Sing! Always sing! It is better than any therapy out there.! I felt that true for me; my spirits lifted a great deal, \The last time I visited, back in March, I was barely functional, and they cocooned me when I needed it most. And so I got confidence to move on through the rest of my sabbatical observations, and then ultimately to the beach house on Sanibel to crumple on the beach. I didn't crumple as much as rest. Riding the bike to the beach, to the lighthouse, to a restaurant.

After this quick weekend with L in DC, I was home a few days, and then I headed out to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the National Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Immersion in my field after a year of barely thinking about it. It was very easy to put this aside while being with my father, and focusing on our relationship and being a manager of his care.  I felt like a fish out of water at this conference.  I was comfortable in that I chose appropriate attire, took the time to look well, chose the sessions that appealed to me and SOD the rest. I don't yammer, kibbutz, gossip. I've been with only very small groups of people over the past 18 months, and large groups discomfit me. Especially the beasts of the singing world. Teachers of singers are of two ilks: 1> Active singers who also maintain active studio adn 2>Over the hill teachers who are past their prime in all avenues. the navigation of these events is tricky, and networking can be a nightmare. HOWEVER. My friend helped introduced me to some great people, and I met some on my own. Overall, the sessions I attended fired my soul, validated my own pedagogical beliefs, and I left feeling good!

But, my god, I was ready to get out of Mormonville and away from  the NATS cliques. Back home.

My husband made  a pile of mail with my name or my father's name....I know what's there..taxes due to the town for the house that hasn't sold, a few smaller bills for other maintenance (and helpful assistance), and something from the IRS about which I am fuming. Said Middle man made some sort of error, aftr charging me quite the fee for tax prep..the IRS is claiming they are owed more money.. AH, I am just venting, because I have taken a much needed break from the estate.

But reality calls in these piles of my mail, my estate checking account. And we are now planning a trip east to my father' house to clean out the attic and the garage and decide what to do with the wine collection and all the books. I cannot think straight where this is concerned. My heart is racing, my anxiety is at an 8,only to increase as we begin to book plane fares, schedule the dumpster, trying to leave room for the intense emotion that will surely accompany this job.I wish we were able to stay in the cradle of our friends' house, but it is not to be this time. There is much to do in addition to the manual labor; i need to meet with the accountant dude who has been incommunicado for over two weeks after a question I asked.  I need to meet with the banker, who has been the most wonderful person in this post mortem journey, and to pay the arborist who had better make one HELL of a difference for the price he is charging.

All this by the time we hit August....because I have to get ready to come off sabbatical "excited" to be back. Not. And face all the barely sincere comments " Sorry to hear about your father, " and "How was your sabbatical?" "Are your fired up to be back?"  I would have given the first of these questions a little more slack if cards or flowers had been sent by the department, or independently. How was my sabbatical? I watched my father die. How do you think it was? Am I fired up to be back? I am  looking forward to a diversion from the grief. But fired up to put up with the toxic bullshit that pervades our department? I will have NONE of it. I will be much more mindful about what I will and will not do. ANd I am blessed that I have the ability to this as needed. I don't need these thoughtless colleagues digging into my barely healed wound. I need a comeback line to shut them down.

Well, there's more on this, but the ambien is taking over...love to my friends. <3