Sunday, February 19, 2012

Music, music, I hear music

Don't forget, tomorrow is Hoodie-Hoo Day! I wait alll year for this thing, and it's so silly, but I love it.

Went running today, preparing for the Shamrock run next month.  I also made Chocolate Stout Cupcakes:

They're soooooo gooooood.

I've started playing the guitar again. I say this like I was ever really good at it, but it used to make me happy.  So I stole my sister's guitar, tuned it and started figuring out "Life's a Gas" from tab. I went with T. Rex mostly because I love T. Rex, but because Bolan didn't know more than four or five chords, and that's about where I'm at. Other songs I used to know have been rapidly coming back to me, though only in bits and pieces. The Man is giving us a "we're doing super" bonus with our next paycheck, so I'm going to buy myself an acoustic. My sister's Epiphone is great, but I want/need something with a narrower neck. Something more fitting for my hamster hands.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If I just get through this night

I've always hated valentines day. Single, dating, doesnt matter: it's fucking stupid.

I'm not too proud to admit that a part of me hates it for more personal reasons. It's particularly hard this year. I keep getting reminded of the fact that I'm this old and no one has ever been in love with me. I've never been someone somebody couldn't live without, and that hit me hard recently.

There must be something fundamentally unloveable about me. It's not that I'm shy and I don't get out much. I was a pretty social person back in the day. I just don't have whatever it is that makes a guy say "I can't let this one go." In fact, I seem to make it easy for people to walk away without looking back, moving on like I never existed or mattered.

Why is that?

I don't know. I thought I was always a pretty kick-ass girlfriend. All I want to do is hang out, listen to music, play video games, watch movies, etc.

Fuck today. I wish I'd taken the night off from work.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Growing pains

Therapy was rough today. I feel drained and jittery and ... exposed. Revisited some places I never wanted to see again. It was hard, but I got through it. Apparently I have a lot of suppressed grief. I guess I let some of that go this afternoon. Right now I just want to curl up in bed and cry. Preferably with someone holding me, but that's never going to happen.

Next appointment is in a week, and I secured sessions for the rest of February. I'm resolved to do what I can to move forward and LIVE.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Words carved into stone

Last week my therapist gave me homework: write a letter to my father. Pour my heart out, tell him about all he has missed.

How do you write a letter to a dead man? After 21 years, more often than not I wonder if he was only a dream. But then in an instant, out of nowhere, I hear his voice clear as day, calling my name. Mostly it's just his laugh, and I always catch myself smiling and I might even stand up to go see what's so funny. My rational mind knows that man is nothing but dust and cloth trapped in a box in a cemetery 2,000 miles away from me. My heart believes he's still in the basement, getting gumballs for me and my sister from his secret stash, and we're about to watch the Muppet Show.

What do you say to a dead man? Too much? Nothing at all? If things had Been different, this wouldn't be so hard. When we found him dead in the basement on Mother's Day, I hadn't spoken to my dad in two weeks. He'd had alcohol-induced seizures and was hospitalized in February. He stopped drinking for a while, but started up again a couple months later. I was mad at him, so I stopped talking to him. I don't even remember the last thing I said to him. The only memory I have of him before he died is of he and I watching Star Trek together.

The day of his funeral, the whole family came back to our house for food and bullshitting. My dad came from a large Irish family; there was a ton of food and even more bullshitting. One of my cousins brought my guitar and amp out of my room and started playing. My sister, my best friend and I wandered outside and stood in the driveway staring up at the sky. It was May, hot and muggy, and though the day had been sunny, clouds were rolling in and it looked like a storm was coming. It seemed fitting, since my dad loved a good thunderstorm. I have a lot of memories of him standing out on the patio during a earth-rattling storm, smoking a cigarette and cheering whenever a good clap of thunder rang out. "Get out here and look at this! The clouds are green! All the hair is standing up on my arms!" I'd be cowering at the screen door going, "Dad, you're gonna die! Get in here before you get blown to Oz!"

I guess once you've seen war, a little hail and thunder doesn't get your heart rate up much.

Standing there on that day, the clouds rolled in and suddenly we were drenched. The rain was warm and somehow comforting. I felt like my dad was there, smiling in the rain. I remember laughing and knowing it was okay and even fitting to laugh only hours after seeing my father's body lowered into the ground and covered with dirt. I could almost hear him light up a cigarette (Benson & Hedges) and say, "I'm dead, Kate. It happens to the best of us."

That was Dad, though. He taught me to laugh in the face of fear. I lost sight of that between Then and Now, but it's coming back to me. I remember how scared I'd be when he drank; not because he was abusive or violent, but because I knew what he was hiding from at the bottom of that bottle. I was scared because the man who was there to love me and keep me safe was terrified and sad and running from something that would always be right there with him. If your parents are afraid, who is going to protect you from monsters? From bad dreams?

But I also remember him making us watch scary movies with him, and he would tease us the whole time. "Ew, that guy looks just like you!" I think that's why Mystery Science Theater 3000 struck such a chord with me and my sister; it was kind of like watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Dad.

So what do I say? Thank you for being my dad and doing the best you could? I love you for always being straight with me? I hate you for giving up? Would you be proud of me as I am today, or would you be disappointed?

I'll never know. It's all just memory and What If's. I thought I'd come to terms with that a long time ago, but when my therapist asked me if I was close to my father, instead of saying yes, I blurted out, "it's my fault he died." Even though I knew it wasn't true, at that moment I was a little girl again, blaming herself for not helping her dad enough so that he wouldn't have to drink. I thought that if I listened to his war stories, they wouldn't bother him anymore. But a kid doesn't have any concept of what war is like except for what they see in movies. I just listened, hoped he felt better and then waited for him to pass out so I could put out his cigarette, turn off the tv and go to bed.

When he died, I said, "Thank god it's over. He's at peace now." His war had ended but I had no idea it had only just begun for me, my mom and my sister. It took a long time for the three of us to come to terms with our loss and the fact that none of us made him an alcoholic. I do know that my mom still blames herself, and nothing I say will change her mind. My whole life, my dad never said a bad word against my mom, even when they having trouble. I wish she would take comfort in that.

As for me, I don't believe there's anything after death. My dad and what made him "Him" is long gone and all that is left is photographs and memories. I never got to say goodbye to him. He died thinking (so I believe) that I hated him, that he was a failure as a husband and father(he wrote as much in some papers we found from when he was in rehab), that he had let us all down. How do I forgive myself for letting my father die thinking I hated him? How do I forgive him for leaving me?

Diatribe Against the Dead

The dead are selfish:
they make us cry and don't care,
they stay quiet in the most inconvenient places,
they refuse to walk, we have to carry them
on our backs to the tomb
as if they were children. What a burden!
Unusually rigid, their faces
accuse us of something, or warn us;
they are the bad conscience, the bad example,
they are the worst things in our lives always, always.
The bad thing about the dead
is that there is no way you can kill them.
Their constant destructive labor
is for the reason incalculable.
Insensitive, distant, obstinate, cold,
with their insolence and their silence
they don't realize what they undo.

-- Angel Gonzalez

Monday, February 6, 2012

Searching for those wasted years.

Yesterday I drove up to Vancouver to watch the superbowl at a friend's house. I haven't cared about football since the Bears won the superbowl in '86, but I jumped at the chance to hang out with my work friends outside of work.  There were six kids there, total, but you never would have guessed it.  The youngest were sleeping, the girls were playing in J's bedroom and H, the oldest boy, was watching the game with us. We had a great time, despite the fact that football is boring as all get out. I don't even remember who played and which team won.

At one point, my friend's son (who is 12) said he wanted to work in radio, and I remembered how when we were kids, my parents gave me and my sister a tape recorder and we would spend hours and hours making up fake radio programs and news broadcasts. One time we had our friends' older brother be a reporter at the scene of a potential mass-suicide.  We sat up on the top bunk of our bunk beds and while he was reporting, we would scream and jump off the bed, landing loudly. We were so twisted! Heehee.  Sometimes we would read stuff out of magazines, but mostly we made shit up right on the spot. One time I made up a distraught character who kept calling into the radio station looking for his friend, Dave. "Is Dave there? He said I could call him here! Dave? DAVE?!" and then I broke down sobbing.

I still have the tapes around somewhere.  There's one from who knows when. I think Sis and I were probably five or six at the time, but I remember it vividly. It was nighttime and we were in our old station wagon driving home from Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom. Sis and I had both either won or bought these little worms that came in a little plastic suitcase. I have no idea why we wanted them, but we REALLY wanted them.  We named them Wormy and Squirmy, and on the way home, I turned on our tape recorder and made up a song about them. I sound like a dog's squeaky toy. Were we ever so young?

Anyway, it just got me thinking about all the things I could have done if I'd believed in myself. In fourth grade, I would do standup on the bus ride home every afternoon. I had one fan. Her name was Beth. In sixth grade, I was (unofficially) voted Class Clown. When I was 13, my grandma took me, my sister and our parents on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas. It was a present for making our confirmation at church.  When we got down to Florida and boarded the ship, we stood around in the lobby for what seemed like hours.  Alan Thicke was there, wearing dark sunglasses and trying to look inconspicuous. My mom had gone off to find the restrooms and when she came back she accidentally hip-checked Mr. Thicke.  When she got back over to us, we were like, "Mom, you just bumped into Alan Thicke!" and she was all, "Who? So what?" Heehee.

It was while we were standing around in the lobby that a man approached our parents and asked if he could use me and my sister for a commercial they were filming. Everybody loves twins, I guess.  Our parents said yes, so we were taken outside with a bunch of strangers and Disney mascots and were filmed walking across the bridge and into the ship about five dozen times (embellishment). It was so fucking boring.  But they shot the commercial and it's out there somewhere.

Before I moved out to Oregon, I'd tracked down a high school friend and we reconnected via online chatting. She and her husband had their own comedy troupe in Chicago, and she said she'd actually been looking for me because she wanted me to join up with them. I was shocked. I never did join, but I helped them write a couple sketches, and I went to one of their shows before I skipped town and headed West.

I think if not for the crippling social anxiety and lack of focus, I probably could have gone into radio or maybe could have written for TV or something. My sister and I have always been good with voices; imitating people, doing accents, etc. When I was editor of my high school lit mag, we all stayed late one afternoon to work on compiling that year's issue, and me and two of the other girls ended up wandering the empty halls. Looking for something, I forget what.  The girls were in drama and were complaining about how they couldn't get their accents right for the play they were putting on. I broke into a New York accent and started yelling, "Norman! Answer the door! Someone's at the door!" and the two girls stopped and were like, "Holy shit! How did you do that??"  I was all, "What? It's not hard."  To this day, 95% of my and my sister's dialog is made up of Kids in the Hall quotes and lots and lots of movies. I still know every word of "The Goonies" by heart.

My sister says I'm a great mimic. I don't see it, but she says it's uncanny.  A few months ago I caught an episode of the Cleveland Show and thought it was hysterical. I had no idea there was a Cleveland Show, so I found my sister and told her about the episode.  The thing is, I did the entire thing in each characters' voice and twice as fast.  I was hurrying because I wanted to get to the end where Cleveland's son says, "Don't tell me to shut up, banana slammer," which is what made me piss myself laughing in the first place. If you asked me to do it again, I probably couldn't. Spur of the moment is a lot easier than on the spot, and I get performance anxiety when I'm asked to repeat myself. If not for that, I probably could have been something.  I coulda been a contender, instead of a bum. Which is what I am.

I need to get back into writing. Not that I don't love you, blogosphere, but it's not the same.  The first short story I ever wrote, I wrote in pen, in a notebook, the night before I started college. Nothing like making insomnia work for you!  The first and only time in my life that I ever got straight A's is when I took Lit classes at the community college. My professor was the first teacher in the nation who had Stephen King novels in his curriculum.  That's why I took the class; it was a study in horror and we covered Stephen King, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, and someone else whose name eludes me. NOT DEAN KOONTZ. He fucking SUUUUCKS and I remember being relieved we weren't going to have to read his drivel. At any rate, I was always the first one done when we were assigned essays or when we had tests. I wrote a paper about a Stephen King novel, I think it was the Dark Tower, and my professor handed it back to me (with a big read A++++) and on the last page he had written, "If I had 30 more students like you, I would forget about early retirement."  He read a lot of my writing and was impressed enough to say he expected to see me on Letterman someday, promoting my first novel. That blew my mind.

Yeah. I really need to get back into writing. I have to get my computer fixed first. Argh.  Ok. Time for bed.