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Another addiction

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I’m going to talk about something very private, something I am not proud of, but secrets keep us sick and its time I came out about this.

I have become a binge TV watcher.

Now, to  be honest,  I have not always been ashamed of this particular vice (and time suck). In fact  I have  prided myself on the shows that I have binged on  in the past. But those binges were different, at least in my mind, justifiable. I think Dexter was my first and then Friday Night Lights. There were others, shows I had heard about and idly caught up to  a few episodes at a time over a course of weeks. Being cable shows they were usually no more than 13 episodes long, and I would watch a few here and there, in order but in my own time.  Nurse Jackie, the first season of House Of Cards, Boardwalk Empire. I was very good at controlling my habit. Some, Like Homeland and Girls, I even watch week-to-week.

Something changed last year however, a switch was flipped,  and things are different now.  It started with Game Of Thrones. I was in the midst of getting my home ready to sell and I got sick, really sick. I could do nothing but lie around trying to breathe and so I figured I would try and figure out how my Apple TV worked and finally watch something everyone was telling me too. And so I did and Game Of Thrones got me by the balls (metaphorically. Obviously). I descended into that hellish world and ended up binge-watching all 3 seasons in ONE week.  Frankly, I blame those fucking Lannisters, but be that as it may, something shifted. It was …different.

Once I moved and settled into my new apartment I found  more time on my hands, and it seemed logical that I headed for the TV once again.  However, my habit had been growing stronger while I was busy doing other things and, well, that’s what they say, isn’t it?  Last year I slowly enjoyed  and savored House Of Cards. This season?  Binged on it like a half gallon of ice cream.  Watched 2, watched 5, watched 5 and, with great hardship but not wanting it to end I waited 4 whole days before succumbing to the final 2 episodes. I watched Sherlock on Masterpiece theatre, 6 episode in less than a week. Luther and Call The Midwife on BBC America, equally as fast. Any spare time I had would find me in front of the TV, feeding my beast. And it has come back to bite me hard, because now that I am caught up, well…I have to wait for more.  I found out this painful truth on Sunday night after yoga when I settled into the Game Of Thrones premiere and…..it was over. In an hour. And there are no more until next week. Can you say jonesing?

But this  new one is different, this new binge obsession. First of all, it’s network TV.  Call me a snob, but I am not proud of that.  I haven’t watched network TV in years (well, besides DVR’d episodes of SYTYCD).  It’s also CBS, a station into whose demographics I actually fall. It’s hard for me to admit to not being able to stop watching a CBS drama while I have friends expounding on the intense mood that Jane Campion sets in Top Of The Lake ( I’ve seen most of those, but House Of Cards came back and now…)  Even with the advent of the DVR, it’s still a pain in the ass fast forwarding  through tons of commercials.   Of course, I am not yet at the actual network phase, because I have 4 seasons to catch up on. Hulu Plus offers almost commercial free watching, but you can’t fast-forward through the few they do have on there.

But this event TV network show  has me fully locked into its unholy embrace. I swear I can’t quit it. And by that I mean I just finished all of seasons 1 and 2 (and remember, network = 23, not 10 to 13 episodes!) in the last couple of weeks , and am almost finished with  season 3 .  As I am writing this I can feel the urgent pull of the TV set and Hulu Plus enticing me to get back on the couch, ON THE COUCH DAMMIT!  and back into it’s seductive arms. The show owns me. The only thing stopping me is that I have yoga in an hour, but when I get home? The last 3 episodes of season 3 are MINE! (UPDATE: 5 episodes later I am typing this. Finished Season 3 and am 2 into Season 4. *sigh*)

What is this show, this crack that won’t loosen its grips on me?

I am obsessed with The Good Wife.

There, I said it (well, technically wrote it but…)!

I am addicted to this show.  I am obsessed with those moments when Alicia finally shows some emotion (if the botox allows). I am entranced by  how slimy ( and surprisingly sexy) Eli can be. Will Carey ever stop with the smirk?  Who will Calinda seduce next and why, to what end? Then there is Chris Noth, er Peter, who I am just obsessed with period. Friends have told me for years to watch , egging me on, “just watch one, you’ll see it’s goooood…”‘.  Well, I finally gave in. I took the bait and now  I feel addicted, my thought patterns latching on to that  “oh, just one more episode ” thinking  and I am lost. Last night I got home fairly late and figured I’d watch one. ONE. Well, that slippery slope led me to 4 episodes and  bed at 2 am.

I am well and truly hooked, and, dare I admit it?  happily. I know future seasons will continue to be good;  those same friends  who hooked me have told me, andI believe them, oh yes I do. I know there is a big surprise death in season 5 which  I have careful avoided learning about, although I have plenty of ideas. (UPDATE: I went searching to see what season we are in now so I could gauge how much more I had to see and, unsurprisingly, there was a spoiler in a google headline. Oh well, my least favorite character. Does that sound cold, callouss,  maybe a little too David Lee?)

I guess it could be worse. The Good Wife is a well written, well acted,dramatic and entertaining show,  with gripping courtroom story lines. I love the way characters weave in and out through the seasons, the continuity is perfect. I am having a blast with this one, much better than Breaking Bad or The Wire, both of which I started and just could not watch, way too dark for me.

I’m a little worried though.  It is going to end, much sooner than I will be ready, I’m sure. Maybe a new Masterpiece Theatre will save me, return to me a modicum of my lost self respect. But I am worried, I have heard rumblings of how I might like Scandal, or Nashville…

God help me.

 

 

 

April 1 (tightrope)

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Today would have been my 25th  wedding anniversary had my husband not died.

We used to have a joke. We laughed that we got married so late in life (really? we were children!) that our 10th anniversary would be like our 25th and our 25th like our 50th. (We had just shy of 17)

As I am writing this I just have to gasp at how ridiculous that is. I mean, I am young, I could easily live another 25 years. We could have easily hit 50 years.

I walk a tightrope every day, navigating the world. I don’t tell people a lot about it because I do not believe for one minute most people will understand it, I don’t trust people (except the ones I do) and I don’t want helpful hints…about this. No one knows about this.

I know I don’t want to live another 25 years though. I am chilled to the bone remembering this joke; it’s not funny now, with him gone. The last 8 years have been a balancing act that I have been semi-successful at, the semi starting in the last 3 years when I finally stopped drinking.  Now I find myself alone in an apartment that I basically don’t have to leave if I don’t want to, amidst stuff that brings me no joy. When I do leave I have sweet friends and can be distracted by yoga and meetings and my volunteering….all things that give me joy and  add meaning to my life. But enough?

I come home alone  and that has been ruined for me.  I found someone to come home to, with, and it was good. Before Tom I treasured my alone time, but I’m tired of it now, exhausted by it. It gets harder to fight off the maybe’s and the what if’s  and the fuck-its when I am alone now. It’s exhausting staying on the tightrope when I am here alone, and looking down the line; seeing the years of balancing ahead  makes me want to slip off, pay less attention to my footing. Why am I fighting? What is the purpose, what is the pay-off?

I get it, this is a particularly depressing post. I am particularly depressed. Since Saturday afternoon, when I decided I would finally attack the boxes of picture that I dragged over here from the house, that are taking up way too much room in my closet, I have been in the pits, the “slough of despair” (I remember that from Little Women or something). I went through them for an hour and then spent an hour on the tightrope, balancing my need to walk across to the street to the very conveniently located liquor store ,with my knowledge that doing that would not help. Just like living alone, the drinking has been ruined for me.  I know it won’t work, just like I know how lovely it is to live with someone. See how that works?  Two disparate ideas come together in my head and turn to shit.

The slough lasted longer than usual and the usual tricks didn’t work. Finally 7 or 8 binged episodes of The Good Wife got me enough out of my head to go to sleep. I can hear the shouted advice…”call someone”, ” go to a meeting”,  “pray”….I did it all, well, not the meeting because, frankly, I didn’t trust myself to leave the house. I’ve been hungover ever since. I’ve talked to people, and gone to yoga and lead my grief group and binged on more TV and the internet and all of those things distract me.

But I still have to step on that wire, that thin line I walk and which gets thinner still on a day like today. And I still am sitting here alone, with no prospect of that changing any time  soon.

And I really don’t like it and today I am railing against it, out loud because I can.

My last post was titled “What Do I Want?”

I am still asking the question, less specific and yet more important. What do I want? What don’t I want? How much am I willing to stand? Where do I go from here?

(How fucking dramatic is it possible for me to be…don’t answer that!)

 

I’m through here, breathe a sigh of relief.

I will leave you with a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver. It’s National Poetry Month. That’s distracting….

and I will Rave On for now.

 

A Pretty Song

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.

Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
This isn’t a playground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.

Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods
that hold you in the center of my world.

And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song,
And I say to my heart: rave on.

by Mary Oliver

 

 

 

What Do I Want?

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That’s the great enigma for me now.

What do I want in general, and what do want  this blog to be in particular?

I’m asking because I am admitting to more and more people that I do this, handing out my “secret” address and am considering opening it up even more

So far it has been by invite only or  my random  friends finding it. No pushing, not FB or twitter connection, no effort. I just write.. Maybe I just spew.

But does that work? I am all over the place on this blog and most blogs tend to have a theme. Mine could be sobriety and grief, but then there’s yoga and spirituality and searching and dating and so many other things…life, I guess. Is it confusing to people?

Is that s good blog theme?

I don’t have the cute kids stories, or the husband stories…

I’m older and live alone.

I date, I don’t drink,I am reinventing myself in my later  years….I imagine there are more post to be mined there.

 

I guess I am writing this because I don’t know what to do. Like I said if you searched me, my name, this blog would not come up. It’s been private and I have used that level of private to write what I want and not hold back a lot. Would I have to change that? Would I be more wary, more circumspect in what I write? But then, why write, if it’s not the truth, if I can’t be vulnerable?

It’s a conundrum I guess, and one that I might like to solicit some input from all of you on.

I worry about shocking certain friend and family. I worry about being googled by a dating prospect and having them find this and dismiss me right off the bat…it has happened,and why I went private in the first place.

Do I need a narrower path? I like sobriety and grief because those are areas I can be helpful in,  but  I also like to be funny and pithy and, frankly, entertain myself as well as get out my angst.  I want to delve more into essay writing on particular subjects, lists, stories about specific events and who knows what else. I’d like to add more music and poetry and quotes to illustrate my themes.

I am really pondering all of this right now. I still have my storytelling goals too, and need this as a place to practice, hone them for maybe reading them somewhere. I have been looking into venues for that….too afraid to submit but that won’t always be the case, certainly.

I feel at a crossroads…either leave this small and solitary or open it up, let my truth out, let people know what I am doing. It’s a hard and scary proposition, and one I don’t make lightly. Input would help.

What do you like,and NOT like  about my blog and what I write? Themes that I wrote about, do they work? Is it too unfocused ? I am not looking for anything but the truth here, so don’t worry, I’m not easily offended and am seriously asking for feedback. And all of you…I know some of you by your real names, but does everyone? Do you tweet new posts, FB the info? Are you out as YOU?  I am curious as to why or why not.

There is a huge part of me that is just saying “fuck-it”, let’s put it out there, I have nothing to lose. Yet maybe I do? Maybe I haven’t thought of all I have to lose.

And maybe, like I said, it doesn’t matter. I can do what I want, throw caution to the wind, write my truth and let whatever happens happen. Why not?

Why?

GO!….

 

Making My Bed

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I just finished making my bed.

Not the every-day making of the bed, but the washed -all -the- sheets -start- from- scratch making.

Started at 2pm, its now 2:45. I have taken 3 Advils and am seriously contemplating chocolate.

I also have 2 broken fingernails (and one toenail?) that occurred during the ordeal that I just noticed as I sit here typing.

Of course, there are the teary eyes, borne out of frustration with the task at hand and grief at remembering how it used to be.

It’s these kind of things, simple, everyday actions and  chores, that will blindside me more often than anything overt anymore. Not every time, sometimes. Little scavenger hunts from hell  that I don’t realize I am on until, boom! Surprise! grief again.

I have a California King sized bed. A two person bed. When I moved here I was committed to finally getting rid of it, getting a new, comfy and cozy queen sized, one person bed. For all the years since Tom died I had, literally, slept on “my” side of the bed. I tried his side, the middle, combinations, but it never worked for me and so I thought a new bed would be the answer. I was talking to another widow friend and she said that “sounded like giving up”. It was true, to an extent. I couched it in being more comfy, but as time goes on and dating gets more cumbersome and complicated, I can see that there was some leaning toward the inevitable and depressing idea that I would be alone forever. I began to reconsider based on her argument, and then, as expenses started piling up, the idea of not having to spend any more money became quite enticing, and the decision was made for me.

It’s actually been great though. Since I moved here I sleep all over the bed, my side, his side, the middle. I guess the change of venue helped, and now it actually feels like my bed and I am really glad I kept it. I got new bedding and a comforter and pillows and I make it every day and switch out the pillows for different looks and enjoy it  a lot.

EXCEPT when I have to change the sheets. The bed is huge. The bed is heavy. The bed is a two person job. I remember making it with Tom, 5 minutes, done. Easy. I remember making it and immediately jumping into it occasionally, sometimes mid-day…the enticement of being there with him and he with me enough to keep us there to mess it all up again.

I used to change the sheets a LOT more often when we were together. I’m a girl, I’m clean, I sleep alone…. now I can put it off and often do just because of the sheer enormity of the job. There is still nothing like crawling into bed at night with clean sheets however, even alone, and so I have that to look forward to as the tears fade, the Advil starts to work and I get back into the acceptance of what is and what will never be again.

This is grief though. The constant ordinariness of it now.  Sure there are dates that loom large, but they don’t get at me anymore like the simple, ordinary things I have lost. I wish I had to wash my sheets and change my bed more often. I wish that I could laugh while changing the bed instead of sweat and grunt and curse and break fingernails.

I’m not down for the count; I still hold on to what my friend said about giving up. I’m not ready to give up, and maybe, one day, the fact that I am now loving this bed for me will be less of a reason than  that it is big enough for two again.

Right now I am fighting my urge to drop into it; I am exhausted. Making it, grieving it, all hard work. A very different kind of jumping into a freshly made bed.

So, chocolate. And yoga in a little while. A good dinner and some more binge TV and then climbing into a freshly laundered and made bed.

Mine, with me.

 

March 21 (Sacred Day)

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“WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP, IN ORDER TO BECOME WHO YOU REALLY NEED TO BE?”

(Elizabeth Gilbert)

Good question, no?

I like that it says “need” instead of “want”

I want a lot of things but need very little, and  this gets clearer and clearer to me as I let go of things.

This year has been a lesson in letting go. Selling the house, my son moving out, moving into a small apartment, letting go, letting go. Downsizing involves so much letting go, giving away, selling ,sorting ,deciding and it is really exhausting. I was exhausted for a very long time after moving and I think I am really just starting to pull out of that.

In the same way I let go of things I also adopted new things, a yoga practice, meditation, a habit of binge TV watching, a need to get rid of more, do with less, decide what is truly important. An introspective mindset that is different for me. Realizing my limitations and trying to work past them, succeeding (or not) and continuing to slog on

“FIRST THE GESTURE THEN THE GRACE”

(Karin L. Burke from her blog Whiskey and Porn for Everyone)

It’s all in the action,isn’t it? The doing. Without the doing the grace cannot follow, at least for me. I learn by doing. Always have. Once I am willing to take the necessary steps to actually DO something it gets done, but I am a procrastinator by nature so doing is not always easy. I think about things a long time, research, plan, plot and make small forays into action but never really deliver the goods.

Until I do.  That’s me…..strugge, struggle, whine, sorry for myself, can’t do it, must do it.ok, WILL do it and then…

Phew. Grace.

I don’t know what happened on Thanksgiving day 2010, except that I heard a voice, loud and clear that said I was going to die like this.

My bottom, my sacred bottom.

I don’t know what happened on March 21, 2011. The stars aligned, I guess. I had been researching and complaining and feeling sorry for myself and miserable and scared for 4 months (longer, truthfully, but I didn’t KNOW before that Thanksgiving), and on that day, the gesture was made, the grace won.

My first, my Day One…my big deal.

And everything that has happened since has been a progression, not always great or fast or easy or anything else but forward….always forward. Incrementally better. 

That is what I was willing to give up to get what I need. I wanted to continue to drink, but I needed to stop. The freedom of these last three years has been unbelievable. It may not look like that on the outside, but inside? a sea-change. I always refer to my head as my monkey mind, the way it swirls and twirls and gets in my way, but that’s ok. That monkey that was riding around on my back is gone. The one that told me I had to drink, that it could never be better, that this was how I was going to die.  I believed that monkey until I shook it off and realized there was another way.

What happened that night, when I came home from a 12 step meeting and it occurred to me that if I went to bed, right now (9:30 pm), that I would have made it through a day without a drink? What happened every day since that day that has allowed me to keep that sacred day one? I can answer the second part easier because I know the work I have put into maintaining my sobriety. The first day? Something outside of me for sure, me but not me. When I look back I have to come to the conclusion that the universe has my best interests at heart, no matter how I have felt in the past. That if I stay aligned to my highest self, the flow, a HP, whatever you want to call it, that things will continually get better as I take action towards some future…

I have a friend who, on  her gratitude list, always says that she is grateful  that “she has no idea how good life can get”.

Me too. Me too.

(If you are reading this and think you might have a problem with alcohol, please know that I understand. That I am happy to help if you’d like to contact me.  I don’t only write about sobriety, but I would not be able to write anything if I wasn’t sober.  Most importantly, please know that there IS a solution, that you don’t have to feel so desperate and defeated , sick and sad anymore.

And know that you are NEVER alone, not ever.)

I Went To A Garden Party…

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I did not grow up gardening.  I always joked about my brown thumb. I could never keep a house plant, they  always died immediately upon entering my space.  I just resigned myself to that idea. (just as I resigned myself to being unable to bake, and am still quite happily resigned to that)

When Tom and I bought our house the yard  was very lush and green and needed no gardening other than the paid mow and blow and keeping the hedges in some sort of respectable overgrown order.  At one point, however, we had to take out several trees.   There was one pine that grew directly in front of our house in a small triangle plot that was among those that had to go.  With that tree gone the little triangle looked very sad and I had the idea that maybe,  just maybe, I could plant there.

And so I  did. Enthusiastically, with great love and joy and no little trepidation.

At first I looked for plants I liked, with  no thought to whether there was the proper light or shade or whatever…I just planted. I had to learn that some plants couldn’t live in that plot because of the sun or lack thereof, and so  I branched out to pots, and  there were pots filled with different shade plants on the front stoops and the back covered porch area.  I really loved it.  I never had much of a plan other than oh Tom likes Snapdragons and I like Sunflowers and the kid can plant these and that was about as big as my plan ever got.  I remember my friends reactions, it was so unlike of me. Supportive and skeptical.  My friend Cheri, at a poker game ( which was more my speed) one night laughed hysterically as I described my day “deadheading” plants .  The idea that I would use a “tech” term such as deadheading was pretty funny at the time.

I did find myself as the years went by making the plantings a bit purposeful, symmetrical. But the flowers, annuals,  were always were switched out based on  whim and for how they looked, their colors, the weather,and the ways in which they made me happy.  I tried doing some bulb planting one year when I was bequeathed a few iris bulbs from a dear friend who died. I believe I started with 3 bulbs, and by the time I sold my house last year there had to have been 20 Iris that bloomed every year, actually taking up most of the plot and making it hard for me to sprinkle others in. They were Margaret’s Iris and I loved them. ( A weird aside about those Iris, they bloomed purple/blue every year and then one year, there was an orange one and then another…how did that happen? I never googled it or even asked.  It is one of those mysteries that I am sure has a logical explanation but I don’t care. I always thought of it as Margaret keeping me on my toes, giving me a giggle.)

Right before my open house last June I attacked the plot, which, except for the Iris, was  a mess of neglect and sorrow. I went out and bought a bunch of plants to pot and to plant. The back looked nice, the front porch had some beautiful Hydrangea and the little triangle had blooming Iris and all sorts of other plants….Gerbera Daisy, Ranunculus , Zinnias among whatever I else I could throw in there for random, vibrant, “curb appeal” color. I had thought to make it more sensible for the open house, but I also knew that it was going to be the last time I would plant there and so I  just had fun. It looked great and cheery and “staged” the front yard nicely.

And then I moved to my current apartment.  I have a little  balcony, a place that I can plant a few pots, not a real garden but something. It was a selling point for the place (made up 10 times over for the fact that I  have to go downstairs and share a washing machine and dryer!).  Anyway,  I had  brought some pots and some Iris, but then kind of forgot about it. I would sit out there on a hot night and wish for plants but I didn’t have the energy and I also knew they wouldn’t last well in the heat, so I didn’t plant anything new.  I looked forward to planting some pots in the spring, and hoped the Iris would bloom (that’s not looking good, just not enough sun for them. Sorry Margaret!)

Spring is here now and the other day I went to Target and bought some potting soil.  I  also stopped at the gardening center and  bought a few plants, some that  I know from experience would do well in the shade. I used this time as my “artist date” for my work in The Artist Way, the 12 week program I am still doing diligently (haven’t written much about it…gotta say it’s good and interesting but a little meh..).

Here’s the thing I wanted to write about. And yes, it’s grief again,  but it’s a bit different.

As I walked through Target and into the gardening section, past all of the patio furniture and the pots and the things needed for planting I just got so sad. Crying sad. The crying in public sad, where you bite your lip and breathe hard and tear up but do not allow the deep sobs to come because WTF would that mean?  I pictured my triangle. I pictured all the pots I left behind with my dear neighbor Carole, that I hope she’s using. I pictured the Iris bulbs blooming in the little plot of earth for someone else, and those on my balcony that are not getting enough sun and will certainly never bloom. I pictured my back patio and the pots lined up with Impatiens and Begonias and how sweet it  was to look out the back window while sitting at my table .  I remembered the way I felt after planting, which was generally the need for 4 advils and a heating pad, but I didn’t care, not at all, not a whit. Because…. my triangle, my pots, my planting, my little beauty. And it made me really sad and made me miss my house and the way I had learned to plant there.

The thing I didn’t think of?  Tom, our life, what I lost there.   Obviously  I think of that plenty, but this was another loss…a loss of the years that it  was MY house only, MY garden only. I missed MY house, not ours. I missed My garden and my space to plant.

It felt like some kind of shift, or at least another way of looking at things. I lived in that house for  almost 22 years, but only 14 with Tom. While that is a chilling thought it also allows me to miss my house. A place I hated for a long time, was so sad in, drank away demons in  and ignored a lot…but it was mine. And I do miss it.

Especially my triangle, my experiment in gardening, my little plot of land that really was all mine, even when it was ours.

And now I am off to find some more plants. The Begonia and Impatiens are lovely, but the balcony definitely needs some Hydrangea. Not “the balcony”. My balcony, my new triangle garden.

Life in 6 Songs: Vol. 2 (Michele and Krista)

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mishedup:

Hey guys…..
Christy asked me to do this and it was SO fun. My first reaction was “6 songs? impossible, I need 60000000!”. But you know what? They came to me so easily when I just sat quietly and thought about it for a minute. Try it yourself, it’s a fun exercise!

Thanks Christy…smooch!!

Originally posted on Running On Sober:

In six songs, tell us about your life. 

You remember that challenge from last week, don’t you? If not, stop by and take a look, or I’ll quickly catch you up below:

Life in 6 Songs” is a new Spring (and maybe Summer) series at Running On Sober. Each Monday at RoS, Christy, Jennie and Michelle will feature two readers’ soundtracks and invite you all to join in the discussion. If you’d like to participate in the series just let us know in the comments, or you are welcome to fill out our “Life in 6 Songs” on-line submission form via Google Forms. 

The project is simple, though maybe not easy: Tell us a story–your story–in six songs. And then for fun, wrap up your life in a bonus seventh song.

A page from the “Capirola Lutebook”, 16th century. (Wiki Commons)

A page from the “ Capirola Lutebook ,” 16th century.
Look, it has monkeys!

Back when “Life…

View original 1,891 more words

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