Maybe This Year Will Be Better

I need to do something while I wait for my bed linens to finish washing and drying. Video games aren’t cutting it, and my head hurts too much for anything seriously creative, so why not just start here?

It’s an hour and three minutes into 2021. I want to write a few paragraphs on that but … what’s the point? 2020 was a truly awful year, ending with me realizing I’m not going to get a check any time soon because I never thought to change my IRS direct deposit info after I closed out the bank account they have on file – and with me taking a trip to the vet with my lil Kimble, poor girl who has been fading ever since her human walked out the door and broke her heart along with everyone else’s.

I put it off for months, that trip. I’d talk myself into it, and then right back out of it just as quickly. Monday was the final straw, a rough start to the day that left me with the knowledge that it wasn’t fair to either of us to keep her going. It seemed fitting, too, the only available appointment was the last one on the last day of the year – might as well cap off 2020 with one more death, yes? Maybe it would appease whatever was behind such a year of loss.

I lost my mother, my cat, my sanity, my precarious financial security. And still I’m grateful, because I didn’t lose everything. I still have my kids. I still have my car, a roof over my head, the hope of possibilities. I really wanted to be in a new place by now but that’s one more thing the year couldn’t deliver on, but … soon. Please Gods soon.

~*~

I just put the sheets on, and for the first time in at least 15 years I didn’t have to chase a five pound menace off the bed to do it.

I’m too tired to cry any more. My head hurts too much. And to be honest, I don’t think I have any tears left. Not now. Soon enough, I’m sure – likely a few hours from now, when she isn’t sitting on the piano and yelling at me as I come down the hall to feed her and the pooch.

~*~

I want to text him, send him the picture I took of his dead cat. Hey look, you worthless motherfucker. Another old woman dead from the heartbreak you caused.

(And for the record, because who the fuck takes pictures of a dead cat? – I did it for Jonathan, at his request. He needed to see her dead body, and since I wasn’t going to bring her back to bury her, or even get her ashes, there wasn’t much else to do but snap some. I took a few, starting with the IV, showing him the process. I didn’t come right out and say ‘this is the doctor giving her a lethal injection and killing her’. I found the right words to say to make it easier, for both of us, without having to outright lie or couch it in stupid euphemisms. Here she is getting the IV, here’s the doctor listening to her heart, here is her dead body.)

(The vet told me I’m a good mom, to both my son and my pets. I sobbed and told her I really don’t feel like I am.)

Anyway.

I haven’t heard from him in … fuck I don’t even know how long. It was either late October or maybe early November when I texted him and asked if he could send me some money, that it was time for Kim to go and I was too broke to do it. That was the conversation in which he casually mentioned needing surgery but being unable to get the financing for it because every place wanted my information as well.

(Which, I’m going to call bullshit on, because I filled out a lot of financial forms in the last 18 months and not a single time was I asked for his info)

Anyway

He casually mentioned it and I shot it down fast because not just no but fuck no. “I have to buy a house here in a few months,” I told him. Which was true at the time, but still. The real reason was I just got my credit score out of the dumpster and no fucking way would I tank it again by taking on his fucking bills.

And so he said, well I might have to file for divorce then and I cheerfully said ok, do whatever you need.

I think he got his feelings hurt. Awww.

So. Anyway. Not a peep since then, not even to ask about Christmas gifts for his son or lie about sending them. I’m waiting for a text asking about the stimulus check (and will he be pissed af about the bank account and having to wait to request a paper check? Oh you betcha.)

I figure if he hasn’t gotten in touch in the next week or so I’ll have to start digging around and see if he’s dead from the ‘Rona. I go back and forth on hoping he is.

I don’t want him dead, not really. And the idea of him dying from it, alone and scared and cut off from everyone who ever loved him … hfs that hurts. That’s as bad as taking the cat to the vet.

But his death would guarantee a better life/living situation for the son he’s so easily abandoned.

~*~

Ok, last load in the dryer. Almost there.

I keep thinking about resolutions. About what I want to accomplish this year. Right now I ain’t got a thing, barely even some vague ideas.

I had so many plans for last year. What’s funny is I did manage to accomplish several big things, but they got swallowed up by the whale of the year. I don’t know if I should try to top those things, or just keep my head down and take whatever comes my way.

It feels weird to not be signed up and digging into the January art challenge I’ve done so many previous years, but I know that’s just a stupid idea. I struggled to get it done last year, and that was with little going on. This year I’ve got to sell a house, pack and move, hopefully all by the end of the month. And with no other adult in the house to pick up my slack … yeah, not going to happen.

I do know tomorrow morning I’m going to step on the scale and see how much damage I’ve done in the last few months of insanity. One thing I’m definitely carrying over from last year is the knowledge that I am 5x as likely to get cervical cancer, and the only way I can drop that down to 2x is lose some weight. It’s not a negotiable, not when I’m all J has.

So. Lose weight. Don’t start smoking again. Maybe try to write for 20 minutes a day. Make some art. Get this fucking place packed up and ready to go, so when it is time to move it will be quicker and easier. Get shit sorted while I’m packing it up so when the dust settles I can jump right into making things and getting the shop out of the dust hole it’s trapped in.

Put this fucking blog to use. That’s a good one.

But for now, I’m so tired I’m ready to cry from sheer exhaustion so …

Today I’m grateful for the family that helped me get through yesterday.

For Lisa the therapist.

For Chester’s Puffcorn.

For music. For video games. For words and the ability to use them.

For how much J had grown in the last few months.

For how good it’s going to feel when I lay down.

For the idea that maybe this year will be better than the last.

Missing

It’s one of those thing I knew from reading, not from personal experience. Grief is like an old shoe left on the floor to randomly trip over. I told this to my niece when her husband went on down the road too young and too soon. I told her she’d keep finding things to grieve over long after the initial pain was gone.

I started to understand this on a personal level after my husband left – he walked out the door instead of dying, but there was still a shoe left on the floor. Or in the closet, the box of Christmas decorations, the sound of Gentlemen, start your engines.

But I still didn’t *get* it. Not until now, this day, 18 hours shy of seven weeks down another road. I knew the Tupperware container would be hard. I didn’t know it would be this hard.

I miss my mom.

~*~

The other grief is different – the knowledge of just how much he took from me when he left has always been tempered with my bone deep gratitude that he’s gone. I tripped over memories, I cried at what was lost – but none of it ever made me think I wish he was here again. I wish I could share this moment with him. I never feel sad when I fix food he would love to eat – only savagely glad that I don’t have to share it with him.

I’m writing this to put off making mashed potatoes. The Tupperware bowl sits in the refrigerator, full of stock waiting to become gravy, waiting to be emptied so I can fill it with the food she loved. Her last few months it was damn near all she’d eat, illness and age robbing her of the joy of food, the healthy teeth to eat it with.

Taters and gravy, my eternal comfort food, and that’s what I want now, as I sit alone and wonder how I’m going to take care of things feeling as exhausted as I do. The blood work is no surprise, only a solid clue as to why I’m always so fucking tired. Taters and gravy and right now it’s the only thing I want to eat but the idea of making them is exhausting. The idea of how much I’ll cry doing it only doubles down on this garbage hand I’m holding.

Knowing I was making them for her would give me the energy to just do it. I had to take care of her, yes? Had to fix the one food I knew she’d eat because someone as thin as she couldn’t afford to skip meals.

The sound of the cat – who is also dying – coming down the hall is bad enough that I’ve assumed it would be the worst. It sounds so much like Anna Catherine’s little slippered feet coming down the hall, bringing her to me to talk, to ask me if I’ve heard the day’s hot garbage news, to tell me what my sister said during their twice daily phone calls.

No. It’s the funky eyesore of a late 70’s/early 80’s Tupperware container, the one that always held the massive serving of mashed potatoes that would feed her for a week. It was often too heavy for her to lift from the shelf but she could open it, could use her mangled hands well enough to serve herself, do as much for herself as she was able. I never knew what she hated more, not being able to do simple things like cook for herself or relying on her chronically ill daughter to take care of her.

I’m better off that he’s gone. She’s better off being gone. I don’t know how I ever thought the two things could be the same.

Red Like a Heartbeat

I won’t apologize for the lack of a quality photo – getting any snap of this guy is a miracle. He sees me coming with the camera and that’s it.

Starting NaPo a day early, with the prompt of: your favorite bird. It’s not a great poem, but it is a poem, as finished as I can get in a day’s time. That counts, just like the photo.

Cardinal Hearts

I used to think it was the color
the brightest red given movement and flight,
Or maybe the notes as bright as the feathers,
everything birdsong should be.

But now I think maybe it’s more:
If you see him his girl is nearby.
Bright beauty isn’t for him, isn’t his
badge of pride. Bright red like a
heartbeat, he draws the attention
simply to keep his love safe.

Running on Empty

Oh it has been shamefully long this time. My first post of the year and we’re over two weeks in. In my defense I’ve been stupidly busy.

I don’t even know where to start. Every January I participate in a month of challenges for The Lilypad – my plan was to update the blog every day with my piece for the day. That tanked when I got behind pretty much straight out of the gate. It took forever to get caught up and it didn’t even last. I’m behind again, worse this time.

It’s not quite my own doing; this is the first year I’m having to work the challenges in around trying to make money and being the sole caretaker for the house and occupants. It never fails, when I finally do get around to opening Gimp, someone or something needs my attention.

But aside from all that, I am hamstringing myself to one degree or another. Instead of just getting each challenge done I’m stressing myself over making it *art*. I want each one to be a masterpiece and when it isn’t, I double down on the next one – and I do this knowing that the harder I try the further away I get.

Anyway, I’m here, I’m queer and I’ll post most of what I have so far (I’ll forgo the really crappy ones)

I was going to add more, talk a bit about the ones I really like, but it’s 3 am and I’m yawning my head off. I can’t yet go to bed but I can go work on the next one – see if I can get a bit more caught up. Probably not, but this next one is not too difficult so maybe.