Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Way We Were

He reminds me of a million songs.

The lyrics intertwine with my often derailing train of thought. They chart the evolution of our relationship.

We will begin with “Lover Come Back to Me,” a rendition by Mel Torme. Jerry would sing this snappy tune when we were first dating, before the everyday humdrum of a long term relationship began.  I remember the first time he sang it, idling at the intersection of Collister and State Street, on our way to my company party. I remember every little thing he used to do, I’m so lonely.

Amazed, Lonestar. We bonded because we didn’t like to dance. And yet, to this song, we danced. I was so in love with him, and it just kept getting better.

Don’t Stop Believing. Journey has been a favorite since high school. When we first moved in together, Jerry and I would sing at a local bar in San Antonio called Bogart’s. We dubbed this activity “Smokey Karaoke” because you would wash the smoke smell out of your clothes and hair for days afterwards. Many of the military training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base would unleash their fury on the mic over the weekends. This is a karaoke staple.

A song I told him would be our song if we had a song, Endless II by Floater. Because we burned like a rocket from the womb to the world. And we often needed to take a breath, and take a seat, and take our medicine. Whether self-medicated or prescribed.

At Last, Etta James. Played at our wedding in the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 26, 2003. My lonely days were over, and life was like a song…

Here Without You, 3 Doors Down. Because it reminds me of the few times Jerry was deployed, or the year in Korea, and of course the more frequent, temporary assignments. I’m here without you baby, but you’re still on my lonely mind. I dream about you baby, and I think about you all the time…

Yet it was always my job to keep the home fires burning. Enter Hugo Wolf, a composer I studied in college. His Das Verlassene Magdlein, in particular, haunted me. Here is the translation:

Early when the cock crows
Ere the stars retire,
I must stand at the hearth,
Must tend the fire.

What beauty in the fire's light,
When the sparks are leaping,
I stand gazing long at them,
Lost now in my grieving.

Suddenly I remember,
Unfaithful fellow,
'Twas you I was dreaming of
Until the night had ended.

Tears well up and fall
One upon the other;
The day has just begun—
Oh, would that it were over

Then, when things started to get ugly, I wrote this country song about it. Anyone know how to set a country song?

Crash. The Dave Matthews Band. After I found a reddit post, authored by him, about how I was a literal ball and chain. Yet I still longed to have him near. Touch your lips just so I know, in your eyes, love, it glows so…

Why Don’t You Get a Job, The Offspring. While he was deployed I took care of the house and our daughter. I was told to find employment, because he “would rather work at McDonald’s than be jobless.” But hey, you know how she wants more dinero just to stay at home…

Black Out Days, Phantogram. Total dig at my former alcohol use, and the way we shifted into something unrecognizable.

Cope by Manchester Orchestra, because I broke the cycle of alcohol abuse. There was one thing I let go, and it was the way that we coped.

Change. The epitome of our relationship these last few years. If I were more talented I could have written it.

Schism, because he inspired in me a love of Tool. And it’s more appropriate a tune now than ever. As we continually atrophy any sense of compassion between supposed lovers.

And as we part, there is hope. Hope that I can love again. Hope that I can find someone who is the promised kiss of springtime, that makes the lonely winter seem long.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Let me regale you with the tale of my aching brain.

I was on my way to divorce mediation. I parked on 12th Street in downtown Boise. As I nervously exited my car and proceeded to the parking meter, I tripped on a curb and went crashing to the sidewalk, my right shoulder and temple hitting the pavement.

No one was around to see me biff it in my ladylike grace.

Not suspecting I'd seriously injured myself (though my head and shoulder were bleeding), I brushed myself off, and proceeded to the mediator's office. I held a tissue to my leaking head and got some very funny looks from fellow pedestrians on my merry way.

I found the mediator's office quite easily. It is, rather unfortunately, located just beyond a bridal shop. You have to walk through said shop to get to the executive suites. Oh, fate. How she laughs.

Upon arriving at the mediator's door, I spied with my little eye something yellow. A large note explaining that the mediator was in the hospital. I scribbled down the contact number with a pencil, hoping to get more information. Then I called my husband, and called my mother, and cried quite a lot.

Telling my mother I felt I didn't need to see a doctor, I walked my injured self back to my car. I was shaky and weepy but still somewhat intact as far as my mental state was concerned. I turned on the radio and fate smiled again, as a singer described how he was going to "get [himself] off the side of the road."

I arrived home to a very concerned mother, grandmother, and daughter. Violet helped my mother get me ice packs and pain reliever. After a while, I called the contact number to see why the mediator was in the hospital.

She had fallen.

Fate, you are fickle and you've had your fun.

Feeling rather wonky and with blurred vision, I went to urgent care the next day. This was half due to my symptoms and half due to my vivid nightmares. In these horrific visions, I was going blind because of my head injury. I kept attempting to climb stairs only to have a bloody blackness enfold me. I awoke from these nightmares into a fresh dream, only to somehow end up climbing in the dark at each terrifying conclusion. I woke within the nightmare four times.

Anyhow, on to urgent care. The doc looked at my eyes and made me follow fingers, ultimately deciding that I definitely had a mild concussion.

But this was not the end of the story. Because my dumb ass had gone back to work like nothing happened. Staring at screens when you have a brain injury is a definite no-no. So by the end of the  second work day my blurred vision was far worse. This called for brain imaging in the ER. No brain bleed, which I consider to be a plus. I scheduled a follow-up with the local concussion clinic.

Before my follow-up I worked 24 hours in customer service in three days, all the while staring at a touch screen. I could not follow simple instructions by the end of the third day. My head ached so badly that I have difficulty describing it.

At the concussion clinic I was told that my brain needed time to heal. No screens at all until the headaches and vision went away. No work until Monday and then only with restrictions.

Long story short, I have stared at this screen for far too long. Somebody get me more pain reliever.

Monday, July 4, 2016

On Independence

Was it easier being a kept woman? Financially, yes. Spiritually? Absolutely not.

Mediation and legal proceedings mark the next few weeks. It's a stressful time. But I am hopeful that everything will eventually even out.

My amazing daughter will soon awaken to the beauty of this day. She may not understand its implications fully until so much later. I remain optimistic about her growing understanding of the world and the ties that tether us to family. I'm cynical but hoping to instill some idealism in her, somehow. Despite the way things have gone.

And now, we hand the post over to miss Maya Angelou, with whom I share a birthday. This is one of my favorite works. I was often reminded of it during my marriage, as a person whose existence was dictated by so many parameters. Freedom is a beautiful thing, but it is not without cost, and inherent unpredictability.

It is safe to say I am ready to claim the sky.

Caged Bird

Related Poem Content Details

A free bird leaps 
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends 
and dips his wing 
in the orange sun rays 
and dares to claim the sky. 

But a bird that stalks 
down his narrow cage 
can seldom see through 
his bars of rage 
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied 
so he opens his throat to sing. 

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom. 

The free bird thinks of another breeze 
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees 
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn 
and he names the sky his own 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing. 

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.