There’s no Costco in Heaven

He was once a stallion, strong with a chiseled jaw and tall stature, now well past his mid-80’s and considerably withered. My ears were playing tricks on me because I thought he said, “We don’t have a Costco in Heaven.” No one in ear-shot looks surprised, leaving me no clue as to what was really said.

A smile parts my lips and I feel the tears well. I selfishly stifle my emotions so that no one will see, realizing that I feel a measure of comfort knowing there’s no Costco in Heaven. It’s a private moment in a busy day.

The holidays rip at me, I want time to stand still so that I may mourn and gnash my teeth and wallow, I know that is not the way. That the departed would be ill honored by such shallow, predictable, useless and self-serving behavior, but for my grief…  Occasionally it bunches and bulges, surges and threatens to overtake me. Every loss, fresh. Once again deep, open wounds fill and bleed freely. I miss you.

Embarking on the next great adventure, seeking what is beyond the veil of this life…my mind has been on him and what might be out there ready, waiting. Will he explore heaven right now as I ponder the man whose life is too large to capture in an obituary, or even a long winded tribute. Will there be mountains to climb, how high will he go? What will marathons look like, though are those from heaven?

If you’re there when he arrives, circle ’round, find a spot then get acquainted. Expect the best story time, but you’ll have to be patient, he’s not one to boast, he’s not telling to hear his own voice.

I told you before how his days were numbered. There were weeks that stretched to months and turned into more than a year.  It’s time to remember my days are numbered, each of ours are. The concept circles inside of my head to not let a doctor or a disease be the reminder I need.

Someday will come for me too.

For today and each day I am here is an opportunity at love and adventure, at discovery, at chasing my joy like a fast paced foxhunt where the fox and I both win because we are one and we played as hard and as faithful as our spirit would allow.

On the 11th of December the world got a little less light, lost some of it’s sparkle. The mantle we carry to give, to care, to do more good than bad, to forgive and to love just got heavier, our shares increased. The balance of what we are to bring: a measure of good, of light and the challenge to give more than we take grew in the wee hours of the morning when Johnny passed out of this life and into the next.

I wholeheartedly detest two things, New Years Resolutions and Valentine’s Day, so I’m not waiting until January 1st to make sure everyday I start fresh, make a mark and try to climb above it. I’m not waiting until Valentine’s Day to start spreading my love around. I love you and all your mess, your flaws, your iniquity and your bright and glorious self, your goodness, generosity and creativity. I love you.

Don’t wait, start that adventure, run that race, take that trip, fly that heart. Go now.

 

Good-bye for now Johnny Yu, 7/26/48 to 12/11/15. Thank-you for setting such an amazing example of love and life, generosity and the example of largeness and joy!

You Spin me Round and Round

You Spin me Round and Round

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I’m Too Sexy For My Glasses

I’ll be honest, I was hoping you wouldn’t see me this morning. Sure I had a smile on my face but I was wishing, instead, for a bag over my head.

If you see me in the morning commute, dropping kids off at the pool…er, I mean at the school–or either actually–and I am wearing my “nice mama” glasses, you will know, I have given up on the day already. At least I am strongly considering it…another story, for another day perhaps…

Nice Mama GlassesMy “nice mama glasses” are hideous. A pair of wire rimmed glasses more than ten years old, bent, scratched and really, really ugly, they were the emergency back-up pair to my “sexy librarian”, Kate Spade, tortoise-shell frames that inevitably fell victim to a puppy several years back.

I only wear the “nice mama” glasses out of desperation, late at night or mornings when getting up early enough to put in contacts seems insurmountable.

For whatever reason Orion, 4 years old, has named them my “nice mama” glasses.

“mama, can we get under the covers and watch a movie together?” he will ask.

“Aw!” Heart melting, “Yes, that sounds nice. You are so sweet.”

A satisfied smile will sweep across his whole face, then the tiniest flicker of a shadow before he will decree;

Photo on 12-16-15 at 12.06 PM

without my “nice, mama glasses”

Photo on 12-16-15 at 12.06 PM #2

with my glasses that make me suddenly nice.

“but first you have to put on your “nice mama” glasses.”

Sometimes they are my, “good mama” glasses it just depends on the day.

Weirdo little kids. Just like weirdo adults, they have ideas in their heads about what different things mean, even innocuous or arbitrary items that come off and on. I promise you, I am just as mean and nasty with my “nice mama” glasses on as I am without them.

I’d like to get another pair of “sexy librarian” glasses, I actually see a pair in the very near future. It’s tough being so sexy and not having a pair of spectacles so that everyone else knows it too…Until then, even though I hate the ratty, crooked, scratched-up, gold-rimmed, “nice mama” glasses, I am glad someone thinks they look good on me.

Scraps of Armor

It’s been there for two years, almost two years anyway. It feels like a lifetime and though I don’t know if anyone else ever noticed–for me–it was my sweet, and silent, tiny little piece of armor.  Strong, and still soft like when someone grabs hold of you, gives you a hug and whispers strength in your ear because they know you’ll never admit you need it. That piece of heart shaped paper with four little names on it was just like that.

It seems barely a breath has passed, though in fact two years have gone by, my life and everything in it felt fragile then. My rational, grown-up part of my mind knew the life it wanted, but my heart was fragile, hurting and full of doubts.  The hardest year in recent memory was coming to a close, no resolutions and no promise of improvement. Emotionally I was adrift, clinging to vague hopes and lost dreams, I clung to the fact that despite feeling like I might die, no one had…actually died…

Days would slip by when I could not eat, I would force myself to drink water, cringing at the thought of food. I withered, physically, emotionally, spiritually…I felt like I was dying. I was in hiding, hoping that all of the turmoil would melt away but not at the expense of going back to the past.

Then one day–admittedly in a haze of emotions a little tiny hand, no longer the chubby fist of a toddler and not quite the dexterous hand of a big kid–reached from the backseat and tapped me, handing off this tiny scrap of love.

Imperfect and cut with safety scissors, a heart, on it the words; mama, papa, Apollo, Orion. Scrawled with his tiny hand, in imperfect penmanship, made in stolen moments after a class project. Mama at the top of the list. It really was up to me…

The love that holds us...

The love that holds us…

I am not a sentimentalist.

Mini KnightsNot by any stretch of the imagination. Nothing feels better, for me, than letting go. Lucky for me, when I let go I rarely ever look back, that coupled with impatience for “junk memories” means I rarely remember anything long enough to regret getting rid of it.

I just held that scrap of red paper and wept before I could even start the car to pull out of the school parking lot.  I knew, then and there, not just what I wanted but that I had strength enough to get there.  A sense that if I could just hold on, the pieces of my puzzle would start fitting back together. I felt comforted.

God,  I hate not being an open book, but no one could have or would have wanted to hear the crap I was sorting. Even if they did, would I ever come back from the judgments they would pass, the doubts they would have about me?

That little scrap of my heart said I was going to be okay. Patience…have I mentioned I have none? So it was that I faced, head on, a test I knew I was otherwise not equipped to make it through.

I offered accolades to Apollo telling him how much I loved his gift, I held it all the way home then tucked it into an empty compartment in the car, for months that’s where it lived. At the school pick-up I would pull it out sometimes when I was waiting. A guaranteed smile would wash over my face, even on the bad days.IMG_2944

In the spring I quietly brought my love scrap into the house and mounted it to the side of our stainless steel refrigerator. I’m sure someone noticed but all mom’s are required to keep various gestures of affection from our children. No one knew this was actually a direct answer to personal prayer, executed by my own.

Family, it means more to me than I can adequately put into words.  If you know me at all, know my deepest held beliefs, know that my family is vast and extended and many are my dearest and favorite friends, especially my sisters and my husband, even my own mom, than you would not be at all surprised how much this paper screamed that life was going to be ok…eventually.

Last week, when I was cleaning, I took down my love scrap and recycled it to the paper gods. I don’t need it anymore, this picture is enough. So thankful for little hands and little scraps of armor.

I gave up shit for lent…

Today is Ash Wednesday, and wouldn’t you know it, the neighborhood power is out for “routine maintenance,” (NSA setting up better recon on the guy down the street…or me…not sure) eight hours of not opening the fridge, and all I can think about is lent and how when I was growing up dad always encouraged us to give something up for lent.

Lent is never mentioned in the bible, but I still like it. Think of lent as actively praying for forty days. Rather something like this “…dear god, why would I ever think I was strong enough to give up wine!” …or chocolate or whatever you love to indulge in…

Upon my reflection I realize I gave up “shit” for lent: dumbshits, shit heads, bullshit, piles of shit, gives of shit, shit holes (assholes), shitty food, and shit, literally…

I mean, crap, I have been cleaning up someone else’s shit for more than two decades. W.T.F. Really. With dogs, parrots, a cat, chickens and kids, there’s a lot of shit around here that needs cleaning or hiding…

I have been wiping kid-ass for more than twenty years. Let that sink in. I’ve worked at vet clinics…on ranches and in kid care…wanna talk about shit, I’m your gal. By the time I’m done wiping kid butts it will be my moms turn–(sorry mom) and then my husbands and then after fifty years of up close and personal with everybody else’s little brown-eye, you guessed it, then it will be my turn…for someone to wipe my ass.

So before it’s too late to take a break from shit-I’m doing it, right now, for lent…In one more hour because the fucking dog has shit stuck to his butt, AGAIN, (he needs to quit growing hair) and I can’t turn on the clippers to shave his ass until the power gets turned back on…

Then I’m done with this stupid shit! At least for lent.

I know that’s backwards-we are supposed to suffer in commemoration of Jesus and his forty days he fasted and suffered in the desert before he was crucified…I’ve been suffering…I’m giving the “shit suffering” mantle over to someone else for a bit…

It probably won’t last and I’m probably just freaking out because I’m stuck with shit (literally) until the power comes back on…that and I’m starving since I won’t open the fridge until the power comes on…I cleaned all the junk food out of the cupboards (no-I didn’t eat it-I threw it away days ago…originally I was just giving up shitty food for lent…) and I need some protein!

Later I will feel shitty for exposing you to shitty language (just the silent ramblings I usually keep to myself), you know-after I eat, then clean the dogs behind-so apologies ahead of time.

Will You Be Mine?

Everything tastes better when you’re hungry, chocolate, burgers, steak, sex… mmmmm… so hungry.

We all want hair pulling, ass grabbing, all night long…chocolate. Am I right?

That’s exactly why you should boycott trivial, trumped up holidays like Valentines Day. I mean is it steak dinner night or chocolate mousse night or can we just skip to the ass-grabbing dessert?

I love the idea of a fun day for little kids to pass out candy hearts to classmates, and a reason to make the kids heart shaped pancake and eggs. I hate the idea of a scheduled–nationally scheduled–day, hyped-up, fake holiday, made up romancing day, to wine, dine and sixty-nine me, as if we need a reason for that!

To be fair some of my best make-out sessions have been scheduled. Tuesday night: sex night. There’s a difference between a commercial holiday that tells women they need something sparkly and that this somehow signifies the good things in life, and hopefully, true love -vs- a day that my lover and I make sure that we carve out time for something kinkier than a quickie–kids and jobs can trick you into forgetting about how important that time is.

I don’t always schedule hair-pulling, but when I do it’s never because of something trivial, like what day of the year…same thing with gifts; don’t get me started on birthdays and Christmas!

That being said, some people love the tradition of certain holidays–I’m not a conformist–if you love these paper heart, commercial holidays, fine by me but my rebellious side refuses to reciprocate. It goes against my principals so don’t waist your time or money–not on a holiday anyway…

So my plans for tonight? Salad, one slice of pizza, while watching a movie-at home, then “dessert”…oh wait, that’s what we had last night…it’s crazy, we are wild like that…ha!

All right–carry on folks! With any luck you’re smarter than the average person and you skipped dinner so you won’t be too full when dessert comes around…or you skipped V day altogether and went to bed, resting up for a real adventure bright and early tomorrow no doubt!

Happy Valentines.

If You Hate Running, Even Better

Everything matters.

Or at least I want it to. All of it to have meaning and lessons and prove some petty need for validation that “I’m special”. Except, try as I might…I just don’t have it in me to give a rat’s behind about ALL of it.

I read books. Meh.

“That was okay.” I’ll think.

I’d take that day or those days back.

“I could do better.”

But I don’t. I just sit there replaying the weak parts…
I read your blogs…lots of them some days.

*sigh

“that’s the best; Best title? Best topic? Best intro? WTF? Did they just read thru everyone else’s blogs and regurgitate? Are we all supposed to be talking about how Mia Angelou saved us or how Harper Lee changed our lives? (No mention of the literary teacher who likely forced these authors on you or you’d never have read them…) yapping endlessly about fashion or fame? Or sex? (Okay-keep up the sexy talk, at least that’s not yawn-worthy all of the time.)

Gag me.

I guess I do care, right now, in this second, because I’m fed up. Rest assured. I’ll get over caring-you’re not that big-a-deal.

While I do care, I’d like to take this momentum and draw attention to all the people that turn everything into a point of contention, a bitch-fest. It’s starting to feel like I’m talking about everyone, including you…[with the exception of my *sisters*, all of whom are bright spots in the universe.] Instead I reference all those people who care what kind of person Miley Cyrus is or Emma Watson for that matter?

Who cares if the next James Bond casts a black Bond? Really?

Why are so many people so eager to go on a Big One for things trivial and, mostly, absurd? Why are we obsessed with getting our opinions validated on everything from peanut butter and jelly’s to feminism to religion?

If all the people who are good at caring about everything actually gave a turd about anything real, like preserving Native American lands and culture, feeding the hungry preserving coral reefs, sex trafficking, reducing our collective human footprint, corruption in government or saving my ass from destitution when I’m old (economy collapse) then maybe the state of the Union would actually stand a chance of getting better.

Instead we all stick our noses up Kim Kardashian’s butt, interject ourselves into any trite experience, carry around our little paper cups full of hot liquid showcasing a two tailed mermaid on the front, and use it all as an excuse to blow off the quality of our work, our health, our moments to connect to each other, a child, a community; shiny distractions that we dump energy and time into while we get slow and soft in the middle (and in the grey matter.)

Wake-up! Go running, run until your brain is empty, your body feels nothing and the petty little distractions melt into oblivion.

If you hate running, even better…the pain is good, helps clear the mind of insignificant and worthless junk.

I’m sure my rant is lack-of-run induced. It’s been two days and my brain is having withdrawals…

When you’re done, you just might find out you don’t have time for the clutter of caring about everything. Maybe, just maybe, with some practice, we can all learn to care a little bit less.

Run For It!!!

does this headband make me look fast?

does this headband make me look fast?

There’s another one! I just saw her on my way home from school drop-offs. I want to slam on the breaks, honk, get out and slap Each. And. Everyone. Of them. Don’t they know there are people like me on the road–trying to run them over!? Well not trying to run them over, at least not me…not on purpose anyway.

It’s hard to navigate my disgust, because on the flip side I want to cheer for her.

She’s out running. The roadsides and gyms are flooded with all the New Year’s resolutions. People determined to not let another year slip by without focussing on their fitness. Filled with all the people who got a brand new shiny FitBit or other fancy gadget to indicate they have fulfilled their 10,000 step goal. Also filled with the regular runners, bikers and other gym enthusiast that I see on a regular basis. I was her once. I want to cheer, you go girl! She is going to feel great later today, later this year (if she keeps it up). The difference is I don’t try to get run-over every time I go out on the road for a run.

You’ve seen it too right?

Runners who assume everyone drives like they do…or like they think they do…Runners, running with their backs to traffic, this girl with headphones in.  I don’t care how bright your fancy running pants are, if I am distracted I will still not see you. And the big silver, 3/4 ton, Dodge diesel I drive has no fancy navigation system, it will not distinguish between off roading fun and running over a person…

Flashy clothes alone can't save runners from rogue vehicles and distracted drivers.

Flashy clothes alone can’t save runners from rogue vehicles and distracted drivers.

If you have refocused previous efforts or are reinventing yourself entirely, especially by running or walking more, cheers to you! I won’t complain about the gym being too full, or the roads bustling with with more foot traffic. Really. I am happy for you. Stick with it. If you get distracted, pick it back up. You don’t have to wait for New Years. Just start again.

BOOM! Just like that you’re back.

In the meantime, here are some helpful tips to help you stay alive while you are out there pounding pavement:

1.) Run into traffic. Well, not literally into it, that would defeat the purpose of getting healthy. However, you should be facing oncoming traffic. Shoulders down, relaxed, chest out and head up looking at each car. (Even looking down a little restricts oxygen, that will slow you down, but not as much as getting smashed by a car.)

2.) Did you know that wearing sunglasses can reduce your field of vision by 40%? Yeah, I wear them too. I’m just cool like that. All the more reason to keep your eyes on traffic.

3.) Go without headphones. I listen to music, not every run though. When I do have my tunes I only wear one headphone and I keep it down low enough to hear my own singing over the music–sometimes I throw out my arms and sing my heart out in the middle of a run, that’s when I realize I am not as tired as I thought I was…and that everyone now knows “I’m friends with the monster under my bed…”

Some interesting things I’ve noticed, running without iTunes.

Smells are more intense. Things like daffodils in spring, and eucalyptus trees come to mind right now, wet grass, and heady lilac too, heck even brewing coffee or bar-b-q (…then there are the few times I wish I hadn’t noticed: horse farm, garbage day and slurry pits…) The sky’s a little bluer, songbirds louder, frogs happier and laughing kids, sweeter. I don’t know, it’s just a nice change.

Here’s another nice thing about no music. There can sometimes be very serene and spiritual moments to a good run–in fact, there should be. When I decide that I am dedicating a run to someone, (and run with no music) a friend in need (my neighbor with cancer), a loved one, even someone who has passed away, I tend to run further and faster with less complaints from my head and body. Try it.

That and you will hear the cars coming toward you.

4.) Get out of the bike lane, if you see a biker coming. I know, usually the rule is “lower and slower” gets the right of way but not in this instance. Bikers have their backs to traffic–if they aren’t idiot bikers–and you’re feet are more maneuverable than some of those skinny road bike wheels, so scooch over. They might even thank you but don’t expect that, in fact they may not even acknowledge you but who cares. It’s the right thing.

5.) You know what else is the right thing? Keep it to yourself. Don’t litter. Don’t throw down your water bottles, or empty Gu packs (If you’re doing this-you are a tool and maybe you deserve to get run over). Really. Fact is that unless you are running for more than an hour, you’ll survive without both…you will also be tougher. Stick that gooey package back where you had it stashed, even if you had it in your sports bra, you’ll survive and you’re going to need a shower pill anyway.

6.) Reflect. Weather morning or night it’s easy to not notice how dark it might be to a driver if the sun is waxing or waning…I feel silly running with a reflective vest but I’m not so cool that I don’t when I choose runs late in the evening. Besides…I think it makes me faster, if only to hush the nay-sayers.

Besty who runs at night with me! Night runs are ah-maz-balls!!!! This pic is post 4.5 at about midnight, cuz we're rebels. Running at night makes you feel like a kid, cuz it's silly and nuts.

Besty who runs at night with me! Night runs are ah-maze-balls!!!! This pic is post 4.5 at about midnight, cuz we’re rebels. Running at night makes you feel like a kid, cuz it’s silly and nuts.

7.) I’ve discovered that running buddies also make me stronger, keep me safer, and are a good distraction around mile five or six…for some reason after forty or fifty minutes I start getting bored, that and on a really long run (10-12 miles, I sometimes end up out in BFE-alone-that creeps me out a little.)

Yesterday Aden when on a five miler with me. Not long but he's fast. Even though we were talking the whole time we still averaged nine minute and fourteen second miles. Easy for him, hard for me! Stud.

Yesterday Aden and I post five miler, (no make-up and he still looks good!). Not that long but he’s fast. Even though we were talking the whole time we still averaged nine minute and fourteen second miles. Easy for him, hard for me! Oh- and then he turned around and ran back home five miles averaging 7:40 or 50something each mile! Stud.

When I have a buddy it’s always better. I’m lucky, I have a teenage kiddo who makes a (mostly) reliable and good running partner and I’ve been collecting others!

Regardless, fast or slow, you’re doing it. That’s what counts in the end!

I am happy to see new faces out on my runs, just stay safe.

 

I’m Handing Out Cheer

There’s this man.

“Hey, dis you car?”

His accent is thick, and personally, I’m always a sentence behind trying to follow the conversation. If it’s your car, he will find you.  When you see him coming up the road, or up your driveway, do yourself a favor, go and meet him directly. Jonny hails from the land of confrontation (I don’t mean China, but he’s also Chinese).

If he’s not there to protest a parking offense, he likely wants to borrow the extra space in your recycle bin or your plant waste bin, don’t even bother telling him it’s too full, he will come and check in the early morning hours just to see if you were telling the truth (and then, go ahead and fill it up the rest of the way).

When Jonny isn’t reprimanding you on your neighbor etiquette, (those poor bastards who park their trailers, boats, and RV’s streetside…who am I kidding–go get them Jonny!) borrowing a tool, or the space in your yard clipping bin he might actually have a plate full of cookies, rolls, or some other treat to share. That or a job for your young one…a job that pays actual money whether you want it or not. The last likely scenario to watch for: he has some furniture he wants to offer you before he donates it to charity.

His name is Jonny Wu and he is my next door neighbor.  You can find him in his yard most any day, (even in the torrential winter rain and blustery spring evenings) or out walking his retired seeing-eye golden retriever “Rupee”. He has climbed mountains, kayaked rivers and the ocean, scaled cliffs, white-water rafted, run half marathons and marathons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s even flown planes and driven race cars but I have yet to hear those exploits. He skis, he travels, he’s been to countries all over the world and driven through more than half the states and parts of Canada in his motorhome.

Jonny is ageless, though I think he is close to seventy, I am still not sure which side of it he’s on. Not taller than about five foot, don’t let his diminutive stature fool you, it’s not an accurate measurement of his gravity. Pointed and direct, readily handing out advice and criticism, usually making me or anyone he’s talking to realize the error of their ways, Jonny grew up in China, (not what I meant by the land of confrontation–by land of confrontation I refer to the ethers from which his soul was heralded into this existence) and looks at the world very practically…and vocally.

We are next door to each other. He knows all the nuance of being a good neighbor, we rarely talk over the fence or through the fence, and he uses the front door, or phone instead of an open window to talk to me, but because of his reputation for directness my neighbors offer up their raised eyebrows, apologetic smiles, coupled with knowing looks, sure that I must be in the line of fire more than anyone else. What most of my neighbors don’t know, wouldn’t believe, what they’d never understand, Jonny and I, we get each other.

He’s called me at 2:00am in the morning to tell me my tiny yap dog is “singing” at the cat on the fence between our homes. I could hear the smile in his voice when a few days later I called him at 12:30am to ask if he could hear that his german shepherd was almost as musically inclined as my yappy dog. The next day we laugh at each other and tease.

He brings over photos of his adventures, narrates as I flip through glossy portfolios of amazing places that most of us will never see. He’s a good photographer too, with a memory that rivals any archivist.

Jonny will tell you if you are out of shape physically, he will tell you if you missed an opportunity, he will tell you when you are wasting money, wasting time, having bad manners, using too much water, what color to paint, what tree to cut down, where to put your flowers, when you might not be picking up your dogs poo fast enough or if you are being too hard or too soft on your kid. It’s one of my guilty pleasures hearing or seeing him in action, though I have been known to enjoy a little carnage here and there…

He doesn’t believe in God, he believes in people, believes in actions. He doesn’t live by intention he lives by doing.  The perfect example of who more of us should be. He has no time to hold a grudge, he is busy living. He passes judgement but not to ridicule, or feel superior, he passes judgement as more a function of his observation.

“You have everything going for you, you male, you young, you good looking, you white. Hell, what more you want? Go to college, get good job, get married, you have great life.”

I overheard him admonish one of my teens with this one day upon hearing their complaint about life being hard.

Bad or good, he’s got clarity and he speaks freely. He can’t help you if he doesn’t tell you to your face and chances are, if Jonny is talking to you, he likes you, maybe even loves you (I know he loves my kids, he’s helped them over and over, made up opportunities just to justify paying them). He can’t help his cut-and-dry/no-bones about it approach to getting you to move your car from in front of his house (I laugh joyfully that it’s never been me who chose that perilous folly!) or telling you to try harder.

He only cares about the things that matter not the things people say matter, or the world says, or words said, only what matters, what matters to him. He could solve a billion of the worlds problems, but no one is listening. He’d say quit bitching, get to work, don’t worry about about what everyone else thinks, worry about what you’re doing. What. You. Are. Doing. The rest doesn’t matter. You can’t change it anyway.

A few weeks ago a couple months ago an ambulance visited Jonny’s house. Probably almost three months now, truth be told. News got around the neighborhood that Jonny was sick. Eventually we each learned that Jonny had been diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive cancer. They gave him 6-8 weeks to live.

He’s home, still out walking Rupee, still borrowing my green waste bin, (I know I need to rake the dang leaves…) still Jonny. Life is fragile. He tells me everyday feels like a gift since he past the 8 week mark. He looks good too. And I am scared.

I am scared for him, mostly because I hate to see someone hurting and it’s overwhelming to think what he faces and hope he doesn’t feel alone. His family is gathered and always at his side. His wife is amazing, and I am scared for her too, but I only smile when I see either of them and talk about all the normal things we have always talked about. They are brave, their smiles warm, their laughing real.

I started this entry two months ago. It doesn’t feel done. I don’t have all the thoughts and emotions sorted into a diatribe of authentic and articulate words that portray the many layers of emotion. But when I sit in the dark thinking of the arguments, disagreements, and petty bullshit that permeates way too much of my own life, probably yours too, I realize that Jonny is a rare human. He gives a shit about everything and nothing all at the same time. Like the perfect stranglehold on serenity if you ask me.

I like to tell you funny stories and smarty pants stories. I like to try and uplift, inspire or flirt with you, but today I can only think how I wish we could all be hyper focused on just this moment, every moment. Who moves us, who loves us, who we love, care about, that we could let go of the trash and toxins we are dragging around like they are important when they aren’t.  I want to fill up my time with more things I love and love doing. Things that are meaningful to me. I want to ask myself, everyday, to refocus on what is important, how I want to live life and who I want to live it with. More laughing, more dancing, more creating, more playing, even more alone time, but also more together time, with the people that matter. 

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If It Has Tires or Testicles…

I look at him, he looks at me.  Something is wrong, it’s excruciating to say nothing, I manage but he can read my thinly veiled concern. At a mere 60 miles per hour, and an hour late already, the last thing he needs is me saying anything, sounding as though I doubt his ability to manage a crisis. He is plenty smart, and more capable of critical thinking than most, so I just look at him.

He’s taking the exit off the highway.

“Wow, that was lucky.” I say.
I’m hoping he knows what is wrong and why the motorhome is making such terrible noise…and I’m hoping he will volunteer the info.

“No doubt.”

That’s the best he can do?! (…Deep breath…)

“So…? Flat? …worse?” I ask, all nonchalant like.

There’s a long pause, he’s reviewing his options before he speaks.

More silence as he scans up ahead.

“Uh, I have no clue, sounds like a flat–doesn’t feel like one.”

Balls.

I can tell he’s already shutting me out of the equation, he likes to work alone. Just wants to handle it all by himself,  he thinks it will be hours of our time and a fortune. Time and a fortune we don’t really have, least not to tow and or repair the old girl, thirty miles from home.

Little more than an hour down the road a dozen friends and family wait in the wilderness for our rendezvous. Tents pitched, coals lit, beverage in hand, they are waiting for us…the thought that they’re waiting in vein enters my mind. Won’t be much of a party without us; we have virtually all the food, least all the good stuff.

At last we are off the highway, onto a side street at the far end of Petaluma, seeking a place of refuge to get out and survey the situation. Why did he just drive by the little tiny gas station with no cars and a garage?!?!?!?!?!

Steady, I tell myself, breath...I do my best, temper myself, (almost) silently freaking out that the further he drives the more broke whatever is broke will be.

I smile apologetically.

“Should we pull over at that gas station?”

We’ve been together too long for him to not hear it like it feels in my head; “PULL THE HELL OVER!!!!!ARE YOU INSANE??? THAT WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD SPOT TO GET OUT AND SEE HOW FUCKED WE ARE.”

Fortunately he calmly replies, “Lowes is one block away, besides having more room to work, they are more likely to have tools or parts if we need them.”

It sounds like part of the front end has ripped off and is thrashing wildly to get free. At last Big Bertha (aka, the motorhome) rolls to a stop in the Lowes parking lot. We climb out and gather at the front driver side wheel.

Impressive and we are so Lucky. That’s what ran through my head over and over, this is going to be okay–I think.

I inherited the motorhome from my grandpa five years ago. It’s a bit more than 20 years old. It’s saving grace is that it lived in his RV shop with virtually no miles on it (12,000) when it came to my house. I love it. I cannot be in it and not think of how much he liked a good adventure. His drive to explore and how much he loved having his family with him. Without being cliche, I feel like he’s there when an adventure is underfoot in the motorhome.

Grandpa Joe hanging out with Grandma back in the "day".

It’s silly, a metal and wooden box with six wheels, but when I go out exploring in that box I always feel like grandpa came along for the ride. There are almost no highways or freeways on the West Coast he hasn’t had not driven.

When I told him I was moving to Santa Rosa he told me all about the various highways and freeways into and out of Sonoma and Napa. He cracked a smile and storied up a few memories of driving truck through here (one of his many ventures; he owned a freight liner company) and delivering or picking up livestock from various ranchers on the West Coast.

He paused to grin and remind me that when he started his trucking biz, big rigs were still gas (instead of diesel) engines. He shook his head recalling the paces they’d put a truck through around the San Francisco area, up and down those big ‘ol hills with a full load,  rpm’s pegged out accelerator to the floor barely moving, when a/c was referred to as “2 down (or 2low) and 60” meaning you were hopefully going 60mph and had both manual windows rolled down.

He laughed mid sentence and brought to life a day when he’d been pulled over by a Stater…again. Recalling the time of year and the milepost marker he’d just past, all details I’ve long forgotten, explaining that he had a long history with that particular stretch of road. This time the trooper, feeling exasperated, asked him how many times in the last year he had already pulled over my grandpa, not how many times he had been pulled over, how many times “have you and I met in person? ” my grandpa smiled, at me. Six, maybe seven, he couldn’t rightly recall is what he reported to the Trooper but grandpa assured me it was closer to ten times that he had entertained that particular officer in recent months. He obviously liked my grandpa or was just out if ideas and desperate, so a bargain was struck that grandpa wouldn’t go more than ten miles over the speed limit anymore and that if the trooper pulled him over again grandpa was forfeiting his license. No ticket, no fine, ‘get back on the road young man and I never want to see you again’, that’s what the officer said before he turned around and walked back to his patrol car.

Anyway, I’ve been on a bit of a tangent, suffice it to say, these are the memories recalled when I’m riding shotgun in Big Bertha, wind in our hair and road stretching before us.  When you know someone long enough you can read them, dance with them just by paying attention. Everything in Mark’s expression and mannerisms are saying his day is ruined. The tire has shredded off of the wheel and inner tube. It is hanging in twisted shreds, like a hula skirt around the old inner tube and the wheel–that tire is toast.

“Thankfully that tube held together; should we just put on the spare?” It seems logical but Mark isn’t moving.

“I’m calling AAA. That’s what they are for.” He says.

I scoff. It feels like we just gave up.

Mark sees my resistance to this idea. “…besides who knows if we even have any tools…let alone a jack.”

“There used to be all that stuff.” I say, body in motion…

“That was five years ago and two teenagers ago. Who knows where any if it is now.” He’s already got his phone to his ear, I feel like he’s giving up.

I walk around the motorhome, I don’t take defeat well, rarely even acknowledge it (generally to my detriment.)  I know two things–well, at least two–1. AAA service providers always take their sweet time (we will be here hours if we wait for them), 2. if grandpa ever was predictable at anything it was roadside preparedness (for godsakes!).

My first car, grandpa let me drive it home then took away the keys until I changed a tire and the oil…in front of him, and by myself. You didn’t get far talking the talk with him–put up or shut up. Two or three years later he did the same thing with my next car.  No amount of protesting was going to get me those keys and I knew it.

I could tell a dozen stories about him and his rigs…that’s a whole different post, the point I am making here; he’d have had everything on hand and there was every reason to believe it was all still in inventory.

Think what you want, (I am generally not so open about things that seem crazy,) but he was there, right then, and I had the conviction of knowing he was guiding me (I usually don’t sound like such a nut job.) I tell you I saw it all unfolding, like i was being shown what to do. He was in his element and feeling feisty about getting the show on the road.

I saw the Jack and the leverage bar, and a host of other tools I had seen for years in the storage compartments , and never considered what they were for, they suddenly flashed in my head. I even envisioned, like a movie playing in my head, where the jack was supposed to go under the Beast and heard his voice reminding me how to tell where it’s safe to put the jack…Pictures in my mind’s archives, think what you want…I set to work gathering a variety of things, some of which I was relatively unfamiliar with, except I knew that I needed them.

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I was undaunted by remarks about corroded lug-nuts, nuts being put on at the tire store with too much torque, or various other comments about my likelihood of success. I was impervious to doubt and apprehension, I pressed forward, clear and sure of the outcome. And like I stated before, it was as if someone was playing a movie in my head. Call it what you want, conditioning, conviction, survival mode, but know this, I didn’t feel like I was in a crisis. I generally have no problems letting Mark decide what to do in a crisis and when I’m alone, and the “fit hits the shan”, I hold my own. There was no shaking it, or ignoring the feeling to go do it myself, not wait.

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In the end I have to admit, I am a princess and princesses know to not steal all the glory. (Plus it’s my birthday weekend.) …so I let the boys lift the heavy tire into place, tighten the lug nuts and put on the finishing touches.

The Moral of the story, one of my favorite life lessons; If it has tires or testicles, it’s bound to give you trouble.

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(But don’t worry, you can totally handle it…)

😉