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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baptism by Fire - Part 1


I didn’t see it coming, not even as we walked up the steep steps and pushed against the heavy the doors of Saint Joseph’s Catholic church.  Not for one tiny moment did I think to put up my guard, gird myself for what now I see as the inevitable.  We were late for the service and, dressed in our scrubs, tucked ourselves into one of the back rows, my preceptor and I.  

We stood for the reading and my knees melted into gelatin and my heart swelled in my throat as though to choke me.  The organ screeched, assaulting my ears and any hope I might have entertained of finding any peace in that place.  Easing myself back into the pew, eyes teeming with tears and fighting sobs, I held Debra’s hand but it wasn’t enough.  I left as unobtrusively as I could, Debra close behind me in spite of my protests that she stay. 

There, sitting in the cool breeze on the steps of the church, I stared into the black hole, my constant if not always conscious companion.  I wavered on the brink, stared into the darkness - and stared it down - looked instead to the blue sky crowded with powder puffs  clouds and breathed in the perfumed air of spring in Macon.  

A funeral, my first since Clint’s death.  I wanted to scream, shout into the fresh air, pollute it with obscenities, rale against the so-called god to whom the worshippers inside were praying.  My reactivated grief and anger fell over me like a fog, and I stood, brushed off my clothes and picked my way past the black hole and into the church.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Dreams

In  dreams he comes to me, but the moment I wake, he flees as though escaping a raging fire. I only have the smell of him - or is it the smell of fire?  I grope feverishly for images, but they must be smoldering in their own ashes.  So quickly do they vanish that I question whether there was a dream at all.  Where does he go, taking the images with him?  Why the urgent flight from my consciousness?  Am I so frozen at my core that only flames will move me and in so doing drive him out, melting the images into an opaque fog that lifts before I know it is there?

Sunday, March 14, 2010



Not knowing is often my undoing.  Admittedly, most of life cannot be scripted, but we can set goals, make plans, look ahead.  I like a plan.  Not so My Dead Husband.  He was a fly by the seat of his pants man, and we once drove across the continental US without a single motel reservation.  (And more amazing than that, we didn’t exchange one cross word).  At first I was hideously nervous every day when we got tired and ready to stop for the night, imagining us in a roach motel and being infected with bed bugs while drug dealers and hookers knocked on our door all night inquiring as to our need for their services.  

After the first few nights, I realized I had a choice. I could end up feeling like a bird hanging upside down on his perch or I could make an adventure out of the whole thing.  I chose to jump on the back of Clint’s horse and ride it with him.  We stumbled into quaint little towns and sought out the brew pubs with the reputations for the best burgers.  We once got lost trying to find the Pacific Ocean, driving over the mountains from Mendocino to San Luis Obispo.  We should have never told our family and friends about that.  For years they have been holding onto to it like a snapping turtle in a storm, and they bring it out and make fun of us at the least provocation.

That dichotomy of basic personalities we shared, I believe, is a great part of the secret of our lasting love.  We needed one another.  We balanced out one another in a symbiotic way in almost every aspect of our relationship.  He seed while I sawed.

Now there’s no one sitting in the other end the seesaw, and here I am on the ground, surrounded by clouds of playground dust, searching for a way to propel myself upward far enough to see beyond the empty seat at the other end.  Ever try to go single on a seesaw?

I’m unsettled about going back to work, about not having a solid plan.  I need my man.  I need a pep talk and couple of drinks and some incredible sex, the kind that makes you invisible and bulletproof, the kind that makes you powerful and soft and sweet all at once, the kind that kindles the Power Goddess that lives in me but who keeps hiding.  There are simply some things for which there is not substitute.   When I got my new vibrator, I thought I was set for life.  Not so.  I need a man.  But I don’t want one.  I want the one I had, the only one that I am 100% guaranteed never to set eyes on again.  

Must I squat here on my end of the seesaw until something comes along to move me up?  It could be my job, but what if it’s a tornado that dislodges me?  Do I get off and just say fuck it and move on?  Where would I go? Wouldn’t that just complete the breaking of my heart, leaving me altogether without one?  Who would save me?  I am a living and breathing riddle of which I can make no sense.

And it scares the shit out of me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Work is the curse of the drinking class." - Oscar Wilde


So far, getting back into nursing has proved to be tedious at best and terminally boring at worst.  Oh, sure,  I understand why it’s necessary for me to be retreaded, but I don’t think it’s written down anywhere that I have to be deliriously excited about it.  In two days, I have amassed six packets of information, all but one of them multi-paged, on topics like “informed consent,” “wound assessment,” “organ donation and transplantation.”  And let’s not forget “postmortem care.”  I now know how to report abuse, neglect and exploitation, not to mention having a working knowledge of when to use restraints and seclusion training.  By the end of the day next Tuesday I should be well versed in a plethora of patient care services including but not limited to fall risk assessment, pain management, blood administration, IVs and palliative care.

And yes, as unattractive as it may be, I am whining.  I am giving myself permission to have a pity party.  I have a terrible cold and no Clint to make over me and feel sorry for me.  He would fix me a hot toddy, pile covers over me and order me to sweat it out.  I’ve had a headache for 24 hours, probably a result of the three large vodka drinks I consumed last night when I was playing Bingo at the country club with Loren.  No, that is not a typo.  I actually went to Bingo at the club last night.  Not that there is anything wrong with  Bingo, and Loren is really good company.  What’s really got me feeling so pitiful is the liquor I drank on what amounted to an empty stomach.  Note to self:  You are nearly 62 years old and you know better, especially since you had class today.

I haven’t had an original thought all day, and that is what is really eating at me.  I’m supposed to be a writer but I don’t have anything to say today.  I am going to blame it on the vodka. 

(It’s better than nothing).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Zoom-Zoom Stream of Crazy


Where am I going now?  I start classes in a nursing re-entry program on Wednesday, that I know.  But where am I really going?  As a writer, what direction will I take?  I don’t want to write today, don’t have anything to say or any ways to be entertaining.  I’m exhausted and cranky and need to nest after a frenetic trip to Savannah yesterday.  Zoom-Zoom.  Not enough time with anyone, not really.  I dashed into Addie’s house to deliver birthday presents for her little brother Michael.  I had to borrow some mascara because I left home without putting on any makeup.  Then I swept in and out of Zona Rosa to leave some material with Rosemary.  I got lost in downtown Savannah, but I eventually found myself.  Dashing around makes me crazy and interferes with my focus.  Wil had a solo in his orchestra’s performance.  (He’s first chair oboe in the All State Orchestra for ninth and tenth graders).  They were so good, I cried.  I stared at Wil so intently that he went out of focus and I had to blink to make sure I was looking at the right face.  I am proud of him and in awe of his talent.  I cried some while we waited for his performance.  I was wobbly and everyone who follows this blog will probably vomit if I say another word about being wobbly.  Just take is as a given from now on.  Some days I wobble, some days I don’t.  The minute I got home last night, I stripped out of my clothes and put on the red sweater and some old plaid pajama bottoms.  Wil and Lisa spent the night and that made me happy.  I want to write a poem but poems are like burps or the hiccoughs for me.  They just leap out of me.  I want one to leap out now, but nothing is happening.  I have a misguided idea that I need to post on my blog more often.  What about today, when I don’t have anything to say?  I’m tired but I don’t feel crazy.  Red Flag.  Am I sad?  I could be, but I could be just tired.  I miss Clint more than ever when I get this way, writing down that I don’t want to write anything down, then writing down a bunch of shit anyway.  It’s a tangle of thoughts and feelings.  I’m probably getting this way because I am listening to an audiobook of Madame Bovary.  I shit you not.  What do you suppose that says about me?  That misery loves company, that I have some desire to punish myself just because I am alive?  I tell myself that I'm listening for the language, the beauty of Flaubert's prose, but I think I really want to find someone more miserable than I.   Shove in that knife a little farther, cj.  Just do it.  See how much you can bear.  I haven't had cigarette in over a week and I ate a chocolate chip scone for breakfast.