Saturday, November 29, 2014

dear daughters

I don't honestly know how to word all that I would want to say to them. 

Under a limitless sky they crawl up the rocks and track through the dirt. The desert wind pushing them around, their laughter cutting through in choppy waves. They dance and giggle uncontrollably while I mull around the desert like a naughty puppy, always wandering off.

It is stupid how much I love the way the wind sounds in the desert, I say. 
He shakes his head, It's not stupid at all. 

I think about how comfortable I feel standing here, the desert rising around me. I had been given an hour's notice, warning that guns and balloons would be involved. Hosted by a man who falsely believes me capable of keeping up with him and my answer was yes, oh yes.

He and I stand back with the rocks and watch them as their antics unfold across the landscape. We watch our daughters unbound by the rules that await them. Silently agreeing with what we are each thinking and feeling for them. 

It seems girls have to give up so much to grow-up.  

High up nestled in the rocks against the wind I hear Beach say to Sophie, I want to learn to do that trick that you run up the wall and back flip... but they only teach it to the boys. 

Oh please don't let go, 
if you can remember who you are while standing under a limitless sky
you will know you don't ever have to give up this kind of freedom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The conversations aren't going well. He and I simply aren't good over the phone. We never have been. There is too much distance to read.

I try telling him only the good or the bad that is funny. The house is clean, the kids happy and well fed, the animals not dead. 

I don't tell him I have successfully managed to peel off another couple of pounds and in the process jack-up my bad shoulder. He would just worry. 

Last night driving home from the gym in the dark Beach and Sophie laughing and chatting in the backseat I could sense the bottom coming. 

Each little giant on the phone to a missing parent: both talking to dads. I overhear that somehow Beach missed getting her beam score because 'mom wanted to go'. 

That wasn't true. It seemed a completely unfair accusation. But such a minor offense arguing it with BC would be petty. 

I hadn't rushed her, or I hadn't meant to. Not after all the time I put in, all the time she puts in. Yes, I was having an off night. And my shoulder killed and something was in the air I could feel but not doesn't matter. It's just me.

So I accepted the phone after she was done and he and I talked. Somewhere in a break of the usual words he asked, "Are you okay?" 

I sort of snapped back because I thought he was asking something else. I thought it was a reference to my cell phone skills or lack there of.  It wasn't. He was honestly asking for the first time if I was okay.

We have suspended our lives for about 9 months. I have missed 2 whole seasons of camping. Held our expectations and waited for the real waiting to begin. 

Standing here at the tip of this I would say: I have put my life on hold. I have pushed aside all my values and wants. Everything I believe about love and family is hanging in the winter wind. 

I have agreed to do this despite all the costs to everyone involved. All for his one chance to follow his dreams. And I would say to him: Of course I am okay- I'm in love with you.  
BC and Scott salvaging a beam from the river.
In the little bits of sleep I stole last night I dreamed of long boarding down the long black river trail. I could feel the cold stinging my eyes, the wind push against my ears, and the uneven burning in my legs from the way I stand and pump. I could even make out the tingling anticipation of a poorly timed peddle or twig jamming beneath a wheel- it's always the small stuff that brings you down.    

I am giving this 'holding down the fort thing' everything I have. And from somewhere, somehow, I would gladly give you even more. In fact, I am sure that moment lays ahead. 

But I do now have a favor I would like to ask of you. I hardly ever ask for material goods but I would really like to have a long board again... sometimes a runner needs a way to stop running without losing ground. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

sleep to dream

I keep having these dreams that I am an estate sale or clothing swap and I am trying to find things Beach needs- free things, good things, things offered up for the taking by the generosity & thoughtfulness of others, things I can't give her on my own....
the feeling is quiet desperation.
This morning I lay in my bed watching her twitch in her sleep. Mental note: don't let her sleep in bed with me after meets. She hit me so hard in the face last night, probably saluting, it made my nose bleed. 

Hours later she is still sleeping. I have long since finished the farm chores. Long since shaken the stinging cold of carrying metal buckets of crisp water around the yard, dumping and filling watering stations.  My boots dotted with sticky leaves in the mudroom waiting for the next time. My gloves already lost, my hat somewhere in the bed-sheets- I fell asleep with it on last night.

And in a silent house over a hot cup of coffee I think about the dreams, about the things, about the feeling, and I know what I am looking for has been right in front of me this whole time. 

The free, (well, indirectly free), the good, the generosity & the thoughtfulness, that which I alone can't give her, it's all laid out for the taking. It is way up high, on the second floor, seated on the bleachers, bubbling over in fits of laughter. And it is out across the sprawling maze of blue, in the distance appearing calm.  

It is so abundant in our lives it falls like drenching rain, soaking us and puddling at our feet.

...we are not alone.

I certainly hope now I can find better things to do while I am dreaming than to waste time looking for what we already have.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

she was my sister

He watches me go to my knees and pull the box from its hiding place under the east slope of the house's low eves.  I drag it out.  He watches me as I circle the box a few times then open it.  I pull out two frames both of which the glass has been shattered. I set them on the lid and circle the box a few more times.  It is over flowing with photographs and papers- none of which are mine.

He breaks, "Are you going to be able to do this?"

"Yes, of course."

 I'm not feeling anything. There is a dull remembrance of a time when feelings were all I knew. The world of reason and logic silent and the chaos of lose, of regret, and of something else I don't have words for, took over.

People who know me now may not have any idea. And as much as I don't want to out myself not having any idea is a big part of what killed my sister. So the truth is after my sister died I suffered a complete mental collapse. I sank so far into depression I didn't even want out. 

The trigger for destabilization was PTSD.  Although I might have been the "good" well, the "better" sister of the 2 of us, I was not as smart as we thought I was. 

I thought all my medical knowledge, all my time sorting through the dead of others, all my time in the OR, my success in the ER, all my book smarts, that they would protect me from any of the gruesome reality of my own sister's death. I foolishly thought I was untouchable, mentally and emotionally. I knelt in her blood, cleaned her apartment, identified the 4 day old rotting corpse and thought I would be okay. 

I wasn't.       

"Will you be able to be honest with her?" He asks.
"I can answer any question she asks but...." and the stammering takes over. This is disassociation a coping skill that turns disease. 

However I managed to climb out of the darkness of those couple of years, I paid a price. And I don't mean having to walk away from a career in medicine. I am at peace with that decision.  What was hard was I had to give up all my words about it. I can see them lined up down a long alley and as I try to read them doors start closing- leaving me wordless. An ironic event only witnessed by those asking about my sister, life with my ex husband, or about love & commitment. 

My niece, her daughter, is coming over to talk to me. She has questions for me about her mother. I am the person most willing to be honest- me and this box. 

For better or worse I am the keeper of her mother's soul. And too many things have been left unsaid.

Driving in the dark (excerpt from Taming Venus)
How do you explain the slow descend into madness?  What words would you choose to describe the world as seen though my eyes?  Would it matter?  I mean, how anyone who has not been there themselves could possible be made to understand just how I came to be here not knowing which direction I was running.  Whatever reason stops you, you will find a world crashing to a halt carries casualties in its wake. And when you dare to open your eyes you will find that this is the bottom. Maybe it isn’t so bad.  Maybe around the next corner you will find your way.  Standing alone beneath a ceiling of grey branches stabbing out the sky one by one, walled in by thick knee-high under brush threatening to over take the trail.  The road, worn with deep troughs, long ago weathered and dried.  It is as if summer has forgotten this place, sentenced to an endless winter without snow.  At every corner there is another turn, no spots from which you can view your progress.  In shadow there is an ominous feeling of a mountain high above you but no sight of it.  Do you continue up hoping to find your mountain or do you ascend hoping to find you home?    
I often believe it all still there.  The apartment intact, her body underneath me as I straddled her width, reaching into the bathroom greedily grabbing the most out of reach, most hated, most prized of all, the thing I believe she saw last- the photo of her children.  I see the currents of evil and hopelessness circling the rooms as I waded through them.  I see time over lapping.  I see my sister walking to her death.  I see her.  Was she scared? Did she know? 

Related Blog Posts:

Taming Venus, mlb  (A real life, firsthand, unedited, often graphic, diary-essay of the time surrounding my sister's death and the aftermath.)

Seven Years, give or take, mlb

Friday, November 14, 2014

in case you thought I was calling

I had a thought leaving the gym last night: 

And I want to be a captain
And I want one of those red rubber school balls.
And I want it over inflated so there are no questions about whether or not someone was hit or not.

My team would be the Pirates, unless someone more clever than me found us a better name- then we would be that.

We don't have to play for me to know my team would win. The people I would choose to stand beside me might have horrible aim, might be slow jumpers, I don't have any idea how fast any of their reflexes are. I haven't tested them by chucking random objects at them and seeing how they do. 

I could start. I will pray about it. You will know what I decide when it happens.

I have to be realistic, it is very possible my team would never make it out of the locker room- victims of an inside joke or 2.  Laughing too hard to walk, too busy having fun together to remember what they were supposed to be doing.   

But it doesn't matter because there is one thing the people I would I choose to be on my team all have in common- they all know that although "winning" is nice and "losing" is hard it's how you play the game of life between those 2 false poles that actually counts. 

I would pick people who would never waste their valuable playtime together keeping score. 
People who make the world shake with laughter, win or lose. 
People who would raise you up while taking your ass down. 

Yes, I had a thought last night standing in the cold. Rain wanting so much to be snow falling on my head. Surrounded by the of laughter of a group of people, the many women, & the brave few men, that are GTC.  We are truly so lucky to have the chance to walk this journey with them.  

On second thought perhaps that ball shouldn't be red but it should be:

 "competition blue" 

Because the team I would pick would take playing a game with blue balls very seriously~

Thursday, November 13, 2014

at the crack of

4:15 am and I am standing in the middle of the street because I have run out of stuff to not do in the house.

I am looking for something I’m not finding. It’s not on the flat screen of social media, or deep inside a cup of coffee in an unlit kitchen. It’s not under the abandoned blankets on my side of the bed or mixed in the watery shadows of a sleeping household.  

In the dark and the cold, centered on the road there is silence like falling snow. 

I can’t feel my toes; too thin of socks. It doesn’t matter, a quarter mile in I wouldn’t feel them anyway no matter what I wore this morning.

What I am trying to find is locked somewhere in my head and I can’t concentrate long enough to grasp it. It rolls high, billowy-gray and promising but i'm not keeping up.

There is only one way to catch that which is over my head- put it under my feet.

This is a horrible habit to start, this skipping out of bed at 4 am to go running….then pretending I didn’t. 

But I suppose there are worse things.  

"… it is the way I laugh in the desert. When the weight and worry of the world has long since blow away. Dried up between the sages and drifted off into the horizon smeared with clouds promising night rain. 

It is the sound of who I used to be, before I built my defenses too high to escape their shadows...   

And it comes out with you because…."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

you want a what?

"I really wished they made a breakfast beer."

"A what?" 

"You know kind of like instant breakfast but beer." 

"Misty, that is one of those ideas you are supposed to keep inside your head." 

"I know but it is so crowded in there right now that some of them are leaking out."

Monday, November 10, 2014

reason no. 3 to be a morning person, the early runner always finds the bodies

One day I will wake up and go for a nice little run and it will  be so calm and peaceful it will be right out of an orange juice commercial. The End.
Thank god today was not that day....
I had decided it was early enough & cool enough to sneak north. I figured the spiders under the freeway bridge (& the homeless) would be sleeping. What I didn't count on finding was a beaver on the side of the trail.
I finished my run- fast. 
Collected Beach and drove back to the nearest trail head. We had to run a field and hop a fence or 2 (may or may not have included a tiny bit of trespassing) but there it was.
Okay, so not quite as dead as I remembered it being when I was there alone 
but still....
 The threat of rabies is always a good topic to brush-up on.
 That would be Beach refusing to come down off the rail after the 'dead' beaver lunged at me while I was taking a close-up.
 Nothing but confidence in her mother's ability to evaluate risk & road kill. 
 Anyway, I was half right, it was mostly dead.
 I can assure you the one thing I will not die from is boredom. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

forget the moon

I'm pretty sure none of what I write today will make much sense. Dispatches from the far field... thoughts like words you can hear but not quite make out because the distance is too great. 

Or perhaps that is a lie.
I know exactly what is there under the layer of fragile frost. 
I know what the moon stirs over the night.

but i'm not big enough to do anything about it 

Not smart enough to remember that flip-flops are a poor choice for a morning stroll around the perimeter of the farm checking fences; checking for casualties of the night.

Dragging around my camera, a cup of coffee, and a the obvious signs that I have broken a finger or two one too many times.

 "It never occurs to her something is wrong when it is. 
They said that is the reason she travels in the company of dogs."  
~Life With Man, mlb~