straight hair tangled dreams

The wall

Tuesday morning I rolled out of bed close to 6:30 a.m., having punched "sleep" on my alarm several times. I shuffled out of bed, went to the bathroom, got into a sports bra, running shorts and shirt, grabbed a pair of socks. I tied up my hair, pushing strands back with a headband and booted up my laptop to check the weather. As I strapped on my Garmin and iPod armband, I remembered.

I remembered I had dreamed of my Granddad. He was alive, and there was nothing strange about it. He was alive, but still sick - still dying, still being eaten from the inside by two terminal cancers. Still holding a ticking time bomb in his chest, pulsing at the joining of his rib cage: a abdominal aortic aneurism. The one he refused to have operated on a second time, because dying from a triple-A is much faster, much less painful than dying from cancer.

But something was different. The house was the same: dreamy, yes, but more accurate than most dream settings. The slant of the house built into a hill. The color of the walls. I think it even smelled the same - can you smell in dreams?

What was different was my Granddad. What was different was he looked how I remember him from before - before he was really dying. Before, when he was living on borrowed time, when he was robust and healthy, with that deep voice, the rattle of it. He had a big belly - all the treatments and health problems - he was ashamed of, because he was always so fit and strong and vital. When he was young, he cycled regular with his big German shepherds and Irish wolfhounds. He lifted weights. My mom says she remembers her big, strong daddy holding her when she was tiny, disappearing in his arms.

I looked at him, and his face was full of color. He had more hair - not much, still, but more. His cheeks were full, and he was smiling, laughing. Telling stories.

And Shannon was on his way. Shannon, who never got to meet him, because every time we tried, he was too sick to receive more guests than just family. He was on his way: I don't know from where, and I don't know why we didn't arrive together, but I remember being thrilled, so excited that the love of my life would finally meet my Granddad, and my Granddad would meet him. Tell him stories in that deep voice of his. Make him laugh hysterically from jokes I had heard a hundred times, but never stopped being hilarious.

He collapse to the floor, and I don't know if he was breathing, if his heart was beating, if it was the triple-A, or something else. I remember calling for help, insisting he needed his painkillers, which I knew were in the refrigerator (not because they need to be kept cold, but everyone knew where they were, without hesitation, without confusion, when they were needed) - I called out that he needed his... his... I couldn't think of the word "morphine" and instead said "heroin" insistently.

I woke up to the sound of my alarm, forgetting, only to remember later, sipping water and swallowing a gel pack before my run. I ran into the memory like a wall, and had to remember how to breathe. How not to simply lie on the floor waiting to be rescued. How to keep moving, pick up my feet, one in front of the other. How to walk. How to run.

This September 11th, it will have been two years. I live in denial - in forgetfulness - most of the time.

But the wall of memory sneaks up on me when I vulnerable, sleeping, dreaming. Dreaming of my Granddad alive, healthy. Rosy-cheeked and laughing.

And I remind myself to breathe. To walk. To run. To live.
veins pumped battery acid

Things that won't end: Space. Survivor. This week.""

I'm having the most absurd week at work, made more absurd by the fact that I took a half-day PTO tomorrow to leave for Sasha's bachelorette party (in Columbus) and am still probably going to work close to 40 hours this week anyway. I'll write about all this, and the weekend festivities, later on when I can handle it.

In the meantime, for interested parties, here is my Pittsburgh half-marathon race report (it's looooong) over at my running blog. So at least you know what I was up to LAST weekend.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to eat the chocolate rebel cookies (and dough - don't judge me, flyingirish13, some of us normal people like raw cookie dough) my wonderful friend Ellen brought me.

Up too late

I owe an entry about the following (but I want to do a little more writing and then need to crash because I'm an old woman I get up at 6 a.m. like a crazy person):

-Shannon's birthday weekend
-An absolutely gorgeous long run on Saturday on the Hilliest Route Ever
-How not to conduct a pilates class
-How my boss is trying to kill me (or at least my spirit) with deadlines
-Why my sister-in-law is the sweetest thing ever
-How the Air Force is totally fucking my brother (part II)

Love to you all. I know weather isn't the same everywhere, but I'm pretty sure it's getting nicer in most places. So get your asses outside: run, cycle, walk, lay in the sunlight and read. Sit in a park. Walk/run to errands instead of drive. I don't care. Just get OUT there and enjoy it.

Also, pray for Japan. The photos and videos and headlines are absolutely terrifying and devastating.

Stay tuned.
so this is love

All I ever promised was that I would be your friend. And I couldn't keep that.

I just watched Life as a House, which I've seen a dozen or so times. I'm not sure why I watch it as often as I do. In reality, it's not a stellar film. It borders on scatterbrained and melodramatic at times. But I think what draws me back - or who - is Kevin Kline. His performance is stellar, as any classically trainer actor of his caliber. But there's something about him in this movie. Or maybe it's in general. But in this role in particular, and no, I'm not calling him old when I saw this - he reminds me of my Granddad.

It's not the cancer. Or the untimely death. Though that's part of it. It's something of the elegance in his nature: the way he speaks, the way he gestures. The tenor of his voice. His expressions. Something about how he switches from beautifully serious to wonderfully comical in a flash, and back again.

Forgive me for this entry - it, too, will be scatterbrained. Bordering on melodramatic.

I've been sick all this week. Came down with a cold that I thought was just laryngitis at first, having stayed up until 7 a.m. on New Year's Eve. It turned into a full blown cold as I worked from home all week (thank goodness my job is flexible enough for this). Last night I crawled into bed at 8:15 but wasn't able to sleep until I'd read for over an hour, taken a shower to try to clear my sinuses, and tossed and turned for another 15 minutes. I had strange dreams: some funny, some sad, some random, some were nothing at all. Some I don't remember. I hit snooze on my 6:30 a.m. alarm, planning on starting work at 7 as I had all week so I could work out around lunch time. At 6:55, I changed my alarm to 8:00 a.m. I fell asleep again, and had more dreams.

In the last one, I stood at a precipice, in a doorway, maybe leading into a balcony. And I had a version of a dream that I have every so often, where I get to state my peace piece. But it's always different. This time, as I said my chosen words, I lost them in a sob. In the dream - whether as the dreamer, or as myself in the dream I'm not sure - I wondered why, wondered if the tears were real or a ruse, some attempt to get something that I thought I wanted, or needed. And just before I did, I woke up. In another minute as I lay on my back, catching my breath, my cat crawled across my stomach and stared at my face, breathing and purring, as if asking me what was up, if I was okay.

We're a week into the new year. I haven't set forth my resolutions officially yet, so I'll do that now.

I resolve to write or edit every day.

I resolve to take several steps towards getting my first novel published, the one which I am now editing. I resolve to find an agent or a publisher this year.

I resolve to travel more, to see friends and family and explore.

I resolve to read more.

I resolve to put myself out there as much as possible - to make friends here, to make a life for myself here.

I resolve to try to fix things (again) with my dad. To stop trying to fix him, and just fix us. Accept him for his limits. He will not apologize, or understand. And I have to learn to live with that. And not give up showing him how much I love him anyway.

I resolve to be better about things like sending cards and calling people.

I resolve to run often, at least three times a week. And do so more without music. Just listen to the sounds around me. To the sound of my feet hitting the ground. The sound of my breath - however ragged from however many miles, over however steep a hill.

I resolve to, if I'm ready, run my first full marathon.

I resolve to go to shul twice a month as I had been doing for a bit (but fell to the wayside near the end of 2010).

I resolve to be the best girlfriend, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, friend... that I can possibly be. Every day.

I resolve to sing more.

I resolve to write down every piece of story fodder. I resolve not to forget anything worth remembering: any character, any voice, any sound, any moment, any touch, any memory - sweet or painful, light or dark.

I've spent too many hours sitting in this apartment. In my tissue-filled misery, I thought I may be getting sicker, rather than better. Until I spent an hour and a half after I finished working for the day cleaning the apartment and when I stepped outside - twice - to take out the trash, the fresh, crisp air after the snow fall felt wonderful. Moving around felt amazing. Having a clean apartment... even better.

So much happened last year, it's hard to believe. I took a class with James McBride. I ran all year long. I graduated from NYU. I got a job. I moved to a different state. I got my own apartment, which I found by myself. I now live in the same city as my boyfriend, whom I've been dating over four years now (four years, three months months and two days, but who's counting). I ran my first 10-K, 5-K, 5 mile race and half-marathon. My brother was deployed to Afghanistan. My friend Sasha is engaged. My Grandpa turned 90. My mother was proposed to for the third time in her life to a man I think is very good for her. The second man who proposed to her died suddenly and tragically in September. My father...

Last year was such a transitional time for me, but I don't know if that feeling will ever go away. If I'll ever feel like I'm a real grown up: with a real job, making real money, living in a real apartment. That it isn't all a dream, or an act. Like I'm playing with Monopoly money. Like this job is just an internship. This apartment is just a dorm my parents pay for. That I really am building a life for myself. I'm on my own - completely. In ways that are equal parts thrilling and scary. If I'll ever stop feeling like a little kid playing pretend.

A girl with a notebook and pen, pretending to be a writer. Who will read me? Who will remember?

It's getting late, I know, and I still need my rest. I'm on the mend, but not there just yet.

I guess that is really what it's all about. Not being there yet, but being on the mend. Keeping pace with the change, even if just barely. Even if you never realize it. Even when you look back on a memory that feels like yesterday, or last month. And realize it was a year ago. Or even six.

So here's to that. Here's to waking from the dream, even with a pounding heart and racing mind, and finding truth or fiction there. Here's to stepping out each and every day, and seeing what the day will bring.
kiss to forget

They'll never hurt you like I do

Editing this one scene, just this one, is proving to be impossible. I almost can't look at the page. I don't know why. It's not the first of its kind so far in the manuscript. What's stopping me?

I haven't listened to this song in...years.

I'll try again tomorrow. Maybe by hand. Or at a coffee shop. Or something. Anything.
straight hair tangled dreams

What dreams may come

I had one of those moments today - moments I think we all have from time to time - when I remembered a dream I had forgotten upon waking this morning. I didn't recall details: more just a moment, a feeling. I was looking out the window at work, watching the snow spinning down wildly, listening to a Placebo song saying something about shaking off this mortal coil when I remembered.

I dreamt that someone was dead. Someone I used to know (or thought I did) and that either I had just found out, or was remembering that I already knew. Had somehow forgotten this fact. Don't ask me how.

I know what it was. A few things, really, besides those rapidly and randomly firing neurons beneath the tethers of sleep. I had been talking to my mom, and the topic of her ex-fiance came up, the one who (loyal readers know) just passed away in September of a freak stroke at age 53. I'd been checking on his kids on Facebook, seeing how they were doing, snooping if you will. Sarah, his daughter, only a year younger than I, had posted a bunch of old photos of him, as well as shared a link to another's album of pictures from the memorial paddle out put on by some of his lifeguard and surfer friends. They smiled and laughed and cried and rode the waves and gave the shaka and held up pictures of him, for him. It is so strange, that he's gone. Unreal. Most of the time, I don't believe it.

But my dream wasn't about him. But someone else. Someone who, if he were dead, I would never know.

There's this sort of helpless rage when you find out someone you knew has died. Even if you didn't talk to them anymore (perhaps especially if you didn't), even if you were angry with them, you become angry. Furious. Confused. You deny it. You weep and yet, you don't believe it. I don't recall crying in this dream, but for that brief moment, I remember that anger--that rage. That bubble of disbelief. It was absurd. Someone who does not exist int he bubble of my life anymore - who doesn't touch my existence in any tangible way - can't be dead. It's selfish and self-centered. We are all the star of our own lives, a story our inner monologue narrates, a saga our daily life frames and contains. But it isn't true, and when something - someone - deviates, we are angry.

Think of your worst enemy. Your former best friend. Your first kiss. Your first date. Your first love. Your first tormenter, who tripped you in the hall or pulled your ponytail. If he/she/they died, and you somehow found out, how would you feel? And if you never found out, you could live in blissful denial - something like the feeling of immortality for all those that surround you. When our eyes close, the world around us... vanishes.

The writing continues, and so the dreams come. I can't fight them off, and I can't deny them. All I can do is put them in a box: the world of fiction, a world I create. A world that exists only in my imagination. A world that grows only as my fingers put it to the page. A word I can control, at least to a point. A world of escape. A world of absolution. A world of life and immortality, one that persists beyond the final page (still so far off, now).

A world of catharsis. Of memory.
any day now

We left our love in our summer skin

This may be a little premature, but so is the winter season. Or at least, according to some old birds, Pittsburgh natives, chatting in the women's locker room at my gym.

I left work close to 5:45 (I've just been assigned a behemoth of a case. The news file alone is 1,611 pages. Yes, you read that correctly) and it was pitch dark out, of course, and snowflakes were drifting down all around me. I pulled my hat down tight, my gloves up to my wrist, and thought about the fact that on my first day of work, it was close to 90 degrees, and just as humid. Summer was really just beginning, and now I have been living here long enough for winter to be here.

Ben and Ellie are leaving this week, which I knew they would, but it also seemed far enough away not to happen. When they leave, I'll be that much more on my own. No immediate family just a fifteen minute drive away. No automatic companion at shul, or place to go to for Shabbos dinner (that's not entirely true. Ben's aunt Ruth, who is my Aunt Debbie's sister, and therefore not my direct aunt, has de facto adopted me as her niece, so I really still have family). No more game nights.

They took me in when I had just gotten a job, just like that, out of the blue. All luck and timing, perhaps a little providence. They housed and fed me and showed me the ropes.

I'm on my own.

Truth is, I have been for a while. I found my apartment all on my own. I pay my own bills. I buy my own groceries. I set my own schedule. I'm not rich, and I certainly don't have a disposable income, but I'm very comfortable. And I did it myself.

This time last year, I was freaking out about finals. I was staying up until 3 a.m. finishing a twenty page paper. I was writing a novel (which I am now editing). I was still living hudreds of miles away from Shannon.

And now? He's less than a five minute drive away.

It still doesn't feel real. Just like college never really felt real... and then suddenly, it was. It was probably about the time that it was about to end. But this is the longest span I have lived away from home. Semesters are really only three and a half to four months, and my winter breaks were always over a month. A solid month at home, with my family and friends I've known for years. So much has changed.

I still feel like I'm playing pretend. That I'm living in a dorm. Playing with monopoly money. Doing homework, rather than doing real work. That sometime soon, I'll have break when I can just sleep all day and relax and watch movies. That I'm not really a nine-to-fiver now. That I can choose my own breaks and vacations, but only within certain limits.

That I'll wake up soon, and find this was all a dream.

I have some writing to do, and a little reading. And then sleep, before I begin the routine again.