Thursday, December 18, 2014

All I Want for Christmas...

All the popular bloggers are doing it, so I will too! Here is my Christmas wishlist of "OMG PLZ GIVE ME" stuff that has a 99% likelihood of being denied. (Which, you know, means that eventually, I will have to buy this for myself.)


All's I can say is, I've been hanging out in SoCal too long. Wtf, why do I care about a designer label? But the lines on it are so classic, and it's so lovely and pink and bold!

I have been so obsessed with this pendant since I saw it on Pretty Shiny Sparkly's blog. But UUUURGH, it's sold out! This delicate, chic, colorful piece of jewelry is not for me now. Yet.

 I regard most perfumes like I do wines: My sniffer and tastebuds are broken; don't expect me to appreciate this shit! But I recall, vaguely, that this perfume was delicious when I first took a sniff, and so I've been captivated ever since.

I've been in love, absolute-so-far-gone love with this piece since I first laid eyes upon it. It reminds me of a long-ago October afternoon in Middle America, when an overcast sky was fought with the chilly sunlight and resulted in golden rays shining brightly but feebly through a lavender-grey mass of swiftly moving clouds. In 2015, I'd like to assemble a gallery wall, and this may end up being the masterpiece.

Mid-Range Goodies:

Now, let's get real, shall we? When December 26 rolls around and I am in the doldrums, these are what I am more likely to be popping into my shopping cart:

 Q&A a Day

What was the best part of today? What are you reading right now? What was the last restaurant you went to?  My sisters will be the first to say that I have really, really lousy taste--in culture, in books, hell, probably in men. But bad or not, it's my taste, and I like to know how these tastes--and thoughts, and goals, and ideas-- shift and evolve.

 Staedtler TriPlus Fineliners. IN ALL THE COLORS.
 Since I discovered the world of blinging out your Erin Condren Life Planner, I've been coveting these lovely ladies. Because, you know, I just don't have enough pens.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I seriously don't understand how I haven't gotten this yet.

Hello Kitty Aviator Hat 

 Last Christmas, my sister's boyfriend got her a cutesy aviator hat, which she promptly plopped on and announced that she would always knit while wearing it. I love the idea of creative rituals and ritualistic tools, so this shall be mine! At least in the winter months.

Enh, Stuff It In that Stocking:

 So pretty! So colorful! So in my shopping cart!

These are perfect little gifts, not too expensive, and so graceful and scenty. For those who can smell. I guess I'm just a poseur.

Cards Against Humanity Expansions

If you have played this game, you know how fun this is as a gift. And what a perfect stocking stuffer! This isn't nearly as graceful or elegant as the previously-mentioned candles. But I guess I'm just a conundrum wrapped in an enigma wrapped in bacon.

So that's it. That's what is in my mental shopping-list. Or at least, that's a little of what's in my mental shopping list. What are you thinking of getting for yourself as a post-Christmas treat?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Farewell

A year ago tonight was my mother's last night in this life.

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of her passing. "Dead Mom Day," I've taken to referring to it in my characteristically vulgar fashion, as if by putting it as baldly as possible, I will lessen the complicated sadness of this whole fucked-up experience.

In many ways, I was much more upset with Mom's initial cancer diagnosis, the surgery, the prognosis, than I was with her death. I certainly cried much more when faced with her possible demise than when faced with her actual demise. Yet, as the months go on, I find that grief presents itself in odd, yet sharply poignant, ways. An increasingly unbearable homesickness. A silly wish that one of my sisters decides to have children. The absurd desire to know what her young adulthood was like. A heaviness in my center that just feels like a melancholic, spiritual sadness.

We never said farewell. And if I don't tap into this well of muted sorrow that seems to grow deeper by the day, I don't know that we will ever say our farewell.

She and I, we weren't close in the traditional sense, particularly after I grew up. When I was ten, I went to go live with her parents, and at the time--for two decades--I didn't question it or feel it as a rejection. Only after her diagnosis, when certain truths could no longer be ignored, did I begin to see and feel things differently. I was her youngest daughter, and when she sent me to live with my grandparents, perhaps it was because I was the one who needed the most when she was able to give it the least. Because, you see, she was Elaine before she was my mother, and Elaine was troubled.

My sisters will be the first to tell you that their bonds with her, their knowledge of her, came at a steep price. It was all about Elaine, all the time, every day. I didn't grow up feeling her increasing demands upon me, so I never felt obligated to cede to them, the way that my sisters did. You want a piece of the Mom? You better be willing to give her a bigger piece of you.

Well, I suppose it's water under the bridge, or some other dismissive figure of speech. She's gone--or maybe not so much? When I was in Florida, my sisters and I went and visited a psychic medium in Cassadaga, and while the woman we saw certainly muttered a bit of balderdash, she said quite a few things that let us know that Mom was "there." It was an odd and emotional experience, but at the end, the lady said to us, "She visits you all the time."

At the time, I found that a bit hard to believe, seeing as how getting her to visit anyone or answer the phone was difficult enough when she was on this fucking plane of existence. I'm still not sure that I believe that she visits me. And yet...

Maybe she does. Maybe she does it when Hermione, her cat that I hauled back to California, who meows and mrrrrrps at the oddest times. Maybe she does it when I hear the folksy strains of Judy Collins or Peter, Paul, and Mary. Maybe she does it every time I utter a foul word, for who else did I learn my language from? Maybe she visits each time my sisters and I come together.

Or maybe she does it all the time, hanging out in my bedroom or my cubicle or hell, even in the shower, and I'm just as oblivious and estranged from her now as I was when she was alive.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Gotta Tell You: Florida Thanksgiving Trip

Last month, for Thanksgiving, I returned "home" to Florida.

My use of quotes is quite deliberate. These days, I don't know where home is. It's been a point of confusion in my head and heart since 2009 or so, and in the past year--since the passing of my mother--it's become a subject that is downright fraught with misery.

(Yup, I said it. Misery.)

I'd love to say my trip to Florida was wonderful. I'd like to say it was productive, filled with laughter and reminiscing and closure, that I connected with old friends, that I showed Mr. Melissa the delights of Florida. That I spent a good portion of it talking with my 93-and 96-year-old grandmother and grandfather.

I'd like to say all of this, but I cannot. I try not to lie when I can avoid it.

It was a necessary trip. It was the first time I had seen my sisters and grandparents since last Christmas.

It was, at times, a fun trip. No one can can make me laugh--or cry--like my sisters do.

It was an eye-opening trip. I watched Mr. Melissa interact with my family.

It was a sorrowful trip. The most poignant part came on Thanksgiving Day, when we looked at the oyster stuffing that Eldest had made (that my mother used to make) and saw how little of it was eaten. 

But ultimately, it was a heart-wrenching, harrowing, excruciatingly sad trip. I don't like to use the word trauma, because it feels like it might be more than somewhat trivializing to those who endure actual trauma. My initial description holds: It was rough. I can only say this: I spent a good part of the last two days of it crying my eyes out, not wanting to leave my sisters. Even now, I am starting to get teary-eyed. Only one thing really stands out to me: an hour or so before I said goodbye to them,  I said to my sisters, like it was some sort of fucking genius epiphany, "I'm miserable six months out of the year in California. I may as well be miserable six months of the year in Florida, with a chance for thunderstorms and being closer to my sisters."

Yet, if I don't live in California, why should I move back to Florida when there are cities in Indiana and Ohio and Illinois and Michigan and Missouri that could offer more of what I want? I'd have the seasons and balance that I crave, and at least be closer to Eldest and Middle.

Yet, I am in California. My wonderful job, my husband, my obligations are here. How can I leave?

Perhaps, it was a game-changing trip.

Or perhaps nothing changes.

Or perhaps I don't have the courage (or the money) to change.

At least yet.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Florida Vacation Lookbook

Taking a page out of one of my new favorite blogs, Paper and Glam, I'm going to instate an occasional "Lookbook"--not a lookbook of fashion, but more like a mini online scrapbook highlighting some of the various shenanigans in my life.

Edition the First: My 2014 Thanksgiving Trip to Florida
For quite a few of the past several years, I've returned home to Florida for Thanksgiving to visit family. Usually this leads to a lot of fun times, but starting in 2011, things started to get rough. My aunt passed away that year, a week before Thanksgiving. And then last year, my mother passed away about 10 days before Christmas. So this was our first Thanksgiving without our mother, and for my grandparents, now 93 and 96, it was their first Thanksgiving without any of their children. 

Still, there were many memorable moments...

countless fits of helpless giggles with me and my sisters...

Possibly the most delicious crawfish etoufee I've ever had, courtesy of Tibby's in Winter Park, Florida...

Quirky, doofy Florida humor...

A blissful day of perusing various stores at the Mall of Millenia (pre-Black Friday, of course!)...

A Thanksgiving morning mosey through Sugar Mill Plantation and Gardens...

A walk down down the beach at Ponce Inlet...

A day spent in Cassadaga, talking with a medium who knew a lot about our mother, and who offered some life advice that was maybe a little too close for comfort...

And speaking of the Momster, we transferred her ashes to the urn and got her all set up in the shrine in the Fairy Wonderland Bedroom.

Lest my Supportive Therapist (TM) accuses me of glossing over things too much, I'll just say that it wasn't all just yummy food and peaceful nature walks and drunken games of Cards Against Humanity.  For all these pretty pictures, for all the laughter, for all the wine consumed--it was still a rough trip. We're all getting older (duh) and each year it gets harder and harder to leave. I spent a good part of the last two days of my trip crying, conflicted, and tormented by life decisions that have kept me so very far from my sisters, from my grandparents...and yet, at the same time, I don't want to return to Florida to live. I don't know what the answer is, and it's been scalding my heart for the past ten days. 

And there's no picture that can capture what that looks like.