Tag: Love

Death Be Not Proud

“Unable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality.”
~ Emily Dickinson

Death is funny to me.  Not funny ha-ha, funny strange.  I don’t have a lot of experience with it, most of the deaths that I have been connected to have had the buffer of one or two degrees of separation.

As a child, the only death I remember was my grandfather’s when I was eight or nine.  I felt badly, I remember crying when my mother told me, but feeling oddly detached at his funeral.  The truth is I have never been extremely close to either set of grandparents or my extended family (extenuating family issues, coupled with the fact that growing up we were seldom on the same continent for more than a few days at a time).  My grandmother was (understandably!) distraught, and my mother was unbearably hurt, but the distinct memory I have of that day is feeling scared that I didn’t feel sad enough and wondering if something was wrong with me.

The trouble is that as I’ve grown up, death has become more and more frequent.  In this last year alone I’ve mentioned a few, but sitting back to run the tally, I’m a bit taken aback.  I have been vaguely connected (second and third degrees of separation with friends and coworkers) to three suicides, three automobile accident deaths, one passing from old age, two accidental deaths, and worked on two death cases at work.  It’s everywhere.  And I’ve felt as oddly detached from all of them as I did to my grandfather’s.

I wonder if this is because I’ve never been touched directly by death.  I have absolutely no idea how I would feel if either of my parents passed away, probably as if part of the ground had suddenly fallen away from under me.  If any of my siblings died I suspect I’d feel something beyond rage and pain – they’re kids after all, they aren’t supposed to die (even though I know kids die everyday).  Gio nearly drowned once and the sensation I felt was terrifying panic and corrosive guilt (I was his big sister and I hadn’t been paying attention to him when he went swimming in the deep end of the pool – I’d actually told him to leave me and my friends alone.  The next time I saw him he was being pulled from the water, blue and lifeless.  That horrible feeling has never left me).  If J. died… frankly I’m not sure where I’d be.  He teases me that he needs to die first so that I have to clean up after him and deal with the damage, I counter that he’s being a rotten selfish punk to leave me to do the emotional heavy lifting, and he comes back with, “You could handle it.  I couldn’t.”

I’m sure he means this as a testament to my personal strength of will (or something), but the first time he said something like that my first thought was, “Great, even my husband thinks I’m emotionally stunted…”

The funny (not funny ha-ha) thing about death to me is that life keeps going for those you leave behind.  Standing still has never seemed to be an option to me for survivors, and yet I have seen people brought to a crashing halt from personal loss and pain.  I have no idea what that must feel like.  I have no idea if my attitudes and detachment from death stem from genuine sangfroid or lack of personal experience, but either way I know exactly how lucky I am never to have been put in a position to find out.  Most people have casualties behind them.  I’m still waiting for my first massive personal loss, and just hoping I’ll be able to bear up and keep going when it does.

*Many thanks for your kind words towards my brother-in-law’s family.  Many of you are able to speak from a personal and authentic place that is truly compassionate and experienced.  None of us get out unscathed, and I think the only true balm is the wisdom and care of friends.

Long Distance

“A box of gorgeous flowers just landed on my desk and made me cry at work.  I hope you’re happy.”
– C.

Confession: I knew it was going to be hard to have J. move to London.  Even if it was just for a few months, I knew I would hate it; I’d feel lonely, bored, occasionally bitter, and all of this would war against my very real excitement for and pride in him.  But looking at a roller coaster and riding one are two very different things, my doves, and I’ve felt a little miffed by the experience so far.  Granted, I’ve got this marvelous cocktail of female hormones flooding my system right now, so that can’t be helping.

I’m not an overly emotional person, but I’ve never felt so weepy in my life as this past month.  Talking to him on Skype for the first time – stuttering in my throat.  When suddenly his face popped up on my screen (I don’t have a camera for my computer yet although he does, but we hadn’t been using it) – eyes watering.  Today when a box of beautiful flowers showed up on my desk – full on tears.

I married him and he turned me into a girl.  The horror.

But, ladies, everything I know about love I learned from this guy, so take my advice on this.  If a man stays up until midnight just to Skype with you because he, “likes listening to you talk,” run away with him.  Immediately.  Sooner if he’s got flowers.  Even if they make you cry.

And even if he goes to Hampton Court Palace without you.

Happy V-Day, Kittens

“It is plain that men are in charge of making saints.”
– Karen Cushman, Catherine Called Birdy

How to properly celebrate St. Valentine’s Day:

Also, build yourself a cathedral if you can, it adds swagger points.

1) Be a Roman priest during the reign of the Emperor Claudius Gothicus (because that name definitely belongs to a benevolent, wise, un-tyrannical autocrat), perform marriage ceremonies for Christians, get caught, and when on trial foolishly try to convert said unfortunately named emperor.  Survive a terrific beating, stoning, and finally die when guards run out of ideas and behead you.

1a) Or maybe be an early Christian convert who gets martyred (like they tended to do), but be fuzzy on the actual death details (also like they tended to do).

1b) Or finally be an obscure early Christian hermit who, neglecting utterly to conform to the social expectations of the time, failed to be martyred at all.

2) Fade into even more complete obscurity

3) Have Chaucer casually mention the tradition that February 14th is the day that birds choose their mates and forever after be associated with romance and love.

4) Stew for nearly another 700 years and enjoy the romance, kids!

Dating Advice

Your girlfriend, huh? Funny. She said otherwise.

Our department has quite the accumulated dating history and insight.  Between the roller coaster romances of our student employees and the dozens of people we caution, cite, and arrest for stalking, we are connoisseurs of crazy love.  Here’s some wisdom gleaned in the last two weeks.

(Discussing when to make a move to hold a girl’s hand)
Bebe: You just have to feel her vibe.  If she wants you to hold her hand or kiss you, she’ll let you know.
Stuckford: Her vibe, huh?
Bebe: Yeah.  Feel her vibe.
C.: Just, ah, don’t feel anything else!

(Know the correct name for foreign foods you intend to order.  For example, when desiring polenta do not say…)
Random girl one of our officers went out with: I like Italian food.  I’ll have the placenta.

And finally, if you’re married, don’t ask out one of your co-workers!  Trust me, that news will travel
Michael: Yeah…the bishop’s going to have something to say about that.
C.: …And God. 
Daisy: Well, I hit him on the head with a book and said “Begone!”  It worked.

Young. Love.

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.  When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”
– Unknown

We spent St. Valentine’s Day at church, scrubbing meat juices out of the fridge after a pot roast thawed and dripped everywhere, throwing away leftovers from (seemingly) nearly twenty years ago, leaving nothing but milk in fridge, celebrating Sadie’s birthday, eating red velvet cake at my godfamily’s house, playing games, and watching Masterpiece and the NBA all-star game.  I gave J. a gift certificate for a massage, he gave me this pretty thing I’ve been coveting.  Tomorrow we’re going to the Cheesecake Factory for the official wining-and-dining. 

I was never long on this holiday, nothing against it particularly, but thought it wasn’t the big deal some people make it out to be.  I’m coming around.

I think I'll keep him.

Six Month Anniversary

“So, every once and while I look up and go, ‘Oh, hey!  We have a fan in our kitchen,’ because I forget about it and you have these short little arms that can’t reach.”
“Shut up!”
-J. and C.

We spent January 1, 2010 flying in from London at 2am, crashing at my in-laws so we wouldn’t have to drive home at that ungodly hour, sleeping until 10 (jet lag), and lounging around waiting for nieces and nephews…who didn’t show up until ten minutes after we left, reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (which I couldn’t put down, go read it at once!), and crawling pitifully back in bed for a fitful night’s sleep.

It was also our six month anniversary. 

Now, J. might have an awful penchant for cracking short jokes, think that me getting furious is about the funniest thing possible, and not do the dishes as often as I would wish, but he also tolerates my stupid TV shows, kisses me at every opportunity, and flat-out orders me to a masseuse when my jet lag weariness won’t abate.

And that, my dears, is a very nice sort of husband to have.  I am terribly fond of him!

(Editor’s note: YES!  England trip updates are coming, I just keep forgetting to upload the – very sparse – photos we took!)

Gender. Confusion.

“I think so many people around here rush into marriage because they’re told not to have sex until they’re married and they’re desperate.”
“Definitely.  Or they think marriage is their only option and it just doesn’t make sense to say ‘no’ if they have the opportunity.”
“…I think we may be looking at this through our gender perspectives here…”
-J. and C.

Last night J. came down from the city and as soon as he walked in the door I declared, “I’ve engaged us for the evening!  Margot’s having a Tony Awards party at her house.  Angel’s coming and she’s bringing her husband so you’ll have someone to make fun of us with.”
“But-but-” he gestured at the TV desperately, “NBA finals!”
“Oh, ok, you don’t have to come, but I’d like to go even just for a little while.”
“It’s ok,” he said quickly, “I can come if you want me to.”
“No worries, you don’t have to unless you want to.”

I could see the inner debate starting to rage: tell her what she wants to hear vs. the truth and possibly get hurt and have to spend hours/days doing penance. 

menwomenNow, here’s the thing, I’ve never been A Girl about this sort of thing.  Ever.  Not the entire time we’ve been dating or even with any previous boyfriends.  I am not going to drag a guy along to something he hates merely to be beautifully cruel and powerful, not only is it rude but nobody has a good time.  So when I saw him struggling, I burst out laughing,
“You seem confused.”
“Well, yeah!” he said.
“You’re not getting punished, I’m not going to be bitter, and I’m not fishing for a right answer.”
The look on his face quite clearly said, This does not compute, so I just grabbed by bag and headed out the door saying cheerfully, “See you in an hour!”
Later when I asked him why after well over a year he’s still expecting me to suddenly turn evil he insisted, “Because someday, when I least expect it, I just know you’re going to get me with this one!”

It’s not the paranoia that offends me, it’s the lack of faith!

A Humorous Vignette

“A bachelor’s life is no life for a single man.”
-Samuel Goldwyn

Sometimes I think J. keeps me around just for the pleasure of watching the constant stream of wacky, inexplicable, laughable things that seem to happen to me.  We were cuddling at his flat last night, watching the basketball game with some of his flatmates, when he ran his hand down my arm, paused, and laughed, “You’ve got goosebumps.”
“No,” I answered in confusion and felt along my bicep as well.  There were some little bumps, but they weren’t goosebumps.  Perplexed I felt again because, in spite of the lack of redness or anything, it felt like an allergic reaction.
“What have I touched?” I demanded, glancing around the bacherlor pad.
“Well…you did touch The Blanket.”

It should be explained at this point that The Blanket has maintained a residence on one of the boys’ three sofas for as long as J. and I have been dating, and to this day I’m not entirely sure who it belongs to (as I’ve heard two names put forward as the owner).  I’ve also never personally seen anyone sleep under it, wrap oneself in it, cuddle with it, or any of the other uses a blanket in such a position usually adopts.  Obviously, it is regarded with a degree of wary respect/fear by visitors.

For us?  Too kind!
For us? Too kind!

I bolted off the sofa and stared at The Blanket, which I now realized I had been leaning against while watching the game, oblivious to my danger.
“What’s in that thing,” I snapped in fear, scratching at my arm, “smallpox?!”

I still have no idea what happened.  But I have another item on the list of why I’m enjoying having a place to myself (as if I needed any more after the wretched Exploding Milk Incident, the memory of which persists and keeps me from buying more than half gallon jugs out of fear of a reprisal).

Survival of the Fittest

“I am  never watching The Bachelor again!”
“Didn’t you tell me you said that a couple years ago?”
“This time I mean it!”
-Hennessy and C.

I swear, if I have to hear about The Bachelor’s choice from one more co-worker, friend, or news anchor I may spontaneously combust.  I’ve never watched the show, although Kiri got most of our flatmates hooked on it when we lived together, so perhaps I’m not one to judge…but from my limited expose I venture to postulate it’s one of the sluttiest shows on TV.  It’s in league with Rock of Love in which strippers compete for the fondling–I mean love!–of a fickle rockstar, For the Love of Ray J in which hoes compete for the fondling–I mean love!–of a mediocre R&B star, and any number of MTV’s dating shows.  The crucial difference seems to be that The Bachelor tries to class things up with roses and champagne in an effort to hide the fact that one guy is poly-dating, and everyone is OK with this!

Don't worry, I judge myself.  Doesn't stop me, though...
Don't worry, I judge myself. Doesn't stop me, though...

I like my guilty TV to be absolutely upfront about its triviality.  Hence my guiltiest pleasure, America’s Next Top Model, which starts up its new season tonight.  Peregrine, Mrs. Cakes, J., and pretty much everyone I know either turn a blind eye to my addiction or mock it outright, but it doesn’t deter me.  Tyra Banks’ biggest fan is Tyra Banks and I’m fairly positive she’s insane, I hate the fact that Miss J has better legs than I do, and listening to all those dumber-than-air girls invent words, slaughter grammar, and generally live down to all stereotypes might or might not cause people to lose brain function…in other words it has absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever.  Love it!

I guess I have no problem with people making an idiot of themselves on TV, but I do object to people who use it as a dating medium.  If you can’t find love the normal way are are forced to resort to such desperate measures, I figure it might just be Nature’s way of weeding out the undesirables.  Reality TV is destroying good Darwinian principles!

Somebody’s Poisoned the Waterhole!

“I wish guys got some sort of engagement ring.  Here I’ve got this thing that says, ‘BACK OFF,’ and what’s he got?  His integrity?  Fah.”

Something’s in the water, that’s the only excuse.  We have four, possibly five I’m not sure, upcoming marriages in my office alone and my fingers are crossed for Hennessy and her man (no he should not buy a big screen TV, he should buy her something much smaller and shinier). 


Best of all, my friend Kays is engaged to her boy, congrats!  Never thought that my roommate from freshman year and I would be sporting rocks at the same time, but it’s pretty fun.  I think she’s either exceptionally brave or recently sustained a devastating amount of brain damage because her big day is in mid-May and she’s got a little over two and a half months to throw things together.  Her family is all nearby so she’ll have plenty of help (which may or may not be a good thing, families in this area being a particularly “frenzied about weddings” breed and all very opinionated) and she’s going to be a beautiful bride.  I’m so excited for her, even if I think she’s adorably nuts.

Caring too much about ridiculous stuff can produce the above effect.  Avoid!  No one wants to marry Bridezilla.
Caring too much about ridiculous stuff can produce the above effect. Avoid! No one wants to marry Bridezilla.

There is a dangerous side to well meaning friends I’ve discovered.  Daae, who took over Hennessy’s position when she moved up, used to work for a wedding planner and occasionally asks about my wedding plans when she walks by my desk.  And when I shrug helplessly she gets this big grin and starts giving me ideas.  Dangerous, interesting, attractive ideas where previously I was happily apathetic.  Ignorance is bliss.  Besides, with so many other engaged people around me, no one’s going to want to talk about mywedding plans and the more I’d think about it the crazier my ideas would get and with no one to bounce them off of I’d go quietly mad.  I’ll let my friends have the psychotic freakouts and just keep a supply of ice cream in the freezer at all times.