Eddie, how it all began. Oh and also, how I ran her over with my car.

I graduated from college in 1992.  A year later, I followed a guy and his family to Indiana. During the 9 months I lived there, I got my first job “in my field”, using the Psychology degree I had just earned, bought my first car, broke up with my “fiance”, got my first very own apartment, and came out, at least to myself.  When I moved home in the summer of 1994, I moved back in to my parents home, despite my father insisting that “once you move out, you don’t move back!” I didn’t have any friends at home, so when I ran into Joelle at the Timon Lawn Fete, it felt like “fate”!  I knew she was gay, good gossip travels fast, but very few people knew I was.  When she called me the next day, she started the conversation with  “I gotta tell you something”.  No Jo, I gotta tell YOU something.   Once again, and not for the last time, friggin’ Joelle saved my life.

I got a job, and within two months, I rented a  room in a three bedroom upper with two (straight) girls. I started coaching little loop football cheerleading and worked four ten-hour days.  I hung out with Joelle and read everything I could find in the mid-90’s about being gay.   Joelle wanted me to meet her friend Eddie, but I had never had a girlfriend!  I was REALLY young and had no idea what “being gay” even meant. She told me that Eddie was “a little older” than me, and when pressed, said she was about 7, or maybe 9, years my senior. (As it turned out, Eddie was 14 years older than I.  Joelle paid for that lie!)  Joelle tried for months to get me to agree to meet them out at a bar, but I was reluctant. What would we have in common? What would we talk about?  Joelle insisted: She liked football, I watched football.  She loved movies and considered herself a “buff”, I also loved the movies.   Finally Joelle convinced me to meet them at Comptons, a large lesbian bar on the city’s East Side. I was apprehensive to walk into Comptons alone and there were no cell phones for me to call Joelle and tell her I was coming.  It was a horrible place to meet someone for the first time.  It was also the night after a long day of cheerleading competition and I had to work the next morning, at 9:00 AM, for a 14 hour shift.  I was tired.  I was half asleep, and the music was loud, so we couldn’t talk or learn anything about each other.  I left after a couple of hours, feeling like a huge lesbian failure.

The holidays were upon us and with all the plans and responsibilities, we didn’t get another chance to “hang out” until after the New Year. (Eddie wanted me to come to a New Year’s party they were attending but I didn’t know anyone and thought that New Years was way too much pressure; I declined and went to a party at my sister’s instead.  I also called the house of the party that Eddie and Joelle were at, but hung up when someone answered.)   So, early in January 1994, Joelle and her girlfriend had some returns to make at the mall, and Eddie and I went along, just for an excuse to hang out together.  We were like teenagers in the mall, trying on hats and fur coats, eating gigantic cookies, laughing and showing off for each other,  and being so “cool”, smoking as we all strolled, hands stuffed deep in our pockets, scuffing our boots.  It was exhilarating to me.  I was a LESBIAN!  I was with other LESBIANS, walking in the MALL.  With a WOMAN, who LIKED ME.  I might as well be floating on air.

After the Mall trip, Eddie and I became inseparable.  For the first four months, we spent every weekend when I wasn’t working, at a friends, who gave us her full size bed while she slept on her couch. I found my own little one bedroom apartment on Orange Street in Lackawanna, in April, and as soon as I moved in, Eddie did too.  Well, she spent a night and never left.  We dated for 9 months. In September, after a long weekend at camp, I decided that I needed something more, something different, than what  I had with Eddie.  I was 25 and she was 39… she was my first girlfriend and I was probably her 20th.  I had never experienced the “gay lifestyle”.  I wanted to go to bars, follow the band, flirt with women, pick up strangers and take trips.  Eddie wanted to order Chinese food and rent movies.  She did understand but we connected on a level that made it really hard to separate.  We still hung out, we shared all mutual friends, and we liked each other.  From September through New Years Eve, we still spent most weekends together, despite my insisting we were no longer together.

After New Years 1996, I told her my resolution was to stop sleeping with her. It felt like we were breaking up all over again.   Again, she said she understood, and again, she spent the night and never went home.  My Grandmother died in February and Eddie and our friends were there for me.  They whisked me away to a motel room for the night before the wakes began, and pretended we were in Florida.  We cranked the heat up to 80, drank daiquiris and swam in the pool.  (Only a few weeks ago, Barb asked me about that trip “to Florida” and I said, I never went to Florida!  But that was how I always described that weekend, the time they “Took me to Florida”.)   In March, we went to see the band at a bar for a St Patrick’s Day party.  It was the “Ides of March”;  I should have known it was going to be one of “those” nights, the ones that you never forget.  The air felt staticky.  Everyone was “on edge”, testy, anxious.  At the bar, I was flirting with another friend, Claude, who began to feed into my mood; she played keep away every time she used my lighter, and made sure to stroke my finger when she did let me have the lighter back, catching my eye with that lingering, smoldering look.  You lesbians know exactly what I’m talking about.  Four of us went out to Eddie’s Chevy Blazer to smoke a joint and Eddie caught “a look” exchanged between me and Claude, through the rear view.  She KNEW at that moment that something was going on.  She was mad.  She waited until we closed down the bar and got back to my apartment, alone, when she laid into me.  I wouldn’t sleep with HER, but she was absolutely positive I was sleeping with Claude (for the record, I wasn’t).  We fought, argued, threw things.  I tried to call someone, she ripped my phone from the jack. I tried to leave, she grabbed at my leather bomber jacket, tearing the pocket. (Hey, it was the 90’s!)   I insisted she get out, of course she refused. Where was she supposed to go at 4:30 in the morning?  Technically, she still LIVED at home with her parents. But her mom chained the door if Eddie wasn’t going to be home, and I knew she would never frighten her mom by trying to get in at that hour.  So I said, again, that I would leave.  I ran down stairs and got in my car.  Eddie came to the window to tell me it was ridiculous, of course I shouldn’t leave my own house, SHE would go.  I didn’t trust her, I was still drunk, and stoned, and just wanted it all to be over.  I put my car in drive as she pounded on my window, and as I moved forward, she was gone.   I felt my car roll over something and then I heard her screaming. I didn’t know what had happened, and couldn’t hear what she was trying to say.  Honestly, I think I had stopped listening.  I put the car in reverse; what I didn’t know was that I had run over her ankle, and then ran over it again!  I got out of the car and she was lying on the ground.  I didn’t even believe I ran her over.  How the hell did she get on the ground anyway? I screamed at her, GET UP!  I thought she was being dramatic, manipulating me. Somehow, we managed to get her up and on the tailgate of her truck.  I went back in the house and called my sister, told her what was going on, and that I was taking Eddie to the ER.  I had no idea what was going to happen, but I had to do SOMETHING. I wasn’t even mad anymore, and I got sober pretty fast too.

We drove to Mercy Hospital and sat together at the ER in silence until my sister showed up.  She had no idea what had happened, I tried to explain the best I could but I could tell she was not impressed with our drunken escapade.  Eddie needed emergency surgery on her ankle, and they put several pins in to keep her foot together.  The worst part of it all was that she had an old foot injury from a botched surgery about 20 years earlier. Because of litigation, she waited more than a decade to have her foot fixed and had only been up to par for about a year before I ran her over. Yeah, same ankle.

When she was released from the hospital, our mutual friend Roach (the same one who gave us her bed) decreed that we were not to see each other for a while.  Eddie, who could barely walk, stayed with Roach, who “took care” of her.  But Roach was more Nurse Ratchet and soon Eddie was calling me for reprieve.  We weren’t supposed to have any contact, per Generalissimo Roach, but there was no way we couldn’t.  As soon as Roach went to work, we’d be on the phone.

I remember the first time she called after it all blew over.  We sobbed.    “I’m  so  sorry!”   I cried.  “No! I’M so sorry!”  she cried.   “I should have went home”, she said, “I should have just left!”  “Can you please forgive me?” I bawled.  “Yes, can you please forgive me?!”

After that, while she healed, we would spend Thursdays with Joelle and her girlfriend, having pizza.  There were phone calls to insurance companies, and “stories” to get straight.  (Again, thanks Roach!)  One day, she called me from her moms.  It was a day where she had actually stayed home with her parents.  She told me she got a letter from an attorney, who wanted her to SUE me.  She flat out refused as we tried to figure out how this lawyer got all her info.  “There is no way I’m gonna sue you Hannon.” (She always, only, ever called me Hannon.)   Eventually we determined our “friend” Roach had contacted the lawyer, a friend of her father.  She never admitted it to me but her excuse was, as always, “try to get whatever you can”.  It was all unnecessary because the insurance company took care of her and I was never penalized anyway.

My no fault car insurance would pay for her surgery and a decent settlement for her afterwards.  She got a new truck, but I didn’t realize until I was told years later, after she died, that the insurance money paid for her cabin too.  She and I carefully planned every inch of that cabin and I never knew it was me who helped make that dream a reality.   Even the years we spent hanging out there, all the drama we experienced there…its poetic that she got that getaway on account of me running her over with my car. 


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I am my mother

I just realized, as I struggle to get out of this bed this Sunday, that I remember my mom when she was me. My age, that is. My mom tuned 39 and had me a month later. I was 39 when Grace was born.
I cried today. If you know me well, this may or may not come as a surprise. Most people know I’m typically very emotional. I’m a crier, for the good and bad, angry and sad. But in February I began taking Lexapro, and have barely cried since.
Today, the floodgates opened, and I cried for the first time in over a month.
It felt damn good.
And I started to remember what it was about crying that appealed to me, before it and other parts of my emotional make up took over my brain and made me act insanely.
The release I felt from those wrenching sobs, tears and snot, drenched tissues. Catching my breath, refocusing, moving forward. Its cleansing.
Then I remembered my mom. She was a strong woman. She ran a huge operation, with 9 kids, the dog, and my dad’s schedule. He worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time most of my life. She did all the grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and present purchasing for a family of 11. She made sure we all had uniforms that fit every September, a Christmas that mesmerized every December and a birthday that made us feel special.
And when I was 6, she was 45.
I don’t know how she did it. But on days like today, when putting my feet on the floor is the last desire in my heart, I remember that she did it. Every day.
She pushed through this, this defeated, tired, probably sick but who’s got time for that feeling, and raised us.
So. Here I go.
Happy Sunday folks.

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I’m Yours….

I first met my wife Barb on December 31, 2000. I had been living alone since March when my previous girlfriend had moved out of our apartment. She and I had been together for more than 3 years when I broke up with her in October of 1999. It was a tough breakup for me, even being the “dumper”, because it hurt. I loved her, in a way, and she was a good person. We had three good years together, but I knew I was using her to avoid dealing with some things in my life; we weren’t together for the right reasons. It wasn’t fair to her. I could have faked it longer, but knew that was only going to prolong the inevitable and eventually, it would make things harder. After she (finally) moved out, I was thrown into a deep depression that lasted the rest of the year. Eddie tried to get me to cheer up, she took me out to dinners to get me out of the house. But inevitably, I would break out in tears for seemingly no reason, until she finally said she wouldn’t take me out if I was going to cry all the time.
My friends convinced me to throw a New Year’s Eve party, though I had no desire to “party” in any sense of the word. I relented, after weeks of nagging, but stated in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t happy about it. It wasn’t going to be a “BIG” party, just a few friends, and I wasn’t going all out. They could bring food over, but I wasn’t hosting a huge shin-dig. Joelle called me about a week before and asked if she could invite a friend and her girlfriend. Ugh, I didn’t want strangers in my house! I didn’t even know these people, and I soon found out Joelle didn’t know them that well either. They had met over a pool game at the Lavender Door (a pool game Joelle lost, thus causing a fight). yay. some drunk girls who hang out at the bar.
Whatever Joelle. If they cause trouble, YOU are dealing with it.
It snowed a ton that year. There was probably about three feet of snow outside. I live in the city where off street parking is rare. My first interaction with Barb was when she and her then girlfriend Karen entered the apartment and Barb said, miserably, “Parking on this street sucks!” Karen was on crutches due to some injury, so navigating the snow covered sidewalks wasn’t fun, apparently.
Whatever, chick, not my problem. That’s the only reason I throw parties, so I don’t have to deal.
At some point in the night, Joelle dragged Barb into the kitchen, whispering. Then, Joelle dragged me alone into another room, whispering, “What do you think of Barb?” she wanted to know. “Which ones Barb?” I wanted to know. Oh, the one NOT on crutches. What I thought was “She has a girlfriend”. Joelle pointed out that we are lesbians, having a girlfriend doesn’t really mean anything. Besides, they hadn’t been together long.
Whatever, I’m not interested, I’d rather be alone and miserable. Forever.
The night progressed. We drank, smoked, played some cards. Somehow, Karen became “Prince Valiant” due to her pageboy haircut. She got trashed and passed out on the couch, while we laughed at her.
Whatever, stay on the porch, puppy.
Needless to say, I did give permission for Joelle to share my email address with Barb. She contacted me a few days later. I told her, in no uncertain terms, clean your house, then come see me. Deal with your relationship. When you’re free, we’ll talk. It took her about 2 days. We emailed back and forth for about a week. She was in Pittsburgh visiting her Bestie Lisa, and shared the whole story with her. Joelle had asked her “What do you think of Mary?” Barb had replied “Which one’s Mary? There are THREE Mary’s out there!?” (I was part of the “Mary Posse” for a while). Barb and Lisa also agonized about my email signature at the time: “A+E=IG”. (Amy+Emily=Indigo Girls)
THen, We talked on the phone for 5 hours.
We got together on January 10th. The rest, as they say, is history.
I recently found a journal entry that I wrote on January 18, 2001, just one week after we started dating. They say you know when you’ve met “the One”.
Apparently, I knew. Here’s what I wrote:
How wonderful it feels! How perfectly we fit together, in every way. We laugh, we smile, we talk, we make love, we fit together. It’s rather scary. I tend to look at relationships in such a way that I only see the negative, only see the end. I don’t do that with Barb. We feel so right. In the past, I’ve felt rather obsessed in that I only wanted to be with the other person, I could only think of them so I found it hard to function. Now, I think of Barb but I know we’ll be together as soon as we can, so it’s not an obsession. I think of her through my day, always with a smile, but it isn’t difficult to function. I miss her, but know that we are doing what we have to do so that we can be together. It’s important that we do spend some time apart, it makes our time together more quality. And our time together isn’t spent in front of the tv or in bed. We really talk and share things together and I feel like she listens to me. I love that when I talk, she hears and retains what I say and can relay it back to me. There are so many things about her that I love. She has insight and patience. She’s been through so much and yet maintains her strength. Sometimes, the similarities between us are so weird, favorite meals, food, tv shows, movie genre, music. Her eyes are beautiful, dark dark brown with an intensity that knocks the breath from me. Her crooked little mouth says both the sweetest and yet the funniest things, all the while holding her gum out of sight. My body responds to her in a way that I never thought i could. She says things that calm me instantly. She can also say things that excite me like I’ve never been excited.

Today, we celebrate 15 years together. That’s the longest I’ve ever been committed to anything. Everything I have, I credit to Barb, because without her, I wouldn’t have done half the things I’ve accomplished. She’s my biggest cheerleader, supporter, confidant. Our relationship is far from perfect. We annoy each other and get angry sometimes, but everyday, I’d still rather be with her than any place else.
Happy Anniversary my love. Thanks for all you do, in big and little ways, to keep us strong and wonderful. Even today, I’d still choose you.

“I’m Yours” — Jason Mraz

Well, you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill, but you’re so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
Now I’m trying to get back

Before the cool done run out
I’ll be giving it my bestest
And nothing’s gonna stop me but divine intervention.
I reckon, it’s again my turn
To win some or learn some.

But I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m yours.

Well, open up your mind and see like me,
Open up your plans and damn you’re free.
Look into your heart and you’ll find love, love, love, love.
Listen to the music of the moment, people dance and sing, we’re just one big family
And it’s our God-forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved, loved

So I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m sure.
There’s no need to complicate.
Our time is short.
This is our fate,
I’m yours.

Do you want to come on, scooch on over closer, dear
And I will nibble your ear

I’ve been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror
And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face and I laughed.

I guess what I’ll be saying is there ain’t no better reason
To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons.
It’s what we aim to do.
Our name is our virtue.

But I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m yours.

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AWESOME Sunday Morning

Ask anyone who knows me and they could probably tell you , I love Sunday Mornings.  I like watching the Sunday Morning Show on CBS, I like sleepy kids eating cereal and playing in sunbeams, I like frosted cinnamon rolls and the Sunday Paper and being lazy and big breakfasts. But today is awesome.  A VERY Good Sunday.   I’m a fan of the books and mobile app “1000 AWESOME things”.  So here’s reasons why today is AWESOME.

We went out last night to see our friend Xeno’s band play in Lackawanna.  I wasn’t drinking, and I got a decent afternoon nap yesterday, but I was tired.  But hungry!  So when we left the bar, Barb got me Mighty Taco, yummmmm, and made me happy.  That is the first reason today is so cool.  I got Mighty at 1 AM and it was awesome.

Grace went down to bed at about 9:30 and hasn’t been sleeping through the night for some time.  We expected she’d be up at some point.  But at 9:30 AM, I heard Barb stirring and checked the time.  I think I said, Where is Grace? because she NEVER sleeps 12 hours.  Barb said she was still sleeping.  There’s reason two why today rocks.

I got to sleep in today.  I have been wanting to for weeks, probably months, but for some reason, every weekend, I haven’t had a chance.  Barb always tries to give me one day a week to lounge in bed but like clockwork I am awake by 8:15 no matter what, and then I have to pee, or I’m starving, or I have laundry I really don’t want to put off til noon, so I find myself getting up on those days when I could have slept in.  But today!  Awesome Reason three!

Barb got up to get Grace, turning on the fan before she left the room.  Does everyone know the benefit of having a fan in the bedroom at all times, or is this one of those awesome things that me and Barb invented?  We have a fan all the time.  We used to use it more before we had Grace because now it’s too hard to hear her, but Fans are great noise blockers.  You want to take a nap in the afternoon but don’t want to hear the drive time traffic?  turn on the fan!  Want to sleep in on Sunday morning and not be kept awake by playing toddler and breakfast sounds?  turn on the fan!  it drowns everything out.  Reason Four.  fans.

I dozed on and off for a little while, then slowly woke up, pulled back the curtain and watched the sun reflecting on the snow. I read my facebook feed, email, twitter and Post Secret Sunday Secrets.  I did some meditation. I read Catching Fire, the second in the the Hunger Games trilogy and managed to put it down after only three chapters.  A whole hour doing just what I wanted to do, just stuff I liked.  Awesome Number Five.

Barb makes great French Toast.  That’s Awesome Reason Number Seven.  You might think I skipped one, but I didn’t.  Because WHILE Barb was making the Awesome French Toast, Grace came running out of the living room yelling “SURPRISE!!! SURPRISE SURPRISE!!!!” She gets to me and gives me a great big hug around the legs then walks into the kitchen.  “Hi Mommy! Hi Mama!”  She gives Barb a great big hug around the legs and the takes off back to the living room and Caillou.  That’s Awesome Six.

I got to Vacuum.  I love to Vacuum.  During the week I don’t get a chance, I’m always at work before everyone gets up.  Yesterday, Barb slept in so I didn’t run the vacuum.  But today, I got to Vacuum.  EIGHT!

Now My girls are outside playing in the snow.  Grace got wear her Snow suit from Steph and Lexi and looks so cute in snow pants with suspenders! (#9)  I’m having coffee and writing, in my quiet living room with no TV on.  When they come in, we’ll have hot chocolate.  Reason 10.  And it’s not even 2 PM.

Today is an AWESOME day.

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Every Year, I think of all the resolutions I want to achieve.  I want to be more present for my wife and daughter, be a better friend, a better daughter, sibling, employee.  I want to exercise more and eat less…. I want to take more time out for myself, to do the things I need for ME, without feeling guilty that I’m being greedy; I want to write more, take solitary baths, long walks, read.  Then, every year, I feel disappointed in myself for not achieving any of these things.

2011 was  a very intense year for me, as you can see if you read past posts.  It was a year of extreme hurt and pain, intense sadness, great loss.  For most of the time, I felt “lost”, confused, unsettled, distraught.  It’s hard to remember a time when I felt REALLY HAPPY.  Joyous.  Cheerful.  Upbeat. I miss that.  As I said in an earlier post, I was REALLY HAPPY for a long time; I will be the first one to tell you how blessed I am. I have nothing to complain about.  I have a terrific relationship with my wife; this year we celebrate 11 years together.  We have a beautiful, sweet, smart, loving little girl who brings sunshine to the lives of everyone she meets.  Our relationships with our parents have grown over the past year into solid friendships. We own our home, we have jobs, which is more than many folks can say in this recession.  We have great friends who love us.  So it’s hard to reconcile all these things we HAVE with the downer feelings I’ve lived with for most of the past 12 months.

And even though I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination, 2011 still sucked.  But I am of the mindset that we need adversity to grow, else we become stagnant and stunted.  The tough times help us become better, and even though I’m happy to see 2011 come to a close, I know that I’ve changed, for the better, because of it.  So to focus on the positive, a look at what I’ve learned:

1.  Life IS too short to spend with people who suck the happiness out of you.  There is no reason to continue putting myself through agony and frustration with people who just don’t get it; Don’t get ME, don’t get what I am trying to accomplish, don’t see the big picture.  I believe that God puts people like this on our path to help us. Yes, it’s a road block.  Yes, it’s a challenge. But another lesson learned:  life is not easy. It’s not meant to be.  It’s meant to be a challenge, it’s meant to be a test.   But that doesn’t mean I have to lower my standards or subject myself to abuse, cruelty or animosity.  That’s not what I am about and I don’t have to put up with it.  No one does.

2.  Stop holding grudges.  As a person who believes that “thoughts are things” and “hate” is a four-letter word, and LOVE is all you need, I need to remember that other people do things they need to do to get through their lives, just as I do.  Just because it’s not what I would choose doesn’t mean it’s wrong; it’s just not MY choice.  I love the quote by Ann Landers that “Harboring resentment is like allowing someone you despise to live rent free in your head”.  It’s so true.  Holding a grudge, harboring hate, not letting go, it’s all a way to hang on to crappy feelings and be confined.  I don’t want to be confined any more.  I don’t want people who don’t “get” me to live in my head.  I don’t want to spend time, no, WASTE time, on those people who don’t care, or can’t care, or don’t change, or can’t change.  Which leads me to…

3. The only person you can change is yourself.  This was a lesson I tried to teach lots of kids in placement.  It seemed to resonate with them and was  great lesson for me, back in my younger days; I may have forgotten and need to regain that mind set. I have no control over anyone other than myself.  I can dislike their choices, I can wish they made different decisions, I can hope for better in the future, but I can not change them.  I can only change how I respond, how I react, and how I let them and their choices affect me. Which THEN leads to…

4.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for different results.  I am not insane, at least not in a clinical sense, so it makes sense that I learn from my mistakes and reach for different results.  This includes being stagnant at work, not changing my eating habits or my exercise habits, or reacting to people and situations in the same way and then wondering why “nothing” ever changes.

5.  Change the way you look at the world and the world you look at will change.  I have to remember to stop looking at things in the negative light, stop assuming I know what’s going on behind the scenes and instead, find the light, find the positive, and find the good.  I like to find beauty in the little things, as God intended, in the sunrise, in the rain falling, in children’s giggles, in the smell of a muddy springtime.  Rather than thinking things like “Ugh, it’s going to snow, we have to shovel, do we have enough food, are we going to be stranded, are we going to lose electric, cable, etc”, I like to think “Yay, snow day, no work, can’t go anywhere, we’ll clean out the pantry and spend quality time as a family, in the dark!”

6.  And lastly, probably the hardest lesson I learned, is that life is hard.  Sometimes, you can do everything right, you can have great intentions, and it still isn’t enough.  People die, misunderstandings occur, feelings get hurt. The experiences that I’ve lived through this year don’t define who I am, they don’t explain who I am, they just help to mold me into the person I am to become.  I can only move forward, taking these lessons with me, and make efforts to do better in the future.

So with these lessons in mind, I look forward to 2012.  I am still going to try to “be more present for my wife and kid, eat less and exercise more, be a better friend, a better daughter, sibling, employee”.  I still want to write more, take long walks, read more. But I will achieve my goals without beating myself up about it and without feeling guilty.  I’ve been through a rough time, I am still sensitive and fragile; I’ve done enough browbeating of myself this year. I’ll take it slow and cherish every moment, because life is too short to be anything but happy.  And I am looking forward to being happy again.

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Life’s been rough for me lately.  I’ve experienced that treading water feeling, where I can barely keep my head up, but I’m being sucked down.  I don’t want to succumb, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep on keeping on.  I wish there was a way to put my head down, to shut off for a while, re-energize, to figure out a way to gain energy to move forward.  I wish I was like Seven Of Nine, from Star Trek, who could just plug-in and check out, regenerate.  But checking out, even temporarily, is not acceptable.  And my kid keeps me going, thank God.

First there was the house thing; we wanted to move to my parents street.  We thought it would be great to live across from mom and dad, giving both Gracie and my parents a chance to spend much more time together, giving them daily contact.  We sold our house, signed a contract for a cute couple who had a little girl themselves.  But it didn’t work out and we didn’t get to move.  In the fallout of that experience, lots of feelings were hurt and since then, lots of really mean and nasty things were said.

Then, as you read in a former blog post, Eddie died.  She found out she was sick the day Grace was born and endured 14 months of chemo, fighting the disease that was eating her insides.  She could not muster up enough energy to keep undergoing the medication, and was forced to stop…. she was given about a month to live.  She lingered, slowly fading from us, for just over three weeks.  Every day, she lost more of herself.  At first, even though she didn’t have much appetite, she could still feed herself, walk, speak.  By the end, she did not talk, eat, and was unable to move from her bed independently.  She had a catheter and was fed through a syringe, even drinking from the water bottle became too difficult.  Watching her die was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

In the middle of all this, Katie lost her baby, Leia. All around me, things were happening that I couldn’t fix, that there was nothing I do to make better.

One of the girls who helped take care of Eddie during that time was Helyna; Karen had lots of family who stepped up to help her, Helyna was her niece.  She was like a ray of sunshine, always making jokes and finding something positive to focus on.  Sometimes she brought her kids with her; she and her boyfriend had four kids together.  They weren’t even 30 years old yet, they had been together for almost a decade. Helyna worked at the Casino while he stayed home with the kids.  We shared our thoughts on what it was like to be the breadwinner in the family, and other people’s perception of those kinds of arrangements.    The day Eddie died, Helyna and I had to go to her house to make photocopies of documents, and I was so impressed with her apartment.  I commented that I only have one kid and it’s hard to keep the house clean with her. I was amazed at how tidy and cute Helyna’s place was.  I was impressed by the life she was creating, for her self and her kids.  I didn’t see her much after Eddie died, we kept in touch on facebook and exchanged a few texts.  Suddenly, last week, I learned she was killed.  Gunshot to the back of the head by the father of her four kids.  Such a shock and a sad situation.  So many lives just torn apart, hearts ripped to pieces.  Four babies who will never know their mom.

I’m an empath, a highly sensitive person, who feels more than most, who finds herself to be extremely emotional. All of these events have caused me immense pain and turmoil.  I’m so sad.  I miss my friend, I’m sad for my niece and her new husband, I’m sad for Helyna’s family.  I’m sad that my family is torn apart, with sides forming and no one speaking.  I spend hours thinking about what I could do to fix everything, how can I make stuff better?  How can I clear my name in my family, how can I keep Eddie’s memory alive, what can I do to help my friends who are suffering?  what can I DO?

The answer came to me yesterday.  I was making Spanish rice, yellow rice, and beans.  It was the day Helyna was buried, she was half Puerto Rican and her Aunt Chacha has become a dear friend.  I can’t do my rice and beans nearly as good as Cha would but I needed something to tie me to them yesterday.  As my tears dropped into the pot, the answers to all my confusion came to me, clear as day.

I should do nothing. There is nothing I can do. I can not make amends for things I was not responsible for, or things I haven’t done. I can not change what has happened, I can’t bring anyone back, and I certainly can’t go on like this.

I believe in an ‘Other Side’, another dimension, a ‘heaven’.  I believe that we live multiple past lives and I believe that we make a plan for our lives before we are born. We create our own blueprint for our lives.  I know everyone says they wouldn’t have chosen THIS path, they would instead be rich and thin and prettier. But as enlightened souls, our goal is to be more like God, to reach that level of consciousness.  We purposely place obstacles in our own way to help our souls grow and reach for higher levels. Therefore, there are no “mistakes”, no Coincidences; We have set these events in motion. If I look at my recent life in THESE terms, then all this crap is meant to be. I have spent so much time trying to figure out how to make it all right again that I have missed the obvious. There are lessons to be learned through these events and maybe it’s not a lesson *I* need to learn, but it’s someone’s.  I’ve struggled to behave in a way that I could be proud of, that makes GOD proud of me.  Through so much of whats been going on, I have been trying to think of ways to act that would make my mom proud of me.  In my old age, turning 40 last year, it’s been important to me to be as honest as possible.  Being a lesbian, living a life of lies was the norm for me.  For many years, I found it easier to lie about all kinds of things, not just my lifestyle or sexuality, but other things, mundane and not so mundane.  After being stung by a compulsive liar and after she used some of my own lies against me, to hurt me and to hurt others, it became important to me to start being as honest as possible.  I still struggle with how to be honest and not hurtful.  I decided that as long as my mom knew who I was, what I was and what I have done, nothing else mattered, as long as my mom is confident in my truth.  But it’s my relationship with God too that I don’t want to screw up. Cause I do believe in GOD, it’s all the other pretty little fairy tales in the Catholic Church that I am no so sure of. So if I can just focus on that, I will be good. I am confident that I didn’t do anything to cause these events to turn the way they did, I didn’t do anything to hurt anyone or cause stress.  I have been honestly trying to help others, and therefore, I have no reason to feel badly.

Through these revelations I also decided that I’m also not going to subject myself to any more situations and events that make me miserable. I don’t want to purposely put myself or Barb in a situation that makes us uncomfortable.  It’s not a good image for Grace to see, it’s not a lesson I want to model for her.  Growing up, people often said “we all have to do things we don’t want to do”, be it going to work or attending a funeral or changing a diaper.  But in reality, no one HAS to do anything they don’t want to do. There are consequences for not doing things that are expected of you but you still do not HAVE to do them… you can choose to NOT.  It’s not going to be a popular choice among some people, but I can’t live my life the way others want me to, I have to live it the way it’s good for me.  I don’t want Grace to watch me putting myself through things that only make me unhappy. Life is too short to live it like that.  So from now on, the focus in my world is going to be good and positive.  Things happen for a reason, we just have to wait sometimes to see what that reason is.

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Mental Health

When I was younger, I never understood what people meant by “nervous breakdown”. What did that MEAN?  I knew what being “nervous” meant; I got nervous before I went on stage or had to present in front of a room full of people, or when I had to try out for cheerleading.  To “breakdown”, though, I wasn’t sure what that entailed.  Is it a suicide attempt? Was it related to depression?  Every time I hear someone say that someone is “depressed” I think of someone saying, in my father’s voice, “What have you got to be depressed about? Stop sniveling and get back to work”.  In my insular world, it didn’t have much validity.  I didn’t know anyone in our family or close family friends who had a “nervous breakdown”, or suffered from depression.  I had no idea what it was all about. 

I was always a crier.  I cry when I am happy, I cry when I am sad; the worst part is that I cry when I am angry, which totally nullifies any point I am trying to make.  I suppose when a little kid is crying, it’s cute and people feel the need to comfort them, but eventually, it gets old.  For many years, my opinion was “this is who I am, take it or leave it”.  I’m a crier, nothing I can do about it.  Then I moved to Indiana and lived with my fiancé and his family. The holiday season was upon us, I was fighting with my fiance’, and I was 500 miles from my family for the first time in my life.  I started to cry and could not stop.  I could not move off the couch, I could not verbalize my feelings or emotions or thoughts.  I didn’t know why I was crying and I COULD NOT STOP.  People kept asking me what was wrong and I had no answers. (Sidebar:  I hate when people ask “What’s wrong?” or even worse, “What’s wrong with you?”  It implies that there is something wrong with ME as a human being and just because I’m crying, it doesn’t always mean there is something wrong.  Unlike just about everyone else in the world, something doesn’t have to be wrong for me to cry. ) I thought I was going crazy.  I thought I was a psycho.  It was frightening me. 

My fiancé and his family wanted to have me committed.  They drove me to a psychiatric facility without telling me where I was going and forced me to go in.  Thank God the therapist I talked to was kind enough to say “There is nothing wrong with you”.  She recognized that I was most likely depressed, due to the impending holidays, being so far from my family and in a new town, in a totally different state.  I started seeing her weekly, having someone to talk to, to unload any thoughts or concerns I had, and it really helped me.  I am not sure if that’s where I began taking the Zoloft but I’m thinking it must have been.  Things got better for me and I moved on.

After I came home to Buffalo, came out of the closet and started dating girls, I kept taking medication and did so, on and off, for several years. Things were ok.  I stopped crying at everything.  I was able to hold it in or didn’t have the need to tear up.  But the meds messed with my sex drive, and after a while, it started to mess with my emotional intensity.  While I didn’t cry at everything, I also rarely laughed out loud.  Things that were funny amused me but I didn’t find things “hysterical”.  I didn’t feel strongly about anything, I didn’t get really angry.  I started to feel “flat” in my affect.  I started to ask my doctor to begin to wean me off.  We started to drop the Zoloft gradually.  Just as I was almost off entirely, I got pregnant.  That ended that.  But I was full of hormones, and I was thrilled to be pregnant.  The tears came back again, but what Pregnant woman doesn’t cry?  I never really felt “BAD” during my pregnancy.

Now? I’m no longer on any med, which was always my goal, to be off medication.  The hormones from my pregnancy have finally tapered, and my guess is that I am back to my “normal” baseline.  And I feel psycho, all over again.  Granted, it’s worse around my period.  I find that I am easy to anger, easy to cry, easy to frustration.  Most of the time, I consider myself laid back, easy-going.  I try to not let situations get to me for the most part. But for a week before I get my period every month, I feel like someone else.  I snap at people, I get angry, I yell quicker, I cry easier.  What then occurs is the sadness, the depression.  I feel horrible. I can’t find anything to be happy about, I can’t stop tears from forming, I can’t find energy or ambition to get out of my bed, to take care of myself.  Thank God for Barb and Grace, they give me a reason to get up each day. Gracie makes me smile. But otherwise, I live in a black fog, sadness over me, constantly worried that someone will say something, or notice, and comment, and thus send me into a fit of tears that I can not control. 

It’s so frustrating.  Because I still hear that voice, “What have you got to be depressed about?”  Because I feel inept, at being “normal”. Because I feel like people are going to wonder if this is all just an excuse, to get out of something, to get sympathy, to cover up something else.  I try to hide it but people who know me can tell something isn’t right.  and then their sympathy or kindness makes it worse, and I lose it all over again.  So I try not to talk about it, but then people, like Barb, get upset because I don’t tell them I am going through something.  But then when I do tell people, I feel like I’m treated differently because I’m ‘fragile’, and I’m NOT fragile.  This too shall pass, I’ll be ok, I’m just struggling today. 

So I’m back on meds.  Not every day, not as much as before, not Zoloft this time.  But something to take the edge off, to help me stop wanting to sleep all day.  It seems to help a little, but I have to be sure to take it. I don’t want to take it but I also don’t want Grace to grow up in a house with a crazy lady.  I want to learn how to control my emotions, I want to learn to visualize beauty and peace, to take deep breaths, and behave normally despite the fact that I feel insane.

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wake n.  1. aftermath, backwash the consequences of an event (especially a catastrophic event); “the aftermath”; 2. the wave that spreads behind a boat as it moves forward;  3.  a vigil held over a corpse the night before burial;  wake v 3. inflame, stir up, wake, ignite, heat, fire up(arouse or excite feelings and passions; 4.  wake, make aware of.

In the wake of her death, it has occurred to me that no one really knows much about my relationship with Mary Ellen.  Many of the memories that have invaded my daily life these last few weeks are quiet, personal moments I shared with “Eddie” alone.  Our intimate relationship, the length we were a couple, was very private.  There are a few reasons for this, number one being she was my first girlfriend.  I had only been “out” (though I prefer the term “awake”) less than a year, and was not open about my sexuality with most of my world — not work or family, or many of my friends.  Few people outside my tiny but growing community knew Eddie and I were dating. Only one of those community members is still a part of my life any more; that would be Joelle, who introduced us, a hysterical story I’ll tell another time. The one other person who did witness first hand a great deal of mine and Eddie’s relationship is … poof! A chair.  So even though I have Joelle to ‘remember’ with, there is no one left that shared those experiences.  And I’m petrified that I will forget.  Someday, even I won’t remember.

Maybe this is something people realize or go through when they lose someone close, someone who meant a great deal.  I’ve never lost someone like this, not a relative, not a casual friend.  She, over the years, has been so much more to me; a lover, a friend, confidant, target practice….

“There is no more perfect beverage in the world than water. Nothing is so clean, fresh.  It taste pure and refreshing, it doesn’t clog up your throat or coat your tongue, it doesn’t leave an aftertaste.  Nothing like water!”

Mary Ellen was almost 15 years my senior.  I was a late bloomer, so I didn’t “awaken”, or come out, until I was 24 years old.  My situation was a little different from most lesbians; I never realized I was different, never knew I was gay, until I literally had an “A-ha! Moment” (thank you Oprah!) at 24.  So when I met Eddie, I was YOUNG! Both literally and figuratively.  I was new at ‘being’ gay, I was just awakening, starting, a new life.  At that time, Eddie was…. well, Eddie was where I am right now!! She was tired, worn, lazy, jaded.  She had seen life, experienced people, jobs, had her heart broken.  She didn’t want to hang out at bars or dance clubs, partying.  She wanted to rent a movie and order chinese food and be in bed by midnight.

It’s no wonder we only lasted about a year. But lets not get a head of ourselves.

I wanted to know everything, and Edie was patient with my questions, curiosity, and wonderings. You see, once I “realized” I was gay, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, I wanted to tell everyone I knew, I wanted to learn everything I could learn.  But we live in a small city and in my Roman Catholic Family and neighborhood, I didn’t know anyone gay.  I had no frame of reference, I didn’t know what it meant to be GAY.  Suddenly, I was enmeshed with an entire group of other, like minded, individuals and I wanted to know all there was to know.  I was a sponge, and I soaked up the lifestyle with every pore of my being.  It was an amazing time for me, I don’t know if it’s because of my age at the time, or the experience I was going through, but looking back, it was just magical.  I was direct care staff at work so I worked forty hours in four days, and had three days off.  Most of the time, I would get out of work at 7:30 on Wednesday and not have to be back until 9 a.m. on Sunday.  Thursdays were spent doing laundry, paying bills and running errands and then I’d have all day Friday and Saturday to do whatever I wanted, which was hang out with Eddie. We first spent all our weekends at a friends house, who gave up her double bed for us and slept on her couch so we could be together.  Eddie moved right in when I got my first apartment on Orange St in Lackawanna.  Well, she didn’t officially move in, that would be cliche’, she just slept over one night and never left.  For a year.  (I used to tell her “How can I miss you if you don’t go away?”)

We did watch a lot of movies, and order Chinese food; Eddie liked beef and broccoli.  We drank beers and smoked pot.  On Sundays we listened to classical radio and read the paper, making breakfast together.  We cooked together a lot in those days; she taught me to make sauce, she loved my turkey and stuffing.  We experimented with making the perfect pizza.  We never succeeded.  We got a cat, named her Nyka.  She was mostly black with a white belly.  Eddie adored her; she was Eddie’s “bad girlies”.  Eddie used to tell her, when she was doing something wrong, or naughty, “no, no!”  “All you gotta do is tell her No no!” (It didn’t work; well, it worked for Eddie, because she wasn’t going to punish or discipline her anyway.)

We spent a lot of time at camp.  That was like another world.  We could be ourselves there, outside in the fresh air, we could hold hands at the fire or kiss in the moonlight.  We didn’t have to hide who we were.  We took long walks in the woods, explored “just over the hill, just around that bend…”  We imagined the kinds of people who may have walked these paths, hunted there, through the centuries.

We only dated for a year, but remained very close friends for many years after that.  We were partners against the stupid.  “What’s WRONG with people, Hannon?”  “I dunno, Eddie!”  She signed every card she bought me “Eddie” and never ever called me Mary.  Through the years, our relationship changed.  We didn’t spend every weekend together any more and we each found others;  eventually we each found our life partners.  I knew I could always call her up and hear her say “Hey Hannon, how’s things?”

I know I will never be able to capture every memory we shared together…. I will not have a log book in which to document the time we shared; that’s what “memory” is about. It’s fleeting, and abstract.  But the memories are also my treasures. Every time the wind blows my hair, I will ‘Thank the Goddess”, smile, and think of Eddie.  When I watch a Bills game, or make chicken wings, when I make Pizza or sauce with ribs in it, when I sit at a campfire and smoke blows in my face, when I roll a joint and it’s a pinner or has too much spit on it, when I drink water and think “Ahh, there is nothing like water”, when a little kid whines and I threaten to put her in the trunk, because whiners go in the trunk, when someone asks me how I am and I ‘fry hamburgers’ and say “Psh! You know, same shit…”… I will think of Eddie.  When I see a black lab wagging her tail and shaking her butt, I will call her Mrs Wigglebottom.   When my kid is being naughty but so darn cute, I will call her Bad Girlies and I will think of Eddie.  When I eat make a chocolate pudding pie and call it P’yoodin’, I will think of Eddie.  If I ever light a kerosene lantern, or walk out to pee in the woods in the dark and throw my TP in the fire;  if I ever have a cabin of my own, I will call it Tir Na Nog, the land of the fairies, and I will pilfer wood to build the fire in my stove and I will think of Eddie.

When I hear Melissa Etheridge, I will think of Eddie.  I will cry, then I will laugh.  I love you Eddie.

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No Souvenirs --  Melissa Etheridge
Hello, hello this is Romeo
Calling from a jackpot telephone
Shame, shame but I love your name
And the way you make the buffalo roam
Oh fly, fly I guess this is goodbye
Oh you packed up your heart
And you left no souvenirs

But if you want me you can call me
In the night you know where I'll be
Broken lover you can touch me
In the dark the innocent can't see
You lock it up now hide the key
It would mean surrender to let me see
Oh brave, brave soldier keep it under cover
You fell alone like no other lover
Burn the pictures break the records
Run far away to a northern town
Sell your fear and leave me standing here
With no souvenirs

Once, twice (KNOCK KNOCK) I thought it might be nice
To come into your kitchen ("don't touch my pooper!")and play
Cool, cool just a crazy fool
I never saw it any other way
Oh wait, wait I guess I'm just too late
Oh you made up your mind
Love shouldn't be so hard

But if you want me you can call me
In the night you know where I'll be
Broken lover you can touch me
In the dark the innocent can't see
You lock it up now hide the key
It would mean surrender to let me see
Oh brave, brave soldier keep it under cover
You fell alone like no other lover
Burn the pictures break the records
Run far away to a northern town
Sell your fear and leave me standing here
With no souvenirs

No shirts, no shoes
No jackets, no blues
You car's for sale
You forward your mail
You're growing your hair
You don't want to know where
I'm calling you from
Or how come

But if you want me you can call me
In the night you know where I'll be
Broken lover you can touch me
In the dark the innocent can't see
You lock it up now hide the key
It would mean surrender to let me see
Oh brave, brave soldier keep it under cover
You fell alone like no other lover
Burn the pictures break the records
Run far away to a northern town
Sell your fear and leave me standing here
With no souvenirs

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New Beginning

I’m trying this blogging thing again.  I can’t stand that Google connects everything like youtube and blogger, because I can never remember which google account I created the item in. Besides, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything of note, and so a fresh new start is necessary. I hopped on the bandwagon with Brig, who knows a thing or two about writing, so we’ll see where this one goes. 

Lifes been rough these last few months for me.  This entire past year has been a series of life changing, and game changing, events and I’m starting to feel a little dizzy from it all.  I knew having a kid would make life different.  but Damn.  most of this stuff of late isn’t even caused by her, nor does it have a direct correlation.  So I can’t blame my recent melt down on her. 

For the most part, I consider myself a pretty even keeled individual; I’m able to let most stuff roll off my back.   I try not to get too upset and freaked out.  But lately, I’m having a hard time doing this.  Granted I was an avid Zoloft user for several years but weaned off and then got pregnant, so my hormones have been all kafuffled.  Thus, the backlash I am experiencing.  Personal issues  came up last fall, and knocked my foundation a bit but I guess the most significant incident that has me a little shakey is the death of Mary Ellen.  I can’t really think about it right now as I just realized I don’t have time and can’t figure out this wordpress thing and where to find a draft I have typed. so I’m going to leave it for now, only saying that I’m back to writing and I’m a little tentative, both in my thought process and my writing. 

It’s my hope that by finding an outlet, I’ll be able to find my footing in my life again and get back to “normal”. I had been so happy for so long, life was GOOD for me, and then, suddenly, it wasn’t and hasn’t been for a while.  That’s not to say life isn’t good, I’m blessed and I know it. I’ve got an amazing partner in crime, and in life, my Barbus, who gives me everything I need and more. She constantly surprises me with her insight and love.  We’ve got a terrific kid who’s smart and cute and just wickid cool.  We have a great home and many kind and caring individuals in our life.  So I’m not complaining.  Emotionally, I’m not where I wanna be, and I’m working hard to get there.  Maybe blogging again will help me in that regard. 

So welcome.  lets see where this goes, shall we??

(Hah, as I pressed published, I get “save draft” option.  guess I found what I was looking for, huh??)

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