Death, Beside Me.

1354     I believe everything is wrapped up and converges with one another. For example, I believe all of life is spiritual, that what I put out there is felt and reaches out beyond what I can see. I try to approach daily life with the awe and respect I believe it deserves. I also believe all of life is art. In everything I do, be it the decorations in my home, the way I dress, where I place a piercing on someone or what I cook and how it’s plated, I look at it aesthetically  and do my best to make it pretty and functional. And so, in all of this life I believe , is incorporated death. I have been fascinated with death since I was a young child. It started with my Great Grandfather dying. The church where the funeral was held was small and had basically two rooms, the sanctuary and a room directly connected to it that was for food and visiting. The room with food and visiting was where my Great Grandfather’s casket and body were. Everyone in this room was almost jovial, in contrast to this were the people in the sanctuary who were close to renting their clothes in a good old fashioned biblical way. It was such a stark contrast to me and it made me curious about this death. From that point on I loved anything to do with dead things. Egyptology was a big interest for me, mummies fascinated me and the Egyptians take on the after life was such a mysterious journey I wanted to learn more about. Myself being raised Christian, death was a very prevalent theme, after all the guy being worshipped was killed, nailed to a tree and died. Death surrounded me. I wasn’t fearful of it though, until one evening I watched a documentary on Nostradamus with my parents. I was probably 7 or 8 at the time, and the video largely revolved around his predictions and the fulfillment of them. One of his predictions was about the end of the world, which according to the professors in this documentary would be in 1995. That night, laying in bed, I did the math. I had between 8-9 years of life left. I thought of all the things I wanted to do and wouldn’t be able to accomplish, the people I loved and would never see again. However,  It wasn’t the dying part that was problematic for me, it was the time limit in which I had to accomplish all my goals. Now I’m 34 and there still isn’t enough time. My aspirations are huge, and the list just keeps getting bigger. I want to publish more writing, and get payed for it this time. I want to write a couple of children’s books. I want to hone my craft and provide the most bad ass piercings for the public. I want to go to Egypt, I want to be rich both in spirit and financially. I want to travel, more and more and more. I want to live closer to nature. I want to become more spiritually aware. With the death of my Dad, these wants and the fears of not completing them are starring at me like a rabid wolf, threatening to eat my spirit. I have felt the depression seep in and weigh on me, it’s like being under water, the pressure and the ache in your ears, it pulses and vibrates until finally you come up for air and have moments of clarity. I have found you have to seize these moments, and if it makes sense, to practice them, push against the weight and force your freedom. I know one day these clear blips will be longer and more stable. I am starting to become more accepting of death, though not entirely comfortable. Death is no longer a concept or word, but an understood reality. Death holds my hand , as he has since I was young,  he reminds me to push forward and work harder and to fight against the kind of sorrow and complacency that would trap me. My dad used to come in my Tattoo/Piercing shop on a weekly basis. I am still waiting for him to come in, I will always be waiting for him to come in and sit and talk about everything and nothing at all. His death has effected me and it should. Death should change you, it should cause you to look at everything. His death has made me aware of my own looming death. The legacy he left behind has begged of me  to answer the question of ‘What will I leave behind?’ I know some of the answer and I am developing the rest. I know one thing, I want make a difference in peoples lives, the way my dad did. And if that’s all I can do, then it’s enough. So, though Death is a robber and he stole someone very precious away from me,  he also has gifted much to me. He has caused me to pause and reflect. So to Death, Thank you. I’m still not too crazy about you and though I won’t be inviting you for tea, I am learning so very much from you.

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Parents (Phlegm!)

Well, let’s just say, that sometimes, the bar eats you. My daughter has been attending Knox College For Kids, taking art, Spanish and voice. This morning was a small little recital where MY daughter had TWO solos, Castle in A Cloud from Les Miserable and Stay by Rihanna. Drumroll, please!……………. I missed them both. Not because there was a family crisis, not because I worked, I simply had the wrong performance time in my head. I thought she went on an hour later than she actually did. I am reminded of the time when our dearest friend Julie showed up at our wedding as we were marching down the aisle just having been married. The look on her face of disappointment mingling with a little sadness, is the same look I envision plastered on our daughters beautiful face. I imagine her thinking, “Where are they? They said they’d be here!” and then, “They don’t love me, I knew not to trust those scoundrels. That’s it, I’m done with these parents!” And when she says ‘parents’, she says it with so much disgust, that the person next to her wonders if she’s choking on a gigantic phlegm ball trapped in her throat. 

My stomach is in knots, and all I can think about is how stupid of a mistake I made.
So, as parents (phlegm!) how much do we punish ourselves? Do I dwell on it all day, sulking like Alexander and his horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day? Thus making it more about me and my feelings than my daughter? I mean, I spoke to her on the phone and she seems fine, excited. When I picked her up, she again, was fine, excited and fully animated about what she has learned in the past two weeks. As I am driving the truck home, I wonder if her lack of concern over my absence is just her way of disarming me before her attack of “Why, Mom,Why!!!!! I trusted you to be there, this was my first solo I have ever preformed and you guys weren’t there! You are bad parents (phlegm!)”. Instead, when I apologized and explained my idiotic, totally avoidable mistake to her, she looked at me and smiled, then opened her mouth and said, ” Mom, it’s okay. I make mistakes all the time. I did a great job and it was fun!”. Dumbfounded. Do I over-estimate my power of parental support? Did I think she was going to crumble on stage if I or her daddy wasn’t present with her? Worst of all, did I under-estimate my daughters strength? Yes, yes and YES.

This past year with my daughter has taught me so many things about her. She is much stronger at 12 than I was at 20, she’s wiser too. She is going places, where I floundered and jumped from thing to thing at that age. I love and respect her focus. And, I totally under estimated her strength today.

But, I should have been there. Now, not because she would have crumbled without me, but because I wanted to witness her awesomeness.

As I think about me trying to explain myself to Hattie in the truck, dropping any thoughts of sabotage that I was sure she was planning, I now imagine her thinking, “Geeze mom, would you shut up! It’s fine, I’m fine.” and then rolling her mental eyeballs and adding, “Sheesh, Parents! (phlegm!)”

I’m OOOOOO’TAY!

Today is one of those battle armor days. The kind of day that delivers punch after punch. Each blow is made all the worse because the affliction is being delivered by a small curly headed boy that is no more than 4 years old.

He refuses to pick up his toys. He keeps making up reasons to leave his room. “Mom, I have a question…” as he cans the room for something to ask about. “Mom, when I’m done can I…”, nevermind he has only picked up two of the 50 plus toys he has scattered about.

I think they lied when they coined the phrase “terrible twos”. It should have been”what the hell is this little sprite that has sudddenly become a crazy, CRAZY wild man!!! fours”, but I suppose it doesn’t have the same ring.

So today when I am tempted to rock in the corner, banging my head against the wall, I remember Buckwheat from Little Rascals. “I’m OOOOOO’TAY!”

 

8x10_Buckwheat little rascals 2

A Great Peculiar

Who knows why we react the way we do to death. Whether it be the loss of a loved pet, a friend or just an acquaintance. Sometimes, your reaction puzzles you. Why am I reacting this way?

An acquaintance of ours was killed yesterday afternoon, while at work. It was a senseless accident or perhaps it was purposeful, and the fact that I can’t seem to side with one or the other is what bothers me.

I didn’t know this man well, and for the sake of being sensitive to the loved ones of his, we’ll call him Jake. Jake worked with my husband and my brother, tattooing. He was kind to me and seemed to be a family man, taking care of his mother and putting two kids through school. He wasn’t always a friendly person but he did a lot of good around him. But that is just my perception. I didn’t really know him.

The circumstances surrounding his death are so confusing. I don’t want to go into the details, again out of respect for his memory and his family and friends. His death was public and, sadly, observed by a customer and his apprentice. It appears to have been accidental but then the open question of why when looking at the facts of what was happening at the moment, well lets say it’s the why that haunts the thoughts. It just makes no sense.

That’s what my husband and I keep going back to, it makes no sense. It’s much easier to accept someones dying when it’s clear-cut, but when it leaves questions, there’s a part of you that keeps going over the details, hoping that there is something that would give you an answer.

I, nor my husband or brother were close to this man but the one thing we all keep saying is, it doesn’t make sense and it’s just so weird. I can’t imagine being a close friend or relative. The questions would seem too painful and only a reminder of what’s happened. I wish the best for his friends, family and loved ones as they push forward, I wish them peace.

Who knows why the death of someone who you barely knew affects you more than you would have thought. Maybe it’s the unknown, maybe it’s the thought of him getting up that morning not knowing his time had come, or maybe he did know. And perhaps it’s just that I am older each day and with each days passing I come closer to death, be that tonight, tomorrow or 40 years from now. Who knows when.

Life really is a game of craps, you hope you roll the right dice and that you at the very least are able to live to a nice old age, having lived a full and worthy life.

Here’s hoping you (and I) can do this, and not get hit by a bus full of driving circus baboons tomorrow morning.

Don’t burn the beans! AKA Important Shit.

Where to start, without boring you all to death.

I have been away from this blog for a few months or more, with a couple of posts here and there. Writing, my first love, sadly goes to the wayside when there are more pressing and better paying matters to give attention to. For instance, we now own a business here in town with two of our good friends. Then there has been company, the holidays coming up and oh yeah, my daughters surgery.

For those of you familiar with my little lady, Hattie is doing wonderful and has completely knocked this shit out of the park. I have never seen such a determined girl in my life. For those of you unfamiliar, my daughter just underwent back surgery for severe scoliosis. She is handling the  no bending, twisting, lifting,running,jumping and no to everything else that makes being an eleven year old fun rule, splendidly. I have a caught a few twists here and there but other than that she is handing this with a grace I myself am not sure I could muster.

So back to blog-o-sphere I come. Going through this surgery with my daughter has made me reflect on what kind of parent I am and how far from my goal I sit. While she was in surgery and between the conversations with my mom who came with to help me and support the both of us, I realised that I was not the parent I wanted to be. We all fail and strive to be the best and sometimes it takes a little bit of drama to wake us from our parent coma. I haven’t spent the time with my children showing them things, so much as instructing them. Big difference. As a home-schooler, whose very foundation in school is based on less instruction and more showing, explaining and experiencing, that’s pretty damn sad my friends. So now, I re-focus.

This time gave my husband and I time to think. Dale had to stay back here in town while I went o Chicago for the surgery. He stayed for a couple of reasons, the most important being our 4-year-old son. We felt it was better to give him the stability of a parent with him and we also agreed that he didn’t need to be at the hospital during all this.

And it’s strange folks ( I was always told never to start a sentence with ‘and’. Fuck it)…we both reflected on where we wanted to be as parents, without ever communicating it to the other until I was home from Chi-town. It wasn’t just our role as parents but also our role as human beings we pondered. I haven’t painted in years. Why? I honestly am not sure. I guess I became distracted by meaningless and petty bullshit. I also haven’t written a song in ages, when about 6 years ago, I wrote 4 in one year. They aren’t number one hits by all mean but at least I was doing something to help me “work out my salvation daily”, as biblical figure Paul would have said.

To me, it all comes down to distractions. The things that are truly important to us, even something as important as our children, we willingly lay on the back-burner while we do whatever it is we do. My children, my art and my well-being should not ever be found simmering uselessly on the back of life’s stove. The last line was a little to “chicken soup for the soul”, I apologize, please rephrase as you wish.

And it seems I have let loose all that I wished to say and yet again, if you have followed me for any length of time, I am at the end with no good flowing way to tie it all up. Welcome again, dear reader, to my abrupt endings.

A few regular things about myself.

I turn 32 tomorrow. It seems every year around my birthday I try reeeeeally hard to to think of things I am learning or have learned in the last year. And usually the list is about the same every year ; be patient, work hard, don’t trust everything or everyone that seems legit and learning to let go of hurt, anger and discontent.

The list hasn’t changed much this year. So, since I haven’t posted in a coon’s age, I think instead of boring you with a list of “What I have learned so far”, I will instead list some quirky (or not so) things about myself.

Numero Uno: I am wearing bright green jeans. I am not normally a colored pants or shirts kind of gal. I find that it is truly too loud for me. I like black and grey and most of my clothes are indeed these hues. But while walking through J.C. Penny, I saw these things glowing like emeralds on the rack. They were eight bucks. Well worth the gamble. They have become my favorite pair of pants. So hurrah for me trying something a bit outside my comfort zone. Granted, it wasn’t sky diving or something of that extreme, but to us who wear very dark and muted colors most of the time, donning green pants is quite the stretch.

Okay so that wasn’t really quirky, rather a fact.

Number two: I love to write, which we all know. I have missed it so much but with our schedule lately I haven’t had the time. We have been burning the candles at both ends you might say. My husband, myself and 2 of our very close friends are inheriting a tattoo shop. For those of who do not know, my husband has been a tattooer for 12 successful years. Anyways, we are in the process of moving it and remodeling the new location. On top of that we are all working regular jobs, my husband and partner number 1 tattooing, Partner number 2 at her job and then myself, baking. So between all the work, remodeling, schooling and regular life, writing has sadly fallen by the way side. I miss it.

Again that wasn’t quirky. Perhaps I should have said I was going to list a few regular things about myself.

Regular stuff number 3: I have taken up running. In the past year I have found a real love of it. I am at the moment a victim of falling off the bandwagon and being somewhat lazy, but Monday starts the return to health; less booze, no smokes and more movement.

So there are a few not-so quirky things about me. I am excited about this next year and though the schedule has been crazy hectic and emotionally tiring, I feel very happy at the end of the day laying down tired, knowing that the sleepiness was all well earned.

The Separation of Death From Life….Let There Be Whiskey!

And the story begins this way:

When I was a girl I visited a place called Dixon Mounds. It was an Indian burial site. Enclosed in a metal like shed with just a bridge that spanned the divide, the skeletal remains of hundreds of Indians lay where they took their last breath. It was this singular moment, along with my dads love of history , that began my interest in what was before me, before you, before us.

Now, those people are covered. Legal battles ensued and the argument was that the people should be left at rest and not displayed. It was disrespectful. I can see both sides. Were it my Grandpa,  I would be upset that his last resting place was unearthed and displayed like some trophy. On the other hand I am filled with thankfulness that I saw this, as it ignited a flame inside of me to ask questions about the past in order to pursue a future. As they say, those who learn nothing from the past are doomed to repeat it.

In modern culture and American culture specifically, we are very separated from death. Death is not a part of life but a separation from it. A person dies, they are taken away to some cold place that looks much like a basement and the next thing we know, we are looking at them laying out in a box. They look plastic. The reality has been stripped from us and packaged. In olden days, days of yore, or whatever you wish to call them, we had rituals. No embalming, no three days wait. You dealt with it then and there. You prepared the person for their final journey, wherever that may be. You faced death. You gave over your loved back to the earth.

I think, speaking for me, the separation from death sparks the curiosity about it. I do not deny I love the morbid. I love the skeletons, I love the “dark”, I love the ancient practices. As I said earlier, death is packaged and sold to us in a neat box. We are taught that death is hands off . So when we have chance to peek into that most curious room, we are eager to do so, no matter how disgusting or frightful it may be. This is no justification, this is personal admission.

This is why I take a que from the latin culture ( I love the latin culture), celebrate the person, Celebrate their life. Take joy in who they were and what you learned from them. Talk about them often with your loved ones. Do not let their lives become a whisper.

My Grandma Seibert said that she felt after my Grandpa died that people were afraid to speak with her about him. She said it was as if his life became a whisper. Don’t let people become a whisper. Celebrate.

I have often quoted Frida Khalo, and I will paraphrase here, “When I die, I hope they burn this Judas of a body.” I do not want to be packaged and sold. Burn me,let me become the dust from which I came. And yes that sounds romantic and oh so dramatic ( and yes I may have drank too much red wine). But celebrate me and the life I lived. Laugh about the things that were ridiculous about me, reflect on good times and struggles overcome. Do not display me, but let there be beer and wine and especially whisky.

Yes, Yes!! Let there be whiskey!