Grief is exhausting

Warning: this post is mostly a musing on grief and death, with some super dark humor and imagery thrown in.  If you’ve got triggers around this stuff then read with caution.

My mom called me on Friday (I was out and sent it to voicemail), followed quickly by a text telling me to call her ASAP.  We don’t send those messages in my family unless it’s literally a life and death matter, so I knew it wasn’t going to be great news.  It wasn’t- my Uncle B had been killed instantly in a rather gruesome motorcycle accident.  Hearing my mom say “it took them a really long time to find his leg” was horrifying yet hilarious in a black, awful, laugh before you cry kind of way.  I have a complicated relationship with my family but Uncle B was one of the ones who I really loved and who I knew loved me back, and would no matter what.  His son (my cousin) is practically a brother to me.  I’m sure at some point I’ll write a post about him soon, but right now it’s still too raw.  Instead, I’m going to write about how shitty I feel right now.

I come from a large, tight-knit family so I’m pretty accustomed to death and the attendant rituals and coping mechanisms.  I’ve also spent a fair amount of time working in nursing facilities; I literally lost count of the number of deaths I’ve attended as a primary care worker, often of people I had gotten to know and grown to care deeply about.  I’m pretty good at dealing with this type of death, the loss of someone who is ill, elderly, or both.  I learned to process and work through my grief during the final days or weeks, and usually by the time my relative or patient passed on I had gone through the stages (sometimes a few times) and found peace and closure.  It’s never easy exactly, but there’s a rhythm to the end of life that becomes familiar and manageable.

It’s been at least 15 years since I’ve had to deal with a truly surprising death, one where a friend or family member died unexpectedly, and I’d forgotten how awful it is.  I’m pretty sure I spent most of Friday and Saturday in shock, and since then the days have just been cycles of “oh, that’s a funny article, I should share that on Facebook, oh fuck he’s still dead and I really wish I didn’t have that image of him with his leg torn off in my head cause I’ve seen what that looks like in person and it’s not pretty.”  I’ve forgotten how exhausting this kind grief is.  Grocery shopping on Monday felt like I was trying to perform brain surgery with a croquet mallet and was about as successful.

On the upside, being legitimately so depressed I can barely function makes it easy for me to see that my depression and anxiety stuff has actually been relatively under control for the past few months.  I might still be a curmudgeonly introvert but that’s more my personality than my crazy coming out to play.  So that’s good?  Oh look, another blog post without a decent conclusion.

Porkchops taste like Budapest

In the past 6 years I’ve done a lot of traveling, mostly trips which are longer than a month.  I’m also a die-hard foodie and love to cook and experiment with local foods in each new city or country. I usually rent an apartment or room with access to a kitchen, and end up eating the same few delicious things over and over.

What that means is that eating a normal meal at home can make me terribly travel-sick (it’s like the reverse of home-sick).  Smell and taste always bring up the strongest memories for me, but the foods I associate with a particular place don’t usually have much correlation with the foods they’re best known for.  For example:

  • Licorice (salty or sweet) tastes like Iceland.
  • Clementines taste like Barcelona.
  • Fresh pineapple tastes like Amsterdam.
  • Yogurt and muesli tastes like Germany.
  • Chicken, cheddar, and arugula (rocket) on crusty bread taste like England.
  • Pork chops and cabbage fried in butter taste like Budapest.
  • Roasted beets and parsnips taste like Avignon.
  • Fatback tastes like Houston.
  • Balsalmic vinegar and oil tossed with green cabbage tastes like dinners with the St. Mary’s Mafia.
  • Raw asparagus and sugar snap peas taste like ZK.
  • Pancakes taste like Tupelo.

It’s probably weird, but so am I.  I’m curious what new food associations I’ll create next fall in Amherst, and not particularly fussed to figure it out too soon.

Plug and Play Organizer

A fantastic example of a modern love letter, and as everyone knows I’m a sucker for flattery. Thanks love.

your passport to complaining

i’ve organized lots of different types of events: conferences, arrest actions, political campaigns, social gathering, work parties and festivals.  The job of organizing often splits into two broad parts – logistics and content.


Logistics organizers make sure that all the registration fees are paid, that ride shares are organized, that the site is prepped, that speakers or workshop givers are picked up at the train station, that the press releases goes out and the promotion is done, that the event program or action fingerbook is compiled and proofed, that the dry erase board has working markers or the participants know their rights and have lawyer numbers written on their arms, that the food is prepared or the pot lucks don’t have 16 deserts and no main course, and that there is bail money somewhere to get our people out of jail if needed.

Content organizers figure out who is going to…

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Twin Oaks in the news

One of the best articles I’ve seen about Twin Oaks recently.

“It turns out that being busy means something different in a world where most of your work goes toward feeding, clothing, housing, and healing your friends and neighbors, instead of enriching anonymous corporations. And so, for a place with so many hammocks, Twin Oaks does not exactly cultivate a lounging atmosphere. It’s home to the kind of people who will tell you that their work is fun. And, since they get to more or less choose when, where, how, and with whom they work, that may well be the case.”  via I worked hard for no pay — and I dug it –

I’m officially divorced!

I got a call from my lawyer/friend yesterday to let me know that my divorce is finally final!  Even cooler, the divorce decree was issued on 12-12-12.  No deep thoughts about the nature of civil marriage and civil divorce, just relief that after 3/4 of a decade this marriage and extended separation is finally over.


Introverted ≠ Shy

I spent 4 months traveling in Europe last year, and almost every book aimed at solo travelers focused on how to meet new and interesting people.  I didn’t want to meet new and interesting people, I wanted to travel, see cool things, and discover how many foods were available in toothpaste type tubes.  (In case you’re wondering I found herb blends, tomato paste, sardine paste, mayonnaise, gravy, mustard, and smoked Hungarian paprika, as well as a bunch of things I could not identify and was too intimidated to try.)  I’m an introvert, and I have zero interest in changing that.

When people try to cajole me into going to a party with a bunch of strangers, or encourage me to “branch out” and expand my social circle, I get frustrated.  I have an amazing, supportive, tight-knit group of friends who have supported me through some really hard times (and I’ve done the same for them).  I’m not interested in making casual acquaintances.  I’m very interested in meeting people who are important to people who are important to me, as I believe strongly in the transitive property of affection.  I’m also interested in meeting people who I connect with intellectually (I’m developing quite a crush on someone through their blog, although we have never met).  Other than that I’m all set.  So when I read the following comment on a blog, I literally laughed out loud as it summed up my frustration with (genuinely well-meaning) extroverted people to a T. (Emphasis added by me for being so fucking on point.)

“I loathe when people think that I’m shy rather than introverted. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being shy, I’m just not, and they are two separate things. People cajoling me into social situations try to assure me that I “don’t have to talk to everyone” or that “everyone will love me.”

Bitch, of course they will like me. I am delightful. I just find prolonged social interactions to be extremely exhausting.”    Source: Comment by PopCultureMulcher on this post