Five years. How is it true? And yet, I feel every day of those five years. The wishing for is gone. The pain has dulled to a quiet throb that just murmurs in the background. One that you become comfortable with, ignore, accept and claim as your own. It isn't even really about that anymore. It's about the aftermath. It's about the redefinition. It's about the novacaine numbness that feels better than it should.
The new normal takes center stage and everyone plays their parts. It is a lovely play. Life proceeds and joy exists. And yet, for me, in the background is this idea that I was somehow elementally changed five years ago. Not only did I lose her, I lost part of myself. In losing the comfortable warm place that I landed on the worst of days, I was left to face myself. All the words that had been spoken to me became more true.
I'm a fighter. It's what I do. I'm very good at fighting for others, but maybe not so good at fighting for myself. I give too much to everyone, and I mean everyone. Sometimes I wish I didn't. I'm better about taking care of myself, but still not so good at asking for what I deserve. I don't understand the rules of honesty. I often tell the truth when I probably shouldn't. I'm a terrible liar. I wish she was here so that I could understand how I got this way.
I fight all the time. Sometimes I win. The one fight that I struggle with all the time is a nagging loneliness since she left. Happiness has been elusive these past five years. It feels like it is there and yet it feels like a phantom. Maybe it's the part of me that disappeared on that day.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Posted by Tenacious S at 10:01 PM
Monday, September 07, 2009
Back to the story. The defining moment of my relationship with my mother was when we went to see the movie "Ghandi." By this time I had learned that my mother was someone I could actually be honest with and I stumbled upon a moment that I will never forget. As we drove home from the local theater together, I wondered aloud how someone who was clearly so good could be going to hell according to my religion. Even though my mother up to this point had allowed me to ask, there was something different in her answer that night. It was the first time I heard her voice questioning as loudly as mine. How could it be? Even though my mom never gave me what many would call an answer, her ability to discuss and question out loud without accusations flying was a novelty in my world and I felt like I had finally broken free. I was now free to think and to question. For the first time, I felt like God gave me a mind to seek truth and that truth might not always be exactly what I was expecting. And that was exciting.
By the fall of 1983, my bags were packed and I was off to college. It was no surprise that I was heading off to Calvin College, a small Christian liberal arts school. I opted out of Wheaton for many reasons. It was too close to home, I knew too many people there and they made the sad mistake of asking me about some of my past "sins." Even at 18, I knew that I didn't need to be judged for things that I had done in the past. I already knew that part of growing up is learning and changing. I didn't want to be dragged down by things that I had done in the past. I'm all for personal accountability, but what's the point if there are no lessons to be learned and only punishments to be dealt out.
So off to Calvin I went. Little did I know, but my faith was about to be rocked to the core, not by the "world" that I had been warned about, but by the Christians I went to class with every day. Those three years taught me the real world meaning of the word hypocrisy. I saw people who in the name of the same god I was claiming, behave in ways that I found shameful and yet, they turned around and called me a heathen because I wasn't a member of their church. Suddenly, all the words I had spoken to others flooded me in a sea of regret. The judgementalism that I had grown up embracing was a little harsh on the receiving end. Suddenly I realized that our beliefs when taken out of the context of our personal culture, became a target for others, who believed their agenda to be as valid as my own.
And so it was at Calvin College, the safest place my parents could have put me, I learned to think for myself for a change. I was fortunate enough, or intuitive enough to find a group of people who helped me to think for myself. They were all Christians, but a kind of Christian I had never met before. For the first time, I met people who put action before words and reserved the judging for God. I had my fill of being judged by people here on earth. My ego had been torn down again and again by people for whom I never seemed good enough. I had been given a chance to really examine what my foundation was made of and if some repairs were in order.
Next time, The Seether Part Quatro, where yours truly thinks she has figured it all out.
Posted by Tenacious S at 12:35 AM
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Where to begin? Ah, the list. The ever growing list of things that keep me up at night, bring me to tears, ruffle my fur beyond my cleaning capabilities, make me feel isolated and leave me drained. Who knew that Inauguration Day, a day which I blogged about the hope and optimism that I felt, was merely the beginning of a period that would proceed to unravel the fabric of my life, to rip the proverbial band-aid off of the almost healed wound. And yet, that is exactly what happened. I have been left standing here wondering if my childhood and the things that I perceived were really there at all. Somehow this dumb healthcare reform issue has managed to tear my life apart in ways I sure did not see coming.
Most people who know me, know that I will openly identify myself as a Christian. They also know that when I say I came from a VERY conservative background, I am not kidding. The only thing that would have made it worse was if they had put me in a private Christian school, which thankfully they didn't partially because we didn't have enough money and partially because when they threatened the action in sixth grade I vowed mutiny. I knew then that I had already had my fair share of indoctrination and that would have sent me over the edge into crazy land.
I wasn't allowed to question my faith as a child. I was forced to go to church multiple times a week. I was forced to hang out with kids from church. Many times my time with my school friends was limited because my parents tried to control every aspect of my life. I had little freedom as a child. I have never doubted that I was loved. I was absolutely loved and otherwise well taken care of. However, when it came to matters of religion and faith, there was no freedom. No freedom to explore. No freedom to question. The few times I rebelled against this, I was firmly put in my place by everyone surrounding me, my parents, my grandmother and everyone I knew at the church. Basically, the world that I was allowed to live in told me that I had better figure it out. So I would settle down again. When you get slapped upside the head enough, you shut up after awhile.
If the people I was forced to be with and be like were awful people, I would now be telling you that they are now in jail or some such thing. But the fact of the matter was that they were all pretty nice people and they all told me they liked me and it was virtually all I knew, so I was kind of OK with it. What could possibly be wrong with a bunch of conservative midwestern people who frequently made casseroles and thought jello was a salad? Well, maybe I should have seen something evil there. So I kind of did what I should do for awhile. It was just easier and it's not like it was awful and I had people that I thought were friends and my family was happy with me. Lots of positive reinforcement came my way when I was the good girl they all expected me to be.
Still, in all of this, I was always the malcontent in the group. I still had times where I would "backslide" and get called out for my less than Christian behavior. See, it was all about the behavior. If you are constantly behaving the way you should, it doesn't matter what you think. And by the way, that thinking stuff is dangerous. Be careful what you learn. My whole life was a study of censorship. Fortunately for me, there was one person in my life, who in the quiet moments let me know that it was OK to think. It was my mom. Even though she belonged to the same group and culture, she was different and everyone knew it. Whatever my mom was, she was honest and giving and one of the smartest people I have ever known. As I grew older, she began to encourage me to think and question. She opened up enough to allow me to see her own struggling and questioning. She was the one that allowed me to embark on the next leg of my journey.
Stay tuned for The Seether Part Drei, where The Seether makes a break for it.
Posted by Tenacious S at 3:38 PM
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I have never in my life been so infuriated and confused. I've spent a lifetime wrestling with choices and rights and wrongs. I have never proclaimed to be a perfect person. I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words. Anyone can tell you what is right. Doing it is another thing.
I have been disappointed over and over again by people, who by their inability to see anything from someone else's point of view, either stand by the side of the road in inaction or fight to protect themselves at the expense of others. I've heard people call those less fortunate "lazy." At this point in my life, I believe that privilege is a blinding force. It makes us feel better than others, as if we got where we were going solely through our own merits. I am a child of privilege. I fight every day against its blinding forces.
I'm most sick of the righteous talk. Many offer plans. Few are willing to put in the work to make it feasible. Too much is broken. Too few are willing. I'm looking for people to put some skin in the game. Then come back and talk to me. Stop polishing your crowns, people. Lay them down and get in the game. The team here on earth needs you.
Posted by Tenacious S at 12:51 PM
Thursday, July 02, 2009
I spend a good majority of my time at work trying to teach children with autism that we all have different perceptions of the world . The terminology for this is Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is the ability to understand that the way that you perceive things is different from the perception of others. That we all have our own likes and dislikes. That we all react to things in different ways. Being able to see things from another's point of view is what allows us to be successful in our social lives.
Somehow this theory seems to be much simpler to explain than it is to practice. Many grown adults seem to lack this ability. In my work, when this ability is lacking we call it mind blindness. I often equate all of this with empathy. It's one thing to feel sorry for someone, that's sympathy. It's another thing entirely to actually attempt to identify with someone else and to put yourself in their shoes and to identify with what they are going through, be it simple or complex.
As a society, it is customary to say "How are you?" when we greet people. Sadly, because it is ritualistic, it seems to have very little validity. How often in my own life have I given the expected, "Fine," as an answer when things were anything but fine. To answer anything but fine almost feels like a social faux pas. This means that we might expect something from the other person or that the other person might feel burdened by our statement. I long to live in a world where we can all be honest about our feelings. I probably tip my hand more than most when it comes to revealing exactly how I am feeling. What sense is it hide how we feel from those that we are close to?
The flip side of that coin is that it isn't always nice to reveal how we are feeling sometimes. It can be hurtful to reveal mistrust or anger. This is where empathy needs to come in to play. Before we react with the full force of our emotions, we need to take a step back and think about how that person might receive it. Did we understand the situation? Do we know the background of what happened? Do we understand how this person accepts strong emotional statements?
I find it harder and harder each year to balance my desire for honesty with my impulse to be empathetic. I teach empathy on a daily basis. I have to practice empathy to be able to do my job. In real life, empathy can sometimes be my own achilles heel, as it leaves me vulnerable in a world where many are not empathetic in return. I feel soft and naked in a harsh world. Many have told me to toughen up. I am tough when I need to be in situations where injustice has occurred. But somehow, the day to day stuff seems to be hardest for me. Small things hurt me. Big things devastate me. And yet, if you ask me how I am, I am likely to say, "Fine." Anything more can be a liability and usually ends up being thrown back in my face. I trust fewer and fewer people. And I think that is the saddest statement of all.
Posted by Tenacious S at 12:43 PM
Saturday, June 27, 2009
So I go away for a week of vacation and return to the pop world turned on its head. Gone are two of the pop icons of my youth, Farrah, who forced me to spend hours in the bathroom with a curling iron only to fail miserably every day, and Michael, who forced me to attempt the moonwalk over and over only to realize that I have only a small amount of rhythm and dancing magic.
Well, neither of them were real cultural heroes for me. I'd much rather talk about the loons that sang me to sleep for the last week. Or the doe and fawn I saw prancing through the forest this morning as we left. Or the bald eagle that circled our lake late every afternoon. Or the turtles that swam a little too close to my fishing line almost every day. Or the sun that was warm and out every day this week. Or the cool clear lake water that we swam in. Or the super fun go-kart track that I zipped around many times. Really, all of the news was a bit surprising, but in comparison, not so important.
My whole family had a great vacation. The northwoods of Wisconsin have been our family's vacation spot since I was a small child. I find it reassuring that in a world that changes every day, it remains virtually the same. MIchael or no Michael, it is a quiet corner of the world where you don't even have a good cell signal. A place where you have to go looking for the rest of the world.
That being said, this song makes me awful happy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hK3Y1Ehv9c
Posted by Tenacious S at 9:57 PM
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wow. So what was I thinking. Maybe I thought that if I totally ignored my blog, I would stop caring. Or possibly that I would stop having something to say, (please insert laughter here). I ALWAYS have something to say. Maybe I thought that my words were inconsequential. Well, what I've figured out is that even if I am the only one reading, they are not inconsequential.
I got a little downtrodden for awhile. I felt I hit a flat spot in my life. I watched my readership plummet. As if that mattered in the first place. Love you all, but really, I started this for me. Y'all were just the happy by-product. And a very happy by-product I might add. I apologize profusely for not keeping up on my reading. I was momentarily distracted by Facebook.
I found a lot of friends on Facebook. That's a good thing. I found old friends. i found older friends. I kept up with my newer ones. Just never had the same shine as blogging. Face it, one sentence a day, or maybe every few days, is not the same as a heartfelt blog post.
So, bitches, I'm back! All the bad '80's videos, all the cancer pain, all the growing children drama. Love it. Loathe it. I really don't care. It's all about me. Well, kind of. I do love you all and I really miss many of you.
As a reassurance, I really haven't changed too very much. Still a Naked Raygun addict. Waiting on the new Bomb album/CD. Love the live shows and will never be satiated. And love all of you. Just don't cross me in an IEP meeting. Then we may have to be mortal enemies and I will win.
Posted by Tenacious S at 10:30 PM
Saturday, March 21, 2009
So, we've all been asked to briefly comment about the need for repentance after listening to our contributions to the Lenten Mix. I think you will find it quite clear. Not a whole lot of subliminal messages here. Have fun in the hand basket. You know where it's going...
Jet Boy Jet Girl-The Damned
Can you tell whats on my mind
Shes with him its driving me wild
Id like to hit him on the head until hes dead
The sight of blood is such a high
He gives me head
We made it on a ballroom blitz
I took his arms and kissed his lips
He looked at me with such a smile my face turned red
We booked a room into the ritz
He gives me head
Jet boy jet girl
I'm gonna take you round the world
Jet boy I'm gonna make you penetrate
I'm gonna make you be a girl
Jet boy jet girl
Possum Kingdom-The Toadies
I'm not gonna lie
I'll not be a gentleman
Behind the boathouse
I'll show you my dark secret
I'm not gonna lie
I want you for mine
My blushing bride
My lover, be my lover, yeah...
Don't be afraid
I didn't mean to scare you
So help me, Jesus
I never got along with the girls at my school
Filling me up with all their morals and their rules
They'd pile all their problems on my head
Id rather go out and fuck the dead
Cause I can do what I want and they wont complain
I wanna fuck I wanna fuck the dead
Middle of the night so silently
I creep on over to the mortuary
Lift up the casket and fiddle with the dead
Their cold blue flesh makes me turn red
Closer-Nine Inch Nails
You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you, you let me complicate you
Help me I broke apart my insides, help me Ive got no
Soul to tell
Help me the only thing that works for me, help me get
Away from myself
I want to f**k you like an animal
I want to feel you from the inside
I want to f**k you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to god
Deep Six-Big Black
He was a plug-ugly son of a bitch
With a fist where most folks get their face
Me and a half dozen of us would've done him in
But he was never around except when we were drunk
And he's not like we are, see he doesn't know his place
And he thinks he's some kind of big cheese
A buck knife, a saw blade, a lead pipe, a twelve gauge
Would've done him in, could've put him by
A buck knife, a saw blade, a lead pipe, a twelve gauge
I could've deep-sixed him, wouldn't bat an eye
Well, he's not like we are, see he drinks his Jack straight
And he sleeps with his wife and he pays his whores
Thanks Bubs and Splotchy! I'm so ashamed.
Posted by Tenacious S at 2:27 PM
Sunday, March 08, 2009
They say that things occur in groups of three. I'm calling a three. I'm done with this for now. I lost my aunt in December, my grandma in February and now another relative a week ago. I don't want to cry anymore. I don't want to see my family members go through the pain of loss anymore. I don't want to go to another funeral anytime in the near future.
I suppose that this officially marks my entrance into the later half of life, if I am healthy and fortunate. The first half is full of birthdays and weddings and baby showers. Seems like this half is full of funerals so far. I think I have a strong grasp on my mortality at this point, which is maybe the point. This show doesn't go on forever. My take-home lesson from life's latest goings on is to enjoy each day, love those around you and let them know you do, and to end each day at peace with everything. I think I've known most of this for a few years, but life just wanted to make sure I hadn't forgotten the lesson and it scheduled a little review test for me.
Posted by Tenacious S at 11:48 PM
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Happy Fat Tuesday! We are celebrating with a big ole pot of jambalaya and some cajun influenced drinks. For chow I've got the shrimp and andouille sausage jambalaya on the stove just simmering away. To prepare our appetite and lose the troubles of the day and to celebrate Fat Tuesday, we are drinking a modified Zombie, which is a concoction of fresh squeezed lime juice, dark rum, light rum, triple sec and amaretto with a splash of mango juice for luck. Bon Appetit and Happy Fat Tuesday!
Posted by Tenacious S at 7:35 PM
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
While I realize that this is not an ideal shot. If you look carefully in that tree you'll see a fairly large dark colored bird. I was getting ready this morning and just happened to look out the window when I saw a large bird land in the tree in front of our house. I realized from watching its flight before he or she landed that it was not one of the neighborhood crows, grackels or other common dark colored birds.
After watching him for several minutes, I noticed when it turned its head almost completely around, and I could see the face, that it had the very unique bill of a falcon. I could also tell that the front of him was much lighter than the back, as I occasionally caught glimpses as the bird sat on the branch. For once, I actually ran to get my camera, even in the middle of the usual morning rush. I was glad I did. I have now realized that I got a shot and a look at a peregrine falcon. There is a pair that have routinely nested on the Evanston Public Library. Apparently, thanks to DDT, these birds were on the brink of extinction. With the ban on DDT, their population is slowly increasing. Their natural place to nest is on cliffs, so I guess that's what the Evanston Library feels like to them. I also read that they are the world's fastest animal, clocking in at a top speed of 273 mph. That's just freakin' cool and it was in the tree in front of my house. Nature gave me a little present today.
Posted by Tenacious S at 3:07 PM
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Once upon a time, I was an English literature major, first at Calvin and then at the University of South Carolina. For whatever reason, the one poem that resonated loudly within me was "The Hospital Window" by James Dickey. I still remember sitting in my Modern Poetry class and feeling as if I could have written the poem, an almost deja vu feeling. Little did I know that the deja vu was in reverse and was more of a foreshadowing of things to come. I am not being morbid, merely reflecting on the fact that poetry can encapsulate experiences. I understood then and understand more now the words of this poem. It happened that James Dickey was the poet in residence at the University of South Carolina when I was there. I often rode the same elevator with him in the English building. I often wish I had told him how much I loved his poem.
The Hospital Window
BY JAMES L. DICKEY
I have just come down from my father.
Higher and higher he lies
Above me in a blue light
Shed by a tinted window.
I drop through six white floors
And then step out onto pavement.
Still feeling my father ascend,
I start to cross the firm street,
My shoulder blades shining with all
The glass the huge building can raise.
Now I must turn round and face it,
And know his one pane from the others.
Each window possesses the sun
As though it burned there on a wick.
I wave, like a man catching fire.
All the deep-dyed windowpanes flash,
And, behind them, all the white rooms
They turn to the color of Heaven.
Ceremoniously, gravely, and weakly,
Dozens of pale hands are waving
Back, from inside their flames.
Yet one pure pane among these
Is the bright, erased blankness of nothing.
I know that my father is there,
In the shape of his death still living.
The traffic increases around me
Like a madness called down on my head.
The horns blast at me like shotguns,
And drivers lean out, driven crazy—
But now my propped-up father
Lifts his arm out of stillness at last.
The light from the window strikes me
And I turn as blue as a soul,
As the moment when I was born.
I am not afraid for my father—
Look! He is grinning; he is not
Afraid for my life, either,
As the wild engines stand at my knees
Shredding their gears and roaring,
And I hold each car in its place
For miles, inciting its horn
To blow down the walls of the world
That the dying may float without fear
In the bold blue gaze of my father.
Slowly I move to the sidewalk
With my pin-tingling hand half dead
At the end of my bloodless arm.
I carry it off in amazement,
High, still higher, still waving,
My recognized face fully mortal,
Yet not; not at all, in the pale,
Drained, otherworldly, stricken,
Created hue of stained glass.
I have just come down from my father.
Posted by Tenacious S at 10:38 PM
Saturday, January 31, 2009
So, the birthday seems like a good excuse to go out and have some fun. Tonight at The Hideout there are going to be 2 bands and an awesome DJ set. I'd love it if you joined me. I'm guessing we'll get there around 9 or 10 and stay until late. It's January. It's cold and I think it's time to warm it up a bit with a little drinking and some dancing.
Posted by Tenacious S at 11:51 AM
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
For Christmas, Mr. Ten S gave me an Indian cookbook. I've been experimenting with it the past couple of weekends. Last weekend we had a lovely chicken curry with a side of zucchini and yellow squash cooked in mustard seeds and some other fun spices. This weekend we had a lamb curry with a side of green beans that were spiced with dried red peppers, cumin and mustard seed. Both, although somewhat time consuming to cook, turned out really lovely.
Bink has been a picky eater for years. Recently he has been becoming more adventurous. Yesterday I employed him in my kitchen as we made the lamb curry. He was amazed at the array of spices, some that he had never heard of before, that we used in the recipes. Bink peeled and chopped and stirred for me as we cooked our dinner. Although he is not typically a fan of spicy food, he was so curious, that he tried and ate quite a bit of everything that we had prepared. About halfway into the meal, he sort of paused and looked up and said, "It's not so spicy for Sweetness, but I'm like Papa. It's so spicy!"
My father, who is from a Norwegian family that thought pepper was an exotic spice, has never done well with spicy food. He literally will have to wipe down his forehead if even a small amount of pepper is present in a dish. There was no eating of tacos at our house, we owned no hot sauce and we certainly would never have gone to an Indian restaurant. All this to say that I think I have managed to escape the curse of my Scandanavian upbringing and must have dodged the genetic bullet that makes you sweat profusely at the first sign of a spice other than salt. Not so sure Bink escaped though.
Posted by Tenacious S at 5:31 PM
Monday, January 05, 2009
I know, I know. Another Naked Raygun post. Hey, if Miss Coffey can pontificate about her homies, so can I. This is so much more than just Naked Raygun though. They played two shows this weekend at House of Blues. Of course, I was at both. The first night, it was me and Lulu. We were beer fueled and ready to mosh. And we did. Lu and I have been going to Raygun shows since we were about 18 or 19. It was fun to hoist a beer again with her as we fell back into the crowd and were bumped around as we sang at the top of our lungs.
Second night, it was me, Mr. Ten S, my old friend Matt and his friend Sue. We again basked in the greatness of the Raygun. While poor Matt and Sue were massively jet-lagged and had to high tail it home, Mr. Ten S and I joined the band after the show for more fun. All I can say is that I treasure the friends that have shared the Naked Raygun road with me and the band and the new friends I have met along the way. You see, it's more than just a band to me. These are my friends. The ones beside me in the crowd and the ones that I share sweaty hugs with after the show. These are honest people. Real people. People that make me feel alive.
Posted by Tenacious S at 10:33 PM