The Days of My Life

Short Story

Her friend’s father was slowly flitting away.

Her friend asked in voice tinged with desperation, “Tell me what to do. You must know what to do because you’ve been through this too. How do I handle this? How do I make the hurt easier to bear?”

She counseled, “You take a deep breath and you put one foot in front of the other.”

She told her friend this because she knew she couldn’t tell the truth.

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Oh, Neti!

I have a process and it cannot be disrupted.

Sure, it could be more efficient, more timely, more helpful. But it cannot be disrupted.

It goes something like this: 1) Decide to do something. 2) Think about doing said thing and reaffirm the decision to do said thing. 3) Repeat Step 2 proportional to the benefit of doing said thing (For example, throwing out a dried up pen will take less thinking than paying rent.This is why I start thinking about paying rent 3 months ahead of time). 4) Forget about doing said thing proportional to the benefit of doing said thing. 5) Remember I wanted to do said thing and do it, wondering why I didn’t do it sooner.

I believe the colloquial term for this process is “procrastination.”

Whatever.

This process is how I find myself breathing through my nose for the first time in 5 months. This process also led to several easily preventable sinus infections, but that’s neither here nor there.

Long story short, the point of marriage is having someone who will tell you when you don’t notice that snot is running down your face in public, and to use a goddamn neti pot when your nose is stuffed with more mucus than a unit on Storage Wars is stuffed with stuff.

It has been a spring and summer of excruciating allergies. Sneezing, stuffiness, and stealthy nose running. I became afraid to leave the house without a healthy supply of Kleenex and a Husband to keep watch.

I’ve been thinking about it for a couple months now.  It’s just that the neti pot was under the bathroom sink, the distilled water was buried in the hall closet, and the devices to heat the water where all the way in the kitchen. First World Problems and a half.

A few sessions spent flushing out infected grossness and my nose feels lighter and my sneezing and snot flow have significantly decreased.

I can breathe out of my nose again!

It may have taken me longer to get to that point than others, but it’s my process and it cannot be disrupted.

Everything Looks Different From Far Away

When you leave your corner of the country the houses look a little different. A different building material, a different way of positioning the garage, a different angle to the roof. Suddenly, you realize that there are many ways to build a house and the way you’ve always seen houses isn’t the way they have to be.

Different parts of the country have different trees and different landscaping. They have rocks instead of grass. Palm trees instead of Evergreens.

It changes the way you think, these subtle differences. It kick starts something in your brain that makes you see everything differently.

This is why I want to travel. But, I don’t just want to see the differentness (that really isn’t all that different) in this country. I want to leave the country and go somewhere so completely different than what I’m used to.

Things don’t have to be the way they are. They can be better. They can be worse. They can just be different.

I like different. I want to seek it out and embrace it.

I’ve had the idea recently that I want to go to Iran. I’ve been voraciously reading people’s stories of traveling there and it has only served to stoke the fire. There aren’t many places on earth that would be so different from the United States, mostly because the picture of Iran that’s painted by the media isn’t the picture of the real Iran. Even reading the descriptions of the people and the culture in books isn’t the same as experiencing it. Reading the trip stories from people who have been there isn’t the same as being there myself.

I want to tell people how friendly Iranians are. I want to describe what it’s like to wear a head covering when I’m out in public. I just want to know what it’s like to be there.

I’ve long been fascinated by the Middle East, yet I’ve always accepted that I couldn’t go there because of their views of women and because the Middle East is unsafe in its un-Westernness. I think that’s just silly.

I feel like it’s where I need to go to seek out the differentness that I want, and Iran is among the most fascinating of the places I dream of seeing.

And After All, We’re Only Ordinary Men

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I have a complicated relationship with patriotism, the military machine, and the United States and the way it behaves on a world stage (never mind the domestic). But I can’t discard the moments in history that are huge and meaningful, these moments in history that changed the world.

The landing at Normandy, D-Day, was 70 years ago today.

My Dad gave a beautiful eulogy at my Grandfather’s funeral. I only read it a couple years ago, finding it in his desk after his own death. He wrote that his Father didn’t change the world. His impact on the world was doing the ordinary things. Waking up in the morning, going to work, providing for his family. His impact on the world was doing the ordinary things that made their lives full and wonderful.

But, 70 years ago he was there.

This ordinary man was there for one of the most important moments of the 20th century.

He wasn’t an internationally acclaimed military leader. He wasn’t featured in newspapers or the movies with incredibly stories about his bravery. He was an ordinary man who was part of a moment in history.

The generals and the politicians didn’t make D-Day happen. History was changed by men like my Grandfather at Omaha beach on this day 70 years ago.

I’m incredibly proud of that.

He Rocks in the Tree Top All Day Long, Hoppin’ and a Boppin’ and Singing His Song

Don’t read the comments.

This is the best advice a person can give you about the internet.

Do not read the comments. Because you will always wish you hadn’t.

It’s great advice and I’ve been learning to follow it. Comments make me angry and sad and diminish my loosening grasp on the idea that humanity actually wants to be good.

(And while I agree President Obama isn’t what I desire in my Chief Executive, I don’t really see how he’s to blame for the cut to public transportation in Seattle. Oh, my bad, Internet Commentator, it’s ALL liberals. Wait, it’s the conservatives? Now, I’m confused.)

In part because of the endless, pointless internet babble I gave up Twitter for Lent. Since my return, I’m utterly bored by it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic outlet for narcissism (and you’re just not a good American without that), but nobody cares about your narcissism and you probably really don’t care about anyone else’s.

Unless, it bothers you for some reason.

Their grammar isn’t good. They Tweet about weird things. They commit Twitter Faux Pas, which you yourself have invented in your head and expect the entire world to adhere to.

So you do the thing that we do in this age of Internet Commentators and you call them out for it. It’s for their own good! You’re just trying to help!

Oddly enough, people aren’t responsive to your “constructive” criticism when you rant at them on the Internet!

Sometimes people do need to be corrected and need something about their behavior pointed out to them. But it’s almost never going to successful unless it’s a trusted friend in the right situation.

I’m not sure where the line is between just being a jerk on the internet and where it becomes cyber bullying.

Just realize, it’s not your job or my job to try to force people to behave the way we want them to. We’ll probably fail at changing their behavior. We may inflict unnecessary psychological damage upon them. We will, for sure, look like assholes.

Maybe the best internet advice is to just not make comments.

Words of Love, Soft and Tender, Won’t Win a Girl’s Heart Anymore

You know when you’re watching a movie about a romantic conflict of some sort and you’re screaming at the characters, “Just say this! The whole problem will go away if you just say these words!”?

Real life feels like that sometimes, only you’re the character who doesn’t know what the words are. There are conversations you have, throwing words like darts only to watch the words helplessly bounce off the board.

The right thing to say must be so obvious to anyone watching this little romantic comedy!

All the relationship advice is to talk, talk, talk. It doesn’t seem to matter that when the words are wrong the talking doesn’t solve anything.

We talk too much. We probably talk our relationships to death.

I was thinking about this while watching the season finale of Nashville and screaming at the characters, “Say this! It’s what you feel, so just say it you silly goose!”, and I realized that it all comes down to honesty.

The words are hard to find because honesty is hard to express. To ourselves, to anyone else.

All the relationship advice is to talk, talk, talk because talking is easier than being honest.

Pure, terrifying, humbling honestly. That’s what the best relationships are made of.

The Life You Imagined

“Death so called is a thing which makes men weep, and yet a third of life is passed in sleep.” – Lord Byron

I watched my Dad embrace the death he was approaching. I watched him welcome it and envelope it.

I watched him live death.

Death used to be some vague fear. In the time since my Dad died, deathly thoughts creep up on me out of nowhere to chillingly remind me that I am terrified.

I’m scared it will hurt. I’m more scared by the finality. It’s not like you take a nap and wake and get to start over. It’s just done.

People talk about how they want to die painlessly in their sleep.  I want to know when I’m dying and I want to accept and embrace it. It’s just that when I’m being honest with myself, my thoughts remind how terrifying the unknown of death is.

I’m going to Portland today. I lived there for 6 years in my 20s and I was never happy there. The first trip I took back to Portland after I moved was to visit a good friend. On the drive down I-5, as I hit Vancouver, I was almost overpowered by the feeling that I had to get out of there. I cried hysterically as I steered my car down the freeway. I didn’t want to be there. The unhappiness of my years there,  fighting to become myself, trying desperately to stuff myself into a life I could never live, it all came rushing back to me and I almost turned around and drove back to Seattle.

It’s been a couple years since that first trip back and I’m actually excited this time. I’m going to watch my Blazers play in the second round of the playoffs (the Western Conference Semi Finals!) and I’m going to squeeze in as much touristy stuff as I can. I’ll also be staying in the actual downtown city of Portland, the place I wanted to be so desperately when I lived across the river.

I’ve been thinking about my life there the past few days as I anticipate this trip. It struck me just how different everything is now. I was scared to leave my life there, but still I blew it all up and probably didn’t handle it the best that I could, but I fought the fear and I changed my life.

I’m happy.

I didn’t really know what happiness was and now I feel it every single day. I have the feeling of being really and truly loved for being myself. I get to be myself.

I realized last night that I could die today and it would be okay. I’ve felt real happiness and real love.

Sure, I’d be pissed as hell. There’s so much I still want to do! But I found the things that people spend lifetimes searching for, and I’m thankful for them every day.