How to Survive Year 1…or the seemingly never ending morass of bullshit you must endure now that your spouse is gone


So, dear reader, we did it! We survived the first year! Congratulations. Pat yourself on the back, because obviously, no one else is around to do that for you! So…..now what?

You thought that things would be a lot different, didn’t you? Ha! Nope. You only survived because you don’t know how to not survive. You put your head down and put one foot in front of the other. Every. Fucking. Day. Because you had to. If you’re like me, you didn’t inherit a metric fuck-ton of money when your spouse died. You inherited an entirely new set of headaches that no amount of fuckitall is going to take away.

I thought that I would have my house paid off and I would be living somewhere else by now. Nope. My lawyer assures me he is working on it, but since he’s never in his office, and certainly doesn’t answer phone messages, I have no idea whether or not this is truthful or not. How hard can this be? The only thing in the estate was the house. But this has brought a completely new set of headaches. For one thing, I now owe more on the house than I did when Andrew died. Totally fair, right? No.

Also I can not change the name on my insurance account until the house is settled. Because God forbid what would happen if the whole thing burned down around my ears? Well, I know the answer to that. The insurance agency would issue a check that I could not cash in Andrew’s name to cover the contents of said house. Which brings us squarely into this week’s drama.

So, apparently the insurance company has been overcharging us for years. Thank you, Farmers. Not applying the correct discounts. So when I added the new car, apparently this brought this little black seed out into the light and they have been fixing it. One small refund check at a time. The bank said to sign his name and then mine and add “representative payee/personal representative”. Which I have dutifully done on every single check I have received. Until this week. Suddenly, the bank has decided that this is not their policy and that I have to get the check reissued. In my name. Sounds simple, right? Nope.  I call Farmers and talk to an agent who gives me a phone number to call. I call the number and get “virtual voting has ended”. Click. I call Farmers back. They give me 2 new numbers to call, one of which calls some black hole in outer space and never connects and the other, interestingly enough to Bank of America. Or at least, a class action lawsuit for them. Because apparently, they’ve  been overcharging people for years. So, I call Farmers back and get a girl who tells me that they just have to change the name on the billing account to me. This change should take 24-48 hours and I will get an email notifying me of this change before Friday. Email never appears. I call Farmers again. Different lady tells me that is not the case at all and that they can only issue the check to Andrew or to Andrew’s estate. Which does me no good. I call the bank and they tell me that they can’t cash the check because Andrew was never on my account. Grrr.

So this morning I went to the downtown branch of the back and cried. Playing the widow card with as much enthusiasm as having a whole hand of Aces at the Poker table. I have all the paperwork. I cry. I talk. I cry. The guy I’m talking to looks at paperwork. Looks at ID. Looks at paperwork. Goes and talks to someone. Comes back. Looks at paperwork. Says “follow me” and leads me to a teller who he tells to deposit this check. Sigh. WTAF. It never should have taken all of this effort a week after Andrew’s one year anniversary to do all of this. It’s insane. They should all be ashamed.

I know you thought I’d be living some kind of charmed carefree life by now. I’m not. Nothing has changed. I’m still barely making ends meets. Still working. Still trying to get Autiezombiegirl off the ground. Still barely surviving. Interestingly enough, I discovered the bottom of the depression barrel this week. Yeah….I’m in the basement of that, right now. But who wouldn’t be? Fuck. I can’t move on. Hell, I can’t even move until all of this crap is settled. So, I just sit. Spinning my wheels.

Bank of America sends me a little Asian guy every other day to hand me a yellow envelope that says “Please call immediately” and take my picture.

These are just a few of the things that I am still dealing with. A. Year. Later. In other news, I have also discovered that my heart is still absolutely broken. My tolerance for frustration is at zero. And I honestly think that I am heading straight to Applebee’s after  work and ordering drinks by color. Because I can. And because that’s how I adult. I feel like I have just put up with WAY too much this week. So, if you happen to be around…..

I’m disappointed. I really thought that things would be different in some small way outside of my husband being dead. It just all feels so….depressing. Sigh. You know me dear reader. I’ll get up and do it all over again tomorrow. But it is still overwhelming. And heartbreaking. And I hope that you don’t have to deal with this kind of bullshit if your spouse dies. Because it sucks. It really does. There are days that I just go home and go to bed because I cannot deal with even one more thing. I don’t know how to end this blog, today. So I will just end it with a period.

Closing in on a year and other tales of survival (or who let me adult? WTF?!)


Yesterday was Andrew’s birthday. He would have been 54. I was bombarded all day with memories from various social websites reminding me of this fact and of all the birthdays in years past and how we celebrated. Mostly it was concerts. Because our whole lives were concerts. But mostly I woke up feeling lost because for the first time in 16 years I did not wake up to snuggle his  crazy blonde curls that I affectionately called Rooster head and tell him “You’re 8 years older than me”. July was very special for us. Our first date was July 15th and for years (including that first date) went to Muncie for Shakespeare at Minnetrista and later on BSU’s campus until they did away with it altogether. His birthday came on July 19th and 7 years 7 days and 7 hours later on July 26th came my birthday. It seemed our whole world revolved around 7s. Now I have had to add the anniversary of his mom to July on the 14th. In the past, our little group of 3 couples celebrated four of our six birthdays in this week. Starting with Drew’s birthday and ending with mine. It seems a little weird to start on a different birthday this year.

It also seemed weird to sit quietly at home and go to bed fairly early last night.

We plan to celebrate a little with a lantern release tonight. Just the few of us getting together and remembering a man who made so much impact on all of us and left such a giant gap behind. It’s important to go through these rituals of remembering and feeling all of the feelings that come with it. It makes us…..(swallow) human.

If I had known a year ago that my life was going to be so drastically changed and forever altered, I don’t know if I would have acted/behaved/done anything differently. But I do know that I would have still put my head down and moved forward with everything that is inside of me because I am too stubborn/dumb/pathetic to do anything less than that.

So this year has been filled with all of the firsts. Which suck. Every. One. But still I move forward. This year has also been filled with lots of changes. I changed jobs, hairstyles, focuses, relationships, coworkers and cars. I didn’t get stuck but am often debilitated by the thing that brought all of these changes. I am not happier in these changes, per se, but I am feeling a hell of a lot less stressed about life in general. I have found support in places that I did not know existed. I have learned that we take life way too seriously and that we worry about far too many things that…..Just. Don’t. Matter. And we also let life get on top of us in ways that…..May. Just. Kill. Us.

Think about those things for a moment. Meditate on them. Use them for a mantra. Life is way too short to fuck around with people who make us miserable and far too precious to waste time doing things that don’t make us happy or lead to a way to make us happy.

Afterall, I decided that after 2 years of being stuck in a job that I hated and that had become some sort of demented antagonist in my life, that I was moving on. With or without a replacement job. Luckily a replacement job came along.  I have learned to appreciate little things in life. I consider nothing wasted time anymore. Roger wants to take a car ride?  Let’s go! Chance to take a day off work and take my kid to see our lads <bows head in reverence> Liverpool play on US soil? Fuck yes! Take my friends and kid to concerts? Hell yes! (Side note: you have not lived until you realise that you prolly played WAY too much Violent Femmes while your kid was growing up because you are standing next to him at that concert and you both are screaming the lyrics “why can’t I get just one fuck” at top volume.)

Have a written a word outside of a few blogs since Andrew died? No, I have not. But let me tell you why. I sit in front of the screen writing a blog and I cry my eyes out. I am not ready to write anything else right now. Writing is intensely personal and intensely emotional. I am just not ready to share that much with anyone right now. I haven’t stopped being creative. I have been working on the Autie Zombie Girl shop and things are starting to come together in a way. I have a working website: Weird gifts for Weird people. For now, this is satisfying my creativity. I will go back to writing. But right now, there is so much to do!

I challenged myself this year. It would be very easy for me to go inside, shut the door, lock the latch with that satisfying CLICK and….Never. Come. Out. Again. But because that is the easy answer, I did not do that. Instead I put myself out there. I go to the market every Saturday. Good or bad weather. Good or bad sales. I signed up to do some local shows. That is definitely not in my comfort zone. But without Drew to buffer the world for me, I have had to learn to do it for myself. I do occasionally still hide. I still have Asperger’s for fuck’s sake. But I had to get strong enough to do things on my own. I always have. I have always had this pool of getupandgoness that makes me move forward in a generally lucid manner.

I am now also LITERALLY my husband’s brother’s keeper. Not many of you know that Drew has a brother with an extremely awful mental illness. He is paranoid schizophrenic. When their mom died, Drew and I promised we would look after Mark. When Drew died, I thought that it was my job to fulfill that promise. He was arrested a few months ago in Family Dollar arguing with his voices and destroying merchandise. We got him a placement in first our local mental health agency and then our state mental health hospital. The guardianship hearing was a hoot. Drew’s real father showed up to contest it. He’d succeeded in putting off the hearing for a month. He attempted to make it a three ring circus, but did not succeed. He told the judge that I was crazy and that I was famous on the internet because “her people call her auntie zombie girl”. He also tried to turn being weird into a bad thing. He told the judge that I was proud of being different. So the judge told him that he could see I was different from where he was sitting and he was going to give me guardianship anyways. Bam!

I have been tempted often in the last couple of months to send him a letter and tell him that this is  not how good Christians and Believers behave. That he should be happy that someone has stepped up to take care of Mark. Afterall, he’s just as crazy if not crazier than Mark. He does not see it that way. Thankfully, I have people on my side in that family. Drew’s cousin told the rest of the family that I was obviously the best person for the job. Afterall, his own mother trusted me to take care of him in her absence. I also made sure to dispel the myth that Drew’s mom died atop a giant pile of money that was earmarked for Mark’s care. This is not the case at all. It’s hard to make people who only use money and their own rewards/benefits as a basis for helping others understand that sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.

I continue to clean the house and to put his items away that will eventually go to an auction and be used to pay for his headstone. I continue to find memories of what our life together was and what it meant to him. I believe he was truly happy. Not just with me and our marriage, but with his life. He loved his little part time job and he loved fixing things. He was starting to put together a little network of people that needed things fixed. He enjoyed the freedom of doing what he wanted when he wanted and taking as long as he wanted to so that the job was done right. He was truly in a very good place in life.

So ahead of us are the last few firsts. My first birthday (in 16 years) without him. My first year without him. It’s a struggle that I feel immensely under equipped to take on. But here we are. How would I have done this all without the love and support that I have? I have no idea. Prolly not very well.

I miss his smile. I miss waking up every day and told how pretty I am. I miss his gentle kindness. I miss his confidence. I miss the confidence that he gave me in myself. I miss having a built in concert/movie buddy. I miss everything about him deep into my soul. Life is not as happy without him. Music is not as good without him. My house is so quiet and empty without him. He was my best friend.

The Other Side of the Worst Year EVER….and other tales of survival


I know that I have been terribly negligent of you this year, dear reader. I’m sure that you understand. It hasn’t been an easy year. I wouldn’t even describe this last year as awful, because in reality there have been moments that were much worse than that.  There have been days where I cried with broken-hearted sobs that would rival the depth of the Grand Canyon. My sorrow has been indescribable. I have tried to find the words, but they are lacking.

I am sitting on the eve of the one year anniversary of my beautiful mother-in-law’s death. I don’t know how things would have changed if I had known that moment was only the gateway that would change my life irreparably and forever. On that night when about this time in the evening I sent my husband and my father-in-law to have a lie down because upon my arrival at the in-law’s house, I knew it was the end, I had no crystal ball to tell me that it was only the beginning of the end. Of a lot of things. There was no way to know that on that night, though. Instead I sat gently beside this woman that had given birth to the man I loved with all my heart. I read to her. I read to myself. I whispered with her. I told her it was okay for her to go whenever she felt it was time. I listened as her breathing became shallow and almost non-existent. Many times I held my own breath, waiting to see if she was done. I gave her drops of morphine upon request because there was no other comfort that anyone could offer her. I was sure she’d made whatever amends she felt necessary. I cried for all of the indignities that this wonderful woman had felt that she had put us all through. I didn’t feel that way at all. I felt as if it was the very least I could do for this woman who had given me her eldest son and the chance at a happy life.

In the last year, life has changed so much. I had no way of knowing that this simple natural event would change everyone’s life so fundamentally. None of us did. It seems like an innocent moment. We buried her in a beautiful British ceremony that was exactly what she wanted and what she had planned. So many people came to say goodbye to her. She had touched everyone she ever met with her gentle kindness. Those of us who were lucky enough to be close to her had no idea how truly blessed we were to have her hands on us every day. No one has ever had an unkind word to say about her. This is how one woman made an indelible mark on this sad and sorry world. She truly left it a better place than she found it.

In the last year, little things have popped up in our efforts to put our lives back together. Sometimes it is a photo. Sometimes it is a little thing that was left behind. Untouched in these last 12 months. With my mother-in- law it has been photos and these amazing letters that we keep finding. She wrote these amazing Christmas letters to people over the years. In the words of my father-in-law “Today is the one year anniversary of Caroline Hart Krumel’s passing. In the 54 years that she spent away from England, she must have written hundreds of letters and notes to family and friends. She so enjoyed that. She wrote with a simple, perfect eloquence I admired. There was a quiet optimism you could sense. Her Christmas letter of 2009 was is a wonderful example of her writing. Take a second to read if you will. There was no complaining in her writing. Reading this letter brings Carol back to life, for this day.”

Follows is the letter of that year: “Dear Family and Friends, We wish you peace and prosperity and hope you have had less worries and more happiness this year than you had last year. I feel more like an old person than in previous years. I take naps…in fact I fall asleep everywhere I go. In the car, int the bathtub, you name it. I stare into space more and it takes me until lunch to find my way to work. Roger and I are still making awnings and renting tents (marquees) but right now we wish we were walking on the beaches of North Carolina and Florida. This year of 2009 has been very unusual. Family came to visit. Actually it is the first time in 46 years that family has ever came to visit. My cousin Michael and wife Pauline appeared bearing an artfully restored family heirloom in the form of an antique mirror. Carefully packed in a wooden box and transported from 3,999 miles away…amazing! Roger found a brother he didn’t know existed. Carter McNamara an extraordinary man tall, handsome, and funny and he came to visit with his beautiful wife Teri from Minnesota. This visit was a time of sharing and catching up on the lost years and preparations for a reunion in 2010 of family they have yet to meet in North Dakota. My brother Richard made his way to England to meet his son Alex. A visit that was long overdue, thirty-five years in fact. I have heard that everything went well. For those of you who didn’t hear from me this year, I apologize. I will try and do better next year. No particular tragedies occurred this year, they all occurred the year before. My granddaughters, Cassie and Chelsea are actually making money and supporting themselves much to the delight of their father who thought their university days would never end before he retired. Daughter Judy at age 46 is still looking for a break into the acting world but is undiscovered and disappointed as we speak. When advised by her parents to seek a part in local theatre productions as a beginning, we are told they don’t pay. Meanwhile she is house and pet sitting around the country. My only grandson, Jeremy, who we see very little of when asked why he doesn’t visit, says he has too much homework and could we send him petrol money. A girlfriend, Bree, is prominent in his life. Our house in Warren, Indiana, for sale now for 2 1/2 years finally sold to the neighbors when an aunt and uncle gave them the money. Some things are looking up. Business is down 65% but Roger still goes to work every day. When I arrive at noon, I find him on the phone looking for buyers or on the computer and the work is waiting for me. My son Andrew has been researching his Boller ancestry and finding many skeletons in the closet. As yet, he hasn’t touched on the Harts, Robertsons and Aylings. My son Mark at age 44 has yet to find his way to a job. My daughter-in-law, Katey Jayne has two jobs now. She is persecuted endlessly by her ex-husband who imagines she owes him money. She has spent more time in court this year than church. I am thankful for many things, a warm house, sunny days, shade, great bird watching in the garden and a husband I can laugh with who takes me to all my favourite movies. We hope your lives are as good.”

And that, dear readers, is that beautiful understated eloquence that only the British culture can instill in one. I hope that you enjoyed this. My heart is still broken, but somehow lighter. We are on the edge of the first year. This bizarre and worst year of my life. Those of you who know me, know that is no small feat. I have had a very strange life. Keep posted, dear readers as I work my way through the six weeks. We will see what the end of the time brings.

6 Months Seems Like Forever (My New Life and Other Sordid Memories)


So dear readers. We have passed the 6 month mark. I have also lived through a majority of the firsts. First Labour Day, first Halloween, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first New Year’s, first Valentine’s Day, stepdaughter’s first birthday, first book…all of these firsts without him. My heart breaks non stop for all of these things and the few that will be coming up. I spend a lot of time reflecting and remembering. Crying and kicking myself for crying. These are the things life is made of.
I switched jobs shortly after the last blog. Well just before Christmas. Running a program was way too stressful and my impending health issues with the diagnosis of broken heart syndrome made some changes necessary. I realised that going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark was greatly affecting my mental health. Not even to mention the toxicity of the previous 2-1/2 years. It had all weighed so heavily upon me that there was nothing else to do but get out. So I did.
That is not a choice that my husband would have approved of. But I started thinking that something had to change or I would end up like him. Happy means more than money sometimes.
I bought a new car. Yet another decision my husband would not have approved of. But I just wanted the piece of mind of not worrying about car issues. I have very few other things to worry about, so what the hell.

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I also have justified it because Autie Zombie Girl Gifts had outgrown the Hyundai. And all I have to do is wave my foot under the tailgate and it pops right up. WIN!!!!! I did put the Hyundai plates on it. Makes me feel like he’s still there with me. This car also reminds me of our old Blazer. Which he had bought just a month before we met and we owned until about 2 years ago. I miss the Blazer.
When I think over this last year and a little, it’s crazy. I did some things that I never thought I was strong enough to do. I participated in the Fear Project and my husband was one of my biggest cheerleaders. He gave me the pep talk I needed every week and held me for an hour while I cried the morning I was eliminated. He kept me going when I didn’t think I could.
We lived through our first parental death this year. It was hard dealing with his mom dying, but we somehow did it. He did it with his calm and quiet manner and made all of us understand the true meaning of compassion in dealing with others even when you are not dealing well. The eulogy he gave was beautiful. It also served no one but his mother which is the best tribute any boy can give to the woman who gave him life.
In all of this, I think of where we finally were in life. He was working part time at a job he enjoyed. It also gave him time to continue doing the things he loved to do. Fix music equipment and tinker with things electronic. He had met some guys that were going to be supplying him with some fairly steady work and working on things that challenged him. I was working on my first season of craft marketing and I was successful with lots of support from him. I won’t lie, the first time I tried to set up without him, I lost it and almost packed up to head home, but my friends at the market rushed in to help. Once I got busy setting up, I almost forgot about him not being there. This winter I set up and even had new merchandise and new display stands!

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This display stand is actually really purple now. So without his support, I wouldn’t be moving toward making my shop into something real.
In a last little tidbit, the new anthology is out.

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You remember how to get your very own autographed copy, right? Message me. I have 37 copies left to distribute. They are moving fast. Better get to it!

A Mother’s Humour and Other Ways to Delve Into Madness


It’s literally been a very odd week. It started with Mother’s Day. I, of course, wanted Wee Geek to go and pick up my mom and drive to Muncie and meet us at Outback for lunch. Which after all the court broo-haha on Friday prior to that would have been nice. However, my mom was in one of her moods that are so aspy, and yet, so completely odd to me. She decided that she didn’t want to go. I guess it was fine. Wee Geek told me to let it go and I did. So The Fix it Guy and I spent Mother’s Day eating lunch at Outback and then going to an auction which turned out to be completely great. I picked up a ton of nice vintage jewelry that I’m ever so much in love with.

I don’t pretend to understand why my mom has these moments, but when I look at it, I guess that occasionally, I do as well. So I shouldn’t be too hard on her. After all, we all need time to do our own thing and I would want her to accept that about me.

Another odd thing about Mother’s Day was that a dear friend’s mother died that day. I didn’t know this friend’s mother very well, I’ve only met her a few times, but I’m told that the irony in her dying this particular day is simply delicious. I’m glad that my friend is able to deal with the loss of his only surviving parent with this kind of humour. He, does, in general, try to face most trials in his life in this way and I suppose that this is prolly why we are friends. Because we both approach life’s tragedies and trials as if it is in reality some gargantuan joke that we just don’t know the punch line to. And we laugh anyway. If you can’t beat them, by god, join them.

I’ve been very interested in watching the dynamics of this family as they go through this difficult time, because as always, I am a keen observer of humans in general. (I may have to report back to the Big Giant Head at any moment…see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115082/?ref_=sr_1 if you have no idea what that refers to.) I hope that my friends don’t mind my observations. My friend is trying very hard to be the zen hippy dippy California guy and stay in the middle because his sister is a wreck and his brother is the guy who always orchestrates the duck line and makes sure that it is doing the right thing. So the only thing left for him to be is the guy in the middle who is even.

This process has been difficult to watch because it brings to mind the idea that our parents are getting older and their health is going to decline and they are going to need help. I am very aware that my mom doesn’t have anyone else to rely on that’s close except for me. This is hard and I often wish she would move closer to us so that I don’t have to worry so damn much.

So going through this week, trying to be considerate of my friend’s feelings, I have just been trying to anticipate what he might need and I’ve been trying to make sure that he knows that he has support or someone who accepts him and loves him for who he is. It is hard to know what to do in these situations, but especially hard when you live on the spectrum because you just never are quite sure what the protocol for social behavior is. Grieving times compound this because people do not react in uniform ways to grief. Very distressing for those of us who need some sort of species conformity in order to form rules for ourselves so that we don’t inadvertently perform some ritual that is going to cause Karma to visit us 4 times daily with extra healthy heapings of bad luck.  So, if all of you neurotypical people could just get together and figure out a uniform way to grieve, that would be very helpful, thank you.

I never know what to say. Thankfully, The Fix it Guy knows that you are supposed to say silly things like “I’m sorry for your loss”. I don’t even know how that is remotely comforting. I much prefer, “I am here for you to use however you need to so that you can get through this truly horrific moment in your life”. I would never even have guessed “I’m sorry for your loss” not even with cue cards.

So, I am still teaching blogging at this conference tomorrow and so have to miss the funeral. I always feel as if funerals should really truly be for people who were close to the dead person or family. I’m just sort of a random passerby who happens to know three of her four kids. I will be thinking of my friends tomorrow as they go down this path of their lives. It is with a truly heavy heart that I think of them.

In other news….I think I’ve figured out what the next phase in my life is. So now I have to hurry up and do all of the stuff that I said I would do while I was not working. Craft room will be completely moved this upcoming week as well as one zombie book edited. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of my craftiness.

The first three doctors

The first three doctors

The Fourth Doctor

The Fourth Doctor

The Fifth Doctor

The Fifth Doctor