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.

Notes From the Trenches of the Fear Project

Hello minions. We are deep in the middle of the Fear Project. I am amazingly still alive. It is now week 8. The challenges have been interesting. Some more challenging than others. Some have left me scratching my head at the results. But I am still alive. So far, the most challenging entry has been the villain one. I don’t do villains. I do great survivors. Snarky ones. Ones that are perhaps so deep in the heart of survival that the snarky is sometimes viewed as over compensation.

I’ve felt like everything that I’ve written for the Fear project has been good. I’ve been fairly sure and proud of it. Every week I hold my breath on Sunday as I send in the entry and every week I hold my breath until the next Friday when the all powerful David Wellington makes his decision and eliminates someone else. That sounds so final. Elimination. Yikes! I live in great fear that some Friday my name will be there. I guess that’s the point. The fear of it.

It’s all about the validation of it, isn’t it? Deep down inside that’s what we all crave. As writers, as people. I hope that there is some altruism in it all. Discovering an up and coming horror writer and all. I’ve been amazed at some of the stories. And shook my head at others. Every week I analyze every comment, every story. I read the posts that David leaves on the website a thousand times looking for clues. What’s he looking for? What’s next? And then I laugh at my obsession of it all.

I keep trying, though. I still am sending out stories. Not as many as I’d like. And here on the precipice of April, I have yet to sell anything. This balancing of day job life and working writer life is very difficult. I want to just throw up my hands and barrel into doing nothing but writing. And creating. I did manage to finish a couple of crochet projects. I always feel this way as Spring begins to creep into our lives once more. It is way too slow in coming this year. Just as we got our first breath of warm weather, BAM six inches of snow. AGAIN. I felt like crying. I always feel trapped in this space of time between winter and spring. I am truly influenced by the rebirth of things in the Spring. It feels like creativity is stagnant until the warmth begins again. And then it jumps out at me and runs away with me. Spring always feels like an insane flurry of creativity for me. I can hardly keep up most of the time. I hope this spring proves to be the same. I look forward to that little bit of insanity. It feels exciting. Like something is about to happen. It’s that same feeling of anticipation.

So dearest minions, keep reading and keep commenting. Keep validating me! The insanity will be over soon!

Tales From My Sleep Number Bed

It’s been an insane last month. Believe it or not. I’ve been insanely busy with small children. Good because it’s my field, bad because I have been too busy to do anything that isn’t work related.  There have been lots of changes in the land of the not quite right, the least of which is all of the changes. We are still chasing down the cause of all of my elusive health issues. I am once again down with something for the second week in a row. I finally went to the doctor and got some antibiotic that I am so hoping will kick the ass of whatever it is that I’ve managed to catch. Cross your fingers.

In the meantime, we once again went to the Mothman Festival in beautiful Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It was a good trip with me and the Ex-Best Buy guy and Wee Geek and Mamaw. We didn’t hear any speakers this year, but we went on the tour of the TNT area which was highly enlightening. We learned a few new things and we got to see what it was really all about. And by that I mean that I got some great new ideas for the Mothman book. Which encourages me to get the zombie book done. Yep, I have lots of time for that. NOT. Maybe in a month my life will free up a little and I can start doing what’s important again. I hate when work takes over my life and I can’t do the things that make me feel alive.

The Ex-Best Buy guy has been somewhat utilizing his not working time. He has been doing some straightening up projects and little fix it things. Our room is slowly shaping up. We found an old poster that will be going into a new frame and get hung up. Maybe the steamer trunk will actually get converted.  He’s in a tizzy and named a mission so maybe some things will get done.

Wee Geek is doing well. He loves his new job and he’s actually truly happy for the first time since he came back in my life. There have been little seconds of happiness here and there. But he is truly happy and very proud of himself. He’s doing things that the asshole that is his father had him convinced that he couldn’t do. He’s doing it on his own which is huge steps for him. I’m super proud of him.

In other news, Ex-Best Buy guy is on a paranoid streak because he’s been watching too much news. There is a down side to his unemployed status. I try to keep him busy so the paranoia doesn’t run too awfully rampant. He’s already amping the security system. It is a little frightening. Well, dear readers, cross your fingers.

It’s the End of the World as we know it and other Autistic New Year Adventures

So here we sit on the very brink of a new year. Because the Best Buy guy failed to plan we have been driving around Dipshitville looking for shit to do. Let me tell you exactly how boring small town America is when most of the bars have closed because no one has a freaking job…or did you guess?

So I have been devoting some time thinking about this year. Christmas was a bust for everyone I think. Wee geek was so excited to go to my family’s and it was nothing close to what he remembered. My drug addict step mother was more annoying than usual, but possibly because tensions were already riding in the that strange place of uncertainty that could suddenly spiral desperately out if control and holds the promise of uncertain oblivion. The bright spot if that little spires being the white elephant gift swap in which my drug addict step mother acquired my coconut monkey head that we got at the Don Jo Restaurant in Hawaii. She was pissed! It was lovely. Now all boring or tension relief needing conversations are punctuated with “And Cheryl got the monkey head” also followed with several high fives.

The little get together at my on laws fared little better. I was once again the bitch and bad guy in residence because the Best Buy forgot purposefully to talk to his daughter about her dog and my allergies. It absolutely amazes me at the sheer level of inconsideration that his kids are allowed to show on a regular basis. We had to have the argument about how my allergy wasn’t just going to go away because they say the dog is hypo allergenic and how even if I’m the only one who has a problem it is still a problem. The Best Buy guy astounds me in his willingness to piss me off on a more than regular basis and his unwillingness to make a daughter upset. This has become a way less than endearing trait on him.

So having Wee Geek home over Christmas was wonderful. In all the insanity of getting things done for him there had been no chill out hang out time and that was awesome. I enjoyed just having him home with no agenda other than enjoying him. I think the Best Buy guy is having some adjustment issues. He did give Wee Geek $40 and that was nothing short of amazing.

In reflecting in this last year and groping for highlights outside of my new found addiction to the show “Hoarders”, I reach back to my son contacting me and our relationship being mostly intact and my story getting published. It doesn’t seem like very much athirst glance, but it was actually all my dreams coming true in just a few short weeks.  Of course, the planning of the Best Buy guys retirement, which he is desperately hoping is my writing. We’ll see how that pans out for him.

As I sit hear pondering what 2012 might bring, I have many hopes. I am busily planning out the finishing of the Boller County book and rethinking “The Land of the Not Quite Right”. Anxious to get back to “The Mothman Chronicles” and finish it up. It feels as if it somehow got lost in NaNo and I hope to get it back on track.

2012 is currently looking bright enough for shades. We shall see what happens. It is now only 8 minutes away and I have a wonderful buzz happening with a little surprise for the Best Buy guy for when we get home. I think he’ll be pleasantly ingratiated.

And in case I forgot which I’m sure I did. Happy New Year. Go out and slay a dragon and make a dream come true.