Sunday, August 31, 2014

Falling up the Falls

Got up this morning, and realized I really needed to get out of the house. So I pulled myself together and about 8:30 I drove out to the Columbia River Gorge.

My immediate goal was Multnomah Falls, which at the hour I arrived was relatively clear of tourists, and gorgeous as always.

I walked up the path to the top of the lower falls, where I got this shot, looking down on the lower falls from the bridge:

And this shot of the upper falls through the iron barrier near the top of the lower falls:

Then insanity struck me, and I decided to try to walk to the top of the upper falls. Straight up. Through 11 switchbacks.

Needless to say, I didn't make it to the top. I made it through 4 switchbacks, decided I'd walked straight up far enough, and started back down.  It was a good thing, too, as my legs were so wobbly and my knees complaining so hard by the time I got back down that if I'd actually made it to the top, someone would have had to carry me down. As I was on my own, that would have been awkward.

Then I drove down to Vista House, but the parking was impossible, so I headed home.

All in all, a lovely day. Just what I needed.

More shots at the Flickr set.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A pair of postcards from my brain

I framed a print of the doors to the Mines of Moria this week, and hung it on the wall next to the front door.  This was something Jay & I ordered together, along with what turned out to be a god-awful ugly poster of the Argonath. I'm still on the hunt for a better version of them.

The hanging of and placement of this print were very important to me - it had to be by the front door - for reasons I couldn't identify.

Then yesterday it hit me: the door to the Mines led to the death of the one counted on to lead the group through to the end. Walking out our front door and entering the clinical trial was our version of opening the door to the Mines.

And I lost the one I counted on most.

* * *

I'm now sleeping on a new set of sheets. This doesn't sound like that big a deal, but it's the first set of sheets for the big bed that Jay never slept on. I thought it was important to have one set that had my energy and not his, since eventually I will have lovers again, and they will sleep (and other things) in that bed.

For now, though, given that it's just me in that big bed, it feels strange and a little bit like a betrayal.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The city on the river there is a girl without a dream

I'm firmly in the grip of the blues.

This started Sunday when the announcements of the streaming video of the Hugo awards began showing up in my Facebook feed. I'd already long ago - like last year's Worldcon - decided I wasn't going to watch the awards streaming this year. As it was, during last year's memorial display part of the ceremony, I started crying in anticipation of what it was going to be like seeing Jay's name on the screen.

But that started me tumbling down the rabbit hole of grief and sadness once more. And now I'm sitting firmly at the bottom.

Once again, every little thing is making me cry. Every change in the house, every stray memory of Jay, every time I (still, even after all this time) start to grab my phone to text Jay about something cool I just saw, every time a shadow moves across the floor.

One foot in front of the other ...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lessons learned, fitness edition

Yesterday's hour-long walk on Jay's old neighborhood path was a real eye-opener for me.  It utterly wiped me out, and I'm still so wiped out today that I'm actually skipping exercise completely today to let my body recover.

But here's what that walk taught me:

  • I'm insanely out of shape. Well, this is not exactly news. But the last time I did this walk, I did it with only a little bit of whining about the hilly part near the end. <sarcasm>This time was just a little different </sarcasm>.
  • I'm insanely stubborn. (This isn't news, either, unfortunately.) There was a point during the walk where I could easily have either turned around or taken a shorter path, which would have made for a perfectly acceptable walk. But I had to know whether I could do the full walk, so on I went.
  • I need to stop neglecting my "active recovery" days. These are days when I would be doing stretching or joint mobility or chair compensation. I've been skipping these activities, and boy, am I paying the price. Even today, my back and hips are complaining at me.
  • My exercise program, as currently constituted, is helping. I couldn't have done this walk without all the bike riding I've been doing. So I need to keep up with that, and step up all the other parts of the exercise routine.

Friday, August 15, 2014

More miscellanea

A year ago, we were just finishing up our trip to New Zealand.  Two years ago, we were processing the news that sent Jay back into treatment for the rest of his life. And here I am now, without him.

Then I think even further back. Three years ago, I knew Jay only through his books and his LiveJournal. Four years ago, I was still happily married (or so I thought). Nice perspective, that.

* * *

Went to a lovely dinner party hosted by former housemate Nancy for the occasion of one of my longest-tenure friends being in town from Baltimore. It was wonderful to introduce Eric to The Tribe.

As I said to Eric as we were leaving the party, Jay was an amazing man, and he gathered amazing people around him. But I always forget that maybe that makes me an amazing person, too.

* * *

A talk with a friend the other day reminded me of something that's making me less anxious about regaining my hermit ways. She mentioned that Jay taught her the word "estivate", which basically means to hibernate in the summer. She does this, and so do I - always have. All the energy I had right after Jay's death happened before it got hot here. Once it got hot, estivation set in, and all my energy died off in the heat.

I have no doubt that once it cools off again, and we're back to my beloved cool gray weather, my energy level will increase.

* * *

Feeling very weirded out by my complete inability to read fiction. Granted, I've read some really interesting non-fiction, and have become a huge fan of Mary Roach, who can make any topic funny.  But I'm missing wrapping myself up in a made-up world, even if only for the length of a short story. My brain is simply refusing to go there.

* * *

Feeling simultaneously very lost, very sad, very calm, and full of acceptance. Fully in the stew that is grief.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Miscellaneous updatery

My meditation practice has taken an interesting turn.  My mind starts spontaneously chanting on the in-breath: In this moment I know peace (be here now), and on the out-breath: In this moment I know joy (be here now).  It starts and stops without any choice from me. It doesn't happen every session, but it's fun to watch while it's happening.

* * *

I found Jay's bathrobe while cleaning out a downstairs closet.  Ironically, it was exactly the bathrobe I'd been shopping for without success.  It's a bit big, but I'm enjoying wearing it on these nice cool mornings.

* * *

I'm still having issues with getting to sleep. I'm to the point of exhaustion every night when I turn out the lights, but it feels like I'm taking longer and longer to actually get to sleep. This is frustrating. I can't decide if this is just an extension of the grief sleep issues I've been having, or whether this is the start of menopausal sleep issues, or some hideous overlap of the two.

* * *

With the chemo chair gone, that side of the living room feels unbalanced, even though it's basically back to the arrangement it was in before the black chair came into the picture. It will take a bit of getting used to, having things back the way they were.

* * *

One thing Jay brought me back from his trip to Taos last year was a tiny trilobite fossil. He said he wanted to bring me a slice of Deep Time, since that was what we were living in and/or through. I've been contemplating that truth recently, to no conclusions, but it's made for interesting thinking.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Even though the walls are falling, I swear I hear the calling now

Today was particularly tough, for reasons I can't identify.

Nothing has changed, nothing has passed but time, but I've re-entered one of those phases where my grief is big and heavy and weighs my heart down. I remember my (now late) mother-in-law talking about the grief of losing her second husband, how it literally bowed her shoulders with its weight.

That's where I'm back to now.

Everything makes me sad: Couples talking about how long they've been together. Almost any song. The sound of Jay's voice on a recording. The breeze blowing. The beauty of clouds.

I got to the end of my work day and realized I hadn't yet meditated, so I got on my cushion and promptly lost my shit, sobbing hard.

This is one of those days when I honestly feel like I'm never going to pass through this, that I'm stuck in a tunnel that has no end.

Deep in my heart I know that's not true, because even here, I've seen the light at the end of this tunnel.

But at the moment, I'm back in the darkness, once again just putting one foot in front of the other.

Walking through the old 'hood

Yesterday, by the time my work day was done, I was ready to chew through nails. Two tough days in a row, and I'd had enough.

So I decided to go on a photo safari in Jay's old neighborhood, Brooklyn.

Because that's where our PO boxes are, I've spent quite a bit of time in various parts of the neighborhood, but had never walked through it.

I didn't find a lot to shoot, but there were some fun things:

The piano fence behind Jay's old house, now barely visible

His old back/front door

The Aladdin Theater

With The Lamp right next door - one of Jay's & my favorite spots

Street names in the sidewalk

I was hoping to find one of the old horse rings in a curb, but none of the streets I walked down had any that I spotted.

I walked around for about a half hour before my headache came back, and it and the sun started to make me queasy.  Still, it was good to get out and walk around.

A few more shots at the Flickr set.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Would I be out of line if I said I miss you

What I miss:

* I miss sitting in the dining room, with my computer on the dining table, working alongside Jay. Well, really behind him, since his desk was in front of me.

* I even miss seeing that goddamned head tattoo, which was my view for many a day.

* I miss him singing in the shower. (No picture here, unless you want a shot of our shower curtain.)

* I miss all the adventures we took

and all the ones we'll never get to take.

* I miss his silliness and his never-failing sense of humor.

* I miss his Thing with his tongue:

I just miss him, completely. This doesn't happen to be any special day, just a day when I can't stand how much I miss him, so I'm dragging you through some of my memories to try and ease that feeling.

Friday, August 1, 2014

All God's children take their passage into night

Is there a stage of grief where you lose track of time, where you realize you're not tracking days? I feel like I'm there now. Days and weeks pass, and I'm only dimly aware of their passage. I'm behind on so much correspondence it's not even funny.

And it's not even a matter of energy. I am literally not feeling time passing. This is a very bad thing for my work life. But it's not much better for my me-life, either. It means I'm neglecting friends and blowing chances to connect with new people, all because I take forever to respond to anything.

This is not a call for advice or comfort. I'm fairly confident this is perfectly normal. I'm just recording it here so I can remember this stage once I'm past it, if I ever get there.

* * *

I keep wondering what the new normal will be like, what my heart and psyche will be shaped like once I'm sufficiently put back together to feel like I have a new normal. I'm still an unfinished jigsaw puzzle sitting half on the table, half in the box, with the picture changing halfway through,

* * *

There are moments when all I want is for my life to stop, so I can know what Jay knows and see what he sees. This is not suicidal ideation. This is just the pain speaking, and my curiosity.

Then there are the moments of bargaining, when all I want is a year with Jay at his healthiest, in exchange for both of us dying at the end of that year. Again, not a death wish, just bargaining with the pain.

Then there are the moments of anger, when I rage at Jay's body for being too weak to fight the cancer, at my heart for connecting so profoundly to this doomed man, at any number of other things too petty to mention.

Then there are the rare moments of peace, when I can sit in perfect acceptance of all that has happened, feel the joy in the world, and know that I will find joy and peace and love all over again, even if it never tastes quite the same way again.