I rushed out to the Safeway to get Halloween candy for the fine upstanding children of our neighborhood, only to come home, turn off the lights and hide from them. No candy for ye goblins this year!
They are pile driving across the street. A gigantic truck is parked on the lawn and my ambient noise is the revving of the engine, alternated with pile driving sounds. Heh. Pile driving.
I am absolutely out of sorts. I'm not exactly sure why -- some combination of having too much to do, not enough time to do it in and no fucking quiet time at home. Katie, our foster dog, is 1. That means puppy. She's in a crate while we're not home (she has this uncanny ability to jump fences. She'd be out and dead on the side of the road long before we got home) so when I get home, I feel bad that she's been cooped up. So I let her out and the rest of the dogs go wild playing with her. It's nonstop barking for at least an hour, usually 2. I rush out every few minutes to ask them to be quiet but it doesn't really work until one of them is put into a crate.
Brad is famous. Or at least I think he might be. Can't tell because most of the translation comes across as question marks. But congrads anyway!
My favorite part is this: "MacOS???????????????????????????????????????????????VTEL?????????OnScreen24????????????????????????TiVo"
Tired. Tired to think that I have 8 more days to work before I have one off. Even if they're short shifts, it still means going to work, dealing with the many people (all of whom are having a better everyday life thanks to my workplace), then schlepping myself to class after, or if I don't have class, home to try and write over the din of 5 dogs barking, to try and eek out something brilliant in between running out to the living room to ask them nicely to please be quiet so I can write every 5 (or fewer) minutes.
Sigh. At least I'm off to Tucson next weekend for a hockey tournament. That's sort of a vaction.
It's lonely at the top
So I moved up a level in the women's league. I've always considered the NCWHL my 'home' league, my friends are all there, I fit in great. At least in Red, I did. Now that I'm in maroon, the level of play is much more competitive, which is good, but I hardly know anyone and overall, the tone is much more serious. My team is Very Nice, don't get me wrong, but it's very much like being the new kid at school, nobody knows me. My playing ability does speak for itself -- at least I'm not getting shit about being the worst one out there -- but it's not enough.
I just miss my friends.
Last night's game was fine, playing-wise, I didn't screw up too badly at center and even had a fair number of good shots on goal. Until I was about a foot too far back for a pass from my teammate and caught it on my little toe. Back on the bench, my teammate only grunted as I sat there, wincing and trying not to cry. Thanks, really. That's sweet of you. Today the toe is black and blue, I'm headed for an x-ray at 3.
Is This What Un-Birthday Means?
It should've been
in a way, I guess it still is
but it's not
Alice's birthday anymore.
Wherever she is
whatever she's doing (eating)
I hope she knows that even now
We miss her so very much
Happy birthday Al,
Love, your mom
Because it was a labor of love, because I don't give a rat's ass what kind of grade it gets me, because I know in my heart that it's all true, I offer you my personal essay, due in 22 minutes:
For Alice: Wherever I May Find Her
These days, my budget dictates that I buy books in bulk. Before shelling out any cash, I make sure that the book I�m about to buy contains enough words to justify the asking price. Most of the time, this translates to books on clearance, or used mass-market paperback copies of former bestsellers. Once in a great while, I break my own budget-driven rules and buy something from the current best-seller list. That�s how it was with The Lovely Bones, the 2002 fiction work by Alice Sebold. It had been on the New York Times Bestseller list for months; I�d heard interviews with the author on NPR and after a time, I could ignore it�s call no longer.
Writing it here, without the context, makes it seem trite, but I make every assurance to you, dear reader, that it�s not. Two years ago, I abruptly lost my dog, Alice, to a combination of a slipped disc and a rare brain infection. Since then, I�d been in a fog, missing her more than I�d thought possible and hurting more than I knew I could bear. Though I�d come through the worst of it, by the time I picked up Bones, my healing was sort of stagnant, dulled a bit, but still there, very much a part of my every day.
I know now that grief is not a tale told in a straight line, it meanders through the heart, weaving a wide trail of pain and eventually, hopefully, carves out a path to healing. There is always a scar in grief�s wake, a scar that many of us will spend the rest of our lives trying to heal or ignore. Alice Seybold knows this, too. She is acutely aware of the distinction -- it features prominently in both Bones and her non-fiction work, The Lovely Bones. Both books follow the path of grief and the eventual road to a new life, one past the immediacy of a tragic event.
Grief is not a new topic to the American psyche. We seek the help of �experts� like Dr. Phil, Oprah and a host of others to process our own troubled pasts. Given the pervasiveness of grief as a conversation topic, it�s not surprising that Alice Seybold�s books have become so ubiquitous. What separates them from the kind of self-help books that were so popular in the nineties is the way she�s able to share a path to healing without coming off as preachy. Her no-nonsense voice gives her a credibility on the subject that other �experts� in the field are hard-pressed to find.
It�s that quietly authoritative voice that drew me into the book right away, and what made me think I could actually start to heal my own wounds. Bones offers a quiet, unassuming roadmap to healing. It differs from traditional self-help books not only because it�s a novel but because it offered me my own path through the grief rather than listing a series of stages or prescribed exercises to follow. I first picked up my copy of Bones, looking back to the life I�d known before Alice�s death for some answers about how it was supposed to be now, in the time after. Nothing about me was the same and I didn�t know how to reconstruct my heart around the giant vacuum that Alice�s loss had created. As soon as I met young Susie Salmon, while she was getting acclimated to her new life in heaven, I was hooked. I was connected to her, waiting eagerly to see how her heaven would grow. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I was hoping that my Alice would be there, waiting for Susie. I never really gave up until the last page.
The growth of Susie�s heaven reflects her own journeys, through grief and to adulthood. At first, Susie�s new world, her heaven, is pretty small, consisting of the duplex where she lives, and in the distance, the high school she�d dreamed of attending. The heaven she knows is as limited as the sheltered life she�d led on earth had been.
"When I first entered heaven I thought everyone saw what I saw. That in everyone�s heaven there were soccer goalposts in the distance and lumbering women throwing shot put and javelin. That all the buildings were like suburban northeast high schools built in the 1960�s."
Though a myriad of self-help books offer glimpses into what heaven is like, I�d never seen it described as high school. I started to imagine my own heaven, and knew that the focal point would be being with my Alice once again. The moment I walked with Susie into her heaven high school, I knew that this was no ordinary book, that when I finally let myself put it down, I�d see the world a little differently, if not a lot more so.
I grew right along with Susie�s character. She is forced to watch, without any way to impart change, as the cracks in her family that had been fixable while she was alive become great rifts that eventually could not be traversed.
"My mother�Underneath her smile and exclamations to my sister and me were fissures that led somewhere deep inside her�.because I was a child, I chose not to follow them."
I knew that within myself, the storm of pain that raged after Alice�s death had been brewing for some time. Her prolonged illness, growing tensions over all sorts of outside influences all came to a head when the vet called to tell me she hadn�t woken up from surgery. Susie�s parents had the same kind of moment when the detective tells them �We�ve found a personal item that we believe is Susie�s�� the wall of disbelief that they�d carefully constructed since Susie�s disappearance begins to crumble and the family starts their new life without her in that moment.
"By the time my father turned back to the living room, he was too devastated to reach out to my mother sitting on the carpet or my sister�s hardened form nearby..."
Susie had already started her own journey into emotional adulthood, growing closer to walking over the line in the sand drawn between childhood and adulthood, when the awareness of her parents as people, not just caregivers becomes acute. Her heaven grows along with her, expanding to include a group of friends, relatives she hadn�t known before and eventually, the other women and girls killed by her own murderer.
While Susie matures in heaven, on earth, her family splits apart, the fissures within themselves and the group growing too large to patch over. Susie begins to understand, then, that her innocence prevented her from seeing the depths of the pain in her family and that despite being the catalyst that led to dramatic changes, those changes were well on their way to happening long before her death. The longer Susie is away from her life on earth, the more she becomes an adult, aware of her own family�s failings, aware that like it or not, her death forced them to re-invent themselves and their roles within their own lives and within the family unit.
"My mother could not know that I was there with them, that here were the four of us so changed now from the days when she tucked Lindsey and me into bed and went to make love to her husband, our father� She saw that my sister and father, together, had become a piece. She was glad of it."
Seybold�s prose solidified the process of grieving in my mind, helped me understand my own place within it. My Alice would have gotten sick no matter what I�d done, regardless of how much money we spent at the vet�s, we would have lost her just the same. The challenge comes from making my heart be at peace with that assertion, not just saying the words because I hope they�re true.
As the Salmon family marched toward their own conclusion, toward the splintering and re-building that came in the wake of Susie�s death, so did my own truth about Alice. Towards the end of the book, Sebold starts to wrap up all of the loose ends. I suppose it is a bit much dues ex machina. The glimpses of truth that she offers are more than enough that the world�s oldest plot device didn�t show through enough to distract from the revalations. The moment that carried my grief into a new place comes toward the end of the book, when:
"�I saw him: Holiday, racing past a fluffy white Samoyed. He lad lived to a ripe old age on Earth and slept at my father�s feet after my mother left, never wanting to let him out of his sight. He had stood with Buckley while he built his fort and had been the only one permitted on the porch while Lindsey and Samuel kissed. And in the last few years of his life, every Sunday morning, Grandma Lynn had made him a skillet-sized peanut butter pancake, which she would place flat on the floor, never tired of watching him try to pick it up with his snout.
I waited for him to sniff me out, anxious to know if here, on the other side, I would still be the little girl he had slept beside. I did not have to wait long: he was so happy to see me, he knocked me down."
That single moment, of Holiday knocking Susie over in his joy, captured more than a year of my grief and the tears that came after, that come even now, when I read it. Those tears and Alice Seybold�s roadmap to grieving have taken me to another place where I can at last, smile at my Alice�s memory.
Yes, I thought, that�s how it will be. Her great spirit always made her larger than her tiny body and in heaven, she will be as large as I remember her.
I'm on a roll, 2 out of the last 2 assignments for Tuesday night's class have made me cry. This one for better reasons than the last but still. Could it be that I'm actually learning something?
Today, I'm exhaused in all ways. Tired from working every day for the last few days, from playing a lot of hockey, from getting knocked around pretty good in those games and from not getting enough sleep. I have a personal essay due at 7 pm and like all assignments for my Tuesday class, it's really not going as planned. That is, it's not going well at all. I think it's too personal, but isn't that the point?
Brandon has created this lovely pronunciation guide for our fair state. Please update your pronunciation accordingly and welcome to Caulifornia.
I went to stick time today expecting to see the Ladies of Leisure but they were not there. Turns out Jeannette thought we weren't going so there I was, all alone. I got a few things out of it (like a sub goalie for Monday's game and a chance to work on my top shelf shot) but missed the girls. Highlights? The dumbass who didn't wear a face shield, yet doesn't know how to stop. He fell right on his nose, creating a very nice pool of blood. Another guy got hit in the arm with a puck. I emerged unscathed but still missing the twins.
I wonder if I'm getting the flu. I feel like shit today, don't want to do any work, just want to sleep. Too bad I have a lot of work to do... Last night, I was so tired I fell asleep on the couch. This, I never do. My parents do it every night, sit there fighting sleep for 3 hours until the appropriate bed hour of 11 pm. But there I was, nodding off like my mom. Andrea made me give up the fight and retreat to the den of depravity, aka our room. Today, I can't shake it or get down to the work I need to do so the cycle continues.
With feeling like crap comes a general shortness with people. So please, don't walk all over me today. You may get a very different reaction than usual.
She Said it Best
Andrea said it better than I could. The good news? I finally got to play a game with her, as the opposing goalie. Though we weren't on the same team, it was great to be out there together. I felt really strong as a goalie, only letting in 1 goal. Tired but happy, we headed over to the other rink so I could sub in as a red goalie. I had another good game, again letting in only 1 goal (at hockeyworkout, I used to let in 5 on a good night. Granted, the pace is different but you see where this is going...). I guess the Powers That Be noticed this performance as well because I Got the Call last night, asking if I'd like to be a red goalie this season. I said yes, though it means abandoning any hope of playing with Andrea. Sigh.
Loo, hurry up and make red already! ;-) I'm now a red lifer, re-incarnated as a goalie, you must join me.
I also took a departure from the norm last night and played center with my co-ed team. I felt strong there too (though very naked without my goalie stuff. It's amazing how much faster I can go with forward gear on) and impressed some of the guys. We won again, we're now 3-0, undefeated for the first time. Go A-Team! Woo!
Minding My Own Business
Yesterday, I was walking into La Villa (God's gift to delis) with Dana for a fine dinner of raviolis, absolutlely minding my own business. I was sporting a Very Nice 'USA Girls Hockey' t-shirt that the girls I coached last year had given me. This older man came up to us and practically spat the words 'Girls. Hockey!' as if it were some sort of abomination. My reaction was 'huh? What's wrong with that (bitch)?' (the bitch is in parens because I didnt' actually say it. Though I would've felt better if I did.) What is wrong with people? Is it really that crazy to think that Girls could play Hockey (or wrestle or play football or drive racecars or any other damn old thing they want to do?)? Huh? Is it?
Fucker. Old men's golf! My god! That's what I should've said.
I also took this opportunity to update the archive page so it's current, in case You People were looking for what I said before.
Here it is, 9:50 pm on a Sunday night and I'm freaking exhausted. I played my regularly scheduled green game (I'm Liz, your goalie) at 3:15 as well as a red game (again as a goalie) at 6. Both games were gobs o' fun, green because I got to be on the ice with Andrea for the first time ever as a peer, something I'd been wanting for a long time, red because I actually did quite well at that level. I let in 1 goal each game, my new all-time low. Both goals were exactly what I told my defense to watch out for -- the open man at the far post -- those, I just can't stop. You need more lateral movement skills than I have right now for that sort of heroics. Chalk up another day where I not only enjoyed playing goalie, but did well at it. Woo! And Poang!
I just did the math and realized the Roos were conceived right around the day our Ellie died (for those joining us late in the story, Rainie and Patrick's mama is named after our Ellie and we consider them her grandbabies, even only in spirit, it's enough for me). I hadn't really thought about it but it adds up, like her spirit blew us a kiss on it's way out of this world, stopping in Arizona to create 12 new lives and bring 2 new, dear friends to us. The gifts Ellie gave us in such a short time are truly amazing. Roos, and dear friends. What else can you ask for from a life you shared for only 6 months, 8 days? Nothing.
I still miss her though and if I'm very quiet, can hear her barking, ferociously guarding her bone (which she gummed diligently, being a nice old doggie without teeth) and at the Mc Donald's drive-thru, waiting impatiently for her precious hamburgers, plain, no pickle.
I just realized that I completely missed the 3rd anniversary of Ellie's death. Maybe that's okay, maybe it means that we're moving on, that celebrating her life is more important than commemorating the horrible day she left us. Yeah, I'll go with that. And have some McDonald's in her honor.
Here's to you, Ellie Mc Belly.
We have a crazy new foster dog, Sadie. She's a walker hound, essentially a waist-high beagle, one year old and madly in love with other dogs. At the shelter, she was miserable, baying constantly and jumping up to 8 feet high from a standstill. No, I'm not kidding about the jumping. These dogs are bred to be in a pack, that's all they understand so I was hopeful that she'd do well here with our gang. Sure enough, the moment she walked in the door, saw all those hounds, her demeanor screamed "MY PEOPLE! I'VE FOUND YOU AT LAST!". She hasn't been away from another dog since she arrived and Patrick is madly in love with her. As soon as she stands still long enough for a photo, I'll put one up.
Now that she's feeling better (like I wish I was. Achoo!) the next task is to find her permanent home, one with at least another young dog to play with.
Went to the doctor. He too thinks it's allergies, possibly related to the IKEA building (striken by a debilitating Poang allergy, she was unable to work) or to it's proxmity to the bay. I got some fine medication products and am hoping for increased nasal flow in the near future. Achoo!
It's not all bad -- I got to skate in my lovely new skates last night. For the most part, they feel great! None of the ankle pain, I think they'll break in pretty fast. The weirdest part is that they're shorter (by about a size, whatever that would indicate) than my old skates so I kept pitching forward a bit when stopping, my body expecting that extra fraction of an inch of blade to be there. But overall, they're a winner!
I can't stop sneezing. This is not the first day in recent memory like this, in fact my nose has a lovely red spot from all the nose-blowing I've been doing. Today it's bad enough that I called in sick to work (you people will just have to keep your Poangs for another day!) and am going to the doctor at noon. I kinda think it's allergies but we'll see. Just please, make it stop!
Turned in the Bad Book Review last night. I feel better to have it out of my hands though I'm sure it will come back, requesting edits. I also got 2 assignments back, a B+ and an A-. Not bad for someone who, according to the teacher, isn't supposed to be in the class at all.
I have no skills at writing book reviews. None. This assignment is kicking my ass. I have cried more than once at my own ineptitude, beaten my hand upon the desk and skipped last week's class in a vain attempt to make my brain understand that somewhere between a fifth grade book review and a traditional comparative paper is a book review.
But it hasn't worked and I'm about to turn in a piece of crap. But at least it's a piece of crap that I put my heart into.
Another Good Thing that happened today: it was Salisbury Steak day in the IKEA staff cafeteria! I went around saying "Well, hello there children, it's Salisbury Steak day!" my personal homage to Chef and all those nice kids on South Park. Not everyone got the joke but at least I cracked myself up. Lunch was also A Tribute to Starches, featuring mashed potatoes and mac & cheese. Yum but here comes the belly again.
Finally, I think there is an end to my Skate Drama, or 2003: A Skate Oddessy. It took me a while to accept that my current skates no longer fit well, that it was time to get a smaller size. My ankles were taking a beating (and continue to do so in goalie skates, but that is another story) so I finally ordered a 1/2 size smaller skate. They took almost 3 weeks to get here and when they arrived after me tracking their progress across the country for the 7 business days it took for them to make their way to me. When they got here, I was crushed to find them still too big, albeit a bit narrow (a common problem when you go from adults down to kids sizes). So I called my heroes at Hockey Monkey and they sent me a 1/2 size smaller, but 1 width wider than those bad boys.
Round 2 of new skates arrived today and I'm thrilled to say that they fit fine! I'm wearing them now, in a vain attempt to break them in a little. They sport a couple of cosmetic blemishes that I'm not happy about but they fit so I'll keep em. Woo hoo, Pro Tacks! Hooray!
Preparing for my bi-weekly readings in fiction class is hard. I'm no good at writing fiction. Somewhere along the way, my writing skills started to focus on me, leaving me unable to invent believable characters or situations. This week, that started to change when my prof told me to write a sex scene in a laundromat. I used that as a starting point and wrote a short story, 90% fiction, that started with the hint of a sex scene in a laundromat but went on to include many good, sad, funny and not-so-good things, including a gratuitous reference to Shady Pines, the nursing home in The Golden Girls. My class actually liked it. I'm on Cloud 9 right now.
Unfortunately, I have a mal-formed book review to finish for tomorrow so my elation is short lived.
Let me not be the first to congratulate Hollie on becoming a marathon runner this weekend. I've been reading her blog for a while, ever since I saw it linked on Amy's site. Her dedication is impressive and I find myself completely understanding her motivation while being baffled yet jealous of the whole running thing.
can't commend Hollie enough for taking this on and I very much know how she feels, though my own accomplishments pale in comparison to the prep required for running that far. Along those lines, let me also commend Amy for taking on a 1/2 marathon this year. I've never liked running enough to do it, though I know it's great for you. When anyone I know runs, I'm in awe, secretly jealous of their willingness to be out there, alone, step after step, through all kinds of weather and emotional turmoil. Maybe it's because I always need some kind of stimulus. Do I not like being alone in my own head the way runners seem to enjoy? Do I unnerve myself with all that quiet time, comforted only by the thud of my feet, step after step, block after block (my own running career, which is measured in blocks, not miles) Could be.
While I know hockey is the right sport for me, I'll always be a little jealous of runners. In so many ways, I'd like to be out there with you but I think I have a lot more growing up to do before I can be alone with my thoughts in that very raw way. Good luck to Amy in your upcoming race, I know you'll kick some ass!
Went to a Sharks game tonight and totally had a blast. I thought Marci was kidding when she said the tickets were courtesy of a gun trade-in, but she wasn't. They were excellent seats so thank you, Mr. Shotgun!
In other news, while returning Poangs today, I saw this guy that a dear friend of mine used to (sort of) date. He has a very very small body and makes up for it with a very large personality, all of which is explained in different, more flattering, terms on his website. The moment I saw him standing there, arms full of Grundtal kitchen accessories, I knew exactly who he was, though we'd never met and he probably had no clue who I was . His website is chock full of pictures of himself so it was easy to recognize him (confirmed when I credited his credit card back for said items). It was all I could do to not say "you, know, (name withheld to protect the innocent) is my dear friend." I left out the parts about "and you were pretty stupid with her. What posessed you to do that?" Instead, I played the part of the grown-up, chuckling to myself about all the dirty secrets I knew, he having no idea who I was or that I knew as he sauntered off to look at Poangs.
Poang and Grundtal to you too, sir! It was nice to not meet you.
We had a run on Poang returns. 5 customers in a row brought me frames, cushions, foot stools and foot stool cushions. I sang the refrain to the Poang song (to the tune of My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean):
Bring back your Poang to me!
Thank you, I'm here all week.
Liz Doughty, comedienne
I've been a writing fool, just not here. I'm knee-deep in trying to crank out 10 pages of (preferably good) fiction, a book review (keeps turning into a 5th grade book report instead of any kind of critical anyalysis) and read a ton of material for recreation class.
So stay tuned. At some point in the future I'll go back to making witty comments here instead of burying them within academic writing.