Thursday, May 11, 2023

of endings and beginnings

woke up this morning to an email (either a twitter or people magazine recap) stating that Heather Armstrong (aka "Dooce") had died by way of suicide on May 9th.


I'm not one to be typically affected by 'celebrity' news.  Generally speaking, I have no idea who is who in the world of society A or B listers.  Sure, I know of some actors and musicians but let's face it, I'm just trying to keep my team of three afloat; not giving more than half a shit about what so and so says to eat or wear.  Will I watch a movie or show and listen to music and attend a concert?  damn skippy.  but until one of these folks is paying my bills or feeding my kids or doing my job, I just appreciate them for their ability to entertain me, and that's about as far as it goes.

Does that mean I'm unaffected when I hear about tragedy?  no.  I still feel sadness or compassion when I hear stories about so and so's divorce/accident/sickness/death etc.   but somehow...  in the early morning darkness...  this one hit different.

Seeing her name was like being hit with an instant combo of confusion and familiarity.  I admit; it took me a few minutes to truly remember WHY I knew that name - but almost as if I were a bottle of soda that's been roughed up on the way home from the store, my feelings of true sadness were like a tense pressure that, although slow to start, ended up being a fast and furious wave of release.

Dooce was there back then. Straight up OG.  I didn't personally know who she was but MAN she was a great writer.  a BLOGGER.  a founder of blogHER.  Before the days of the Twitter Fail Whale, instagram, snapping and any of these 30 second tiktoks.  She was REAL.  well, she felt real to me.  unabashed raw musings that gave me courage to feel my feels and write about them.  Well..  a FILTERED version of my feelings, because I knew (strike that.  I "firmly believed") that I could never be my true self for the public to see/read/digest.

For whatever reasons I honestly don't recall...  probably just got busy with trying to survive my OWN life and stopped trying to pay attention to OTHER people's lives.  Anyways..  I stopped following her.  But hearing that name was a wave of familiar then sadness to learn of her death.

I thought about all of the different people I "met" through blogging.  it was such a good community.  random souls that, among other things, supported my unbridled love for murray's french toast sticks when I was pregnant with Rhena.  They cheered via comments and consoled in ways that were warm and genuine about topics I believed I couldn't voice to friends/family/neighbors in real life.

But then, as blogging became more popular, I found my filtering became stronger.  My words and topics were guarded.  So much so that I created a secret blog.  I had forgotten about that.  I read some of those entries this morning and man.  they were full of darkness.  



There was also a lot of hyperfocus on my weight (yeah, I almost spit out my coffee when I read an entry that was worried about my weight gain to 123 pounds. hahahahaha  WOW. just...  wow.)

Looking back at myself and my private journal entries, it's really a shocker that my marriage lasted until 2012 because man oh man..  the signs were there as early as 2008.  ok, earlier than that..  but I'm not here to split hairs.  I can say that I fully and completely wanted my pregnancy of Daniel, and my heart ached for friends that were unable to conceive at the time. I was indescribably in LOVE with Rhena and the fact that I was her mom.  But I wasn't happy.  and I hid that side of myself from others.

Did Heather do that?  did she hide her real self from her audiences?  or worse..  did she make herself vulnerable to any and all that passed by?  Or was that better?  was she authentic regardless of the audience?

I don't know.  I also don't know the space one must be in to feel that suicide is the best option.... and that's just so sad.  not sad that I don't know that place.  For that I am thankful to not know that plight.

it's still sad to me though. There's no denying that she was influential and a huge contributor to the online community in the early days.  She opened doors and shared examples and for better or worse inspired others to write/share/connect.   Like I said..  I've "met" a lot of great people online since those early 2000's and I will forever be thankful for the varying levels of support, kinship and connection that I received.

This also makes me think of how social media has literally exploded in the last 15+ years.  Words and concepts like 'Mental health' and 'authentic' and 'connecting' are part of our everyday vocabulary... but are they truly part of our everyday practice?  Reality shows are scripted.  "Content" is curated, edited, and published on schedules.  Is the constant barrage of messages and images of perfection so loud that we can no longer hear ourselves or loved ones when they are passively (or even ACTIVELY) seeking help?

I fully recognize that there's nothing I could have done to change Heather's decided path... but it makes me pause enough to remember that everyone has a secret journal.  some might be written, some unspoken.  some just show up in quiet tears in the bathroom or in sleepless nights or in addictions.  I hope if and when the time comes that I can help a person feel better or good or seen or accepted beyond the version of themselves that they choose to share with me.

And to the November Newbies and Hännikins and Erin B and Erin Cooks and Kerri Anne and Laura and M-Baby and JohnBoy and Julie and Cathi and Mary and all the others in between?  Thanks for accepting and loving me regardless of what version I shared.  Never underestimate the value of the kindness you shared when I couldn't be kind to myself (and I had to stop impersonating Randy Jackson.)


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just in Case You're Still Listening

Hi Rachie.

Not sure if there's any truth about those souls who have gone on being able to know what's going on here on planet E, but *I* believe in my heart that you're tuned in, so this needs to be said.

Though, I suppose if you ARE tuned in, then I really DON'T need to write this, but this is one of those times where I think it's ok to share with everyone.

ANYWAYS..... (I know, seriously... I CLEARLY haven't perfected the ability to GET TO THE DAMN POINT in the time you've been gone, now, have I?)

so yeah. you know I'm down like a clown for the Avon Walks. But did I ever tell you (this time YOU being whomever is reading, not just Rachel. Rachel's a given.) anyways-- did I ever tell you about how at the walks I would buy Rachel some type of survivor gear? well, I did. And in 2008, I stood in line, picked out my pink stuff, grabbed a cute Survivor hat for Rachel, then muscled my way to the cash register. All was fine until I handed my stuff to the cashier and realized that I was buying a survivor hat for the biggest reason WHY I was doing the walk, and that she had passed away the month prior.

so for any of you who happen to know ME... I shut down in times of crisis... especially emotional ones. SO yeah... frozen with internal vomiting and heartache, I just bought the hat, walked to my car and bawled my eyes out. good times, huh?

So that damn hat has been in my closet.

reminding me.

At one point I considered sending it to Lindsay, Rachie's daughter, but I didn't want to add any more reminders in her life of what she's surviving and living through every day. So in my closet it stayed.

STILL reminding me.

So completely off point, but not really... Troy and I signed up for some "living your strengths" series at church. blahbitty blah... (but not really, cause it's been a GREAT eye opener and I'm glad we've been doing the program) so this woman ended up coming to my house to go through the 'lesson' with me, since the way schedules worked out, I was going to get a private session.

Before the lady comes to my house though, she sends me some cryptic email about not being around germs, and I'm all like.. are you fucking KIDDING me? I have 2 kids!! and I sure as hell don't DUST... so I politely wrote back and told her we're HEALTHY, but if she's afraid of dust, we're going to have to find another place to work.

so ya ya ya.. all's fine. she comes over and we do the lesson, and she's quite a lovely lady. towards the end of the lesson, she semi=apologizes about the germ thing, and I was all.. "yeah, so what's up with that?" and she's all.. "well, you know.. because I'm starting chemo...."


yeah.. you know.. just starting chemo. no big deal. *sigh*

I kept my shit together for about a good 5 minutes before I was unintelligible in terms of speaking.


from then to now is unimportant, but I have to say I feel blessed for having this woman come into my life. She didn't know about the avon walks right here in charlotte, and it felt GOOD to tell her about them. it felt GOOD to meet someone I do this shit for. of course the circumstances suck ass, but this instant kinship I feel with her is a blessing.

no... knowing her won't bring Rachel back, NOR will it lesson the loss we all STILL feel from her passing. no... that part doesn't change.

But my new friend started her chemo today, and in 18 days, when she will begin to lose her hair, she will have a fancy new (ok, maybe not-so-new) pink survivor hat to wear. And while I'm still angry and hurt and EMPTY in so many broken ways that I couldn't give that hat to Rachel... I'm hopeful that the strength and spirit of Rachel will be with my new friend as she fights.

so there. and just in case you ARE listening, Rach... forgive me for the re-gift. But thank you. thank you for bringing her to me and reminding me to never stop fighting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the after

AFTER I was done calling everyone, cutting out our logo and putting it in buttons, printing signs, doing iron-ons for bandannas and aprons, buying/checking the posters, inflatable guitars, records, glasses and other paraphernalia, going to event eve, meeting the team, giving them their start and meet times, picking up last minute items and driving home... well... AFTER that, I got to tuck in my babies and tell them why I was going to be gone all weekend.

AFTER I told Rhena that I would be gone all weekend for an event that was raising money to fight cancer.. a disease that makes people so sick that some actually die... I cried. I cried because my daughter was going to miss me in the next 2 days, and Lindsay's been missing HER mommy for over two YEARS.

AFTER I woke up at 2:30am, drove downtown, helped to set up breakfast, greet walkers, break down and clean up opening ceremonies, drive to a different location, set up the wellness village, set up the dining service tent, greet more walkers, saw familiar faces, heard 100s of stories-- inspiring, sad, and wonderful, served dinner until after 9, and drove all the way back home... I walked into a house that looked like it had exploded. There was literally stuff EVERYWHERE; icing smeared on the table; empty boxes of cereal on the counters, FULL bowls of cereal in random locations in the tv room... but I didn't do a damn thing. I didn't get angry, I didn't clean, I just said goodnight and walked upstairs for a nap.... grateful for a husband who stopped time in his world so I could volunteer MY time at the walk. Somehow a messy house seemed pretty insignificant at the time.

AFTER a 4 hour sleep, I went back downtown, picked up a crew member at her hotel, got to the wellness village, served breakfast, greeted over 1000 walkers and crew with a hot breakfast, cleaned up, cleaned even more, said my goodbyes, gave my thanks, and got in my car to drive home... well.. AFTER that, I smiled. I SMILED because as I looked at my clock, I realized it was still early enough that there would be moms waking up and greeting their children... snuggling and having breakfast and NOT FIGHTING.

AFTER THAT, I got wistful, because maybe some of those moms WERE fighting, but at least they were still alive to fight another day.

AFTER THAT... I looked at my clock again, and when I realized I had been sitting in my car for three minutes, and according to statistics.. another person was just diagnosed with breast cancer in America.... I let myself weep.

AFTER THAT... I looked at the rising sun, I said a prayer of thanks for my health; a prayer of strength for those who need it, and one more for peace for all the souls who have been lost to cancer... and I drove home to love, hug, and hold the three most important people in my life.

After that? I signed up to do it all again next year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good for the Heart

So I found out today that my dad has a blockage in his heart and will need surgery. that kind of blows. I mean, YAY.. it's good on many levels that he's at least seeing a doctor, and they are taking an interest in procedures to you know.. keep him alive. that part I like.

I don't like thinking of the fact that I am getting to the age where my friends' parents are dying. Just last week another one of my friends from high school lost her father. and I definitely don't like the idea of my dad needing surgery. for whatever good it may create.. it doesn't mean I like the idea that he needs it, period. it makes my heart heavy, and don't even get me started about how I can even imagine functioning when the day comes that one of my parents pass away. I start going there and I turn into an emotional wreck... THEN I start thinking about how Rachel is gone and Lindsay doesn't even KNOW the ways she misses Rachel yet. fuuuuuuuuuuck. "hello, psychiatric hotline?? yes, Carrie here... please send the meds... yes... I've gone THERE again..."

The walk is this weekend. I haven't been doing NEARLY as much chatter/fundraising/awareness raising as I normally do. I don't know why that is... it's no less important to me this year than previous years.... Maybe I'm getting to the second stage of things? like with Rhena.. when I was pregnant, and after she was born, I would post about pretty much anything. The monster moved!! I had the craps today!! It's a she!!! SHE had the craps today! etc etc etc.

When I was pregnant with Danny, I didn't feel the need to shout out every detail to whomever would listen. instead, I maintained a quiet, peaceful relationship with the being within. ok, so the fact that he made me puke just about every damn day DID warrant some conversations, but with moosey-- it's always been just... there. not showy, not nearly as public as Rhena... just.. there.

I kind of feel that way now about the walk. It's still necessary for me to be there, and there's things I certainly don't hide about the walk... but it's just... THERE. in my heart, on my mind, part of who I am and what I do... it's just there.

and I'm SO glad the walk is here again. I need to be there. I need to see the hope, the healing, the LIVES that still ARE because people are donating and people are fighting and changes are happening in medicine. THAT'S the kind of shit that's good for MY heart.

think pink, gang. and thanks to any and all of you who made a donation this year, in the past, or will be making one soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

treasure or junk, hide or share?

well lookie lookie here! apparently *I* still have a blog!!!

I kind of feel like I just found a childhood diary or something.... going through these posts is truly like stepping back in time. First of all.. WOW. I curse a LOT, don't I? oh well. throw my vote to the freedom of speech thing, I guess. *I* know I don't curse around my kids, NOR do I allow them to read this dribble... so I'm ok with cursing. besides.... sometimes it's very necessary to use the term assbaggers. knowwhaddayemean??? fuck 'em if they can't take a little sailor talk.

So yeah. where was I? I remembered I had this (and my baking blog) because Rhena's class moms created a blog for sharing pics and info. which is swell. I love being able to see pictures from her day and activities. What can I say? I'm partial to looking at her mug! BUUUUUT... I had to sign in with blogger in order to READ said kindergarten blog. which means my profile comes up... which means this here blog shows up.


now in the PAST, I've never felt the need to hide my rantings. if I DID, I suppose I wouldn't have typed them in the first place. (again.. see my no-apologies cursing theory above) but now. nowwwwww... I'm a mom of a kid in kindergarten. Granted I'm STILL the same mom of the kid who SHOULD have been in kindergarten LAST year (grumble grumble.. whatever! seriously, I'm OVER IT!) but now that I'm all IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM as a parent and everything... do I worry? should I care? does it MATTER?

I have to admit it worries me that I'm even thinking this. has stepford conformed me so much that I'm questioning my awesomeness??? blergh. THAT'S not good!

I think when I go back through my posts, there are some really good gems in here. like the day Rhena went to preschool for the first time. TOTAL GEM. there's some raw emotions from losing Rachel that deserve to be preserved... and heard. Of course, there's trash, self-indulgence, and soooooo much dribble. I suppose that stuff can stay or go... I like to keep it as a reminder of where I've been... a barometer of how much I've changed, I guess? but yeah... on the chance someone from child services reads about the time I got so drunk I woke up feeling like a cat shit in my throat??? welllllll... maybe not one of the best entries I'd want Rhena's classmates' parents reading about me.

but then that just adds fuel to my fire in terms of having nothing to hide. well, that's not true. I have plenty to hide. like the amount of cobwebs in the office that I'm looking at right now instead of cleaning. (whoops. so much for hiding that.) meh--- it's almost halloween. they're actually appropriate right now, right? I'll get to them before thanksgiving.

oh well. I guess the truth is that hiding old posts is just not my style. there's PROBABLY some prolific saying about truth setting you free and past being your path to get you where you are today... blabbity blah blah.... but I'm just sayin' I...

well.. what AM I saying exactly?


I'm saying that if you're a new reader... read with caution. I curse. always have, always will. the pre-existing posts on this blog are just that. pre-existing. as in.. already happened, nothin you can do about it. if I said I can't stand minivans and moms who wear vests... then that's how I felt at that time. (well.. I kind of still feel that way... vests? I mean REALLY? not a fan. and oh good LORD don't get me started on those stupid-assed sweaters with various holiday doo-dads emblazoned on them. They may be worn by grandmoms and grandmoms ONLY. everyone else wearing one deserves a slap. they're DUMB.)

I'm in a whole new world these days... and it's a happy one. SURE, I still get pissed about a LOT of dumb things, but I have been feeling very balanced lately. Rhena loves her school. DANNY loves his school. Troy is happy at work, and I have been happy doing a mix of subbing and baking for the business. I feel MUCH more in control this year for Stepford, in terms of being more selective of what orders I take on, and not over-extending myself just to have one more client.

I still do the Avon Walk (it's this weekend already! yikes!), still teach CCD, and still drive the kids everywhere they need to be. I still like bacon, and I still keep saying I need to lose some weight. I have good friends, and I love my family. Granted, I'd love a certain member of my family a lot more if he would ever send me the pictures he took of our trip to the statue of liberty this past summer because my camera broke and I have no decent pictures to put in my kids' room so they remember it.... but that's a whole other story.

It's been what... 10 months since my last post? oh well.. it's not you... it's me. really. and I don't mean that in a bad way.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The year in Re-View

is this thing on?

yeah.. so it took me getting regular comments from 'anonymous' users who apparently were trying to pimp out viagra to remind me that i HAVE a blog (or two). Sad thing is the comments started coming last week, and it's taken me this long to come around and do something.

so here we are, friends (and anonymous viagra pimpers). Another year over. Traditionally, this is the time when we all sit back and review the year that has just passed. as I take a look at the dust on my keyboard.. it makes me realize.. there's not much TO review! at least not in terms of blog posts.

personally--- life was busy. my business, A Taste of Stepford became officially recognized by the state of North Carolina, and my bank. more importantly, it became something to a few dozen clients... what a validation! It really has been great. BUSY... and not exactly financially lucrative, but alas... it is REAL. and even though I make about 5 CENTS an hour when all is said and done... building this business has been a gratifying experience. kind of like parenting.

I love my husband, I love my kids.. and I've been blessed with a new sense of understanding in life when it comes to friends and the company I keep in general. not like recently.. just really over the year... but yeah. TOTALLY solid in this department now. I have GREAT friends, and really feel balanced with the amount of time I spend with them.

I'm fatter. (there.. I said it!) I'm not disgusting or obese or anything, but I'm definitely not gonna get cold if the temps drop a little, ifyouknowwhatImean.... meh. Lent shall come again, as will my desire to deprive myself of all the good things I bake. right now? I say bring on the coconut... momma needs some comfort food!

apparently I also need coffee. like regularly. seriously.. every day between 2-3pm? hola, senor WALL! mind if I slam into you for a little while? not sure if that's a getting old thing or a getting-out-of-shape-so-I-naturally-have-less-energy thing, but lord HELP MY ASS if I don't get caffeine in the afternoon. I'll be drooling through the kids' bedtimes for sure.

big year ahead for us... taking the kids to Disney. registering Rhena for kindergarten, and signing the moose up for preschool. I'm promising myself I will learn to make some sugar art/work with sugar more. supposedly, I'm going to get Danny to learn how to stop needing diapers, too. so yeah. big year. and that's just January.

maybe I'll be here more? maybe. Troy wrote himself a little blog entry the other week, and it got me thinking about how much I liked spouting off my opinion. maybe I'll get back in the habit? maybe I'll fold some laundry, too... but I don't want to get TOO far ahead of myself.

happy end of the year, people.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dear Rachel

Hi Rachie.

I don't know if you can hear me, feel me, or anything along those lines... but I'm gonna take the chance that you can.

Tomorrow's your birthday. I've been thinking about it for a while, and it's been coming and coming, and already.. wow... here it is.

and you're not going to be older than me.

I'm not here to make YOU feel bad... but damn sam and ten cases of shit fever.... I never thought there'd be an August 25th that I didn't get to remind you that you'll always be older than me.

fuck, dude. you're not HERE.

I suppose that's it in a nutshell. typical me.. self centered. But I miss you. I really do. I read Rob's updates on facebook and I get sad. I see Rhena do something cool and my heart breaks for Lindsay.

I feel guilty for missing you as much as I do, because again, I think about Rob and Lindsay and your parents and Sean. SEAN! can you believe he's getting married? SEAN! little baby Sean... fucking crazy, I tell you.

Anyways... Tomorrow, I'm going to TRY to celebrate your BIRTHday... and the 36 years after August 25th that you LIVED (and were still older than me.. hah!) I'm going to remember you, I'm going to celebrate you, and I'm going to talk about you to anyone who'll listen, and try to get anybody and everybody to donate some money so someday cancer is something people read about in history books. Tomorrow I will try to laugh. (or giggle and snort) I will secretly throw powder at people. I will say 'shit' when I'm not supposed to. I will blame someone else for something mischievous. and just for the hell of it, I'm going to strip in my room.

Yes.. tomorrow.. I will celebrate you, Rachel.

but tonight, I'm going to cry, and I'm going to miss you.