5 Years Now Without Mom

I read the ‘4 Years Gone’ write up I did a year ago basically to the day, and I am struck by how much things have changed – and how much they haven’t. I could just copy/paste most of the words again for this year. The emotions, the thoughts, the memories; very little is different in those areas, even with another year for perspective. That in itself is a little scary. Makes me want to rage at those who quote that insufferable phrase ‘Time Heals All Wounds’. Dumb fuck who wrote that was clearly in-denial or hadn’t lost very much. I rarely feel angry, except at shallow empty words thrown in my face to ‘console’ me (but only them, in reality). Then the extraordinary pissed-off redhead temper comes out in force.

As you may have guessed, I don’t feel any less grief this year then I did the last 4. I do however feel more sadness than anger (or at least I believe I do) with the world. I also find myself looking back at my experiences with people those first few years, and having much more anger now than I did then, at the level of shit I went through. All it takes is a misguided statement made by a family member or friend and I feel the slow burn of angry pain that they still don’t get it. Maybe my increased sadness is that they and most of the world never will and its unfair of me to want them to be able to grasp the faintest idea of it.

Last year I attended a Tracker class with the 3 women who many know as my ‘Element Sisters’. Though I was around people and not trying to shove everything down, I also didn’t share much – and what I did share was mostly through the girls. Tracy, Linda and Afsoon’s support that year was the beginning of me not trying to hide 24/7. This year, the Healing School I have been apart of ran the 3rd class during the corresponding weekend (the dates are set when we sign up). So not only was I in another class, but this time it was even more hands-on with the emotions of life. Instead of fading into the background and only letting people know the significance of the dates via my Sisters, this year I had to do it myself and beforehand. Instead of standing on the edge of the 130+ group of classmates – many whom I didn’t know – I was in the middle of a very close knit group of 13 that I have worked with before. Not only did I not sit in silence all day, I shared my experience with classmates and friends, many of whom are quickly becoming true family.

I keenly feel the lack of contact from most people in my life, particularly this day. Lorien, best friend, person that Facebook says I am ‘In a relationship with’ and many people do believe that (which is totally okay by us) and the first person who ever sat with me in the long silences always makes contact this day. Even if its just through text. This year I had more people than I honestly know what to do with make contact with me. Interestingly most were not actual family members – or even old friends. I also shared my experience with feeling for the first time since the first weeks of 2009. In class, while words can be important and are often used to jumpstart an event, its the feeling, the emotion that we are most concerned about. I was the ‘group project’ to experience past events – all 12 classmates and the 3 instructors at the same time. Those of you who really know me, will realize that it is close to the last thing I would ever want to do, share ‘feelings’ while actually in contact with a shit-ton of people in person! But I did. Many may think that the ‘talking’ part is hard. Its not really, I’ve had to tell that fucking story over and over again. For family, for friends, for police, for doctors, and lawyers, therapists and teachers. I’m so not in touch with my emotions when I talk about the days leading up and shortly after Mom was killed, that I learned to ‘fake’ some reaction so as to not upset family or alarm the doctors for the first few years. In the past I’ve been accused of not caring, being a cold heartless bitch and having ‘something really really wrong with me’ because I can’t talk and feel at the same time very well. Clearly the world isn’t as ‘aware’ as they think they are about things like PTSD. The worst part was never how I felt talking about it, but how the other people felt. The shock, the disbelief, the looking for the silver lining, the inability to grasp, and of course; the wondering of how I ‘didn’t know’, which eventually leads to questioning of my intelligence, the darkness I must have to attract such people. The ways in which I am broken that I could be a part of such evil – even as a bystander. My grief, anger and pain I sit with everyday. Its the rest of the world and their judgements, their dismissal and lack of awareness that is so fucking impossible to be with.

By year 2 I had stopped calling people. Asking for people to sit with me (Lorien never had to be asked, but then I moved away) or be supportive. Some friends would take it upon themselves to be around in any way they could. Something I am very grateful for and applaud for dealing with my despair. It was a strange feeling to be the one who explained to the new people in my life (Shaun, classmates, etc) what the days leading up to the 4th meant to me. It was even more surreal when even after I explained that there is only ‘dark and twisty’ on that day that I found myself accepting them in my experience of it. – I will write up another post going into more detail for those interested.

I wish there was a positive spin I could put on things from the kids and Dad. But I am not really privy to their experience with this anymore. I texted the ones who have cell phones, reaching out in between the madness of driving through snow, DC traffic and flying to Alaska. To the younger kids it is probably more of ‘another day’ in the time span of not fun days that makeup this time of year. I can’t really say how they are doing other than just getting by. I like to think I have moved from the space of surviving to living, but some days I am not as convinced. Or maybe it is more of perspective, that in my own way I do live; in the moments possible, and when not, I survive.

I do know that the various places the boys and younger kids are, Mom still smiles. I watch my brothers as they mature, and even with their anger and pain and their struggles, at their core they are amazing young men. Every single one of my 8 siblings is unique, with their own talents. I hope for each one that one day they live, fully and lovingly, their own lives.

I see my Mother in every red sunrise and sunset. I spy a cardinal on a branch and think of her. A waterfall. The Mountains. Roadtrips. All these things she loved. All these things she inspired us children to love. Thinking back to one of the many gifts she bestowed upon her loved ones, I don’t think love was the biggest one. Or even hope. But maybe was inspiration. I have countless (literally, I forget the them often) stories of the people out there who were inspired to do and be more in life from knowing Mom.

Even in death my Mother somehow inspires people to live more fully. To laugh more often. To love more fully. To nurture and care for the lost children. Below: Early 90’s in Alaska, with (I believe) a baby Jeremy. She didn’t let things like having 3 young children, 9 dogs and winter keep her tied down. She had fun anywhere she was.

Mom in Alaska with a baby brother

Mom in Alaska with a baby brother

In one breath I can go back to my last day with Mom. The brightest most beautiful light. The hope. The love. The laughter. 5 years ago in the space of a moment. And in the same space, the 5 years is also an eternity of hell. Of pain. Of a deep black hole of grief that never goes away. A breath of love and an eternity of hell in just one moment. I walk in both worlds, as they are both true. It almost feels as though it should be strange, that just a breath of love can inspire someone to live through hell for eternity. But then that is the type of love my Mother inspired. Not strange at all. Beautiful.

~ J


My Insane Summer ~ 2012

My summer for 2012:

I went back to Anchorage AK in the beginning of July and stayed till the 27th, dog-sitting and house-sitting. I also did a little bit of training and fit in some hiking. I spent time with the Gardner’s dogs and Mr. H’s Border Collie, Pete. River of course flew up with me and quite enjoyed pack time with her furry friends. I was able to catch up with a few friends, my awesome bodyworker and some co-workers. Sighted a few more moose, eagles and other northern wildlife. While Reuben didn’t quite enjoy the time apart as much, I didn’t feel too lonely even though most of my days were spent with a bunch of dogs in a nice big house outside of town. But then… that’s my idea of relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, I did miss Reuben, but seeing as how Alaska is one of my favorite places and dogs make great companions I was enjoying my time too.

River and I flew back to Seattle, unpacked and repacked, loaded the car  and less than 24 hours later Reuben and I snagged River (who was a little traveled out) to begin the drive east. We made it to Yellowstone in the late night hours; found a free place to stop the car outside of the Park till morning to grab a little shut eye (yes we slept in the car). Drove about half of the park, even got to see Old Faithful blow and some of the wildlife (that wasn’t very wild) before getting back on route due east again that afternoon. We took tons of pictures! I will upload them as a picture post soon.

The drive through Wyoming was fantastic with the sights and landscape. We stopped for a few hours in Nebraska before the early morning heat made it impossible to sleep anymore (yes we slept in the car again) and hit the highway. Reuben and I mostly ate out of our cooler and River of course had her dog food. We grabbed a cheap hotel on the border of Illinois and Kentucky after overshooting on one of the roads. The Black Dragon pulled into the Farm in Tennessee on Tues the 31st of July. Reuben met the ‘family’ and things went fair to smooth. Spent some quality time with the younger kids and a little bit with the boys. Lorien was attached to my hip, as she should be when I am in town *smile*. I put Reuben up on a horse, sadly the camera he grabbed to document this feat didn’t have a SIM card in it so I have no photos to share.. Reuben said he enjoyed it so much that a second time is ensured (and this time we’ll make sure the SIM card is in!).

I took Reuben to Citico Creek and Bald River Falls since those are old time hangouts from long ago in Joannie history. On the 4th of Aug we got the car packed once again after picking up some more gear to head north towards New Jersey; we overnighted in Maryland with Reuben’s super sweet sister and her family. Sadly, River had to stay behind at the Farm in Tennessee. On Sunday the 5th we rolled into Camp at The Tracker School which is set up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Reuben’s class, Standard is where it all starts; survival skills, primitive skills, and how to never not be at home in the woods. I took my Standard a few years ago and still haven’t begun to master what I learned. Tom Brown Jr. is the founder and main instructor. (I’ve mentioned Tom before, and how I got into his programs is explained in the ‘Author’ page on my blog). I hung out and helped out (some light volunteering) while Reuben had his eyes opened anew. Was a hot and rather damp week (bit of rain) but nice to take a breather for me before my class started the following week. Reuben’s class ended that Saturday, we went with my friends Matt & Carmen whom work at Tracker to the beach – Reuben’s first experience of the Atlantic! (Editor’s note: He’d actually visited the Atlantic ocean once before.) *Joannie’s note: He’d never set foot in the Atlantic and it was the Chesapeake Bay…

Sunday I drove Reuben to the Philly airport (so much fun navigating traffic on the East Coast..) as his time was up, and work in Seattle was calling him back. I started my class at Tracker that afternoon (the 12th of Aug), and for the next week was immersed in Philosophy that didn’t really seem like Philosophy (very little sitting and no debating – intense learning). A whole post will have to be dedicated to my Philosophy class, but for now, it blows any book or college class I’ve ever had contact with out of this world. Upon the end of class I stayed on unplanned for the next program, a 100-person Vision Quest, which was not a Tracker class but a branch program called Earth-Heart run at the Tracker camp. Tom used to run Vision Quests along with his many other classes and then passed the tools and responsibility to then-student Malcolm Ringwalt, who founded Earth-Heart and has been running Quests and other similar courses ever since. Malcolm is the cool calm water to Tom’s intense inferno fire in the realm of teaching.  Malcolm is also Tom’s right hand man in all the Philosophy courses, which is how I found out about and then came to the decision to stay on for the 100-person quest! A 10-day class that opened my eyes and brought my entire life into context; an entire post will soon be written just about my quest – but for now, you’ll just have believe me when I say that it is one of the most powerful things anyone could ever do for themselves.

I met 3 wonderful ladies during the quest that I have become intensely close friends with. For now I’ll refer to them as my ‘element sisters’ and will expand on the events that brought us together in (you guessed it..) another post. Upon the last day, one of my element sisters who lives in Quebec, had a ride all lined up to meet her husband at the border but it fell through. So many other people were needing rides to the north that I offered her the use of my car (and I) so that she wouldn’t have to suffer a bus ride. So we packed up and headed north on Tuesday the 28th of Aug. I had a wonderful dinner with she and her husband, after which they put me up in a hotel for the night (because my passport is expired I couldn’t go to their place in Canada (sigh)). The next morning bright and early I headed back south to visit the family on the eastern shore of Maryland before going even further south back to the Farm to pick up River and have some more time with my family. I was also able to see amazing friend Amy in NJ as I drove through, which was a nice surprise as she had been out of town. I stayed two nights in Ocean City, Maryland; saw some family and the Phillips; slept a few hours in Arlington with another of my aunt & her family; and then finally pulled back into Madisonville, TN, on September 1st.

Originally I planned to stay for 4 or 5 days, then head west with a stop through Colorado to visit some friends. With everyone being back in school it was hard to get quality time with my siblings and friends so the time was being stretched. I also was invited to Alabama to visit a very interesting lady’s farm. One of my elemental sisters told me to contact Mrs. Colin and when I did I was invited down to meet her horses. Saturday afternoon while I was in Knoxville with Jeremy (brother #3) and Lorien I got the call that my Grammy Gail (Grandmother Roissier – Mom’s mom and my last living grandparent) had died suddenly. I had just seen Grammy Gail over the Holidays along with her Dachshund Rosie (originally Mom’s dog) when they flew – as in just the two of them – to Alaska to visit River and I and my Aunt Suzi in Bethel. A little shocked and very saddened, I decided to keep my appointment with Mrs. Colin for Sunday morning and then work out the route west. My visit to Alabama was quite nice and I was invited back to meet Mr. Colin on Tuesday morning (yup, another post). I cancelled all my plans with the friends in Colorado, River and I headed west to Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday the 11th  in the afternoon after my Alabama stop.

The service for my Grandmother was on Friday and I had a late start on my roughly 1900 mile drive west, so I knuckled down and watched the state lines pass us by. More sleeping in the car, more eating out of the cooler (I actually never ate anything but what I had with me for the those two and half days). I arrived in Sun City, Arizona (outside of Phoenix) late Thursday, and was able to be there for my aunts and attend my late Grandmother’s service.

* I’ll post some more related info to my Grandmother on my Mom’s page on the blog.

Sunday the 16th, River and I, along with Rosie and Aunt Suzi, headed north. Reuben and I decided to take Rosie in (because he is cool like that), and my Aunt Suzi didn’t have a flight set so I mentioned that she could always ride with me to Seattle and then catch a plan there to Bethel, AK if she would like. And that, folks, is how I scored a super nice hotel in Las Vegas! Was a really nice break and got to see some of Sin City. From there it was straight north through the high Nevada desert until Idaho. I drove through the night and we arrived in smoky Seattle (there are wildfires in the East and the smoke tends to accumulate in the greater Seattle area) Tuesday morning, the 18th of September. Suzi’s flight left on Wednesday afternoon, giving her a chance to rest and for us to hang out a little bit.

Damn, just giving a quick overview with no pictures is freaking long! The pictures for the various adventures will be forth coming along with the ‘other’ posts. I just wanted to give a overview of ‘my summer insanity’.

Note, that my poor Black Dragon has driven this summer excursion alone.. 9497 miles (or if you include the not so little side routes over 10,000 miles!!!) We had the breaks done and fluids changed before we left Seattle, it got a little work done in TN and some fluid type tune ups along the way. Otherwise minus some puffing it drove amazing J

Rosie is settling in well, River is glad to be bug free and Reuben is to put in a friend’s term ‘over the moon’ to have me back.

I’m tired, and basically just being lazy for the next little bit. Something my bills don’t agree with but I seem to really need.


Road Trip to Oregon Part 1. The Coast

My great friends from Anchorage Alaska, Kathy & Dave G. whom I stayed with earlier this year till moving to Seattle, invited Reuben and I to road trip with them to Oregon. I of course accepted, and told Reuben he was welcome to come along but River (she goes everywhere) and I were going. Reuben was able to take some time off work and join in.
The plan was: Kathy and Dave, being the super champs they are, would pick us up in Seattle with their rent-a-car, drive through to the coast of Oregon to a place in Cannon Beach where we would meet up with a few family members (Kathy & Dave’s) to enjoy the beach life for two nights and then head into to Portland. The crew consisted of: Dave’s mom, Kathy’s brother and his two adult girls and grandson, and the boyfriend of the younger daughter. There was also a little Yorkie named Milo to spice things up. No one had to sleep on the floor, but we were living in close quarters. The lack of personal space and quiet was totally made up by having a beach front room.

It may have rained just about the entire two days we were there, but a great time was still had. This is our view from the hotel as we cruised down the beach:

In Cannon Beach Oregon, we have the semi-famous “Haystack Rock,” which is a monolith that the area boasts about. I will concur that it is a very pretty ‘monolith.’ Reuben, River and I walked the beach during scattered rain showers and photo snapped as the wind and rain allowed.

Run-off streams and creeks made little rivers across the beach down into the ocean. The dark and light sand made impressive designs along the way.

River had a blast romping about and exploring the beach. She wasn’t phased by the wind and rain and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I plan to go into more detail and put more photos of River on her blog in a few days. Below you can get an idea of fun she had from the expression on her face I captured here:

The beach had very little debris and shells scattered about. More rocks than I am used to from the East Coast beaches around the Mason Dixon line and below, but no less striking.
A driftwood log with an unknown story of its journey:

Closeup of the wave chewed driftwood:

The wind would really blow at times and with the random rain showers it was a little cold – not just wet. Reuben forgot his hat and improvised with his scarf. According to him, it worked very well and he is a genius for doing it. Personally it was very humorous and gave me all kinds of awful ideas for bad names to call him by. It also did something strange to his hair and resulted in me cringing at every glance…

A pillar of rock as we approached the Haystack (there were many rock formations around Haystack itself):

The Haystack Rock. Reuben really wanted to climb it… but as I pointed out over and over the signs posted said no and the fellow beach combers would make it a costly mistake by calling it in… In the end it seem that the fact of his shoes being too slick on the sharp rocks was the tie breaker and not the prying eyes of the public. My suggestion was to explore when the rain kept the voyeurs away.

*click on photo to see full size*                                                                                                                                    Low rain clouds rolling in, woodsmoke shrouding the hills, rays of sun breaking through the clouds momentarily to highlight the sea mist. I could have stared forever.

The hills got quite a bit of rain during our stay. Flooding in nearby areas. But everyone had a good time.

Sea Cave at the base of Haystack, I would have loved to get closer but I have doubts that the camera would have survived:

Haystack, as close as I could get and still get the whole thing in the frame:

An outcrop of the rock. Many different types of sea birds were darting around. It seems this is prime nesting ground for them:

Rocky Beach. I love the light in the picture!

Rocks among the waves:

Sea Moss? Sea Weed? Whatever it is, I thought it was very pretty:

Sunlight on the rocks. They were a little slippery and I laughed at Reuben who did some interesting hopping around but managed to not fall into the water. River was doing just fine until a wave caught her by surprise and swept her right off! She shuffled back up the beach looking very rat-ish and not that thrilled with her predicament.

All bundled up against the weather! I of course look like I would rather not be posing. Reuben and friends have come to call it my ‘Joannie face’, it seems to be a universal concept that people around me dub me with, unbeknownst to each other.

Reuben posing not much better for his turn. He looks slightly homeless with his bundled up efforts 🙂

A real Reuben smile!

And us together in front of Haystack! A nice passerby took it for us.

Against the wind! The walk back there was a pretty decent gale as the last of the sunlight vanished to give something to lean into. River looked ready for takeoff  the entire duration.

We had a great couple of days at the coast. A hot tub and sauna helped take the chill out of my bones and local restaurants supplied the seafood! I wish we could have had a few more days, but alas. It was a perfect getaway. We packed in the pouring rain and headed to Portland to finish out the adventure…

Rest of the trip to come! ~ Joannie

For the friends in my life

Some of my more recent posts talk about feeling alone, having a hard time relating to people and some not so steady friends drifting away. I wanted to correct any misunderstanding that some may feel and give due thanks where it should be said. I was already plotting this out in my head when a few more friends and people that I know have said or done some pretty freaking amazing things for me. So now this post is just overdue…

I’ve a lot of friends and family that have drifted out of my life, stopped wanting to be part of my life or just plain ignore me. But there are others who have really made life still worth it.

I know it’s easier for most people to not deal with the impossible of my reality and I don’t find fault in that, even if I feel personally hurt by the withdraw. I am sometimes impossible to be around, not very sociable, don’t accept help very well not to mention the years I’ve been stuck in a place of probably needing help so what help I do accept I fear some think it’s not noticed or that I am thankful. So it makes those who continually weather out my life all the more important to me.

Most of you know about Lorien and how her friendship has really kept me afloat. Her mother Barbara has also been irreplaceable. I’ve friends scattered all over who have supported me, called me, write to me and still help me in any way possible even though I am difficult. Amy has been a gods-send. The Phillips family just amazing. Quite a few Coyote Tracks and Tracker people have really stuck with me. Quite a few of my parents friends around the country are really amazing and helpful. Eileen and Vincent who have had me stay with them multiple times to name a few names. Friends in Tennessee and a few newer friends in Alaska and other states have really touched me. And then there are the people who started out as clients with horses and dogs who befriend me and are incredibly generous to me. Even my physical therapist decided I was worth knowing. Saying thank you never seems like quite enough. I probably couldn’t get all the names I should have written down for those who have done something for me over the years. The ones I feel humbled by are those who even after years of me still count me as someone important to them. Words are hard to come by.

And for my family, words are also hard to come by for many.

I have some great people around the world even when I feel most alone, I am thankful for you all.

This Year’s Thanksgiving

The Holiday months are incredibly hard for people who don’t have those important loved ones that make or break said Holidays. My family is no different in this area. Emotions run deep and feelings are very mixed from intense sadness and anger to indifference and a desire to remember ‘the good days’ or just run from everything. I know within myself I waiver from sadness and a desire to be left alone to wanting to do all of Mom’s favorite things to keep her impact alive. Obviously being away from the family means there isn’t much for me to do as Mom did so I tend to keep to myself. I have never been  much of festive person, Mom always said I was the family’s party pooper back when life was whole and the world made sense. I had a very different way of ‘being’ then most people and simply watching and listening was often more than enough for me. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself, I did and once I got out of my awkward stage of not wanting to be in social groups at all (I think most teens experience something of the sort at some point) I really enjoyed the special “Mom” traditions she had created. Even when everyone is having a good time and I am enjoying just being in the corner watching, a very large part of me is intensely sad. I’ve a feeling my dear Brothers (the first 3 anyway) have a similar situation. Even though in the moment is good, there is a hole that cannot be filled, much bigger than a mere puzzle piece missing but instead akin to chapters upon chapters in a novel taken out before being read and never have gone into print. If our lives were a book, no one would have published it, there is just not enough understanding in the world to fill in what has been ripped out. Everyday that has any kind of mark that is easily remembered is shadowed with times that should still be. People are very quick to say that we have to try to let ourselves have fun, to enjoy what we can. but what 99% of naive do-gooders that just hurt with their desperate words of no insight – have no concept of; the fact that we even still mark the day, the fact that Holiday dinner is still fucking cooked, the fact that we don’t burden others with our dark anguished thoughts and instead smile when we’d rather break all the china IS us doing the best we can to smile and celebrate. If I did what I felt like doing on those days, I would NOT answer the phone. I would NOT go to anyone’s place for dinner. I wouldn’t do anything but sit alone in the dark and try not to think at all. So even though I sit in the corner and hardly say anything to the group, I do go, I do smile and be polite and not tell others of my dark thoughts and painful memories. Its plain awful to.. well about 99% of the people for effort. But right now it’s all I can drag myself into.

This Thanksgiving I got invited out the Williams house in the Valley. I of course went. Showed up fashionably late due to someone spinning their car out of control on a bridge and blocking traffic. But River and I made it. Dave (Mr. Williams) has been a long time friend of Dad’s, the kids call him uncle Dave. His daughter Katie I’m friends with since moving to Anchorage. Ms. Williams, a friend of their family and their neighbors were all with us for dinner. I was pretty quiet an action I’m sure they weren’t fond of, but Katie knows me pretty well and didn’t expect anything but from me. In fact she was my partner in crime for sleeping on the couch instead of chit chatting and play board games I’ve never heard and really do see why they are called a game to begin with.. Now if Apples to Apples or a real game had been employed I probably could have stomached the incessant talking for a round. But as it was I watched the snow and played on my computer and napped. Very lazy anti social of me I know. All in all I enjoyed having dinner at the Williams. I can only hope that didn’t dislike having me over too much.The food was great and I got some leftovers.

It snowed quite a bit on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Driving back into Anchorage from the Valley the clouds had a break and the sky was making all sorts of amazing paintings with the light and color.

Christmas is much worse than Thanksgiving so I have a feeling my anti social ways will get worse. But I have agreed to go to a party as Stepanie’s date (we’ll make a cute couple for sure LOL) so I”l get out some.

My (belated) Birthday

In my last post of the dark inner workings of my mind I covered the year one mark of moving to Alaska. Since it was the end of September that means my next one would cover my Birthday. I have a real love – hate (mostly hate) relationship with my Birthday. I’ve lost quite a few very important animal friends on or around my Birthday. Including my first dog Maggie. Tends to put a damper on things. The year I turned 20  I was up north at college. Dad was at work on the Slope (Arctic Circle of Alaska), Mom was home with all the kids who were still in grade school (Jackie’s senior year). My Birthday that year fell on a Tuesday. Mom was planning on driving up, spending a few days with me on the weekend. We’d do dinner, movies, shop and have a blast. But the kids were very busy with school, some of the little kids were not doing particularly well that week, the older boys were giving her some teenage crap and she was majorly stressing over leaving them home with no one but Jackie and Jeremy in charge. I had tests I had to study for so I convinced her that we didn’t have to do something this year, that turning 20 really wasn’t that cool.  I would sadly be missing her 50th Birthday in November (but I would make up for it when I visited for Thanksgiving). Now 21… that would be a year we had to live it up. Besides she would be 51 a bit later and THAT was over the hill! Not 50! So the upcoming year we would make up for both events and go nuts. She was pretty emotional about missing my Birthday even though she had to admit it was probably for the best with the kids, and sent me this amazing care package and left  a few teary messages. I felt a little bad about convincing her to stay home after all..but we would make up for it next year we had already started planning. The thing is, we never got to 21 together. That year was our last Birthdays together. And we spent both of them apart due to something as stupid as school and schedules.

I spent my 21st Birthday scrubbing floors by hand with my BEST of the best friends – Lorien to keep me company in my grief. The rest of the family had gone to Maryland for the annual Fall visit and I had opted to stay and take care of the animals since I would be wallowing in my grief anyways.  I can’t say I remember much of that week. I didn’t trust myself to drink and I don’t think I slept. I just wanted to die. I had quite a few well-meaning friends promise me that they would take me out and cheer me up on my 21st Birthday no matter how much I protested in the early months after Mom died but by the time September had rolled around they promptly forgot those empty promises. I secretly  had hoped that at least one would remember..but only Lorien and my wonderful Brothers gave me gifts and insisted on making me smile (My extended family called and sent cards too). My 21st Birthday was just haunted memories, false pacts, bitter disappointments and forgotten words. I have never hated a day just because in such a way. I wanted to wipe away my very existence and never be born on that wretched day. My poor Father at a loss of how to console me simply wrote a check while trying to hold back his tears. One has never wanted a sappy card full of loving and touching words that only the best Mothers can write as badly I did that year. For if I had that would meant the whole didn’t end and I hadn’t brought such evil into our lives. But the reality is that I will never get another card on my Birthday beautifully written from my Mother.

My 22nd Birthday was spent in Bethel Alaska wandering the tundra alone. The trial had wrapped up a whopping 4 days  before and hardly a soul remember what year it was let lone what day. I got one present that year – an Irish Coffee from my uncle Thomas. (Lorien may have sent me a book too now that I think about it). I was in too much pain to really care. And certainly wasn’t going to hold it against everyone else, it wasn’t their fault that the dumb state decided the last week of September was the day to visit Hell.

I wish I could say I went crazy this year. But there just isn’t anything special about turning 23. Most of my friends didn’t even know when my Birthday was and the rest forgot. At war with myself on whether or not I should try to ignore it completely or smile and find something decent out of the damn day I waited till the last minute to tell people I wanted to go out for drinks (something low-key) which resulted in 3 great friends who came through. Ironically enough it wasn’t the friends who have known me for years or even like to go out a bunch. Stefanie, Emi and Katie (Williams) were my three heroes that weekend. Funny how the true friends always show up in the least expected ways. We had sushi, we had drinks and laughed. I was proud of myself for asking. I only got two phone calls aside from Lorien and my family to wish me a happy Birthday. Lorien thinks it’s because I give people a death glare should they even mention my Birthday to me (she is probably right) but I can’t say it gives me reason to think I should try to change things since it matters little to world in the end. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what the war I have with myself results in next year.

It feels like it’s rather dumb to have such a deep regret of how I spent my last Birthday without my Mother when she was still with us. But I can honestly say that eats me and I despise every memory of that 20th Birthday. I think it was because my Birthday meant the world to Mom. She has so much love for each of us Kids that our Birthdays meant the world to her. Funny what ends up mattering in the end.

I couldn’t bring myself to write about on my actual Birthday so I’m writing a belated post about it. And for the curious ones it’s September 30th.

I wrote this quote over the weekend and found a picture of myself that Lorien took the August before the trial and my ex ass hole broke up with me and I left for Alaska. That trip (the picture was taken in NY state in the Catskills MT’s) was the only time I felt okay since Mom died to this day. I wish I could hope and dream like I had begun again in those few weeks before returning to the mess in Tennessee. But life squashed that as it has so many other things for me. The words are mine and mine only. The picture is of me in August 2010.


~ J

I am what I am

Lately I have gotten the vibe that the way I am is not really liked by people (I’m sure part of it is just me..). Whether its work, friends, family, random people at the store or at the bar; I get asked ALL the time, ‘whats your problem’, ‘why the long face?’ (I don’t have a smile plastered to my face 24/7), ‘why here alone’ and all sorts of wonderful silly things. People at work think it’s odd that I don’t talk about myself. I sometimes will make myself say a random fact about my life just to ease the thought that I hate them and don’t want to talk to anyone. My clients think I’m great so my people skills aren’t that terrible (I hope). People at work say that I’m weird and different because I never talk about myself, I don’t gossip, I don’t give a shit about the latest drama or new finding about something that has nothing to do with me. I just listen. I don’t have an opinion on things outside of my job at work. Frankly it is none of my coworkers business what I think about things in my personal life. I just want to do my job to the best of my abilities. People at work confide in me all the time because they know I won’t repeat what they need to get off their chest nor pass judgement even if I completely disagree with everything they’ve said. I just don’t talk about myself. Why is that so freaking weird or bad?

With friends and family I can’t always roll it off. It hurts that people just want to tell me how I should do things differently. Whether it’s how I dress, how I interact with their friends who I probably wouldn’t spend time with unless it was for them, or how I need to change my thoughts on things.  I’ve worked hard to not pass judgement on anyone else. I’m not there by any means but I’ve gotten much better at not saying anything unless someone wants my opinion and even then I rarely give it.  Lately it seems like the entire world has something negative to say about me. I dress like a dyke. I have a social disorder. I’m too blunt. I don’t show any emotion on my face and therefore must be crazy…  I don’t try hard enough, I don’t want things bad enough… I get the weirdest shit. And frankly I think it’s shallow. I don’t pass judgement on the people I’ve decided I want to be around when they don’t want to hang out and pass me up over and over again for more outgoing and popular people. I don’t get pissed aloud and say how it really makes me feel when my family members only want to talk about ‘positive’ things in life, i.e don’t want to hear about the things really going on. I just try to make the best of it and find a an outlet for when it gets to me (that isn’t the person).

I’m alone except for my dog with where I’ve chosen to live. The few friends and family members who know me best are very far away. So when my mood is not acceptable for the friends I do have here and the ‘general public’ of clubs and bars I get even more introverted and find something else to do with myself. I read and watch TV that actually interests me. For example in the last 4 days I’ve read all 3 of Stieg Larsson’s novels and watched the movies (in the original Swedish language) on top of all the other books and movies I find (just bought 3 more books from the used bookstore today). I read online articles like cracked.com and random information. I write and draw. I by no means sit around and feel sorry for myself that I am an alien in my own world. I’ve decided to not worry about the fact that I don’t see anyone outside of work anymore. I’m sick, friends are sick, or their busy or I am not in a sociable mood. One of my goals for this year was to figure out how to be around people. I did great as long as I didn’t let too much of myself show through the mask I had painted on my face. I know how I need to behave to be accepted in most social contexts. Funny thing is now that I know, I’ve no desire to be fake. Even if that means being alone. I now know things that I didn’t, like I truly need to keep my mouth shut. But to pretend I’m someone who I am not isn’t worth being in a circle of people to me. My family who wants to will deal or understand. My friends who are worth going the distance for will also accept it or understand. And with the ones who don’t there is little I can do besides be polite and try to treat them the way I hope they want/need.

So many people want me to change this, or do that. The bottom line is at the end of the day the only person who has to deal with me is myself. And whatever makes me feel the most okay and doesn’t hurt anything in the process is what I need to do. Something else I’ve come to terms with in the last couple of months is I am not like MOST people. I’ve had a lot of things in my life that the average person DOESN’T. Which means I won’t ever be like most people (even the odd ones out I’m different from). I don’t have the same ideals that most people have. Having a ‘career’ is not that important to me (shocker I know..) but since I don’t want a house, kids or the ‘American dream’ it’s truly okay. Same goes for boyfriends and my love life. For some reason many ‘do gooders’ like to focus on how I shouldn’t let my past keep me from being alone. I tend to laugh till I cry that this what they’ve decided is the most important thing for me to focus on..realtionship therapy so that I can date… I’m more interested in helping my family, bettering myself (with skills not people), working and earning traveling money and things that I DO have control over. If I find someone I like, great (if their in the same state that is), if not, I’ve got tons of things on my plate. Nit picking at silly things like this tends to drive me nuts (and makes me stop talking to them).

I’ve been listening to this song lately (a favorite from a while ago), even put the lyrics on my Facebook status. It’s actually called ‘I am what I am’.  Anyway to steal a few lines from it;

“Stop trying to change me
I am what I am
No I don’t need you to save me
I am what I am
I don’t want you to show me (I don’t need you to show me…)
Because I stand where I stand
I just need you to know me
Just know who I am”

And what it means to me is;

I’ll change myself. No one else.

No one can save me, I’ve saved myself already and will continue to do so.

I am what I am, life has made me this way. I’ve become what I am by how I dealt with things that I had no control over. I’ve made peace with that. Why can’t you?

The best thing you could do is to know me and understand. I judge myself in a way that you never could. What I really need is your love and support, not what I am doing wrong and where I have failed.

Because I am what I am.


I didn’t ask for things to be the way they are. I didn’t ask to be put through the things I have. I didn’t ask to become the person I am. But here I am and doing the best I can. Which for most isn’t good enough and certainly not what they want for me. But I am what I am.