I am holding my oldest child close in our bed while my husband sleeps just a foot away. Beeps smells like roses and their hair is damp; they are warm and soft and even let me put my arms around their little tummy. I hold them close and I tell them, we make a plan. On Friday I will take them to the new LGBTQ+ teen center in Hoquiam. Beeps is socially shy, at least IRL if not so much online (where they exhibit dry humor and a quick wit). I tell them they can tag along and I will make up a reason to be there. “Why?” my child asks. I say, truthfully, “to find out more about volunteering there.” And my kid sighs a little gladly and says, “oh,” and I can tell they are glad their mother is the type of mother to put time into such a venture.
My first project of the year in my studio was to craft a wheelchair cozy for a child who is very sick, who last I heard only has a few weeks to live. It’s not quite possible for me to wrap my mind around this, although I’ve been trying, but it is possible for me to make this cozy little bundle for this child, a hack that circulated online and involves sewing two cheerfully-lovely puffer coats together at the hem, and the installation of four locations for straps. And I find a little patch, the same as the child’s nickname, and I sew it on patiently today in the kitchen while I listen to my own children talk; Nels is learning coding from Ralph, working on Minecraft mod. My kids are like my cats – they want to be in the same room as me, so when I hand-sew anything I try to let them know and soon enough, there they are
It’s been incredibly cold but today we were blessed with sunshine and, in the evening, a stunningly large full moon on the rise. Last night just after midnight, while neighbors were still launching fireworks, the children and I wrapped up in blankets and spent a few moments on the back deck, marveling at the light from the moon and the passage of another year. My twentieth New Years’ Eve with Ralph; and sometimes time is spinning spinning spinning and my children aren’t yet grown but I can reach my hand out and touch this future, and I think to myself There is absolutely nothing to stop this time from spilling out, so I have to take that deep breath and feel the enormity of the moment.
The oldest child is upstairs drawing; my younger child joins me in bed for just a moment now, before rushing back to his coding work. He is cold as his computer is down in the very basement I toil in; cold AF so he’s cold and we have a standing agreement in the family that we can come to one another for warmth but no pranking anyone by laying ice-cold hands on the warm flesh of the other family member.
New Year 2017 was a quiet affair at our place. I have a steady Saturday volunteer gig that I don’t miss for anything. Now yeah, there’s a lot of Saturday nights I don’t want to go. I want to stay home with my lovely husband and children. But I go, unless I’m in the hospital or called out of town.
So tonight I got dressed up a little, a hooded dress of my own making, a little eyeliner, a deep red lippie. The closer my hair is wrapped up and the larger my hoop earrings, the more secure I feel!
I had to pick a friend up. I’m off through the streets of Aberdeen, which are innately familiar. I’m a night person but New Year’s Eve others are obliged to join me. Lights in restaurants and taverns; a few souls out on the street but it’s cold, snow mixed in with the rain. I know people are gearing up to carouse, or maybe they’ve already started. A friend of mine is nearly run off the road by a drunk driver.
I’m to a little corner building, flipping on lights while another friend brews the coffee. A vigil, here for those who observe life’s triumphs and travails without the use of drugs or alcohol.
As much as I love the holidays, I’ve come to know that they are a hard time for many people. I figure since I’ve been okay for holidays, I love them in fact, I can be there for others. Maybe one day my time will come, and it won’t be so easy.
The coffee: hot, dark. Delicious. I have half a cup. Alongside my quart jar of water. I still get the moonshine jokes. I’ve never had a drop of moonshine in my life!
I welcome a man who is new to the area. He’s just moved, and he’s exhausted. I get to talk with a woman I see now and then. I’m thinking of a man I knew. I can see him crystal clear. He was older. He was on oxygen. He wasn’t healthy. I can’t remember his name but I remember his face. He would come in from the beach to sit with us. I grew to a swift affection. Where is he now? His name will come to me. Is he still with us? Is he sick? Is he well?
So many come and go. I can’t keep up with them all; not just the sea of faces, smiles, and handshakes here in this room – but the friends who wish me well, the little letters and emails and text messages, those who write me and ask for advice or who thank me or who call on me for some reason or another. I used to be able to grasp them all but there are too many. So I get to settle for telling people Thank you, and trying to comfort and be kind, and to show my appreciation.
Home now, and I have a hot slice of deep dish pizza. We sit down. After my shower, I am still not feeling well. My husband holds my feet in his hand, paints my toenails; holds my hands and paints each fingernail too. I am still feeling ill. I lean up against him. He smells wonderful; like cedar and warmth. He has always smelled wonderful to me.
At midnight, the fireworks, more than I figured. I bump up the music: INXS’ “Need You Tonight”. I’m on the couch in my blanket and I watch Ralph and Nels don coats and go outside to watch the pyrotechnics; I lean back and feel that mixture of sadness and joy. I remember where I was the day we heard Michael Hutchence had died by suicide. I was at a house party and someone played a ballad and for a moment we were quiet, drinks in hand doing nothing to keep us from reflecting on yet another loss.
And tonight, another year sober and another year deepening my practice. This year brought me more Buddhist practices; I am still astonished as I sink deeper into them. Tonight, my oldest child is sketching at the table, on a tablet. My youngest is in his underwear, gaming on the couch. He is only a few inches shorter than I, now.
This year life kept crashing along, despite everything.
New Years Eve on the West Coast! Tonight – like last year and years before – I honored my commitment to help provide a safe place for those seeking a clean and sober environs. We had a small gathering but it was not made any less cheerful for being an intimate crowd. A counter served up a bounty of holiday fare – fruit, and party mix, and fresh pizza, and hot coffee; candles flickered companionably in a darkened room. I got home at 11:30 and now – well – we’re moments until the New Year.
I’ve seen a lot of people online complaining about how horrid 2014 was – and “good riddance!” I think it is hard for many of us to be satisfied. We try to live in the past, or the future. Being in the moment and accepting what it brings can be difficult.
For me, 2014 happened fast! I guess according to some standards, it was a “bad” year. I had my first year without any living grandparents, I lost three beloved friends to death, an ex-beau committed suicide, I was ill several times with kidney problems, and I received a pre-cancerous report on a biopsy.
That said, it was a wonderful year and there were many blessings. My pain over family hardships loosened, and lessened. I stayed sober – and deepened my Buddhist and yoga practices.
Most importantly: I was able to walk this earth and breathe; which means I was able to learn and grow. And for this, I am very grateful.
Wishing you a wonderful New Year… may you learn to love yourself dearly and completely.
This last day of 2014 I was up for the sunrise – and got to see the last sunset alongside a dear friend, and with my children:
New Years’ Eve was a bit domestic, a bit low-key, but all the same had that sort of festivity to it. This morning I made coffee, read a bit, practiced yoga (I swear this is keeping this body from shriveling into some kind of creepy Henson-like puppet), and then got down to this cycle’s bill-paying (our bills are paid… food and gas the next nine days is going to be rough though!). About this time the kids got up and ventured out in the cold wind and rain, along the harbor, to walk the dog. When they got home they were more than happy to eat a hearty breakfast – fresh-baked scones, eggs over easy, and cocoa from scratch with Hogaboom homemade marshmallows. “You’ve outdone yourself, mom,” my daughter purrs as she lays the table. “Thank you, mama!” my son warmly joins in. Are they polite and loving children or were they just hungry AF after their weatherbeaten walk? Who knows, not I, but take it from me, hungry kids are more fun to feed.
Running out the door in the afternoon to secure flu shots. Of the three of us, Phoenix handles her injection with the most aplomb – arm as limp as a lovely bit of palm frond, eyes calm, face serene. My turn, I have to breathe meditatively and turn my face away since I am quite fearful of needles. And Nels? (I have permission to tell you that) he attempts gravitas but instead dissolves into a five-alarm fear-factor crying episode, including long, drawn out cries of, “Maaaaamaaaa!” which I frankly think alarm the pharmacy tech. He cries and cries and needs to be on my lap and I can feel his entire body tense. I buy him chocolate after and soon the whole thing is a distant memory.
Off to get Thai takeout – $10 for a spicy salad to share. Home and sewing up a new shirt for my son; Ralph arrives home from work, I kiss him Hello, and we are off to an engagement with friends, celebrating a life in sobriety. Home again; Ralph puts dinner together and I take a hot shower to chase away the cold in my bones. The four of us off to friends for New Years games, beverages, and watching the ball drop in Times Square and the fireworks dazzle in Seattle. A few more (very modest) IRL fireworks and then a (very careful) drive home, past revelers and those stumbling down the streets looking horrible – that odd energy NYE brings.
The last part of this year has been hard for me at times. Harder than for anyone else in the family, I think. It was challenging enough it knocked some distraction into me. Regardless, I did not stray from my faith tradition, from my responsibilities to family and friends, from my Recovery, and from my unshakable foundation of joy. I am celebrating my third consecutive sober New Year – and my sixteenth with Ralph! – and I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Friends and supporters are too many to name, here. I try to tell them “Thank you,” for every bit they contribute to my life, but I don’t always get the chance. May I take that time and take that moment, more often than not!
May your new year be one of growth, one of open-mindedness. May you learn to be there for yourself so that you do not have to abandon others – so you no longer speak with hatred, toss words carelessly, commit so-called “justified” harms against other sentient beings. May you find a few mentors you can be honest with – and whose advice you can take. May you be kind to your body, and not abuse or neglect it, or drive it into submission or form. May you learn Love and Tolerance for all peoples, including your own family and coworkers and community. May you spend a little less time on self-absorbed plans. May you learn from those who you find distasteful; may you come to love your enemies. May you find such joy in all you have that anything hard that comes along it’s like, “What can I learn? Who can I help?” and when good shit comes along it’s like, “Bonus!”
Thank you for being there for our 2013. I could not have made it without you.
This was the first New Year’s Eve I remember in my life, where I didn’t count down like everyone else usually does. I’d planned on, after our dinner guests left, taking a friend and my family to a Buddhist meditation at midnight. Instead I was sitting with these folks in the Emergency Room, waiting to visit a friend who’d been trucked in after a collapse. My kids, husband, and my girl H. played some kind of Twister knock-off on a carpet a few feet away. Next time I looked at my watch it was thirty-four minutes past midnight.
The fireworks from the hospital’s hill were lovely. It was cold. Nels had about three girlfriends by the time we left the parking lot. A social child. Also, earlier, a grouchy child who’d disrupted our earlier dinner a bit.
My friend at the hospital seems out of the woods. I am very grateful. I gave him my number as he’s staying overnight, and told him to call if I could bring him anything at all.
We had a good day today; the kids and I accompanied another family to adopt a kitty for little E. It was pretty choice, getting to visit with and pet the kitties.
Phoenix was a very kind little girl at the shelter, taking stock of each kitty and remembering their names and tempraments. There was another Phoenix working there as a volunteer, a teen boy. He and my daughter got along great, although I think like many he didn’t, at first, think a younger child could conduct themselves with aplomb at a kitty shelter.
E. and her father discuss adoption plans.
Raider. A favorite of J.’s. He was a handsome kitty. But E. was intent on adopting a lady kitty.
Here’s a kitty I like to call Noel, MY NEW BOYFRIEND. HE LOVED ME SO MUCH AND IMMEDIATELY CLIMBED IN MY ARMS right after I snapped this. He is the handsomest thing I have ever seen. Not convinced? Would you like a closeup?
I am going to get a tattoo of Noel and his likeness. His green-blue eyes are the inspiration of many sonnets. I’m sure he will be adopted out in no time and it just kills me.
E. + Nels + Noel. You can click through for like eighteen adorable pictures of them all looking at a “flashing light” they saw outside.
Nels reacts to something Noel said, probably something very suave and witty.
Panther may have trouble getting adopted.
Happy New Year. Anyone reading here with any regularity knows how grateful I am for my life. How blessed. I don’t mean “blessed” because so much good shit has happened to me or because God is super into me, I mean “blessed” because I’m very glad for the gifts I have. It is the gladness, the awareness, the awakenedness, when I have it, that is the gift.
Here’s Ralph taking a picture of me tonight just before tacos, because I wanted a new photo for Twitter. Thank you, husband, for taking a picture and making it of my ENORMOUS FACE.
Hace mucho, mucho frÃo.
Happy New Year. Goodbye 2010, hello 2011.