Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pink Toolboxes and Pooping Reindeer

It’s nice to have a good report about Christmas!  Once again, this year I had fun!

Christmas Eve silliness

I think widow Christmases require a strange dance of managing expectations that it’s never gonna be like it used to be, but also planning to have a good time so that you don’t ruin it for everyone else.  That was my strategy this year, anyway, and it worked!

We started our morning the way we have at my parent’s house since I was a kid:  with birthday cake for Jesus (we sing Happy Birthday, as well).  This year Ellie and I didn’t even fight over who got to blow out the candle. 

As we were finishing up the last lines of the song, my brother called from Afghanistan.  We decided to try to Skype, so after about 15 tries, we had had about a 30 minute conversation.  It was great fun.   He’s clean-shaven again, and looked more like his normal self (not the Hairy McShaggerson that he had been at Thanksgiving).  He is hoping to return soon, so we’re all so excited!

Next, we opened presents.

My favorite present:  I got tools, but in a girly, pink toolbox.  Yes, please!  I’m so stoked, and my dad obviously picked them because they’re Craftsman (that’s his tool brand of choice).

I also got hilarious stocking stuffers.  Not actually in a stocking, as mine is still nestled in it’s box (sigh. maybe someday), but piled on a table.  This was my favorite item:

What can I say?  We're classy.

Later we went to a movie, an old tradition that went away but has re-surfaced (and we were joined by my bestie), then got together with the rest of the family for the rest of the presents, dinner, and games (That sounds much more boring than the rip-roaring good time it was.  You should all be jealous of my family.  We’re really cool and really fun.). 

It was a good day.  I was surrounded by those I love, I only got sad a few times, I got cool, thoughtful gifts, I got to give fun presents, I laughed a lot, and, it’s over for one more year.  Phew.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Somehow, not because it was Sawan’s family tradition or mine, we ended up always putting a toothbrush in stockings and Easter baskets. 

For him, I always chose either purple or orange.  Those were his favorite colors.  The last one I bought for him did this really cool vibrate thing, without being a rotating toothbrush.  He thought it was about the coolest thing, ever. 

He always picked pink for me.  I finally had to tell him that my teeth were sensitive, and, even though pink is definitely my favorite color, it was more important that I have soft bristles.  Otherwise I couldn’t use it.

Today, I felt a little sad about the fact that I didn’t have a new pink toothbrush from my stocking, so I bought a new one for myself.  I picked a really cool one, with a spinning head.  I’m pretty stoked about it. 

As I used it tonight though, it made me remember a detail about Sawan that I totally had forgotten.  By tonight, the third night that he would have been using a new toothbrush from a Christmas stocking, he would already have had the bristles all smashed down and sort of…tangled.  I have no idea how he did this so quickly (or at all…I’ve never done that to a toothbrush).

These are the details that seem so weird to be losing.  I feel like it’s good that I don’t stress out about remembering every little thing.  But when I remember them it makes me feel sad that it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.  It’s part of the tug of war of grief, I suppose (the letting him go versus the holding him close). 

At the end of the day, my new toothbrush makes me happy.  Here’s to the little things.  Like new toothbrushes.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I didn't get his picture taken with Santa, but couldn't resist the hat...

As Arthur is one of my greatest comforts these days, I thought it only appropriate that he be the one to wish you a Merry Christmas from the Nail Household:

Oh Tidings of Comfort and Joy!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year,
Noel and Arthur

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The holidays and...Gibbs?

As a fresh widow, I think my very best friend was my TV in my bedroom.  Who am I kidding?  It’s still my bestie.  It’s my companion when I eat (yep.  I have salt and pepper on my nightstand…I figured…own it.), when I go to sleep, when I exercise, when I’m afraid, it helps me to get my mind on something else when I need to.  I logically can think of lots of reasons that this is unhealthy.  I don’t care about any of them.

This time of year, all the shows that I program on my DVR quit airing new episodes.  They take a hiatus for the holidays, assuming that their audience will be too busy going to holiday parties and being with their families.  I am busier with those things this time of year but I still need distraction on a regular basis (so I’m currently taking suggestions for old shows that are in syndication to start watching).

As I was cruising around looking for something to distract me today, though, I saw one of the very first episodes that I ever watched of what has become my favorite TV show…NCIS.  Let me tell you how the love affair began.

I had been widowed for only a few weeks.  I was on an airplane coming back to the states from a London visit with my sister and her family, and the movie choices were lame, but there was a TV show…I watched all of the offered episodes of NCIS and NCIS: LA.  When I came home (right after Thanksgiving), I caught a few episodes on “on demand” and then began the USA network’s marathons that they have frequently on the weekends.  I think that Gibbs, Abby, Tony and McGee helped me survive my first holiday season as a widow.  With sleep being a distant memory, I could catch up on old episodes of NCIS.

The characters are great, the writing is good, and there’s always an episode on.  When I tell people that I watch it, they always say, “Oh, my dad watches that.”  So I joke that I like “old man TV.”  But, the reality is that old men must have good taste. 

It seems silly to be so thankful for something inanimate like that, but I am, and this time of year I feel especially warm and nostalgic toward the little NCIS family that helped me through.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Home Stretch

Someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow…

I used to love that song.  Now it makes the bile rise in the back of my throat.  We’ll never all be together again, at least not on earth. 

I’m doing my best to negotiate the landmines of this season.  I’m trying to find my new normal.  Christmas was always something that I loved.  I loved to decorate.  I can’t stand to see my decorations that Sawan and I packed and then vacuumed up the needles the last time.  I can’t even open the box.  The idea of my stocking next to his just seems right, and since his won’t be coming out, then mine can stay in there, too.  It’s all just…nauseating.

So this year I decorated, slightly, with new stuff.  My nephew sold Christmas wreaths for Cub Scouts this year, and they had an option to buy a tiny little pine tree, that came with a string of lights and ornaments.  I bought that.  I have turned the lights on twice (and once was to take a picture for the blog).  I hung up a black and white vintage poster of a Christmas tree, and I got out my table linens and dishtowels that had a Christmas theme to them, because they were in a drawer and not in my Christmas box.  That was the best that I could do.  After I put the stuff out I was so depressed about it that I promptly drank too much wine and spent the next day throwing my guts up.  

The tiny live pine tree
 I have, so far, only had to leave one store because of the song playing (an improvement from last year).  It was the theme from “The Year Without a Santa Clause,” the one about the Heat Miser.  Sawan loved that movie, that song.  I didn’t see it until I was an adult, until we were together, and I loved the song, but didn’t care for the movie, as it offended my feminist sensibilities, and he teased me that I ruined everything.  His actual favorite Christmas movie, though, if you asked him, was Die Hard.  Oh, I miss him.

The vintage tree poster
I’m trying to be gentle with myself.  To not beat myself up.  To say, “Yes” as much as I can.  “Need to have Starbucks today?  Twice?”  “Need to be in your jammies today by 3:30?”  “Need to have popcorn for dinner three times last week?”  The answer to all of these in December is “Yes.”

Ok, six more days to go.  I can do this.  We’re in the home stretch now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Care Package for my Favorite Soldier

In my family, we draw names for Christmas.  Rather than by individual, we do it by “unit,” meaning, my parents are a “unit”, and each of the four original “Hoggatt” kids are a “unit”, regardless of how many people are in their family now.   We set one budget, so if you get my younger sister or myself, it’s pretty easy, if you have to spread the same budget over a whole family, you have to get way more creative.  It’s lots of fun.

This year, I got what we affectionately call “The Mini Hoggatts,” my brother’s family of four.  When I read what name I got, I did a fist pump.  “Yes!”  But, then I realized that I’m not really sure who I wouldn’t have been stoked about buying for.  I love to buy presents.  Confession:  I slightly cheated.  I had a family to buy for that is currently state side, and then a soldier in Afghanistan.  As to what I counted to come out of my “budget” from my soldier’s care package: I counted what was his actual gift, the football.  As long as I was mailing a football all the way to Afghanistan, I thought I would send some other stuff, too.

I thought you guys might like to know what some of the stuff was that the boys over there like to have. 

I sent a little tree.  Ellie and I found a little skirt, a tiny star, and mini ornaments.  We thought it would make his room look festive.

Candy and treats.  He always shares, so I sent lots of “shareable” stuff.  There’s regular and mint M&Ms (we call them “yum yums” because that’s what Jake, Gabe’s 5 year old, calls them), Dots, Tic Tacs, gum, Sours, and Mint Nougat, my favorite. (Not pictured:  Christmas Oreos from my mom, Coffee for the Keurig machine that another friend sent, plus flavored creamer, microwave popcorn, both regular and cheese flavored, and individual water bottle sized drink mixes and maybe other stuff that I forgot but since it wasn't in the photo I don't remember...)

Books.  Gabe was on a small base so they didn’t have the normal library of books that some of the bigger bases have.  He reads them and then passes them on and they all share.  The same is true of magazines, but for some reason my magazine photo wouldn’t upload to the blog.  I sent Men’s Health, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Bicycling, and 5280 (the local Denver Magazine).

The football.  For them to play around with if they get bored.

Flat rate boxes from the post office.  They have a weight limit but it’s pretty high, and I’m not sure what it is.  It’s $12.95 to mail one, and we could send ours to an “APO” or Army Post Office, then the Army sends it overseas, so it counted as a domestic package, sort-of, but we still had to fill out a customs form, which is a pain in the hiney. 

Then I dreaded going to the post office, but when I got there, I didn’t even have to wait in line and the woman who helped me spoke English fluently and was extremely cheerful and the whole post office experience took only about 5 minutes, so it was definitely preferable to going to the dentist, and that’s not what I usually say!

One more photo, of my soldier.  I'm pretty proud of him.  Thanks for defending my freedom.  Merry Christmas, Bubba.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Your parents named you what?

It hadn’t happened in awhile.

I was at a Christmas party, flying solo as usual.  There were those lame games that make a party fun.  Draw a name out of the basket, find the person whose name you have while you mingle and talk to them.  You’ll have to introduce them later with a detail that no one would have known about them.  I find my person.  Introduce myself. 

My own name is alliterative.  I have four letters in my first and last name, and they also end in the same letter.  Plus, added together, my friends like to point out that they sound like a stripper name (and that’s the PG version).

When I introduced myself, the woman immediately chuckled and said, “That’s not your real name is it, I mean, did you change it?”  I told her it was my married name, that my parents hadn’t done that to me.  I hadn’t thought through my response; it was just what came out.  I didn’t think about the fact that I was speeding down the road to an uncomfortable conversation.  Her next question…”And where’s your husband?”

Ah, the awkward moment.  Crap.  “Well, I’m widowed.”  Now I’ve made you uncomfortable.  It’s made me feel weird.  I just want to run.  I hate parties like this anyway. 

I will say that the more it happens, the better I am at dealing with it, and it doesn’t devastate me to the degree that it used to.  Plus, I think I’m getting better at putting people at ease with it.  But it’s still no fun, and I’m ready for my stretch of holiday stuff to be over.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Muppet Movie

I grew up with the Muppets.  Muppet Babies was my Saturday morning favorite, and I saw all of the movies (I think I must be slightly too young for the Muppet Show, because I don’t remember watching that).  I think they were PTA movies, remember those?  Did they do those in your town?  Somehow the PTA got some sort of deal with a particular movie theater and they would show movies for like 50 cents on Saturday afternoons during the summer. 

Anyway, when they started showing previews for the new Muppet movie, I wanted to see it so bad.  I also didn’t want to be the creepy adult that was there without a kid.  So I brought it up to my nephews that live here in town.  They’re seven and nine.  I was completely shocked at their response.  It was like, “No way, Aunt Noey, I think it looks so dumb.  I’m way to cool for that.”  Really?  The Muppets?  Dumb?  You don’t want to go to the movie?  Even if it looks slightly dumb, but someone else is paying?  And there’s popcorn there?  Seriously?  And the answer seemed to keep being not “No,” but “Hell, No.”  Ok, not really, they don’t talk that way, but that was the attitude.

Luckily, just as it was coming out, my niece and nephew came into town from Montana.  My younger sister and I offered to take them.  They were stoked about it.  At 2 and a half and five, they’re more the right ages for it, anyway.  We decided to make double sure with the big boys; I didn’t want to hurt their feelings when they found out that I was taking their cousins to the movie.  Caid, the seven year old, said politely, “No thank you.” Bridger, the nine year old, said basically, “If I don’t have anything else that I could be doing, then I’ll go.”  Wow.  Thanks, B.  So it ended up that he went, after all.

Afterward, I asked him if he liked it and he said, “Well, it could have been better.”  I told him it was ok if he didn’t like the movie, but there was no way it could have been better.  It was just the exact amount of sad and sweet and cheese.  I completely loved it.

It was a bit of a comedy of errors, what with the two adults (that are not overly practiced at hanging out with kiddos) to three kids ratio, plus a service dog.  But we all made it in one piece, and they didn’t have too much sugar shock from the candy we fed them.

Jake, the five year old, was the perfect age for it.  His favorite part was when Miss Piggy banged her head on the desk.

Bridger didn’t have a favorite part.

Addy’s favorite part was:  “Um, I like Pink.”  I don’t think she quite got the question.

My favorite part was the chickens, but I won’t give away the joke.  I will say that I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. 

This was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time.  I highly recommend that you borrow a five year old and go see it.

This was the best one I one was stoked about getting their photo taken.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving: Staring it Down

I kept hoping that Thanksgiving would go for me the way that Christmas went last year (I braced myself for the worst, but when the day actually came around, it wasn’t that bad, in fact, I had fun).

So I did the normal amount of widow strategizing for this holiday.  I planned other things, things that were new and different that I had never done before, time with fun friends and then with my family later.

I knew Thanksgiving was going to be hard.  Thanksgiving was a special time for Sawan and I.  Having met in the late fall, our first Thanksgiving we were falling in love.  In fact, the first time that he told me he loved me was on Thanksgiving Day.  He always said that I told him first, but I didn’t (we would playfully argue about it).  I had been advised by one of my close guy friends to give him space.  To let him say it first even though I knew that I loved him.  So as I was clearing the table from the Thanksgiving feast, I looked across the room at him and just thought in my head “How can I keep this inside?  I am so in love with this guy.  How am I not gonna tell him?”  As I’m having these thoughts, but saying nothing out loud, he said, “Me, too, you know.”  I startled.  I’m like, “Umm, I didn’t say anything.”  He just smiled and said, “I know.”  About two hours later we said it for real, and he went first.

Later years, it was such a fun holiday for us because of his love for food.  Sometimes I would help him in the kitchen, sometimes not, but he would be cooking for days.  He would make his own stock for stuff.  He made a Pumpkin Crab Soup one time that we had a string of family emails about because he had accidentally called it “Pumpkin Cab” soup and it became a joke about Cinderella’s vehicle.  That (other than grilled cheese) was my favorite thing that he made.  He made it often this time of year.

So, this year, by the day before, I was such a wreck.  I decided that I was going to have Wednesday to cry.  I was just going to let myself cry all day if I needed to, and then on Thursday I was going to find a way to enjoy my friends and family.

It just didn’t quite turn out that way.  I guess I haven’t quite learned yet how to control grief.  I did the “Turkey Trot” in the morning, a fun-run with some girlfriends and their family.  That kept me from being home while the parade was on.  I had a great time.  But by the time I got to my parent’s house for round two, I was pretty much just a puddle on the couch.  I tried.  I used every ounce of power that I had.  Sometimes it’s just not enough.

Did I enjoy Thanksgiving this year?  No.  I survived it.  Am I thankful?  Heck yes.  I’m thankful for all of the friends that I got to be around.  One of my Merry Widows was down from Bozeman.  She was one of the ones that came and sat next to me on the couch at my parents’ house.  I’m thankful for my sisters.  I’m thankful for my mom and dad that are just so amazing about my grief.  I’m thankful for my sister-in-law that also traveled for the holiday, and for her kiddos, that keep me cheered up.  And, for the rest of the family that I didn’t interact with that day but are there for me emotionally anyway.  I'm thankful for my friends that I started my day with.  I'm thankful for the quick turn around I made on Friday, as well, that seems to be something that's getting better (it doesn't take as long to recover from a bad day).  I have so much to be thankful for.

I found Sawan's recipe for Pumpkin Crab Soup, with his handwritten notes next to it.  I haven't gotten the guts yet to make it, but I'm hoping to soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for..visits from kiddos

I’m enjoying a visit from my niece and nephew.  And sister in law.  (Hi Masha!  I didn’t forget you!)  They are helping to cheer me up in what is a very difficult few days.  As my dad put it today, with going to England the last two years (and flying on Thanksgiving Day) I’ve actually skipped this holiday the last two years, so this is my “last one to truly stare down.”

Noey:  I think I’ll go home and go to bed.
Mom:  But if you stay, I’ll make popcorn.
Addy (my two and a half year old neice):  I love popcorn.  It’s my favorite thing in the whole world.  Popcorn is my favorite and elephants are my favorite.

Ah, to be 2.  And not need logic.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful elliptical

I had in mind about a million of these little posts, but have just either been too busy or not really felt up to writing these days.

One of the main things that I’m thankful for lately?  My elliptical.

I was thinking that I wanted to quit smoking, and heard that you can “replace” endorphins that you get from smoking by exercise (I’m not sure if it’s true or not…I also was given the suggestion by multiple sources that when I was craving a cigarette I should drink a glass of water…you can hear the sarcasm in my voice when I say, “Oh, yeah, that was satisfying.”).  I had looked on Craigslist and other on-line sources, but no longer having a truck, I didn’t know how I was going to manage picking up exercise equipment.  It’s just not easy/convenient to arrange with a stranger, assuming it’s the perfect thing.

So, I posted as my Facebook status update that I needed a treadmill or elliptical for cheap and someone offered me their elliptical…for free.  Then someone else offered to pick it up, and I didn’t even have to go!  They showed up at my house with it, and all I had to do was help carry it up the stairs.

Now it sits in my bedroom, (that’s where my TV lives), I’ve used it 5 days a week since I got it six weeks ago, and haven’t hung laundry on it once.  After six weeks, Arthur has quit barking at it, and I have slowly gone from having to close him in the bathroom while I was using it, to just having the bedroom door shut, to making him leave the room but leaving the door open, to this today:

My view from the elliptical this morning:  Arthur sleeping on my bed while I did my workout (a vast improvement)
So, I’m not sure if it’s helped replace smoking endorphins, but it’s helped me to not gain the immediate 15lbs that I gained the last time that I quit smoking (in fact I’ve lost a little, but am definitely looking less fluffy these days, so I’m stoked!).  Either way…it’s a win, and I’m so thankful for this hunk-a-metal!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A gift I could not keep

Last night I watched Moonstruck.  It was silly and cute and ridiculous and funny.  And the main character is a widow. 

“I was raised that a girl gets married young. I didn't get married until I was twenty-eight. I met a man. I loved him. I married him. He wanted to have a baby right away. I said no. Then he got hit by a bus. No man. No baby. No nothing! I did not know that man was a gift I could not keep. I didn't know...”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankful for...SLEEP

I have struggled with sleep my whole adult life.  Actually, I think I may have struggled with it some as a kid, too, but I can definitely say with authority that when we came home from Ukraine when I was 17 my body just could never really readjust to the time change, and I’ve struggled on and off with insomnia ever sense. 

I go in and out of phases where sleep is a major issue. 

Most widows that you talk to say that sleep is an issue for them, too, and when you add to it that I already had sleep problems, I’ve just sort of been hosed.  I never get a night of un-interrupted sleep.  A good night is where I only wake up a couple of times and can go right back to sleep.  A good night is when I sleep with waking up a few times but the stretch lasts for 7 hours.  That’s when I feel like I can cope, but better is when I can get 8 (dream on, right?).  A normal night in the last two years is me laying in bed for about an hour or two trying to fall asleep, then finally going to sleep with the TV on, then waking up about 5 times, then having to get up five and a half or six hours after I’ve gone to sleep.

All that is just background for me saying what I’m especially thankful for today.

This week I went to bed one night and was asleep by nine, giving me nine hours sleep, and I only woke up 3 times, so I felt pretty refreshed the next day!  I’ve had a couple of 8-hour nights this week, so I’m feeling like a new woman!

I’m especially grateful for…sleep.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Arthur picks up the tab...

Yesterday, I had probably the most interesting of all of the encounters that I’ve had to date as a “handler” of a service dog. 

It was at a restaurant, and my bestie and I were going to see a friend of hers from college that I had heard lots about but had never actually met, who was in town, visiting from NYC.  We walk into the restaurant, a busy, hipster breakfast place where you wait for at least a half hour with standing-room-only.  It’s always craziness at Snooze (and their pineapple upside down pancakes are almost worth it).

We greet the friend, a very cute doctor here interviewing for a fellowship, and we’re standing by the bar, which they seat from the host stand (it’s not first-come first-served like a normal bar in a normal restaurant would be).    Just after we’re all introduced, and the greetings are all finished up, a couple is sat at the seats directly behind me at the bar.  The woman (who incidentally had a very bad bottle blonde dye job, just so you have a visual) says to me, “Can you move your dog?”  He had been standing slightly behind me, rather than at the left or in front of me as is standard with a service dog.  I apologize and move him around to the front.  She said to me, VERY  condescendingly, “No, I want you to move to a different area.  It’s just a little bit disgusting to have a dog next to me while I’m eating.”  I politely said, “No, I’m sorry, I won’t.  He’s a service dog…” to which then my companions took up the cause as well and the doctor tried to explain to her that Arthur’s mouth was much cleaner than hers anyway.  She would have none of it.  She had already decided that she hated us because we weren’t going to give her her way (and probably also because she was jealous of my better fake blonde hair), and she stomped over to tattle to the manager.   I look over my shoulder and the guy says, “He’s a service dog.  She has every right to be here.  I can’t make her move.”

Later, my new friend bought breakfast for the bad blonde, telling the waitress to let her know when she dropped off the check that “It had been taken care of.  By the DOG.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Let the Thankfulness begin!

Lots of my friends are doing “Thankfulness Month” either on their blogs or in their status updates on Facebook.  I think this is a great idea.

I won’t be posting daily, because, I can’t be bothered to be that thankful.  Just kidding!  I can’t be bothered to write that often.  And, I might write about other stuff in between.  But I will be focusing on an attitude and posture of thankfulness this month (especially since I seem to have skipped the last couple of years with my skipping the holiday in general).

I’m going to try to get creative here.  I’m probably going to write about the really obvious things at some point, but I also want to share some of the little things…

Today, I’m especially thankful for my programmable thermostat.   I just learned how to use it.  I finally have figured out how to have my house be slightly warmer than the 65 degrees that it was perpetually for the last couple of weeks. 

I have a day of respite.  I have been burning the candle at both ends lately, and I finally had a day where I could just sleep in.  I worked out and showered, then put my jammie-ish clothes back on and got back into bed to write and catch up on email.  That’s how Arthur and I have spent our day: snuggling in bed.  It’s been delightful.  Bliss-full.  And I haven’t had to go downstairs once to try to figure out how to change the stupid thermostat.  It’s pre-set (How cool is it that it has 4 different times of day that I can pre-set it to change the temp?).  Yeah, Baby.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A whole latte love...

I gave up smoking 2 days ago.  So far, I have not French kissed any smokers that I’ve passed on the street, even though it’s been a bit of a temptation for whatever little bit of smoke might still be in their lungs.

I feel slightly crazy.  Very on-edge.  Mostly encouraged.  And I feel like I smell better than average.  So, that’s good.

I have taken up lattes instead.

I bought myself the set-up to make them at home (a very small investment, it turned out, as I realized I could make the espresso shots in my Tassimo machine that I already had, and only needed the milk steamer/frother, which I bought with my Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon for $60).  I have gone through about a gallon of milk in two days.  This is quite impressive.  The problem is, I have to remember to eat.  I have to make rules for myself like a little kid:  “No, Noey, you can’t have any more lattes until you eat something real for dinner.”  But, this is also helpful in my plan for not gaining 20 lbs, like I did the last time I tried to quit smoking.

So far, so good.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The First Snow

So, I don’t know if many of you know this, but for me, the PTSD that I have shows up most prominently in my driving.  I’m not sure why.  I don’t know what driving has to do with any of the stuff that happened on August 24, 2009.  But for me, that’s where I have the most anxiety.  It’s hard for me to drive on a good day.  I avoid the highway like it’s my job.  I know all of the fastest routes that involve surface streets.  It requires much bravery for me to get from my house to, well, anywhere.

Driving on snow increases the anxiety about ten-fold.

Today was the first snow.

I watched the forecast last night with fear and trepidation.  I had appointments today that I did not want to cancel.  I felt the fear rising in my chest.  I got sweaty palms.  I got short of breath.  I forced myself to worry about it later, to just go ahead and go to sleep, to remember that sometimes it's not as bad as they say it’s going to be.   I’ll just get up early enough to give myself plenty of time to get there and be fine.

When I woke up this morning I looked out the window and it was definitely snowy.  Aw, shucks.  But, I had a little chat with myself.  I reminded myself that I learned to drive on snow pack.  I took my first driving test on snow pack (I didn’t pass, but that’s beside the point).  I grew up in Montana, for the love, I can do this.

I was bummed that there was no snow to shovel on my front walk.  This being the first snow, I was looking forward to shoveling my sidewalks for the first time.  I love shoveling snow.

I went out and scraped off my car, reminding myself fondly of the mornings that Sawan would get up and start my car and scrape it off for me.  He could be so sweet on the occasional day that he would get up early with me.

Then, I got in the car and made those snowy roads my bitch.  It was a better drive then it would have been on a regular day.  It may be that the roads just weren’t that bad.  It may be that I had great music.  It may be that the snow was just so beautiful that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.  It may be that my skinny jeans fit me for the first time in a long time and I felt fabulous.  It may be that I’m just in a better place then I’ve been in a long time and I’m honestly getting better.  Whatever it was, I’ll take it.  Bring it on.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ahh, Fall

I’m loving fall.

I don’t remember being such a fall girl before.  But this year, I just love it.  I think I’ve always hated fall because it means that winter is coming.  And I hate winter.

This year, though, I’m just totally enjoying it.  I’m loving the crispness in the air.  I guess my palette has changed, as well, because where I used to not really like the spices that one associates with fall, these days I just can’t get enough. 

The colors are particularly beautiful, this year, too.  And who can resist the crunch of the leaves under their feet?  I’m enjoying the chilliness of the evenings.  I enjoy being just a little cold when I go to bed, so that I need an extra blanket and Arthur to snuggle up nice and close.  And, once it gets cold enough, he’ll actually do it, too, so I love that!

I love jackets.  I love Ugg boots.  Both have come out in the last couple of weeks (Including my favorite leather bomber jacket that I was too fluffy to wear last year but this year is a perfect fit again.  The no sugar diet is doing the trick!).  It’s delightful.

Had to post a photo of the leather jacket...
Welcome, fall.  Stay as long as you can.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Milestone

I was married for 2 years, 7 weeks and 5 days.  Having always been someone ruled by the calendar, I knew that the date was approaching, sometime in October, when I would be a widow longer than I was married.  I had forced myself not to count. 

I thought that it would feel devastating to me.  That I would feel so sad, that it would feel somehow similar to the first New Year’s Eve that I spent without him, where I felt this panic, knowing that this was the end of the year that he was still alive in. 

For some reason, on Wednesday, I couldn’t resist.  I was looking at a calendar for another reason, and I just counted it out.  I had passed it already.  Phew. 

I felt so free.

For some reason, I feel like “Ok, enough, Noel.  Stop looking back.  Look forward.  Turn your head.”

I miss him every day.  I love him still, and I think I always will.  This is not the life I would choose.  But, this is the life I got, and I have to live it, and learn to love life, and I think I’m starting to again. 

Friday, October 14, 2011


I remember having a conversation, a long, long time ago when I was a kid, with my Granny about smoking.  She had quit in the 80s, I think, when the doctor had made my Grandpa quit for health reasons.  But we were talking about why she would have even started in the first place, and she said, “You know, it was the best friend I ever had.”  I remember being so confused by that statement.

And now I smoke.  I totally get it.

I have “quit” twice.  Once, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer.  I thought, “Enough.”  So Sawan and I quit together.  Then, he and I broke up (for about a month one summer, but that’s a story for another post).  The idea of being without him was just too much for me.  So I started smoking again.

We quit again in March before he died.  I wanted to have a baby.  I didn’t want to be smoking for any part of my pregnancy.  I didn’t want to wait until I found out that I was pregnant to stop smoking, and put my baby at risk for even a few days.  I wanted to be getting my body in the healthiest shape I could pre-pregnancy, so I quit even though I hadn’t talked Sawan into actually getting pregnant yet.  He quit a week later.

When Sawan died, I hung on for about a month or so.  Then, it just got to be too much.  My reason for quitting (getting pregnant) was no longer an option for me.  Every time I found out that someone I was friends with was pregnant I had a cigarette, and I enjoyed it.  I thought, well, if I can’t do that, at least I can do this!  I enjoy smoking.  I know it’s supposed to be this shameful, horrible thing, but I’ve always liked smoking.  I wish that it was good for me.  I’ve loved it since the first time someone gave one to me.  It’s true, what Granny said.  It’s my BFF.

I’ve made all of the jokes.  “I’ve thought about not smoking anymore, but I’ve just decided, I’m not a quitter!”

But, I’m making choices these days.  I’ve decided to choose life, and cigarettes have always been this rebellious, non-life-choosing thing for me.  So I need to give up my best friend again.

Honestly, I’m a little bummed. 

But, I’m doing a pre-emptive strike.  I’ve started a major health kick with the way that I’m eating, so that I don’t substitute one addiction with another (namely, sugar), and by the time I quit I’ll (hopefully) be used to making good, healthy food choices.  I’ve started working out, so that 1) I can tell a difference in the way it feels in my lungs when I stop smoking and 2) I can substitute an adrenaline addiction for nicotine.  Worth a shot, right?  I plan to quit on the 26th (when I have an appointment to try hypnotherapy for quitting).

But, I’m scared.  I’ve never quit without Sawan before.  So, I feel nervous about that. 

Plus, I like smoking.  There are situations socially when I feel like I can’t handle it, so I just escape by going outside to smoke.  There are times with PTSD/anxiety where I feel like I can’t breathe, and with a cigarette it makes me take concentrated breaths and I feel like I can breathe again.  Giving this up also makes me nervous.

But, I’m tired of the way I smell.  I’m tired of feeling apologetic about it.  I’m tired of spending money on something that’s so bad for me.  I’m tired of the constant state of guilt that I feel when I see commercials on TV about COPD.  And, my Papa, who died the same day as Sawan, died of lung cancer.  I can hear his voice in my head, every time he would leave a voice mail for me, he’d tell me to put down that cigarette.

So I’m choosing.  I’m choosing to be brave.  I’m choosing life.  Here goes nothin’.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I cooked! (VERY easy recipe included)

I cooked dinner.
This is a big fat deal.

I didn’t have a gun to my head.  I wasn’t having people over that I was trying to impress, or at least give the impression that I eat like a normal person.

I just was craving the chicken tacos that I used to make, and, this is almost as remarkable as the fact that I cooked: as I was thinking about how good they sounded I realized that, without going to the store, I had all of the stuff at home to make them. I had grocery shopped a few weeks ago, and had had the foresight to think that this day was possibly coming, so I had planned for it.

Let me tell you why this is such a big deal.

Remember the spatula war?  Part of that was my being mad that all my stuff had disappeared and that his stuff had replaced it in my kitchen.  Part of the solution was for me to get my butt out of his kitchen.  I rarely cooked while we were married, and when I did, I felt like either the sous chef, or like I was using his stuff.  Other than the usual things married people fight about (finances and children), the kitchen was one of our main sources of conflict.  I got in trouble when I scratched one of his pots on the BOTTOM.  I got in trouble when one of the lids of the pots ended up with a dent in it.  I had seen it when I unloaded the dishwasher and knew he was going to be pissed, but had no idea how the dent had ended up there (and hadn’t been the one to load the dishwasher in the first place).  When he asked me about it later, I said, “I knew you were going to be mad at me about that!  I didn’t do anything to your stupid pot!”  But really, how can I complain about someone who took such good care of me that I never had to cook, or even do meal planning or go to the grocery store?  I had amazing gourmet food regularly. 

Then, he died, and now the only kitchen stuff I have is his.  Even though I’ve moved it twice, and everything is exactly where I put it the last time, I still feel like I’m not really welcome there.  Like they’re still his things.  He didn’t really like to share his good stuff. 

So, since I’ve been widowed, I’ve cooked about 4 times.  One of the times that I’m counting is a frozen pizza.  I’m not kidding.  I eat lots of Lean Cuisine.  I eat lots of Chipotle.  It’s just easier.  It’s easier than the pain of dealing with being in the kitchen.

But not today.   Today Rotel Chicken Tacos were worth more than the pain of using his stuff.   What’s weird is that this was my recipe, and something that I would make for the two of us often (We would laugh because he was not allowed to cook us Mexican food.  With parents from New Mexico my tastes are more toward the green chili, spicy side, his  were a little more gringo), and it’s so, so easy.  The hardest part is chopping tomatoes and whatever else is going to go on top.  But they were his knives I was using to chop.  It was his cutting board.  I was stirring with his spoon.  He had tried to teach me a trick once for cutting cherry tomatoes and I hadn’t listened.  I hadn’t paid attention because I thought he would always be there to cut them for me.  So now, it takes me forever to cut tomatoes.  At the end, I was exhausted (I think more emotionally, then anything else).  It took everything out of me.

But, they were delicious, and I was glad I did it.  A little at a time, I’m getting there.

Rotel Chicken Tacos
In a small crock-pot, place two chicken breasts and one can of Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chili.  Let cook all day on low, then shred the chicken.  Yep, that’s it.  They’re that easy.  (Best served as soft tacos, with pico de gallo, cheese and guacamole and whatever other taco toppings your little heart desires!)  Now place the back of your hand to your forehead and say dramatically, like Scarlet O'Hara,  “I slaved all day.”