Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bathtub Therapy

I could write a sonnet to the bathtub.

My first apartment that I lived alone in had the mother of all bathtubs.  It was a claw foot number that I could stretch my 5’2” frame completely out in.  I think that’s when it started, my taking a bath every day. 

I always say that baths are my therapy.  Some days I come home from work and I can’t do anything else until I’ve soaked in the tub.  I won’t have eaten all day, but I can’t get to that until I just sit in the tub for a little while and let the warm water take all the aches out of my tired muscles.

I’ve become a connoisseur of bathtubs.  My tub at the condo was pretty great, an iron tub that held the heat really well, but the back was too steep so it wasn’t as comfortable as some to sit in.  The rental that I’ve been living in had a great tub actually, nice and big and old and iron, but it had been cheaply refinished too many times and the paint was chipping off the bottom so I had to always have a little talk with myself to not get grossed out about germs.  I’m staying at my Mom’s house right now, and her tub is ergonomically awesome.  Perfect angle at the back for delightful repose.  My only complaint would be that it’s not cast iron, so whatever it’s made of doesn’t hold in the heat for as long as I would like it to.

When I came home from work late last night, I just had to get in the tub.  I had a People Magazine, my tub reading material of choice, and got in her tub, and with the bubble bath and Epsom salts relaxed for a long time.  Aches and pains from standing all day and Sunday's tumble down the stairs: relieved.  Heartache from painfully hearing about being called Sawan’s “ex-wife,” rather than “widow”: just let it go in the warm water.  Stress over mortgages and closing dates: let all that wash away.  Leave it here.  It’s the best therapy I know.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What'd you do today? Oh, nothing.

Let me tell you about my Sunday.

I went to Adullam.  That’s recovering evangelical for church.  Then we went to lunch at Chipotle.  I decided to go even though I had so much to do because, hey, I gotta eat and lord knows there’s even fewer groceries in my house with a planned move tomorrow than there normally are.  I didn’t dilly-dally.  I came straight home. 

Side note:  I have an earwax problem.  My ears produce LOTS of earwax.  Occasionally this becomes a problem when some of it gets packed down and I become hard of hearing.  I had reached that point earlier this week, but they had given me special drops at the doctor the last time I was in to try to soften it and keep this problem contained.  So when it became an issue this week, I dutifully used my drops, but they got stuck behind the wax, and now I can hear even less, and can’t get the wax out, but I feel like I have water in my ear.  This creates all kinds of problems with communicating, I can neither hear nor tell how loud I’m talking.  It feels like I’m shouting.

So I come home from Chipotle and only have a few minutes to get some stuff done before they’re showing my rental at 3.  So I check Facebook, because, you know, priorities.  Then I start frantically making my bed and straightening up the house for the showing.  Then my bestie shows up with her friend J that I just met today.  I think they were here to help, since I had packing still to do, but with my showing and having to leave, we didn’t get around to it.  She just immediately started bossing me around about my earwax issue.

I’m freaking out about how much time I have before people are showing up to look at what a slob I am, Ingrid’s bossing me around about packing and earwax, and Nurse Ellie (my sister/roommate) gets roped into an attempt at earwax extraction with no otoscope (that’s my word for the day, it’s the thingy they stick in your ear to look at your ear canal), but rather a mini maglite (held in her mouth so she had both hands free) and a bobby pin.  Even though we got an awesome and disgusting extraction, I still can’t hear.

Then, in all of the confusion, the front door had been left open, and the screen door doesn’t latch.  (Have I mentioned that I can’t wait to move?)  So Arthur, the dog, decided that now would be a good time for him to make his escape.  He’s tired of earning his keep.  So Ingrid says “Oh, no!  Arthur just went out the front door.”  All four of us go running down the stairs, first J, then Ingrid, then Ellie, then me.  Except, I trip over the fourth step.  Our stairway is not a standard set, but rather 16 very steep stairs.  I was sure it was going to be dominoes.  I saw the afternoon flash before my eyes.  I thought we’d all end up in the ER and I was never going to get my packing done.  Somehow I managed to break my fall enough to only partially knock over Ellie, and she didn’t knock over Ingrid, and either her or J got out to get the escapee.  So, other than a huge bruise that goes from about my bra strap to my knee on my left side, it all worked out.  Not bad for a 12-foot tumble down the stairs, clearly I just need to work on my dismount.

Then I went to home depot during the showing, came home and packed and packed and packed even though my whole body hurts, the end.

And, J said that that was the most epic 10 minutes spent at anyone’s house.  Ever.  I sure know how to leave an impression.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gas Tanks and Grandfathers

I miss my Papa today.

I lost him the same day that I lost Sawan.  So, in some ways I feel like I only grieved him from the phone call in the morning, finding out that he died, until that evening at 7:45 when I found Sawan.  After that, the magnitude of grieving my husband surpassed the magnitude of grieving my grandfather.

But there have been a few times in this last year and a half that I’ve wished that I could talk to him.

A few years ago, he and I had a conversation about how angry he was the first time he paid more than ten cents a gallon for gas.  It made me think of him every time I hit the milestones with my tank, and I would often call him.  “Papa, I was just calling to tell you that it cost me more than $20 to fill up my tank, and it made me think of you.”  Then again, not long after, when I paid more than $30. 

I spent $45 this week.  I am lucky that I barely drive my car.  I live a block away from work, and so I sometimes go a couple of days without driving my car, and only have to fill it about every 3 weeks or sometimes once a month.  So I haven’t paid that much attention to gas prices.  I sucked air when I saw that it was well over $3/gallon and the whole tank was 45bucks.  I wanted to call him.  To commiserate together.  I think he would have said something snarky. That would have been fun.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Something’s just occurred to me.  When I got married to Sawan, I made these huge, lofty promises, the ones we all make, to love him, honor him, cherish him.  I promised to take care of him in sickness and health, for better or worse, till death do us part.  My death.  That’s what I was thinking when I promised all that stuff to him.  So naive.

I really promised him so much more by saying those words.  I didn’t know what I was vowing. It’s like I’ve finally looked at the vows with the widow glasses, too.  Everything is bigger with widow glasses.  Souls, love, pain.  Now I’m realizing the gravity of what I promised him.  I promised to grieve him.  What I thought I was promising is so small compared to what this is.  I didn’t know that by vowing those things I was signing on for this, for widowhood.  If I had a “do over” I’d still do it.  He was worth it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

List Maker

I’m a list maker.  I can’t explain it, but actually writing a list on paper, (not on a phone or a computer) and then using a pen to scratch off items is incredibly satisfying to me.  On days that I feel particularly overwhelmed, I’ve been known to add items that I do on a daily basis, just to make myself feel like I’ve already accomplished so much.  For instance:

Brush Teeth
Make Coffee
Put on Makeup (Including EYE LINER)
Take Photos for blog
Post Blog
Finish Packing Kitchen

Look how manageable my day looks!  I’ve already accomplished five of the seven things I needed to do today!

Anyway, I am very encouraged about my packing process.  On Saturday night I made a list of all of the rooms/closets left to pack, and there were eight.  I now have that down to four, and the bathroom can’t be done till the last day.  (I already have most of the non-essential stuff done in there.)  I don’t feel this overall sense of doom like I did before my list.  Phew.

I also want to say that I have had help, encouraging help, from friends and loved ones, that just make it even possible for me to do this stuff.  Because the moving is emotionally charged for me, and I don’t know where it’s going to come from (I’m going through the linen closet where there’s medicine and I need to throw stuff out and all the sudden I’m having to throw away all of Sawan’s breathe-right strips and old prescriptions.  That sucked.), it’s hard to motivate to do it by myself, and if there’s just someone else there next to me, or even in the next room, it feels manageable.  I’m just so thankful.

The Fella with the flower.
Daffodil?  Day lilly?
One more thing I’m thankful for?  Spring!  Day lilies have popped up in my backyard (at the rental, so there’s not much time left to enjoy them, but I’ll take it!).  At least, I thought that’s what I remembered them being from last year, but they look a lot like a daffodil to me.  I don’t so much have the green thumb…

So, now I can go mark "Post Blog" off my list for today!  Hip!  Hip!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Boogeyman

I’ve always been a little afraid of the IRS.  In my mind, they’re this ambiguous, shapeless monster that is always trying to trick you.  I don’t let them make me angry, I always say that taxes are the price that we pay to live in the society that we live in, but I feel a little wary of them.  Like they’re the sort-of scary villain in a child’s fairy tale.

When I first opened my business, I had a very embarrassing encounter with a tax guy.  I think he was from the city.  He came to my shop while I was with a client, and announced that I hadn’t been paying my taxes.  I had, in fact, been paying my taxes.  Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, I had hired an accountant to do this for me, and she would tell me what to do, and I would dutifully mail off checks.  Because I knew so little about the process, this felt like another whole language, that also had a super-secret code, and maybe a handshake.

Tax man:  I know you think you’ve been paying you’re taxes, but do you know about the super duper extra special purple xt39760000 tax?  Have you paid that one?

My armpits immediately drench my shirt.  My heart starts racing.  My throat goes dry. 

Me:  Um, I don’t know.  I don’t know what any of them are called.  I, um, just write checks.

After one phone call to the accountant, where she pulled out my file and deciphered code, it was all worked out.  The IRS had me under two different business names, and even though this was their error, by my estimation, I had to file something saying that I only had the one business, and then it was all good.

So today my mortgage guy informed me that the IRS shows me not having filed taxes for three years, and I didn’t freak out.  I know that I don’t speak their language with the super-secret code, but I also know that I have actually filed taxes and paid money just like I’m supposed to, so it will all work out eventually.  I just wish that it were a little easier (3 IRS phone calls, 114 cel phone minutes, numerous tax documents dug out that were already packed, death certificate reading, which I HATE) because this is seriously making me nervous about my closing date looming on the horizon.  Yikes.  Good thing I paid that purple xt tax.

Cramping my Style

I’m sick.  The kind of sick where you eat one soda cracker and it makes your tummy make those rumbly gross sounds for the next hour and a half.  Where you feel like it will help everything if you can just hold your breath, then let it out in one long sigh.  Where people offer you yummy treats that you usually love, “Cadbury mini egg?  Your favorite?” and you say “No, thanks.” And they say, “Whoa.  You must really be sick.”

So I’ve been on a strict diet of crackers and sprite.  I throw in the occasional coke, just to mix it up.  And I’m drinking lots of water, to stay hydrated.  It’s been three days, so I’m looking very svelte, which is a nice bonus.  If you have to feel like crap, at least you get to be skinny out of the deal.  I’m wondering how long this is going to last, though, I have a house to pack up, and it’s cramping my style.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I’m going through boxes of stuff in my room, trying to purge, get rid of stuff, make less stuff that I have to move to the next place. 

I find our vows that we wrote to each other.  Crap.  I shouldn’t read them, but it’s too late.  I go ahead and just have my cry.  I was trying to just get my closet done, dammit.

17 pairs of pants.  I had kept that many that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ever see again or not.  If it would remind me of him in a good way or a bad way.  Remember when we went to the stock show and I had on that pair of jeans?  Remember how you would always tell me how good I looked in that particular pair?  Remember the morning that you were actually awake and I had on my tall boots and my black and white striped shirt and you started singing to me “Yo,ho, yo, ho, a pirate’s life for me.”  They’re just clothes.  But it’s emotionally charged.

I slog through it.

I just steeled myself for 45 minutes in the basement.  That’s where all his stuff is.  Some of it needs to be re-packed for storage in the new place.  Some of it wasn’t packed right the first time.  Fly boxes.  His clothes.  Three large rubbermades full of corvette matchbox cars.  What am I supposed to do with this stuff?  I want him.  I want him to walk in and help me.  I want him to hold me and tell me that he’s sorry that I’ve had to deal with this up to now but he’s here now and he’ll handle it from here on out.

Then I have the thought that it’s been over a year and a half since I’ve seen him.  Would he even know me now? 

And then the old thought returns.  How did I get here?

Sometimes, even after a year and a half, I still can’t get my head around it that this is my life.  It just isn’t right that he’s not here with me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lonely Tonight

People ask how I’m doing, and when you grade on the curve of the last year and a half of my life, I’m doing pretty amazing.

But tonight, I’m sad.

I’ve felt it’s safe enough to listen to a little of my old music.  The other day my bestie was over helping me pack my kitchen, and holding my ancient ipod, she said, “What of this can you listen to?  Is any of it going to be hard?”  I said, “Well, probably most of it.”  So we picked Indigo Girls.  It was always our favorite, hers and mine.  And it was fun.  Fun to hear familiar words again.  I know just about every word on just about every album.

Tonight the words of one of the songs keeps running through my head, though, and I’m lamenting my choice to listen to anything other than the stupid, safe Mercy Me CD that everyone makes fun of me for playing in one continuous year and a half loop in my car. 

I’m lonely tonight
I’m missing you now
I’m wanting your love
And you’re giving it out
I’m lonely tonight
I’m lonely tonight

It’s impossible to explain how the simple little things in day-to-day life make me just long for him.  I miss calling him when I got off work to tell him what my daily total was.  No one cares about that now but me.  I had a heck of a time getting my necklace off tonight.  I wanted to ask him to get it for me.  There’s a new show on TV (a reality show about restaurants) that he would have been so into, would have been trying to figure out a way to be a contestant.  I wish I could at least tell him about it.

And, last night, I left my house to pick up dinner and on my way there a mosquito landed on my windshield.  My first thought was “Weird.  A mosquito in March.”  It was almost immediately followed by “There must be a hatch on the South Platte.”  I was only less than a mile from the river (it runs through Denver) and that particular bug is one that the trout really love.  I’d seen Sawan catch them and really look them over, trying to figure out how to tie some exact replica to attract the fish.  He would have said that exact sentence as a fly-fisherman, but, not having done much fishing myself, this was something that I learned because I loved him so much.  My eyes welled up.  He would have been so in love with me, so proud.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Report

I love to read.  In fact, I’m such an uber-nerd that when I was a kid, I would be grounded from reading, and rightfully so.  I would be reading a book when I should be doing things like cleaning my room.

When this widowhood journey began, I had so many books flung at me; I didn’t know what to do with myself.  And I couldn’t read.  I was so underwater, I would read the same lines over and over again, the words finding no place to settle.  I would dutifully try, reading was a place that I had found refuge my whole life, but I would pick up the book the next night and re-read what I had read the night before, because nothing had found a home in my brain, and I couldn’t remember that I had already read it.  Finally, I gave myself the grace to quit reading anything for a while, for “business or pleasure,” meaning, I didn’t read any grief books or novels.

I was given several copies of several books, all from sweet, sweet friends.  I have a shelf full of C.S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed” and also several copies of Sittser’s “A Grace Disguised.”  These had been helpful to others when they were grieving, and not knowing what to do with a widow, they gave books.  Not knowing what to do with myself, I received them and put them on my shelf.  I tried to read them several times, but I have found that they are just not helpful to me.  I find that I really appreciate quotes of C.S. Lewis’, and that they can be extremely helpful, in small doses, when added in a note, but if I try to extract them myself from the page it just doesn’t happen.  As I read his stuff I find that it makes me sadder, that I don’t relate so much as take on his grief.  So I’ve put it down once again.

But, recently it was suggested that I read an Anne Lamott book that I somehow hadn’t already read (bizarre, because she is one of my favorites and I have read this particular book’s sequel).  It’s supposed to be about faith, but really, several of the stories are about her losing her best friend, Pammy.  I’m only halfway through the book, but in her delightful, hilarious, uncouth way, she’s helping me put words to things that I have been struggling to communicate.  She said, “Grief is a lot like narcolepsy.”  Which hasn’t necessarily been true for me, but made me laugh.  And “I felt very lonely.  I thought maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad if I didn’t have such big pieces of Pammy still inside me, but then I thought, I want those pieces in me for the rest of my life, whatever it costs me.”  And that is more true about me than anything else.  I want those Sawan pieces in me.  The painful part is the hollowing out around them to make room for the new stuff in my life.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I think Tina Fey might be stalking me. 

Just last week I made a crack about when Sawan and I were married, how he would go to bed with a breathe-right strip on and I would put in my mouth guard, and it was so sexy.  That we’d laugh about how “married” we were.  Then on Saturday I watched “Date Night” and that’s exactly what that couple did before they got in bed.

Last week there was no new TV, so I got caught up on old episodes of 30 Rock, even though that’s a show I don’t always watch, and Tina Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, had just broken up with her boyfriend.  She had gotten a pet, was going on about Tom Brokaw, was obsessed with NCIS’s special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and was wearing a pink sweat suit.  If she had mentioned that she loved Magnum P.I. I would have gone through my front bushes with a flashlight.  (I thought to myself, “She’s mentioned all of the quirky things that I love.  Has she been reading my blog?  Is she following me, listening to me talking to my clients?”)

The reason I found this so disturbing was this:  the whole episode was about her embracing “spinsterhood.”  (Her words, not mine)

The word “spinster” completely creeps me out, and makes me feel like my situation is futile.  Like I’m doomed to this life forever.  So, yeah, an episode of 30 Rock has had me doing some major processing.  Here’s what I’ve got so far.  I’m not doomed.  I’m motivated.  I don’t want this to be my life forever.  So I’ve pushed myself where I normally might not have to get out and be with people (and I mean real, live people, not just Gibbs and Tony).  I’ve started making new friends.  I’m really enjoying it.  Thanks, Liz Lemon.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let the moving begin!


I have felt this way before.  When I opened my own salon in 2005.  When I moved the salon and had to do the build-out in 2008.  Now I’m moving again, this time just Arthur and me, but I feel that same pressure in my chest.

The good news is I’ve managed this kind of stress before.  I know that if I just walk through it, I can get it all done.  I take it one day at a time; get done today what I need to get done and eventually all the days add up to be completing the task.  I just have to get to the end.

The problem is, for some reason packing stirs up emotional stuff.  I can’t explain it; it makes no sense to me.  I don’t know why packing books that were mine makes me miss Sawan.  I was packing boxes on Wednesday and barely holding it together and thinking, “Why is this so hard?”  I guess it could be that there’s framed photos on the bookshelves, too.  I guess it could be that the books trigger memories of me reading in bed with him next to me, but, really?  They’re just books.

It makes me tired.  I’m tired of being a widow.  I’m tired of letting this define me.  I’ve decided that it doesn’t.  I’m reaching beyond this for something else, now.  I know that I’ve defined myself as a widow for the last year and a half.  I think that it’s because it did define me more than anything else.  But I’m remembering now who I was before I was a widow and I want to be something else, too.  My life didn’t start when I became a widow, or when I married Sawan, so I want to see the whole picture.

So I think moving at this time is really awesome.  I get to start over in a new house.  Even though moving really sucks, once moving is over I get to decorate, which I really love doing.  I’ve already been thinking through what I want to do. 

With the house I live in now, there are so many framed photos of Sawan that I feel like it somewhat looks like a shrine to him.  I’m not doing that in my next house.  I’m working on getting photos together of other people and things so that I have some variety.  I’m still going to have photos of him, just not quite so many. 

It’s gonna be fun.  If I can just get to the end.