Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grass...and other stuff

See that little guy in the middle?  I named him Wes.  I think it's good for nurturing.

I have some grass!  (I think that could sound bad…especially when I’m this excited about it).  I have a few little sprouts coming up.  I’m not sure if you can really see them, but this is their first school picture.  I’m a proud mama. 

Here’s the sort of sad dirt that is my front yard.  It’s lots better than the backyard, though, so, I’ve decided to start here for this year and worry about the backyard next year.
This is the before picture.  Hopefully by August I'll have something really awesome to show off.

Also, wanna know how creative I am?  I actually know how to sew.  But I have no sewing machine, and my mom doesn’t have one because she wouldn’t be caught dead sewing on a button.  So I had to come up with plan b for curtains.  I tried and tried to buy small curtains for my bathroom, and after looking at every home store/box store/ross and tjmaxx and every place on-line that I could think of and coming up with exactly zero options (not even something that I wasn’t willing to spend a million dollars on, literally what I wanted didn’t exist), I bought these cloth napkins at Anthropologie and put hooks on them from Target and voila! I have curtains in my bathroom!  And I only spent $17 total ($6 each napkin and $5 for the hooks).  And they look much better than something I could have sewn with my 8th grade home ec education (Thanks anyway, Mrs. Stolberg).
The window with the cute curtain...
a close up so you can actually see the pattern and the piping.  I'm not so much a good photographer, it would seem.

In other news, I finally came clean to my baby sister last night about not liking musicals.  I just can’t quite get there in my “willing suspension of disbelief.”  It just takes it a bit too far.  This is why I have never seen, for instance, Wicked.  I watch the Sound of Music for nostalgic purposes, but it always makes me wish I could roll my eyes all the way back in my head:

Man:  Baby, I love you.
Woman:  I love you, too.
(music comes up)
Man:  Oh, that’s excellent news.  Hey, I’ve been practicing this song with the harmony for precisely this moment!
Woman:  OMG!  I know that song!  I’ll sing the melody!  We’re a match made in heaven!

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Anthem

Often in my life I have had a song that just speaks to where I’m at.  This song is it for right now.  I listen to it over and over in my car (my cd player is thankful for the break from Mercy Me).  It doesn’t all apply but a lot of it does and it’s nice to have a song for this space.  It’s been awhile since there was anything that felt like it applied to me.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I write this blog because I want to share what it’s like to be a widow.  I’ve wanted to show what it’s like to be a widow at every stage.

These days, I’m doing pretty good.  It’s springtime.  Baseball has started.  I have a house to distract me.  I’m noticing that I actually feel happy sometimes.

So what’s weird is that I’m noticing that part of this whole “widow-ness” is the way that I can feel two exactly opposing feelings at the same time. 

It’s like the stuff with the house.  It makes me so happy and excited, and also just devastatingly sad that Sawan doesn’t get to be here.

Here’s the newest thing:  I’m going to have both of my sisters living in my town again in just a couple of weeks.  Yippee!  Fist pump!  The possibility of having my brother and his family here too is out there, so the fantasy of us “all being together” has occurred to me.  I get so excited.  And I truly am thrilled.  And then I realize that it’s not a reality.  That we’ll not “all be together” ever again, because part of “all” of us is gone forever.  And then I get so, so sad.  And then I beat myself up for not just enjoying the fact that I’m going to have my girls here again.  This has been a very difficult stage for me to be gracious and gentle with myself in the grieving process for some reason.

These last couple of weeks I’m feeling again, like I did in the beginning, that I just wish I could have one little break.  I think it may be one of the grieving steps: bargaining.  I know I can’t have him back forever, but if he could just come for the weekend.  If I could just have a little rest from grieving then I think I could do it.  But I know I don’t get to bargain, and I really can do it anyway, I just don’t want to.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have nothing major to say, but here’s some clips from life in the last few days:

I had to take Arthur to the vet.  He keeps throwing up every 3-5 days.  I thought maybe I needed to have him allergy tested, that maybe he was allergic to something at the new house.  Turns out it’s anxiety.  He hasn’t been left alone (there were always friends/family/roommates around) since Sawan died and he’s having a hard time with it.  For real?  Could I be any more high maintenance?  I have high anxiety, and so does my dog.  I need a service animal for my service animal.  I’m thinking of getting him a hamster with a little tiny vest.  In the meantime we’re trying temporary meds to get him through the transition, and so far, so good.

I’ve been working on my yard.  I’ve decided that I’m going to worry about the back yard at a later date and start with the front, because that feels manageable.  I’m enjoying the way it feels to have sore muscles from doing manual labor.  I’m loving being out in the outdoors and having something to show for it (it reminds me of shoveling snow). 

Last Monday, while working in the yard, I decided that I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine.  I put on a swimsuit top with my shorts, and got to work.  As I was finishing up, putting all of the clippings and weeds in a garbage bag, a bug landed on that spot on my back that I couldn’t reach with my gloved hand.  I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t get it off.  So I did a little wiggle.  The wiggle made the bug move, luckily, but it also made my top come untied.  I totally flashed the whole neighborhood.  Luckily no one was walking by, but if anyone was standing at their window, they saw my girls for sure.  So, what a way to introduce myself to the neighborhood!

I also re-seeded it on Monday.  I want to go down there and check it every hour or so.  It’s not growing yet.  I know it’s not going to look like a full yard already, but I want to see little sprouts.  Come on, guys, grow!

That’s pretty much it with the Nail household.  We’re holding up!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hello, Sun!

I woke up this morning to sunshine streaming in to my beautiful bay windows.  Mmmm.  Finally.

I live in Colorado where the sun shines most days, so I really shouldn’t be complaining, but we had six days in a row of icky weather.  Gray, rainy, windy days.  It does a number on my psyche.  Actually, we had a brief respite on Friday but it didn’t last long enough and I’ve been grouchy and then sad.  It’s amazing how deeply this affects me.

I try to cheer myself up about it by dressing cute.  I tell myself “Well, you can wear a cute long sleeved shirt and then one of your bright spring scarves.”  And sometimes that will do the trick, but not for six days in a row.

So I’m not going to sit here any longer.  I’m going out to start raking my yard so that I can re-seed.  “I’m gonna clear my head, I’m gonna drink that sun.” (Indigo Girls).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Defining Myself

In my 20s, I struggled with depression, which for me was really just displaced anger.  It’s almost funny to me now, when I think about the upbringing that I had, that I was so angry about it.  But I was.  I was furious about the way that my parents had raised me.  I felt entitled to something better and I hadn’t gotten what I felt I deserved.  I hadn’t spent much time thinking about how much worse it could have been, or how my parents really loved me and were really doing their best.

I remember being on a camping trip with a friend and brushing my teeth and saying something about how I hated brushing my teeth…and her saying to me “Wow.  If you didn’t have something to be angry about you’d just make something up.”  Anger was this ugly thing that crept into every inch of my life.

So I decided to get some help.  I went to see a counselor.  We spent a lot of time talking about a lot of different things.  I worked through different issues, and things really changed for me.  I realized that I didn’t want to be a person defined by anger and fear.  It had never occurred to me before that I had a choice, that I could choose what defines me.

I felt this amazing freedom.  I started choosing.  I want to be a lover of people.  I want to be authentic.  I want to be kind.  Then there were the more superficial things that I chose as well, like “hairstylist,” “business owner,” and most importantly, “wife.”  I spent a great deal of time trying to be the best wife I could be.  I loved who I was in that relationship.  I loved and also loathed the mirror that it held up to my life, showing all of my flaws, exactly what needed to be worked on. 

And then one day, it became clear that I couldn’t actually choose what defines me.  At least, I couldn’t choose those more superficial titles.  “Widow” defines me.  I didn’t get to choose it.  I didn’t get to choose to be a wife for all of my life.  For a long time, I felt angry about this.  Actually, to be honest, there are parts of this that still make me angry.  But here’s the part that I’m learning right now:  I’m not just a widow.  It’s a facet of who I am, but I’m other things, too.  I can still choose what defines me.  I can still be a person that is defined as a lover of people, someone who is authentic and kind, and clearly, after what I’ve been through, I need to re-visit working on being someone not defined by fear.

So these days, here’s how I want to define myself (recognizing that some of these things are in my control and some are only in my control for now):  Noel:  lover of souls, passionate hairstylist, hard worker, owner of cute little house, Arthur’s owner, Rockies fan extraordinaire, blog writer, student of yardwork, love of Sawan’s life, and why not throw in there…Blonde Bombshell.

Monday, May 9, 2011

F@*! Mother's Day

Mother’s Day 2005.  My first shift at Flemings.  I’m wearing a cute little pink sear sucker suit.  I know that any minute, the guy that Ingrid wants to set me up with, Sawan, will be walking in.  Then, the door opens.  Sunlight pours in behind him.  It’s like a scene from a movie.  As a bartender, he wears a different uniform then the servers, so I know that it’s him almost immediately.  “Yes, please.” Is my first thought.  Wow.  He’s handsome.

Now, even though my first impression was that he was very handsome, my first conversation with him didn’t go as well, and I didn’t actually agree to go out with him for six more months.  But I met him on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day 2009.  Sawan and I get up a little early.  Poor guy has to work at that job that he hates.  Mother’s Day is one of the days that you just can’t ask to not work.  Never mind that he worked all the other undesirable days (Christmas Eve, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Super Bowl Sunday), they don’t care that he lost his mom and this is a difficult day for him.  He just wants to be with me.  Be with my mom.  I try to comfort him.

It’s one of the rare mornings that he has to get up around the time that I do, so he’s not cranky about me waking up first, and we snuggle in the bed.  We talk about my plans for the day (brunch with Mom and Dad at the Botanic Gardens and a ride in Mom’s new Mini Cooper convertible.  Neither of us has seen it yet).  He sheepishly tells me that he thought about getting me a Mother’s Day present from Arthur but he decided against it.  That he wants to really celebrate Mothers Day when I’m really a mother.  I agreed.  “But what if I’m just pregnant next year, can we still celebrate?”  “Ok,” he agrees.  I calculate our ages.  My mind does its tug-of-war between worry about being able to get pregnant and hope.  Hope wins.

Mothers Day, 2011.  I spend the day in pain.  I’ve been doing so well, but (not unexpectedly) today it just hurts.  How did I get here?  This isn’t the life I dreamed of.

I love my mom so much.  I’m so thankful that she survived cancer.  I’m so thankful for her role in my life.  I’m so thankful that we live close.  I’m so thankful that I get to spend the whole day with her.

So I spend the whole day beating myself up because all I can think about is how much I hate this day.  I hate it.  I hate that it is the day that brought me my husband because he was just going to be taken away.  I hate that it is the day that brought me hope for my own babies and now I feel actual physical pain at the emptiness of my arms.  I hate that it makes me filled with such ugly jealousy as I hear other women talking about how hard it is to be a mother…I hate that I feel such guilt about ruining the day for everyone else around me because all I can do is feel sorry for myself.  I look down at my watch.  Only a couple more hours to go and it will be over for another year.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Today's "Happy List" (I'm calling it that because I still can't think of a clever name for these posts)

Here’s what’s making me happy today:

*  Arthur and I went on a 2.4-mile walk yesterday around our new neighborhood.  We’re only a couple of blocks from Harvard Gulch Park, which has a cool little creek and a small par 3 golf course.  I got appreciative glances from the golfers even though my legs are so white they’re blue, but my little walking skirt must have done the trick anyway!

*  My mom took me to the Botanic Gardens plant sale today.  I got some succulents for my backyard, and a “desert holly” bush that looks like it will be really cool, so I’m excited!  I also got some herbs for a planter, so the yard work has begun!

*  After the plant sale we went through the Sonic drive-through, which is 1.5 blocks from my house for Diet Dr. Pepper.  I love having Sonic so close!  They have the best ice.
The succulents and herbs.  The big one is an agave.  The garden guy laughed when I said I was going to make my own tequila.  There's also basil that's red.  I hope it tastes good 'cuz it's gonna LOOK beautiful in food.
A close-up of the desert holly.  It has dainty little leaves.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Note to self:  Never post on the blog “problem solved” about home improvement projects until the problem is, indeed, solved.  I went to the hardware store; picked up the part I needed, came home to fix the sink, and couldn’t do it.  I understand exactly how it’s supposed to work, I just couldn’t do it.  It required hand tightening a screw.  I’m not sure if it’s my lack of male genetalia, or the fact that I’ve been a hairstylist for more than a decade (causing tendonitis) and my grip isn’t what it used to be, but at any rate, I’m back to square one on the sink stopper issue (it’s back on the list for someone else to help me with).

The lilacs are blooming!  They are so beautiful. I walked out of my back door last night and I felt like I ran into their fragrance like a wall.  There aren’t quite as many blooms as I thought there would be, I think they’re gonna need a little pruning this year, and then, lookout!  Next year, baby!  My mom told me to make sure I buy good quality clippers for them, and I think she’s preaching to the choir.  If anyone knows the importance of quality tools for the job you’re doing, it’s me.

Also, Arthur still needs some adjusting to the new house, he still pukes on a regular basis.  I’m not sure if this is a real problem, or just nerves, but I’m gonna give it a couple more days to decide before I take him to the vet.

I, however, am doing great.  I seem to be sleeping really well here.  I have slept for over seven nights in a row for at least 8 hrs a night.  That hasn’t happened since Sawan was alive.  So, wow.  I feel like a million bucks.  It’s amazing to have people ask me how I’m doing and to be able to say “good.”  Not “hanging in there” or “allright.”  I’m actually really doing good.  It’s awesome.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dare to Repair

A few years ago, when I first lived in my condo, I was having a problem with the toilet in the master bedroom.  I struggled with it for a while, tried to figure it out, and then called my dad.  He asked me a few questions and diagnosed the problem.  I pretty much needed to replace everything in the inside of the tank.  It was a pretty easy fix, he told me what to buy at Home Depot, and he would come by and fix it.  So I bought the kit and waited for him to come by.  I don’t remember how many times I asked him about it.  My guess is, not very many.  I always feel guilty asking my dad for too much help with these kinds of things.  I’m a grown up, and he has his own house full of stuff to fix.  So, not wanting to nag him about it, but also feeling the necessity of having a working toilet, I thought about possible solutions.

About the same time, this book caught my eye.  I think what probably drew me to it was the huge image of Rosie the Riveter.  I absolutely love that print, and have a huge poster that hung in my house until I got married and my husband made me take it down, and then I took it to the shop and hung it in my office.  I thumbed through the book and found that it had the solution to my problem.  I felt empowered to fix it myself!  The book is written by two women (if memory serves, their husbands were in the army and often deployed so they had to know how to fix stuff themselves), so it’s got funny girl humor in it, it’s written in non-technical language that I can understand, and the illustrations are of women fixing stuff.

I bought the book, went home, and took my toilet apart.  I used the kit that I had bought and figured it all out by myself.  It took forever.  I ran into a snag.  I needed a huge pipe wrench (something the book hadn’t mentioned because my part was corroded…) and they were like $40 and I knew I would only need it for this one project.  So I proudly called my dad and asked if he had one.  He wanted to know what I needed it for.  I told him I was fixing my toilet.  He said, “I was going to do that.”  I responded like a toddler “I did it myself!”  I’ve never felt so proud!  After borrowing the one tool, I finished the project, and darn if that toilet didn’t run like a dream for the rest of the time that I lived there (7 years).  Plus, it totally taught me how the inside of a toilet works, and I’ve fixed many girlfriends’ toilets over the years.  And what girl doesn’t want to be known as the toilet genius?

Now that I’m back in the throws of home ownership, I’m feeling the stress of the dad-list vs. the wanting to do it myself.  My family has been so amazing that I just feel like I can’t possibly ask for more.  I had a list going of stuff that was starting to drive me crazy, and I have a friend that’s offered to come by for an afternoon and fix stuff, but the top item on the list, the sink stopper in the upstairs bathroom, was starting to make me feel like “Imma kill someone”…so I remembered my book, found the instructions easily, and gathered the tools I would need.  It suggested a flashlight, and I had the sorriest excuse for a flashlight anyone’s ever seen, but I was still able to figure out how it all worked.  I’m missing a part.  Tomorrow morning, baby, Home Depot here I come.  Problem solved.

I highly recommend Dare to Repair to any widow or single woman who owns her own home.  Or a married woman who has a husband that’s not exactly handy and wants to get projects checked off the list.  It simplifies things and you have no idea how empowering it is to do it yourself!