Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Yesterday, I did my usual commute.  I drove the five minutes, parked in front of Cameron church, then crossed first Iowa, then Pearl, to walk the third of a block into the shop.  As I did, I passed the usual row of shops and restaurants.

There’s this little place that’s four doors down from the corner, called the Crushery.  I get coffee from there a couple of mornings a week, and food from there at least every Thursday night (they’re not open late on the other days I work).  Their concept is that everything is put in a Panini maker and “crushed,” so they make this salad that they put their own warm croutons on, and it’s like having a salad with a grilled cheese on top.  It might be my favorite food on the planet.  I’ve become such a regular that when I walk in the door in the morning they just start making my coffee, and when I come in for dinner if I forget to order my salad properly then whoever’s making it asks, “Hey, Noel, you don’t like onions, do you?”  It’s like my “Luke’s” from Gilmore Girls.  When Sawan died, they sent me an oak tree, signed from all of my friends at the Crushery, with all of their names.  That's why we planted one in the backyard of my parent's house.  When I went to London the last time, I bought presents for my family, a couple of girlfriends, and magnets with beer-bottle openers for the boys that work at the Crushery.

As I walked by yesterday, I saw a weirdo flyer in their window.  I got a sick feeling in my gut, like something was bad wrong.  The stools were still stacked on the tables, and they should be open already.  I walked up to look at the flyer, and it said that they had CLOSED their business.

I’m unbelievably sad.  These guys were my friends.  I’m sad that their business didn’t work out.  I’m sad that I won’t be able to see them again.  I’m sad that it won’t be a part of my life anymore.  I’m sad that I’ll never eat a number 10 (Tuna salad) with no onions ever again.  I felt so strange, too, because my first thought was that I needed to call Sawan and tell him, we had eaten there so many times together.

And, honestly, I’m a little worried about who’s going to feed me now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Need to Get Me Some Tail

***Hi, Dad.  This might be a blog you'll want to skip.  Fair warning.***

One of my other widow friends tells me that after awhile, when people began to ask her how she was doing, she would say, “Well, I really need to get laid.  It’s been so long since I’ve had sex, they haven’t changed it, have they?”

Yep, I completely get that.  Never one to shy from talking about sex, my friends and I joke about this regularly.

It’s begun to feel like the whole universe knows about my “needs” as well, and that I’m being teased.

Last week, my bestie had just returned from a trip to LA.  We were doing the "de-brief", and she was telling me about two of her purchases.  One was a new android phone that has the capability to speak into it and it sends a text.  The other was a new set of eyelash extensions (and they look amazing).

Eyelash extensions are the hot new trend in LA.  They’re not just the stick-on kind that your grandmother bought at Walgreens.  You get them permanently adhered to your own eyelashes by an esthetician.  They last for roughly a month.

She was trying to convince me that I needed some extensions of my own (but, some people genetically are tall and skinny, I unfortunately, didn’t get those genes, but I did get my own set of long eyelashes so I don’t need extensions... Dad, if you're still reading this, "Thanks for the eyelashes.").  She texted me a photo of hers.  I replied, “Wow.  Amazing.”  Then she was trying to text me, “Let's figure out who does them (in Denver) and get you some, too.”  Instead, her phone sent this.

Hahahaha!  Even her phone knows I need to get some.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


As a girl I loved to drive by the corn fields on our way to school, I loved the way that driving by at a certain speed, the row of corn next to the divot of space next to the row of corn conjured a Rockettes kick line in my head. 

We lived in Billings, MT, and even though it’s the biggest city in Montana, it was still somewhat rural.  It didn’t take long to get out of the developed areas, past the church, then the golf course, and then to the cornfields.  On a recent visit, when I drove down roads that were once familiar, I was saddened that strip malls had swallowed up the cornfields.  Development inevitably has a way of digesting the open spaces and while it feels on some level like progress, it feels sad at the same time.

I didn’t grow up on a farm by any stretch of the imagination, but I went to school with kids that did. I guess it’s because of these friendships that I understand some of the concepts of rural life.  Somehow I must have gotten it through osmosis, or maybe conversation, the way it must be to work with large animals, to grow crops, to own more than just the yard around your house, but acres as well.

So, when I was reading a friend’s essay recently, the idea of “taking a break from love” to let “loneliness lay fallow on her tongue” hit me so dramatically.

The concept of letting a field lay fallow is to let it rest for a season, not to have crops growing in it taking from the soil, but giving the soil a chance to catch up, so to speak, to soak up nutrients, to receive before it gives back.

As I’ve been thinking about dating again, I’ve felt so impatient.  I feel like I need to hurry up and meet someone, I’m ready to just “get on with it.”  But I don’t get to choose.  I don’t get to decide when.

So I love the idea of my heart being fallow.  For this season, until the right one comes along again, I’ll think of it not as impatiently waiting, but as letting my heart lie fallow.  I’ll let it soak up the rain, gain richness from its surroundings.   Yes, I like that idea very much.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Man

The other day, I was driving to work, and I heard this song:

Usually, when I hear the hard ones, I immediately change the station, or sometimes turn the radio off entirely.  But this day was different.  For some reason, I needed to hear it.  I needed to have the memory.  I needed to slog through the memories that were now painful, even though they were once sweet.  I think that I needed to be reminded, because I had completely forgotten, that once, there was a man who felt this way about me.  He would sing it to me.  We danced to it in the living room of his tiny little apartment.

I guess I had forgotten.  Being the only one left in this marriage, I forget that there were two of us once, both loving.  It's silly, but I forget that I wasn’t the only one in the marriage at one point.

I got a message from one of Sawan’s friends from highschool on Facebook recently, and she said to call her if I was ever in her town, she’d love to meet the “woman of Sawan’s dreams.” And it totally took me by surprise.  I thought, “I was, wasn’t I?” 

And so, for the first time in several months, I’ve gotten my wedding ring back out and put it on.  I have just needed the reminder for a few days that once, someone loved me more than anyone else in the world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Three out of four...

My last Valentines Day with Sawan, I got up earlier than him for work.  I kept waiting for him to rouse from the bed, to wake up and kiss me, to tell me Happy Valentines Day, to maybe get up and make coffee while I was in the shower, but he never did.  Our plans for the day were not really to celebrate, I had to work, then he had to work that night, we weren’t even going to see each other at all.  So when he made no move to acknowledge me at all, before I left for work I picked a huge fight.

In my grief I spend a lot of time thinking about things I would have done differently.  I feel a lot of guilt and I beat myself up about things that I made a big deal about, that, if I had known how it was all going to work out, I wouldn’t have cared about.  I wonder sometimes if Valentines Day is one of them.  If I had known, would it have mattered?  Probably not.  We’ll never know. 

The thing is, I didn’t know.  And at the time, it did matter.  He did hurt me.  I’m not sure why I’m using myself as a punching bag over this.

I read a quote recently that said something like “You can’t judge a relationship by the last conversation.  Relationship is the sum of all of the conversations,” and then I was reminded of the same thing by a friend today, that I can’t focus on one fight…my relationship was about all of the fights and all of the make-ups.

So I’m choosing.  I’m choosing to remember the good parts, and choosing not to beat myself up.  I’m remembering the other Valentines Days.  The one where we left the “fancy” restaurant because it was a Prix Fixe menu with nothing that I would eat (sweet meats…gross) in our nice clothes and went to Benny’s (hole-in-the-wall Mexican Food) because they had chicken tacos on their menu that I knew I would love.  The one where we made crab legs and ate it in the living room at his old apartment, with newspaper for a tablecloth.  And then there’s the one where I agreed to be his wife.  Really, three out of four aint bad.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Questions

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

I’m having one of those sort of days where it’s a relief to know that I shouldn’t seek the answers.  I need to just remember (again) to get comfortable with the questions.  And even…*gasp* to love them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snow Day!

I woke up Friday morning to a spectacular snowfall.

The "weather people" had warned us that it was coming, but they are so often wrong that I wasn’t quite prepared for the feet of snow that we got, rather than inches.

My brother and his family were in town for the weekend, and we had dinner plans on Friday night.  I didn’t want to miss it, but I wasn’t quite sure how my little Beetle was going to make it on the roads, so he came and picked me up, after picking up my youngest sister, and we planned a big slumber party at Mom and Dad’s house.

As soon as we got to Mom and Dad’s we decided that we would meet the Anderbergs at the sledding hill, so I had to borrow whatever snow gear I could find, but Mom got me fixed right up.  They were just about the tiniest pair of snow pants I’ve ever seen.  I may or may not have had to lay on the couch to get them zipped.  (Confession:  I grew up mostly in Montana, so I feel super-cute when I wear snow pants.  I’m all, “I don’t ski, but I could.”)

Addy, Cori and me, about to make our first run.

I was glad I had them, though, because once we got to the sledding hill, I only went down the hill a couple of times, but I got tackled several times (Gabe still thinks we’re 12), and it was a thick, wet spring snow, so I needed all the help I could to stay dry.

Yep.  Covered.  Good thing I had those snow pants on.

Evil laugh.

This was right before the tackle.

The kids (and kids at heart) had so much fun.


Ellie and the Snow Ninja make a run.

When we headed back to the Hoggstead, Mom had Chicken and Dumplings started, and I was gonna be her student in Dumplings 101 (because they’re not really a recipe thing, they’re more “a pinch of this and then sorta this much of that,” sort of thing).  I got schooled.  She made the first batch, and it took her about 10 minutes.  I told her to go lay down and nurse her migraine, I’d make the next two batches.  It took me about an hour.  Seriously.  It makes a mess, but they were delicious and fun!
My dough and flour covered hand...

Not sure I can make it without Mom's ancient copper rolling pin.

The two vats of Chicken and Dumplings.  Dee-lish!

After dinner, we visited and played board games. 

The dogs also had a party.  We didn't pose them.

This is the best "baby trick" ever.  Mom taught my nephew, Asher, to speak into the pretend microphone and say, "One dollar, Bob."

Sigh.  I love snow days.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Strange Visitor

I spent my day today getting ready for my writing class, finishing up edits on my assignment, writing my notes for my critiques of the other ladies in my class, and doing some much overdue housework.  Plus, it was my turn to have my essay read tonight, and I submitted my re-worked “August 24,” so I was deep in grief and thought all day.

I had it all planned out.  I needed to leave at 3.  I got in the shower at 1:30, then needed to finish up all of the writing, mostly just get it all printed out, but, there never seems to be enough time in the day, and I felt that I was running a little behind.

I got out of the shower, and, not knowing yet what I was going to wear, stuck my sweats and my Race for the Cure t-shirt on.  I didn’t have make-up on yet and my hair was soaking wet.

I heard a knock on the door.

I never get visitors.  Pretty much the only people that ever come to my door are either my family, on an announced visit, or the pizza man.  So, I was a little curious as to who could be there, and also very relieved that whoever it was was coming after my chores were done (if my mom had come in before, I think she would have been thinking, but too polite to say, “Who raised you?!”).

I answer the door.

It’s a man with an old-school David Beckham soccer player haircut, where it’s shaved on the sides and has a long ponytail.    He asks if I am the woman of the house (in my condition I probably looked like I was about 14 years old).  He asks me if I have any work that he can do around the house, he lost his son, his baby (and his voice breaks), and needs money for the funeral.  He tells me a specific amount that he needs, and how much he’s gotten so far, from people in the neighborhood, that he feels so blessed by the way they have come alongside and helped him out.

I wonder if I’m the biggest sucker in the world.  I tell him to hold on.  I went inside, prayed a quick prayer of “Ok, should I do this?  Is this safe?  Am I a sucker?” But, my internal “creep detector” is pretty good, and it wasn’t going off.  Plus, Arthur didn’t freak out at the door, and he always freaks out.  I felt that the answer to my hasty prayer was, “This is one of the ‘least of these’.”

I gave him a little cash.  I told him that I had no idea what it was like to lose a baby, but I had lost my husband unexpectedly two years ago, so I understood unexpected loss, and I was so sorry.

He was so grateful.

It has me thinking.  Thinking about loss.  It has me feeling so grateful for my own friends and family during my own time of loss.  I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to go door to door and ask for help.  I can’t even imagine.  And yet, I’m moved by the way that the neighborhood has helped him, the way that you would have expected them to do fifty years ago, but not today.

So, I made it to my class on time, despite the interruption.  I went about my day just like I would have, my world is still the same, even though his is forever changed.