My Tiniest Bestie

I didn’t write this week, except a piece for my Patreon, because I was too stressed out to settle my head into any sort of space to get work done.  Even now, a part of me doesn’t want to sit here at the desk and peck out my words, but I am because if I fall off too hard, I won’t get back up.  So, here’s some words about my tiniest bestie.

Last night I was feeling down, so after work I went over to my Gram’s house because on Fridays there’s always folks over for dinner.  It was just her, two of my aunts, and my 12-year-old cousin, G.  I was going there solely to get a hug from my Gram, because Gram hugs are the best hugs, but I ended up with a solid gold 10-out-of-10 hug the moment I walked in, and it came from G.  They are short, so they wrapped their arms around my waist and squeezed and said they were happy to see me.  This filled me with joy and made me feel instantly less crappy.  G has a way of doing this, though, and has been doing it for over a decade.

I remember the Easter when my aunt Mary told me she was pregnant and I was so excited, and then the following Thanksgiving they burst on the scene, a miracle baby made from love and science!  By the end of June, my yet-to-be husband was living in their house, and I was seeing them every day.  They would toddle over in the morning and take my empty coffee cup and climb onto the sofa beside me and watch the news while pretending to drink from my cup.  Mark would play blocks with them and read them stories.  They would holler out the window at us when we were in the yard, baby-speaking to us as though we  could understand them.  “Skibidee,” or “Skibs,” remains Mark’s favorite nickname for them-those were the noises they would make when they were in deep conversation with us, before they learned their words.

After Mark moved out, I didn’t see tbem as much, but we still had playdates often and family events where we would hang…and that’s when I realized-we hang.  They have always thrown down with me the exact same way an adult would.  They has always been considerate and kind with me, never bossy or manipulative or begging or the million other things kids can be when they are kids.  They show great maturity when with me, so in turn, I have always spoken with them as though they are my peer.  G isn’t just my little cousin, or a friend of my kids, they are my friend.

So yesterday, when I needed a friend, I walked into the door of my grandmother’s house and found one.  They ran up to hug me and instantly took away my rain clouds.  We sat across from each other at dinner and they had conversations with me and Gram and my aunts, and it was lovely.  They also drew me a picture of a cat, which I shall keep because I personally also think they’re a brilliant artist.  The moral of the story is that I went home smiling and now it’s morning and I’m thinking about them and I’m still smiling.  So what if they’re 12?  That’s a good friend that can make you do that.

G’s first Christmas.

Circle of Friends

How do you make a friend?

It is a topic I have discussed previously as Sahar and I once spent an afternoon trying to figure out how to make friends as adults, which didn’t work out awesome.  Mostly it was just a bunch of dead ends.  I recalled to her my friend Carey, who is probably my only real friend I have made and kept as a fully functioning adult.  We met one evening in the spring of 2015, I believe.  She was the girlfriend of a guy Mark knew, and we went over and had a few drinks at their house and hung out.  She seemed nice, but we were just associates at the time.  It wasn’t until the following summer when we went to a sunflower field that I realized we were “actual” friends, and we’ve only been growing closer since.

Mark and I were just talking about this, about how friendships start some time after meeting.  I stumbled upon a meme on Facebook that asked folks to comment on when we met-it was a reminder of how long I have known my people.  If you go solely by the comments, you would think I made friends through family, theater, and high school the most, and I suppose this is true.

First, there’s family.  My aunt Mel commented that she didn’t quite remember meeting me, though I recall the day perfectly.  She was my uncle’s new girlfriend and she had on Winnie the Pooh overalls that I coveted.  She commented that our friendship grew over time, and this is true of me and many of my aunts.  They used to be these people I thought of as “adults,” but now I think of them as peers even if they are a generation or two ahead of me.  Friendship has blossomed as I have aged, just as it has with my own mother.  Ten years ago, the relationship I had with my mother was very rocky, but now I go to her house each morning for coffee, because since I have moved out, a friendship aspect has been added.

Then there’s the theater people.  I can’t begin to tell you how many folks I have met through theater, the pinnacle of which is Sahar.  Were it not for a show, I would not have met my soul sister, let alone all the other massively talented and creative people I have admired.  Though there was no gap between me and Sahar- we met, and we were friends, and that was it.  So, let’s use Tom as an example:  I met Tom because I was stage managing a show once and when we got to the performance space we realized it was simply too big for one stage manager, and so my friend Victoria brought in Tom.  At first, I was a little salty because he was somewhat new on the scene and I was concerned he would steal my stage manager thunder, but in the end, he was incredibly helpful to me.  Then I caught him smoking a cigarette, and joyous relief flooded over my nicotine-addled brain: someone to chat with during breaks.  Well, those cig breaks turned into many 2am AIM convos, dozens of drunken nights at random houses, and someone that even though I don’t see him anymore, I still consider him a good friend. 

And then, Sacred Heart.  Chelsea is an excellent example here.  We met one afternoon during spring break when we were in 8th grade through a mutual friend, Sabine.  She got us together to meet because she knew we were going to the same high school.  I knew two girls I was going with already, but it didn’t make me feel any braver.  Then on the first day, Chelsea came up to me in the hallway and I thought “oh thank god! A friend!”  We sat together at lunch, and that was beginning of a lifetime of friendship.

Speaking of a lifetime of friendship…Kevin.  His mother, Sharon, commented that she met me about a week after I was born, which is accurate, and also means Kev was in tow.  Kev replied, too, in his usual humor: “That time we both were just lying there laughing totally pissing and shitting ourselves because we were both infants,” which of course made me guffaw.  I can’t tell you when my friendship with Kevin started, because it has always been there.  That’s how I feel about a lot of my friends.

I’ve picked up a lot of folks along the way and I am grateful for it.  I wonder how many more people I will smash into and end up entwining my life with.  You never know who you will meet tomorrow…could be your best friend. 

Presents and Presence

So…what didja get for Christmas??

That was my favorite question to ask my cousin Katie on Christmas morning.  I would call her and we would expound upon our gifts for a while before going off to enjoy them. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Now, I know gift-giving is not the most important part of the holiday but c’mon, let’s be real…it’s probably the most fun.

I love getting gifts!  And, I love giving them, even more.  My favorite is when you find the perfect thing for the perfect somebody and can surprise them on Christmas morning.  We have a running joke/competition in our family: make mom cry on Christmas.  Which of us (me, Bernie, or Mark) can dissolve her into tears?  This year Bern won with a paint set…then…a tie!!  Mark got her with a bottle of her cousin’s favorite scotch, evoking many memories.  Me, I got her a coffee maker so I wasn’t expecting to win, but she was very pleased with it. 

Right before Thanksgiving I was at Kevin’s house.  For the new reader, Kevin is my brother-from-another-mother, and I have literally known him my entire life.  We were discussing Christmas.  Kev is kind of hit or miss about the whole thing.  He loves Christmastime, but he loathes gift=giving.  He never knows what to get someone.  Conversely, he hates accepting gifts, because he either ends up not liking or not needing them, then he feels like an asshole and hangs on to the whatever forever, feeling guilty about throwing it away.  I can see his point of view, but I am of the opposite, and swore to him that I would teach him the meaning of gift-giving this holiday season.  He scoffed.

I went on a mission the next morning to find a gift for him, something he both would need and want.  Something I knew about Kev all these years is that he hasn’t had a proper wallet in some time.  He finds them bulky.  He keeps his cards and cash wrapped in a rubber band in his pocket.

I decided to hunt for a money clip.  Something small and sleek that he could use instead.  Then, I found it…a black and silver clip with an imprint of a wolf howling at the moon.  The wolf is totally his spirit animal, so there it was.  I purchased it and waited for it to arrive. 

Two weeks went by before I realized it was lost somewhere in California.  I got an email that Amazon would replace or refund it.  I looked everywhere for another matching one…no luck.  Panic.  And then…it came.  No tracking info listing its arrival, there it was in the mailbox one morning.  Christmas miracle.

We usually do a little dinner after Christmas and exchange gifts but his mother wasn’t feeling well earlier this month so we weren’t sure if we would.  So, I gave him his present early.  And he loved it.  He immediately transferred some of his stuff from the rubber band and put it in his pocket.  I did it, I got him something he would want and need.

But then that punk gave me a fake winning lotto ticket as a gift and I almost killed him.

A few days passed.  Kev called and said he picked up a little something for me.  He didn’t sound super sure of himself, like he wasn’t sure it was an acceptable Christmas present.  Of course, he could have given me anything (except that joke lotto ticket) and I would have been thrilled.  His mother was feeling better, so dinner was on, and he would bring it then.

So last night found me opening a brown paper bag (his idea of wrapping) and discovering…a Bob Ross Chia Pet. 

When I was a kid my friend Christina and I watched Bob Ross a lot. We thought he was great, with his “happy little trees.”  I always liked him.  Plus, I’m a gardener.  And, I saw this in the store and totally wanted to buy it because in my mind this is the most logical Chia Pet since the sheep.  So, really, he knocked it outta the park.

And so, Kevin learned of the joy of gift-giving and receiving.

For Christmas, I got a Bob Ross Chia Pet.  I also got some other cool stuff, like waders for fishing from my momma, the below sweatshirt from my father, and perfume that smells like our trip to the Bahamas from my sister.  Hubs didn’t do special this year, just resourceful…pots and pans and Spotify.  It was a lovely Christmas.  We had dinner with my aunts and Gram, and this past Saturday we did Kiddo Christmas.  Everyone loved their gifts.  I gave L and E their own fishing poles, and E scored an awesome handmade tablet cover from her father.  K got ALL the jewelry to fill her new jewelry box, and M walked away with Doom: Eternal for the PS4.

But that Chia Pet? The kinda silly but definitively thoughtful gift I got from my best friend of 37 years?

That one holds the special place in my heart this year.  Good job, bud.  Good job.

A Week of Worry

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even realize yesterday was Thursday.  I wasn’t feeling well, but not so bad that I couldn’t have updated, but I was so out of it that I didn’t even realize what day of the week it was.  So, happy Friday.

I don’t have a real topic today, so I will tell you a couple things that have been weighing on my mind this week.  First of all, there is my health.  I set up an appointment for Monday for a surgery consultation.  It looks like I will be getting a gastric pacemaker, provided I meet all the criteria.  I am both thrilled and terrified.  Thrilled because this may mean the end of my five-year long battle with my stomach.  Terrified because what if something goes wrong?  What if it doesn’t work?  I have been trying to keep these questions out of my head all week, but they creep in and cause me to panic.  For the first time ever, I actually had to call my doc for a Xanax refill.  I’ve had a panic attack every night this week, and it all stems from my health and worries about surgery.  Fortunately, Hubs has been wonderful, holding me while I cry I about it, reassuring me that everything will be fine, and reminding me of all the benefits of the surgery. Alas, I remain frightened.  I think it’s because I have tried so many things to make myself better and nothing has worked, so I am feeling like this won’t either.  Still, I need to do it, I need to hope for it to work, and I need to keep my head about me in the process.

Another thing on my mind, aside from my health, is my chapbook.  I sent an inquiry back in October to a publisher that I liked, and they replied in January and asked me to send along my manuscript for review.  They said I would hear from them in about three weeks.  I initially thought this was sort of a short reply time given that even when I submit singular poems I don’t usually hear back for at least a month.  But I figured it’s a small manuscript, so maybe they don’t need that much time. 

For the first three weeks, I waited patiently.  I reminded myself that no news is good news, and if they read it and didn’t like it, they would get back to me right away.  Well now it has been five weeks, and I am on pins and needles.  I am maintaining that it is a good sign that it’s taking so long.  Perhaps they are deliberating over it because they like it.  Perhaps they really like it and are drawing up papers before contacting me.  Or maybe they haven’t even read it yet.  Whatever the case, I am going crazy waiting.  This is my number one choice for publisher, as it is a small company in my city that has produced some poetry books I like.  Buffalo is having a poetry renaissance, and I am desperate to be a part of it.  When I started going to a local bookstore for poetry nights back in October, I was terrified.  My anxiety told me that no one would like my work, that no one would talk to me, that I would be alone and insignificant.  I can’t say I don’t still have those feelings, but I push myself to go each month because I am trying to overcome my insecurities.  And I will say it gets a little easier each time.  I am very much looking forward to this month’s reading, though I am having trouble picking a poem for the open mic segment.  I will likely read something from my chapbook, with the hope that putting it out in the universe brings it to life. 

The one highlight of my worrisome week is that Sahar is in town.  She is one of my dearest friends, and she lives in Kentucky, which I hate.  But she’s in town for about a month and we were able to go to lunch.  I am hoping to see her many more times before she returns to that hell-state.  Like Hubs, she knows just what to do to calm my worrisome head.

So, I walk into this next week with my head held high and my heart full of hope, but also worry.  I will see the doc on Monday and figure out what the plan is, and we will go from there.  Hopefully my worries will be unfounded, and I can face this surgery with courage. 

A girl can dream.