*tap* *tap* Is this thing on? And where’s the damn light switch?
Unfortunately, I’m slipping. It’s a curious thing. You can literally be near death on the inside and no one can see. I was at the Jewel the other day, pushing my cart, blacking out on why I was actually there. Just………..pushing. I was looking at different people. Seeing if I could see into them. Is that guy in meat section ok? He looks ok. He looks like he is going to make a beef stew. He doesn’t look despondent. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t. Because I just don’t think you can tell.
In one month, I have to play a role in the horse and pony show performance I am forced to play a part in to celebrate the life of my father. It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate him. He was absolutely magnificent. But I am not ready. I’ve been through 300 days of major trauma watching him get sick, disintegrate before my eyes and then, die. I am not ready, I said I wasn’t ready, I screamed and cried that I was ready, but I. Don’t. Matter.
The weighted blanket that clutches me in the belly of the beast is crafted out of my voice never being heard. And…isn’t that ironic? When I sing, people tend to listen. But when I speak…it must be made out of invisible ink. Maybe I should have sung my despair.
I just watched “1883” on Paramount Plus and I kept thinking, My God. They must have been SO BORED all day. She just sat on her horse, looking gorgeous, flirting with cowboys and watching cattle for like, eight hours; she couldn’t even check social media. Mostly, she was just there with her thoughts (sappy voiceovers). I can’t get away from mine.
Sadly, social media is making me sicker. I just paused FB today for a week. Didn’t tell anyone. Just did it. I couldn’t look at one more thing that reminds me that I am hanging by a thread.
When I went to Florida to help pack up my dead dad’s house, I finally was able to go to our beach and say goodbye to him.
I also thought about swimming out into the ocean and never coming back. I fought that for about an hour. Then it started to rain and I didn’t want to get hit by lightening, so I figured that meant that I still want to stick around. Mostly because, me lost at sea would fuck up my kids. So I live another day.
Netflix is my BFF. Amazon Prime squirrels my sadness for chunks of my day. Swedish Death Cleaning* my house is “giving me purpose”. Today, my goal is to clean under my bathroom sink and then find one other thing to look forward to in my life to “give me purpose.” Still looking. Still looking.
In the longest almost year of my life…dad’s health issues have taken over his Lewybodys Dementia and he’s in his last days. When LBD hit rapidly last July, after a septic UTI and hospital stay, our world was forever changed. Massive significant health problems, including surgeries and an amputation, made his confusion from LBD and his confusion of what was medically happening to him absolutely devastating to witness. Now I sit by him at his facility and he sleeps most of the time. He stopped eating a couple of days ago and it’s even hard to get him to take a few sips of water. I’m a writer, novice, but it’s my love language. I’ve barely been able to even write the utter emotional and physical despair this has inflicted on me and my family. Most importantly, on Dad. How is it possible that in less than a year, I am losing my big, strong, successful, insanely intelligent, funny, loving father? What we are all going through, this is the hardest stuff of life. I’m clinging to him in the last moments of his; praying for his calm and his peace, until he finally can be with our loved ones in Heaven. Hugs to everyone who has had to go through this. You don’t know until you know.
The first headline I read this morning was from Huff Post:
“Gen Xers and Millennial’s Got Into Weirdest Fight Over Super Bowl HalfTime Show”
My eyes are full of tears and I have to look away. I glance up at the hospital room TV. The halftime show star is starting, but it’s on mute. Mike and I are helplessly watching two hospital nurses shake you awake to see if you were ok. It takes about 10 minutes. You are so confused when you wake up. I have to leave to room to go cry in the hallway. Again.
We missed the half time show. But we also didn’t miss a thing.
The Sea Island sun blinds me when I look up to see your face. I stop-salute you and squint to block it from my eyes. You and your mustached-face looks down at me, smiling. You reach down to grab my nose and peek your thumb out of your knuckle sandwich. You hold it up and say, “got your nose!”
“Give it Back!” I yell, but I’m laughing and I’m chasing your serpentine. Back and forth, in and out of the water. I follow your footsteps and try to match them. I put my foot inside yours and I squish it all around. The waves are awfully loud, but I love them and then you grab me and give me my nose back.
I love any beach or water anywhere forever and ever and it’s because of moments like this. It’s safe, you are relaxed and it just means love. I have to run fast to keep up: one-two-three-four Heathersteps, in and out of the water, equal one big Daddystep. You laugh and stop and wait for me. Then you grab my hand. It’s so windy and the waves are so big and they break the silence in a way that makes me close my eyes and be happy. It smells so good. You are so tall and I look up at you and you laugh out the words, “hurry up, twinkle toes.”
I giggle when you take the shells I give you and you say “Ooooooooh, that’s a good one“.
I feel proud that I picked it and you put it in your pocket. I am twirling round and round with the sand between my toes. When I dizzy-stop, stumble and laugh, you are walking back. You’re done. I stop-salute and squint, watching you get smaller as you walk away. You yell back, “Go to mom now.“
I’m a bad actor and I can’t fake it anymore. I am screaming inside and crying and keening and wailing. Every tiny cell of me is tired. We are now in Defcon 1. I can’t control you. You can’t figure out reason or make sense of anything. There are not people in the corners trying to hurt you. You are not being poisoned. We are not trying to kill you. I wish I could rescue you from the alien world that you are living in your head. It seems so scary and mean and awful. I’d give anything to Stranger Things you outta there.
I spend hours trying to show you how much I love you. Even when I am not with you, I still worry and wonder if you are ok. I’m so sad that you are leaving me; that you have already kind of left. The other night in the wee hours, you were yelling at me:
You do not care if I die.
You are out to get rid of me.
You are not on my team.
You don’t have my back.
When you say these things, I can handle it. Your words bounce off me onto the floor. I can step on them a little and kick them under the couch. I know you don’t mean it. I know you are sick. I am tough and I can fight them off.
Your face looks so different now. I remember being little and tracing your face with my fingertips. “Oops…got your nose.”
I know you can no longer read your books; now it’s only faces. I am sorry that sometimes I don’t look at you when we talk. I try to make my face happy, but sometimes, I just can’t.
Feelings transition to some kind of desperation. I want someone there with me to see what I have to do. I need a wingman. I want someone to hug me. I need help with you. I need you to help me with you. I long for the dad I had, to give me advice about the dad I have now. I feel desert Island lonely.
This journey has given me some useful takeaways and Heather 2022 has a new criteria for friendship.: Choose the right people who deserve to hear your story. I love hearing stories of the people I love and I know they hear me back. There is nothing worse than realizing that someone don’t want all of the sides of you. I have been screaming from the inside of insides. I don’t have the energy to only listen and not be heard. I hope to replenish soon.
I think I am spending so much time writing this to procrastinate making phone calls. Calls to find somewhere we can move you away from the home that you worked so hard for and away from the life you knew. Can I call in a sub for this too? Inhale…exhale…
I took a night off from being with you last night to sleep in a real bed. Today, I head back to you and the couch. When I get in the car, I will cry. I will walk in the door with a smile. I will try not to lose it, but sometimes I do. You threw a box of tissues at me the other night. I karate-chopped it from my face and the box went flying. It was actually super funny. Wish you were there.
Two months ago I made a pact with myself. I had just recently been very sick. I live with a bum immune system and it can be a pretty tough and often misunderstood. I was diagnosed with some pretty nasty stuff, including IBS. I was basically bitch-slapped into that by a severe amount of anxiety. I take horrible care of me and I am also a stressball. It was a long Covid year(s), I have a sick family member, I wasn’t working my day job anymore…I needed a break to heal up, re-group and re-charge. I decided that I would commit myself to a 365 daily blog challenge. I love to write my feelings. And eat my feelings. And write them.
Six days into it, my world turned even more upside down. The close sick family member took a really bad turn and life changed again. Sleepless nights, stress, exhaustion, fright, helplessness…all of it knocked me down. Suddenly, sharing my words, thoughts and feelings felt too private. I was desperately and unequivocally sad. I stopped blogging. Quitter, quitter chicken dinner.
My dream last night was so unnerving, that I woke up with my fingers practically typing in mid-air. I needed to get this out. It was so real. I’m not going to go to much into it, but it was a common Heather nightmare dream theme of me onstage forgetting lyrics, wearing an outfit that made me look like an encased sausage, and it was ripping, everyone hated me and someone with Buddy Holly glasses was in my band.
Seriously, WTF. I know it stems from me struggling to fit into the molds that people want to fit me in.
Can you be more….rock Can you be more…country Can you be more…
Dude. I AM more.
I am not blowing smoke up my own ass. An accountant knows he’s good with numbers, a carpenter knows his way around his tools and a history teacher knows freaking history. I HATE to have to sell myself. Sometimes I’m just tired of having to list my bullet points as to why you should hire me. Just, listen.
I think it’s kind of hard to find singers that can do multi-genres. I know this…singers like us, it’s our superpower. In a set, I can sing Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Billie Holiday, Rusted Root, Janis Joplin, The Foos, Miranda Lambert and The fucking Who. I mean, they may not be great performances, but I make them my own and it should be good enough. And the most important thing is that I play with some incredible musicians. THEY make me sound good. Sometimes the person booking may not even get that far, because they can’t see past the way I look, to realize that one person is singing all of that.
The pickle that I am in is that I am stuck in middle-aged female singer limbo. It’s a thing. I’m too old to be that hot young cutie and I’m too young to be the old, respected legend. I’m simply a 52 year old chubby housewife wife who can sang.
Ok, Heather, slow your roll. I was never totally that hot young cutie. I was always maybe a little adorable, but always chunky. It was ok because my voice gave me a hall pass. I also landed me a hot husband. Cute enough, dammit.
Truthfully, my whole life, I have experienced other people having more of a problem with my weight than I do. And that makes me feel like I have to run around all the time and apologize for it. Hard cracking nut. It’s like: I don’t want to go into battle, but everyone thinks I need to go into battle, but then I’m fine not going to battle, but I can see people disappointed I’m not going into battle, so fuck it. (Going into battle.)
This has been happening to me forever. The stuff when I was young almost hurts too much to talk about. In college, I was playing with my band at the very legendary (in my mind) Tulagi’s in Boulder. I was on a break, chugging a beer at the bar, when a friend came up to me and said, “Can I tell you? You shouldn’t drink beer, you’re getting kinda… I am not the only one who thinks so. So sad, Heath. Don’t do it. You’re so pretty. ” *Blink Blink*.
Yes, that guy was a ska-douchebag. But also, yes, that shit stuck with me. It hurt badly enough that I am writing about it 38 years later. I might also add that I have always been a magnet for people telling me stuff to my face that one shouldn’t say to anyone’s face. I must shoot out some weird aura. I always hated that about me.
A college boyfriend broke up with me once after a time of separation. I left school early and when he came home for the summer, he turned like a bad melon. I will never forget this because he was swinging on a hammock and I was standing in front of him, crying and asking him why he was dumping me: “You know…”(waves hand up and down me)
“No, I don’t know…what?!”
“You know. The…the…” (waves hand up and down me again)
It took me a few minutes until I horrifically figured out what he meant.
“Because I GAINED SOME WEIGHT?”
Voila: Ska-douchebag number two.
It just kind of kept on happening. Someone in the late eighties tried to compliment me. They told me I looked like Belinda Carlisle. BITCHIN’!, I thought. ”…you know, before she lost the weight”.
Yes, you can make this shit up, but I don’t have to, because it did actually happen.
Most recent battle story:
First of all, 1/4 of my Facebook requests are from trainers or people selling weight loss supplements. Jesus weeps. Do you know how offensive that is? Leave me and my chubby cheek profile picture alone. A couple of years ago, I was encouraged to lose weight and I was totally game. I was feeling like crap. Online somewhere on my social media, there was an old promo shot. I used to love it…that photo was plastered so many different times for years in the Chicago Tribune, The Sun Times; multiple media platforms where I was written about and reviewed for hard work in my career that I was really proud of. Someone said, “let’s get you looking like this again”.
THAT PICTURE WAS TAKEN 15 YEARS AGO. Honestly, I don’t blame them or think badly of them. I got what they were trying to put down. But I was really upset. I didn’t show it. I choked down my tears and nodded and faked super enthusiasm. “Yes! Let’s do it!” It did work for a bit as a motivational tool. Every time I ran on the treadmill and every time I thought about putting something naughty in my mouth, I thought about that picture. I lost almost 40 pounds in less than three months. I looked gooooodddd, damn skippy. And I felt fabulous. But…I still didn’t look like that picture. I’ll NEVER look like that picture again. Holy hell, I didn’t even look like that picture when I took that picture.
But all of this, ALL OF THIS, is bearable, except when it prevents me from doing the job that I love. I know that sometimes I don’t get hired because of the way I look. I see younger girls who are super adorable yes, but I’m just as good and it doesn’t.even.matter.
I get it I get it I get it. It IS about the customer and what they want, and the fans and what they want, but my God, it should also be about musicians being GOOD.
I could go back to acting right now and get a shit ton of roles because I can fit molds, play a character, plenty of work for the middle-aged. The only problem with me doing that Is that on most good days, I’ve misplaced my keys and my wallet, so I’m clearly too fucking old to memorize any lines.
People think this job is a party, but it’s hard work. It’s YEARS of hard work. I am so damn proud of myself to still be sticking around, and so proud of all my musician friends who do not give up on performing. It is WHAT WE DO. In the end, I know I’m super blessed. I’m surrounded by my beautiful family and amazing friends…and a music family of incredibly talented, loving and insanely gifted musicians that don’t give a fuck what I look like. I probably won’t be Freda or a Mavis, but I’ll keep on keepin’ on, until someone gets the hook. It’s not over when the fat lady sings.
How is he talking to me and he looks like himself and his hands move like himself and I’ve sat in this chair across from him a million times while he sat in that chair across from me a million times? Now all his words in their order make no sense like cut up, strung up and mismatched pieces of fabric. I’m trying to smile on the outside and I’m praying he can’t tell that I’m screaming and crying on the inside.
I’m in awe, and it’s not in the fireworks way, or being at Disney way, or a nurse handing one of my babies in my arms for the first time sort of way. That’s all awe filled with joy.
Tonight he couldn’t tell me very importantly what he very importantly wanted to tell me. That’s awe filled with sad.
Falling asleep, broken heart. Scrunch tears and think of years ago, walking on a beach where he pulled me out of the water, laughed loud, called me “twinkle toes”, skipped a rock and bent down to hold my hand.
I did not blog yesterday, so now I owe myself two today.
Round one: Yesterday got away from me…and then, we got a big delivery. After 21 years of marriage, we finally bought a new mattress. The one we were sleeping on was a hand-me-down from my parents and I think by the time we got it, it was already 12 years old. Current mattress situation: basically feels like sleeping on an Anglophilian-inspired straw, feather and horse hair stuffed abomination.
We bought a Stearns & Foster, just like my parent’s five-star hotel-like guest bed. While I was recently sick in our hay bed, my husband went to a mattress store, laid on a few, flopped around, called me for final approval, took the leap and paid a stupid amount of money. We had to wait over a month and we were panting for this thing to come. Finally we got word that it was on it’s way and I needed to deal with the bedding situation.
I have a problem with big box stores like Target, Costco, freaking Walmart. If I can’t see windows, I get tweaked. I couldn’t trust getting anything online, because I needed to feel everything. So I hyperventilated through Nordstrom Rack, sweated my way through Target and survived a full-on panic attack in the bedding department at Bed, Bath and Beyond. While I was doing this, number three called me to tell me that she had to leave Great America and go to the ER because her friend got sick (she is totally fine now, Thank God) and she needed a ride home. Full on breakdown in the sheet aisle. I did some lamaze breathing, called number one to go get her. He said, “Mom: Chill. I got her.”
Because of his helpfulness, I bought him new dorm bed sheets and upgraded the thread count. Mad props. I finally settled on 400 count for us and a snuggly UGGS comforter set, all in CREAM. Bold.
So yes, victory. Last night was amazing. It’s like sleeping on a cloud. The mattress is glorious and the bedding is so freaking cozy. The only negative is that one side of the comforter is literally the fuzzy stuff that’s in the inside of an UGG’s boot. Little sweaty. Will be perfect for snuggles in fall and winter. For now I’ll just keep cranking the fan on us.
I crawled in it at 6pm last night and I am still in it at 9:15am. I eventually have to get out of it to go see my dad, but for right now…
Loved to see my husband donating his time to bring music to such a fantastic and meaningful event in our lovely town of Wauconda, Illinois. Proud that my number one, who is working hard to get his five year Master’s in Criminal Justice loved the event and loved talking to a bunch working officers. Love that I have awesome friends who are also superheroes.
I loved that we all saw our police department and other community servants as real life proud, hard-working residents walking around our Main Street with their families, showing everyone that they are human, kind and just like every one of us. (But also, super brave.) Loved that mom my could be there to see how lucky we are to live in a blissful place.
Love that my family loves our community. That our oldest son is helping to build a house on Bang’s Lake while he is home from college, my second son works his tail off at Bulldog’s, the best best burger joint around, and my daughter loves to shop local, dreams of someday working at Lindy’s and is only mildly embarrassed about her performing parents…
Loved to see another day that our community rallies together to make 60084 a special place to live. We love this town.
In January, I got a new day job, so I went a little crazy and bought a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It’s a 2010 and kind of beat up, but it’s been my dream car ever since I can remember and I just went for it. It’s a lot of Jeep for a “little” girl, but I was sure I could handle it. We named him Hank the Tank. I know that you are supposed to refer to your car as a girl but I think that’s sexist. Mine is a guy and he is a beast. My husband and the kids even got me the Cubbie tire cover. Bucket list item,√.
Unfortunately, I obtained him in January, the night before my husband was diagnosed with Covid and we were in quarantine, so I didn’t drive it for the first three weeks. Hank and I had a rocky start, also because the windows didn’t work and I have yet to fix a broken blinker, but still we seemed to get along ok. I couldn’t wait for summer and to take the hard top off…whip around Lake County feeling the breeze in my hair….
Did you know there is a “Jeep wave”? I didn’t know. I had some wave at me when I first started driving and I just chalked it up a bunch of really friendly people in my town. Then my good friend, who is a Jeep owner, asked me, “So you know about the Jeep wave…”
OK. Aha….got it.
It’s a thing.
I was pretty excited about it. I felt like I was in a cool, new club. The next 3-4 times I drove, I did not see one Jeep. But I was on the lookout and I was going to be ready.
At last it was time. I saw one coming my way…My hands got a little sweaty and my stomach dropped.
And then it happened…They did it! They have me the wave!
They were like:
The I was like:
I’ve chillaxed now and I think I’ve got it down. I also got “ducked”. There is something cute with squeaky ducks and I bought a whole bag of them from Target but I need to Google to figure out what to do with them. Again, nerd alert.
Truth be told, my dirty little vehicle secret….I’m so lucky and I am so grateful…I’ve been wanting a Jeep for so long, but now that I have it…well, meh.
it’s hard to get in and out of it. I almost have to take a running leap and dive in. It’s not very Rheumatoid Arthritis-friendly. I totally need one of those shelf things. Also, another problem with being so short; I have to do circus-like trapeze artist calisthenics to climb up the Jeep to put the soft top down myself. Forget about putting it back on when I’m alone. I actually have to get number one and/or my husband to help me. We are always battling with Car Tetris in the driveway, so it’s not even possible to just leave it off and park in the garage. It’s a work in progress. Someday soon I hope to make some real actual progress.
I can definitely see me pawning it off to one of the kids in a year or two. If I just had a car with a little button I could push and the top would go up and down. Up…and down….If only…
I need to put one of my new iTags on my actual purpose, cause I’m having trouble finding it.
I’m not even a week in with my 365 blogapalooza commitment and I’m already dreading writing about my One Big Thing today. It’s depressing.
I’m flailing. I’m in a funk. I’m blue. I’m lying here trying to find my damn solace. I’m feeling it’s somewhere along the lines of pulling up my big girl pants, getting over my bad self, making a list of things I need to get done and just freaking doing them.
But from the minute I woke up this morning, I’m finding it really easy to be sad. Sad about being sick, sad about my dad, sad about number one going back to college, sad about the sinking ship that is my music career, sad about the Rizzo, sad about not having a job.
Maybe I should just give myself a day to BE. I’ve been doing such a bang-up job for the last seven months wearing myself thin, not taking care of myself and treating myself badly, that it’s become a hard habit to break.
Welp, there you go. This is why I love writing. I just spoon fed myself my answer and found my literal purpose for the day. I’m going to give myself a hug, lay on my hammock, go out to lunch with my parents, enjoy my family. I can continue to wallow tomorrow. Today’s mission: Sunday funday.