Wild Week

Lately, my life and everyone around me’s life has been completely out of control wild. We are all jumping from one insane event to the next. My Mom has been in and out of the hospital lately having problems with her heart resulting in a triple bypass. I fell and hit my head on the tub, went to the ER, and got a concussion. Work’s been nuts. That’s not even mentioning the fact that we went to Las Vegas, Kristyn finished her first year of her PhD, and we opened up the trailer last weekend. This isn’t even all of it. Oh AND?! Our car got stolen, then found, and we had to pay around $300 to get it out of impound. Point being that Momma is BUSY and TIRED. (I’m the “Momma” in this scenario.) Here are a few pictures recent pictures of these events:

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The above is me at the ER after I fell. The entire day before, we’d spent in the ER with my Mom and the nurse had told me that she’s had people fall and not report it and die. Then the next day I fell and hit my head HARD. I felt kind of fine / kind of suspicious so of course I had to go. Ugh.

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Here we are after getting our car out of hock. We’re smiling because we got it back and also because it’s the SECOND time that this exact same car has been stolen and returned to us.

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The above and below pictures are on Mother’s Day. My family took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Michael’s Craft Store after eating brunch and realized we hadn’t taken any nice pictures together. We had to leave to go to Kristyn’s family’s house so we took this one in the aisle, LOL. Gorgeous family portrait.

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Also, we forgot to take a photo with everyone in Kristyn’s family together before some people left so as we were walking out the door, we took this quick use. Another beautiful family portrait!

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Last weekend we went Upstate for the first time in 2018. It rained and we slept all weekend except for literally this minute just before we left.

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This is just Shirley sleeping on me and being a lunatic.

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This is me and Kristyn in the ER again with my Mother. She was there to be admitted and we were goofing around. We took more goofy pictures too. Don’t let the fact that we were selfie-ing fool you into thinking it wasn’t a serious situation. It was but we handle serious situations with goofiness and this beautiful background was the partition curtain in my Mom’s room, ha.

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the above picture we took after we found out that Mom’s surgery went well. We were jolly because of the weight lifted and all leaving for the day after being at the hospital since the morning. This bag that my Dad is holding up has my Mom’s initial “D” on it. She kept calling it “the D bag” as in “Can you hand me my D bag?” and it kept making us laugh. So here we all are the D bag.

We do find a way to enjoy ourselves but man I could sleep for a thousand years haha.

We live on this plane now

We are on a plane to Las Vegas and have been on it for approximately 24 full hours. We’re finally landing and it looks like this below:

We have been in a feeding frenzy out of boredom. Kristyn got a lot of her presentation done and I alternately napped and listened to Comey dish.

We ate and drank weird things too. We had soylent (above) and Primal strips vegan jerky (below):

I wouldn’t say that either were great.

I think one of the flight attendants was consoling a woman who was afraid that it would take too long to get from the airport to a casino to gamble. The flight attendant was really nice to the weird lady. I wonder if I tell her that I’m afraid of developing deep vein thrombosis if she’ll also talk me off a ledge.

The woman behind me has been talking endlessly to the people next to her and I’m not sure she knows them at all. I wanted to shush her for a little while because I literally couldn’t hear Comey speaking even though the volume on my audiobook was completely turned way up. No she doesn’t know this guy because she’s telling him she has a grandson.

We’s landing!

A Higher Loyalty

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Cover art via Audible.

YOU GUYS. First, I did not mean to sign on here and blog about anything. I sat down to pull up the Stephen Colbert interview with him to watch while we eat breakfast. I’m going to do that but first, I wanted to say “YOU GUYS.” I started listening to the audiobook last night and it’s a humdinger. Really interesting. I’m about an hour and a half-is in and he’s talked about a home invasion that happened when he was a teen, which is why he got into law enforcement, his experiences with the Mob, the nature of truth and lies, and has outlined various leaders he’s been proud to work under or suffered working under. It’s dishy and suspenseful so far. Gurl should write mystery novels or tell-all celeb biographies for a second act. I’d read’m.

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From Pete Souza’s Instagram. The caption is, “Every person in this photograph is a patriot.” GURL.

Oh, ALSO? He’s a lot more profane and silly than you’d think. I mean, that makes sense because he’s a human person and a grown adult but every time we’ve ever seen him or heard him, he’s been sort of straight-faced so that was a pleasant surprise ALTHOUGH, that “Lordy” thing makes me LOL a lot. Okay, I gotta GTFO. I’m, like, supposed to be doing a lot of things other than this!

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Image from here.

Partying

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Hey pals! Ya know what? I’m going to start blogging again in a “just talkin’ shit” type of way. It’s a real 2010 thing for me to do; I realize. I had  lot of fun doing it back then. It was a ridiculous hobby that made my family members say “God, Coleen just really puts everything on the internet, doesn’t she?” (Uncle Danny) and “If want to know whatever dumb thoughts Coleen has, just go to her blog” (also Uncle Danny) and “Jesus Christ, I’ve never met anyone who took so many damn pictures of her own face” (my Mom). Well, Uncle Danny and Mom, I’M BACK.

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The above is us this past Friday night after we’d eaten Indian food and went to a Medium at Mystical World. In this photo, we’re full of naan and spiritual questions.

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This weekend, we also did a two day workshop called Getting Real with Money with Beth Pickens. She is a counselor and a consultant to guide artists on how to optimize their businesses through grant-writing, financial advice, and is the author of Your Art Will Save Your Life and Making Art During Fascism. The workshop’s first day was about getting at the emotional and familial roots to your relationship to money. The second day was about practical strategies to actually get on the path to fixing your finances. It was very helpful. The workshop was in a writer and artist space called Wendy’s Subway in Brooklyn. We live close enough to Brooklyn to where it’s not really a big deal to go there (10-ish miles) and tedious enough to get to that we really never do so it was nice to go. The above photo is of us with our heads buzzing with financial advice in front of our neighbor’s Magnolia tree. This tree pleases me and kills me every Spring. Once the pink flowers fall of the tree, they become like slippery banana peels.

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The above is both the truth and also my “bedroom coaster”.

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Me, my sister, and father face-swapping.

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Me and Foofaloo face-swapping.

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Me putting my Grandmother’s face over my face.

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We got mood sunglasses. We keep talking a lot about how cool we are. I don’t need feedback otherwise.

Okay, g’nite.

 

Hullo

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Shirley  napping on me earlier this year.

I’ve been back at work for two months now and I’ve fallen back into a routine which is good. I did a comics assignment from Nicole Georges recently that has me writing down what I do all day and then drawing a scene from each day. I started the project on March 1st and just doing that first week, I was shocked to see that I have more of a life than I thought I did. I thought I was still just stuck sitting in a chair staring into space. No, I’m getting up every day, working a full day, coming home, making dinner, and then doing things like hanging out with friends, or planning a trip to Scotland, going to doctor’s appointments, and all various manner of things. It’s comforting to see that I’ve gotten back into living a life and also depressing because it means that Charles is that much more gone. On March 27th (~10 days from now, he will have been gone for three months). Here is my life since January:

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Breakfast at The Stack

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At Walmart with a Sloth.

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Women’s March with Silvie Sophie.

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Kristyn’s 38th Birthday

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Cave met up with us at the Women’s March.

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For Kristyn’s birthday, we went Upstate and went to a cidery.

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Us in Rhineback, NY.

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Me and Mel Robbins.

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We had a Valentine’s Day date at the Arlo.

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My last week at the JC office, I took a photo in the reading room.

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Scotland planning session that turned into a St. Patrick’s Day party.

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Foof and me.

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Me on International Women’s Day sporting my purple for a group text message to family.

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My Valentine to Kristyn

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Kristyn forced me to exercise self-control.

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Another Valentine for Kristyn.

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My Dad and my Foof.

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Loolies in Target buying a fire extinguisher.

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Me in a natural setting at the gynecologist’s office.

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Kip Pan at the doc’s.

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Us staring at the Verizon guy after a snow storm knocked out our cable.

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Me at the doc for my back.

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Kristyn coming to the doctor’s with me.

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Us and Foof sitting in a literal rainbow.

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Shirley wanting to sit in the pink area.

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Kristyn hooked me up.

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Mark’s going away party that I also made into a St. Patrick’s Day party.

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Shirley napping on me this morning.

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Kristyn and Shirley this morning.

Basically, we’re getting better all the time. It’s surprising and I miss him.

This Damn Car

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When I was on medical leave, I got so goddamn sick with food poisoning on the Wednesday before Christmas. We’d gone to Jose Tejas with my cousin, Heather. The company was good and so was the food but a few hours later, I was horking and shivering and sweating and crying and this illness didn’t abate until the following week. In fact, the first day that I could even eat a meal was Christmas Eve and then I kind of made myself sick with party food (even though I was eating extremely gingerly).

Long story short, I didn’t end up moving my car all that week. Then I didn’t try to move it for most of the next week because I still felt weak. When I finally went out to try to move it, the battery was dead. It was nighttime when I tried and 20 degrees so we figured we’d jump it when it was warmer. Unfortunately, the temperatures plunged to anywhere from 6-13 degrees between the week after Christmas and after New Years. On January 4th, we had a huge snow storm and got almost a foot of snow. On January 5th, a huge multi-family house burned down across the street from where the car was parked and the wheels got frozen into the water that the fire department used to put the house out.

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Once the snow and ice melted, I was able to start the car which is the picture at the top of this post. But then, we realized that I had a flat tire. We were able to drive it to the shop to order a new tire and we decided to drive on that tire because the guy filled it up. Well, in the morning, the tire was completely flat and the car wouldn’t start. Now it’s been out there for a week because between me starting work and Kristyn starting school, we don’t really have time to do anything about it. Today, we went out and tried jumping it again and it’s a no-go. We had to give up because the engine wouldn’t turn over and the cables started smoking. So now, we need a new battery AND a new tire. We are lucky that a flat tire and a battery are our most vexing domestic problems right now. In that fire above, eight families lost their homes on a day that was 13 degrees in the sun. That entire house is knocked down now apart from the cement walls on the bottom.

We’ll get the car fixed, it’s just going to apparently take 1,000 incremental steps to get it done. The interesting thing is that we’re going to try to change the battery ourselves. Wish us luck!

P.S.

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I wrote the last post and filled it with positive pictures because I want to remind myself that things aren’t as bad as I think they are. Losing Charles has been a huge blow that topped off a year of big blows (aka losing Bob, Lynne, and then my Grandfather as well). I’ve been pretty down and focusing on the good helps. Cleaning the house helps. Hanging with friends helps. Watching familiar sitcoms helps. It was really cathartic to go through all those pictures and be like “Oh, I forgot about this and this and this.” I realized that I only posted things from September onward but the last time I posted anything was in March so maybe later I’ll go through and post some memories from earlier this year as well. If you delete the horrifying things that happened, we managed to have a fun time this year. I don’t want to just say something glib like “2017 was a dumpster fire” like everyone else is. It’s been a tough year for all of us regardless of these personal losses. Because of this, we’ve had to work hard to find pockets of joy. I can’t believe that 45 has ONLY been in office for one year. I can’t believe that it hasn’t even been a year since the Women’s March, ugh. Anyway, maybe the things I’ve shared are too personal for a blog that’s being written in 2017 when we’re supposed to “know better” about what we do and don’t share on the internet. However, I think that a lack of human empathy is what’s gotten us to this point in history. I don’t think anyone reads this except for Kristyn anymore but writing on this blog used to be a great creative outlet for me and I stopped writing for fear of who was reading. I’m going to try not to be afraid of that anymore. Anyway, have a great day, boos. Try to enjoy it.

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Us Upstate in the snow.

I am up early. Since Charles died, I’ve been home on leave and gradually, my schedule has turned upside down into college hours. Kristyn had to be up and out early today so I got up with her to help her out. I go back to work next week and need to get back to normal hours. I’m looking forward to and nervous about going back to work. This whole time I’ve been home, I haven’t managed to accomplish much at all. Right after Charles died, I had this idea that “If nothing can be the same, I want everything to be different.” I wanted to find a way to make big sweeping changes in my life; health wise, maybe moving to a new place, etc. However, I can’t focus on anything so I gave up immediately. Giving up has actually been healing for me. Trying too hard to force things was making me more unhappy in a situation where I was already massively unhappy.

The things that have helped the most are watching soothing sitcoms (Parks and Rec and The Office), Christmas decorations, and spending time with family and friends. I’ve let myself sleep whenever I feel like sleeping. I’ve let myself read endlessly. I’ve let myself cry whenever I feel like it. It’s been enormously helpful and I’m grateful to have had this time.

Now that I’m feeling a bit more clear-headed, the one project I’m currently undertaking with Kristyn is cleaning out the basement. We started yesterday and it’s slow going but is really soothing so far. It feels good to go through old things, to reorganize them, and to clean things. I found some old photos of Charles last night and they made me cry. Honestly, crying makes me feel better. I lean into it whenever it happens because it feels like I’m washing out some of the ick. When he first died, I sobbed constantly and was in a constant fog. But then I couldn’t cry for weeks. Every time I did, my chest hurt and would stop me. I guess it was anxiety. It feels like a blessing to be able to cry about it now.

We made the best of the holiday season which we initially thought was going to be really difficult but it turned into a great distraction. I think that the holidays are always going to be painful from now on but no matter when he died, it would always be painful not to have him around.

I had wanted to go on a trip during this time we had off. I really wanted to get in the car and just drive with no plans but money is tight because I’m not working. The best we could manage was to drive up to the trailer for the day. It felt nice to get out of Kearny into the woods for a while. It felt great to see the river and to go into the trailer for an hour or so. I wish we could have stayed overnight but there is no power or heat.

I want to post some pictures of this year because we managed to have a good time despite having four losses in the family. There were good times mixed in with all the bad. We’re planning a large family trip in 2018 so that’s a fun thing to look forward to as well. Here are some good times from the recent months:

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The Barrs at the Shannon Rose after Lynne’s funeral. This is the last time I saw Charles.

 

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Karen was in town for our High School Reunion.

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The first time we’ve ever been to the Stonewall.

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Going to see Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher.

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Taking a Queer Comics class with Nicole Georges and Ponyo at the Society of Illustrators in NYC.

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Closing up the Trailer for the year with Shirley.

 

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We went and stayed at Kate’s Lazy Meadow for our fourth wedding anniversary.

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This was the weekend we were at Kate’s Lazy Meadow. It was Halloween weekend also.

 

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On Halloween, we went to Mystical World to go to a psychic fair.

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On Halloween, we also went to a ghost hunt.

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This picture is personal but I’m including it because it was a good memory.

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Christine and Charles on Thanksgiving. This is their last selfie together.

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Kristyn and her Dad on Thanksgiving.

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On the day before Thanksgiving, Shirley had a surgery so we all picked her up on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner which was humorous for us but confusing for the people at the animal hospital.

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Shirley doped up in her pen after surgery. Kristyn liked sleeping on the bed too.

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On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went to the Brooklyn Museum with my cousin.

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We went to see “The Dinner Party” by Judy Chicago. Kristyn had to go see it for school but we’d been wanting to see it for a long time anyway.

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Chris, Heather, and Kyra at the restaurant after the museum.

We went to the Brooklyn Museum the day before Charles died which is the weekend after Thanksgiving. There’s a huge gap between then and Christmas because I intentionally didn’t take any photos. I didn’t want to commemorate that time at all. Charles life was so much more than his death and I want to forget as much about his death as is humanly possible. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t know why Charles died. His death was traumatic in only that he’s now gone. He had a peaceful death by all accounts and it seems as though it was by natural causes. Also, there was a lot of sweetness and love surrounding his loss. People were so kind and said such beautiful things about him. This stuff, I don’t want to forget. However, it didn’t feel right or appropriate to take photos of anything during this time because I knew I’d feel sick to look at them later, no matter how innocuous (photos of the cats, etc). And so, we jump to Christmas:

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This is a crazily decorated house in North Arlington.

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This was at the Queer Newark Oral History Project’s Opening Reception for their display at the Newark Museum.

 

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On the same night, we went to the Naughty & Nice Ball in the Newark Library.

 

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My sister had Santa come to Jameson’s fourth birthday party but he ran and hid so we ran and hid with him.

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We had Christmas Eve at Kristyn’s Aunt’s house with her parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

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I always make people take selfies with me at these things haha.

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On Christmas Day, my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew came over so we could exchange gifts before the party at my aunt’s house.

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Here are some of the people at my aunt’s house for Christmas Day.

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Jameson got over his fear of Santa between his birthday party (December 16th) and Christmas. This is my Uncle dressed up…shhh.

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Me and some of my cousins sitting on Santa’s lap.

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Me and Kristyn on NYE.

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Us and the trailer in the snow. I think this was maybe January 2nd or 3rd.

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Shirley and Monster sleeping on me.

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Giles being a cutie patootie.

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Kristyn and Tonya Harding.

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Me and Tonya Harding after seeing “I, Tonya”.

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Kristyn and some Solid Gold dancers at Target.

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Shirley sleeping.

 

Fire and Fury

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Cover image from Amazon.

I am currently listening to Fire and Fury. It’s not too different from the NY Mag excerpt so far. The book is just more fleshed out. The editors at NY Mag did a great job of removing sentences while keeping impact and readability.

Even if this story is full of holes, it can’t ALL be full of shit. If it were, Bannon, Conway, Spicer, Sessions, Ivana, Jared, et al would all be publicly griping. Instead, there’s silence. They’re calling Wolff a liar but also claiming that Bannon is in violation of his NDA which is a confusing bit of logic even if you wanted to believe it. I feel like Wolff did a good job of explaining how he got his info and that some of the info might sound hinky because of the chaotic way that people provided quotes to him. When I first read the excerpt, I felt like certain parts seemed like fanfiction but that it was interesting nonetheless.

I wish Charles were here to laugh at this with us haha. He’d be gasping over this like we are. I posted this picture of Bea Arthur on Charles’ Facebook page before:

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I don’t know where this image came from but I love it.

He loved the Golden Girls and (of course) so do I. I was telling someone that yesterday and it made me think of him. These are weird goddamn times we’re living through. How can Charles be gone and Donald Trump be President of the United States of America?!

Today was La Befana and we intended to celebrate it somehow but Kristyn had to finish a paper so we forgot. We love witches and Kristyn is half Sicilian so we were excited to learn about this tradition. Maybe we’ll do something witchy tomorrow to celebrate.

Tomorrow, I learned, is Little Christmas or Women’s Christmas (aka the Epiphany). We were both raised Catholic but are no longer practicing or consider ourselves to be. However, we are “culturally Catholic” and I never gave much thought as to why I keep the tree up for a week or two after the New Year. My Mom happened to mention the other day that she keeps it up for Little Christmas for luck. It turns out that I’ve been celebrating Little Christmas out of a familial Catholic habit. Life is weird. Anyway, I thought it was interesting because Women’s Christmas is celebrated in Ireland and Scotland and on that day, women go out and party while men take care of the house. I’m INTO this. Too bad there are no men here to exploit. Maybe I’ll make Giles and Monster (our cats) clean up their own litter boxes tomorrow. Here’s Giles looking pretty earlier tonight:

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G.

I’m writing this to wait out Kristyn until she’s done with her paper. It was due 8 minutes ago but if I know her, she’s still toodling. I think I need to go pry her fingers off the keyboard. It’s not that we have anything to do but I know that if I leave her to her own devices, she’ll futz with this paper until she passes out typing. I am going to go shout “SUBMIT IT!” at her. Goodnight!

 

Charles

Charles

We lost Charles on Monday, November 27, 2017. I don’t want to write too much about it because I don’t want to get myself upset. His passed away suddenly but naturally without fear or pain. We have all gotten signs from him that he’s okay where he is and I genuinely believe that to be true. It’s hard to believe it but it’s true. I can’t talk about it now. I keep starting and stopping from saying things because it hurts my chest to think about. I am thinking about him all the time and everything is reminding me of him. Mostly, that’s been good but sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me by a simple thought and start crying. I’ve been letting myself lean into however I’m feeling about it. This being the holiday season, there are a lot of feelings and distractions and fun things. We went to a medium the week after his services who said that Charles was fine, didn’t want us to be upset, and that if we knew where he was, we wouldn’t feel sad; we’d be jealous. That thought comforts me. I have to stop writing about this now. I just wanted to write something small about it to mark it on this blog because this blog has served as a sort of public diary for almost ten years. I always intend to write more on here and hope to going forward but I definitely couldn’t do it without mentioning my brother, Charles. I love him and miss him very much. My life was better for having him here and I hate that this is all the time we had. I’m crying now and my chest hurts so I’m going to stop.