riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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Dreaming of Zelda

I recently watched the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It’s about a 1950s housewife and mother who decides to try and make it as a comedian in an extremely male-dominated field. It took me a little time to get into it, but the show’s endearing quality grew on me. And I love its style. Mrs. Maisel’s parents (the Weissmans) live in a beautiful Upper West Side apartment with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms and sitting rooms, a fireplace, a grand piano (seriously, their apartment is to die for). My favorite part of their life, however, is their Polish housemaid Zelda.

Zelda does everything – she cooks, cleans, shops, answers the phone, wraps the gifts, hires extra help when needed, and probably more. The only thing she doesn’t do is drive. I’m not sure if she lives with the family, but she’s always there, in the morning to hand them their first cup of coffee and at night to clean up after dinner. She doesn’t say much, but her presence is felt. The more I watched the show, the more I noticed her, and thought about her, and started to wonder what it would be like to have a Zelda.

In my life, I’ve experienced Zelda only fleetingly, and never at full capacity. At some point in my childhood, I remember my mother hired a woman to clean our house every other week. When Kaz was very ill, a friend sent a maid service to help clean our apartment once a week, which was extremely generous and greatly appreciated.

The closest thing to a full Zelda experience was when I went to a writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center several years ago. For four blissful weeks, my only responsibility was to clean my clothes (at the local laundromat). Everything else was done for me (and the other residents). My day consisted of walking to the mess hall for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the rest of the time writing in a private office. It was HEAVEN.

Many art and writing residencies are like this. The whole point is to provide you the time and space to focus solely on your work. It’s such a luxury.

I have a writer friend whose husband does most of the cooking, shopping and cleaning. She used to do these things when he worked, but now he’s retired and they’ve sort of switched roles. She writes all day and comes down for her meals. He takes care of the house. Luckily, he truly enjoys cooking and is very talented. It’s a beautiful thing.

In my house, there is no Zelda, or version of her. There’s only me. Before the pandemic, I had a woman come to clean my house every other week, and a dog walker come twice a week. I was working full-time and would come home on my lunch hour to walk the dog on the other days. Then I was let go. These days, the dog walker comes one afternoon a week (Fridays) and walks Ruby with other dogs, which is good for all three of us.

But if I had the money… you better believe I would hire a Zelda. Maybe more than one – like one for the inside and one for the outside (a gardener). I hope that doesn’t sound terrible – I love my house and know how lucky I am to have it. I just sometimes wish I had some help taking care of it, because everything takes so much time.

I’m fantasizing here… but if I had a Zelda, I wouldn’t have to clean the house, or shop, or do the laundry, or cook every meal, or perform any type of maintenance. I wouldn’t have to mow the lawn, or remember to take out the trash. I could sit in my office all day (writing, of course) and know that meals would be ready when I come down, the house is clean, the dog is walked, the yard is tidy, and absolutely everything is taken care of. What a dream!

This might actually be why I’m working so hard – to be able to hire my very own Zelda one day.

Then again, I can imagine having a Zelda could be a little addictive, and possibly a never-ending cycle.

Like, if I had a lot of money, I would probably get a bigger house, with land, on which I’d put a bigger garden and more animals (I’ve always wanted a horse). Eventually, I might want more than one house, or a house with a guest house. And a pool, and possibly a pond.

Who’s going to take care of all that if not a small army of Zeldas? Can you imagine? It actually sounds like a headache and terribly excessive for one person.

The irony is that, except for certain tasks, I rather enjoy doing most of the chores. I get a strange satisfaction from washing dishes, which I do first thing in the morning. It’s like starting the day with a clean slate and a sense of accomplishment. And I absolutely love to cook. It’s a hobby actually. As is gardening. And of course, you all know how much I love hiking with my dog. So, I don’t know… maybe a part-time Zelda to help with things would be ideal.

Or maybe what I’m really craving is a life partner. Someone to help shoulder the burdens of life, do the chores with, and so many other things.

If you have a Zelda, or partner who helps maintain things and makes life a little easier (btw, I’m not equating a maid with a partner), I hope you realize what a blessing it is. One day, I’ll get there.

In the meantime, I’m fine taking care of myself and my house and my dog on my own.

And to relax in the evenings, I’m re-watching the series Downton Abbey, which is, of course, completely over the top with Zeldas doing everything and then standing silently in the room pretending not to listen to your conversation (weird). But as Chance the gardener (Peter Sellers) said in the moving Being There, “I like to watch.”

Have a great week, everyone!


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Introducing… Nellie

Hello, people! I took a semi-break from social media in order to concentrate on writing. But I’m back now and want to introduce you to someone. We’ve actually known each other for as long as I can remember, but lately, we’ve became reacquainted. Her name is Nellie. As in Negative Nellie, and she’s the voice in my head that tells me I’m terrible!

Let’s back up a sec.

First of all, I’m pretty sure everyone has a “Nellie.” I imagine artists and creative types can especially relate – maybe surgeons and airline pilots less so (I hope). But I think everyone (who is not a narcissist) has experienced feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, nagging insecurities, that “voice in your head” that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, young enough, you have no idea what you’re doing, you should just give up on whatever it is you’re trying to do… and so on. (Any of this sound familiar?)

There are periods in life when this voice gets louder and has more control over you, and other periods when the voice gets quieter, or you’re able to ignore it better.

Like for example, when I was younger and just starting out as a writer, I was often racked with these feelings of unworthiness, even when I was receiving accolades. And in romantic relationships? Fugghedaboutit. Basically, guys were dating Nellie.

An old therapist used to try and encourage me to self-soothe by just “observing” this black cloud of swirling insecurities (I hadn’t named her yet) that followed me everywhere I went. But that felt like observing my own shadow, and often like observing my own brain, which I wasn’t very good at. Back then, Nellie actually got me to do things, nothing terrible, things like send someone too many texts, or send an email when I shouldn’t have, or get upset about things that didn’t really matter.

Then, I don’t know, things changed. Maybe it’s growing up. I know for a fact that all the losses I’ve experienced have changed my perspective. I am more driven, care less about certain things, and have tried incredibly hard to balance out my internal anger towards the Universe with internal GRATITUDE. When you’ve lost a lot, you develop an “I have nothing more to lose” attitude towards life, because… you kinda don’t. And you tend to appreciate what you still do have even more.

BUT… Nellie never went away. With all the anxiety of this past year, she’s actually had a resurrection of sorts. The difference is that now I recognize this Bitch a mile away.

Let me describe Nellie to you. Contrary to what you might imagine, my Nellie is not a chain-smoking, mascara-smudged, hard-hearted stone-cold fox. She’s the opposite. She’s a demure, cardigan-wearing, passive-aggressive, hand-wringing worrier, who likes to knit or crochet when she’s really beside herself. She loves me, or she thinks she does. So, everything she says is “out of love” and “concern.” Her main concern is that I not get hurt or disappointed.

Typical conversations with Nellie begin with her gently saying something like, “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” or “Are you sure about that?” or “Maybe you should stop and reconsider the consequences…”

When she’s feeling especially righteous and full of conviction, Nellie will say things like, “Sweetie, you know I’m saying this only out of love for you, but I really think you should consider that you’re… too fat to wear that now… too old to pursue that particular career… not quite talented enough to finish that project… ” ETC. ETC.

And when she REALLY wants to crush my soul, she’ll pause her knitting and look at me from the corner of the room with a sad but loving look and say, “Dear, I think it’s time to face up to the fact that nobody actually likes you. They’re all just… pretending.”

Oh Nellie. Bless your heart.

What I’ve learned over the years is there’s no point in arguing with Nellie. She’s always going to be there, and she’s never going to change. She is, indeed, my shadow. And just like my shadow, she is also not in control. I am.

So, knowing that Nellie is a thing, and knowing her purpose, it’s easier to deal with her. Often, I do this by lovingly telling her to Shut The Fuck Up. Or hitting the MUTE button, so even though her lips are moving, no sound is coming out.

The truth is if I listened to Nellie, I’d never put myself out there as a writer. I’d never try or start anything new. Never finish anything. Never take any chances. Most importantly, I’d never listen to my TRUE VOICE.

My passionate, wild-haired, creative, burning-the-candle-at-both-ends, work-hard-play-hard, creative spirit who is in constant motion, sometimes jumping on imaginary horses and charging ahead, sometimes diving underwater and swimming amongst the coral, sometimes just sitting quietly in meditation listening to the chirping birds and wind rustling through the trees.

My creative spirit is free, bold, loud, courageous and strong – and no Negative Nellie could ever squash it. Deep down, I think Nellie knows this, which is her insecurity.

There’s power in recognizing that Nellie has no talent of her own, no purpose in life. She’s simply a vessel for FEAR. And her fear of failure is equal to her fear of success. It’s fear that motivates her. And that’s okay. As long as that I don’t let her fear control me.

So, I don’t mind Nellie so much anymore. I mean, sometimes she gets on my nerves, and (I won’t lie) occasionally she still gets the better of me. But most of the time, I’m able to ignore her.

I yell across the room, “Not today, Nellie!” To which, she shrugs and goes back to her knitting.


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Why I Don’t Kill Bugs

Picture this. You walk into your bathroom and notice a large centipede in your tub, frozen in place, perhaps because it senses you, but alive. What do you do?

Most people would smash the centipede with their shoe, pick it up with some toilet paper, and throw it in the toilet. That’s what I used to do.

Lately, however, my attitude towards bugs has changed, and no one is more surprised by this than I. That’s because I very strongly dislike things that scurry or buzz, especially in my house, but even outside. When I encounter one of these creepy-crawly-buzzing creatures I tend to react with the stereotypical “scream and jump on the nearest chair” routine, followed by the equally predictable “search and destroy” routine.

The only exception has been spiders. I don’t know if it’s a myth I once heard, or because I read Charlotte’s Web when I was a child, but I’ve always believed it’s bad luck to kill a spider.

I think the attitude shift towards the rest of the creepy-crawlies started after my late husband died. I remember going on a hike in the Santa monica mountains about four weeks after he died. It was ill-advised to attempt a hike – I was totally exhausted and didn’t make it very far.

I ended up sitting at a bench and just staring at the scenery – ducks in the water, flies and bumblebees buzzing around, a hummingbird making its way from flower to flower. At the time, I felt resentment, like why did these flies and bumblebees get to live and Kaz didn’t?

But over the years, I started marveling at anything to do with Nature, even bugs. I actually started feeling like we humans are the guests, and the bugs, plants, and animals are the hosts. Like it’s their planet. We’re just passing through.

When I moved from Los Angeles to rural upstate New York, the bugs and critters seemed more natural than people. I still screamed when I saw them in my house, but I hesitated before running after them with a can of bug spray. And I felt really bad when I killed one. That house had a mice problem, and the owner helped me put out traps and poison. One day I came home to a dead mouse floating in the toilet, which was beyond gross, but also sad. The mouse probably ate the poison and jumped into the toilet to relieve his thirst or pain. I felt terrible for it.

When I moved into my current house, I was relieved that it didn’t seem to have any major bug or rodent issues. Then, one winter’s day when all the windows were closed, a diamond-dhaped, flat, flying bug suddenly landed on my computer, seemingly out of nowhere. Normally, I would have killed it, but something told me not to.

I very gently picked the bug up with a tissue, opened the window to the freezing winter’s air, and threw it outside, wishing it luck.

I repeated this with about a dozen identical bugs (or a dozen times with the same bug, who knows) over the course of that first winter. After the third time, I decided to research the bug and learned that it was a Stink Bug, which are common in this area and relatively harmless.

bmsb_overview_hp

Killing a Stink Bug releases… you guessed it… the Mother of all Stinks. So, my instinct to not kill it was correct.

Since then, I have felt less inclined to kill other bugs I come across. Which brings me back to the centipede.

A few weeks ago I saw this thing in my tub.

house-centipede-shutterstock_273463868-1

I immediately screamed and ran out of the bathroom, horrified and hyperventilating.

When I finally got up the nerve to re-enter the bathroom, I stood over the tub and inspected the centipede. My voice must have startled it, because now it was trying desperately to crawl out, but as soon as it got halfway up, it slid back down. It was definitely trapped.

Everything about this bug revolted me.  But I simply couldn’t kill it. Which meant I had to get rid of it some other way.

First, I tried easing a piece of toilet paper under it, but the minute I got close, the damn thing started running so fast, it was almost on my finger before I knew what was happening. I screamed, dropped the toilet paper with the centipede, and ran out of the bathroom again.

A few minutes later, I returned with a New Yorker magazine.

“I’m not trying to hurt you,” I said to the centipede. “I’m trying to save you.”

I took a deep breath, paused to open the window and the screen, then gently placed the New Yorker under the centipede. Once again it ran at lightening speed across the magazine, but I had *just* enough time to stand up and throw it and the New Yorker outside.

This same scenario happened with a black ant, as well as a spider. Apparently, my tub is a popular spot.

Then, of course, there was the squirrel who jumped in front of my car and which I quickly swerved to avoid hitting.

The deer that someone else hit, whose dead body on the side of the road caused me to burst into tears.

And the frogs.

Returning home from a friend’s house in the woods one rainy evening, my headlights picked up on movement on the road ahead. It was hundreds, if not thousands, of little frogs jumping in the middle of the road (this video shows a similar situation, though I was on a smaller country road).

It was too late to turn back, so I had to keep going… knowing that I was killing at least a few frogs. It was heartbreaking.

As was the other day when a bee stung me, and I realized that the bee would die.

Why am I telling you about these weird stories? I guess because I see a direct correlation between loss and life.

I was just trying to explain this to a friend the other day (and wasn’t terribly articulate about it). Losing people, and experiencing death up close, humbles you. Humbles me. To the point where I don’t look at any living creature  in the same way. The centipede, bees, worms, snakes, rats, mice, you name it… call me a hippie, but I will spend a little more time to avoid them without harming them.

Unless you’re a mosquito.

If you’re a mosquito, fuggedaboutit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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In These Uncertain Times

All I want in life right now is stability and security, so that I can get back to my creative writing. There’s been a lot going on, including being busy at my part-time job, losing my second part-time job, looking for more work, taking care of my house and dog, keeping up with family, friends, and other social responsibilities. On top of everything, last week I was under the weather and still had to work. Nightmare!

With all these distractions and set backs, it’s been challenging to stay positive, let alone write consistently. There have been days when I’ve been lonely, sad, depressed, angry. I have questioned my life decisions: Why did I leave Los Angeles? Why don’t I write more? Why aren’t I making movies? Why did I adopt a second dog? Why did I spend  so much money on X, Y, and Z? Why have I wasted so much time?? So on, and so on…

We all go through periods like this. Periods of Uncertainty. They’re terribly frustrating, but part of life. We often don’t know what’s around the corner, or how things are going to turn out. We hope for the best, but nothing is guaranteed. Uncertainty is, in my opinion, the antithesis of creativity. It’s hard to be creative when you don’t know how you’re going to pay your mortgage.

So, what should we do? Just give up?

HELL NO.

Giving up is not an option.

But there are things we can do to make these challenging times a little more bearable:

  • *MOST IMPORTANT* Do not get down on yourself. This is the worst possible thing you could do and serves no purpose whatsoever. Instead…
  • Recognize the positive things you are doing. Every step, no matter how small, moves you closer to your goal. Remember, you are doing your best!
  • Be creative when you can. Maybe it’s a few minutes when you wake up in the morning, or before you go to sleep. Maybe it’s on your lunch hour. Find a few minutes in your day to flex those creative muscles.
  • Keep at least one regular social outlet with like-minded creative people. At the beginning of this year, I started a monthly writer’s group with a few friends, and it is literally saving my sanity right now. At the very least, this group is making me open my manuscript and review my work. I’m receiving feedback on my pages, even if I’m not writing a lot. Reading and analyzing other people’s work also flexes my writing brain.
  • Keep exercising. Taking your dog for long walks counts!
  • Take media breaks. Turn off your phone, radio, television, and unplug. Again, even if it’s just for a few minutes, it will help quiet your brain and keep you centered.
  • Treat yourself to something small. Feel good about that job interview? Go have a sushi lunch. Get a mani/pedi. Buy yourself a used book. Do something nice for yourself as a reward.
  • Bond with others in the same boat. I have a friend who is also looking for work, and we’ve been meeting up lately (often over beers) to talk about our days. It helps! We even send each other job postings, sometimes for jobs we’re applying to. We’re supporting each other, rather than being competitive.

I could go on… but you get the idea. The point is to Take Care Of Yourself. Now more than ever.

Of course there will be down moments. Feel them and move on. Don’t wallow, don’t look back, don’t stay stuck. Keep it moving, and keep it positive as much as possible.

This too shall pass, friends.

 


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Putting It Out There (Are You Listening, Universe?)

Loss is a beast. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly understand or be free of it.

I have felt somewhat distant from the losses I experienced earlier this year, partly because they both lived on the other side of the country. Partly because I’ve deliberately kept myself busy these last few months, with work mostly. It didn’t occur to me until just now, but I did the same thing after Kaz died.

Which is not to say that good things aren’t happening. All the hard work seems to have created some momentum.

I have been writing on my book, and it’s going really well.

I just started a new blog series for a large company – to be announced soon.

Ruby is healing beautifully and as beautiful as ever.

IMG_20160509_164620IMG_20160505_084942

I am taking the first steps towards buying a house – finding out what I can afford and looking around my area. I hope to buy something toward the end of the year.

I have stopped eating meat and am trying to avoid dairy – the former a lot easier to do than the latter!

Things are going well at my PT gallery job.

IMG_20160425_151435I spent a very special weekend at a conference at West Point Military Academy recently, and am about to attend a prestigious writers’ conference in NYC.

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I’ve made some wonderful new friends and connections.

Still, there is a layer of loneliness to life. This is more of an observation than a complaint. I don’t think it has to do with the rural area where I live. I see plenty of people through my job and social life.

No, there is loneliness because I am alone at home (other than the dog). It was a necessary cocoon, of sorts and not in a bad way, as I healed. Now I miss having another person around to share moments and conversations.

There is so much life still to live.

But it has to be the right person… someone who doesn’t need much, someone who is intelligent, intuitive and kind. Someone who has a good sense of humor, a passion for something, is artistic but not egotistical, talented but humble. Someone who understands what is important in life and isn’t afraid to live it.

Am I asking for the stars? I hope not. I used to think it impossible to meet someone as cool as Kaz. Now I feel more ready to accept what a friend once told me, “It won’t be the same. It will be different.” I also feel like I’ve learned the lessons I needed to learn, and I’m ready to apply them should I get the chance.

The idea of going on a dating site does not appeal to me in the least. I’d like to meet someone in an organic, no pressure kind of way.

It’s been 5 years since Kaz died. Strangely it feels both like yesterday and like a lifetime ago. I’m proud of how I’ve changed my life – moved across country, started a new career and a whole new social life.

What’s missing is a partner… and a house.

Not sure in which order they will come to me… but I am putting my desires out there into the universe.

I hope the universe is listening, as I listen to it.

candles2

 

 

 


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A New Loss…

My father passed away last week. He was 86, but it was unexpected. I’m not quite ready to write about it because I’m still processing and very sad. I’m finding it challenging to concentrate and stay motivated. But I’d like to republish this blog post I wrote about a year and a half ago. I’m so glad I wrote it when I did.

http://ridingbitchblog.com/2013/08/21/what-it-means-to-be-84/

My father turns 84 today. How is he spending his birthday? By driving across country in his new Porsche, naturally. He bought it a couple of months ago on a whim and promptly described the experience of driving it as “like being in Heaven… without dying.”

Hard to argue with that. Though the Porsche has drawn different reactions from the family. Some think it was a huge waste of money – money that would have been better spent on his grandchildren’s college education, or invested in some stable but profit-earning entity, so it could make more money.

Others think, “Wow, good for him. Let him have fun.” The man has worked hard all his life and never been able to treat himself to something this luxurious. He’s lucky to be of sound body and mind, both of which he sarcastically attributes to “clean living.” To his credit, he did quit smoking in his 40s (half his life ago), and has exercised for at least 30 minutes daily ever since, swimming at his local pool. Despite his remarkable tip-top shape, one can sense that The End is on his mind.

“The Grim Reaper keeps calling and getting the wrong number… but one day he’ll get the right number.”

“I’d rather enjoy the Porsche now, then wait till later and have my funeral in a Porsche.”

What does it mean to be 84 years old in America?

It means you were born in 1929.

For the first 16 years of your life, the only President you knew was Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President  1933-1945 [photo source: Wikipedia]

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President 1933-1945 [photo source: Wikipedia]

You were a child of the Great Depression. Your parents either stayed rich, starved, or worked several jobs so that you wouldn’t starve.

Your main source of news, sports, and entertainment growing up was the radio.

You were 9 years old when Orson Welles narrated the radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds, which suggested that an alien invasion was currently in progress.

War of The Worlds by Orson Welles [photo source: skepticalteacher.wordpress.com]

War of The Worlds by Orson Welles [photo source: skepticalteacher.wordpress.com]

You can still remember where you were when you heard the news about Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. You were 12 years old.

The USS Arizona burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor [photo source: wikipedia]

The USS Arizona burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor [photo source: wikipedia]

You were a teenager during World War II.

If you joined the service, you were either in the Korean or Vietnam War.

If you’re African American, no matter where you lived, you undoubtedly experienced some measure of Jim Crow laws, whether having to sit in the back of the bus, drinking from a different water fountain, sitting in a different section of a restaurant or movie theater, or being harassed for marrying a White woman.

I Am a Man march [photo source: legendsofamerica.com]

[photo source: legendsofamerica.com]

You might have chosen to escape such laws by moving to Canada, Bolivia,  Israel, anywhere but the United States until things changed.

You were 32 years old when Yuri Gagarin became the first man to successfully orbit the Earth in 1961.

Yuri Gagarin [photo source: wikipedia]

Yuri Gagarin [photo source: wikipedia]

You remember where you were when John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.

You might have had to move back to the States in the 1970’s because your wife got sick and the States had the best healthcare.

You might have stayed married for 25 years, before separating from but not divorcing your wife, so she could remain on your health insurance.

You worked a job you hated until you retired at the age of 67.

You reconciled with your estranged adult children at the age of 70.

You were 79 years old when Barack Obama became the first Black president, a day you never thought you would see in your lifetime.obama

Now, you’re 84 years old with near perfect health (save for the pacemaker) and 100% of your mental faculties. Your parents, siblings, colleagues and most of your friends are long gone. Of course, you get a Porsche and drive it across country to see your children and grandchildren and this great big country.

If not now, when?

[Photo source: James Mayfield, roadloans.com]

[Photo source: James Mayfield, roadloans.com]


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It’s Been Too Long

I’m super busy right now and for the next couple of weeks. It’s messing with my blogging schedule, which is frustrating. I miss writing here. There’s been a lot on my mind but little time to get the words out. I know the world keeps turning and probably no one notices when I’m silent, but I’m thinking of you, dear bloggers. I hope you’re all doing well, enjoying the summer, or what’s left of it. For me, it felt like winter would never end, and the summer has flown by! Here’s to a few more weeks of sunshine before the leaves start to turn. Will write more soon. – Niva

Processed with VSCOcam


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The Sweet Gift of Grief

Recently, I have felt a growing distance from my grief, and it’s been bumming me out. It’s as if I’m losing the sense of being Kaz’s widow. Even more disconcerting, of being his wife. The healing seems to have replaced something intangible in addition to the grief. Or perhaps it has become a thing in itself, like a scar that replaces a wound and then becomes a permanent fixture of the body.

I’ve actually found myself yearning for the earlier days of grief. The days when it felt like my heart was splitting in two, every waking moment an excruciating reminder of his permanent absence. Yet I could still feel and remember him vividly, and we were still together, still part of a union. So there was sweetness mixed in with the pain. Now the pain has subsided taking the sweetness with it, and I’m left feeling empty, longing for one or the other, or both.

Then three triggers happened this weekend.

The first – a dear friend got upset with me about something on Friday night (details irrelevant to this post). When I finally left work at 7:45pm, I drove home knowing this friend was disappointed in me and basically feeling like shit. I remembered similar times before when I had come home upset and Kaz had put things in perspective.

“Don’t beat yourself up,” he would have told me Friday night. “You apologized. There’s nothing more you can do.” He would have diverted my attention to the positive. “Hey, at least today was pay-day, and tomorrow Angelina is coming over, and Sunday is football, and you’re going to cook us dinner.” At that point, I would have nudged him and laughed.

Angelina is the new cleaning lady I’ve hired to come every other week. She is reasonably priced and sorely needed, but still a splurge. The last time I had a cleaning lady was when Kaz was sick. One of my former bosses had very generously donated several months of cleaning service. Kaz immediately dubbed these nice ladies “the help” (a year before the film came out), and mumbled about them moving his stuff around. But we both appreciated them very much. 

This new lady, Angelina, did a wonderful job. She also emanated a certain energy that I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s comforting to know she’ll be back every two weeks, and not just because of the cleanliness she leaves behind.

The second trigger was a dream on Saturday night, in which I visited Kaz in a hospital. I hate to see him sick in my dreams, but it was still good to see him in general.  We spent the time lying on the grass in the shade of a large tree outside his hospital room, just listening to the wind rustling through the leaves. 

Sunday I slept in and captured this classic moment:

Ruby in the morning

Then it was off to Agility class with Ruby, where she got to do the course off-leash for the first time, and see her pal Louie, the grey poodle I wrote about here. They’re both in Obedience and Agility together and quite an item now, play-wrestling before and after class to everyone’s amusement. Louie shows his affection by chewing on Ruby’s ears, and she shows hers by nibbling on his ankles. “He has a thing for female pitbulls,” Louie’s dad told me with a smile.

The third trigger happened when we stopped to look at motorcycles at a Honda dealership on the way home. “My late husband owned an RC51,” I told the rep as he showed me around. I could almost feel Kaz walking around with us.

Not surprisingly, I cried harder this weekend than I have in the past several months. But it was a good cry, familiar and somewhat comforting. I had been missing my man, and this weekend he came back briefly. His sweet presence in turn triggered the painful grief. But despite – or perhaps because of – the tears, I felt grateful.