December 23rd, 2002


All things considered

Some random notes from this lovely Monday morning.

I need a Walkman radio so I can listen to Morning Edition on the bus.

I have some sort of low grade eye infection. For a couple of years (96 to 98) I was getting them all the time. Eyes would dry out, then all of a sudden they would swell up, and then the styes would appear after they swoll up. I suspect this time it has to do with all the crying I've been doing the last week or so.

I'm starting James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss. I haven't read any of my Crumley in years. I vaguely remember liking the books. We'll see how well he holds up to The New Phil.

I have a premonition. Today will be all right. At least through work. I have decided not to work from home. I will go in to the office.


I was wrong

Soon as I get into the shower, the memories start bubbling up. Here's the plan. I am going to write about last Christmas today. Everything I can remember. Then I am also probably going to post a bunch of other entries. A year in review of a different sort. Because like it or not, I think a lot of the growth I've been through this year has to do with my experience of Matt's death. Oh, and I'll probably be sending out email, just to chat, to a lot of people who have volunteered to help me through this. Goddammit, I am going to cry, but I am also going to walk through this facing forward. I haven't exactly been crawling under the covers and refusing to face the world, but it's felt like that. And I'll be doing some coding at work today. Lotta this other stuff will happen when I have to doa build, which can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 50 minutes depending on how deeply into the tree I have to muck with.

Off to work now.


Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

Yeah, this is long. No lj-cut though. If you don't want to read about the important stuff in my life, feel free to remove me from your friends list.

Gram and Gramps gave me a ride to my parent's place, which is where the family Christmas was going to be held in 2001. They live in Lynden, north of Bellingham just a bit, and the last bastion of blue laws and anti-dancing ordinances in Washington. My mom wanted to move out of the city of Shoreline, the crime-infested murder and robbery capitol of Washington. Or so it seemed to her. So when they retired, my parents moved to Lynden.Gram and Gramps pretty much use there cell phone for one thing. They call up to my place when they arrive, so they don't have to get out of the car to get me. They are starting to get up there in years. Although they are pretty active, they aren't the most mobile anymore. So I don't mind going out to the car instead of waiting for them to come up. After they picked me up, we headed to my cousin Laura's. She lives in the U-District. And after that, we got onto the freeway for what was mostly an uneventful ride.

Nearing Bellingham though, there was a horrible back up on the freeway. For probably 45 minutes we crawled along the freeway at a pace of 5 miles an hour. I remember being pissed at a couple of cars who decided to cut left of the cones in the road to bypass the line. When they tried to merge in, cars wouldn't let them. And another car moved left to block them from using the other lane. I applauded.

At the Samish way exit, all traffic was diverted off the freeway. I could see the flashing lights just past the exit. Only police cruisers and tow trucks. No ambulances. Then we got to drive along Samish way for a while, before re-entering the freeway in Bellingham. Only a couple more exits, and we exited the freeway for good, to head up the Guide Meridian to Lynden and my parent's house on Wiser Lake Road. Unfortunately, they don't actually live on the lake itself, nor can you see if from their property. Still, it's a nice view of the Cascades and behind their house is only fields and pastures.

Parked in their driveway was a car I didn't recognize. I figured we weren't the first to arrive, but which extended cousin, aunt, or uncle owned this car? Or was it a member of their church?

I walked up to the door. I always knock. Although with friends and family I will walk in after knocking without waiting for them to come open it. But I always knock to warn them. My dad (step-father), rushed to the door.

Two steps in, he barked, Matt died. He flipped his truck.

What??! I exclaimed, thinking this was some kind of joke. My dad is known for not knowing what is appropriate and not in stories and joke-telling.

And then out of the kitchen stepped the owner of the car, the police chaplain. It was true. I collapsed onto the couch. We had just missed the official notification police cruiser by minutes.

They only knew to come there, because Matt had a cell phone with Mom as an entry in the numbers. Otherwise, he would have been another California driver and they wouldn't have figured out his connection to us for another day or two.

I liked the police chaplain.

Most of the rest of the day is a blur. I remember when various people arrived, but not the order. I vaguely remember eating.

Joe handled it about as well as I did, collapsing into the arms of his fiance, Sarah.

My dad was very brusque in passing the news to people as they arrived.

My mom was light-hearted and smiling. Matt won't make it here today, she told my cousin Sarah Field. Why not? Sarah asked. And my mother responded, Oh… he was in a car accident. Then she walked off. Sarah turned to me and asked, Well, can we leave his card here for him or should we just mail it to California? I think she was confused by my crying. I had to tell her Matt had died.

After that, every time I heard a car drive up, I intercepted whoever arrived to tell them the news. Although the only people I remember actually telling were my aunt and uncle Bill and Carol, and Carol's mom Edie. I intercepted them coming in through the garage. They wanted to know if they should just go home. We had decided to keep on with Christmas dinner, rather than try to stop people from coming. Because of the distance, we figured most people would already have left. And it might be easier to have them be around family.

The pastor from my mom's parish arrived, as well as several other church members. I didn't like them as much as the police chaplain. The chaplain had lost a child earlier in the year. The pastor was just a bit too caring for how much he knew me. He kept trying to hug me. So did the other members of my mom's church. I didn't know them. They meant well. I think the chaplain though had more experience, including his own, and sensed what kind of contact I needed.

At some point, I remembered that Janie and Jack Sloane were Matt's god-parents. So I asked my mom if anyone had called them yet. No one had, and so my mom got on the phone and did.

I was angry at one point that my mom was trying to plan Matt's funeral in Washington. I thought it would be more appropriate if it was held at his own church, Adventure Christian in California. It was through this church that Matt turned his life around.

All told, there were probably 40 or 50 relatives there that day. Pretty much everyone on three sides of the family (mom's, dad's, and step-dad's) that live in Washington were there. Every time someone arrived, I broke down again.

I spent the night at a motel in Lynden, along with Gail and Doug (my aunt and uncle), and my grandparents. I called Laura Townsend from there. Her first words after telling her were, I can be up there in a couple of hours. I told her it wasn't necessary. Over all her brashness and bluster, I will remember that as her defining moment. She would drop everything to make sure I was all right.

I still have to write about the next day. Seeing the truck. Talking to the state patrol. Visiting the accident site I could only glimpse from the exit.



Second in the series (some private).

I met Deirdre at the Mercury in February. She's more or less the first Sea-goth I met. And the start of me becoming part of the scene. Sloane was hitting on her, and we invited her to IHOP after the Merc. I bought… for about 7 people. I don't recall much else of her at that point.

I got to talk to her at the Mercury for a bit when she bailed on a ski trip she had planned. Still sick, she couldn't be aged up in her apartment. Yet again, I don't recall anything of what we talked about.

In March, she invited me to a party she was throwing. Lots of local industrial band members there: Tom and Fritter, Jason and Anna, Chris and Alexia. Couple others I think. I heard (and forgot) more about band politics than I'll ever hear again. Why she invited me, I don't really know. But for some reason we became friends. We started emailing each other after that. Ten to 15 emails a week. She drove me to Victor's funeral, knowing I had a ton of unresolved issues with respect to Matt.

Why I liked her? She was the first balanced woman I've ever met under the age of 40. Self-sustaining. Head together. She's got her faults: a tendency to agree to do too many things, sometimes hard to schedule things with due to item #1, a fear of commitment, and sometimes she undervalues herself too much. But she's smart, helpful, caring, and beautiful. She can cook (and with lots of garlic). Very trustworthy. She would never intentionally use something against me. And she doesn't have the hole in the middle that the wind blows through.

I have issues with touching and being touched. It scares me. But I knew I needed to get over it as mrsloane says. No need for Dr. Phil books. No need for therapy. Just needed to get over it. I still generally don't like people touching me. But Deirdre is the person who pushed me to get over it. She likes touch. She made a point to initiate contact. I sat with her one night at the Mercury in a cramped booth. I caught myself squeezing myself as far to the wall of the booth as I could, so as not to touch her unnecessarily. I stopped. I forced myself to sit comfortably, to let my leg press against hers on the chair. Then I had to force myself to relax, to breathe. I also remember, in September at a party, asking her what time it was and having her not hear me. So I took her hand, so I could read her watch. She jumped a little, and then squeezed my hand, but was ultimately disappointed that we had not just had a moment. Still not the touchiest of people (nor do I ever want to be), but I blame her for getting me over the worst of it.

She became one of the two women I turn to for advice on relationships. When J played me, she helped me through it. When I thought my latest interest was out of my league, she laughed at me. She pushed me to pursue it anyway. She told me I was worth more than I gave myself credit for.

Now, if only I can give back as much to her as she has to me.



Third in a series.

I've known Darren for about 3 years. He's been a friend of Jason's for years. For most of this time, he was this guy Jason knew. I'd say hi when we wandered through Musicwerks on Saturday nights. I'd hang with him a bit at the Vogue or the Mercury.

During the last year though, I've got to know him a lot better. It started with Loser's Lunch, Sloane's idea for hanging out Sunday afternoons after the two of them got pickled Saturday nights, and none of us got anywhere with the women. Well, Sloane and Darren occasionally did, and usually regretted it. We'd hang out and tell each other lies. Give each other bad advice.

See, underneath the MindHive exterior, Darren is actually decent. It takes work to be that stupid. He's murder on the nitwits, but friends with the genuine. In addition, he's always entertaining. Watch one of his shows where he plays. He'll tell you he's not the best drummer in the world. But he sure can put on a show. Put him together with an industrial front-man who can't do more than stand on stage and play a tape, and you'll still have a good show. Take him away from a stage, and he can make wherever he is into a performance.

Again, like the other people who mean a lot to me, Darren is someone who I trust not to hurt me. Pretty much every single entry in this journal, even the most private ones, can be read by him. Unlike others, he doesn't offer much advice. But occasionally, he will. Mostly to bring me away from the wallflower state.

He's been to both my Do Nothing weekends. Pie Nights. Fourth of July on Lake Union. And just over to hang out a couple of times. Numerous Loser's Lunches. Many nights at the clubs. He brings levity, enjoyment, and good conversation wherever he goes.