Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sweet October.....

I just wanted to share this picture that is buzzing around Pinterest.  My sister, Bri found this there and said that it reminds her of me.  It really sums up how I feel about fall.  The beautiful colors and crisp breeze that fall brings also brings a certain peace and calm into our lives (well at least into mine).  I long to spend fall, someday, in a charming place like Savannah, Georgia....or maybe somewhere in New England.  I can imagine my mom and sisters and I visiting there.  We'd be sipping apple cider and pumpkin lattes, finding craft fairs and exploring all of the local quaint shops and cafes.  I'd want us to visit every pumpkin festival and apple picking farm in the area!  Then at night, I can see us snuggling up under our cozy quilts and watching girly movies and eating junk food.  It's just a dream I have for someday....maybe someday in October.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Justin's "Son of a Gun"

There's this book....and it's important that you read it.  Since the moment I finished the last page....I haven't been the same.  It's brave, honest, devastating and absolutely beautiful.  I had anticipated the release of this book for quite sometime and it delivered in every possible way.  It will change your life.

Justin St. Germain is the author of "Son of a Gun."  Justin is also my long time friend.  It's funny where life takes us sometimes and what we learn and gain from the most unexpected of people.  The book is incredible and completely heart wrenching.  Justin lost his mother to murder...and at the hands of someone she loved.  It hurts me to the core to think about what Justin went through.  For those of us who know Justin and actually know each and every landscape and scene that he painted with his words....and who can actually hear the familiar narrator's voice as we turn each page; and who recognized and laughed at the snarky humor weaved throughout the book; and who already knew what happened to his mom, because it was in our hometown......even WE weren't ready for the powerful heartbreak that came with "Son of a Gun."  I didn't so much read this book, as I was consumed by it.  It's a story of tragedy and what remains....after so much is lost.

The entire book moved me.  It's truly amazing how Justin opened up and wrote about hurtful and painfully truthful memories...all while managing to not villianize his step dad.  He bravely told this story with such raw and honest emotion.  He wrote vividly with such eloquence that I had to stop to catch my breath after reading certain parts of his staggering chapters.   This book is truly unforgettable.

In the first few pages of the book, Justin writes about the moments he found out his mom had been killed.  It was just days after 9-11, while the whole entire nation was in a state of panic.  Justin wrote in parallel of his own life and catastrophe.  He was lost and numb. ( I started to read his book at 7:30 p.m. on the day it was released....and after reading this severely memorable part of the book, I knew I would finish the book before I went to bed that night.)  He wondered if his step-father had killed her, as he sat in a bar with his brother, not knowing what else to do in those moments; President Bush addressed the nation that the enemy had been identified and the network of terror wanted to kill all of us.  Justin had a flood of phone calls offering condolences and he numbly went through the motions in response until he finally let the calls go to voicemail; President Bush advised everyone to live their lives and to remain calm even though our lives were being threatened; Justin questioned whether or not his step dad would come after him and his brother, too; The President's voice from the television in the bar continued in attempt to soothe a wounded nation and assure everyone that life would return to normal and that grief would recede with time and grace.

"Scrapbooking" was the most courageous and unforgettable chapter I've ever read....in any book.  In this chapter, Justin attends a Parents of Murdered Children meeting.  He writes about the people he meets there, and understanding and sharing their rage and need to have their old lives back.  They're all given a project to do...a scrapbook layout of their lost loved one.  In a different chapter (Gun), Justin wrote about owning a gun and telling his friends in San Francisco that it's for protection; "In case there's a man at the door that means me harm."  His friends would argue that the better option is to call the police and Justin insists he wouldn't have time for that.  He writes, "They don't believe in the man at the door.  I do.  I've met him."  At this POMC meeting....I believe Justin knew he was surrounded people that have met him, too.  He writes, "We all do this every day:  focus on a series of small and meaningless tasks to pass the time, try to preserve our memories without wallowing in grief, and hope our lives will add up to some kind of tribute.  Of course we're good at scrapbooking.  Scraps are all we have."

Justin searches for answers of the unraveling events that led up to his mother's death.  He bravely returns back to his hometown of Tombstone, Arizona to face the memories, pain and brutal truth of it all.  He gracefully incorporates the infamous history of Wyatt Earp throughout the entire book and compares the tourist town he remembers to the Earps' legendary ghost town.  Near the end of the book, I just stopped to cry like a baby when I read a paragraph in his "High Lonesome" chapter.  After returning to Tombstone from his new life in San Francisco, he finds himself searching for his mom's property; the scene of her murder, after all these years.  He searches for closure and comes to realize that he really has no idea what answers he wanted to find there.   There he writes, "What did I expect?  A diorama showing where they stood and shot and died, like the one at the O.K. Corral?"  I can't imagine the pain he felt.  Reading this and writing about it now absolutely breaks my heart.  His compassion and brutal honesty is what makes this memoir extraordinary.

I attended Justin's 1st reading in Tucson and he said something that will stay with me forever.  I can't quote him exactly, but he said something about some advice that one of his mentors gave him while he contemplated writing this book.  They told him that you can say you want to do something for your whole life....but unless you actually start to take steps in the direction to do it, you can dance around it forever and it may never happen.....So, just decide you want to do it and do it.   Reading the end of the book, I believe that Justin had that kind of positive influence his whole life, from his mom.  He writes..."If she had made a decision, to leave that place, to leave Ray, she wouldn't have wavered.  She knew how to make decisions."

What an incredible woman his mom was....and I believe she is the reason that Justin is the remarkable man he is today.

Break room chit chat....

In offices everywhere, there are men and woman that gossip in break rooms.  Office politics, big or small, keep things interesting and just when you think you've graduated from junior high and all the drama that comes with it....get back to your cubicle and guess again.  However, there are those co-workers who will brighten your day and make it....a little (and only a little) fun to come to work.   Sometimes, given a steaming cup of delicious coffee and quirky co-workers in the right mood, I can actually enjoy some days in the office.

In all my years working in my office, I have never looked forward to "gossiping" in the break room.  It's just happened.  Inevitable I guess.  It happens too much sometimes, but on this particular Wednesday afternoon....not only did I enjoy the break room chit chat.....It actually helped bring me a little peace in this crazy whirlwind of a life I've been living as of late.  

I love my husband, I really do, but sometimes I get sick of babysitting him.  He's a grown 34 year old, completely competent and capable man.  So, you can understand my frustration when I find myself sometimes screaming at him because he forgot to take his pills (which is a huge deal in his case), or that while I'm at work and he's doing nothing at home and I still have to make all the calls to doctors for him.  I have to pay and organize all the bills.  I have to schedule his blood labs online.  I have to call the yard guy and the bug guy.  I have to battle with the bank and the insurance company.  I have to do the grocery shopping and plan for dinners throughout the week.  I basically have to conquer the world on my hour lunch.  I blame myself for salting his food and delivering him his sweet tea as he watches The Big Bang Theory and doesn't lift a finger.  To be honest...I really don't mind doing everything, but it gets frustrating at times.  I'm more of a go-getter than he is and lets face it...if I didn't do it, it wouldn't get done.  But, I have been a little depressed about it.  I don't want to feel like I'm in a relationship with a husband who needs to be babysat.  Don't we all just want to be taken care of and rescued sometimes?

I  hate to compare my life to others, but I really thought I was alone in this.....until that eye-opening Wednesday afternoon in the break room.  I was on my way to get some much needed afternoon coffee when I heard chatter getting louder and louder.  It wasn't angry and it wasn't pleasant.  It was more like venting.  When I reached the site of the chatter, I found 2 of my co-workers in the break room griping about their husbands.  These two co-workers are the 2 oldest employees in my department and have been with the company the longest.  I am close with both of them, and know both of their husbands very well.  They are both pretty high class ladies with fancy cars, beautiful houses and big bank accounts.  Both of their husbands work and have been married to them for 20 plus years.  

What I heard should have made me dive right in and join them in their vent session....but all I could do was smile and explain my peculiar relief.  For their privacy, I'm going to call them by fake names.  So, lets call them Laverne and Shirley.  Laverne's husband had the week off of work.  He just stayed home and took some time to himself.  Laverne went on and on about several things that she had to do on her lunch hour and after work and that he could have easily done himself.  He calls her if his checkbook doesn't balance, he calls her to kill spiders, he calls her to ask directions and....yes, she makes his doctor's appointments and picks up his vitamins at the drug store.  She packs his lunch, presses his ties and loves him with all of her heart.  

Shirley said something that will stay with me forever....Her addition to the husband rant...was that he is so stubborn and won't go to the doctor.  After weeks of nagging him to go and get checked, he agreed.  "But do you think he can make his own appointment?" she griped.  Nope!  She said she had to make the appointment, then go on her lunch hour and fill out his pre-patient paper work AND pay the co-pay, so all he would have to do is walk in and be seen.  It was music to my ears!!!  It's not my marriage falling apart, it's not just me raising a man child.........it's not just me who's babysitting a grown man!!  I had a life-changing 10 minutes that Wednesday....regardless of the fact that I had 3 more hours in the work day and was only in the "hump" of a slow moving work week.  The break room held my steaming cup of coffee and a little piece of mind that day.

With all of that said....my husband is very lovable.  He does things for me that make me count myself as lucky.  I don't know many woman who come home to all of their laundry done, folded and put away.  If I see a tiny gnat, or a huge spider....no matter what time it is....he is there within seconds to kill it.  He takes out the trash and brings me my water every night.  I may be able to recite all of his 30 medications and dosages and his lengthy medical history to anyone who asks...while he barely knows the day of the week.....but then again...I wouldn't call myself all that easy going or low maintenance.  We're a good pair.