January 29, 2008
losing it
I am starting to forget things and I’m none too pleased. In the whirlwind that has followed my dad’s death, I’m starting to lose the details of our everyday in my own. The last things we said to each other. Why for some reason I kissed him goodbye when that was usually forbidden because we feared we’d get him sick. How we laughed so much before I left for the airport that his hospice nurse giggled along with us.

Friends joke that I need to document everything, whether it be by photograph or blog entry. It’s because I don’t remember. If it isn’t on some form of paper it mostly ceases to exist, unless in generalities.

I never want to think of my father without all the beautiful, unique details. The way he laughed with his mouth closed. That he hated all of my psych talk, that he read each and every owner’s manual cover to cover, that he would sometimes talk to the chipmunks in our New Jersey backyard. How you could bribe him effortlessly with a Snickers bar. That when he’d run you would always hear the refrain of loose change and tic tacs in his pockets. I need to take a couple of days to write these things down, before they are gone for good. I want no regrets.

January 25, 2008
running the gamut
My emotions are scattered right now. Maybe not scattered, but not clear and distinct, and there’s definitely a lot of pulp. I’m in a constant state of irritability, the kind I feel when I’m trying to sleep and all I can do is toss and turn. It’s unpleasant to say the least.

Much of what I feel is anger. I’m angry that he is gone, and that now my mother must refer to us as three rather than four musketeers. I’m angry that these fools on Jerry Springer gripe and bitch about their lives while the beautiful, dignified gentleman that was my father never voiced a complaint. I’m angry that the aftermath has been nothing but forms and calls to newspapers and digging through files when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and try to remember as much of him as I can. I’m angry that his retirement was only six years long, and that for much of it he was hooked up to machines. That he never got back to Italy. That he had to drink his liquids through a goddamn straw and spend his last few days on this earth in bed. Much of it is selfish. I’m angry that my father will never see the joy of me falling in love again and the someday of me having a wedding. I’m angry that his presence at events will be replaced by discussions of fond memories and his favorite song. And I’m angry about the damn Super Bowl. That both of my father’s favored teams will be playing one another and he won’t be able to watch the splendor on the big screen television he only had for three weeks. I’m angry that I’m 34 years old and that my father is dead. And I’m furious that a life so consequential could be reduced to a legacy of left behind items in an instant.

I ache. I ache that the odd calm I see in my mother could only bless her after my father’s death, the only time in years when she hasn’t been worried about his oxygen being taped to his face during sleep and whether or not she should wake him from a nap to give him his nighttime meds. I ache that he spent the last years of his life sicker than anyone should be, and that he never griped about his situation, when I’m sure there were days he wanted to rage against us and the universe. I ache that he lies alone someplace in Virginia and won’t be cremated for several more days. And that I’m going on with life as best I can, finding laughter in half-hour shows and joy in exquisite flowers sent to the house. And I ache that I don’t feel him here, and that it makes me feel like a failure. People keep telling me that he’ll always be with me, but it doesn’t even remotely feel that way. It feels like he’s gone and that there’s a hole in our family. There is a sense of permanence to this that I didn’t think I’d feel. I don’t hear his voice, I can’t find his smell. I don’t see him unless I close my eyes, don’t sense him when reading his handwriting or cuddling under the quilt I last saw covering him. I don’t feel him here anymore. I wish so much that I could.

January 22, 2008
grieving DC family seeks sleep.
I don’t recommend an 8 am appointment with the lawyer followed by a meeting with the bank bookended by detailed and sterile arrangements at the funeral home only blocks from your work. Days are much better spent eating Twix bars while wearing men’s boxers or having your eyelashes waxed. I genuinely mean both.*

The funeral home, despite the warmth of its staff and the efforts of an able interior decorator, was cold. Removed. Stilted. Like a five-star hotel with first-rate art and broken radiators. For the two hours I was forced to be there I couldn’t shake the thought that my father - or his body as people are prone to calling him these days - was somewhere in the building. Alone. Without us watching football side by side and consuming illegal numbers of Snickers bars.

I wish things hadn’t end this way, with papers to sign and the complete removal of my dad from the process. It’s an inhumane procedure, this onslaught of forms and decisions, a practice ironically designed for humans. Sign here. Date here.

This does not suit him. It’d be beautiful if a waving and healthy Dad had just faded in dramatic fashion like the victims at the end of every Cold Case episode. No forms, no awkward protocol, just his ridiculously cool self giving us a final nod and moving on into the sunset. Although I could do without the show's faux music video production. My father would undoubtedly agree.

*Although listening to Hootie and the Blowfish on 11 on repeat? Slightly more painful.

January 19, 2008
No words
My father passed away this morning. I trust that there will be much for me to say after the haze lifts and the tears abate, likely more than I'll be able to capture here. When I say I loved this man more than words, I didn't really think I could mean it literally.

I wish you had been lucky enough to know him too.

January 17, 2008
I hate being misunderstood. Hate it. I despise it more than more than baby powder scented products, more than someone taking the last of something and leaving the empty container behind, more than the thought of Raisin Bran covered in mayo and topped with oysters. It’s the part about not being listened to. About someone not taking the time to figure out where I’m coming from. It’s about the connection between me and another human being breaking even for a second, a connection that I at times value more than my own bones. It’s an emotional fuck you that makes me five years old again, banging on my parents’ bedroom door only to be met with silence. Please open up. That’s not what I meant. Why. won’t. you. listen.

My nuclear foursome has never understood why I have a penchant for raising my voice to that end. In any argument, I’ll be the one thrashing about in an attempt to get a point across, given that neither rational thought nor courtesy prevails in their home. When I was a little Kris, they’d attribute these explosions to an excess of Red Dye #6, a wheat allergy, or the preferred and likely explanation of me just being a ginormous pain in the ass. For as many years, my family has thought my head explosions have been about me being heard, about regurgitating the words just spoken as evidence of their higher order processing. Surely being able to say what Kris just said and in the tone in which Kris said it means we’re simpatico! It never did. It still doesn’t. After all, the mimes and the chimps and even Flipper can mimic. The conversion of these recited words was never quite right, either, as if no literal translations exist in Familyspeak. Yes, Kris. I get it. You need a lot of attention. Really? That’s what you took from me asking if we could turn off the television when I visit so we can spend more time talking to each other? Cue flailing arms, fourth-grade tantrum, me shrieking like a cat in the bathtub while my undisturbed mother drinks a mint julip and pats her brow. It ends with her raised palm – stop – and some form of me begging. You are missing the point. It's me. I need you to listen.

Friends and lovers do this too, although given that most of my cronies and bedmates weren’t born in the ‘40s and therefore missed reading Ms. Passive Aggressive Manners, misinterpretations grow into much stronger fuck yous. The initial miscommunication and resulting misunderstandings are much less civil than with family, what with the EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPITALS – which really should be reserved for cat and child custody disputes, don’t you think? – and the F bombs and complete and utter absence of e-tone. All of us can throw emotional grenades safely from behind our electronic devices, including the phone, doing little to help already compromised communication. Before you know it, your in box is a Jackson Pollack full of RE:s. Neither of you stopped to ask what that turn of phrase meant, to clarify a response that made the stomach drop. The outcome changes little.

Fuck you.

I get it already.

I thought I knew you better than this.
It's both an exercise in experience and frustration. Yes, I knew better but I thought you knew me better, too. I find myself banging on the door again, although this time it’s usually by hated cell phone or email. It's trying to get someone to face me without being allowed to touch them. Please open up. That’s not what I meant. Why. won’t. you. listen.

My mind automatically interprets the underlying message. I must not mean enough if they won’t take the time to figure out what I’m trying to say. As a little one, there’s not much else to think. We know love, but we can’t make sense of people giving and pulling it away simply because of trappings and judgments. It’s never being given the benefit of the doubt simply because you are a known and loved entity. An I know her better. Kids screw up, but aren’t their intentions relatively pure until they steal your Stratus and plow it into a snowbank while snorting coke off the dash? In adulthood, the identical message simply shifts sender. Responses are still reactionary, irrational, built on neuronal firing rather than a shared history and experience. And it gets me every time, this baggage, sucking me into a whirlpool of self-doubt. You know me. And if you aren’t understanding me, you aren’t listening. If you cared, you’d take the time to figure this out. In a head that can’t make sense of the shift, the blame resides entirely with me. I'm unable to differentiate things I'd do differently from the pain of not being understood. Screw their bullshit, how their past friendships or shitty day color our interaction. I’m falling short.


And suddenly I’m a fourth grader again, one who’s more glad than ever that the Internet doesn’t allow you a glimpse of all that flailing.

January 15, 2008
an exercise
When you aren't too busy doing something more fabulous than I like buying that trench from Burberry for which I'll only ever window shop, or even counting the number of Grape Nuts you can eat for 2 points, which also qualifies, please do your dear friend Kris a favor and Google the following three words:


You wish you were me.

Yeah, me neither.

January 13, 2008
Samantha . . . who?
I intended to live blog the Golden Globes tonight, but then those writer types whah whah whah-ed all the way home and it wasn’t to be. I’m left watching the Access Hollywood talent fill time with excessively-Lubridermed legs that may or may not glow in the dark and really, really wide ties. Three hours of this and I might cry or break down and agree to have your babies.

It’s sad, but as much as I’m a whore for awards shows, there really wasn’t anyone I was excited to see this year. I need a new star. The starlets of my youth have gone the way of the Honda Odyssey: Julia Roberts seems to be jonesing to squeeze out a full litter and even Halle Berry bought herself a one-way ticket on the soccer mom train. I ache that the days of screwing bad boys like Keifer have been replaced with Costco packs of Sunny D. Nor do I want to make out with the Indie chicks, mostly because of a fear of patchouli well earned in college, so Keira Knightly and most anything British and twentysomething are out of the question. As is anything that’s touched the genitals of Tom Cruise.

The really young ones are just really irritating, as is their collective appetite for destruction. Britney is more than a train wreck, and instead is a woman approaching that Sioux City, Iowa plane crash I should never have read about in Time. If she stays on her current path, in but a few short months there will be absolutely no venti Starbucks foam for her cleaning crew to suction from the sidewalk. All that will remain are some ill-advised West Hollywood extensions and her sister’s 12 minutes of boiled peanuts fame. Hardly a legacy. Ms. Lohan? No different. Nor is the newly-delinquent Ms. Barton. Each of these girls is in a race to meet her demise a la Mama Cass, albeit at the hands of a Taco Bell chalupa rather than a ham sandwich. No sour cream, of course.

I’ve got my eyes on the even younger ones, the Raven Simones and the saccharine Hannah Montanas. One of you has got to have what it takes for engaging stardom, the stuff Madonna was made of when she wiped 80% of her bare skin on that 1984 MTV Music Awards stage. There must be a bona fide bad ass out there, a Russell Crowe or a Johnny Depp who is just greasy enough, but just expensively product'd enough that you’d think of allowing him into your bed.

And I’ve already loved the belles of the ball. Reese, we almost had something special, something lovely, before everyone else thought you had talent. You were Dido’s “Thank You” to me, a beautiful melody that was mine and only mine in the days of Marky Mark and Fear, before the mainstream found you and tainted everything by paying you what you were worth. We are so over.

But maybe just as it was with leggings, but ridiculously more successful and attractive on more than the anorectic, old will be new again. Hello, David Duchovny. Congrats on your big, shiny golden globe. How ‘bout I show you something from my X Files?

It might just be best to go to bed. Maybe until the Oscars.

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January 9, 2008
I was one of those kids who wrote all the time. I wrote when I wanted to and when I was forced to, backdating entry after entry of summer journals I had to keep for high school writing classes, going so far as to change pen color to heighten the false realism. In earlier years I filled composition books with assorted character sketches and the first 500 words to at least as many stories. I graduated to more refined notebooks as a teenager, still nothing above what I could find in the dinky school aisle at the CVS, and posed on their pages what seem now to be tiny questions reflective of a tiny world. But I was insanely proud of those collections of my thoughts, bundles of inflated SAT words and hours of thought that took up no more than a single shelf in my closet.

I used to love writing more than most anything, and not just because my teachers told me I could do it relatively well. It was my red hardcover dictionary, my beloved blue ball points that under no circumstances erased. It was the process of stringing letters and sentences together like popcorn garland. I loved the whole delicious sequence. I once ripped up a blue book, one already half filled with fiction, to take another direction for a high school writing test. Because I could. Because I wanted to. Time constraints meant nothing because they never really can in the absence of pressure. Writing was fun, a sentiment I know could not peg me more as one on the popularity fringe. That scrambling and unscrambling of words was almost effortless unlike those subjects involving Bunsen burners or scientific calculators or circular saws. Or worse, perhaps, the dreaded softball bat.

It’s almost never the same now. The ideas and the process at times seem so forced, like I’m chugging along in wet clothes, like I’ve run out of usable memory. For something that was once so easy, there are days when I want to do few things less. Sit with my thoughts for an hour? There must be something Tivod to zone out to. If not, there’s surely a cat claw to clip or a pile of whites to ignore. Occasionally I’ll refuse the exercise altogether, knowing full well if I didn’t have a site to keep me on point that I’d do the life equivalent of pulling the covers over my head. In dramatic fashion, I’d avoid the computer altogether and regard the bespectacled, wool-sweatered WiFi-ers at Starbucks with disdain. Because it should be different. Because I should still love it oodles more than just more often than not. Because for the others it probably still comes easy.

January 8, 2008
I wanted to grab my therapist last night and hug her. Not the polite kind of hug I give relatives and people who probably shouldn’t be touching me, but the kind of hug that says “You’re da bomb,” the kind that explodes into Howard Dean-like enthusiasm and may very well leave her feet inches from the floor. I wanted her to know just how much she had helped me, how much her guidance in the last two years had changed my world, how much I could not have done what I have done without her persistence and acceptance. And then I wanted to rant.

There are more than a handful of people in my life who buck the idea of therapy, each with their own unique explanation as to why. I can do it on my own. I had an awful experience. I don’t have time. Insurance doesn’t cover it. Each and every justification sounds more and more like a lacking excuse. Last I heard, save those grand accounts from the Enquirer, you can’t heal your own testicular cancer or that hair lip and these disorders are no different. I’ve had awful doctors, too, and guess what? You move on. Like a bad date, you pick yourself up, you chalk it up to his asshattery, and you put your stellar self back out on the market. And you do have time. You have time to read this blog, to knit ugly booties, to watch Designing Women on TV Land like it’s your religion. You have money to buy those awful ceramic dolls on QVC and their creepy faces aren’t nearly as rewarding as this might potentially be.

This isn’t your mama’s therapy, people. This isn’t about dream interpretation and hypnosis and talking endlessly about daddy leaving you in the manger when you were three. These are proven therapies (now with 33% more science!) Just as Advil magically cures your cramps, medication and/or therapy take the edge off, they even cure. They teach you new ways to approach your world, to impact relatives, to cope with illness and death, help to quash anxiety, to pull yourself up from the depths, to survive at a higher level than the rest of the world is surviving. Than where you may be surviving right now.

Before you leave me a “to each his own” and “shut your fat trap, kris!” comment, consider this. Unlike the boil that sprouts unattractively from your neck, these issues you choose to stifle or wait out don’t just affect you. They affect the people you love, the ones you could love, and that irritating guy you barked at in the conference room yesterday. It’s out of complete selfishness that I write this; I’m thinking of five or so of you, and I wish you’d do this, if not for you, for me. Maybe that’s something I need to talk out.

January 3, 2008
I've been sick since last weekend, almost a full week of phlegm and night sweats. I'm good at many things, darning socks and making painful small talk among them, but I'm awful at being sick. I don't have cute sniffly moments on the couch as I picture Meg Ryan might, her used Kleenex irritatingly hitting the garbage can on the first try. Instead, my coffee table looks like something out of MASH, a smattering of pills and cherry liquids and tissues. It isn't pretty, and neither am I. The lack of attention to my appearance has decreased steadily since this whole episode began, beginning last weekend with caring not that my hair was a matted mess each day, to Monday denial that Sunday's mascara was still on at noon, to today, when I stomped on all of Mom's teachings and quite possibly her heart and went braless to the CVS. It wasn't the hot type of braless, either, the kind that goes with extra salt margaritas and a spaghetti-strapped tank top and a tropical climate, but the variety that comes with a jar of vapo rub and a brain that actually considers using tampons to stop a runny nose once and for all.

If this keeps up, I may lose my summer weight more quickly than planned, unless God and Oprah play a cruel joke on me by injecting Crisco into the gallons of broth I've been chugging. Today alone I've consumed three cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, which as far as I'm concerned is the only tolerable chicken soup in the world wide universe, what with its limp noodles and celebrated absence of carrots and celery. Not to mention that Mr. Campbell at some point sold his soul or body for the lion's share of the world's available sodium, and I want to full on make out with him for it. I've also had four 20-ounce Diet Cokes in the five hours I've been awake, despite the fact that I can neither taste them nor enjoy their carbonation without layers of my throat peeling off. I'm not fully convinced that that new Diet Coke with Vitamins doesn't contain some form of lye and possibly an unstable element or two, but at least the singe is a distraction from Judges Judy and Joe Brown. And, unlike the prescription I unsuccessfully battled for this evening at CVS, I'm guessing insurance might actually cover a good radium burn.

January 2, 2008
quiet resolution
They’re funny things, these little declarations we all make with each and every new calendar. Not funny ha ha, like Seinfeld should have been, but interesting and odd, like women who choose to wear their hair with skunk streaks. They’re almost exercises in frustration. A way to set yourself up to fail. A jaded perspective, I’m aware, but one well earned after committing to lose 10 pounds since well before the Spanish-American War.

I’ve taken enough Covey classes to know that goals should be specific and attainable. Achievable in real time, lest you abandon more lofty pursuits in favor of eating your weight in Skinny Cows while drunk texting your ex. But in all honesty, the details just aren’t there for me this year. My life seems to exist in generalities right now, the “world peace” response of pageant contestants that disappointingly doesn’t get down to the nitty gritty. I noticed it first when asked for my Christmas list. Kitchen things would be nice. New clothes and products and . . . stuff. Needs and wants fall into umbrella categories, which will irritate the Hades out of the left brains who are reading, something I’ll giggle at for this year and resolve to do less of in 2009. Maybe.

I know without a doubt that I want to be better to my friends and family. I’m hoping this will take the form of less fear of the cell phone, less reliance on the Interwebs for communication. I’ve spent a good bit of time lately around those of you more skilled at nuturing those for whom you care, and I’m left in awe of your abilities, and admittedly feeling somewhat inadequate, just as I was during every school gym class flexed armed hang. I want to be you, to return calls and emails with ease and minimal amounts of stress. To send cards by way of old school mail to commemorate each birthday, a 20th wedding anniversary, a successful job interview. To call, even for 30 seconds, to say congratulations on bringing your new breasts home and I hope they grow to be all you want them to be. But I have to work at that. Not an ounce of any of this comes naturally to me.

Be better to myself. Ideally, I’d shed a pound for every year I’ve been on the planet, become a Truth spokeswoman, and replace my wines with mango and kelp juice. It isn’t going to happen. Being better to myself has to take both little and larger forms this year, some blogworthy and some celebrated by an impromptu dance in the shower. Choosing to pay off the card rather than adding more to its balance. Going to sleep before 10 on a Friday night without worry about what the rest of the world is doing and ultimately choosing my bed over the couch. It's a fridge with more than fake butter and expired yogurt. Traveling even if only for the weekend. It's high tea with my mother and bite-sized cheesecake and coffee with real cream. Walking with the sun on my face. Live college football. Making the doctor's appointment before the reminder card comes. And doing as much as I can to be present in a body that’s constantly tugging me toward the future. It's going to be delicious, indulgent fun. Yum.

Spend less of my time in worry mode. I exhausted the first 20 minutes of my evening searching for lost prescriptions, two pieces of flimsy white paper each no larger than a hand. Given the whirl that ensued, one would have thought I’d misplaced the Declaration of Independence, or God forbid those Taco Bell coupons I’m hoping are just out of sight under my car seat. I searched through four handbags, the kitchen drawers, the countertops, the nightstand, and every crevice of the bathroom before I abandoned the effort. Around minute 15 it occurred to me that no defibrillator would be needed and that these were replaceable objects, just a phone call to the doc away, but persistent and dumb as rocks to a fault, I kept at it. Frenzied failure. Waste. Trite as it is, I won’t get those 20 minutes back, ones I could have used to enjoy watching Cricket make mince meat of yet another shiny Christmas decoration. At least I could have unpacked that suitcase from BlogHer.