Like any other moderately depressed person riding out the winter in Seattle, I’ve done my share of binge-watching on Netflix, and like many of us I’ve plowed through all the seasons of The West Wing (more than once).

There’s a moment where CJ says something to the effect of, don’t act like I don’t understand that I’m living the first line of my obituary right now. That moment has always stayed with me, imprinted. I want to have that feeling — I want to know what that means the way that I know my own name. And just like everything else, getting there starts with taking down the things that are in the way, between me and that truth.

So far I’ve dismantled AA ideologies, many toxic friendships, and I’m chipping away at day-to-day worklife adjustments. I’m in one of those stages where my old car (life) is in flames behind me, and my new car (life) isn’t on the horizon yet, and I just have to keep walking away from that fire, knowing that heading in the right direction will eventually pay off.

No matter what, I have to keep walking.

it makes me sick to think about the things I threw away
old thought-it-was love letters
true mementos of my life
because I gave in to a man
who couldn’t take me as I was
decades-old moments, now dust under the sofa
I still have the memories
but I lost the little pieces

those crazy scraps of paper
that had me rushing to my mailbox every week
that one letter sent on music staff —
how could I forget you?
who knows what I lost, that those little pieces could show me
today
those were the things that mattered
(we are what we archive)
and if so, I am:
lost, shredded, recycled, disintegrated
forgotten cosmic stardust somewhere in the atmosphere
ash from a fire,
shapeless and discarded

of all those little pieces gone,
I miss myself the most.

lots and lots of dreams lately. I should be writing more of them down.

there was that one a while ago about the indoor miniature golf course / abandoned puppet prop rooms, kind of a kid’s maze with a waterslide as the last section, suddenly you’re through and in an amusement park. a ferris wheel as tall as a skyscraper. I think it rained. I don’t quite remember.

and the one I kept having over and over that rarely shows up anymore, about how I had to go around the house and keep re-closing and re-locking all the doors and windows, over and over and over. someone kept leaving them open and I’d come home from being out and there was someone or something on the loose (murderer, stalker in the woods, huge monster dinosaurs and gorillas) and I’d never know if he / they had gotten in or not. I kept saying to myself, who in their right mind would leave all of this open? but never knew who it was.

the ones about friends lately: jen leahy in gold with a downtown job, alicia and jamie and slaven all moving to chicago, jesse keeping me on the phone for hours but unable to tell me why and unwilling to let out his story.

and the other night, the one about the sex casino where nothing happened, save for the abandonment of the little boy at the door; the one about the wedding-slash-wake… one where my aunt was trying to turn my mom against me… lots involving dead relatives. barry is in most of them too. I came close to lucidity the other night, he looked over at me and said something to the effect of, can you tell when the scary part is coming, I can and I was like YES ME TOO and we were able to get around scary part before it caught up to us, somehow.

I don’t know if any of this means anything, or if it all means everything, or something in between. I guess I could ask my therapist.

last night was especially vivid. I was actively violating the temporal prime directive to try and keep my sister from killing herself (that part happened in real life two summers ago), and there was also an alternate existence at play — I’d somehow gone back in time to another plane, where barry and I didn’t know each other, and the suicide was about to happen but so was her wedding. there was a photocopied packet with an image on the front, and she scolded me when I made a jesus joke.

I told my husband and he understood how heavy it was. I told a coworker and she asked if I thought it was my sister coming to visit me, in the spiritual sense. I didn’t know how to answer. I haven’t told my aunt because she’ll think It’s A Sign having to do with how my brother-in-law played a role in her death, and that my sister is trying to reach me to tell me about it. (not joking.)  and now I’m telling the internet for some sort of catharsis, perhaps? I don’t know. blogging is still part of my processing.

I think that’s all I’ve got for now.

You could fill a whole dinner table up with everyone in my family that’s died. Four great-grandparents that I never met, three grandparents that I did (plus my dad’s dad, who I didn’t), my parents, my only sibling, an aunt, a couple of dogs, and at least one cat.

For some reason this morning, New Year’s Eve, driving back from dropping Barry off at work and just about to pass over the University Bridge, it struck me that they were all there with me — that’s so uncomfortable to type — in some form at least. Memories, ghosts; both?

I can’t quite get it all the way sorted, but I got this overwhelmingly positive feeling that I wasn’t alone. Quite a contrast to Christmas Eve, when the mere idea of a possible thought about my parents turned me into a pile of sobbing, hopeless toddler on my husband’s lap.

And some years the holidays show up and it’s suddenly like you’re buckled in to the Grief Express™ and trying to Handle Regular Things like you did yesterday is impossible, and everything feels less like a Saturday and more like trying to clean up a overflowing bag of garbage that just makes more and more of a mess as you try to deal with it.

If this is happening to you, it’s okay, and more importantly, you’re okay. It’s okay if Christmas is a sad sack nightmare, and it’s okay if all you can do is leave that Neil Young record on repeat and sit in your husband’s lap and cry it out.

Don’t forget to take your meds, and drink more water than you think you need, and remember that you’re allowed to do whatever it is you need to do to get through it. Maybe you just have to shut the world off until Tuesday, or stop at the pot store, or maybe making cookies or taking a walk or watching Elf or Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas will help.

Above all else, know that you’re not alone. This shit is hard.

PS, we’ll be making lasagna tomorrow if anybody needs a place to come and hang out.

go downstairs
no card for the bus
no money for the bus

go upstairs and
dig through desk drawers until you find
enough

go downstairs
walk to the bus
miss the bus

wait patiently in your husband’s coat

signs taped up in windows
rainbow bullseye marking time
on the end of a fiberglass log
hearts carved into the cement
a sign for an indian restaurant hanging over
a boarded-up garage

the bus makes you sick
chew mint gum
walk behind the guy
who smokes pot for a block
two blocks

wonder if you can pull off a vegan thanksgiving
think about the friend who let you down

look at the people you pass by
realize suddenly
that they all have
full
giant
purposeful
directionless
beautiful
awful
incredible
lifetimes

whole entire lifetimes

and all of them together
a huge entire lifetime in itself

realize you are small
realize you are hungry
walk into your rental house
and write it all down

More dreams that I can’t quite explain.

There’s usually a point in my scary dream series where particular events happen in sequence and I know the terrible part is coming, kind of like that pending moment in a movie, or a haunted house. It’s inescapable. And it’s always in all of these types of dreams. Only this time, strangely, I knew it was gone. It showed up as a dying old man, a chain of people and living flowers in front of him; in and out, in and out, the whole curving chain of people reacting and responding to the meter of his breath. Once he was gone I waited for the moment to come, but there was just no fear anymore. It was a different kind of dream, instead of the usual unlocked doors and windows that have carelessly been left open with a murderer on the loose in the neighborhood.

I waited for it to show up, and strangely, it hadn’t flown out, or entered me, or manifested itself in anyone else. There was such a peacefulness about it, something that had passed, and it’s happening in real time too, not just in the dream. And now I remember the end more than the beginning; being on a bus that was also a mobile coffee shop, being let off at the driveway to my aunt and uncle’s house and realizing that there was a pile of heavy things that I was supposed to drag down the long driveway.

I told Barry yesterday that I was starting to catch glimpses of myself. Of consciousness? Of being in alignment? It shows up in flashes. The day I quit my job and walked out of Casey’s office, and how I just knew.

***

Death comes to me in dreams, in stories that take place while I sleep, with flowers and fears and bus stops, and people that are gone having come back a second time, except for the part during the dream where I know it’s their resurrection, even though at the same time it was like they’d never left.

I had dreams about the neglected baby again, except this time it talked to me. I realize writing this down now that I often dream that I’ve forgotten about multiple dogs I’m supposed to be tending to, not feeding them or taking them out for years, yet they remain when I remember. Lori and I learned once that those dreams are your subconscious plaguing you to do your art.

It remains when you remember.

Lately I’m learning that I’ve got a voice that’s been silenced somehow. I have things to say, opportunities in front of me to say them; the world is slowly starting to feel less everyone-against-me and more like I’m walking through the exact trials I should be, more like I’m finding my place.