Sunday, February 12, 2023

Sherri, My Love

My beautiful, beautiful friend Sherri, known here and elsewhere in the blogging world as Shoo Shoo, passed away suddenly before Christmas after a brief, unexpected illness. It has felt like an open wound that I've left uncared for since. I was able to get busy with the holidays and work for a few weeks, but I traveled to attend her memorial service last week and that has made it impossible to deny that my lovely, loving friend is gone. 

I am almost 52 years old (I was 34 when I started this blog) and I guess as expected I am losing more people as I age. But this was untimely and it feels so cruel. I keep trying to talk to her out loud, but all I can say is, "Sherri, how could you?" 

Her best friend, whom I had never met, texted me one night, "This is Shawna, Sherri's friend. Can you talk for a minute?" That is not a text you want to receive. And everything gets blurry after that. 

I am not doing well. I'm not too alarmed because I don't think I'm supposed to be doing well, but I am not. I have been reluctantly dragging my body around, to work, to the grocery store, to wherever, without really inhabiting it; I don't know if this makes sense, but I feel like I'm in a ghost costume like a kid would wear and I have a sheet over my head and two eye holes cut out and I'm just staring through the eye holes but it's not really me. 

Sherri and I had kept in touch since we met in college in the early 90s. We did some traveling together, we wrote gobs of letters and eventually emails, and we talked on the phone. She visited me when I lived overseas. She used to come up to see family in the area yearly and we would get together for a few hours and catch up. She suffered a terrible loss months before the pandemic and we'd only gotten in touch a few times each year since then. At the memorial, I met her other friends and learned that she had been doing very, very poorly the last few years. I don't know if I'll ever get over how quickly I was able to make plans to fly to her service, but I didn't get myself down to see her for several years. Why didn't I? I'm so sorry I didn't. When she was going through her own grief and loss, she didn't reach out much and at times she wouldn't respond when I reached out to her. I understood and I told her that - she was doing her best and I knew she loved me. Instead, I stayed in touch with her young daughter, deciding her daughter might benefit from having another person regularly reaching out with love and support. But why didn't I put myself on a plane, show up on her doorstep, and tell her I would hold her and not let go until she felt stronger? Why didn't I? 

I thought we had forever. During times when we were in and out of various relationships, Sherri would tell me that men and relationships would come and go but that she and I would have each other forever. It brought me so much comfort when she would say that. We both believed it. 

I'd hoped I could get on here and summarize how deeply sad I feel about losing Sherri and say goodbye to her. I can tell that isn't what this is. I don't have goodbye in me yet. Sherri was smart and well-read and loyal. She was funny, oh my God she was funny. She loved music deeply, and she loved cheese. She cared about her friends and expressed it in words and actions. She persevered through a tremendous amount of shit during her life. She loved her daughter so, so much. She was a wonderful friend and a really good human. I am so, so glad that we met. My heart right now is broken. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Repeat After Me: It's Not Real & Stuff, Real and Imagined

These are two posts I wrote on 6/5/13 and 12/18/15 and never published. In these, I sound like that unhinged comedian who yells everything he says. I wanted to post these now because, Jesus, I had feelings. Dramatic feelings. And I feel pretty similar now - these could have been written today if they were 50% more chill. Except that I deleted FB many years ago, Vine doesn't even exist anymore, and my sister and I totally text daily and talk weekly now and have for years. And it's not *quite* as hard to have non-device time as it sounds like it used to be. But all of this was important to me then and I guess it still is. 

One more caveat: I probably only have 30 more years on the planet now, if I'm lucky. Damn, it goes fast. 

Repeat After Me: It's Not Real

I forgot if I've mentioned why we're not Facebook friends. You and me, I mean. We're not. And you might have friend-requested me or something, and if you did I probably ignored it with the intention of sending you a quick e-mail explaining, but then I never did. Awkward. So I wanted to take this opportunity to explain why we're not Facebook friends.
  1. You're not my Mom. My Mom is on Facebook and she posts lovely pictures of her sewing projects and stories about friends who have visited her. I really enjoy reading about her days. You're not her.
  2. I end up hating every person I'm friends with on Facebook at one time or another (except my Mom). Even my sister and I friend and unfriend and re-friend each other each time we have an argument. If you're not a blood relative and we've somehow become connected on Facebook, at one point or another, I've hated you. I'm sorry. Or whatever. 
  3. I truly hate how we've let social media come to mean shit it doesn't mean. If I unfollow you on a social media network, it means exactly this (ready): NOTHING. Jesus Christ. It's not real, people. That shit isn't real. 
  4. The reason I'm not "friends" with my real friends on Facebook is because I want real relationships. It's depressing to me to know how you're doing each day for the past two years and never once have actual contact with you. If we don't get in personal touch with each other then I don't want to know how your every day is. That makes me sad and lonely. I want my relationships to have substance, be tangible. That doesn't mean I don't like you. Jesus. What's with you needing everyone to like you, anyway? (Jk.) 

Stuff, Real and Imagined

I haven't felt great this weekend, so I've mostly stuck close to home. I've spent my time resting and knitting and puttering. Tonight I had a burst of energy, so I went through a few piles in my bedroom closet and in the garage and got a bunch of bags ready for Goodwill.

I'm feeling something I want to express, but I'm not sure exactly how. It's kind of a mish-mash of things, but I think it all relates. 

I have so much stuff. It's taking over my house and life and making me feel claustrophobic. I've been looking around at it all and wondering, how does this happen? I think part of is having moved from my apartment to my condo six-ish months ago and having less storage space here. Now my crap is just out in the open so I have to see it. But I think more than that is the acquiring. Buying, buying, buying, always needing more. Everybody probably thinks they're better than most at this, but I've always, always had kind of a minimalist style and am well-known at my local Goodwill for how often I drop off. And yet, stuff. Everywhere. 

I think sometimes I acquire things as a way to distract myself from what I'm feeling or going through. Something new and shiny easily distracts me from (I never finished this sentence).

I've been trying for about 6 or 8 weeks to significantly decrease the amount of time I spend online and playing with electronic devices. It's going so-so. I've taken most of the apps off my iPhone. I keep up with random crap that I didn't care about in the first place a lot less. I just Twitter for basketball news and occasionally check in with friends. Sometimes I end up feeling a little more isolated, but then I remind myself that being privy to friends' frequent rants about work on their partners or seeing their daily selfies makes me no less isolated. I wish I could say that 100 times. 

My hatred for Facebook is well-known and documented. I have a few reasons, but it's mainly because it feels like it's about relationships, about connecting, but it has absolutely nothing to do with that. 

I think this might be half about aging and half about something else, but I feel out of place. The world has officially passed me by. This concerns me only because I hope to have another 40 good years on the planet, but my god if I spend them without authentic contact with other humans, I don't think I'll make it. 

I have a several hundred "bookmarks" between my work PC, home PC, and cell phone browser. Articles (great ones), pictures, educational charts, inspirational videos, ideas for future projects. 

I hate it all. It's meaningless. It's a fun, empty, creepy distraction from anything and everything that is real. My sister and I went years and years - literally - talking on the phone every few days. I would hear her voice, her laugh, sometimes her crying. We go weeks now and sometimes months without calling. And actually this isn't  at all about my sister - it's every friend I have! Relationships now are not overlapping, touching. They are theatrical plays - we don't have relationships, we have audiences. The latest Vine/video thing that I hate so, so much? It's such a *fun* way to feel like we know each other, isn't it? Now I don't just see your words, I hear your voice! We must be close friends!

I use Pinterest to collect inspirational surf pictures and sewing patterns. And feelings of shame and ineptitude about all the things I'm not. I detest the consumerism it forces/demands/seduces me into. I like the surfing stuff I find on there. It's fun. But it's also unsettling and empty and fake - how I can see you on there, too, and all the stuff you like, and wow, we have lot of things in common. It almost feels like I know you. Sites that like ultimately make me feel less, not more. It's all a bunch of bullshit reminders of what I don't have and what I'm not. Fuck that. I mean it. And I'm not saying that I feel that while I'm on that website - I'm sure you're thinking, Jesus, close the browser. I mean that sometimes I find myself lonely or depressed or feeling unknown, and I likely haven't been on that website for a month. It's not one thing; I'm not suited for this kind of non-relational relating we do now. I think almost everyone else is good with it, doesn't feel diminished or stolen from by it. I wish I felt that way; I think I've been trying. I feel like the only girl at the feast who is starving.

I enjoy checking in quickly with friends via text; I'm not trying to start a new Amish movement. But this is what I'm trying to say: I feel lonely knowing what you do everyday (status update) and even hearing your voice (Vine) and knowing none of it is directed at or connected to me or us. 

I guess this is what I mean: I don't want to know the 10 Secrets to Being a Great Manager. I don't want to see pictures of your kid that I've never met and will never meet. I don't want ideas for new crafts. I don't want to see the funniest video you've ever seen. I don't want to "like" your rant about your boss. Don't star my tweet. Fuck that.

This is what I want: I want one more day with my grandmother who died 2 years ago and whose birthday is looming on my calendar because I can't bring myself to take it off. I want one more conversation with my dad. I want to have a meal with my brother and have the time reflect the love and respect and affection we have for each other. I want to hear from my closest friends more than once a year, or I want to quit calling them my closest friends. I want to spend time with my mom. I want to hear my nephews giggle and sing and yell. I want to watch them run, I want to read books to them, I want to love on them in a way that matters long after they've gone home. 

Hawaii, August 2011

It's January 2023 and why do I have this blog entry from August 2011 in my drafts? I don't know. Let's put it out there for the pure joy of thinking about me having a cute surfer boy tow me out to the break with his big toe twelve years ago in Hawaii.

I arrived in Honolulu a few hours before my BFF, so I took a shuttle into town, dropped my stuff at the hotel, and went across the street to Waikiki to rent a board and paddle out.

I ended up mostly paddling; I think I went for two waves and caught one. It was very small (2-3') and it was packed. Maybe I was at a break called Pops. I could have probably gone for it a bit more, but I find it so hard to dig into small waves (read: weak!), and the reef was freaking me out. Here in God's Country (Oregon), the ocean has a smooth, sandy bottom. In Hawaii, the ocean is sharp and scary and ready to eat you up. The reef is why the surf is so consistent there. And it's why I immediately felt disappointed knowing I wouldn't feel safe just renting a board and doing my thing there. Sucks! Luckily, I have no shame, so I called up a local surf school and scheduled a private lesson so I could at least get some time in the water.

A few days later I was meeting Ray, 38, from Rockaway Beach, NY, for my lesson. He was so great and our time went so well. We paddled out around Publics, (I'd just like to say: holy hell, paddling! Wellllll over a quarter of a mile, I'm guessing.) They'd had me self-assess my skill level, so we were going to take some white water waves first and then see if I could try some green (real) waves.

I don't know what to say. It was *so* good. It was a fairly sizable day to be at a new break, maybe 5-6', and Ray just *got* it. He watched me a few times and then said he liked my pop up, I had good form and I looked comfortable, but he said I had a mental block about the drop. I couldn't have said it better myself.

I took a couple of rides in the white water and then Ray pushed me into a few small green waves. Let me tell you - you ride a LONG way in when you start 1/3 mile out! I thought I was going to get tired of standing! Of course, at some point on the first ride in it occurred to me that I would be paddling back out after each gorgeous, lengthy ride, but it was worth it. Crazy long rides. Ray actually would catch a wave in after me, give me a bit of feedback about my ride while I was climbing back on my board, and then we would paddle back out together. And after a while he started giving me a little tow - hooking his foot on the nose of my board to help me out. (He did tricks when he would catch waves in to meet me - one time he surfed in while doing a headstand :>)

Thursday, June 25, 2020


It's day one million of the quarantine and I'm checking in. Like most people, I guess, I've gone up and down and all around with this thing, this being here with myself thing. Sometimes I'm good company and sometimes I'm not that good for myself at all. I have been fairly cautious about the pandemic and about taking precautions, but in the last week or so I've loosened it up a bit. I started noticing that I really needed some human contact.

A week or so ago, my brother and his family came down to visit me for a few hours. Man, it was a miracle. Other voices and bodies in my quiet little condo, we ate together and then my brother and SIL helped me with a few tasks in my kitchen. My nephews watched TV and were their joyful, fully alive little selves that I love so deeply. We all took a walk, had a final round of hugs, and then they left. My ghost town of a condo felt so much more alive and happy after their visit. I must have thanked them five or six times for coming, and I could have said it 100 more times. Since then, I've seen a couple of friends - sitting a good distance apart - in real life. It's been good for my soul. 

As my feelings and moods and mental health have fluctuated, I've at times spent quarantine working on one of my many hobbies. I'm thankful to have many interests and when I'm my better self, I'm putting in time regularly to learn and grown. The latest thing I'm working on is taking an intro class on SQL. I'm ready (past ready) for a new role at my company, and it looks like having some SQL knowledge is an important tool to take the next step. I have an interview on Monday, so I'm learning as much as I can this week and then we'll see. I have loved my current job for all four years that I've had it, but it involves a level of chaos that just doesn't serve me anymore. It's so exciting, so unique, very fulfilling. But I'm looking for something with a little more learning and a little less chaos. And I'll take more money, too, please. 

That's what's happening here lately. Seeing a couple friends yesterday involved a trip to the beach where I enjoyed the sand in my toes. Lord have mercy, why don't I do that more often? Best quarantine day yet. 

Friday, May 8, 2020


We - you and me - are all in quarantine right now. It's 2020 and I am a staggering (staggering) 49 years old, and we - all over the world - are hunkered down trying to not catch or transmit disease. It's hard to know how to explain this time. I am interested to know how we'll talk about it in five or ten years, or if we will.

I'm still in the Portland-area, I still live alone (with a cat, Blizzard), I still work at a bank, I still live in this condo I moved to eight years ago. I'm doing well. As horrified as I am to be nearing my 50s, I will say that the depression that plagued much of my 40s left as mysteriously as it came. For that, I am deeply grateful.

I don't know if I know how to do this anymore. We'll see. Hello, friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Poems for People Who Don’t Like Poetry #15

When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only
that which has given you sorrow that is
giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that again
in truth you are weeping for that which
has been your delight . . .

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than
sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is
the greater.”

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits
alone with you at your board, remember
that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales
between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at
standstill and balanced.

-Khalil Gibran
(Hat tip to Aimee for this one)

Monday, October 22, 2018

Poems for People Who Don’t Like Poetry #14

my god
is not sitting inside a church
or waiting above the temple’s steps
my god
is the refugee’s breath as she’s running
is living in the starving child’s belly
is the heartbeat of the protest
my god
does not rest between pages
written by holy men
my god
lives between the sweaty thighs
of women’s bodies sold for money
was last seen washing the homeless
man’s feet
my god
is not as unreachable as
they’d like you to think
my god is beating inside us infinitely

-Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Poems for People Who Dont Like Poetry #13

If you ever woke in your dress at 4 a.m. ever
closed your legs to a man you loved opened
them for one you didn’t moved against
a pillow in the dark stood miserably on a beach
seaweed clinging to your ankles paid
good money for a bad haircut backed away
from a mirror that wanted to kill you bled
into the back seat for lack of a tampon
if you swam cross a river under rain sang
using a dildo for a microphone stayed up
to watch the moon eat the sun entire
ripped out the stitches in your heart
because why not if you think nothing &
no one can / listen I love you joy is coming

- Kim Addonizio, To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Kaply, My Love

This morning I was missing my friend Kaply who passed away four years ago. I was going to get some macaron cookies and I had a memory come out of nowhere - once or twice I made Kaply care packages that included macarons. I wanted to get a bunch of things she liked and take them to her when I was visiting Seattle, but I didn't know what she drank. I texted Sizzle a few times asking what kind of soda Kap preferred so I could include it in the care package. I knew that Sizzle would know; they were close in many different ways. And whatever else I had to give to Kap, I would add macarons because they are my love language. And I would surprise Kap with a visit and some treats. So my trip to go find cookies this morning sparked that memory.

Tonight I logged into the old blog and went through my drafts - I have a half dozen drafts from 2011 - 2014 that I've never let myself delete. They are like little, private time capsules of important events that I never felt quite ready to share. Below is one of the drafts - still unfinished - that I kept all this time. Kap died from kidney failure in February of 2014, and her service was a few weeks later. I remember coming back to this draft many times over months and years, thinking I would be able to publish it when some time had passed. I tried after a few months, and when that didn't work I thought - maybe on the anniversary a year later. Or maybe on the second anniversary. It never felt right. It still doesn't, but I'd like to set this free.

March 30, 2014

On a Tuesday in February I was at work getting out of my mentor meeting with a kid I absolutely love. Meeting with her is the best hour of my month, and I was a bit giddy from the time we spent together. I walked back to my cube and checked my cell phone - something that I do so automatically I would be ashamed to find out how many times a day I actually do it.

Sizzle called. That's strange. We tweet, we text, but we don't often call. Besides I'd just happened to have seen her two days before when she was in town with friends. We stole a couple of hours at the Roxy telling stories and sharing a few tears. As friends do. That Tuesday I saw the missed call, but I was running to my next meeting so I thought I'd wait to check my messages . . . oh well, I'll just listen real quick and see what's up. I was already late to my 11:00 - what's another minute or two?

And then it's a blur. I know I'm here, now, in my bed, the laundry doing a rhythmic hum and rumble in the background. I know I need to get up in the morning to go to work and once I'm there I'll have a million things to do all day long and I'll have to fight for a bathroom break and I'll finish about 10 hours later, absolutely famished and focused on finding my first meal of the day. Those things are clear, but not much else is.

I want to say something really selfish but it will feel good to get it off my chest: I loved Kaply
in a very selfish way that I think is different from the way I love anyone. I loved Kaply because of the way she loved me. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

With Blizzard

After more than two years, I got up last Sunday and felt like sewing. My repertoire is still quite small, so I went with a bag. A little knapsack made out of themed fabric I got last year after a trip that renewed my love for Paris. I think it took me about five hours to make it. I listened to podcasts and just enjoyed the feeling and process of making something.