Tag Archives: life

dancing about architecture

Two years ago, my best friend went to sleep and never woke up. His remains were not found for two days.

This week has been on my mind for ages, a huge obsidian block in the middle of my springtime, a chasm of sadness that I know I must navigate each year. I dread it and yet it feels important to me to do it – as if I had any choice. Of course, I would much rather have Frank here.

So I’ve been really apprehensive about this week’s arrival, counting down in my head the events leading up to his death. Today he was at Gregg’s. Today he talked to Maria. Today he is decomposing. It’s kind of horrifying and brutal to contemplate and I’ve worried about its ability to stop me in my tracks when what I most need to do is keep moving.

The week approached like a tidal wave, inexorable and crushingly destructive, and I braced myself for its impact. This year, maybe, I would keep my head above water.

And then, against all odds, a series of events stacked up that have caused this week to become what I can only describe as spectacular.

Several weeks ago I won tickets to see David Sedaris do a reading here in town. He’s one of my favorite authors and our budget just couldn’t justify the cost of the tickets, so I was moping. And then I won them on the radio, and off we went, and it was exactly as funny and interesting as I hoped it would be. We waited in line for an hour and a half to have our book signed afterward. We arrived at his table at 11pm, near the end of the signing, and the first thing David Sedaris did was welcome me to his golden okra chest. And then he laughed and wrote that in my book. And then he offered me some of his fried okra, and I’m actually kind of sorry I declined because I was freaking starving and that looked like some killer okra. And a love for fried okra is among the most Southern of my Southern qualities. Then, David Sedaris astutely observed that I’d dragged Seth along, but that he was very patient about the whole thing. He asked if we were married, Seth said, “not yet,” and David Sedaris whose whole name must always be used as far as I’m concerned asked why the heck we weren’t married yet. Then apologized for being awkward. Then asked again. And we stuttered out some excuses and he kind of leaned back and, even though David Sedaris doesn’t know us from anyone, he said something like, “You guys are good together and I can tell you’re going to make it.” It was completely awesome and we thanked him and told him our dirty nun joke, which he rewarded with two of his own dirty jokes, and we were on our merry way.

That alone would have made this a great week. But then Tuesday came, and you guys, Tuesday was seriously badass.

Old 97s were in town. I freaking love Old 97s, I’ve never seen them live, and the minute their new album dropped I told Seth that this meant they’d surely be touring and I felt Charlottesville was a likely stop and that WE WOULD BE ATTENDING NO MATTER WHAT. I mean seriously, they hadn’t even announced a tour yet and I already knew there’d be a Cville date. Because I’m magic. So Seth was like yes, whatever, and then the announcement came and I squealed louder than I did when Mom surprised us with New Kids on the Block tickets in 1990. EEEEEE OLD 97S!!!

Then we looked at our budget.

We were broke broke broke, broke as a joke. We kept putting off the tickets in the hopes that our next paycheck would have more wiggle room, but alas, car repairs and vet bills and optometrist visits just blew massive holes in our “discretionary” fund over and over again. And since I’d won tickets to David Sedaris, I wasn’t eligible to win again from our local radio station. So I moped.

On Monday, the morning host on our station of choice posted a thing on Facebook telling people to email him if they wanted a chance to meet Rhett Miller. And within 30 seconds I think I had written a novel-length plea and fired that bad boy off to Brad. A few hours later, he responded: we were in! We’d been put on the list for a private acoustic studio session with Rhett. I figured it’d be a good consolation prize for not getting to go to the concert.

So Tuesday afternoon rolled around and we headed to the station for the session. I hadn’t been to their studio before and expected we’d be with 20 or 30 people on folding chairs outside the booths where the sound engineer and the artist would be. Imagine my surprise when we and 6 of our newest friends were ushered into a very small studio…and Rhett Miller was a foot away from us.

He played three songs and bantered with the hosts, and it was completely awesome to be up close for the session, which you can listen to here. We hadn’t been told much about what would be allowed, so I didn’t think photos or signings or anything would be cool. But they were!

After the session, we got to take photos and a professional photographer was in taking photos too. Rhett signed CDs and such for us, and then he asked us if there were any songs we’d like to see on the setlist. HOLY CRAP! I asked him to play “Murder (or a Heart Attack),” one of my favorites. And he wrote it down along with the other suggestions. We left the studio basically floating through the air, and the minute we hit the parking lot, Seth and I were like, “okay, now we have to go to the show.”

We made a quick huddle and an agreement to skip groceries this week and get by on Ramen and PBJ, and I ran down and bought the tickets.

That night, we drove to the concert through a torrential thunderstorm, and when we arrived, we snagged a spot on the front row. Seriously. I told you this week was freaking awesome, didn’t I?

So we’re on the front row, along with some of our friends from the session. And the band comes out on stage and they are exactly as awesome as I thought they’d be, and Rhett Miller actually recognizes us from the stage and kind of waves and raises his eyebrows at us while he’s playing, and we’re in the front row at an Old 97s show and Rhett Miller just waved at me from the damn stage and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die of the awesomeness.

It was way better than that NKOTB show. My parents were right about them.

So hey, is this long enough yet? We went home, and we were happy and half-deaf and exhausted. And then yesterday I continued the awesomeness by giving a guest lecture on arts fundraising at the university.

Today is kind of what I think of as The Day, when it comes to Frank. Today, he is gone. And I miss him still, and I will always miss him. But I can’t help but notice the timing of this fantastic, surreal week I’ve been having. Frank had a novel in progress he called The Architecture of Coincidence. Despite a general lack of belief that he and I shared, this week has been different for some reason. And I’ve wondered if maybe, just maybe, there is an architect after all.

peanut butter puppy breath

For a long, long time, my vision of the ideal life has included a dog. In fact, though I have two cats and love them completely, I have always considered myself first and foremost to be a dog person. But getting a dog never seemed to be right for so many reasons. It was space, it was time, it was travel, it was work, it was relationship status – excuses, or perfectly good logical reasons, seemed infinite. I was even on the verge of getting a puppy a couple of times, but something always happened at the last minute to change it and I didn’t mind so much.

But over the last several months, my interest in getting a dog had escalated into full-on puppy fever. I cruised Craigslist ads on a daily basis – not just in my hometown, but in all surrounding areas as well. I researched dog breeds and decided I NEEDED a vizsla, and then decided what I really needed was just a short-haired brown dog with floppy ears of any breed.

And then a friend of mine started posting pictures of their accidental litter of puppies on Facebook. And then I found myself obsessed with the one I liked to call “the little brown guy.” And then, well…it’s kind of a long story, but I got really hormonal over the course of a week or so and ended up trying to convince Seth that it was puppy time. Seth insisted that it was not, in fact, puppy time, and that I shouldn’t make major life decisions while hormonal. And then we had this whole big thing about it where it became clear to him that I really, really wanted a puppy – no, wait, THIS puppy – and he told me I should get it even if he wasn’t pro-puppy, because he’d support me, and I was convinced getting the puppy would ruin our relationship, which is pretty great, and he was convinced that if I DIDN’T get the puppy it would ruin our relationship, and OMG drama drama drama and basically, in case you haven’t heard, I have a puppy now. WE have a puppy now.

His name is Bean. He’s a mix between a lab and a German shorthaired pointer, with some springer spaniel thrown in there somewhere. He’s going to end up being way the hell bigger than we thought, which means I’m probably going to have to move out of my townhouse at some point. He is super duper adorable and brilliantly smart and awesome, except when he’s being a psychotic holy terror or a complete dumbass. So far the ratio is mostly manageable. He likes to chew on stuff and he loves peanut butter in his Kong and he loves his human mom and dad and we love him back.

Seriously, Seth and I have both turned out to be total suckers for this puppy. We took him to Petsmart and let him pick out his own bed. We spend a ridiculous amount of time pointing out his adorableness and smartness to each other. We take an obnoxious number of pictures of him sleeping or nomming on his chewy thing or whatever.

Puppies are hard work, and I’m usually pretty wiped out from chasing him around the house and letting him in and out and in and out and in and out and so on. And I have had a couple of moments where I wondered what the hell I was thinking, getting a puppy right now.

But most of the time, when I think about it at all, I think about how quickly we got to the point where I can’t imagine life without him.

it happened in a burger king bathroom

For a very long time, I was absolutely certain I did not want children. I had thought it all out, see. I was not the mothering type. I wanted to spend my money on myself. I wanted to travel and have nice things. I proclaimed this loudly and often to anyone who would listen, and I took great pains to get offended when people would kind of shake their heads and say, “You’ll change your mind,” in response.

I was so mellow back then.

And then I entered this period of great ambivalence about childbearing, which I didn’t share with many people. I wasn’t really sure. Maybe I’d have kids. But I definitely did not want to date someone who already had kids. I’d heard horror stories of what a minefield it was to be a stepparent, and I just didn’t even want to deal with that kind of baggage. I wanted a man unspoiled by life, other women, and offspring.

Silly old mellow me.

So now here I am. I’m in love with the man I intend to marry someday, a man who loves me back and intends to marry me too. Weddings are always best when both spouses-to-be agree to show up, right? So I’m in love with this man – this amazing, intelligent, supportive, divorced father of two. Somehow I’m pretty sure he’s still unspoiled.

We waited several months into our relationship before I met the kids. Their stability is really important to both of us, and we wanted to be sure we were serious and in it for the long haul before we introduced them into our lives as a couple. So for the first few months we were dating, he went on his own to see them and I stayed home. When we began making plans for them to spend the first weekend with us, I was terrified.

I wanted desperately to like them and to have them like me back, but I knew there was a very good chance that they might not like me at all. They might even hate me at first, which would be fairly normal and probably not even about me as a person at all, and more about me as their dad’s new girlfriend. I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a chilly reception and I hoped and hoped we’d have a good time.

And we did. I wrote about it in the spring. We had our moments of awkward tiptoeing and figuring each other out, but no one seemed to hate me and things were fine. I, of course, fell in love with them immediately. We had a couple of other visits and things continued to go pretty well, and I continued to fall in love. And I knew they liked me, and we had fun, but I didn’t know if they loved me and I didn’t expect them to. I’m not their mama, after all. I’m just The Other.

It’s become a little tradition that when we take the kids back after visits, we stop at Burger King. Seth and I have a thing for Mocha Joes and the kids can hit the Playland and it’s a convenient location. Plus it boosts our mood just a little, because though we never let the kids see, we’re always both a little mopey when we’re taking the kids back. So we stop at BK and the first thing we do, of course, is hit the bathroom.

Mira, age 5, likes to make small talk in public restrooms. One time we were at IHOP and I was waiting outside her stall for her to finish and from her perch on the toilet, she described to me in anatomically correct detail how babies were made. It’s always unpredictable and entertaining and sometimes embarrassing.

So we’re in the bathroom at Burger King and I’m waiting for Mira and she says, “Hey Lorie, you know what?” I’m kind of only halfway paying attention and I kind of absently say, “What, Mira?” and she says, “Did you know I love you?”

I’m almost certain it’s not the first time she told me that, but I think it’s the first time it came out of the blue and it’s definitely the moment I will always remember. It’s not terribly poignant, my little sorta step-girl on the toilet with her feet dangling down telling me she loves me, but ohh. My heart grows a little bit just in the retelling. She doesn’t have to love me, but she does.

It took me a second to respond that I loved her too, of course I did. She finished and we washed her hands and went out to join the rest of the family and the whole time, all I was thinking is, I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom.

they definitely do not call me mellow yellow

For years, I have been functioning under the stunning misconception that I am basically a mellow person. In fact, if I weren’t so lazy, I could probably search in the archives of this very site just a little bit and find several occasions where I described myself in some way that seemed mellow.

If you have ever worked with me, dated me, been related to me, or hell, encountered me on the street, you are probably reading this through tears of laughter and disbelief. You might even have accidentally peed on your chair a little bit because you were laughing so hard. I’ll wait while you go get a towel and change.

You’re back? Oh, good.

So I’m confessing it now: I am not mellow. I am not even a little bit mellow. I am so not mellow, in fact, that I have often been accused of not knowing how to relax. I’ve been told that even when I think I’m relaxed, I’m actually still tense, still unwilling to let go, still afraid to lose control. If you’re like this, you understand. If you’re not, let me tell you: that shit takes a lot of energy to maintain. It really does. But it’s so hard and scary to let go.

Seth and I emailed and IMed each other for a few weeks before we ever met in person, and during one of those conversations, I confessed to him that I didn’t like watching horror movies because I tended to get very upset when people died. Everyone else in the theater would be laughing and cringing at the gore and the absurdity of the whole thing, and I’d be fighting tears and thinking about who was going to make funeral arrangements and clean up the mess and go through the dead person’s things and close bank accounts and stuff. Because no one was thinking about that in the movie and someone should think about it and it really stressed me out.

“Wow,” he said. “Sounds like someone has too much responsibility in her life.” And, you know, he was probably right.

These days, he’s pretty great at identifying times when I need to let go a little bit, but it’s often hard for me to take his advice. He’ll notice I’m in hypermanaging mode about something or other and kind of take me off to the side and say, “Hey. You don’t have to be in charge of this thing. Let someone else figure it out.” And he’s right, sort of, but on the other hand, who am I if I’m not being responsible for everything?

Of course part of me thinks nothing will get done right, if at all, if I don’t oversee it. But probably an even bigger part of the problem is that I’ve allowed it to define me. I am the person who answers the question. I am the person who solves the problem. I am the person who researches the best airfare. I am the person who makes the reservations. I am the person who decides what time we’re leaving and whether we need reservations and if you should wear a jacket. And I resent it sometimes. Sometimes I really, really resent it. But again, how am I useful to you, how am I productive, how will I have value if I let you do those things yourself?

Here are my greatest fears: being perceived as dependent, stupid, or incompetent. I am more worried about other people THINKING those things than I am about actually becoming them. And how stupid is that? I can’t really control what other people think about me no matter how I behave. But still I try. I work my ass off, wipe myself out, expend all of my energy to be sure that others see me as independent, intelligent, and above all else, COMPETENT.

I don’t know if I can stop making those things so important to me, but I do know that I would really like to be able to just relax and turn off my worries and, you know, maybe watch a gory movie once in a while without stressing out so much about who’s going to clean up those brains on the floor.

carry that weight

I knew I needed to write today, but I hadn’t written anything yet because I was having trouble deciding between two topics that seemed very different.

Today should have been Frank’s 39th birthday. It’s been a hard day, and I have been sad. With the exception of today, I haven’t cried much lately, but the weight of missing him seems to make my steps just a little slower, the effort of living my life just a little heavier. I guess over time I’ll get stronger, and the weight will be easier to carry. But some days it just feels unbearably heavy.

I was going to devote an entire post to Frank, but I was torn because some other things have been happening that are worth writing about, and I could not choose between them. In a weird way, I’m writing about both today.

This weekend I met Seth’s kids – Mira, who is 4, and Niomi, who is 12. They spent the entire weekend with us and so the four of us spent that time feeling out what I’ve been calling my practice family. We had a super time. We went to the playground, we blew bubbles, we ate too much junk food, we watched movies and TV, and we went roller skating. I used to live in roller skates, but it’s probably been 15 years or more since I skated. I still know how, but it was kind of frustrating that I’m in such lousy shape these days that skating wore me out quickly. Towing a flaily 4-year-old around the rink surely helped me tire out faster, but mostly it’s just that I’m lame and out of shape. It was okay, though, because we all had fun even if skating was a big fat fail.

It was nice, and strange at the same time. I realized that I know exactly how to do this mothering thing, that if I ever have kids of my own I’m going to be really good at it. I think that’s a combination of instinct, growing up the oldest of four girls, and watching my own mom’s phenomenal example over the years. Whatever it is, if I have the chance to bust it out full-time, I’m so on it. At the same time, I felt like an impostor the entire time, and was convinced that someone was going to bust me trying to be a fake mom to someone else’s kids and they’d drag me away to rot in fake mother prison.

There was something amazingly wonderful and right about what we were doing, about our little sunburns and our bubble-sticky hands, our sweaty roller-skate feet, our lazy Sunday morning with Spongebob and Lucky Charms. There was something joyful and giddy about giving a girl time to play laser tag with her dad, about hooking her up with a billion computer games and watching videos with her. There was something so peaceful and pure about dozing on the couch with a bath-fresh little girl sprawled on me, all arms and legs and sweet-smelling goodness. It was right. I was ready for it.

After we handed off the girls last night, Seth and I were walking back to my car in the cool fading light and we both realized that we felt lighter, almost more limber. Even though I ate junk food all weekend, even though I’ve been carrying this immense weight of sadness in my heart, I felt lighter last night. He thought it might be roller skating. I’m pretty sure it was the late spring sweetness of our time with his girls.