This is a continuation of the post Meeting Julienne. It will make more sense if you read that first, but I’m not your supervisor. Unless I am and you’re reading this, in which case I really hope you aren’t reading this during work. I’m going to write this as if you read the other one, so any confusion is all your own fault.
Some cliffhanger, huh?
I hope it was as unsatisfying and frustrating an end as it felt to both me and Julienne at the time. Now imagine me waiting a year to post the second part of the story.
Today I was debating what to write about. I’ve wanted to write something, but the last couple of weeks or so were tough. Tough in a slightly different way than the last month has been, at least. See, the day after my last post, Labor Day Saturday, was the day Julienne and I regarded as our anniversary (because we got married on Labor Day Saturday and a three-day weekend is a great way to celebrate our love together) and it was the day we renewed our vows every year afterwards. The next day, September 1st, was the five-year anniversary of when we got together. A few days later, on September 4th, was the anniversary of when we were legally married in front of a judge in a courtroom. The next day, September 5th, was the actual date we wed in front of our family and friends in a small (by today’s standards) ceremony full of love, joy, and hope.
That was a brutal run to go on for me. I missed her presence, her touch, her smile, her laugh, the way she would lean her head into my shoulder when we hugged or sat on the couch or in bed, the smell of her hair, the feel of her hand fitting into mine, the way she would greet me every day when I got home, the way her eyes looked into mine…. Well, everything. I missed it all more intensely with every day that passed. I still do. It hurts inside in a way that I cannot describe. I would also do it all over again, without question, because no matter how bad I feel right now, Julienne made every day a great one. Every day. Whether we were at home, in France, in a hospital room for chemo, in the woods, wherever, every day was a great day because I saw her first thing when I woke up and the last moment before I slept, and in between she made sure I knew she loved me and I did everything I could to make sure she knew that I loved her more intensely than anything in multiverse. I still do.
So it took me a while to get to the point where I could contemplate putting words down again. I thought about writing about grief, the way it feels, the things I’m going through. But during this time of complete depression and utter anguish, I had a therapy appointment. Going to therapy once a week was one of the things I promised Julienne that I would do, along with cooking at least once per week, as part of a list of things she made me draw up and sign, and she added legalese and witnessed it. She’s a lawyer through and through.
My therapist saw me on Labor Day itself, when I was feeling wrung out and empty and hollow. We talked for a little bit about my abject sorrow, and then she pivoted. She told me to tell her the story of how I met Julienne and our whirlwind romance. So I did. For 45 straight minutes (I had to skip through a lot. Everything I have to say about that will take a long time to say). And even though I’d been thinking about that a lot, it helped to express it not as something torn from my life, but a way to revisit the intense joy of it all. It didn’t help right away, but gradually I thought more about the past as a comfort rather than an open wound. And because of that, I decided instead to write about meeting Julienne. And here we are. I imagine this will be a little easier to read than my original idea.
Here we go.
A phrase I hear a lot now is a variation of “there are no words I can say to you right now.” I completely understand that sentiment. There really aren’t words that we can use to convey the depth of sorrow, empathy, sympathy, loss, love, and common human togetherness that we feel when someone, whether it’s one we know and love or a complete stranger, is suffering from the loss of a loved one. In a way, those words convey all of these feelings, like the phrase is a magic spell to bind emotion into language, itself incapable of conveying it, in a short, succinct, and meaningful way. I appreciate it when people say that to me, because there are simultaneously no words and not enough words that can truly soothe a suffering heart.
Of course, it’s a real shame that there are no words. Every human being who has lived in the history of this planet is either dead or will be. We should probably have come up with words by this point. But I understand the difficulty, especially now in an age when “thoughts and prayers” is a phrase that conveys a complete indifference to the actual suffering of people. (Fun side note: I received a card from coworkers after Julienne was in the hospital for two weeks with her second collapsed lung. All but two people used the phrase “thoughts and prayers.” The other two? “Prayers and thoughts.” What a world.) Both no words, and not enough.
Julienne Gede Edwards left the world on August 8th, 2019, just before 11 am on a bright morning as she lay in her bed. It was where she’d wanted to be at the end. As it happens, despite having a lot of people in and out of the house during her final days, she and I were alone. I was holding her hand and reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane aloud, her favorite book and the one she’d asked me to bring to hospice with us to read to her. I checked her oxygen levels as I did periodically, to make sure that she was getting enough to her blood. The last week of her life required a lot of oxygen so she wore her nasal cannula as she’d done for over a year by that point, as well as a mask that she hated over her nose and mouth to give her additional air.
The other day I was talking to my wife about my struggles with writing. I wanted to submit some short stories for a publication but I was having trouble coming up with things to write about. She asked me a very sensible question: “What do you want to say to the world?” I thought about it, and only one answer came to mind then, and I still don’t have a better one:
I feel drained, hollowed out. Not all the time, of course, but it’s my default state now. Some days are good, some days are bad, but the common thread through all of them is a bone-deep exhaustion. Not exactly the kind of thing that a reader is dying to pore over. There’s good reason for it, of course, just like there’s a good reason for the depression, the feelings of powerlessness, the nagging question of whether life’s mundane responsibilities like paying bills and worrying about a credit score is worth it due to an occasionally overwhelming existential crisis that’s part and parcel of our every day.
I know, I know. I do like two blog posts in 10 months, then I do 2 in two days. Some people binge drink; some people binge blog. And some people do both, like me!
Anyway, it’s still February, the All-Time Aravan Award Winner for Shittiest Month 1600 years in a row (seriously, it’s so shitty that we cap it at 28 days unless we need to make the calendar still work, then we grudgingly add a 29th every four years and resent the fuck out of extending it), so technically I can get away with a 2017 awards presentation. And if you disagree, the terrible Academy Awards won’t be held until fucking March, so take it up with them if you think I’m too late. So you know what that means.
IT’S TIME FOR THE MOTHERFUCKING 2017 ARAVAN AWARDS, BABY!
Before you get too excited, let me pause and explain what the Aravan Awards are. From the archives:
…Coming up with a top ten list has to be the easiest writing job in the world. Jot down ten things, come up with superficial reasons for their inclusion, and then explain how blatantly wrong you are as just “a way to get people talking about it.” It’s the ultimate mail-it-in, who-gives-a-shit approach to writing.
So I am TOTALLY in!
So sit back, relax, and cheer for your favorite candidates as I google the World’s Shittiest Trophy and use the first image that comes up as the award for this year:
And now, here it is – YOUR 2017 ARAVAN AWARD WINNERS!
I didn’t want to go.
I just wasn’t in the mood, really. I’d been working all day, and would have to do the same tomorrow. The prospect of driving for an hour to go home, then to ride in a car for two hours in order to be surrounded by strangers, followed by disappointing news, then on top of that having to ride all the way back home feeling down – it wasn’t an appetizing thought.
Hell, I was already depressed and anxious enough. Those two feelings tend to follow me almost all of the time, and it always takes at least a little effort to keep them at bay. Some days are worse than others, and on that Thursday they were feeling pretty damn strong. I struggle now and again with, well, a lot of things, and some days are harder than others. The really fun thing about my own particular cocktail of misery is that my depression makes me want to be alone, my anxiety makes me unable to cope with social situations (to the point where I often find myself unable to face the prospect of asking another person to give me food when they are literally being paid to do that very thing and so I’ll skip lunch instead), and – here’s the fun part – being alone makes me more anxious and depressed. It’s a good time.
Fair warning: If the title wasn’t enough to clue you in, this is a post about jackin’ it while getting your insurance company to pay for it. If you have zero desire to find out what it’s really like to provide a sperm sample, it’s completely understandable. If, however, you’ve always wondered if it’s like how they portray it in the movies, or you’re curious to discover what materials are provided for the purpose, read on. I promise to try to make it more funny than gross. Also, the pics may feature adult themes. Not like my junk or anything, but, ya know, fair warning and all that. You might see part of a heavily photoshopped woman’s butt.
Also, a hearty welcome to the new followers I picked up this week! You deserve better, but hey, you didn’t know what you were getting into.
You don’t need me to tell you that 2016 was a very fucked up year. Many beloved famous people died, including people who helped define some of the most widespread cultural touchstones we have, from a princess to a professor to a candymaker to a spider from Mars, along with ground-breaking musicians, one regressive judge, comedians, athletes who defined entire sports and eras, giants on the world political stage, and more besides. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, pets – maybe you lost someone personally in 2016. It was the year that never seemed to quit taking. Seriously, go look a list of the famous people who died last year. I guarantee there are people on there you forgot about, and couldn’t believe you didn’t remember.
Also, there was an election, wherein a thin-skinned pissboy with less substance than an expired McDonald’s coupon became president of a nation whose espoused ideals stand in stark contrast to everything the tragic joke of a man set to lead it embodies.
OK, this whole blog post is coming out way more depressing than I intended. Sorry about that.
I said before here that I detest the fact that we’ve allowed a two-party system to arise and get a chokehold on power in United States government. Of course, I leave the possibility open that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I am, after all, not an expert in political systems, or the intricacies of government, or history, or really any subject at all. I may be an expert in churning out stream-of-consciousness rambling word vomit, but even that’s debatable. I know enough about a lot of things to know I don’t know enough. But I do know enough to have opinions on them, and I am an expert on knowing my blog’s username and password, so I’ll continue putting out these things here.
To be honest, I’m writing this because it’s been a very emotional and shitty couple of weeks. And writing about the potential dissolution of our Republic is actually a way for me to escape my troubles. A few friends of mine encouraged me to write, so I am. My original plan was going to be a Fears and Hope in Donald America post, where I could talk about what I’m afraid of and hopeful for in the next few years. I may do that at some point. Instead, I’m going with a lashing-out of anger because I feel helpless and scared and sometimes yelling at clouds is the only thing I can do because the things I’m actually angry and scared of can’t be targeted or confronted. They just Are.
Anyway, whatever, here we go.