Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Made a Playlist

I made an awesome playlist recently, to chronicle my youth in Bowling Green the best way I could. Well, I think it's awesome. I tried to take all the songs that made me think about my youth and put them into one list... and needless to say, it's pretty random. From NKOTB to the Fresh Prince to Weezer to my love of musicals... I think it gives the unknowing listener a very personal glimpse into who I was as a kid/teenager/young adult living in a small southern town. After listening to it for the first time, I started to think about who my influences were as far as who introduced me to certain artists and albums. I realized that at least half of everything I listened to from Jr. High on I began listening to at my best friend's house as we "borrowed" most of her older brother's albums when he was conveniently out of the house, or in the car when he was driving us around town and needed to drown us out. ( I still have no idea why he would want to drown us out. We were/are awesome.)

Pre-Jr. High I think a lot of what I listened to was what my parents were into. I kept the giant German wardrobe thingy that they kept their records and turntable in( thanks for moving that, Craig and Geoff:)). Lots of Simon and Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, Don McClean, James Taylor, Billy Joel, John Denver... and then of course you have the commonplace pre-teen jams by folks like Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, etc... I still remember calling the radio station to request a song so I could record it. Oh, and buying "singles" so I didn't have to buy the whole album.

Big hitters on the list: R.E.M., They Might Be Giants, 10,000 Maniacs, Indigo Girls... These are the bands I hope my son discovers in 10 years or so and asks me " hey mom, did you ever listen to( fill in the blank)." I will proudly shout "YES!" and fervently dig up my antiquated cassette tapes and Cds, and we will spend a weekend soaking in the somewhat angst-ish musical tastes mommy preferred when she was "young".  ( Geoff will have his own weekend in which they listen to Jane's Addiction. I will be out of town that weekend.)

Some of these songs just scream " teenage Laura in age-appropriate boy crisis", and I think it's hilarious. I can still see myself listening to some of these tunes, sitting in my room, wondering how in the world artists such as the Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Edie Brickell, the Indigo Girls, and Tori Amos could have written songs that were about MY EXACT SITUATION.

And then there's Steve Winwood.


I love Mr. Winwood. Born from earlier roots of Traffic and Blind Faith, this guy is one of my favorite artists. I saw him play with Ricky Skaggs and KY Thunder in Telluride years ago, and their onstage collaboration of " That's The Way it Is" ( which is STILL not on an album yet :/) was probably THE highlight of my live music sojourn thus far. But his song " Back in the High Life" will forever remind me of living in Bowling Green. I'm pretty sure WKU did a campaign for the college (primarily focusing on the athletic department)that featured this song in a commercial on both the TV and radio... and every time I hear it, I'm transported back. Back to my mom/dad's car, the mall, basketball/football games, Halloween, Christmas, Bowling Green in general. I'm transported back to all of it, into a nice little slide show in my brain.

A good friend of mine also put together a "BG" playlist recently, and although his memories were more focused on Jr. High on, it's funny how many of the same songs/artists we both included without consulting one another beforehand.  It's obvious my friends were very influential on who and what I listened to, and for this I am very thankful. Music makes my life, and this playlist has certainly helped me to remember it fondly.






Sunday, August 19, 2012

For Ed, wherever I may find her


I'm lucky.

I'm lucky enough to have not just one, but two people I can truly call my best friend. One of those people is my husband; in the 9.5 years or so we've known each other, he has had a remarkable gift at being not only my partner in love, but also being an honest to goodness companion.

The second person has carried the title of "BFF" for much longer. We first met at a birthday party when we were in the 6th grade. Our first act of friendship was a game of ping pong in a hotel lobby in which most of the balls ended up on the second floor terrace or in the pool-- a very appropriate foreshadowing into our friendship...goofy and genuine... and it was never about what we were doing per say, only that we did it together, whether it be ping pong games, cruising the mall, visiting various tennis courts in town, irritating her older brother to the point he began refusing to drive the two of us anywhere together. As the years went by, we continued to find humor and grace in the world around us and within our friendship. She was the friend who helped me mend my first broken heart and every one since then. She saw me through those difficult teenage years yet still loved me regardless of my neuroses. She was my maid of honor at my wedding, and was there when my son was born. She was there with me when both my parents died( and when I say "there" I don't mean just emotionally. She was literally standing right next to me through it all). A couple of weeks ago she helped me put all my parents' belongings in boxes, which was not an easy task.

I write this because I love her, and I think she's probably the strongest person I know. She deserves to be reminded of what an amazing person she is, and I feel like I need to be better about expressing my gratitude. As the course of our lives continue to change, she is still a constant in my day-to-day despite living 3 hours away. I hope I can be as good a friend to her as she is to me.

Love you Ed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Home

I've used this quote before, but as I edge close to selling my parents' house and things, I have needed to refer back to these words to help me deal with the internal struggle I've got going on:

" The first thing the word home brings to mind is a place, and the next perhaps most crucial thing is people and maybe utltimately a single person." - Frederick Buechner, The Longing for Home

I know it's just a house. And the things in it are just things. They don't define me, my parents, our memories, our life together... but damn if it doesn't feel like they do. Over the past year or so I've come upon so many "things" in that house that make me feel so connected to them although they aren't physically here anymore. Random stuff-- reading glasses, pocket knives, letters, books... the stories behind all the furniture. Everything had a story, or at least a small ancedote behind it. I'm still learning about many of the things in the house with help from family and friends. My parents took great pride in attempting to lead a graceful and meaningful existence, and I have to say, they did an amazing job, even with all their "stuff".

I can still feel them when I'm in that house. Geoff and I laugh about the phantom noises we sometimes encounter when we're there.... my dad snoring in the living room with the 1987 RCA television blaring sportscenter in the background at 2AM....the ever present clink of ice cubes in the kitchen... my mother guffawing at something on the food network... and the fierce bark of Abbey who usually barked at nothing in particular.

Home, for me, used to be wherever my parents were. Then it became wherever Geoff was. Now it is wherever Arlo and Geoff are... but I'm always searching for that first, initial feeling of home that my parents provided for me... and I guess I feel like selling the house will undoubtedly take that away from me in some way.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Little More Ground

Things have continued at their busy pace since last I wrote. Graduate school has ended for the summer, and I have a little over 1 more year to go... I ended up with all A's and one B. Turns out I'm not as adept at social policy history as dad was.. but one of the last things he said to me about school was " I hope you get a B. I don't mean to be an ass, but straight A's aren't necessary... you know I'm proud of you, no matter what." I guess he got his wish.:)

Arlo started " school" this summer, and absolutely loves it. No tears, screaming on the first day... just a huge grin that said " I'm ready, momma. And also, I see that they have a train table" and off he went. My father-in-law came with me on that first day since Geoff was working, and I'm convinced the only reason I escaped somewhat emotionally unscathed is because of his presence. That and the train table.

I'll have enough to occupy my brain this summer without school. We're slowly getting my parents' house and it's contents ready to sell/.auction. Who knew old tattered shakertown baskets and ancient wooden wagons would turn a profit? I admit I wanted to scrap most of that stuff. because I thought they were merely decorations. Very glad I've had a team of friends and family to advise me otherwise.

As father's day comes upon us, I realise again what I have lost. There are some moments in which I feel like I can't breathe. Many moments when I want to cry for hours. The anger is also supremely difficult to wade through most days. But I remember what I presently have, which is a knowledge of two amazing, beautiful, graceful and giving individuals who are my parents. I am comforted somewhat. I use the present tense not because I'm horrible with grammar, but because they are STILL my parents, regardless of whether they are with us physically or not. I still show Arlo pictures of them, we still call their house " Gram and Duke's", and he is responsive to this, although I have to say when he says " where gram" but more often " where duke, mama" I get very sad. I don't know what other feeling to have with that.

What I want: to be able to call them both, to say " hey, here's what I did" or " hey, I totally screwed up" and hear their voices say " we love you, we're so proud of you, uncondtionally". The reality, obviously, is that this cannot happen. Yes, I hear it in my heart, but it's not the same. The selling of their house and things is horrendusly hard. It's like I'm selling them, their lives, and their memories. I know this is probably just part of the grief process, but it's how I feel at the moment. It might be different if one of them were still here to help, and although I have a tremendous amount of love and support, and the end of the day, it's a lonely process. Being an only child is not the best position at the moment.

But, things must go on. And I conclude this entry with lyrics to one of my favorite songs that keeps me going when I'm feeling low and helpless:

The wheel is turning and you can't slow down
You can't let go and you can't hold on
You can't go back and you can't stand still
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will

Won't you try just a little bit harder
Couldn't you try just a little bit more
Won't you try just a little bit harder
Couldn't you try just a little bit more
Round, round, Robin run around
Gotta get back where you belong
Little bit harder, just a little bit more
Little bit further than you gone before
Small wheel turning by the fire and rod
Big wheel turning by the grace of God
Every time that wheel turn round
Bound to cover just a little more ground


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shadows

After putting the baby to bed, I went outside to let the dog out. I had lit a couple of candles on the deck for ambiance and calm. I went over to the edge of the deck to check on Sadie when I noticed my shadow in the reflection of our kitchen window and candles. How large and confident that shadow was. How tall and sure. And that’s when I realized: I want to be my shadow. I long to be my shadow.

Some days are easier than others. Today is in the mediocre category.  I woke up to a cheerful household and personal disposition, yet now after the day is done I am somewhat pensive and wistful. When they say that the death of a loved one is like a roller coaster, however clich├ęd this might seem, it’s totally true. My proof: My “ Dealing with Death setlist” ( for me anyhow):Wow, What in the World is Going on> Wow, Did That Just Happen?> Wow, That Couldn’t Have Just Happened>Crap,That Did Happen, and Piss on Everything because it did and I have to Deal with it All >That Totally Happened, and I get it, but it Still Sucks.

I think it’s harder for me because I had to do it twice in less than a year’s time with two of my heroes, the people who knew me best and closest to me. Currently with Mom I’m in the “ Crap, That Did Happen” category, and with Dad It’s more of the “ Wow, Did that Just Happen” mentality. Psych folks,  I get the connection to the Kubler-Ross grief model, and while I used to scoff at models dealing with such intimate, situation-specific and personality based emotions, with this one I don’t anymore. It’s right on, although I do inherently believe that folks bounce around the model like being jostled around in a children’s bouncy castle, or at least I have. Once you think you’ve come to a certain point that you can stand and be stable, some force, whether it be an emotional bully or just your own difficulty of the perfection of emotional homeostasis, you can go back to lying helplessly pummeled by outside forces on that rubbery bouncy castle floor very quickly.

One thing I’ve learned over the past year is the importance of help. Not just of having it, but also of asking FOR it. Friends and family are so important, and over the years I have neglected my tight woven net of pals and kinfolk for one reason or another… and now that I need them more than ever, they are here in droves. I am so lucky and fortunate, beyond what I deserve given my horrendous pattern of not communicating with people.  So thank you, folks, and I hope you know who you are.

The anniversary of Mom’s passing is coming upon me. I typed in “us” beforehand and then realized it isn’t an “us” anymore since Dad is now gone as well.... I used to think people who had trouble with anniversaries like this had some thinking to do. “Why haven’t you dealt with it yet” crossed my mind many times… Now that I am in this position… it ain’t what I thought. I remember the smells, sounds of spring… and relate them to last year, mom being in the hospital, me going outside to get some fresh air… I miss her so. And I wish I had Daddy here to help.

Pushing forward… I am still in graduate school to obtain my MSW.  I still have a 4.0.  I went to part time due to the fact that I now have to deal with an entire estate since Daddy passed away.  A few professors at UC have been great at helping me muddle through, glad I got to know them before everything happened, and I’ve made some great friends at school as well.

My inner Laura is slowly channeling the shadow Laura, with the help of family and friends. Thanks and much love to you all.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

In God's Country(for grandaddy)

A couple of weeks ago, Geoff and I were on a date night and discovered an amazing bluegrass band named the Infamous Stringdusters. They opened with a U2 cover of " In God's Country" off of U2's Joshua Tree album... I was instantly hooked. Not sure if it was the cover or the band, but I have this song on repeat on my itunes now. I started to think of my grandaddy as he loved the fiddle, and the fiddle player for this band was up to grandaddy's standards( or what I think they were).   The BOOM of the bass kept me alert, and for the rest of the show, I couldn't stop thinking about " Stew-baby" and his love for the string opera. Grandaddy used to tell me tales of the days that he went to the fiddle judging competitions at Opryland, and I can only think that he felt the same thing, watching all the stringed instruments on stage converging into beauty and feeling a spiritual and strong connection the music, just as I have. I have often thought to myself, " the love of this music has to be inherited." Not a bad thing to inherit, in my opinion.  I can recall him saying on several occasions that  " nobody beats that gal, Alison Krauss. Nobody." Turns out these guys( Infamous Stringdusters) are on Alison Krauss's label, so I guess I'm not too far off of his standards.

So thank you, grandaddy. I love you and will always attribute my love for bluegrass music to you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Initiation ( of sorts)

Last night, Geoff and I had our first foray into the toddler/own child stomach virus arena. Poor Arlo woke me up at 11:15 ( yes, I was in bed, and had been since 9) crying. Just as I went into his room to check on him, I heard that vaguely familiar sound you hear when someone vomits. I didn't hesitate to rip him up out of the crib and sit him up on the changing table( thanks years of CPR training) and check for signs of difficulty breathing and breathing obstructions. He was fine, but he was so scared and confused, which begs the question: What in the world is going on in the mind of a child the first time they throw up? Is it " What in the hell is my body doing" or  maybe more of a Talking Heads vision of " Well, how did I get here?"

Regardless of what he was thinking, he was frightened beyond belief. Geoff hadn't come home from work yet, and I was basically just encouraging him to " get it all out", which now I think is hilarious because he has no idea what that means. I think that was my 21 year old sorority sister dialogue coming forth. At any rate, Geoff came home quickly thereafter and said " I knew something was wrong when his light was on and I heard howling from the house." We changed his clothes about 4 times, and finally ended up in the living room watching Thomas and Dora at like 230 in the morning, with Geoff and I discussing  Sir Topam Hatt's genuine intentions for the engines( we think he's a bit of a harsh employer and might be an IRS case to be explored)  and how Dora is still sounds like she's screaming when she talks. About anything. I would hate to invite her to a dinner party, she'd be like Kevin Nealon's character in SNL called Mr. No Depth Perception, but hers would be related to voice volume as if her guests were 600 miles away: " PASS ME THE SALT! I NEED MORE GRAVY! HOW WAS YOUR DAY? I CLIMBED UP CANDY MOUNTAIN, WENT THROUGH THE BALLOON FOREST AND ENDED UP SOMEWHERE IN MEXICO!"

Somewhere between Dora and an episode of Blue's Clues Arlo finally nodded off, sitting up. He had insisted on keeping his mouth somewhat open throughout the ordeal primarily because I'm sure his mouth tasted horrible, and also because he was probably scared of what might happen again. Once he popped his pacifier in I knew he was feeling better, and I nodded off as well to the sounds of Steve and Blue attempting to solve the latest issue concerning where they had left Blue's Science Diet food and organic turkey treats. It was an intense night/morning, but we have now been initiated, and I feel more like a mom now. I now inherently understand what my mom was feeling when she would tell me " I wish I could take away all your hurt" when I was sick. Much thanks to my mother and father-in-law for answering their phone at midnight and assuring me that Arlo was going to be okay, and to my parents, who I know were watching over us and most likely cackling at how freaked out I was over puke.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Nod

 I was fortunate enough to get down to Bowling Green on Friday morning to be with Daddy before he passed away early Saturday morning. When I got to the medical center, he was alert, lucid, and asked me " how were the roads, baby?" in pure Michael "always weird about the weather" fashion. I was greeted by my best friend, Erin, and her mother, Chris, who had been visiting with Daddy until I arrived.

He was weak, and I could tell in his voice and demeanor he knew what was happening. For about an hour or so, I held his hand, asked him philosophical questions about life, encouraged him to eat the orange sherbert someone had brought him, and watched him attempt to rest. I Then I heard a deep voice say " Laura Beth", and a tall figure entered the room with a smile and graceful sweeping of physicality.  One of daddy's oldest and best friends entered the room. My father's eyes immediately lit up and then creased at the ends, a sign of sadness yet immense respect and love.

Over the next few hours, Daddy had many visitors-- neighboors, CEOs, nurses, social workers, friends... and over those next few hours, Daddy grew weaker, and it became evident that he was in pain. It was at this moment that his friend encouraged me to consider hospice. God, everything was happening so fast. Hospice? Now? But looking at him, I knew it was the right move. We consulted with the social worker and various nurses and doctors who agreed. He would be more comfortable.

I have to say a thank you to the Medical Center of Bowling Green for having such wonderful staff to assist with these issues. They assisted with my mother's care when she was sick, and I appreciate all of the doctors, nurses, social work and adminstrative's staff in her care as well as my dad's. The Medical Center of Bowling Green helped me in more ways than I can count or repay.The adminstrative staff at the Medical Center of Bowling Green is also amazing; I can truly, honestly say that they care about their patients and the care that they are given. I felt enveolped and humbled by their love and support.

Once we moved Dad to the Hospice of Southern Kentucky, he became more at ease, as did myself and his friends. He smiled more and was able to tell us what "hurt" and what he needed. Both myself and his lifelong frend Bill Mcdonald, and Erin Desmarais stayed by his side. His friends Nate and Katrina Phelps came by for a visit and rally-- but it seems that eventually he wanted only two of us to be with him when he passed- Bill McDonalnd and myself.  Bill asked me to try and sleep, which I did. He eventually woke me with a gentle voice, letting me know that Daddy was almost gone.

Bill and I then floated over to his bedside, but at that time daddy was already gone.

That is when I got ' the nod". I will never forget the nod, Bill, and I will write about it for years to come,

Thank you, Bill, for your love and support.

The world was the way it should have been.