Dark, heavy clouds move with urgency across the sky, driven by the force of the wind. The air feels wet but no rain falls. The chill in the air holds fast with the dampness encased by the unburdened cloud cover.

The fierce wind envelopes the buildings and the dormant carnival rides as it storms its way down the length of the pier. The force of the gusts making the weathered signs and banners dance in its wake. Waves crash against the supports of the pier as the ocean is driven into a maelstrom.

Desolation and abandon encompass the Carnival grounds. Boards nailed tight over the ticket windows and vendor booths, guarding against the wear of time and weather. A glance down the empty midway shows not a single open venue or attraction. The faded, peeling paint a proclamation of disrepair and neglect that has fallen over the once bright and loud expanse of rides, attractions and games.

The echoes of laughter, now long gone and lost, is carried on the wind as it presses violently between the boards and shakes the ever crumbling buildings. Silence now where there was once the boldness of sound assaulting the senses. The melodies of the rides absent…the crowd calls of the vendors muted…the music of children faded and no more. The only sound a distant bang of a shutter as it slams against the window it now barely clings to.

All is silent now, leaving a void.

The emptiness heavy with the weight of sorrow for what is lost.

Dear Universe (or Life or whatever you would like to be addressed as),


I would like to commend you on your tenacity. Your many and varied attempts to break me are impressive and you continue to surprise and shock me, even when I think I’ve seen it all.


Granted, I have only had 47 years to try to decipher whether or not your intention is to find a way to make me tap out of this journey or whether I , like everyone else, am simply here for your amusement and enjoyment. However, 47 years is long enough for me to have garnered some insight.


Admittedly, there have been a few occasions where it had looked like you may have won and yes, I admit, I have come close to conceding defeat. Yet, no matter how many times or for how long the bad days have lasted; my track record for beating them is pretty damn good. To clarify, that means that I haven’t ever given up for good.


I have never been one to enjoy playing games that require great skill, cunning, or strategy. Luck has eluded me as well – I find its fickleness and uncertainty to be unpleasant to my taste for reason and understanding. I do love games that challenge me though. So thank you. For so many chances to discover the strength and clarity that comes with knowing not only what I’m up against, but more importantly, what I bring to the table.


Thank you for showing me what I’m made of and all that’s inside of me that I have to fight with. I’ve seen, and accept, that sometimes I do slide a bit and falter when I’m pushed; I also see that I always find my grip and dig in and I hold on – without fail.


Today, I offer you these simple words:


You have no idea what I’m capable of and what I can handle, but I do now. Regardless of what comes next – challenge accepted. And I won’t lose.


P.S. Your sense of humour sucks at times.

You must have walked into the room but I didn’t notice.

You were just simply there

all of a sudden,

next to me on the couch.


I’m not surprised to see you,

even though I should be.

You’re not on this side anymore.

That’s what the coroner told me just a few hours ago.

She made me hear her.

Even when I tried not to.

Especially when I tried not to.


Now here you are.

We sit together.

I don’t say anything at first.

Then a quiet “How are you?” escapes my lips.


You shrug.

A familiar movement from you.

It’s not out of the ordinary.

But it should be.

I know that deep inside.

But it isn’t.

It’s just you and me.


“I’m okay” you almost whisper to me.

You sit.

“It’s not…” You start, then your voice trails off.

I hear you sigh.


Now it’s my turn to shrug.

I don’t know what to say.

I have too much,

and nothing,

to ask.


“I have to go.” You say as you stand to leave.

You wait, looking down at me.

“Do you have to?”

I turn to look up at you.

But you’re already gone.


Level One (sober, but the drinking has begun):

A variety of songs by Pink. “Slut Like You” will most certainly make an appearance towards the end of this phase – live version. “True Love” will be played and will induce the need in me to text my sweetie and profess how much I love her.

Prince, Twenty One Pilots, X Ambassadors, Fun.


Level Two, Part One: Tipsy:

Ed Sheeran takes a stroll through here. Beginning with “I See Fire” and wrapping up quickly with “Shape of You” before I realize I don’t actually like Ed Sheeran. Moving on.


Level Two, Part Two: Tipsy but in danger of losing the music buzz from the foray into Ed Sheeran (hey, sometimes we all make poor judgements when drinking)

Matchbox Twenty circa 2012 to get my drink induced swagger back on track. “She’s So Mean”.

Prince “Darling Nikki” . No explanation needed. Bump and grind in the kitchen. Not to brag but my kitchen chair is hard now…

Quick stop on youtube to pull up the BEST EVER dance worthy mashup of Van Halen and ABBA ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Mdm9kISNgY you will not be disappointed, trust me).


Level Three: More than tipsy but still holding my own:

Enter nostalgia phase…54-40, Mother Mother, Madison Avenue and Joy Division. Realize absentmindedly that my collection of music may need updating – and that it is more than a bit bipolar.

Exit nostalgia phase… back to dancing. Annie Lennox “Little Bird” to the rescue. I am now able to reach a vocal range I have previously thought impossible for me.

“Whore” rounds it out and puts a smile on my face. I am now convinced that I can not only sing, I can dance.

Resist urge to search Ke$ha on youtube. This is my first hint that I may be more drunk than  tipsy.


Level Three: Drunk Part One: Techno indulgence:

Unidentifiable techno club mix of something from the ‘90’s that I used to teach Spin classes to. I really need to do a clean out of my music collection…. I haven’t taught in 7 years.

Club remix of The Cranberries “Zombie” (Tiesto version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Yn4Nr24ORE ); one of my standard running songs. Evokes thoughts that maybe I should go running. No. Too drunk. (See, I can make some good decisions while drinking)

Level Three: Drunk Part Two: No More Techno PLEASE:

Gay takes over. Dykeville here I come. Melissa Etheridge, Indigo Girls and “Drive” by Melissa Ferrick. Realize that my boyfriend who suggested I was actually a lesbian when I was 15 might have had more insight than I did at that age. ‘Nuff said.


Level “I have had too much to drink and need to go to bed but one more song….:

Sarah MacLachlan “Ol’55”. I am now a singing goddess and can hit every note that she can. With lyrics that include “lickety splitly” how did she expect anyone sing this one any way other than drunk?


*PS: Each drinking episode differs in specific music selection. Don’t judge. 😉 *

“I think I’ve seen you before.” She whispers to the reflection in the mirror.  

She turns away to dry her hands, pushing the thought from her mind. But she can feel her watching.

She turns to face the mirror. Slowly, reluctantly.

Leaning in close, she studies the eyes of the woman who is looking back at her.

The blue eyes (didn’t they used to be brighter, softer?) flecked with gold at the edges hold her gaze steady.

Unwavering. Demanding.

She wants to turn away from what she sees there. She doesn’t though. She stares back.

She wants to ignore the anger that defiantly glares back at her. Challenging. Harsh.

Still she looks.

She doesn’t want to swim the in the cold emptiness that lurks beneath the rage that she sees. (when did that grow there?)

Still she looks.

She waits. Squinting, looking deeply for more that she knows (hopes) must be there.

She searches for the spark that must be there somewhere (weren’t there flames there once?).

She blinks. Did she something flash for a second (or was it just imagination)?

Her eyes are a brilliant blue now as tears silently fall on her hands resting (gripping) the sink.

The woman in the mirror is an intimate stranger to her.

She turns off the light and walks away.

She slowly trailed her tongue along the rim of the shot glass, wetting it. She dipped it in the sugar and set it on the bar with a solid slam.

She reached below the bar, expertly handling the bottle and the amber liquid poured quickly, overflowing the rim slightly. The bar, sticky with remnants of the night shimmered in the neon lights that hung behind her.

She slid the shot towards the Femme who would be in her back room soon.

“Whisky Sweet.” She said simply and turned away.

We’ve all seen the words that accompany clickbait articles on our social media feed.it.

The words that tell us how much of our precious time will be spent reading the article, if we click. At first I didn’t think much of it. When they started appearing, it was something I barely noticed to be honest. Then i started to see it more and more often.

Two Minute Read.

Four Minute Read.

Three. Five. One. Seven.

Have we really become so busy, so lacking in time and energy, that we aren’t willing to commit to something that grabs our interest unless we have a promise of how much of our time we will need to invest in it before we even start? Are we really at the point where we have to choose so carefully how we ration out our energy and time?

When did we become so habituated to living frenetic, rushed lives that we can’t even click on an article without being able to decide whether it’s worth our time based on how much of that time it will take? When did this pace of exhaustion and burnout become normal?  How have we evolved to a culture that makes us feel like we are not doing enough until we are doing too much?

How many of us will admit to half-reading the article while looking at the page to find where the end is? Mentally and intellectually moving on to the next attention needing task before we are done with the one we should be focusing on; the one right in front of us. What happens is that each thing that is in our field of vision, either literally or metaphorically, ends up being short-changed. Whether it’s the fluffy article, the science journal or the partner sitting next to us as we nod and don’t really listen to the conversation.

Maybe the most important question though isn’t thew how or why are we like this, but rather, why are so many of us okay with it?

The answer that gets bantered about is that we just simply don’t have the disposable time and energy anymore to “waste” it. That our energy and time is so stretched to the limit that we have to be acutely conscious of how we spend it. Every single minute of it. It’s a simple explanation and one that makes sense. It’s also an explanation that begs the question of why are we not more concerned with trying to change that than we are with how long that article will take us to skim through.

There are books aplenty about grief and loss and how to process. Essays upon essays that muse on feelings and actions and how to navigate the waves. How to learn to surf and not drown in them when someone you love is gone.


Beautiful prose and poetry is written about the pain and hurt and eventual sunrise at the end of it all when you accept it and see the truth that the days do indeed keep coming.


But no one talks about the messy parts. The gallows humour parts. The parts when you just have to laugh and cry at the ridiculousness that is real life in the middle of the disaster of loving the dead while you exist in the midst of the living.


No one talks about the moments that make you cringe while you’re shaking your head and thinking “why didn’t anyone tell me about THIS!’”


No one talks about how you will do your grocery shopping at 11:30pm, just before the store closes, so that you can avoid having to come face to face with all the people who know.


No one tells you how to answer the casual question of “what’s he doing after grad?” from someone who hasn’t heard that he died 6 months ago. No one tells you that you will simply lie, saying “ he’s doing great” to avoid having to explain it – again.


No one tells you how much you will come to hate seeing people who don’t know. Even more than you may come to hate seeing people who do.


No one tells you how to cancel plans, made three days before your person died. No one tells you that you will leave a movie theatre 10 minutes into the movie to send a text to the friend you forgot you made plans with for that evening. Plans made three days ago. Before. No one tells you that you’ll stand there in the lobby, holding your phone and trying to figure out how to say that you can’t make it to dinner because your son is dead and you’re watching a mindless movie with your other kids trying to do anything that makes your mind stop screaming. No one tells you that you will ever send a text saying “I can’t make dinner because my son died.” No one tells you that you will not care how rude that sounds.


No one tells you that you will laugh out loud when you ask your other kids what they want to do that evening, two days later, to try to pass the time and one of them says “I don’t know, just hang around? Oh, sorry, bad wording.”. No one tells you that you will laugh because the reality of his bad wording speaks to a reality that is simply unbelievable and surreal.


No one tells you that you will start to wonder if you have lost your mind.


No one tells you that you will be so angry at the funeral when someone asks why you are letting his friends see him – in an open casket – because, “don’t you know it might upset them?” Them. No one tells you that you will be alright with the fact that you don’t care who is upset.


No one tells you that you will look back a month later and have no idea how you’re younger child got fed and taken to school and cared for when you can’t remember doing any of it.


No one tells you that you will drive yourself to the morgue in city rush hour and home again and be surprised when someone asks you how you managed it – and why didn’t you ask someone to drive you! It won’t occur to you that you shouldn’t have been able to do something as normal as driving because you did it. And you don’t remember even getting in the car.


No one tells you about how hilarious you find it when you buckle the seatbelt around the container holding your son’s ashes in the passenger seat after it goes flying onto the floorboards when you take a hard turn out of the crematorium’s parking lot.


No one tells you how sad you will be on the day when, years later, you take out his shirt that you kept because it smelled like him  – and it doesn’t smell like him anymore.


No one tells you.

grief doesn’t merely sit.

it resides,

it burrows,


settles in,






suffocating my

lightness of being

that it has replaced.


once a raw

shocking stranger,


a reluctantly




always present.


a part of,

yet no longer,

all of

my being.