Who I Used to Be.

I dreamt last night I was back to my old tricks in gymnastics. For those who don’t know, I used to be a badass gymnast. I say that with pride because there are so very few things I really excel at, so I don’t feel cocky in admitting the one thing that I was truly gifted with as a kid. It came easy to me. I loved it. I didn’t care that practice was four hours a day every day during competitive season. I was so incredibly driven then, and I was nine  years old. Looking back on it now, it’s like that was some other version of me from a parallel universe. Here I am in bed, wondering if I’ll have the energy to shower today. I can’t believe I used to do acrobatics on a four inch beam. And it was my favorite event, the balance beam. It required such devout focus, but I loved how everything would fade away to a colorless blur in the background while performing on it. All that existed was four inches of felt and a nine year olds concentration. It was almost holy being up there. And it was so unassuming to look at. It was literally just a beam; four feet off the ground, waiting around for anyone who felt worthy to mount it; one slip and it was all over. I’d always considered it the most difficult out of all four events, but immediately it was my favorite. I felt most myself up there. Most alive.

See? Don't I look alive?

I was at the top of my game (both in gymnastics and in school) when I came down with the flu one ordinary spring day. I skipped practice, which I never did. Days with the flu turned into weeks, and I wasn’t getting any better. I was getting worse. Suddenly I began having headaches everyday, like clockwork. My muscles started aching for no reason. Sometimes my skin hurt to touch. In line at the grocery store, I felt too tired, too weak to stay standing, so I’d sit, on the dirty grocery store floor, my head in my hands. My homework began taking me an unwarranted amount of time to complete. At that time in third grade, we were being taught how to tell time. I remember looking at the clocks on the worksheet and the numbers not seeming in order. The questions about what time it was looked like they were written backwards. I’d reread them and reread them, slower and slower. I used to be incredibly quick. Always the first one done with in-class assignments. I grasped concepts easily and fast. Now words were scrambled, and so in order to answer a question, I first had to rearrange the words in proper order because my brain for some reason, liked to put all the words in a jar, shake it up, and spit them out in whatever sequence they fell in. This took completing things three times as long. Not to mention my pounding head didn’t like to read things when it hurt. None of it made a lot of sense. Even looking back on it is a blur. But we went to a few different doctors who couldn’t find the answers. My mom said she was cringing in silence because I was showing all the symptoms that she had when first becoming ill in the 80′s. She didn’t say anything for a while, but after months of being sick and getting progressively worse, she knew it was what she feared.

I was basically home-schooled by my mom for the remainder of third grade. I spent a lot of time in bed. It was a strange time. But after four or five months of the “flu,” I slowly began to get better. I wanted so badly to get back to my routine. I wanted to be a kid again. But what I really wanted was to get back to gymnastics. Finally after a very very long hiatus, I slowly eased back into it. My teammates and coaches all welcomed me back and I was thrilled to be doing what I loved again. But, of course, things had changed. I still had all the skills in me that I’d acquired since age 5, but my body wasn’t as resilient as it used to be. I’d be unnecessarily sore for days. I tired out easily in the middle of practice. Out of nowhere, the back of my heels started delivering sharp pain when I walked. I thought it’d go away but didn’t. At the orthopedic doctor, I was diagnosed with calcaneal bursitis. Some big word for my ten year old mind that meant walking was going to be a bitch now. One day at practice, while jumping from the low bar to the high bar, my right hand slipped and I swung around, slamming my head into the metal beam which held up the bars. I knocked myself out for a few seconds and woke up on the floor with a few teammates and my favorite coach Steve crouched over me yelling my name and “What happened?! What happened?!” as though he were angry or something. Of course, he was just worried. The E.R. later diagnosed me with a concussion and told me to take it easy for a few days. I had an enormous goose egg on my head and a scab on my nose. I brought that goose egg to show-and-tell the next week. My friends were impressed.

One by one, the signs revealed themselves that I wouldn’t be able to continue gymnastics. I felt like John Elway when he cried during his retirement speech and uttered “I can’t do it physically anymore, and that’s hard for me to say.” It sucked, because I was good at gymnastics, and not much else. I ended up “retiring” at the ripe old age of 11 and it was a terrible decision to have to make. I tried other sports and hobbies that weren’t as physically demanding, but I mostly sucked at them, and none compared to what gymnastics offered me.

It’s funny to think where I’d be had I not gotten sick and stuck with gymnastics. I showed a lot of potential. My coach Steve even pulled me aside one day and said if I stayed on track, I had a shot at Olympic tryouts for Salt Lake. It was probably something like a 1 in a million shot, but still, just him believing in me meant everything. Who knows where I’d be. But once again, the illness was making decisions in my life that I wouldn’t have made on my own. Similar to last year when I retired from my work at the gallery. I wouldn’t have made that choice on my own either. But sometimes I wonder if I was given this illness because the great designer of my life knew I wouldn’t make those choices on my own. I would only choose them out of necessity. And these choices, will bring me to exactly where I’m supposed to be. We have a tendency to think only we know whats best for us. And that was the root of my anger back at age 11 and more recently last year when I felt I wasn’t being dealt a fair hand. Periodically, usually in stillness, I feel the wisdom of something else at work in my life. When I start to trust that wisdom, my life isn’t so much something I own as it is an energy, a cause; a vehicle that I simply need to ride in (and enjoy) the paths shown to me, not get angry at the ones that didn’t materialize. Tolle puts it this way:

To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.

So there you have it. No more whining about who I was, what I had. I need to stay present to who I am now. What I have now. And right now, I have some embarrassingly ridiculous gymnastic photos for your viewing pleasure…Feel free to point and laugh.

Health, Happiness, and Awesome 90′s Photos.

From Bed.

It’s with a general heaviness, random panting, irregular heartbeats, in and out of focused vision, an incredibly determined migraine, and somewhere around 2-3% energy that I write todays post; pale faced and slow moving. I said I’d write good bad or ugly, so here’s sticking to goals. I’m sitting up in bed, with the computer propped up on a pillow and pill wrappers and bottles skewed about the room. If you didn’t know any better, it’d be anyones guess what’s wrong with me. Aids? Cancer? Recreational Pill User? I don’t even say the name anymore when people ask. “I have health problems.” It’s surprising that people don’t follow up after you spill that general type of information. They usually nod and that’s the end of that.

Poor Monty. I always feel bad for him on days like today. It’s beautiful here. Sunny, cloudless. I hear the neighbors who are sitting out on their docked boat- they must have an awesomely hilarious guest over today because they keep erupting in this uproar of laughter and somehow, it helps. I like hearing it, even though it doesn’t involve me. Monty is wondering why we are indoors when the weather is what it is. And yet somehow he knows. He doesn’t insistently paw at me and make the whiny strange sounds of a dog trying to speak a humans language in an attempt to get me outside. He sees the signs and lays down next to the bed. I left the door open so he can come in and out as he desires but he stays in here next to me. What a friend.

As usual, I try to connect the dots. This is the fourth migraine this week and my medicine is running dangerously low. Insurance only pays for 9 tabs a month of Frova, (it’s a new one I’m trying) and I used up all the maxalt already. I ask the pharmacist how much 9 tabs of Frova is out of pocket and she clicks away on the keys and I wait for the damage. “Two hundred and thirty dollars,” she finally gets out. I laugh and she, sympathetically, laughs too. “Sorry.” “It’s OK.” But we both know it’s not really OK. It’s strange that a company decides how much medicine they’ll cover for you in a month, almost arbitrarily. It’s strange that someone who needs the benefits of insurance the most is often denied. Strange that the cost of healthcare under an insurance policy is of an affordable, negotiated rate and yet if you aren’t covered those rates are 200% more. That’s one way of saying it. Strange. I count my three remaining pills and send a prayer to the universe to let up on these train wrecks of migraines I’m getting. Most likely, I’ll have to dig in out of pocket again and feel that scary, hopelessness of watching my parents savings go to pills. I cringe when I think how much of it has already gone to medical expenses. Too much.

But there’s no sense in fearing it, in having anxiety over it. It’s our livelihood we’re talking about. “What’s the alternative?” my mom asked as we were going over finances before my visit to the CFS clinic in Miami last year. “Sit around and suffer endlessly while holding onto our savings?” The truth is, we’ve been rich and we’ve been poor. We, like so many families, have felt the sting of the placid economy in the last two years. My mom and I are unable to work, so my step-dad has been the only one bringing in income. And his workload has been lower than he’d like, but you do what you can. Today, we’ve got a roof over our heads, food on the table, and we have our damned pills. So no stressing about when the money runs out. My dad told my mom never to worry about this sort of thing. That she and the kids would always be provided for. And so far, he’s been right.

I know this sounds like a sob story of a post, and I don’t want it to be confused with a cry for help or plea for sympathy. It simply is the reality of this illness and day-to-day life. There are so many people out there who don’t have a parent’s couch to crash on, who don’t have their parents to pay for medical needs, and are forced to work fulltime–through the pain, exhaustion, and ache of this, and most of the time it’s silently, because no one really gets it. Telling your boss or co-workers you have “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” doesn’t seem to go very far. Many times it worsens the pain from the sting of not being believed. When I told the owner of the gallery what I had, he suggested yoga, and I contemplated shooting myself. But once again, my point, is that you don’t have to be believed. Don’t make that your cause. They will or they won’t believe you. Only you can know what your battle consists of, and we live among so many who are fighting quiet battles of their own. We aren’t the only ones; far from it. You can only do you, and you can only do today. All I can tell you, like my mom tells me, is that there is so much research going on right now–More than there ever has been, and there is this tangible feeling of hope that comes to me at night sometimes that there is an end in sight. We will get there. So hang on.

Probably the rest of today will be like spent like this, in bed. Luckily I’m reading an incredibly good book (Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; if you’re couch or bed bound these days, or simply looking for a great read, I highly recommend it.) so I’ll have that to carry me. My migraine has finally subsided enough to where I should be able to read sentences and actually comprehend thoughts without wanting to vomit. His writing is incredible. It’s more than just a wonderfully told story, it feels like a literary education in itself. I underline all the words I don’t know in blue. I’m in love. Anyway, it’s time to rest some more. Which will be followed by more resting. And then possibly I’ll conjure up some energy and brush my teeth! May even get dressed! If I’m feeling really adventurous, I may even braid my hair! Nah, who am I kidding. I’m just going to read.

Health, Happiness, Bed Bound.

Speaking of Death, Let’s Talk Birth.

Before I begin about birth, I have to share quickly a dream I had the other night, after I wrote the post about death. As I laid down to sleep, I sent a little prayer to the universe. A prayer to help me not be afraid of death or the unknown. Since I happen to know a lot of people on “the other side” I asked them to show me, give me a little hint of what dying was like, in hopes it would calm my fear about it. I fantasized about having a dream in which my dad took me through the stages of death and we ended up at the end, at the gates, where all I felt was love and happiness and I most defnitely did not feel pain or sorrow, and I would wake up reassured. Maybe he’d show me what it looked like. Maybe he’d even tell me how I’d go. And in my morbid little mind, that would be a fun dream. After dying so many ways in my dreams for years, I’ve become somewhat desensitized on the matter. Well that and experiencing death at such proximity at the age of 12. What I’m getting to, however, is that I did not have a dream like this. In fact, I hardly remembered any of my dreams from the night before, which for me is unusual. But there was one dream–if you can even call it that. It was more like a very short “scene” I was in. I was crouched down under some flat rocks. I don’t remember being alone but I don’t remember who accompanied me. Above us, over the flat rocks, was a stampede of rhinoceroses, running full force and I could hear the pitter patter of their feet and watched as little tiny rocks spilled into the hole in which I was huddled in. That’s it. I remember knowing in the dream that this was my answer from the other side, and sort of chuckling about it. I’ve never heard anyone relate death or the afterlife to a rhinoceros stampede, but the subconscious works in symbols, not plots. So I’ll have to get my mom to help analyze this one. It was still fun to at least feel like someone or something had heard that prayer I sent. Ask and you shall receive.

But enough about death for now. Today wasn’t filled with thoughts about death and the end and the sometimes mentally paralyzing mystery of life. Today, I thought about life and beginnings. Last night, I had a dream that my brother Nick sent me a text message which read “It’s miraculous. It’s real.” Somehow in the dream I knew that he meant his wife was going into labor. When my eyes opened this morning around 9:30 to yet another killer migraine, I picked up my phone to see a text message from Nick. “Estee’s water broke.” I smiled with relief. Finally, she was going to be here, and I was going to be an aunt for the second time. No more talking about the baby in future tense, no more guessing who’d she look like and whether she’d have Estees genes and be on time or Nick’s genes and be late for everything. She was going to be here in physical form now. She was going to be her own governing self.

As much as death mystifies me, the process of conception, pregnancy, and labor mystify me just the same, if not more. I remember learning in anatomy class many of the things that have to go right in order to conceive and carry a child. Once hearing them, the idea of it all sounds impossible. And yet, we do it. It is natural somehow. Nick’s text message in my dream is just how I feel about all of it; that it’s miraculous.

Welcome to the World.

At 6:41 this evening, I received the first photo of her. 8.2 pounds. “Say hello to Olive Marie Gelpi,” it said. I stared and became a little lost in the photo. She has these big cheeks and beautiful hair and looks excessively calm. Something about a new life inspires even old souls; looking at the photo I felt this strong sensation that humans are the most capable creatures on the planet. Here Olive is only a few hours old, and already her path is being built. The energy is changing. I’m not even her parent, but here I am gazing at this photo and thinking of all the things she can do. I want to tell her that too–that she can do anything, Like some cliche high school year book signature. Dear Olive, Reach for your dreams! You can do anything! But these were the feelings popping up in me. Mostly I just feel happy she made it. 10 fingers and 10 toes as they say. Baby and mom doing well as they also say. The most beautiful part of today, is that a child was brought into the world first to two parents who want her and love her, unconditionally. Just for showing up, they love her. This is a good start. And then to two sets of grandparents who love her and will inevitably spoil the crap out of her and show her that she matters. And then to three aunts and two uncles who will tease her to toughen her and help raise her in every way we know how. If it takes a village to raise a child, I’d say she has a pretty good start. Today I’m not thinking about sickness and death. Today I’m thinking of human possibility and what we’re capable of. And it suddenly feels like a lot.

Happy Birthday Miss Olive Marie. I can’t wait to see who you are and what you will do.

Health, Happiness, Possibility.

Let’s Talk About Death. Yeah!

Once again it is nighttime and everyone is sleeping, but me. This is often how I spend this time of night; listening to the in and out breaths of humans and/or dogs around me, and thinking about how everyone including me and including my dog, without hesitation, is going to die. I can never figure out why this thought drowns me at times. But sometimes it’s so incredibly real that I have to talk myself out of thinking about it. Like eternity. Like time and space. Sometimes it’s too much.

And other times, also mostly at night, I think about what an elephant in the room it is; that we’re all going to die, and nobody is talking about it. And if you try to talk about it, you’re either morbid or misunderstood, or both. And that doesn’t make the infringing feeling of The End feel any better. I think about death in many capacities, but mostly I think of it in my own terms. How will I die? How old will I be? How does my story end? These are all silly meaningless questions that I can’t know the answers to. So why are my dreams filled with me or Monty dying all the time? And why do I always stop at the obituaries section of the newspaper? I’m pretty sure that means I am morbid, and that’s been something I’ve insisted I’m not. Crap.

You know what happens when there’s an elephant in the room that nobody talks about? Well actually, I’ve never heard the answer to the proverbial question, but I think it goes something like: Eventually the elephant poops and everyone at the cocktail party is like “Hey!! There’s elephant poop in the middle of the living room!” and everyone freaks out and screams and before you  know it your guests have ruined their shoes and saying “We should have seen it coming.”  If they just would have  talked about the elephant in the first place, it wouldn’t be such a surprise coming across elephant poop in the living room! Get it? Human Death is the elephant poop in this analogy. Did I make that clear? I’m not very good at this. AM I. Anyway, I use that analogy because when someone hears about someone dying, it’s exceptionally hard to grasp the idea. It is sad. It is tragic. But no one ever says “Mary died today, and this was supposed to happen.” I hope someone says that on the day that I die. But what we say is “You’re kidding! It’s not right! It’s not fair!” As if we were ever promised to live forever. As if dying wasn’t a part of the deal the whole time. Funny how we act about that.

Maybe all this death talk is because I’ve been feeling so deathly lately. I was on a pretty good streak for a while there, I’d been doing better than normal. My energy level was up and my pain tolerable. As a result, I pushed myself a little bit over the edge so today when I softly blinked my eyes open around 7 AM my head was like GOOD MORNING YOU HAVE A MIGRAINE TODAY. And I was like, “Loud and clear. Thanks, head.” Not the best way to wake up, but once again modern medicine rescued me. Now I am migraine free, but wide awake and wondering if I should sketch out my funeral plans. OK, sorry, I’ll stop with the morbidity. But I’d like to let it be known, it doesn’t depress me to talk about death. In fact, it excites me. I don’t think you should sit around sulking all day. But I don’t think it should be avoided like it is. Once my brother Nick and I were talking about it, and he said “I mean, it’s gotta be a cool experience, right?” And I totally agree with that. Death has to be cool. But most people don’t wanna talk death with me. They wanna talk about birth control or facebook or Mitt Romney and sometimes while people are talking, the words “We’re all going to end up dead,” are circling around in my mind in one of those cartoon bubbles.  And I say these words with joy! I swear. It doesn’t make me sad. It’s just such an incredible mystery. Why aren’t we talking about it?! Can’t a girl just get a cup of coffee and have a light hearted conversation about life and dying and tentative funeral plans? Good grief.

I guess I am still working out my death issues. This is the part where I wish I saw an analyst so I could say “My analyst seems to believe I am going through a minor existential crisis as I confront my own mortality and begin to humbly accept that this life, while precious, is temporary.” But I don’t. Analysts are expensive. And my mom is pretty good in these areas. Anyway she says the death dreams are just my subconscious fears playing themselves out. I suppose it’s your basic fear of the unknown. Plus, its not like I’ve been able to ask any of the people I know who are dead to tell me about the whole dying thing. Wait, that is a really good idea. Why haven’t I asked all the dead people I know how the whole dying experience is?! Duh, I have so many sources! I’m going to say a little prayer tonight, ask for some answers, and hopefully stop thinking about the things that I cannot control and that I can’t know now. Everything in due time. Everything.

Health, Happiness, Elephant Poop.

 

Camp Quiet.

There is so much noise in the world. There are a million distractions. Even our human conversations are half the time interrupted by a person who isn’t there– by the noise of a cell phone. So many times, hanging out with friends turns into a group of people in a room, glued to their phones, playing a game called “Hanging With Friends.”  Oh, the virtual irony of it all! Sometimes I look across a dinner table and see all the tops to peoples heads, faces down, and no physical engagement. The restaurant I used to waitress at had four year-olds on ipads or iphones while the adults would eat and talk. It wasn’t so much that the children were well behaved, they were simply well distracted. And half the time the adults were just as pre-occupied. I watched couples sit in silence, one or both engaging with a gadget, missing out on each other.

It’s easy to see how this has come to pass. There are more reasons than ever to be looking down at something, than actually at someone. There’s email and texting and facebook and twitter and gaming and music and foursquare and youtube and pinterest and stumble and the blogosphere! Woo hoo! All of these things make a lot of noise and take up a lot of space, but there isn’t necessarily much substance there. You can’t stay engaged in a virtual world forever. We are warmblooded, social animals afterall, we require the warmth of another body and the sound of anothers voice. We simply do.

We’ve taken what started out as means to enhance communication, and almost gone the other direction. We’ve replaced calls with texts and jokes with smiley faces and flirting with poking. And no I don’t mean physical poking. I mean on facebook, you ‘poke’ someone, (meaning someone get’s a notification which reads intimately ‘You’ve been poked’) and if they like you, they ‘virtually’ poke you back. I can just see my grandparents trying to learn the nuances of social networking– simply turning around and saying, What the fuck? Don’t people talk anymore?

And we do. Of course we do. But I’d argue we’re digressing a little bit. So many times, we’re talking about facebook, or what we saw on Twitter. We’re fighting with our significant others about their profile picture or what some girl commented about on their wall. This is not what we should be arguing about. Couples need to fight. It’s a necessity, but not about this. This just feels…wasteful. There’s no winning the argument. And the other half of the time I call someone, I’m crossing my fingers that I get their voicemail! What’s that about? Well it’s no secret, I’m socially lazy and have never been the proactive friend. But I see these trends among everyone I know, including yours truly. Just a few weeks ago I yelled at Gabe for his profile picture, only to realize in silence later, I was acting like a complete douche. But these kinds of networking seem to encourage childish behavior like this, because the activity on it is almost childlike itself, and most of it is so unauthentic. Do you ever notice how cool most people seem on facebook? Like everyone has this awesome life and is beautiful and happy and living the dream? Knock knock knock…if you’re living the dream, you’re not busy uploading photos about it. You’re just living it!

I know it sounds like I’m spitting a lot of hatoraide on social networking when in truth I should praise it. Facebook, afterall, is the reason my blog went viral and I actively participate in most of the networks I’ve mentioned. There is an inherent need in all of us to share our experiences with one another. It’s how we bond and form closeness and facebook enables us to do that. Helllllo, I’m the girl that texts photos of my dog to people and devoted an entire page of my blog to him. Imagine how I’ll be with children! But the point is this; moderation. Everything in moderation, even moderation in moderation. And that is not where we are. We are in excess. It’s why we list our meaningless errands on facebook, ‘check in’ at a grocery store and boast 3,000 friends and only know about 20 of them. It’s also why we plan our entire weddings on pinterest (significant other or not) and why Justin Bieber has more than 18 million followers on Twitter. There are perks, of course, and these things are meant to be fun, which they are. But let’s just call it exactly what it is. Facebook is a bunch of faces, circulating in the web abyss, just attracting onlookers. Doesn’t seem like we should take it at face value. Notice the format has changed from having your profile as the main page, (the part that attempts to describe who you are) to having a wall and photos be the main page–Much quicker and easier to gauge someone this way. And we like things quick and easy, don’t we?

I often wonder what the effect of all these distractions are on everyone. Certainly our social habits have changed, and our conversations have changed. More than anything, I think we’ve cancelled the quiet. We are very rarely without our phones. Have you ever watched someone who’s phone battery has died? It’s like a natural disaster has struck. “Do you have a phone charger? I’m freaking out.” Most of us feel naked or vulnerable when we aren’t connected, when we’re off the grid. But what we should feel is alive. We should love those moments when no one can reach us, when the only voice we can hear is our inner voice, something we probably don’t listen to enough. I think my generation is missing something very basic that every generation before us has had: silence. We are always on. Always reachable. Always plugged in. Rarely do we listen to what silence or stillness has to say to us. And both these things have vital things to say, we’re just not accustomed to listening that way.

My time in Florida has had a lot of quiet, which I needed. I’ve done a lot of reading here and just listened outside to the sounds that the things which reside here make. (Side note, the tropical birds here make some freaky deaky sounds, fo real.) Timothy Leary told his generation in 1966 to Turn on, Tune in, and Drop Out. Even though his slogan was widely misinterpreted to mean ‘Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity’ what he really tried to convey was a life of examination, involvement, and autonomy.  I’d argue his slogan is just as applicable today. (Or maybe the opposite, maybe we all just need to get stoned and abandon our work, man.) Mostly, I recommend we look each other in the eye and enjoy each others human-ness. When you ask someone how they are, mean it, and listen to what they have to say. At dinner, eat dinner, and talk to who you’re sharing it with!  And if your phone dies, let it die. Just try staying shut off for a few minutes. I promise you, the voicemails, texts, and emails will all be waiting for you when you get back. Maybe even that cute boy you like will have poked you.

Health, Happiness, and Shhhh, Quiet.

 

Sounds.

If there’s one thing I love listening to, it’s the idle conversations between couples. That casually themed chatter is sometimes the most revealing and genuine to witness between a couple and I love hearing it. I spent so much time in our office last year. It being attached to the kitchen and me being attached to the couch put me in prime eavesdropping territory. My eyes were often closed and for a little while each day, I experienced life purely through sounds and every once in a while, through smells. That became some kind of fun for me. The game changes when you’re couch bound. You come up with new ways to pass the time. And your attention pays itself to things you never noticed before.

My step-dad is usually whistling when he enters the kitchen, and the last note always has a strong bravado, which is impressive, because not everybody can do it. If it’s first thing in the morning he empties the ice maker into the sink that is inevitably clogged and frozen over from the night before. It’s been broken for a while now, but it will most likely be some ungodly amount to fix it, so we haven’t yet. If anyone is in the kitchen then you can bet on Monty being in the kitchen, too, his paws lightly stepping just behind whoever’s in there… Just waiting for something edible to drop. And no matter who it is out of all three of us, we all say “Hi buddy!” when we see him, in a usually very high pitched voice. I can almost hear his tail wag back.

My mom is a softer walker than my step-dad. Her feet “slide” on the hard wood floor and I notice mine do the same thing. Maybe it’s the fibro. Too weak to pick up our own stupid feet. Marc walks with purpose. My mom sortof glides; her feet swish between steps. Sometimes she walks in a room, looks around and then squints her eyes and says out loud “Now what did I come in here for?” From my lifeless position on the couch, sometimes I try to guess. “Reading glasses. Kool Aid. Drugs.” I hardly ever get it right.

My favorite sound from the kitchen is the sound of coffee being made, but that’s mostly because I love the sound that the cannisters which hold the coffee grounds make when you open and shut them. They’re those flip-up air tight stainless steel containters, and something about the sound eases me. Then the filling of water, the pouring of water, the spoon from the drawer, and the grunting burp the machine makes as the first few drops peep their way out. I like the sounds of the whole method. And the finale; the cup clinks on the marble counter, the pouring into the cup and the topping off with cream. It’s a nice process to listen to and I never get tired of it.

But back to these idle conversations. I’m not sure precisely when I started to become so fond of them, but I really do love to hear them. Usually it’s about groceries or about who called that day or talk of how his clients are doing and how one says to say hi, says to feel better. And its usually against a backdrop of dishes being loaded or soup being made or ice being dumped or something equally mundane, but there’s something reassuring about it. Something very real about it that makes me feel like everything is OK. Maybe it’s because there’s been enough heavy stuff in life so these moments where my mom is rearranging items in the fridge and we’re talking about whether we want homemade chicken noodle soup or vegetable beef soup is something to relish. Because those are simple and pleasurable decisions to make. Ones I will never get tired of making, or listening to.

I find that it’s a habit I’ve carried with me. Now I sit in one room and listen to all the sounds unfold in another. I still love listening to couples talk about nothing. I like hearing how they greet each other first thing in the morning. I especially like when I hear a couple laugh, just the two of them. I even like to hear them argue! But the harmless kindof arguing, not the arguments that stem from not loving well. I realize this makes me a bit of a creeper, but we’ve discussed this. I put it all out in the open about my creepy tendencies when I wrote about stalking girls wedding albums on facebook that I wasn’t even friends with. Creep. er.

Anyway, I’m not writing from the office these days, from my couch that I was essentially physically attached to for so long. I’m a bit more mobile now. But I still think about for how long I layed in that room, quiet, and listened to what life sounded like. It’s funny that sometimes even listening to idle talk about soup and groceries still somehow managed to make me feel like I was part of the conversation–that I wasn’t so far from life. I still lie in rooms listening to parties or whathaveyou in the next one over. Last night I was listening to friends playing Catch Phrase, and I knew one of the answers and couldn’t keep it to myself so I belted it out. I knew the next answer too, so I belted that one as well. I heard them cheer, so finally, I got up, and joined the game like a normal human being. You can only listen to the next room for so long. At some point, you gotta crawl out of the cave. It’s something I’m working on.

Health, Happiness, Noise!