When Mickey Rourke is in Your Head

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In Kyoto

“That’s it Johnny, take a good look. No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, your reflection always looks you straight in the eye.” ^ Angel Heart

I was thinking recently about self-worth.

Then, this morning, I came across a cartoon with a frame that read “I’m depressed because I don’t know who I am.”

And I thought about it some more. I thought about it while eating all of the breakfast sandwiches I had bought for the next three days. I thought while I watched TV, petted the dog and made coffee, and wondered what I would wear to a show tonight.

I’m not breaking any new ground here, but I see why Americans are so depressed because they don’t know who they are. I hear it all the time. I heard it from Adam in many silent and not silent ways. And I didn’t get it with Adam, and that was my failure.

You see, because even if I always didn’t understand who I was, I knew what I wanted to do, which was a product of who I was, even if I didn’t realize it. I shot straightforward out of the cannon until I came to rest like a flopping blue gill ready for slaughter.

First I wanted to be a Dodger.

But then I realized I was a girl and probably wouldn’t ever be good enough (oh god, please don’t rant in the comments on that shit).

Then I wanted to be a sports reporter on ESPN.

But then I realized I wasn’t aggressive enough to be a reporter, and I looked terrible on TV and would always want to eat cheese and bread more than I wanted to look good on TV.

Then I wanted to be in college sports information. So I did it.

Then I got offered a dream job at U.S. Figure Skating. So I did it.

Then I saw my time and purpose ending there, and frankly, I wanted to be more with Adam. So I left.

Every choice I made of what I do was because I have been clearly aware of who I am and what I wanted. (Except for the part where I thought I was an introvert all this time because I liked to watch movies by myself, read alone, and a million other things by myself. Yeah, not an introvert. I don’t need three days to recover from talking to people. I love my introvert friends, and I am here for you when you are ready to face the world. As you know, I will talk.)

I knew I was a writer for as long as I can remember. I always knew I was an overachiever who wasn’t necessarily as smart or as talented on the ball field as others, so I made up for it by working my ass off.

The only question mark is animals. I always thought I was a cat person. I think I’m a dog person.

I think about Adam and his addiction, and I wonder how much he ever knew who he was. I think he did once. I think he did growing up, and in the years we were first together. He loved animals and art and music, and by all accounts he was a creator. He was a fixer and a helper and a traveler. He didn’t want to stay in one place too long.

This was the man I fell in love with. But as he aged, and perhaps as the drinking increased (which comes first, the chicken or the egg?), did he lose who he was? Did he forget? Did he try so hard to keep up with me that he forgot why I was in love with him in the first place … because HE WASN’T ME?

He wasn’t me. He was a sensitive soul. He should have worked with animals. He shouldn’t have tried to work in a cubicle.

Did I not tell him enough that I just wanted him to follow his dreams? That I didn’t care about the money? That the time it was me, Adam, Chance, Patches, Bailey and Meka in 800 square feet was as glorious as I could ever hope for?

Did Adam know who he was?

Did he once? Did he forget? Was it the drinking? Was it me? Was it just this fucked-up world? Did he fake happiness? Was he happy but frustrated? I was with him for 17 years and I don’t feel like I know the answers to these fucking questions anymore.

In one of his rehab journals, he wrote he was “inherently lazy.” Upon reading that, I suppose I realized he had forgotten who he was. “Inherently lazy” wasn’t Adam Curry. But addiction made him something he wasn’t it.

I honestly am not sure if Adam ever knew who he was. But I think he was learning, and it’s never too late.

Except when it is.

 

That’s What Friends Are For

forceiswithyouI walked through the resort quietly. Maybe not so quietly. It was Wednesday night, and with the accoutrements dangling from my backpack, I jingled around the pathways. I can’t remember if it was 2010 or 2012 that we stayed here for Celebration. I suspect 2010. I suspect it because I remember we were drinking.

I remember where our room was. Sort of. The resort is under major construction now, so I can’t be sure. But I walked by every place I thought it could be. Through the lobby, through the restaurant and to the left. We went to Cocoa Beach first on that trip, and stayed in a cheap hotel in a crappy room. When we arrived at this place on Thursday morning, I remember we just flopped onto the bed which seemed so luxurious. There was a mini fridge, and we packed in the alcohol for the trip. I was raring to get over to the convention center, and Adam was like “Just give me five more minutes in this air-conditioned room on this bed.”

The moon was out as I walked the paths in 2017. The celebrations merge together in my mind, but I remember this one because we annoyed the doormen by choosing our own taxi instead of waiting for them to call up the next one. The taxi driver gave us his number and he drove us anywhere we wanted that trip. That one night it was to the Funky Monkey, where they just happened to have one table left for the Star Wars drag show.

I’m looking at some info now, and I see that Ian McDiarmid’s first celebration was 2012 in Orlando. We would have gotten the Emperor’s autograph. I wonder now, a year after we first realized he was sick, was he already drinking that much again? Were we limiting it? Had I become his mother along with his wife, frightened, but giving “permission”? Am I conflating my memories? I might be.

Without Adam, I didn’t get up at 4:30 a.m. to stand in line for panels now. I suspect that Adam would have agreed with me about that.

On Friday at the con this time, I wandered the Art Show area. Adam and I loved this part of the celebration, and we would wait for a particular limited edition print to jump out at both of us … one we had to have. I remember the last time there weren’t any we both loved.

This year, I was almost through the gallery, disappointed that there were so few Rogue One prints, when I came upon this one. I said to the artist, “I always walk around waiting for the one to jump out at me, and this was it.” He said “Can I ask why?” I said “Do you want to hear a short and sad story?” “He put his pen down and gave me his full attention, as I explained how Rogue One figured in our fight for Adam’s survival, how “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me,” was so important for me.

He cried, he hugged me. He later asked for a selfie so he could remember my story. He said that I was the second person who had come to him sharing that his artwork had meant some sort of survival, or friendship, or gratitude On the poster, he signed “The Force is with you … both.” He asked to hear Adam’s name.

Here is the poster. I dedicate it to all of you as well.

friends are for

Someone Else’s Story

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This meme has nothing to do with this post. But I wanted to share it. Because it’s funny.

Tomorrow, April 3, means it’s been five months since I lost Adam. Five months. I’ve been thinking about it, and for the most part I think it seems unreal. Not unreal in the sense that I’m denying it happened. The shock has worn off. Now, it more or less feels like I’m walking around in a life that isn’t my own. That I go through the motions of the life, no different from before, but it’s a fake life.

It’s a life that’s sort of in a holding pattern. I’ve gone from “I can’t do these things” to “I don’t want to do these things.” I don’t want to make any big changes. I don’t want to empty his suitcase. I don’t want to change up the house.

It’s like I’m standing still while the world rushes around me. I don’t want to make any plans. I don’t want to think of my future.

While walking today, an old musical song ran through my head…one that Elizabeth and I used to sing loudly together. The song, from “Chess” isn’t about death; it’s about the break-up of a relationship. But as I analyzed the song while walking the Bix, I took it as my own. With the words, for me it was that feeling of caught between two different lives and wondering how Adam would feel if I started, I don’t know, just doing things that closed the book on our chapter. The thing is, he won’t care.

Here it is, if you don’t know it, sung by the magnificent Judy Kuhn.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDUraEPF8IU

I took Adam to see “Chess” once, in a small theater in Denver. It was always one of my favorites, and I know I was taking a risk by going to see it in a local theater, but it turned out OK. Adam even liked it and wished it was still around on a big stage. That was one of my theater success stories with him. We loved sharing the story of one of our first dates, which was to a show. Although he sang in musical theater in high school, beyond Les Miz, I’m not sure he actually saw all that many. After all, he WAS from small-town Nebraska.

And I was from L.A., and my parents raised my sister and I going to big shows. Dad believed in the best tickets, of course. We saw Yul Brynner in The King and I on Broadway, and back in L.A. saw lots of first-run shows, plus excellent productions from local colleges.

I took Adam to see Cats at the Pikes Peak Center in 1999; it was like our second or third date. I loved Cats (I’m not ashamed!), but this would be the seventh time I’d seen it, and damn, the show had toured so many times, I didn’t know the troupe coming through town would be that bad. There were bad dancing cats and bad singing cats.

Needless to say, I was surprised Adam still trusted me again to ever go to a musical. But I purchased tickets to shows and he went along. Sometimes, he even liked them … I have to say he saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for the first time at the Colorado FAC and fell in love with the show. But he HATED Oklahoma … almost as much as he hated basketball. Or vice versa.

I just went on a tangent, I know.

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At Coors Field for Rockies vs. Dodgers

But if you are still with me, maybe you will keep reading. Tomorrow, baseball season opens for me as the Dodgers play their first game. If you don’t love baseball, I don’t expect you to ever love it. Maybe it’s something you get or something you don’t. But the beauty of baseball lives with me. From the moment of heartbreak I had when I realized I could never be a Dodger, to the happiness of the Cubs fans last year.

Adam learned to appreciate it through me. He learned to appreciate it because of Vin Scully, because of the way he wove such a story when calling the game. Adam had no team, no love for baseball, but it was hard for him not to be part of the crowd and cheer for the Rockies when I dragged him to Coors Field when my boys in blue were in town. We actually got in a fight once over this. I told him it hurt that he didn’t give a shit about baseball but then would root against the Dodgers… MY TEAM, MY BOYS… just because he lived in Colorado. I told him I didn’t care if he rooted for the Rockies any time they didn’t play the Dodgers, but rooting against the Dodgers was too much for me to handle from my husband.

He never openly cheered for them again. I think he also began to realize that the Dodgers also represented my Dad and I. Taking that away, even a little, was painful.

Year after year, as the Dodgers would make the playoffs and fail, he would tell me he was sorry, and he actually really meant it! Once, the Dodgers were playing the rubber match i the playoffs on Nerd Night. Everyone was going out, and we were trying to find a place that would show the game. The nerds settled on that brewery that was in the church downtown for awhile. They didn’t have a TV, but they had cable and a projector. Adam had them set it up just for me so I could watch the game and be with the nerds. I wouldn’t even leave the car listening to it on the radio till it was connected. Kershaw was pitching, and it was a disaster for him, and the Dodgers lost the series. I couldn’t be in the room half the time I was so nervous. I was jumpy and agitated. And Adam consoled me.

Every year at this time, I would say “This is it, this is the year we win the World Series!”

And, I’ve been wrong every year.

Adam died the day after the Cubs won the Series. We cheered for the Cubs even though they had beaten Dodgers in the NLCS. Because, you sorta had to, right?

A friend acknowledged that she knew I was coming up on some hard times. The time of “anniversaries” is here. This is about the time things began to fall apart. This month ahead of me has “Adam falling down and his body being bruised everywhere,” “Adam not answering the phone when I was in D.C. and me having to call friends to find out if he was alive,” and “Adam gets an intervention” and “Adam has his first seizure in a hospital” and “Adam goes to rehab.” It has my second birthday without him.

Shit on the month of April.

I love you guys. Thanks for reading.

“I’d give the world for that moment with you
When we thought we knew
That our love would last
But the moment passed
With no warning, far too fast

You and I
We’ve seen it all
Chasing our hearts’ desire
But we go on pretending
Stories like ours
Have happy endings”

 

 

I Crashed. But Adam is Still Talking.

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-11-47-28-amI’ve crashed since my family and friends from across the country left. Yesterday I ended up in full “November grief” mode. I ate a can of bean dip (thanks, Karen!), ate au gratin potatoes for dinner (the whole box, Adam would have said “that’s a great dinner!”), and watched movies. I slept in even though I didn’t sleep. I took a nap. I went to bed early. I didn’t pay my bills this week (please forgive me, I know I owe you, friends). I didn’t check my email, didn’t check in on my friends online who are hurting. I cried. I have a friend who lost her mother (and her dad lost his wife), and somewhere out there Bill Paxton’s wife is having her version of my November 2016.

So, I’m posting the below  letter because my head is too full to speak. Adam has not given me permission to post this, but I do know if he thought it could help anyone, he would be OK with it. He wrote this in rehab. He was trying. He was getting it. This is Adam’s gift to all of you who are struggling, whether it’s with addiction or loneliness or mental illness. He was trying. We can, too.

Also, I edited for a couple spelling errors, because…it’s me.

Dear Alcohol,

When we first met, I really didn’t care for you much. Even though my friends all thought you were great, I still felt that we were incompatible, but you stuck with me anyway and eventually won me over. 

We’ve had so many good times together. You helped me meet people, and even showed me that I had a sense of humor. However, the longer we knew each other, you became more pushy…and instead of helping me out, you began to urge me to do more obnoxious things, and sometimes pushed so hard that I wouldn’t even remember our fun time the next day.

Then you took it way too far. I thought you were my friend when all the while you were killing me from the inside out. Of course, I couldn’t see this…you kept your facade of ‘best friend,’ the one who makes me happy and more interesting.

So I had to break away from you five years ago. I thought that this distance would make it possible to remain friends. I just wasn’t going to let you bully me around anymore. And you played nice for a while. But then you started to sneak up on me and convince me to hang out for just a while longer until I stopped caring when you would leave.

Once you had your toe-hold back, you started up again with more fervor than ever. You didn’t even care about helping me have fun. You just concentrated on destroying me. I even knew you were doing it, but I didn’t have the energy to fight you off. You let me shrink away from everything I loved, and pushed me even more violently into an isolated, dark closet… telling me there was no way to leave, but that you would stick with me and it would be OK. I now know that you are a liar. You are insidious, cruel and poisonous and it’s time for you to go. I am so disappointed in you…and you made me hate myself, then stole all of my most prized possessions and sold them for your own profit. Now I have to track them all back down and try to buy them back (for a loss, no less).

There may have been a time when we could have reconciled, but you have burned that bridge, and I am paying for it.

I have changed the locks, and I will never respond to you again. I’m walking away now. I have real problems to solve now, and you caused most of them. Your ‘help’ was a ‘hindrance’ and I don’t want you around anymore. Goodbye.

Regards,
Your latest victim

Grief is the Cockroach

1jqrojGrief is becoming one of my closest friends. Luckily (or unluckily?), this is a friend I will never lose. Forty years from now, he will still be sitting on my shoulder, poking me with a stick. Sometimes I won’t feel that stick, but other times he will hoist Gandalf’s staff, screaming “You shall not pass!” every time I try to move forward.

Grief is the Babadook. Sometimes, even though I feel I have managed to tie him up in the basement, he screams so loudly I can hear him all the way to the tri-cities of Fountain-Security-Widefield. As I know, that’s 21 minutes away.

Grief will follow me around waiting to strike. It hides. It’s like a cockroach on the wall of my apartment in Atlanta. Most of the time, when you turn on the lights, the cockroaches scurry away … that’s what my Southern friends taught me so I didn’t have to see them. But, sometimes, the big one just stays there over your bed. That’s grief. And when you go to hit him with a shoe, it doesn’t kill him. Instead, he flies at your face. Then, you’ll see that cockroach come from a hole in the bathroom and you will stuff the hole with paper towels thinking it will solve the problem. But cockroaches find a way in through other cracks.

Yes, grief is a cockroach in Atlanta.

But there are good things around grief. Because there were cockroaches in Atlanta, but there was also Amy and Carolyn, my first working Olympic Games, Georgia State, Burritoville, Jocks and Jills, having dinner and drinks with Darth Vader, and watching Georgia Tech upset Duke after paying some dude $50 apiece to sneak us in the VIP entrance.

Grief is the cockroach. Grief is the Babadook. Grief is the hidden man on my shoulder with the very long stick. He is scary, he drowns me, he takes away hope and meaning. He forces me into the corner to cry and to miss the man I love. He sometimes doesn’t let go, and no matter how many times I stomp on him, his shell is too hard to crack.

Sometimes, when you are all around, he falls asleep. His naps get longer for awhile, but then they get shorter, and I feel like I’m starting all over again.

To all of you with me this weekend, this special weekend when we celebrate Adam, I ask you this:

Bring sleeping pills.

Rehab Diaries

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Adam’s proudest moment.

The perils of this numb slog are unavoidable and deadly.

Today, I decide to take a stab at “things around the house.” By that, I mean “Adam’s office.” I took pictures of it. I wanted a remembrance of what it was, even though it’s nothing without Adam in it.

First I went through the trash and recycling bin in his office … just to make sure. Just to make sure there wasn’t one scrap of paper that I couldn’t part with. I pulled stuff off the floor; packed programming and design books into a box for the Arc — maybe some young artist or tech person will benefit. I recycled a hundred empty pads of paper, read every scrap of note with his writing on it, weighing the decision for each one: keep or let it go.

I recycled sign-in sheets from classes he taught at PPCC; threw away anything related to the horrible last job he held. I emptied the bookcase, cleaned it, moved it to the basement, then vacuumed.

I cried the whole time. I talked to Adam, asking for his forgiveness; asking him to understand. Of course he didn’t hear me. He’s gone.

Then I came across his notebook from rehab. I knew it was there somewhere, and I have avoided it. It might now be the most precious thing in this house (shit, am I going to need to carry that with me in the backpack everywhere now?) It was filled with the eloquent journal entries of a man trying to find himself; trying to deal with depression and a lack of self-worth. A man who realized alcohol and depression took his art and his music from him. That he wasn’t the same person he was.

I came to a page that had a number of nouns listed on it … an exercise of sorts. He was supposed to write something small about each. This is what I saw:

Relationship: Challenging … but worth it.

And I feel terrible now, that I made things challenging. I can’t even focus on the “worth it” part because all I see is the “challenging” part. I don’t want to admit that even I felt the last couple of years were challenging as he fell deeper into depression and struggled more with anxiety. That I became a different person as I lived in constant dread of him drinking.

I read his words about how my “honey-do” lists or “boundaries I set” were stressing him out more. We were failing in communication there. After all those years of having this perfect life, we were breaking down in communication. I thought I was helping focus him, helping  show him little things he could do. I knew he was suffering from depression, wasn’t getting help, and I know the enormity of feeling like you couldn’t do anything. I thought I was nudging him. Instead I was stressing.

So I fall right back into wondering what I did wrong; how responsible I was for everything. I’m ignoring everything else he wrote … about the devastation of being laid off twice, about his fear of failure with his business. I gave him every encouragement I could think of … I would support him with anything he wanted to do, I was with him… probably neither one of use realized exactly how much the alcohol was affecting him.

He was ready to conquer alcohol … his writings showed it. But the real world was more than he could handle.

If you read this, and if he ever told you that he loved me and he cared, please tell me. Because I feel so responsible for everything again right now.

I told him once during the last year that it was OK, that if it was me that was causing the stress, I would go, because I wanted him to live more than I wanted anything else, even if that meant we were apart. He told me something like “absolutely not. It’s not you, you are the one thing it’s definitely not.”

But I continue to focus too much on the negative right now.

Fuck.

 

This is Not Overly Emotional

1ivqgkWell, “they” were right. “They” are the women who have been in my shoes, the websites, the forums, the books.

Today is about 90 days since I lost Adam. Miraculously, beyond all hope, I started on paperwork today. I tackled the two tables full of paperwork in the living room, concentrating on what I think I will needed for taxes. Well, at least the medical bills and explanations of benefits. There are more than a hundred. Seriously.

I made an appointment with my accountant to find out what I need for taxes. Because Adam had a business, he handled taxes for the last 10 years. I just gave him my W-2 and a couple of charity receipts and washed my hands of it. Ugh. At least, we never threw anything away. How can two people collect so much paperwork?

I’m only up to a $3,000 total in receipts for medical out of pocket spending for the year, so you know I still have a looooong way to go. But those were the small bills. Pocket change.

So, waiting 90 days was correct in terms of handling pain. I threw away the paperwork from the transplant visit. The Powerpoint slides, the doctors’ phone numbers, the appointment schedule. I didn’t cry. I went through all the sympathy cards again and stacked them neatly to back to. Some of them have great messages and stories about Adam that I would like to revisit.

I have a lot more to do. But it felt good to start.

Three months. Erin was right when she said it feels like a year ago and then it feels like yesterday. It’s both.

Also, as Oscar season approaches, Moonlight is still the best movie of the year. Go see it.

Miss you, Adam.