Sybil

If there’s anything I have hesitantly learned over the past 2.5 years since Dons death, it is that grief is always changing. Always. Sometimes that is a comfort, and other times, it’s a huge pain in the ass.

It is a comfort because it is important knowledge to keep in your back pocket, on those days or nights when you feel as if you are in so much pain, that you might actually die. If you can pause the horrific pain for just long enough to remind yourself that you probably will not feel like this tomorrow – that can be helpful.

It is a pain in the ass because it feels like every single time you finally come to grips with or get used to having a particular emotion, the grief takes it somewhere else completely, and you don’t feel it anymore. Instead, you feel some other, weird version of it, or something totally different, something you are not at all familiar with. And even the “different” part is not only different, but different for each individual person going through grief. Often times, there really isn’t anyone else who understands what the hell you’re talking about when you say: “Two days ago I was bitter and angry at all younger couples, the ones that are newly in love. Today I’m over that, but now I’m pissed off at anyone who has been married for 50+ years! Next Thursday, I shall despise all squirrels, because they get to live, and my husband doesn’t!” Yes, these emotions may sound completely ridiculous or exaggerated, but they are neither of those things. They are very real and often very isolating and scary for the person sitting inside of them, waiting for them to become something else.

The constant shifting and changing of grief can be very confusing. You feel one way, then another, and another, and another. You can stay in the same bracket of emotion for as long as a few weeks or even months, or as little as a few hours! What’s worse, is that each emotion is so strong and specific, that you often feel like some hyped-up version of Sally Field’s character in the classic movie Sybil, because there is no way that a sane person with only one personality, could experience all of these many layers of feelings, on a loop, over and over and over again, for such a long period of time. Until my husband died, I never knew , for example, that there could be so many different variations of sadness.

There is sadness that is solely about missing them, and nothing more. There is sadness that has other things attached to it, such as guilt, fear, and panic. There is silent sadness, that sits inside you for days, while nobody else notices. There is “crying and driving” sadness. There is “must run out of the room RIGHT THIS SECOND because I’m going to burst into tears” sadness. There is sadness for you. Sadness for the one who died. Sadness for your past. Your present. Your future. Sadness from watching a TV show, or commercial, that isn’t really about the TV show, but about your new reality. There is sadness for all the people who will never know your loved one, and more sadness for all the people and things your loved one will never know. There is the kind of sadness that seeps out when you are hearing another widowed person’s story, for the first or the hundredth time, and it finally just hits you. There is the sadness that is so visceral – so raw – that it stops you cold in the middle of a NYC street, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people, and you just sob. There are many more kinds of sadness, but sadness is only one of a billion emotions, and each emotion has it’s own list of variations, so if I sat here and went through them all, you might not have time for all that. You, dear reader, might actually have a life. So I think you get my point.

Sometimes these shifts in grief emotions are completely sudden, coming out of nowhere and assaulting you. Other times, they are so subtle, it might take someone else to point them out to you by saying: “But I thought you were feeling better the other day when I saw you.” “I was. And now I’m feeling worse.” To be honest, it’s a little jarring to never know what to expect from your own brain and heart. One minute you are feeling pretty mellow and calm, and the next, you want to poke yourself in the eyeballs with ice picks just to distract yourself from the fact that your husband is actually still dead.

I think the perfect way to describe these ping-pong feelings is this: About a half an hour ago, I sat down to write this piece for my book. Except that it wasn’t this piece. It was a completely different piece I was going to write about grief, called “Don’t forget Your Hat.” But now, that piece will have to wait a few days, because the instant I started to type, something completely different came dancing from my fingertips. Suddenly and without warning, I was writing and typing about the ever-changing emotions and many faces of grief. Why? Hell if I know! That is just where my grief-infested mind took me. And in an hour, I will travel somewhere different. That’s just how it works, whether you want it to or not.

My New Husband

It’s been just over 9 months since Don died, and I can now say with conflicted emotion, that I’ve been seeing someone new. He doesn’t do very much in the way of taking me out, giving me compliments, or making my soul feel alive again. In fact, he doesn’t do very much at all. He just sits there. But when I look at him, I feel everything from escape to laughter to noise to another opportunity for zoning out of my new life.

 If I’m being truthful, I have been seeing this guy my whole life, even when Don and I were married. Actually; Don was seeing him too. We watched and enjoyed him together. We had a wonderful little threesome thing going on. It was very kinky. Now I watch him alone, and it feels like I’m seeing someone new, because my relationship with him has changed immensely since my husband’s death. If you want to know his name, I’ll tell you: Tommy Vera. I call him T.V. for short. (he was named for people on television: Tommy for my favorite host Tom Bergeron, and Vera for the waitress on the sitcom Alice.)

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always loved T.V. Always. It was entertainment, and it was a comfort. And even when I was a kid, I always wanted to be ON television. I was fascinated by the whole thing. A box inside my living room that was filled with hundreds of different people. Everyday I’d come home from school just before 3pm, and mom would sit me down with my afternoon snack, and General Hospital would be on in the background. I started to slowly pay attention to it, and became engrossed in Luke and Laura and the Ice Princess and the stupid Weather Machine. I found the show silly and fascinating and ridiculous and funny. Today, over 30 years later, I still have it on my DVR and watch it to wind myself down at night. There were so many shows I loved as a kid: The Muppet Show and The Carol Burnett Show both gave me that same feeling of warm laughter, and that everything would be okay. Brady Bunch reruns made me feel cozy and protected, and Family Ties had me giggling like hell, and gave me one of my first real crushes in Michael J. Fox.

Don and I used to watch a lot of T.V. together. Some people might look down on that or on us or say that it’s “bad” to have the TV on so much in a home or marriage. Those people suck and I dont really care what they think. My husband and I did plenty of things with our lives, and spent loads of time outside discoving the world together. But, after work, most evenings, we would sit in our tiny apartment together in our bedroom, the only room with air-conditioning and computer and a BED, and watch TV.

Like every married couple, we had our rhythms and our patterns and our ways of doing things. Lots of times, I would make popcorn and we would both sit in bed and cuddle up for a great episode of House. Don got me into that show, and then I was hooked by the sarcasm, hilariousness, utter pain, and therefore sexiness of Hugh Laurie’s character. We would always have to pause the show or DVR so he could explain to me in english what the fuck the patient actually had. He used to drive me crazy because he had a short-attention span, and sometimes when we were watching a show together, he would randomly get up and leave the room. He would come back five minutes later, and then ask me “So what happened? What was the diagnosis?” “Where the hell did you go?”, I’d say. “I dont know what the hell the patient has! You always explain that to me. I have no idea what they are talking about!” Or we would watch Cash Cab and I couldn’t even answer the first two questions. “Who the hell knows this shit?”, I’d say. The answer was Don. Don knew that shit. He knew all kinds of random trivia, facts, and things that would just surprise the hell out of me all the time. He loved documentaries. Anything on The History or Discovery or Learning Channel was a show that he wanted to watch. I used to walk into the living room sometimes and there would be some boring thing on the TV that he would be engrossed in. I would mock him: “What is this – a 12 part documentary on the Making of Plywood?” He never missed a beat. “Actually, it’s a 15 parter, and it’s about sheet-rock. Smart Ass.”

We had a lot of shows that we watched together though. South Park was one of his absolute favorites. I miss listening to his laugh while watching that show. Listening to him laugh was sometimes more fun than watching the show for me. His laugh was deep and inviting, and his shoulders and whole body would move. Sometimes he wouldn’t make any actual noise until a few seconds into the laugh; but you’d just see his head drop down his neck and start to shake. We both loved Modern Family, and he had a gigantic crush on Sofia Vergada. We also loved Rescue Me, Men of a Certain Age, Mad Men, Louie, and Intervention. We both had a different approach to that last one. We would take bets on whether or not the addict would survive or fail at the end of the episode. I liked it when they got off the drugs or alcohol, while Don loved a great epic trainwreck. “Oh, this asshole’s gonna fail!”, he would say in the first 5 minutes of the show. Then, when the inevitable text at the end with the sad music would say: “Two weeks later, Joe was kicked out of rehab and now drinks 2 bottles of vodka a day”, Don would scream, “Yes! I knew it!” and be oddly ecstatic at this total stranger’s misery. He was the same way with shows like COPS, Hoarders, Parking Wars, and even The Biggest Loser. He always found it hilarious when the people who had whatever dysfunction, walked away a bigger mess than when they started.

Since I’ve been writing TV Reviews for Poptimal.com for a few years now, Don and I would always watch the shows I’d cover together: American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, America’s Got Talent. I would pause the shows and take notes for what to type into my review later on, and he would make hilarious comments that I would usually end up using in the review. “That’s funny as hell. I’m stealing that!”, I’d say. He loved when I would use his jokes, and he loved reading my reviews. He would sit at the computer, reading it, and quoting me back to me. Then he would say sweetly: “Boo is funny.” He had a major crush on pro dancer Cheryl Burke from DWTS, and we both thought Ryan Seacrest was a major douchebag. We always disliked and mocked the same people, so watching TV together was a blast. So many times, Don’s comments at a show or a commercial would make me laugh harder than what we were watching.

Now; since his death; TV watching has become a whole new experience, and my relationship with television is so much different than it used to be. It used to be entertainment – now it’s a lifeline. The second I walk into this lonely apartment where there is no more noise of a husband, I put on the TV. I need to feel and hear noise. It is necessary for survival. If I can’t talk to anyone while I’m at home, then I need to hear fake characters talking to other fake characters on my TV. More than half the time I have the TV on, Im not watching it or paying attention to it at all. But it’s very important that it’s on. Some people use music in this same way; as soon as they are home, they turn on background music. I cannot do this, because Don was music. Every song on earth reminds me of him in a painful, hurtful, sad way; and since I can no longer hear HIS music when he would strum his guitars for hours; listening to CD’s would only make me extremely sad right now.

Sometimes I feel like I’m nuts when I watch TV alone now. I pretend he is sitting on the bed with me, or at the computer desk, and I will talk to him during a show. Sometimes this helps; most times I just feel incredibly silly and start to cry. Watching the season premiere of Mad Men last week made me sad. He would have loved it when Roger said: “Is it just me, or are there a bunch of negros in our lobby?” I can just hear him busting a gut over that line. I have 4 episodes of South Park and 5 of House all sitting on my DVR, unwatched. I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit through them without Don’s commentary. I got through the first few minutes of the season premiere of South Park, and then burst into tears. I also haven’t sat through very many Yankee games without my husband. He died right in the middle of baseball season, and so I went from watching every single day, to not watching at all. That was one of our favorite things to follow together … baseball. Now I just sort of “keep an eye on the game” while doing other things. If I find myself totally paying attention, I will be sobbing within seconds. I still can’t believe Don doesn’t get to know that Andy Pettite is back, or that Posada retired, or that Chamberlain is out for the season because he injured himself JUMPING ON A TRAMPOLINE! I don’t know how long it will be before I can go to Yankee Stadium again. I just don’t know.

TV has become something new in my life since losing my husband. It has, in a sense, become another relationship. There are times when I am watching something, anything really, and I will just start crying. Sometimes it is due to what’s happening on the show or even the commercial, because I have become extra sensitive and now cry at the drop of a hat, or at Kodak camera and Oreo ads. But other times. the tears have nothing to do with what is being said on the screen. Sometimes, I am just using the TV to zone out. I am watching something mindless so that I don’t have to pay attention to it, so that I don’t have to be a widow for an hour or two. Sometimes it’s a form of escape, and sometimes it’s another reminder.

I feel like an old lady, sitting at home with my afghan, waiting for my “stories” to come on the TV. Are Jason and Franco brothers? Who will be the next Bachelor couple to get engaged and then break up 3 months later? Is Lisa Lampanelli gonna punch a bitch on The Apprentice? Does anyone else but me realize that Wendy Williams is actually a man? How many more years will The Office continue to pretend it’s relevant without the genius of Steve Carell? Why are there 200 violent shows about cupcake making? How many cities will get their very own CSI? Wouldnt it be ironic if Chris Hanson turned out to be an internet pedophile? I wonder if he likes cookies and juice. Do the people at 20/20 really think we dont notice they are using some sort of weird technology to fade out the wrinkles and creepiness of Barbara Walters hands, skin, and face? How will House end? Why do they keep giving Rachel Ray more shows, even though her voice sounds like she swallowed a cheese-grater?

All of these things are distractions, and reminders, that my life is completely different now. Some people use drugs, alcohol, and other destructive things to dull the pain that life can bring. I’m not cool enough for anything like that, and in my attempt to NOT use food as my addiction of choice like I have in the past, I have turned to good ‘ole Tommy Vera. My new love. My new husband. He is a lazy, no good, piece of shit who needs to get off his flat ass and get a job … but at least he makes enough noise to trick me into thinking I’m not always alone.

 

Please Allow Me to Feel Like Shit

If there is one thing I have always known about myself, it is this: I need to be able to feel my feelings. Much like Madonna, I need to express myself. This is why I write, why I create, why I perform. All of these things are an expression of my thoughts, my feelings, my heart. Sometimes it comes out in the form of a stand-up comedy routine, or a silly Youtube video, or a short play, a poem, a song, or something much more fluid that you can’t really put a title on it. To me; the deepest thoughts that are inside of our souls are what make us who we are. To take those away from someone is just about the worst thing I can ever think of.

This is why I never got into drinking or doing drugs. Even 25 years ago, back in high school and college, I would drink now and then, but never anything crazy. While most of my friends were either getting high or making plans on the best way to “get wasted” on a Friday night, I was always the one who tagged along and stayed sober. I never saw the point in it. Most people act like complete assholes when they are drunk, and most people are complete bores when they are high. They are bores who are under the false impression that they are interesting. The few times I tried pot when I was younger; I felt paranoid, sick to my stomach, and just generally awful. The handful of times I drank too much in college; it made me super emotional, clingy, and sleepy. I never understood the purpose or the “fun” in going out with the specific intention of getting drunk. “Dude, we’re gonna get soooooo wasted, man!” is a sentence that confuses me and makes me roll my eyes like some out of touch grandmother.

But here is the real issue … I like to have control. When you drink or take drugs, you lose control. I do not like that feeling. To tell you the truth, the idea of not remembering something I did or said, or of not feeling like myself due to a chemically-induced evening, scares the shit out of me. There are so many things in life we cannot control. Like waking up one morning to your husband being dead. I had no control over that. It just happened. So why on earth would I want to give up the control over my own mind and body by pouring alcohol and chemicals into it? Why would I want my thoughts to be altered or numbed or just … gone? Some people want that. Some people want to escape the pain, and those people don’t understand that I need to feel whatever the hell I am going to feel. I need to feel like shit and laugh and cry and scream and punch the walls and write and tell jokes and curse profusely and bang my fists on my steering wheel and say goodnight to my dead husband and be exhausted and feel hopeless and want to die. It is the wanting to die and then getting through that, to see the next moment, that makes me feel alive. How can you ever feel joy again if you don’t feel the pain? How can you grieve if you are hiding your feelings in a bottle? You can’t. But everybody wants you to.

People are so quick and willing to push medication or alcohol on you when you are grieving. “Have a glass of wine”, people keep telling me. “It will take your mind off things, relax you.” No it wont. I hate wine. It is not relaxing. It gives me a splitting headache. “If you dont start feeling better soon, you should think about going on medication. Something to help level out your emotions.” No! I don’t want to level out anything. I want to feel it. Why are people so afraid of intense sadness? Why does everyone feel the need to put a timeline on my feelings and what’s inside my heart? Why are some people so terrified of total, brutal honesty? It has been suggested to me by some that perhaps I shouldn’t always post such gut-wrenching, sad thoughts or status updates on Facebook. Some have eluded to the idea that people don’t want to be reminded every two seconds of my loss. Other people worry about me when I post something “sad” publically; as if it’s somehow strange that I would be feeling an intense range of emotions after MY FUCKING HUSBAND DIED!!!!!!!

I don’t understand this thought process. I am not going to censor myself, or only post “positive” things. If I am feeling positive, I will say so. If I am feeling like shit, I will say that too. Let everyone else on earth continue to deal with grief in “steps” and “process” and “journey” and “paths.” That is not for me. For me, it is messy and confusing and horrible and inconceivable and like an elephant lying on your back. I haven’t read one book about grief, or seen one movie, or one anything, that totally gets it right, or that is 100% honest like I am. I will make it my job to be brutally honest about what this is really like. I am not going to sugarcoat it, or say only what people think I should say, or keep silent because it makes others uncomfortable. No. Fuck that. I’m sorry that you are uncomfortable for a few minutes out of your day. This is my life. My life is uncomfortable. I will not pretend otherwise because society thinks it’s better for me to just numb it or take a pill or have a drink because that is what makes them feel better. It will never be better. It will only be different. I am here to tell the truth. This will be the one book on earth that tells you the truth. If I dont tell the truth, why write anything at all? Why be alive?

Last night I saw a local NJ production of the rock musical Next to Normal. My friend Debra played the lead role of Diana, and she was absolutely brilliant. She has one of those singing voices where you just listen to her and start to tear up. Not because you are sad, but because the sound is that beautiful. Only a few voices make me tear up that way. Barbara Streisand. Burnadette Peters. And my friend Debra. The show won all kinds of Tony Awards on Broadway in 2009, and it’s about a wife and mother who is bipolar; and what happens when her son dies; and how it affects the entire family. She is sent to therapy immediately, and put on several drugs to help her cope. The play is very powerful, and poses the question “what is worse; the symptom or the cure?”, and “Who is the crazy one? The patient, or the doctors who keep shutting her off from her own feelings?” The only medication I have taken since this whole thing happened has been Tylenol PM, to help me sleep. I dont even like taking that, because it makes me so damn groggy that I dont feel like myself.

I will not medicate my emotions. I will not stuff them into a box or fit them into some timeline that other people find appropriate. I will just be me; because really; in the end; what else do I have left? If I lose myself and become a shell of nothingness; then there is no reason to be alive.

Please allow me to feel like shit, so that I can stay alive.

I’m In Love With a Dead Guy

Today is March 13, 2012, and it has been exactly nine months since my husband died. It’s been nine months since I have felt him hold me or touch me, or take his index finger, put it on the tip of my nose, and go “BEEP!” He really loved doing that, and it was so incredibly silly. We would pass each other on the way to the kitchen, and he would stop and go “Beep!” on my nose. It’s been nine long months since I’ve heard my husband speak words to me, or laugh with me, or start his sentences with: “You know …” while folding his arms across his chest. Nine months since he sat in his favorite chair while I would present him with various fun “prizes” like candy bars and toys. Nine months since he tapped his fingers on my arm or leg, to the beat of the music, while trying to learn a new guitar chord. Nine months since he put his key in the door while coming home from work, snuck in slowly so as not to fully wake me, and said out loud while pointing at each of us: “One kitty, two kitty, and a Boo. Everyone is safe.”

 For the past nine months, I have eaten meals alone. I’ve watched movies without pausing them every 10 minutes so we can give each other mini-reviews throughout: “You like it so far? Cuz I love it!” “Yeah! This is awesome!” For the past nine months, I have been to the grocery store and only bought foods that I like; avoiding the aisles that contained all of his favorites; telling myself not to look too long at the Special Dark Bars, or the Barq’s Root Beer, or you might cry. For nine months now, I haven’t been able to ask him his opinion, or get his advice, or his take on something I’ve been writing or performing or doing. For nine months, I’ve shut off the bedroom light with no fanfare, instead of racing my husband to be the first one into bed. He would usually beat me, and yell victoriously: “HA HA! I’m in bed first! I win! You have to shut the light! Ha Ha!” For nine months, I’ve been throwing my hair up in a wet ponytail after my shower, instead of Don gently towel-drying it for me while standing in front of me, humming some made-up song.

It’s hard to comprehend that it’s been nine months in this life. It feels like an eternity without him. Each day that goes by feels longer; like just another 24 hours that I dont get to spend with him. It also strikes me that nine months is the length of a typical pregnancy, and that in the time since my husband has died, another family member has been born. Our brand new niece; Jillian; came into the world on March 7th. After my mom called  to tell me she had been born, I hung up the phone and started crying. I felt so alone and so sad for Don; who would never get to meet this beautiful little girl. He will never get to meet anyone ever again. Jillian’s birth is one of the first, significant things that have taken place, completely in the span of time that Don hasn’t been here to know about it. Nine months is a long time. He doesn’t know a lot of things. He doesn’t know that our dear friend Rodney got married, and he didn’t get to see the unique and beautiful ceremony where Andrew married them. He missed Sarah’s 40th birthday party, and he doesn’t know that John is in college now, taking film courses; or that his best friend Rob got yet another promotion. He doesn’t know that a Comedy Benefit was put together in his honor, or that I went to New Orleans, or that Posada retired this year from baseball. My husband has no idea that I’m driving an entirely different car, or that my parents are living in a different town. Enough time has passed since his death, for me to write a play about my experience with grief; and to be performing it in the Network’s One-Act Play Festival. Don will never get to read my blog, or my book about him, or know all the things I am trying to do just to honor him and my love for him. He has missed so, so many things.

The more time that passes, the more that I miss him. I cannot believe how much I miss him. Sometimes I’m instantly struck by how much I ache for him, and I have to literally catch my breath and rejoin the world again. Other times, it’s the world that brings me to my knees with it’s constant reality in my face. The world always finds ways to twist the knife a little bit harder in cruel demonstration that he is never coming back. It has become more and more difficult to simply be with other people. Family, couples, friends, and even people just talking about their significant others in conversation. There are so many times when I think I’m doing okay one second, and then I’m suddenly not okay at all. Like last night; after watching Rodney’s acting debut in the Festival, and witnessing my friend; his now wife Sheri; come up and give him a quick little supportive kiss in the lobby after the show. It was no big deal – just one of those little things that married people do – and it instantly transported me to the numerous shows of mine where Don did the same thing. Knowing that the person you love most, your life-partner, is out there in that crowd smiling and proud of you while you’re onstage, is everything. Performing has become an entirely new experience for me now. I feel lost when I get off the stage, because there are no arms waiting to hug me. No lips waiting to kiss me and say: “You were amazing.” Nobody to whisper in my ear privately: “My Boo was the bestest one up there. You always slay everybody else.”

 It is these little, everyday things that are the worst and the saddest for me to deal with. On Sunday, I did my second play performance in the festival; and my mom, Aunt Debbie, and Nancy all came out from Massachusetts to see it. We stayed at a Marriott that night together, and the next morning, had a really nice relaxing breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We were sitting there talking for a long time, and the subject turned to a long discussion about my mom and dad, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Richard, and Nancy and Ron. They were each bringing up different issues; big and small; about their partners, their marriages. They talked about different quirks and habits their husband’s had, things that drive them crazy, things they have gone through together over the years inside the marriage. Suddenly; I felt so uncomfortable and out of place. I got that feeling again, like I wanted to run away and cry. I will never know what it’s like to be married to someone for 25 or 40 or 50 years; or to go through those mid-life changes with each other; to go through losing other people together. This scares me more than anything else – that when I have to lose people in my life, Don will not be here to help me get through it. I will not have my husband to lean on ever again, to get us through those times where everything seems wrong. There are some days where I don’t feel as if I can exist or function with normal, everyday people. Nobody is in my situation. Nobody in my everyday life knows what it’s like to deal with this.

Nine months is a long, long time. And then, when you think about it in terms of life, it’s not a long time at all. Nine months behind me; still a lifetime to go. When you marry someone; you just assume and hope and think that you’ll be together forever. You don’t think one of you will lose their life this way, this soon. And so when that happens, and you are left here on earth without that person that you vowed to be with for life, it is an extremely confusing time. Most people become widowed when they are old, and while it is still very sad to lose your spouse at any age, they dont have to face decades of a future without their love. This is why losing your spouse is so different than losing anyone else in your life. Everything you do and everything you are, is intertwined with that person. To lose them suddenly, is to throw you into mass chaos. Who am I now? What am I doing? Where do I fit? What does it all mean without someone to share it with? What is the point without love? I vowed to love this man until forever; until “death do us part.” But what if only one of you dies, and they die at age 46? Where does that leave the other? Just because he is dead, does not mean I love him any less. In fact, my love for him has never felt stronger and more alive than right now. My husband is gone, and I love him. I do not know how to stop loving him, and I don’t know that I would ever want to. But how do you continue life when you are in love with someone you can no longer be with? I wish I knew. My heart is stuck on forever, and I don’t know how to not love my husband. I am in love with a dead guy. Tell me – what am I supposed to do with that?

The Fog

Every single night since my husband’s death has been an adventure. Not the fun kind of adventure; like when you are on vacation and anxiously await what today will bring in the way of new and exciting activities. No. This is more like the: “what kind of hell am I facing on this night, as I simply try to get a few hours of sleep so I can perhaps function and be a human being in the world tomorrow?” type of adventure. The word FUN does not exist in this reality.

The very idea of going to sleep each night brings on anxiety, panic, and unease. There are just so many factors involved. If I have done a lot of intense crying that day; which normally is the case but not always; then I might want to take some kind of Excedrin or Advil for my horrible headaches that always follow the massive crying spurts. But then sometimes my back, shoulders, and entire body are aching so badly from doing things Im not used to doing yet; like lifting EVERY SINGLE THING I OWN from my car in the parking garage across the street; to my apartment on the 3rd floor; day after day after annoying goddamn day. Heavy bags of groceries, cat litter, lugguge from spending time at my parents place, boxes of Demo Products, my gigantic shoulder bag for teaching, the microphone stand and mic I bring for my stand-up comedy students; and on and on and on. All things that Don used to just automatically carry for me, always.

In addition to that, Im doing all the cleaning, all the car stuff, and basically anything and everything else that needs to be done or comes up. Although we both did quite a bit of “stuff” around the apartment, Don was always the “take care of things” guy. He did all the carrying of heavy things, all the fixing of things that broke, and all the killing of frightening bugs or other unidentifiable creatures. That is just what he did. I would panic – he would fix. Now I just panic. And ache. So if its been THAT kind of day; then I might need some sort of Ibuprofin pill to stop aching so much so that MAYBE I can get 3 hours of sleep that night. Of course; just falling asleep and then staying asleep is another terrible adventure in itself; as in; it rarely happens. So 90% of the time, I take two Tylenol PM to help get me to slumberland. This doesnt always guarantee I will get a good nights sleep, but it will, at the very least, knock me out for an initial 3 hours or so. After that, who the hell knows what will happen; but it almost always ends or begins with the clock somewhere around 4:30am, and Sammy the cat on my pillow, pawing and clawing on my face.

So, the anxiety and ease has already begun before even attempting to sleep. Which pill do I take? What is worse: my headache, or my not being tired enough to NOT be up thinking for hours? If I have to be up at 6am to teach the next morning; this anxiety is then magnified. Or should I take something for this pain that is in my shoulders, back, and arms? My arms are absolutely killing me. They feel like they are on fire. Its got to be from all the lifting of incredibly heavy bags, but of course, the very idea that they are always hurting or feel sort of numb then throws me into further panic mode; thinking: “Holy Shit! Am I having a heart attack? Am I going to die like he did?” This thought goes through my mind on a loop, every single day. It is awful. Then the second, immediate thought is always: “If I die, Im totally alone here in this apartment. Nobody will even know Im dead. It could be days, or a week, before anyone knows Im gone. I will just be lying here. Dead.” When you lose your husband in an instant the way I did, you end up with severe anxiety that the same thing can very well happen to you, or to anyone you love. You end up obsessing and thinking about death way more than you should, because you now have the harsh knowledge that it can all be over, for any of us, in a split second. There is no sense of comfort or peace anywhere in this “journey.” (Those who have been reading and following so far know how much I HATE it when this horrific life of grief is called a “journey.” Yuck.)

After finally deciding on my drug of choice for the evening, I usually climb into my bed, and that is where the real “adventure” begins. First of all; it’s our bed. OUR bed. So every night; I have to get in it, look over to his side, and see the nothingness. The empty pillow with nobody’s head on it. There are nights I lay there for minutes or hours; just picturing his face looking back at me; or remembering a specific night of us being intimate, or kissing, or holding hands, or just talking. Or laughing. We laughed a lot in bed at night. Im not sure why. I think in a lot of ways, lying there together was like our “silly time.” It was where we would really let go and just be immature and make each other crack up at stupid things that wouldnt ever be funny to anyone else. We would sing silly songs to each other, or to the kitties; and they would climb up on us and purr. Most nights; when Don and I were sleeping facing one another; Sammy would wedge himself right in between us; and he would lay there like a little person; this third head right smack in the middle of ours. It was pretty much the cutest thing on earth.Then Autumn would sleep right at my feet; and I would always end up kicking her by accident several thousand times during the night.

 I also remember that anytime we would go to my parents house for the weekend; which was a lot; mom and dad would give us their bedroom to sleep in; and dad would sleep downstairs while mom slept in the smaller bed next to their bedroom. There were so many mornings where mom would say to us in the kitchen: “What on earth were you two laughing about last night? I heard you laughing like hell in there for the longest time!” I don’t even know what we were laughing at most times, to be honest. We just really loved to laugh. Now; there is no more laughing while lying in bed. There is just me; trying like hell to get through the night; so I can get up tomorrow and try like hell to get through the day. So that I can maybe get through the night. To get through the …. you get the idea. It’s an exhausting and endless cycle.

Lying in bed most nights; many things happen. I start thinking. Then I think some more. Memories. His voice. His touch. His hands. Things that were said. Moments. The tears usually come pretty fast while trying to sleep. One of the cats will jump up on his pillow next to me; or sleep behind my head on my pillow. A lot of times, the very presence of the kitties sends me into emotional turmoil. I think about how much he loved them; how he took such good care of them; and how much they miss him being here. How he would brush their fur and their TEETH so patiently. Yes, he brushed their teeth. It was amazing to watch. Now; in my new reality; several times; I have held onto Sammy and cried into his fur; holding onto him for dear life. The strange thing is; he lets me. He knows. He will cuddle up to me and let me cry, or place his head on my arm or up against me while I’m a sobbing mess. Most nights; Autumn will lay at the foot of the bed, by my feet. She is a lot less cuddly than Sammy; but she has gotten a lot closer to me since Don died. She will come up and purr into my pillow, or give me a quick lick on my hand, then rub her face all over me. We all lay there together; mourning and asking why it’s just us. I talk to them. I feel like a crazy person; like what everyone thinks a stereotypical “widow” is; but I talk to them. I might say: “You miss Boo Bear too, don’t you? I know, honey. I know you miss him too. I miss him so much.”

Sometimes I see Sammy on Don’s pillow, and he is looking at me with his huge, beautiful eyes, and Its like Im trying to see my husband through his eyes. It sounds nuts, because it IS nuts. But it’s what Im left with, and its what I do. I will look at Sammy and say: “Boo Bear? Are you in there, Boo?” Then Ill start laughing at how ridiculous I sound. As Don would have said: “You’re not all there, Boo. You’ve finally lost it.” We weren’t much on religion or Heaven or any of those things, but Don believed, or HOPED, that when it was his time, he would be with his kitties Isabelle and Ginger again somehow. He also believed that if there was a God; or whatever God was; that animals had the closest access. He believed that animals knew more than humans did; that they were on a different playing field somehow to that other world. Sometimes I feel him, or try to, through our pets. We lie there together with the TV on all night; for noise. I cannot stand the silence that comes with being alone. I need to keep the TV on, so I can trick myself into thinking Im not alone here forever. I hear noises. The realities of being a female alone in her apartment and vulnerable, hit hard late at night. I don’t feel safe. There are thoughts that go through my head each night; especially when the TV is off and there is darkness. It is a terrrible, unsafe feeling.

 And then, there are the nightmares. Every single night; I have some kind of dream. Most nights; I have several dreams; one right after the other. The most common one that I’ve had over and over again; is where I either re-live the morning he died, or make up some other version of it in my sleep, and then re-live that. Sometimes the nightmare is the actuality of waking up to the ringing phone, rushing to the hospital, being told he is gone, the utter shock. Seeing his body and talking to him, not knowing what I was supposed to say. Other times; the nightmare is coming from his viewpoint. Since I wasnt there when he had his heart-attack and can only go on what his co-workers tell me of that morning, my mind makes up the worst, most chilling scenarios, and plays them back to me while I sleep. I picture him lying there, collapsed, on a cold Petsmart floor. In reality; I am told he was there for a couple minutes at most before they saw him and called for help; but my nightmares have him lying there for ten, twenty minutes; begging for help. Nobody coming to help him. He reaches for his cell phone to call 911, or me, and he cant get to it before becoming unconscious. Or he is in and out of consciousness; and aware that he is going to die. He is scared. He wants to live. He wants to see me, see his kitties. I picture the ambulance ride to the hospital. Was he coherant? Did he know what was happening? Did he know the tables were turned, and he wasn’t driving the ambulance this time, but the one lying on the stretcher? WAS HE SCARED? I don’t know how Im expected to sleep with these kinds of thoughts inside my head. If I don’t get any sleep, I am exhausted the next day and can barely function. If I DO get some sleep, I have so many disturbing dreams, that I wake up exhausted from them and can barely function. Its an endless, ridiculous cycle.

The dreams that seem sweet at the time are almost worse, though. There have been many dreams that seem pleasant and beautiful. One night I had a vivid dream that I was pregnant; and it wasnt planned; and in the dream, I was telling Don the news, and he took me in his arms and jumped up and down with me, saying: “Wow! What a wonderful surprise, Boo! I’m gonna be a dad? This is so cool!” Another one Ive had often, is that I get the call from the hospital that morning, but instead of saying “We have your husband”, they say: “We have your husband. He had a minor heart attack, but he’s fine. He’s going to make it.” He gets a second chance, like so many others have. He gets to live, and I get to see him, and my world isn’t turned upside down in an instant. I have also had several dreams where Don and I are going through the process of adopting a child; something that we talked about doing many, many times. In these dreams; he gets to be the incredible father that he himself never got to have. He gets to finally be the dad that I know for a fact he would have been. The very thought of him never having that chance, and of me having to let go and mourn the idea of having a family with my husband, brings me to tears everyday. To be faced with families everywhere in the real world is bad enough – to dream about it all the time is awful. These dreams are unbearable, because you wake up happy and giddy for a few seconds; believing that what you just dreamt is the reality. Then you slowly realize it was just a dream. There is no baby. There will never be a baby. No child to give a family to. No family. Oh, and by the way, your husband didn’t make it. He died. It hits you like a ton of bricks and you cry for an hour sometimes before you can pull yourself up. And you have to pull yourself up. Employers don’t understand “I had a terrible dream” as an excuse to call out of your teaching duties.

There have been times where I’ve told people of these dreams; and they always say the same thing whenever I report dreaming about Don. “It was a visit. He was visiting you.” This drives me nuts. So far; there has only been ONE dream where I FELT like it could have been Don “visiting” me, or his spirit, or whatever it is you believe or want to call it. That was the dream that I referred to as “Eleven”; where we had sweet, very realistic dialogue, and I could FEEL his hug on me. That dream was so powerful physically and emotionally, that it affected me for days afterwards. I felt like I needed 2 days off just to recover from the intensity of that dream. As far as all the other dreams; they are just dreams, and most of them are not at all comforting. They are my mind and my heart, remembering. Wishing things were different. Wanting to bring him back.

The other night, I had a dream that was very basic. It was just me and Don, sitting at a Yankee game. We were enjoying a baseball game, the way we used to. Two people told me that dream was him “visiting me.” No it wasn’t. It was me wanting to be at a baseball game with my husband, and hang out with him again. It was me missing him. My mind never stops. The dreams never stop. The only thing worse than trying to get through the day, is trying to get through the night. It hurts to be awake, and it hurts to be asleep. Everything in between is a fog. Will there ever be any peace?

 

 

You Could Be a Foot

Social Media is fantastic, and social media is awful. Being a comedian, actor, and writer; Ive been able to communicate, meet up with, and befriend some pretty famous or well-known people, simply by talking to them on Twitter or Facebook. I would have never had the opportunity to talk with these people, if we didn’t banter back and forth in a Facebook status update, or if I didnt post one of my YouTube videos / characters like Maggie Bubbles on Twitter, and have it retweeted or shared by someone I admire. Hell, my biggest Twitter claim to fame to this day is making a comedy video a few years ago that mocked the Twitter popularity of Ashton Kutcher (he has over 10 million followers and he tweets stuff like: “I’m drinking coffee.” Its mind boggling.) I tweeted the video link to Gregg “Opie” Hughes from The Opie and Anthony Show, he tweeted it to Ashton Kutcher on my behalf, and then Ashton Kutcher posted the link; giving me instant semi-Twitter fame. Of course, half of the people that watched the video were Ashton fans, so they hated it, and really hated me.

I didn’t really care though, since I started up conversation and banter with Opie, which then turned into me doing a comedy video on his YouTube Channel (@OpieRadio) where I walked into a McDonalds and ordered the McLobster, which then turned into being featured in a second video called “Occupy Wall Street: I Need Attention”; which ended up being reposted all over the place and getting some minor “viral” status. Now, in a weird way, I consider Opie a friend. He has continued to be supportive of me and my comedy, and what can I say, I like the guy. The fact that my brother and I both listened to his radio show since we were teenagers back in Massachusetts, just makes it a thousand times cooler. The fact that Opie is a genuinely nice, hilarious, real person is what makes it go from cool to pretty damn special.

I also met my good friend Jay Such because of this Ashton Kutcher video. He also found it funny, and had me call into his comedy podcast “The Some Guy Show”, to talk about it on the air. Now, all this time later, we have become friends, and I have driven out to South Jersey 4 times now to be a guest on that very same podcast. Honestly, it is one of the few things that I actually look forward to and enjoy doing right now. Most days lately, its pretty hard for me to try and figure out a good reason to keep waking up in the morning. But whenever we do that podcast,We laugh so much, that for an hour, I can almost forget that my husband is gone and I’m scared out of my mind for my future. Almost.

My friendship with comedian Elayne Boosler began much the same way … on Facebook. I had posted a silly video called “I Love You Cat”, of me talking to our cats and crying in their faces; begging them to please never leave me. Our cat Autumn gave the best double take look into the camera that I have ever seen from a pet. Elayne is an avid lover of animals, like me, and one of her proudest accomplishments is her rescue animal foundation; Tails of Joy. She loved my video and shared it on her page, and we just hit it off. Before I knew it, we were messaging one another, calling one another, and even meeting up for dinner at a NYC diner with some other comedians after her comedy show. Elayne was one of the first people to come forward after my husband died with her support and genuine words of comfort. I am so grateful for her friendship, and I only wish that Don could have been around to see it further blossom. He really loved and respected Elayne; for her comedy but especially for her pure love of animals. He used to tell his overnight EMS partner while at work: “My wife is hangin with Elayne Boosler tonight and Im stuck here with YOU!” The last time Elayne and I hung out before Don died, I told her how much Don wanted to meet her, and we talked about the four of us (Don and I, and Elayne and her husband) getting together for a dinner party in August. I went home that night and told Don, and his eyes lit up. He said: “Boo is hangin’ with the elite now! Couple more years and I can quit my jobs and live off you forever!” He always joked about us getting rich one day from me becoming famous. “No more Little Debbie Snack Cakes for me! We rich now! I’m eatin’ Hostess!” Unfortunately, our foursome dinner party never got to happen, and Don never did get to meet Elayne. I wish like hell he did, because I truly think we all would have ended up becoming wonderful friends.

 So, for these reasons and many others, I really can’t knock Social Media. It has helped me greatly in furthering my career and networking with a gigantic array of people from all over the place. However, sometimes people act like idiots when using social media, which can create a lot of problems. People are always talking about how “Facebook” broke up their relationship or marriage, because their spouse had an affair with an ex-girlfriend from high school or some shit after contacting her on Facebook. In my eyes, if you are going to cheat, you are going to cheat. Things like Facebook just make it a hell of a lot easier to do so. But its not the website that is evil … its YOU. It’s the person doing the cheating, or the lying, or the hiding. And in the case of posting stupid-ass things on Facebook or Twitter; it is the act of the person posting; who doesn’t THINK before they type.

Since Don died, there have been a number of tiny “incidents” involving postings on Social Media. I say tiny, because in the grand scheme of things, they don’t REALLY matter. But I say incident, because, they do affect me and make me angry or upset, so therefore, they are valid. There are too many to count, but a few of them stick in my mind. One insensitive jerk on Twitter sent me a tweet that said: “I get that you are hurting, but why does EVERY tweet have to be about your husband’s passing?” It really pissed me off. First of all, every tweet is NOT about my husband’s passing. I have actually tried pretty hard to still throw some jokes in there, and keep things with a bit of variety. But guesswhat? My fucking husband just died. So yes, I am going to talk about it. It JUST happened. So fuck off.

Second, I hate the term “passing” when talking about death. I just loathe it. It’s one of those words people always whisper when they say them: “Oh yes .. her husband … he passed last month. So tragic….” He passed. Passed what? It makes it sound like he passed a kidney stone or something. He DIED. My husband died. That is what happened, and it’s okay to say the word. And stop with the whispering. I am AWARE that he died. There’s really no reason to whisper. Lastly, this Twitter douchefuck doesn’t know me at all, and didn’t know my husband or anything about our relationship. So for him to sit there and pass judgement and tell me how to run my Twitter page, really annoyed me. I wrote him back, telling him that his comment was very rude, and if he doesn’t like my tweets, stop following me. His response was even more dumb: “I wasn’t being rude. I just was wondering when you are going to get back to normal.” Get back to normal. Normal. This is when I knew I was dealing with a moron of epic proportions. This is someone who has obviously never felt real love, and never lost that real love in a split second. This is someone whose biggest problem in life is that he ran out of beer that night and the liquor store is closed. Because if this asswipe understood anything about grief or death, he would realize that there is no such thing as “getting back to normal.” It just doesn’t exist. There is “new normal.” That’s the new reality you now live in, after your husband dies way too young. There’s that. And thats not something anyone can possibly understand unless they have gone through it. People are such idiots. I mean, what do they think? Sometimes I think that people ACTUALLY think that when you lose your husband, who was only 46, and who died in seconds with ZERO warning, that you have a period of being upset and sad, and then one day you simply wake up all sunshiny and bright and go: “Well there it is! Im BACK TO NORMAL!!!!” Doesn’t work that way, asshat.

Months ago, I posted this status update on Facebook: “Today is my last day in Massachusetts. Headed back to Jersey and the kitties in the morning. Not looking forward to being in our apartment without Don ..but need to attempt this thing called “life” again. Wish me luck!” A lot of people did wish me luck, told me I am strong, to hang in there, they are here for me, and a bunch of other really nice and helpful things. And then there was this comment:

“Be glad you have your health, Kelley. Remember some of us are living with diseases which make it difficult to just get out of bed. I’ve got rheumatoid arthritis, but some have way worse.” Well, alrighty then. What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? What does your rheuumatoid arthritis got to do with my husband’s death, or ANYTHING for that matter? Nothing. Disease …. losing a spouse. I’m sorry. I don’t see the connection. BECAUSE THERE ISN’T ONE! They are two completely different issues. It makes zero sense to bring up one when talking about the other. I suppose the purpose of saying something like that is to make me feel “grateful” for all the things that I COULD be dealing with , that Im not dealing with. But honestly, I never saw the point to that argument. Its like when you were a kid, and you didnt want to eat your vegetables, and your mom would say: “Now, eat everything on your plate! There are starving children in Africa!” Yeah. So? Whether or not I finish my green beans, they will STILL BE STARVING! Me eating or not eating my food has absolutely nothing to do with them being starving. Starvation will always be a problem, and the only way to combat it is to help them! Send money, help solve the issue of them not having enough food supply. And guess what? These green beans are still fucking disgusting and Im still not eatin’ em.

So if I tell you my husband just died and you say, “Well, at least you don’t have rhuemotoid arthritis!”, I’m going to look at you like you’re fucking nuts. Unless you leave it as a comment on Facebook. In that case, I will just THINK you are fucking nuts and say nothing, and then write about it in my book later on. No, I don’t have arthritis. I also dont have AIDS, lupus, lyme disease, or a weak bladder. And hey, at least I’m not headless! You know, some people are walking around earth without a HEAD. So be grateful you have a head! And legs. There are some people who have no legs. And if they grieved the loss of their legs, would you say to them: “Well, be grateful you’ve got a torso! You know, some people don’t have a torso! Or eyes. At least you have eyes. I know a guy with no eyes, no torso, no legs, no arms, and no face. He’s just a foot. So be grateful. You could be a foot.” I mean where does it end? Your problems are your problems and my problems are mine. THIS is what I happen to be dealing with. I lost my husband. He is gone forever. I’m sorry if, at the moment, I’m not feeling very grateful for my lack of rheumatoid arthritis.

How To Annoy People In Love On Valentine’s Day (from a bitter Widow)

Ever since losing my husband to a sudden heart attack on July 13, 2011, I have had hard days; and really hard days. There are days that I wake up after only 2 or 3 hours of sleep, and I think to myself: I might be okay today. And then I might be for a few hours. And then I’m suddenly not. Okay. On other mornings I get out of bed, go to work, or do whatever else needs to be done that day, and the whole time I’m thinking to myself: I can’t wait to get back home again and just sit in my bed and cry. It is a pretty sad state of affairs when you actually can’t wait to get home and cry.

My kitties have their moods too. Some days they randomly decide they don’t want to eat anything that I give them, even though they loved that same food the day before. Other days they eat too much, way too fast, and they decide to start throwing up all over the apartment. The best, though, is when they sleep all day long; and then choose the minute I go to bed to start acting like lunatics. Autumn will stare at the ceiling and meow nonstop. Don and I used to say that she sees dead people up there. Now I think maybe she sees Don, and I’m jealous of her because I can’t see him or feel him, so I beg my cat like a crazy person to please tell my husband I love him. Sammy was Don’s sweet boy. Sammy loved Don and followed him everywhere, all of the time. When Don would sleep, Sammy would sleep on Don’s head. On his HEAD! He would wake Don up at insane hours like 4am, by pawing and clawing and giving him love-bites and purring loudly into his ear, banging his head up against Don’s face. He would not stop until Don got out of bed and fed him. Even if you had fed him 4 hours before that, it didn’t matter. If he still had food in his dish, it didn’t matter. This cat would bug the shit out of my poor husband until he got up and fed him. I used to laugh, then roll over and go back to sleep. Well, I’m an asshole, because now I’m the one getting up at 4am to put “fresh” dry food into this cat’s bowl so he will go the hell away and let me sleep.

This morning was different though. On this morning, our sweet Sammy decided to grieve extra hard for Don, by leaping up onto my chest at 5am, when I was finally fast asleep. He scared the shit out of me. I screamed. My arm flung across my chest and flung him off me, and he jumped, his back paw and very large, sharp claw hitting my right eye and underneath it. My cat scratched my cornea, and underneath my eye looked like I had been molested by a tiger. That is how this morning began. Generally, if you have one of those days where you get up, and within minutes, you are thinking: I should never leave the house today and just go back to bed – it is probably a good idea to never leave the house and just go back to bed.

That is what I should have done. Instead; I had things to do. I had to go to the store and pick up some food, cards, detergent … why am I telling you what I bought? You don’t give a shit.  Let’s just say I had to buy stuff. I walked into the grocery store, and the entire store was red and pink. Plastic, tacky heart decorations and large teddy bears holding cheap chocolates permeated the aisles. Love and Hallmark were in the air. Only 3 more days until Valentine’s Day. It will be my first one as a widow, my first one without my husband. I walk by a row of cards, and one says: “Marriage Means Growing Old Together.” Another one shows an older couple and reads: “I Want to Grow Old With You.” My one good eye starts welling up with tears, and I start crying in the middle of the stupid grocery store. There is a bandage over my other eye, so I look like a sad pirate perusing and sobbing over loving cards. People in the store must be extremely confused by my presence. I want to scream out: “ARRRRR!!!!”, but I’m not in the mood to be funny.

When I get to the register, there is a couple in their 70’s or 80’s in front of me paying for their things. The husband is lightly teasing the wife; they are bantering and joking around. It is very sweet, and I am so angry and jealous of them and their time together. As he puts all the heavy items onto the counter for her, she looks at me and says: “My husband is so good at that! He always makes sure I don’t have to use my muscles.” She laughs. I smile with my lips, and cry through my one open eyeball. She looks in fear at my pirate eye and they leave, leaning on one another, literally.

This has turned into one of those days where I should have stayed home, and where I couldn’t wait to sit in my bed and cry. Just about anything and everything can cause it, but on this day, it is the thought that I will never grow old with my husband; and that I could possibly grow old and BE old all alone. There won’t be anyone holding onto me as we go up the ramp to the Golden Corrall for the Early Bird 4pm Fish Fry Dinner. My fears about death and getting old and sick make me instantly hate that couple. My memories of the dinners and the beautiful roses and the lovely, thoughtful cards, and the “I love you, Boo” and those gorgeous blue eyes looking into mine make me hate anyone who gets to have a Valentine’s Day with someone they love. I have grown tired of crying, and grieving. It is so damn exhausting. It is time now to get pissed. Since there is nobody in particular to be pissed at, I will just be pissed at earth and life and humans. As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, I have decided to make a wish list of all the things I would LOVE to do on that day, but cannot, because I would be arrested. Here are my Top 11 Ways to Annoy Those in Love on Valentine’s Day: (Most Lists are top ten lists, but as always, in the spirit of my husband’s favorite movie This Is Spinal Tap and Nigel, “these go to eleven.”

 

1. Go into Walgreen’s, CVS, and other drugstores that sell cheap-ass, stale candy like “Whitmann’s” – and wait for men to pick it up to purchase. Whenever a guy picks up a box, just look at him and say: “Really? This is what you’re going with? Seriously? If I were you, I wouldn’t even bother with the red tacky heart shaped balloon on a stick. Now you’re just being insulting.”

2. Stand at the Port Authority bus terminal, or the grocery store, where men go to buy last-minute bouquets of flowers. I would stand in front of the display and just yell out, as if I’m the one selling them: “Get your discounted, nonpersonal, I don’t give a shit about you at all, flower arrangements right here! These flowers are guaranteed to live for your entire car ride home – up to 10 miles. Tell your girl to ignore the weird, musty smell coming from inside the bouquet. We don’t know what it is either. Please don’t ask. She can water these, but it won’t help. These flowers WILL die, suddenly and without warning. Just like my husband!”

3. This next one was my friend Elayne Boosler’s idea, and I love it. Stand outside in the middle of NYC somewhere, maybe in Central Park, where lots of couples would be walking by. As loving pairs stroll by, make rude comments about them under my breath, judging their relationship out loud: “Oh yeah, THAT will last!”, or “Oh, like she isn’t using him for his huge bank account. Please!” or “How original. Your hand inside her jeans back pocket. Lame!” This would make me giddy.

4. Go to a restaurant, put my name on the reservations list with the last name “Widow”, so they will have to call out: “Widow – Party of One. Widow – Party of One???” Get a table in the center, alone, and wait for all the many couples to show up together, celebrating Valentine’s Day. Once the place is filled with happy couples; start loudly talking and giggling to myself as if there is another person there with me. Act extra giddy. Laugh loudly, pull out a rose from under the table, present it to myself, and say: “Oh baby! You SHOULDN’T have! For meeeee?” Bat my eyes. Unbutton the top two buttons on my blouse, look across the table and say: “Oooh! Here? Right now? You naughty, naughty boy!” Then get up, holding hands with my imaginary lover, and exiting the place, leaving them all completely confused and wondering.

5. Start my own line of “Widow Anti – Valentines Day Conversation Hearts”, and replace all the normal ones in stores with mine. They would have messages like:  “Everyone Will Die”, “Love Ends When One of You Dies”, “I Am Completely Alone”, “This Heart Was Made With Real Tears”, “Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m Dead!”, “Will You Be My Valentine … Cat?”, “Be Mine – Until I Die Unexpectedly”, “All We Are Is Dust In the Wind”, “You Might Choke on this Heart and Die”, “There’s a Good Chance One of Us Will Get Cancer Someday”, “Nobody is Promised Tomorrow”, “Enjoy this Sugary Treat Knowing that My Husband Had a Heart Attack!”, “Text Me! No Wait – Never Mind. My phone Is Disconnected Cuz I’m Dead.” Okay, most of these most likely wouldn’t fit onto a tiny little candy heart, but this is a fantasy, so let’s just pretend it does.

6. Get a hold of every single romantic comedy ever made in the history of time, go through and at the very beginning, add a shot of me saying into the camera: “SPOILER ALERT! None of this matters! Everybody Dies!” Then, each movie ends the exact same way, with text across the screen reading: “Two weeks later, they were both tragically killed.”

7. Go through every card aisle of every Hallmark store on earth with magic marker and put sad faces and giant penis drawings on all of the Valentine’s Day cards. Hide behind display and laugh.

8. Pre-chew all of the Valentine’s Day chocolates and then put them back into their little wrappers. Replace identification signs like “Vanilla Cream” and “Rasberry Filling” with signs that say things like: “This tastes like Ass”, or, “Unidentifiable Orange Disaster”, or, “Smells of Poop.”

9. Be the person in charge of the messages that get attached to all of the flower deliveries, and mix them all up so they go to inappropriate people. Send a dozen roses with the message: “I can’t wait to be alone with you tonight. You make me so hot!” to some dude’s mom. Creepy.

10. Crash a wedding. Wait for the priest to say “If anyone here does not approve of this marriage, speak now or forever hold your piece…” (Okay. Nobody actually says that in weddings. Ever. I have never once heard it in my entire life and I’ve been to a lot of weddings. But again … this is a fantasy, so let’s pretend.) When he says that, yell from the back of the church:  “I DO NOT CONDONE THIS UNION!!!” Then drop your pants and blast the Benny Hill theme song over the loudspeakers. When it ends, leave slowly and awkwardly; sans pants.

11. Bring my husband’s death certificate all over the place, and keep presenting it at stores as if it’s a gift card or discount card. “Excuse me, do you offer a Widow Discount? But I have this death certificate …. ” “Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, and my husband died. I’d like to buy myself some flowers and chocolates. What is your policy on Widow Discounts? Here is the death certificate … ” “Can I just get HALF of a banana split? I have nobody to split it with, since my husband is dead and all. Please give me the Widow Price. Here’s the certificate…”

In reality, I will most likely just sit home on Valentine’s Day and stare at the wall. Or have dinner with our kitty cats and then watch them throw up. But I’m not bitter or anything.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. And then you’re dead.

 

 

 

 

Jealousy

(Originally written on 8/11/2011)

JEALOUSY

Today my mom, dad and I went with our close family friend Eve to the hospital/comfort care center to visit her husband Charlie. Everyone calls him Chuck, and I know him as “Uncle Chuck.” Hes not my uncle by blood or anything, but my brother and I grew up with them as our next door neighbors our entire childhood on Taylor Road in Groton, and we always called them “Aunty Eve and Uncle Chuck.” They were one of those couples that always seemed to be stuck in time; as if they both remained the same age year after year.They never changed. Same hairstyle, same type of clothes, same habits, same routine. Their yellow house next door looked the same every single Christmas, and they both seemed to revel in their sameness. It was wonderful, and comfortable, and they liked it. And then about seven years ago, something weird happened. Uncle Chuck started getting sick, and old. And sometimes, when you live right next door to someone forever and see them everyday, you dont notice them getting old. But because I lived in NJ and would come home to Groton Massachusetts every few months; I started to notice that the once quick-witted, funny, stubborn, nice as hell guy I always knew … was becoming a bit less quick, and a lot more stubborn. Continue reading “Jealousy” »

The Beginning

It was February 25, 1998. I was living in an apartment with my oldest childhood friend Sarah in Forest Hills, NY. Our entire childhood together, we both had the dream of moving to NY and becoming performers. Now we were roommates, and on our way. Sort of. I was a Tour Guide at Radio City Music Hall, a part-time waitress in a hole in the wall Irish pub in the city, and I was auditioning now and then for acting work. I hadn’t yet begun my stand-up comedy pursuit; and my personal life was on a downward spiral. About a year and a half before, I had been through a hugely traumatic event that I had shared with absolutely nobody, except for a very rude and unhelpful “counselor” on an anonymous hotline one desperate evening. I will get into what happened to me later on in this book; but what’s important right now is that something had happened; and it had changed me. I was no longer trusting of men, and I had become very insecure and unsure of myself as a person. Im not sure why I didnt share any of this with Sarah;  or my parents; or a friend; or anyone; but I didnt. Continue reading “The Beginning” »

Internal Error

You know how on TV shows, in films, and on really bad, death-related, Lifetime Movies of The Week starring Meredith Baxter Birney or Tori Spelling; there is always that scene after the loved one tragically dies where the person left behind has an epic, emotional breakdown? This breakdown, in Hollywood-land, usually happens one of a few different ways: Continue reading “Internal Error” »