Friday, July 8, 2011

On Grief

All great movies are based on shock: the surprise of the unexpected thing. Some movies go overt with this more than others, like when, in The Big Lebowski, the Dude mush-mouths, "New shit has come to light, man!" but most movies have the premise of normal-normal-something wacky-deal with it-climax-return to normal, albeit with a wink at the fact that everything's changed. Consider The Royal Tenenbaums, wherein Royal's return to his estranged family is the something-wacky, and the the movie spends its remainder dealing with it and trying to put that family back together. Or Shaun of the Dead, where most of the movie is also dealing with the zombies infesting suburban London, and the winking return to "normal" is punctuated slyly with a plus-ca-change atmosphere of post-apocalyptic triumph.

But movies aren't real life, and a shock to the system on screen (entertainment!) is often a painful few weeks in real life. When Something Big happens, it's a lot of work to pick up the pieces, and it's unfortunately not wrapped up in a neat 121 minute package, complete with theme song. Which is a bummer, really. No montage sequence for us: we have to sweat out those 15 pounds in three months, or try on twenty-three actual different bridesmaids dresses, all of which look terrible. Or we have to go through the really painful parts: the breakups, the diagnoses, the deaths.

I'm sorry, I know I should be all wisdom and flowing goddess gowns right now, offering up platitudes like One Day At A Time and It Gets Better and Serenity Now and other meaningless things that are designed to make us sound less like assholes with no words in our mouths when something bad happens. God knows I could try. But life ain't like the movies, where a thoughtful platitude makes Julia Roberts square her shoulders and get on with things.

So here's the truth: I'm sad you're sad. I'm sad you've lost someone you love. I love you, and I know your strength, your firm sense of family, and I hope those things help carry you. I would do anything to make this easier for you, because I can see on your face how hard this is. Please remember to breath.

For Mike, Jamie and John.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Big Sleep

When I wake up in the morning, my first reaction is usually something along the lines of, "Ughhhh, it's early." Thanks to that whole sleep-rhythm thing that humans have managed to utterly destroy in the last century or so, my body, which has not gotten the memo that 8 hours is a good start (and anything less will make me into a blood-shot-eyed crazy woman), I wake up when the sun starts graying through the blinds, and then fall back asleep for a dream-filled 90 minutes. By the time my day actually starts, I've had more wakefulness than I really want, and I'm ready for a nap.

When I first started my job back in January, the days were short and I was unaccustomed to waking up before 8 AM, so the adjustment to the new hours were a bracing, unpleasant shock. In the longer, warmer days of summer, I'm happy to get up before the sun starts to heat my third-floor room up to an oven-adjacent degree. As one of those people who needs a heavy duvet to sleep, the morning temperature spike corresponds to a brutal, sweaty awakening that's best avoided if I get up before, say, noon.

I'm not what you might consider "a morning person." My lovely boyfriend regularly gets out the door before 8 AM for work, but I'm decidedly less enthused about starting my day that early. I like a stretch, a lie-in, a good breakfast, maybe a little emailing, and then I'll think about putting on pants. As a result, I tend to do everything the night before: shower, make lunch, and lay out my clothes like I'm a good little school child, which prolongs the waking-up and shortens the mad dash for the door.

There's a family legend about the time my mom almost called the cops due to my love of the lie-in. I was in bed on a school day, having resolutely ignored the alarm and slept past the homeroom bell. Then, as now, the way I sleep was to roll myself up in the blankets and become almost invisible: a little sowbug tucked away. Maybe a few hairs were sticking out the top of my sleep-burrito. In any case, my mom came in, glanced at the messy but seemingly-empty bed, deposited a full basket of laundry on it (on me), and then pursed her lips and panicked. "Kaitlyn didn't come home last night!" I heard her say on the kitchen phone, and I had to make the hard decision to either come clean about my truancy, or have the blue-and-reds come blaring up the street in a few minutes. I trundled downstairs, took the ensuing lecture while I ate my breakfast, and then went to the school.

It's not laziness. If I was lazy, I wouldn't put so much effort into lazing around. I would skip breakfast and maybe even lunch, wear sweats to work, and take transit both ways. I don't do those things. But I love the drawn-out morning wake-up - made better by waking up next to someone I love, their warmth in the sheets and mussy hair making them look like they're about ten years old. Eating breakfast at the kitchen table - a hardboiled egg, a banana, and cereal with milk, every weekday for the past six months - gives me an anchor in my day the way squawking and dashing out the door with one arm in my jacket just doesn't. I firmly believe that humans are designed to have way more leisure time than we currently give ourselves, and that the supposed "downtime" we have is eaten up by things like maintaining our overlarge houses, commuting because we live far from our jobs, and shopping for the food we'll eventually throw away. If we had more genuine leisure time, we would be less stressed, more focused, and easier to be around.

Hence my adoration for the slow morning. Even though it's actually part of the work day, the time before I leave feels like it's firmly my own. I don't have to wear a shirt if I don't want to, and I can snooze for an extra 15 minutes knowing that my lunch is made and all I have to do is make vague waving motions at my hair for a minute to groom myself. It gives the illusion that the time I'm spending getting ready for work isn't somehow related to the workday, but about me and my love for my bed. Sadly, this isn't really the case.