Saturday, January 31, 2009

Words for Rob

I said goodbye to you yesterday. Or at least I think I did. Your friends were all around. Your family filled up the front rows. Last time that happened, we were getting married. Do you remember how it felt to have EVERYONE we loved there? Overwhelming. But you weren't there this time. And it was the most surreal feeling. Where were you? It couldn't be real, right? Any second now, you would be walking in the door. I think of all the times that we lived together that you would come through the front door. It was so normal.

Did you hear the story I told? I sat there, debating whether or not to go up. All I could think of was how much everybody hated me. And how with every word I spoke, they would be seething. But I knew that wasn't true. Richy, Steve, Matt, Erin, and Laurie... they all showed me love... unexpected. And I knew that maybe someone in that room would want to hear that silly story about you eating breakfast naked in the snow in Moab.

It was so good to hear Richy talk about you. And Erin. And Matt and Steve. You and I only had 8 married months together without cancer. It was so long ago, that sometimes I wasn't sure if I would remember our good times. But they reminded me.

You were so faithful. So funny. So authentic and genuine. You loved me.

You know what I thought today? That we never should have gotten a divorce. And that is why I woke up this morning at 4am. My heart weighed 100 pounds. And today at the mall, I wanted to buy something that would always remind me of you. A necklace. But I couldn't find anything. I don't want to date anyone. I just want to be alone and practice music and make you proud.

It makes me think about the purpose of my life. Really, I'm here to give to my friends and my students. And that's it. Everything else can leave me alone.

I haven't said goodbye to you yet, have I?

Monday, January 26, 2009

It Was So Bright and You Just Disappeared

Here is what Erin wrote you on your Facebook:

"Hi Robbie Roo. Oh I'll miss you. Do they have Facebook up in Heaven? I'm sure God will tell you I called. I'm so excited for you! No more hardship and pain! I read your testimony again, all about how Jesus saved you, and it made me so happy. I know where you are. I was worshipping God with a bunch of crazy teens right when you died, and I thought, wow, this is what Robbie would want me to be doing right now. Just like we used to do. During worship I imagined God consuming you with His glory. It was so bright, and you just disappeared. Wow. Well, I love ya Rob Renfroe. I'm gonna race into your arms when I see you again, so get ready! Bye Bye for now, but just for now. yer pal Fostage"

And after I read this, I could barely breathe.

Love you, Erin.

I Can't Stop Thinking

We last had dinner at La Creperie.

The last thing he said to me: "It's ok."

The last thing we ate together was rootbeer shakes from that ice cream place off of south Union.

The last time I heard him laugh... this summer. Our last conversation... in the park listening to music. We've had many silent moments since then. And now he is gone from the world.

But now he's back to who he was in full health... right? I wonder if he can look down and see us. I wonder if he remembers that I love him. I wonder what he is doing.

I looked at his picture today. I've had his pictures up in my house for months. He meant so much to me and he taught me everything of value. I look at pictures of him sick and swollen. And his death makes sense. But I see pictures of him joking, healthy, strong. And it doesn't make any sense. He's 30 years old.
The whole situation is ridiculously shitty. Ridiculously shitty that we had to deal with all that. Ridiculously shitty that we couldn't work things out. Ridiculously shitty that he had to suffer for so long. You know, it is what it is. Max always says that. And it's true. We have to take everything in stride. I don't get to have an opinion of what should have been. Because I can't change any of that. And it brings me back to thoughts on being present and living fully in this moment. Because this moment is the only moment that I have to DO. I don't have the next moment or the past moment. But I do have this moment. And at this moment I can DO anything I want to DO. I suppose this whole situation - shitty as it was, taught me what I couldn't learn otherwise. And if I look past all the terrible, there was so much beautiful. There really was. Otherwise this wouldn't be so hard.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Goodbye, Rob

Rob is in heaven today.

I said goodbye to him two and a half years ago. He moved out. And we started our lives apart from each other. Today is sad. I think of him, now in heaven. Finally free from that crippled body. Can you imagine how he sounds? I can hear his laughter still. I'm sure it's ringing through heaven as the angels celebrate along with him. And for that, I celebrate with him.

But he is gone. How can this be real?

If we had said our final goodbyes two years ago, today would find me empty. Destitute and lost. But the one solace I find rests in our reconciliation. The sweet and simple forgiveness that defined the last year of our relationship. I can't tell you how much it comforts my heart to know that he loved me until his last breath. And I love him. Today and always. Our last moments together, I fed him breakfast. And if his family hadn't been in the room, I would have laid up next to him. And touched his skin. And kissed his shoulders. I wonder now why I didn't do it when I had the chance. But I think it may have outraged his family. I don't know if they understand the love that, even after our divorce, drew us together.

So, there is a measure of hope in all this dispair. And tomorrow, the sun will rise and I will go to work and teach just like I do every Monday. Lacking serenade and pomp. The day will go on for everyone just like every day goes. But for me, my thoughts will be on him and how happy he must be, now free from his suffering.

His vest hangs in my closet. It's all I kept.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Men Love Food

How To Make a Man Happy...

Wear skirts.
Be trustworthy.
Make eye contact.
Be emotionally stable.

And above all... make delicious food.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I am confused. I am in the middle of a situation that I feel totally unprepared to handle. I have been hanging out with this great crew of people for a while. It's been lots of fun. We do super fun things together. The guys are all wonderful to hang out with and so are many of the girls. But there are a few in that crew who just DO NOT like me. For whatever reason... I have no idea. I'm fairly easy to get along with. I've just never been in this situation. And I dealt with it for the last few months by ignoring it. I thought that if they didn't like me, I was sure there was something we would have in common and it would only be a matter of time before we hit it off.

It never was that big of a deal. But it has come to the point that I feel like I need to do something about it... either address it directly or slink my way out of the group. I feel like these chicas would be stoked that I left. I just don't understand. What is it about me that is so terrible?

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Adamantly Refuse

I will NOT wear skinny jeans. Nor will I wear tights underneath a long sweater. Are we clear?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eating Miso

"I really don't know what eating miso has to do with marrying a Japanese guy."

I love my friend, Mya. I miss her so much. But I have to say, I love her stories. She's gone to Japan to teach English. And her daily life is an adventure. Traveling to the grocery store, folding up her recyclables, getting asked out on dates. I love it. This experience has got to be growing her in so many areas. I am envious of it. Perhaps envious enough to leave this place and head off into a different place to throw myself into the current of living.

She has a date this week with a handsome Japanese man. I am so curious about this. I wonder where they will go and what their conversation will be like. The language barrier (should I really call it that?... maybe the language challenge) is so thrilling. I am in love with places in which multiple languages are heard. I'm not sure why it is so amazing to me. To sit in a conversation where patches and pieces of Japanese and English are being used is riveting! I feel even more excited about this same situation with Spanish and English. I love it.

I want to be there when Mya talks about life in the States or when she tries to explain American culture. She's so good at making things understandable. She is going to have a great time.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Third Grade Breakup

So here is how it goes. A conversation between me and my sweet student...

"My mom said I'm too young to have a boyfriend. So I have to dump him."

"Yeah. Third grade is pretty young for a serious relationship."

"Yeah. He rubs my back."

"That's bad news."

"I'm gonna dump him. COLE!!!!!! I GOTTA TELL YOU SOMETHING!!!!! It's over. We were never really together to begin with." And she runs away laughing. With her two friends.

He stands there stunned for a moment. Eyes getting a little cloudy. Chance of precipitation increasing. And I step in. "Hey, Cole. What's up? I heard you beat Ben in a race yesterday."

"... Yeah. I did."

"You ok? What'd she say?"


In runs the chick crew again. "COLE! Aren't you going to chase us?" Pause. Big smiles. And he takes off running after her and her friends just slow enough to give them a head start.

Hmmm... so that's how it's done.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Somebody's Watching...

So, I have a student teacher.

And it makes me painfully aware of every good teaching practice that I used to do that I now slack on. I have all these structures and strategies that I used to practice. Things that used to keep me organized. Ideas I used to want to develop. And now everything is in a crumpled pile at the recesses of my mind. Why did I stop these things? Time? Because I am lazy?

One year, I sewed a huge six by four foot fabric pocket chart with eight rows of nine colors in each row. For my recorder unit. Sewed it. No pattern. Do I even sew? I cut each pocket. Hemmed it. Lined it up. And sewed it onto a big black sheet. Do you know how many pockets that is? Seventy-two. And as I proudly made the finishing touches on my big project... I absentmindedly burned through it with a hot iron. Good. Fantastic.

My plan book. I have a beautiful way to keep track of what my kiddos are learning in six-week chunks. And when I use it, I am on top of the world. I line up all the activities with standards, benchmarks, and expectations to ensure that my kids are getting it all. It sits on my desk. And sits. I look at it. And it sits.

All my transition songs. I have songs for getting into a circle. Songs for lining up. Songs for getting things out. Songs for putting things away. Songs for keeping hands still. Songs for zipping your lips. These are songs that good music teachers use to make classroom management simple. Do I use them? Nah. Do I even teach songs, I wonder? I hate teaching songs. "Here, copy after me." How many times must I do that? That's not the only way to teach songs, of course. But it certainly is the default. I hate the default.

I am a good teacher. I know it. I am a really, really good teacher. And I could certainly be a better teacher if I could get myself together. Here's why I am a good music teacher... I try to be intentional about not shutting kids down. I try to make sure that they are encouraged enough to keep trying music even though they aren't perfect at it. I don't want them to give up before they even have given themselves a chance. My kids can sightread. My kids are thoughtful musicians. And excellent singers. I give my kids a chance to do things that most music teachers are scared to even think about. And those are things that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

But I don't teach enough songs. I do a crappy job teaching instrument families. And music history. I haven't taken my kids on a field trip. Integrating literature and music... not enough. International folk songs. Hmm. I don't make the older kids use their journals as much as I should. I haven't used my cool grouping technique in months. They love it. I suck at Orff technique.

Thanks, student teacher. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hopping a Date

So, I am going on the obligation date. Yes, it will be terrible. But there is one thing that will make it totally worth it. Having my friends hop it. Hopping a date means that you magically and 'mysteriously' show up at a date that your friend is on. There are a few techniques you can use when hopping a date.

A) Sit at another table and order your friend drinks. Remain anonymous.
B) Bring a pawn. The pawn's job is to step in on the date in order to cause an awkward, yet interesting circumstance to arise. It's kind of like punking, in a way. Unscripted drama.
C) Friends arrive, and upon finding where you are sitting, act astonished that you are there and ask to join you.

There are various drawbacks and benefits to the different options. And sometimes, even you may be unaware that your date is being hopped by your own friends. But it always results in a wonderful evening as long as your friends' intentions are good. Now, if you have terrible friends, that's another blog altogether....

Monday, January 12, 2009

How To Fold Laundry

Take the laundry out of the dryer. Mmmmm.... feel that? I love warm laundry. Put it somewhere that there is no dog hair. Take a carton of ice cream from the freezer. Find a spoon. A bigger spoon. Good. Prepare your first bite, but do not eat it. Fold one item of laundry. Eat a spoonful of ice cream. Fold another item. Mind you, an item of laundry can be any one thing... a dishcloth. A pair of pants. Eat a bite of ice cream. Mmmm.... oh yes. Oh. Socks. That counts for two. Two delicious creamy scoops. If you accidentally fold too many items, go back and eat an extra bite. Make it two extra bites. You might have folded three items in a row. You lost track. Hmm.... sheets. Sheets are big. You could make at least four shirts from the fabric in a sheet. And those ridiculous fitted sheets... crumple it up. Eat four bites. There is only one penalty. Brain freeze. In event of brain freeze, do NOT add another scoop. Keep folding item by item until brain freeze culminates.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why Did I Say That?

So, this guy who is a friend of mine just called and asked if we could catch up over dinner sometime soon. I hastily said yes and we ended our phone call. Immediately after hanging up, I realized that this was a code for, 'Would you please go out on a date with me?'

Here is why I wish I had said no, or perhaps asked him to come out with a bunch of friends. BECAUSE HE IS SOCIALLY AWKWARD AND CREEPY. Is that enough information for you? Or do I need to describe exactly how awkward he is? He is not very technologically savvy, so I doubt he would read this. But if I wrote of the mortifying circumstances he underwent in my presence, it would be terribly embarrassing to him and I would hate to crush his pride. In short, he made an awkward advance towards me and I shut him down.

Now, because I ALREADY shut him down, I assumed that he was done with his attempt to woo me. However, I fear that if I accept his invitation for dinner that he will drone on about all the amazing awards and accolades that make him super human. He will show me pictures of himself climbing difficult routes and he will raise his eyebrows in awe of himself. Not once, but repeatedly. He will touch me and I will cringe. He may even try to lay his haughty and vainglorious lips upon my own. And as aversion courses through my veins, I will loathe the day I ever let the phrase, 'Sure, that sounds great' escape my lips.

Three Significant Events

I asked my friend the other day what the three most significant events of his life were. Heavy question. Not necessarily life-changing events, but life-defining. Perhaps it was a choice you made or something you encountered in your life that clarified your ideas and ways of living. Perhaps it changed everything.

Here are my three:

The failure of my marriage and the restoration of my friendship with my ex-husband. There were so many tiny facets of this situation that created infinite lessons. I overcame shame. I learned the value of communication. I learned independence. I lost friends and slowly built up a new family of friendships. I discovered forgiveness. I lost the treacherous fairytale image of marriage.

Walking with Rob through cancer treatment. I gained perspective and learned to develop priorities. Things that used to seem important no longer were. I learned that when you are in a dire circumstance, you can only do what you can do. There are things that can't be changed and there is no use struggling against them. I learned that humor can get you through the day. I learned how important faith is in my life.

I am having such a hard time agreeing on the third. I am not quite sure what situation was life-defining for me. I suppose choosing to go to Western State was a huge one. I am fairly sure it led to every relationship and every decision I made. Becoming a teacher has been a wonderful journey. Growing up in a deaf family and having responsibility from a young age. Dating Max and Rob F. also taught me about balance, communication, the character of men, the character of women, and about what kind of partner complements me best.

This is a great question. Perhaps one day when I am resigned to be a member of, I will ask this question of the curious men who fall prey to my profile.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Simple As WHAT Should Be?

I love the title of my blog. It comes from a song by Tristan Prettyman. I haven't heard it in a very long time. As I go back and read about the events that made up 2008 for me, I realize, NOTHING was simple in 2008. What in the hell am I talking about? I like to think of myself as a very low-drama, low-maintenance kind of female. I don't like starting stuff just to start stuff. I don't dislike very many people. I feel like I'm pretty mellow and go-with-the-flow. I like simplicity and authenticity. So why in the world was my life so topsy-turvy?! That is frustrating. Was it my doing? I certainly hope not. But I'm not so sure I want to blame anyone else for my lack of balance. If I really wanted balance and simplicity, I could have cut everything out of my life right away that threatened my parity.

But I just wanted a chance. I think that's why I managed my relationships why I did. Do I regret it? No. My friend, Nicole, said that I went into it with heart and soul. If I had been timid and lived only to protect myself, then I wouldn't really be living, right? Well, one day, maybe? One day that simplicity will all come back around. And for that, I will be grateful.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blegggh... Ugh

I wish there was a word. But really, I feel like... guhuuoooffff.

You know when you get sliced by someone you love... maybe it's your issue or maybe it's theirs... and your heart feels like it's about to shatter? That's not how I feel. What about when an acquaintance stings you a bit or maybe it's just a shot to your pride and you get a little tight in the chest? That's also not how I feel. And then there's when someone who you are starting to care more about does something that's more of a burn. Your stomach clenches and you feel like you are going to throw up? That's how I feel.

You know... a relationship right now... I could take it or leave it. Depends on the person. Of course. I don't have to be committed to anyone right now. I don't really feel like it's the time. But there's one thing I will not do. And that's hang around while the person I am dating is dating other people. When I feel like I've given you a full picture of who I am... I'm starting to enjoy you more and more... and you, for whatever reason, are still seeing other people, I don't feel the need to stick around. I don't really want to like you that much. So I will give you two seconds to decide if you really want me around. And after two seconds, I will walk away.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Finding Songs

I was asked to make a list of Rob's favorite songs. Even after two years of being apart, I still remember. Led Zeppelin - Tangerine. Ben Harper - Gold to Me. Simon and Garfunkel - Homeward Bound. And now songs mean a little bit more, right? Every line has unsung meaning hidden in the space between one note and the next. 'Home... where my love lies waiting silently for me. Like emptiness and harmony, I need someone to comfort me. Homeward bound.' How the hell am I going to make it through that?

Even the sound of Simon and Garfunkel feels like Rob.

There was a song he used to love. Sweet River Roll by WaterDeep. "Henry... he's got a tumor in his head. He wakes up sweating every morning after dreaming he was dead. He used to think that life was boring but now that's not the case. He turns to his wife in the evening and says, 'Honey, I'm afraid I'm going to lose this race.' Sweet River Roll, roll over me. Sweet River Roll, all over me." We thought he had beat it.

What is it about music that grabs us? That sends us head over heels? Or ass over teacup, like Rob used to say.

No Chance

When I roll the dice, I've got a one in 36 chance of rolling doubles, right? Maybe it's a two in 36 chance. I did not take statistics.

Rob and I never had a chance for a family or the kind of life that you look forward to on your wedding day. Even if we had worked everything out and pulled everything together, there still was no chance for any of that. I still would have lost him. It makes me angry. You look at our wedding photos and everything seems so possible. It was a huge lie. And in the meantime, our dear friends are getting married and making decisions and living life together. They encounter problems and struggle through the muck together and they thrive in the huge joys of life together.

It's almost as though I started a race with my knees bound together. Although this makes me angry... I should probably rephrase my ideas. Rob and I together never had a chance. And Rob now has no chance for any of that. I have days left of my life... weeks and years perhaps. And maybe one of those days will bring me a chance for all this. But Rob never had that.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saying Goodbye (Part 32?)

When my friend, Jessica, had her first baby, I was the videographer. And being my first birth experience... other than my own, of course, I had no clue what to expect. So, the video goes something like this... Action sequence. We see mommy-to-be, doctors, daddy-to-be. Daddy is saying, 'push'... no baby. Camera off. Camera on. Action sequence. Daddy is saying 'push'. Mommy is pushing... no baby. Camera off. Camera on. Well-wishing sequence. Friends saying, 'Go, Jess!' and 'Welcome to our lives, baby. We love you.' Camera off. Camera on. Action sequence. More pushing. No baby. Camera off.

I'm sure it made for terrible footage. Note to self: when asking someone to videotape the birth of your child, get someone with experience.

I remember feeling completely unaware. I had no expectations and had little reference to make my way through that situation.

The last time I lost someone, I was five. My grandpa, Robert, lost his battle with cancer... or should I say, lost his battle with radiation. And I've lived twenty-four long years without losing someone I love. Dare I say, I am lucky enough to see it approaching? It approaches now for someone young. Someone I lived many adventures with. Someone who I hurt deeply. Someone whom I love with all my heart. Now, my friend, Robert is close.

I feel somewhat like I did in the delivery room eight years ago. Where I once waited for a birth with anticipation, I now look to a death with a mix of dread and calm. It's been like this for the last eight months. But with every little step the day comes closer. I just don't know what it looks like. I have no reference to make my way through this situation.

Rob is in hospice now. What does that mean? Does that mean it is close? I know he is ready.

I went in today and he was more alert than I had seen him in a long time. I got to feed him his breakfast. He looked at me. I would have done anything to know what he was thinking. I wonder if that were me, would I send my ex-wife away, or would I let her feed me? Would the sight of her disgust me? Or would I just want her to touch my skin? I didn't know. So I just did the best I could. And I tried to make damn sure he knew that I love him before he goes.

This has been a long time coming, I think. And now that it's here, I don't even know what to think or say.