Saturday, December 31, 2011

Party time.


Earlier this year, my brother called to tell me that my dad had died. I was packing up my office. Our whole company was moving. It was a weird day. Everything was in boxes.

I rarely spoke to my brother. Hadn't spoken to my dad since I was 18. It was strange, this notification. It was like suddenly having two awkward reunions at once. First with my brother, and then with my dad, now dead.


Two strange feelings came over me. The first was that I didn't really have a right to feel bad since my dad and I were both winning (losing) an epic grudge match. The second was this: I stood in an empty elevator bay, waiting for it to take me to a meeting and I was suddenly overcome with the urge to have a kid. Biology is a strange motherfucker. I don't want kids, but something in my legs and stomach and brain and fidgety wrists and arms knew in that moment that this shit is real. This is really your life. It was my life. And I was suddenly, right now, a half-orphan. People were leaving me. A reunion I kept meaning to get to was never going to happen. And for some reason my body's response to the failures of my family history was this: START OVER. Make your own people.

Then in October my mom had a stroke. That's a long story. But I remember a few things. She spent 5 days in the hospital. I remember wearing the same outfit all those days (I had come to see her for the day... did not expect to stay in Portland overnight, much less 7 days). I remember a woman in the ICU waiting room who looked at me and asked, "How long have you been here?" and at that point I think I was only on day two. I joked, "Why... do I smell?" She replied, "A little." So that was awesome.

Later that night at the hospital I remembered that I had a full bottle of vodka in the trunk of my car. It was intended for consumption at a Jewish women's retreat the weekend prior but I had forgotten it. I went to the hospital cafeteria. It was about midnight. I asked for a big cup of ice. I bundled up, walked to my car in the huge hospital parking garage, popped the trunk, and mixed up a giant vodka soda in that flimsy blue paper Pepsi cup. I got in the car, turned it on, plugged in the iPhone, and cranked Frank Sinatra to full volume and proceeded to drink my face off. I was tailgating at the intensive care unit. It all seemed appropriate given the situation.

After my dad died, but before mom's stroke, my dog got cancer. The vet had to amputate a few toes. This was followed by radiation therapy. This was a real treat. Three days a week, for five weeks, driving to Edmonds, which depresses me, because any town smaller than Seattle or Portland depresses me. (This is the kind of asshole I have become.) My dog, being a dog, liked the trip there. I was trying to reason with him, like, "You shouldn't be so excited, man. You have CANCER. And I have to leave work early to drive in this rush-hour traffic because you get your treatment at a human facility, which means they can only radiate your shit after hours because they are running the cancer-curing equivalent of a back-alley abortion clinic, cash payments and everything..." But you can't reason with dogs in cars. They are too excited. Because the dog is in a car. And that's happiness for a dog.

2011 was sort of a piece of shit. I'm just gonna say it. I found a funny party hat with cellophane fringe in the basement and I wore it while mopping the floor tonight. I'm staying in for New Year's Eve. With less than two hours until 2012, I'm sure as hell not taking any chances by going out. I need to make it to next year in one piece. It can only go up from here.


53 comments:

Jane in Ohio said...

Don't quite know what to say to this. Except maybe that I'm laughing with you, not at you. But you're not laughing. Hope 2012 is better. Know that you made someone laugh first thing ... over tailgating and knowing exactly how dogs feel about cars.

Francine Gardner said...

I was enthralled reading your story, straight out of Jean Paul Sartre. I can relate to your hospital story...spent 2 weeks in my mom's room during her cancer surgery last year, and just spent another week with her in December in yet another hospital for yet another surgery. Young people have been dying around me this year, kids (not mine) and alcohol on a motorcycle, cousin murdered, cousin suddenly dying...Life is precious, i never take it for granted. The past is the past, look forward, coming from someone (me ) who never wanted children, i fell in total uncontrollable love when i (unplanned) gave birth to my 2 sons. Far form perfect, they keep me on my toes and give sense to my life. Your honesty is very poignant...keep going, it is a new year after all!

amymezzell said...

Damn. I know this sounds really inappropriate, but I loved reading this post. It's real. I seriously wish for you that 2012 is so much better - not just better, but an awesomely good year. You deserve it. I am glad you revisit blogging occasionally, so thanks for sharing all this.

Anonymous said...

Ah, there it is. You are writing from the soul. Remember, just fight through it.

Happy, happy new year.

Ann Hooker said...

Thank you for sharing. And I agree, 2011 was particularly hard, but in no way what you went through. I am sorry for your losses and hope you can someday call a truce to your grudge match. I pray you will be poor in misfortune and rich in blessing in 2012.

Anonymous said...

2011 was the year that wasn't. I'd like to say I hated this year. But I learned a lot. And my mom always said some old proverb, "when grief is at the table, joy is at the door, and when joy is at the table, grief is sleeping on the couch..." Heck if I remember, but the point is, 2012 has to be better. This much I know.

I'm wishing you a happy and prosperous new year.

And sorry about the loss of your father. I've been there. Maybe you and your brother can reconnect through this, even if it's just staying moderately in touch.

If you need a pick me up, watch House Hunters International.

Mrs. Blandings said...

That is basically all the bad stuff that is supposed to happen to you in a decade. I'd like to say that 2012 will be better, but I am an irrational believer in the jinx. Still, you made your way through it, which is something, and your kitchen floor is clean, which is more than I can say. I am wishing you better in the coming year. Patricia

The Glamorous Housewife said...

Wow, and I thought my 2011 was shitty. Well, at least you have had your crappy year and you can move on to bigger and brighter skies.

Thanks doll,
The Glamorous Housewife

olie said...

I keep going back to "an epic grudge match". Maybe I don't want to win mine.

As always a great read. Thank you.

Meridith Moore said...

Well I prefer an honest clean blog like yours vs. the goody goody ones. My dad died while we were estranged, so I know. Sounds like you got all your bad shit at once and things are gonna shine from now on. Keep us in the loop

home before dark said...

Grow up.

Shannon said...

that was beautifully written, I want to read a whole book about your story. I commend you on the bravery to post it.

mamacita said...

Your ability to tailgate at a hospital suggests you'll be up for 2012, come what may. I hope it's more trips to Cinque Terre than cancer/stroke/death jamborees.

PS--You may not want to hear this, but a baby is a decision you'll never regret.

doug @ tracery said...

as the previous commentor said "always a great read" thanks for keeping it real. here's to a better new year, no matter what year it is. but especially for 2012.

Lynn said...

put it in perspective: All Things Must Pass. It's not a bad thing, it's a reminder to live each day in the best way possible preparing for the end of your life. We are all right here with you, too.

Anonymous said...

Really - your post nailed the melancholy spirit of many people's New Year's. So you've done something good for 2012 already by keeping some of us company. Your blog is a delight. If nothing else take pride in that and best wishes *(yeah, cliche) for a much better year to come.

Anonymous said...

That was profound.
You have a gift.
Keep talking...tell your story.

Anonymous said...

hunh. well fuck me. i had one of those years, which trailed into a decade. so i feel you. you nailed the feeling i had, that something had me by the throat in a death grip. i won't give you my snapshots of hell- you'll have mementos of your own. i can say that the shit doesn't have a timer on it. it has its own sense of time. tailgating at the icu is a wonderful response. you're getting the knack of how to get through it. you're gonna be fine. warm wishes for the road ahead.

Angela said...

I adore you and you deserve a big hug. I am having a hard time finding words after your post. You are real and have an amazing writing voice. I wish you many wonderful life memories this year.

LoveRedCoral/Don'tHateMe said...

I always look forward to your posts. This one made me even more aware as to why. You keep everything real, while we, your readers, can opt to read till the end or stop at the beginning. I find I am hooked to the end. You have a book bottled inside of you. Hope it gets committed to paper one day. May your journey in 2012 bring you fulfillment. Shalom.

mary said...

I can relate to everything you experienced in 2011. (I got roaringly drunk when my father was very ill-horrible hangover, too) Life sucks at times. I missed your crazy posts. I firmly believe (contrary to the Mayan stuff) that 2012 is destined to be an amazing year. I can only offer one little bit of acquired wisdom: seek the light and focus only on it; see the good in everything and seek the benefit. Sending love, Mary

Bey said...

Just called my dad.

It didn't go well. Actually, it went down exactly like I should have known it would go.

The thing about these 2-way epic hating matches, the other hater doesn't know when to give it up.

Don't feel bad about not ending yours sooner. It wouldn't have mattered.

Life's too fucking short to waste time with rotten eggs.

Anonymous said...

As pathetic as this sounds, it's nice to hear I am not the only one that had a shit year too. One extremely dark, frozen night,driving home it suddenly came to me that my circle was getting smaller and smaller. I suddenly felt overcome with loneliness...Thank you for the very honest (and sorry, but entertaining) post...Happy New Year!

Linda said...

Grow up? Grow up? Who the hell is she? Obviously someone who needs to do a little growing up herself.

Kerry @ Design du Monde said...

I don't know which party is worse/better, tailgating at the ICU or or housecleaning with a festive hat.
Hope 2012 has better parties for you.

Richie Designs said...

gosh.

sending a big hug.

---
I think 2011 was like this for everyone to be honest. I'm thinking 2012 is going to be stellar though. everything that goes down must come up.

xo
r

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your father. I hope your mother is doing better. Having seen photos of sweet Ricky in your blog, I feel like I sort of know him. Take care. My mother is dying as I write this. My father is ill.

I never wanted children. After the cancer death of my husband's sister at age 31, however, my body's response was the same as yours. I had my son at age 40.

Maria

Design Citation said...

Most people I know had an incredibly shit year, mine and yours included. Sorry to hear about all this.

I'm now too cautious to be optimistic, but hell, I'm not giving up. And neither are you, and I'm glad to hear it - thanks for your honesty.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Sorry to hear this, but appreciate your candor. The 10 design blog posts I read prior to this were all about "going for your dreams in 2012" and similarly smug bullshit. Sometimes life sucks and merely surviving is the best you can do. I hope you will have a better year, decade, century.

Lisa said...

You forgot to add that our dream of working together didn't come true. And don't say it was my dream, because I know you were praying to your dreamcatcher for it to happen.

xoxo

Anonymous said...

Please keep writing. It will help cure what ails you, AND keep the rest of us entertained, delighted and distracted from our own heartaches. Yes, you're that good. You are that good at telling the truth.

Some years are shitters. I spent my 32nd birthday in a funeral home with my brother, burying our Dad after a two year fight with cancer. Three months earlier we'd buried my Mom, who died suddenly in her sleep, we believe, just to steal my Dad's thunder. She was like that.
I have several very funny stories about this period, the hardest time in my life. These stories seem to help other people with theirs. Especially the one where my silent Dad, with his radiation-shredded nonvoice decided to yell at Whitney Houston on TV "She married a bum!" He felt that was worth making the effort for.

I am very sorry for the loss of your Dad. I hope your Mom and Ricky have both recovered.

And I wish you ALL the best in 2012.Please keep telling us your stories. I love them.

Jen in Toronto

All The Trappings said...

I have no idea what to say except ouch. And if you want to watch a movie that will make you feel better about your life, go to see Young Adult. You won't feel better about life in general, but you'll say holy shit, I'm a fuckton better off than Mavis Gary.

Here's to 2012, may it be all puppies and kitties and cupcakes and greek key--bc god damn, if greek key doesn't make everything better.

Andrea

P.S. you bring out my salty side and I love that about you.

Anonymous said...

It has been said and I believe it is true ,
that we search our entire lives for members of our families that grew up under different roofs.

Seeing your post tonight, I was moved to tell you are not alone. I think you were brave to share so much. I answered the phone pre thanksgiving " Do you think you will even go to her funeral?!" said my sister.
Six years ago i stopped talking to my mother- after a lifetime of abuse and it happened unexpectedly - i asked her for something, involving another sibling and she said no , I was shocked and told her screen writer could not have done a better job. I hung up on her and that was it. NO fight this time and un-planned, simply finally done. It felt as if i had been fighting a fire breathing dragon my entire life and I simply put down my sword, turned and walked away.
I share the this and the opening quote as
I've read your posts for years and know how you value your current family. Why I thought you would appreciate the wise words I depend on and share with you, we make our own families.

Thing is , I came to your blog to share this Prada boot I saw online at Neimans tonight. You were one of the few i believed would enjoy it and I think it deserves some legs as they say in the theater -you have the power to do it.

http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/catalog/prod.jhtml?itemId=prod134070073&eItemId=prod134070073&searchType=SALE&parentId=cat980731&icid=src_Sale+Silo+Updated+Page&rte=%252Fcommon%252Fstore%252Fcatalog%252Ftemplates%252FET1.jhtml%253FN%253D4294966733%2526icid%253Dsrc_Sale%252BSilo%252BUpdated%252BPage

I hope it makes you smile - you are where I first saw the product re: "the carpet matching the drapes" and if that didn't make you smile

some of us had our husbands change teams this year . How much money is my shrink gonna make on this year - Ill never afford the boots.
there are things we never get over. fuck.

p.s I left the vortex, and on one trip in I noted you gone I thought it wore you down.
still im curious i was a reader back in the day how did your backyard and kitchen turn out?

Tinydancer said...

I cried a little and I laughed hard. It felt inappropriate and right, mostly right thou. Gracias!

MUG said...

I love your blog, and am so sorry you have had a suck of a year. I wish you a much better 2012!

Anonymous said...

you're jewish? Who knew?!

Julia said...

Honesty. Love it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Decorno,
Thank you for sharing your 2011 with all of us in such a humorous, poignant, and raw way. Like others have already articulated, you summed up 2011 for most of us, and dare I say, many of us are happy to slam the door on 2011.
I am sorry for your loss. I hope 2012 brings you peace and good health as well time to post here from time to time -- from the inner depths, or not so deep.
I rarely speak to strangers about my child -- those moms who run at the mouth annoy me, but your post prompted me to share this with you:
My child is now looking at colleges and I am feeling sadness, joy and excitement at the same time. A daily glass of champagne helps here. I see her full of unbridled energy, smarts, tenacity and hope. She lights up the house with her presence and is not jaded...yet. Full of dreams for her future - education, first real boyfriend, big city with snow. This is a mighty nice thing to be around when so much of life is challenging. We will feel the huge void when she leaves for the east coast -- far away from our City by the Bay. Having her has been the hardest and the best thing I have ever done.
Here's to 2012 and all that lies before us.
Cheers

Anonymous said...

I am so,so sorry. You've had a rotten time. Life is so hard.

But jeez, what writing! Sadness, humour, pathos, bathos, the works. You're a genius, and I don't think you even realise.

Sketch42 said...

Submit this to the NYTimes Magazine.

Anonymous said...

My mom just went back into the hospital again the day you posted this. I was amazed at the timing of you post. She's still there. She too had a stroke a couple of years ago and got through it okay. I just reread your post and feel for you. Your beautiful writing has stayed with me. I wish you a better year and am thankful for your great writing. Sorry you had to go through all that.

TSL said...

Your 2011 was one thing, r-e-a-l. The fact you write so openly is w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l. Your 2011 was like my last four years and then some, s-u-c-k-e-d. Here' hoping 2012 will be brighter for us all.

Shauna said...

Love the post! Bittersweet, vulnerable and funny.

HAVE A BABY!

Do it any way you can (make one, adopt, whatever). But do it.

I never thought I wanted one, got accidentally pregs w/ boyfriend, now have 3 year old we love the fuck out of. We still have our lives, careers, identities - but the kid really enriches it.

Don't let annoying mommy culture scare you off from something great. Just do it on your own terms...

xoxo

Anonymous said...

well. if THIS doesn't say "fcuk coco & kelley's glittery NYE celebration blog post!", don't know what does.

hope your post helps bring some catharsis - and that this year is better.

beachbungalow8 said...

because Patricia always says it perfectly, what she said.

Anonymous said...

Here is to a happy new year. I hope you continue blogging but you need to write a book wishing you all the best.

hello gorgeous said...

Sorry you had a shit year. Here's to a new one.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is so beautiful. I have told you before and I will say it again: Write a book. You have a million stories to tell and your voice is so clear, real, and well, awesome.

It is terribly annoying to say that things will start looking up, so I won't. But I believe it.

Anonymous said...

delete this post and send it here instead: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/fashion/howtosubmit_modernlove.html?ref=modernlove

Lindsey said...

Wow, thanks for your honesty. I'm sorry you had such a bad year. I had a pretty shitty year as well, but I'm too big of a coward to speak about it publicly. Instead I've held in a really awful secret all year, which has resulted in wallowing in my sorrow alone. It's been terribly lonely to say the least. I can be an extremely impatient person, so this year I'm trying to remember the saying about being nice to everyone because we are all fighting our own battles. After what I've been through this year, I sure hope that no one else ever has to deal with the same shit as me. Chears to a better 2012- for both of us! We are certainly all fighting our own battles.

Kwana said...

Your 2011 was different from mine but really just the same a total piece of crap. Wishing you a much better year in 2012. Wishing it for both of us. Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chassity (Look Linger Love) said...

Fuuuuuu. As simple as this is written, it's perfectly written. I used to read your blog all the time, and then you stopped blogging, and today I just found you again all back and pretty as ever. I'm thrilled. I'm also hoping that your 2012 is going better.

Much love, Chassity.