how did i get here?

my husband, my beautiful Dragon, died suddenly at 12:03 AM on 9 February 2009. there was a cold, lovely full moon and 3 feet of snow on the ground. i "slept" for the following 10 months and "woke" to the physical and emotional pain and torments of deep grief. i "woke" to find i had moved the day of his funeral and that i am lost. i am looking for me while i figure out the abstract, unanswerable questions that follow behind any death. my art has evolved. his death changed that as well because i am forever changed and will forever bear the mark of losing the only man i can ever love.
there is alive and there is dead and there is a place in between. i am here wholly in my heart for my children, but i feel empty inside at this time. i miss him. i have not gotten very far in my grief journey. i make no apologies for this.
this is my place, my blog, where i write to tell the universe that i am still here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

it's coming

it's coming. that period when all i can do is think of that moment in time, and of the passing of time.

Valentine's Day is staring me in the face at work. hearts and bears and love and kisses.

all i can think about is the love he had for me, i have for him, the embraces we shared, the touching, the constant touching.
i have vivid memories that include sounds and smells, the feelings i had about where we lived.
"i love thee, i love but thee with a love that shall not die, 'till the sun grows cold and the stars grow old." ~ Shakespeare. what he recited to me as part of our wedding vows.

"and when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars; and he will make the face of Heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun." ~ Shakespeare. recited by my daughter for me at his funeral on Valentine's Day.
because i had not voice.....because i could not speak. and i write here rather than continue to try and find someone to talk to anymore, because i still need to have a voice.....because i have things i'd like to say......because i still have not had the chance to actually speak to a living person about him. so writing is my voice. the written word is my way of speaking about him.

i bought myself something. when it comes, i'll post a photo of it. {Bunny loves cliffhangers.}

it's coming. that period of time when all i can think about is him, and time.

i am still in love with you, Dragon. so very much.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

happy, happy, joy, joy ~ Hope

someone had the audacity to write to Bunny to tell her that she, oh, Lordy Lord, she's gonna put this in quotes:

"you are resistant to joy, real joy, the joy that can be had when your partner dies and you are now free to be the woman you were meant to be in the first place."

Bunny's first thought was like, "oh, wow, i guess her marriage wasn't that good." but that's judging, just like this person was doing to Bunny.

it's an interesting thought though. being the person you were "meant to be?" like Bunny was run down like some wild creature, captured, and married to her Dragon against her will. like her Dragon oppressed her and suppressed her and kept her from being what she was meant to be. that was Bunny's first marriage.

silly woman. doesn't she know? hasn't she read Bunny's blog thoroughly? Dragon was AWESOME. <~ said in a sing song little voice.

and since his death, Bunny has been doing happy.
look at that picture up there. see that flower? hyacinth. Bunny was happy to buy it. crazy Bunny spending her hard earned $4.99 on that little glass vase. hopeful Bunny that her little flower will bloom. see? happy and hopeful.

Bunny is doing alright. she has her moments. she writes it out. that silly woman has never met Bunny. heck, she's never even see a photo of the real Bunny, me, to see her eyes, what's in them, and what isn't.

so maybe there isn't this exuberant, jumping up and down, joyful, joyful, we adore Thee bounding up and down the street like a big golden retriever excited at the thought of a frisbee toss, kind of joy to Bunny...
Bunny does alright for herself.

so far she's made it all by herself,

and with a little help from her friends.

Bunny has her work at Build-A-Bear where she is the tippy top Party Bear/Bunny.
she goes back to her place where she has her drawings and sketches of things she wants to make.
she has her puppies! the lovely and diva-ish Carmen Sophia and the inscrutable but winsome Scootie Wootums.
and yes, she has her Dragon. her lovely, lovely Dragon who sits in her heart and her head. the one who gave her joy. the one whose only compression was when he laid on top of Bunny and she loved those times. {oh, my gosh. Bunny made a cryptic reference to sex. yes, Bunny loved her compression times with Dragon. ooooo la la. he was very, hmm, talented. there that's a PG word.}
Bunny is happy. Bunny has found equilibrium. Bunny is not just going through the motions. Bunny has friends she hopes some day to go visit. like in Arizona. Bunny hasn't seen Arizona since she was in college. and San Diego. and Canada. and England. oooo. Bunny will need a Pawsport for that one.

love to all my friends. love to my children and my fuzzy kids. love to my Dragon. and yes, a little love to me. don't get all down on Bunny just because she hasn't started a foundation or written a book or gone for the Gold Ring of Grief. Bunny isn't a Phoenix. she's a Bunny. she's doing it her way. she's got her earbuds in and listening to her own music. sometimes it's sad. sometimes it's happy. but joy? Bunny knows she will have joy again when she's with her soulmate again. fingers crossed.

peace, ............ and quiet. peace and quiet. yeah. you characters out there who seem to think it is your duty to correct Bunny, stop it. Bunny is doing fine.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

birthday Bunny

it's my birthday tomorrow. i'm working. my last day off was last Monday. my next day off is a week from this Tuesday. i'm a little tired. scratch that. i'm really pretty tired. i work at work and come back here and work.

it's my daughter's birthday, too, and she has off for it. i'm going to miss seeing her, but i'm glad she gets the day off. we both work hard. my daughter gave me a gift. i love it. it's a small aquarium tank so i can grow plants underwater. my own tiny ocean. i gave her a gift. a Build-A-Bear, of course. so sad that i can't do more for her.

i don't feel one way or the other about my birthday. it's just another day. i don't celebrate it. it's just another day that i work. i worked on my birthday last year. the others take their day off but i do not feel like i can or should. money is money and i need every cent.

i finished another quilt and have started on the next. i am waiting for the woman to send me the address she wants me to mail the quilt to. i am also waiting for her to send me the balance due on this quilt and the deposit for the next. waiting. waiting. she's busy though. she works 2 - 3 days a week and then travels the rest. whenever she has the time, i'd like to get that check though. it would mean the world to me. it's a mere drop in the bucket to her. sadly though, it means i worked for about a $1 an hour on her quilt. lots and lots of embroidery.

i sometimes do not think anyone has any idea ~ even though i tell them, even though they see the finished product ~ how much time it takes to do everything by hand, to make the kind of quilts i make.

i have had people show photos of other quilts they have had made while they wait for one of mine. they have sent clothes to some place that cuts them all up into squares, and triangles to make squares, that run them up on sewing machines and get them out in about 3 weeks. months later i am still hand embroidering very detailed work. i see those photos of those quilts and i admit it, i do suffer a blow to my heart.

i have things i'd like to make for myself and for my children. but i put commissions above my own personal work.

i miss him more and more. that sounds like i am not getting over this, or dealing with it well. in a way i'm not. i'm suffering. but in my defense, i get confronted with suffering and grief on almost a daily basis. New Year's Eve ~ the little girl who didn't want to die that night. she didn't die. she did 5 days later. yesterday ~ the man and his daughter's who came into the store to buy a new bear for his wife, their mother. his wife is in a coma in a bed in their living room which is now her bedroom. if you ask this man, he is most definitely raising his daughters with his wife. he is not a single parent. the girls talk to their mom all the time. they show her things they've made. she is very much a part of their lives. she likes to hold bears. her arm curls around them when they place them next to her. the doctors say she is in there somewhere. she could awaken at any time. any time has been about 11 years now.

i make animals and do heart ceremonies for death. i am the one they come to because they've heard i do it so very personally. they know i will honor the purpose for the stuffed animal. it's hard for me to get around my own grief when i see others grieving so deeply. it keeps it all fresh for me. i never interrupt their stories with my own. no one knows why i can connect to them. they just accept that i am a "sensitive soul." everyone has a calling. i guess this is what i am supposed to do. i had hoped it would be one of more frivolity but, que sara sara.

{i'd like to interrupt this blog with an update. i have camera again. in fact, i have two. Sandy sent me her old camera as a gift. such a beautiful digital. i use it now for all my sky shots. i feel that is what it's for as it traveled miles and miles in saddle bags with Sandy and her beloved. Dan sent me half funds for a new camera from B&H. i had ordered it and it was on it's way when Sandy sent me hers. the new camera is what i use for the moon. it is 14X zoom so, i think, you can almost see my Dragon on the moon up there. anyway, i want to sincerely and humbly thank both Sandy and Dan for helping me get a camera back into my hands. i find that life is gentler when i can take a photo of it.}

i miss my Dragon. i wish he were here with me. not to be cocky, but after watching her on "Inside the Actor's Studio," i think i am sort of like Betty White. she talked about her work as a actress. she talked about her passion working with animals. her answer to the question "what do you want God to say to you when you get to Heaven?" was this: "come on in, Betty. here's Alan." her husband Alan has been gone for a little over 30 years. she said in an interview, "i'm killing time until i see him again by living."

that's what i hope my children see me doing; living. i am living but missing him. i am living by helping others make stuffed animals. i put my heart and soul into them so that these people will see a heart and soul in their animal.

i miss him. it's my birthday and once again, i am alone through it. no party. no hugs and kisses. no going to bed with him. just another day of work.

it's my birthday tomorrow and it doesn't mean anything to me at all. {well, i guess it does a little since i wrote about it.}
Bunny's gotta get to work. she's all dressed for a birthday party she's been requested to do for a gay man who is turning 21. he promised me he is coming in full drag with 10 of his closest friends. it's going to be a blast. finally, Bunny's going to have some fun today celebrating someone else's birthday.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

observations of human behavior from someone who doesn't really matter

or maybe I do. this could also be observations of my own behavior by what i choose to write here. our ways of communicating also reveal a lot about who we are.

i am privy to behavior and conversations that others might not have an opportunity to witness. i get to see stuff that you most likely won’t believe, but here goes anyway.

children’s names

when we talk to the children who come through, of course we ask them their names. there are always new trends in what to name a baby, but there are some names that i wonder about. that’s all. i just wonder about what the parents were thinking when they chose that name. what was their inspiration? the ones i am mentioning below are ones that i have seen more than ten times, because to see them once is only an anomaly. to see them more than 10 times could be construed as a trend.

there are the usual celebrity names, or variations thereof, from film, music, and books such as: Beyonce, Kanye, Pitt, Angiejolie, Cruise, Beckham, Witherspoon, Jolie, Paris, Clooney, Suri, Apple, Lestat, Harry, Hermoine, Bella, Edward, Cullen, Forks {i asked. it is, indeed, from the Twilight series}, Hedwig, and so on. one odd one that sticks out is Kardashian. when i smiled at one mother and said, “So you’re a fan of their shows?” she gushed, “Oh, my God, yes, and I thought we’d be the only one but there are 4 other girls named Kardashian in her pre-school.” She was very sad over this. And why she included herself in any reactions to her daughter’s name, such as praise, envy or scorn, with the word “we’d” was a little confusing.

There are the names that honor an ideal or a moral. Names like: Truth, Faith, Grace, Love, Solidarity, Journey, Sojourner, Loyal, Path, Abundance, and Thanks.

States and cities are also a favorite way to name children more and more. Boston, Austin, Dakota, Colorado, Texas, Wichita, Houston, Boise, Seattle, Mystic, to name a few.

Parents often did and still do pull names from the Bible, too. Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, but there have been quite a few children who have come through with the name Revelations that eerily stand out a bit. One child named Revelations was a distantly cold child who flat out told me I was going straight to Hell for being the in the cult called Catholism.

There is the trend to name children after a favorite pastime. One such family had four boys and one girl. Remington, Magnum, Colt, Smith, and the girl was named Gunner. They were hunters. There was a mother who brought in her daughters Dolce, Coco, and Vanderbilt who had her latest edition of “W” magazine in her Burkin Bag.

Then there are the names that sort of escape me. There have only been one of each of these but they were so unusual that they stuck in my mind. Hardwick, Pessel, Trahorn, Alboom, Fillup, and Female; this last one being pronounced Fem-a-lee. I try very hard not to ask to many questions about the names but sometimes, sometimes I do wonder.

Parenting Styles

I know I have written of parents sending out mixed signals, giving the example of self-entitlement, and using mind murder to gain the upper hand with their children, but it never ceases to be interesting how parents handle their children. I often wonder what kind of adults these children will be after being raised like this. Most of these examples go beyond a random bad day. These behaviors seem coded into the parents who are coding them into the children.

A woman with a ten-year-old daughter came into the store. The overweight daughter was holding a waffle cone basket of ice cream. It had three scoops, toppings, sprinkles, and whipped cream. I would never have used the word overweight to describe this child because of the insensitivity of it, but it comes from listening to their conversations being carried out right not even four feet in front of me.

Mom: “The doctor said you need to lose 75 pounds. Why I let you talk me into that ice cream boat is beyond me.” To me she said, “We’ve just stopped in the mall to get a bite to eat. We’ve come back from the doctor. We’re just looking real quick. She needs a little treat after the doctor’s visit.”

The girl selected a bear to stuff. “I want this one. Stuff it.” She tossed it at me with one hand and went right back to eating.

Mom: “Don’t act that way! Oh, my God, how rude! No bear. We’re not buying anything.”

Girl: “I want it. If you want me to go back to school then buy it for me.” There was no hesitation in the daughter’s voice, no cajoling, no pleading. She was confident she was getting what she wanted. My guess from all her brief years on this Earth of getting her way.

Mom: “I shouldn’t be doing this, but okay; but just the bear. No clothes.”

We both know where this is going. The mother spent over $130 on clothes, shoes, and accessories for this bear with the daughter eating the ice cream the whole time. She continued to order me around while ignoring her mother that she was being rude to me. Her mother also kept up her mantra, “I shouldn’t let you do this, so this is the last thing.”

As they left the store the daughter turned right while the mother went left.

Mom: “The car is this way.”

Girl: “Disney store and the food court is down this way.”

Mom wheeled around and followed in her daughter’s wake. I heard her voice getting smaller as they walked away, “I shouldn’t be doing this, so this is absolutely the last thing you get today.”

I have stood by and listened to children call their mother’s or father’s stupid, ridiculous, morons, and the horrific word, “retard.” I have heard children accuse their parents of lying saying, “You told me you were broke but you bought that medicine for {insert name of sibling}. I want this now so get it for me.”

I have seen older children, in the 12 – 15 age bracket that distain the whole experience in the store yet demand to get whatever they want. They say things like, “This place is stupid.” “I’m not putting a heart inside my bear. That’s dumb.” “This bear is stupid.” “I’m gonna take this bear home and kill it. What do you think about that?”

To the child who wanted to murder her bear I merely looked at them for a long moment with full eye contact, and said, “I think that you’re feeling very sad inside. I feel sorry for you. I hope you get better soon.”

I have stood at the register and had children slam their hands on the desk screaming at the top of their lungs because they wanted something else. I’ve had them grab things and stuff them in their bags and run out of the store trying to steal it right in front of their parents believing {most of the time correctly} that the parents will have to buy what they want. I have had bored children who are getting every single thing they want order me to “hurry up because I have somewhere I have to be. Give me the f-ing bag now!” Or the one that makes me truly grit my teeth: “Get a move on, Lady. I want it now!”

In these few select cases that I have chosen to share here, none of the parents held their children accountable at the moment of this behavior.

Children All Grown Up ~ Both Kinds

There are children who act very grown up; too grown up. There are pre-teen little girls dressed very provocatively who are hanging out with boys much too old for them. Not sixteen, not fifteen, but eleven and twelve-year olds who are trying so very hard to act eighteen and nineteen. And they boys they are with are sixteen and seventeen. These girls are not annoying little sisters. They are the “girlfriends” of these boys whose arms are draped around their small shoulders and whose hands touch them in places here in public that they should not be touching at all. I have asked one of the mall cops if he has observed this behavior and he said that he had. He is a retired New York City policeman who works there at the mall. He said their behavior is one that worries him but he cannot do anything since they are not doing anything. It is a parenting issue until it becomes a police issue. By then the parents, I think, will be either wishing they had parented a little more or they will be blaming someone else.

Boys come through the store who do little things, odd, quirky things that stick in my mind. They steal hearts. We have soft little satin hearts that we put in our animals freely when you stuff and buy them. There are some girls that do this but I mostly see boys do it. They walk quietly up to the bin and reach in and steal handfuls of them. When I say, “Would you like a heart,” implying I would let them maybe take one, they dash off with their handfuls. Their parents seldom make them put them back.

Boys from the ages of around five or six on up to older boys in their late teens and very early twenties do something that, I must admit, sort of gets to me. I never say anything to the guest but we have talked about it after work. We have underwear for both genders of bears. If you want a little girl bear and you put a dress on her, you can also put on a little pair of panties. We have cotton ones, satin ones, one with Hello Kitty on them. Very pretty. These boys pick up the underwear and sniff them. You read that right. They pick up the underwear and hold them to their noses. The older boys do it as a pack and laugh then try to catch the eye of any female around. When they catch me looking they do have the sense to look a little sheepish since I am old enough to be their much older mother, but the attitude seems to other women seems very demeaning. They much younger, little boys do it alone and try to be secretive about it. For a child barely in first grade, I have to wonder why they do it. Have they seen other boys do this? Is it something that they’ve seen at home? I am just curious since it is such a common practice that I see it virtually ten or more times a week.

Older children, the ones already grown up and out of college, the ones who are married with possibly families of their own act no better at times than the children they are raising.

It was after we had closed on New Year’s Eve. The manager on that night, last night to be honest, and I were tired and really wanted to go home. This man was still in the store shopping having come five minutes before closing. We were trying to re-stock for the next day, closing one of our registers, all the myriad of things we need to do before we can leave the store. He was ambling around as if he had all the time in the world and in fact, he sort of did. He wasn’t meeting his girlfriend whom he was buying the bear for for another three hours. At last he came to the register after the store had been closed for fifteen minutes and said, “I’ve decided I want to put a sound in my bear.”

If we could have lifted our collective heads and sighed at the ceiling we would have. Instead we did our jobs. But after that young man left, we did talk about his lack of awareness of our feelings.

I have had a man be very rude to me in front of his son to the point where the son, probably around thirteen or fourteen, say to his father, “Dad, that was pretty rude. I think you hurt her feelings.” The father looked at his son and said, in front of me, “She just works here. She doesn’t matter.” The father looked at me and nodded, asking, “Right?”

I looked at the father and said, “I matter to someone. I know I don’t matter to you. Now how can I be of further help?” My smile was very slight. My eyes were not smiling at all. I tried to carry my body with dignity and grace. I did my job and I was not haughty. I am of service to the people who come into that store but I am not their servant. The father smiled at me and then looked back at his son. He said, “See? She knows she doesn’t matter. It’s okay. That’s the way it is with these people. They know their place.”

After the father was standing at the register, his son came and found me putting shoes on a tiger for a little boy. He leaned down and said, “I’m sorry. I think you’re pretty great and helpful. I’m not my dad.” Then he rushed away; possibly worrying his father would catch him not being just like him.

Hostile Work Environment

Not all curious interactions are between our guests and us. Some are behind the scenes with each other. There is one person I work with during some shifts who seems to wish I were not there. When she first started working there, the first words out of her mouth were, “I’ve heard of you. You’re the top person. I’m gonna take you down. I’m going to be the best and put you down.”

I said, “Nice to meet you. I’m sorry, you didn’t tell me your name. What is it?”

She has made it an adversarial atmosphere for me at every turn. She is a hard worker but her style is not my style. Instead of talking to the guest about themselves, she talks mostly about herself. She talks about her master’s degree. She talks about her recent marriage and the gifts she received. She talks about how much she is valued and loved. I have to admit that the guests who interact with her smile and nod their heads. They seem to be having a nice time. It is possible that hearing her talk about herself all through the inclusion of our time that overlaps our shifts is only grating to me, but I do wish she would allow our guests to do more talking about themselves. Their visit for us is all about them anyway.

We had an incentive program to sell a certain product and the reward was a little pin. This employee started collecting one for every group she sold and wears them. She points them out to our guests saying she is the top seller, that no one else has more than one. None of us wear more than one because the program is over. We all still sell them. We all, percentage wise, are doing very well. We just do not cover ourselves with the reward, mostly because this girl took all the pins. There are none left for the other employees. It does grate when she comes up to us, points out her pins and says, “I’ve sold more than you. I’m better than you.”

I have gotten to the point of holding up my hand to stop her and tell her, “Yes, you are better than me. Now as floor leader I need you to return to your station and work.”

She does not like it that I am floor leader and can assign her to tasks. I tread very carefully with her. She grits her teeth and smiles and salutes me. She says, “Yes, ma’am” through those gritted teeth. There is a darkness in her eyes that I am very aware of. I have overheard her speaking poorly of me behind my back to another employee. I cannot call her out on it. It would cause a disturbance throughout the rest of the workforce, and it does not affect her work, or mine, or the smooth running of the store. The person she talks to is her best friend who also works at the store but will be leaving soon to go back to college. This girl also has quite the arrogant attitude that does not play well into dealing with guests at our store or in her doing what I ask of her. But as I said, she will be leaving. I still have to live with the girl who detests me.

I say detests me because it has come to a little bit of sabotage. Two examples. One. She follows me at times and tries to interfere or interject in my conversations with our guests. She will leave her station and come to where I am and eavesdrop until she can say something that brings her in. It is annoying to me and to our guest and I have had guests complain about it. I have spoken to her about it and she becomes defensive and uses mind murder to twist the scenario. “I was just trying to help. I know the store better than you do.” She does not as she does not work the hours I do, nor checks stock as I do, but she thinks it sounds good. I have to tell her she kept a guest waiting at another station for the interruption and she gets tensely angry at my pointing that out. But it is my job to make the flow through the tore run smoothly and to make a guest wait on her to come and interrupt a conversation between me and another guest is not correct behavior.

Two, the only other example I will give is this one. We give parties at the store. We do not accept tips. A man was trying to tip me for his daughter’s party when she walked up and said, “Oh, no, you can’t accept that. I’m shocked you would try to. Sir, she can’t accept that money. It could get her fired.”

The man was shocked that she spoke that way. He came to my defense and said, “If you and stopped to listen instead of rushing up here you’d know she had already explained that to me. You need to listen better and trust your employees more. She did a fabulous job, which I knew she would, which was why I requested her for the party. You interrupted a conversation here for absolutely no reason. You may step back and let us finish this on a more pleasant note.”

She was appalled and shocked that she was spoken to that way but he was our guest and there was nothing she could do. He was in the position of power and truly a powerful man in this city. He works in the district attorney’s office and carries quite a bit of weight within this city’s government. She had no idea who she had offended which brings the point up of you never know with whom you are dealing.

She said to me later, “I just thought you didn’t know. I didn’t mean to piss him off. Does he know my name? Do you think he’s gonna comment on it about me?” I told her I am a manager-in-training. I have worked here for quite some time now and was taught parties by the manager herself. I know what to do and what not to do. I also told her I had no idea what he would do and left it at that.

There is a vibe about her that makes me wary. It makes that particular shift heavy. I never know when I turn around if I am going to bump into her. I never know if she is going to salute me as a dictator when I merely ask and make assignment. I never know why she stares at me with that dark look. There is a coiled tension about her that has me on edge. She has dropped so many little hints, done so much chipping away at me. My work does not suffer but I find I am more exhausted after a shift with her than at any other time. It is oppressive and there is nothing I can do short of all this she said, I said. I feel this, she makes me feel that. Heresay. Impressions. Not worth upsetting the apple cart. I can endure it for the sake of the job.

But I wish more people would honor the Golden Rule. Do unto others. It really would help the world run a little more smoothly.

So this is my latest contribution. It is merely a collection of observations of things I have seen people do from someone who “doesn’t really matter.” But I think I do matter. I matter to the handful of guests who come through who really need me there to help them. I matter to the few guests who come through hurting; like the woman who is a recent widow and wanted to make a bear dressed like her husband, who wanted to put a recording of his voice in her bear so she can hold it whenever she feels her grief too intensely, which I know from experience can be almost all the time. I mattered to the family who came through with their mom who put her voice in both her daughter’s bears and who later that week died from breast cancer.

And I mattered last night, New Year’s Eve, to the little girl with no hair who wished with all her might on her tiny satin heart that she would “not die tonight.” Her hug was so strong that no, I do not think she did die last night.