Hiking.

As part of coming back from my broken leg in March, I have joined a hiking group.  I found them on Meetup, and I’ve been out with the group about four times so far.   Two of those hikes have been pretty significant in terms of length and ascent.  So I’ve been getting a good workout, and every time I go out, I feel a little stronger, which is great.   I feel like my endurance is building, and I’m getting back into shape.

And then the thing that shall not be mentioned happened.   As with any sort of extreme grief, I have become somewhat detached, and closed off from the world.  I’ve wanted to stay inside, stay quiet, stay indoors.  At a certain point, though, going outside is just the thing for a broken heart.

So, I was back at it yesterday, hiking more than 8 miles.   It was good to go out.  It was good to get warn out.  It was raining a little bit, and I got a bit wet and muddy.   And I laughed a little bit, and got to talk to someone about Star Wars and Star Trek.  It was a good day for me.

And today, I want my buffer from the world back.  I don’t want to leave the house, and I don’t want to see anyone.

So, just like with the leg and the hiking, I am slowly making progress.  There are good days.  There are bad days.  There are good moments.  There are bad moments.  There are moments when I think about her, and I just can’t stand how much it hurts to think that she was taken away, and there are moments when I think about her, and it makes me smile.   And sometimes even laugh.

There are moments on the trail when I feel like I can’t take another step, and breathing is hard.  There are moments where I am breathing deeply, and every step feels like I’m conquering something.   And there are moments on the trail when I am skipping with my arms outstretched, because I feel like I’m flying.

I just wish she could do it with me, is all.

 

Coping.

One of the hardest things about going through the grieving process, for me, is coping with other people’s reactions to my grief.   Everywhere I turn, it seems, there are people trying to hand me their own grief and issues.  Or just expecting me to get on with getting on.

I can’t carry that for you.   Not right now.   Probably not ever.

I can’t take on what you need right now.   I can’t be what you need me to be in this situation.  I’m struggling just to keep afloat myself.   Getting out of bed is herculean.   My legs feel as if they are 100 pounds each, and walking is a chore.   My brain keeps crashing, or rebooting without warning.   Answering questions is excruciating, in particular any questions about anything having to do with making a decision or planning anything.  I will do my best to be as invisible as possible, and to not speak up, and not volunteer.   And I’m lazy and avoiding the hell out of everything right now.  I’m struggling with trying to have patience.   Crowds are weird.   Corners are lovely.   Mostly, simple video games are addictive, soothing, and consuming.

And Catholic churches are the best place to cry.

The thing I learned this week, though, is that all those people who are trying to hand me their “stuff” and wanting me to carry it for them.  All those people that want to somehow make all of this about them, the people who seem to not understand that I need time, that I need space, that I need a little help; all that has nothing to do with me.  I can’t take it personally.   Anyone who has expectations of me that seem too high or who seems to be oblivious to what I’m going through and what it means, that’s just their “stuff”.   It’s not even any of my business.

I just have to do what I have to do to get through this, and people will get along without my help, if I can’t give it.  They’ll carry their own grief or fear of grief or whatever it is, and we’ll all get on in our own time.

I really do miss her, and I wish she were still here with us.  The world is less fun, less magic without her.

Rethinking A Few Things

I spent last week in New York.  It was a work trip that had been planned for a while.  It wasn’t really good timing, and it wasn’t really a thing I wanted to do, really.   I thought perhaps that it might distract me from some things which will remain unsaid.   It was distracting, and it did put certain things out of my mind, but yet, the things that replaced those thoughts were perhaps not what I was expecting.

It wasn’t so long ago, visiting for another work trip at a different job entirely, that I thought that I could easily move to New York at any time.  In fact, I even envisioned myself going to NYU for grad school.  I didn’t even care what the field of study might be.  The point was that I would be living the student life, probably sharing an apartment in an exotic borough, like the Bronx.   I always thought of it as a sojourn.  I felt that I would spend a few years in The Big Apple, but eventually the Bay Area, specifically the East Bay, was where I would end up for good.  I have never felt that I belonged anywhere the way that I feel that I belong here at home.

As the years went by, it was a dream I sort of forgot about.  I knew I wouldn’t lay down permanent roots somewhere else, so I just settled into my roots here, and forgot about moving away.   I explored more of the world, even further outside of New York and the United States, and everywhere I’ve ever been, no matter how much I liked it, I always was happy to come home to California, to Oakland.  I am more Oakland or East Bay than anything else.

So, it didn’t surprise me very much to find myself not really digging New York.  I mean, strongly not digging.  I could not wait to get the heck out of there.  I didn’t want to listen to the endless honking, and I didn’t want to get bumped and jostled down the street.  I had no desire to squeeze myself onto an overpacked rush hour subway train.  I didn’t want to wear a hat, a hoodie, a coat, a scarf, and mittens. Every part of my body seemed to be screaming in protest to my surroundings.  And at the end of the day, I was so tired.

New York City is exhausting, and it wears my soul out.

When I finally got home, and walked to work on Monday, the sun was shining, I was wearing a light hoodie, no one bumped me as I walked down the street, and I think maybe I heard one car horn honk.  I am so happy to be home. Home, sweet, peaceful Oakland.

dorothy

Just sayin’.

I’m On An Airplane

Okay, so it’s not quite so cool as being on a boat, but I’m in the air somewhere over southern Minnesota/South Dakota.  And I’m on the internet.   So, technology is sweet.  I like living in the future.

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, so having to travel to  New York for work wasn’t something I was really looking forward to.   I had to give a bunch of presentations and meet with a bunch of people I had never met before.   That’s not necessarily my strongest suit, but from what I was told, I killed it.   I hope I did.  I also hope that I don’t have to do that again any time soon.  Work trips are exhausting.   I was exhausted before I left California.

But my trip wasn’t all bad.  I got to spend some time with a friend who I had been missing quite a bit.  I like hanging out with him because I feel like we learn from one another.  Also, I feel like every time we see each other, we understand each other better.   He’s an important friend to me.

So being on this flight is a little bit bittersweet.  I am so looking forward to getting home and sleeping in my own bed, and showering in my own shower, and spending some time with Mr. Darcy.   But I’m going to miss my friend.

However, I’ve realized that missing someone isn’t such a bad thing.  It means that you have someone who you share good memories with.  There’s someone who has mad you happy, and that you maybe even have loved.

Applicable to my life in more ways than just one right now.

Just sayin’.

Words Fail

Sometimes there’s nothing to say, and nothing to do, except sit and wait for the awful to wash over and be done.   There are things so unspeakable, so horrific, and heartbreaking, that no possible action could ever make the thought of them less painful.

I’m sitting in a hotel room in New York City right now.  I have very little desire to go out and explore, as I have done in the past when visiting.  I just kind of want to sit here, with myself and my thoughts.  I’m not feeling too adventurous,  and I spent a large portion of the evening playing a simple and silly video game.  My stomach is bothering me.  I have a headache.

Really, what happened, though, is something so awful, that I don’t really want to write it anymore.   I’ve written it a couple of times, in emails, and in instant message windows, when saying it out loud was too hard.  I don’t want to put the letters together to form the words that make up the sentence that explains why I am sitting here alone.   This thing, it was bad.  Really bad.  And I’m not all that surprised to find that it’s effecting me in strange ways.    The sleeplessness I expected.  I figured that I would cry a lot, and thus have headaches.  I didn’t realize how dehydrated I’d really get.   I wasn’t expecting actual physical pain that would double me over.

I’m here in New York for work.  If not for work, I would have stayed home.   I just want to curl into a ball around my yucky tummy, and my heavy heart, and my headache, and cry as much as I want.

I am grieving, and it’s not something I want to be doing right here.

Halloween Costume!

Here is this year’s Halloween costume.   I based on the book The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern, which I love.   It’s about  a magical circus, Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) that appears without any pre-warning, and is open only from nightfall until dawn, and everything in the circus is decorated only in black and white, as well as the costumes of all the performers.    So, I call this character le dompteur de chaton de Le Cirque des Rêves.  The kitten tamer of The Circus of Dreams.IMG_3103 IMG_3105 IMG_3108

October in an Even Year

You all know that I’m crazy about baseball.   You probably also know that I love the Giants specifically.  You may have also noticed that it is October in an ever year.   So, it should come as no surprise that the Giants have made it to the playoffs again, and I am freaking out.   Let the fun begin.

Expedia Sucks

This could end up being very long, and if you don’t really want to hear about it, please feel free to not read ahead.  Please don’t read to the end and then leave a comment telling me what I should have done.  It’s clearly too late for that.   I am pretty much throwing this out there as a last ditch effort, as I have been told by several people that throwing a hissy fit on some social media is a really good way of getting the attention of a company that doesn’t want to pay attention to you, or is trying to avoid your issue as hard as they fucking can.  At this point, that’s where I stand with Expedia.

So, as you may know, if you read this blog regularly or follow me on twitter or instagram, I broke my leg in March.   It was a massively unfortunate accident, and it derailed several plans about how I was hoping to spend my summer.   Initially I had hoped to spend two weeks or so in Portugal over the summer.  I have never been to Portugal, and it would have been my second ever trip to “The Continent”, the first being in Paris over New Years.  One of the things I was looking forward to doing in Portugal was spending time at the sea, and of course, surfing.  When I broke my leg, I knew that a big summer trip was out, and that if I did go anywhere, it would be nowhere near any ocean, so that I would not have to sit and look at it, knowing I couldn’t enjoy it.  I did that once before in Kauai.  It sucked.

But I did want something to look forward to over the summer, for “after” the injury, when I could walk again.  Not something overly taxing, and I didn’t want to be away from home for too long.  I decided to look for some place that I had never been, in the United States, where I could I stay in a really nice place, and just kind of be away.   In April, I hopped on Expedia, and looked at several cities that I had been curious about, and found a lovely hotel that I was really excited to visit, and so I booked my airfare and hotel for a long weekend in June in Nashville.    And at that time, I opted for Expedia’s trip insurance, just in case my leg wasn’t good enough to go.

As the time drew near, I realized that I would be able to make the trip, and I was looking forward to it.  I knew it would be a little bit difficult with my leg, but I thought it would a great idea to sit in a beautiful hotel, with my leg up, writing and reading, and whatnot.  I bought a ticket to the Grand Ole Opry, just because “when in Rome.”

The only downside of the trip that I booked was that a non-stop wasn’t available, and so in order to make the timing work the way I wanted it to, I booked a red-eye out of San Francisco.

Fast forward to the day of my departure in June.  I was mostly packed, just throwing the last of my stuff in my bag, and about to head out the door around 8:30 or so for an 11:30 flight.  I was going to get a ride to the train station, and take the BART into the airport, which takes awhile.  Just as I was throwing my toothbrush into my bag, double checking my packing list, and putting on my shoes, I got an alert that my flight was cancelled.    Thankfully, I hadn’t already left.

I got on the phone, and called the airline.  I sat on hold with them for over an hour.  At that point, it was getting really late, and I was tired.   As I was sitting on hold, I got an email from Expedia saying that I had been rebooked on a flight in the morning, and to call immediately to confirm.  I hung up on the airline, and called the number in the email.

When I spoke to the representative over the phone, she said that the airline had booked me already for the 6:00 am flight, which would connect through Dallas, and I wouldn’t get to Nashville until about 6:30 that evening.  This meant I would lose a day of my long weekend, I would miss the show at the Grand Ole Opry, and oh yeah, I had no way of getting to the airport by six in the morning, since the BART doesn’t run that early, and it was too late to call for a shuttle to pick me up.  I was already exhausted, so I asked about the trip insurance.   The representative told me that since it was before the time i had booked the flight to leave, and since the cancellation would be due to the airline (American Airlines, for the record) that I would qualify for a full refund of the hotel and the airfare.  I told her that I would like to cancel.

She explained that I would have to wait on the line, because she would have to contact the airline with me on the call to cancel since they had already booked me on the 6 o’clock flight.  She put me on hold, and I continued to hold for over an hour, again.

And then I was disconnected.

I called back, and explained my whole situation again, and the person I spoke to said that they would continue to try to get in touch with the airline, and that someone from Expedia would call me back once the airline was on the phone, so that we could complete my cancellation, and get my refund.  Meanwhile, they had already processed the hotel cancellation, and I should expect that refund in a few days.

It was close to midnight when I got off the phone.  I tried to stay up for a little while, expecting someone from Expedia to call me   back.  At some point, I fell asleep.   They never called me back.

The next morning, I called again. I was placed on hold again.  I was disconnected after a long period on hold again.   I called back.  I was told again that someone would try to get through to the airline, and then call me back, and that I didn’t have to wait on the line, as long as I would be available to take their call.   I hung around my apartment all day, waiting for them to call me back.  My vacation turned into a staycation, and then it turned into being stuck in my apartment, waiting for a call back.  Yes, I could have taken my phone and left the house, but I didn’t want to risk missing the call, so I thought it was best to stay home where I knew I would hear it ring.   They never called.

Over the next several days, this cycle repeated.  I would call Expedia whenever I knew I had a couple of hours to spare, be put on hold, put the phone on speaker, try to relax and enjoy my time off, eventually get dropped from hold without resolution.  I was told almost every day that if I got dropped off the call, they would call me back as soon as they got American Airlines on the phone.  That never happened.   Finally, a day or two before I had to go back to work, I was told by a supervisor at the call center not to worry about the refund, they would take care of it, I didn’t have to call anymore, I would just get an email in a couple of days to confirm my cancellation and refund.

I waited five business days, and I didn’t hear anything back from Expedia.  No phone call.  No email.  No refund.    I called them again from work.

This time I was told something completely different.  I was told I would have file a claim with the travel insurance company.  This is the first I had heard of another company being responsible.   The person I spoke to from Expedia transferred me to the  insurance company – Aon Affinity/Berkely Travel.

The representative from the insurance company, after I explained the whole situation, told me that I would not qualify for a refund, based on the policy I had purchased, and that all I could get was a credit from the airline.  I was so angry and flustered, and I explained that I had been told exactly the opposite by Expedia.  He said I would have to file a claim, and that I would find out what I was eligible for.

I thought that the phone call was what was needed to process the claim.   I got an email from the insurance company a few days later, and because I was irritated, I didn’t read it closely.  A few weeks later (admittedly, I’m not sure exactly how many weeks), I double-checked the email, and realized that I had been mistaken.  I still had to file paperwork in order to get a refund or credit.   If someone had said that first night that I had to fill out paperwork, I would have done it then, but at this point, I was tired of dealing with it, and for some reason, kind of embarrassed that it hadn’t been resolved.  I shouldn’t have been embarrassed, though.  None of this was my fault.  I did the responsible thing by purchasing the insurance.

So, it took me awhile to get over all that and fill it out, but I finally did, and I submitted it.

Last week I got a letter from them.  According to the letter, the type of  travel insurance that I purchased from Expedia at the time that I booked my trip was not provided by their company.  The policy I had purchased was Expedia’s own, and they were the responsible party for dealing with my cancellation and refund, and that I should contact Expedia.

I have not tried to contact Expedia.   I dread dealing with Expedia.  I don’t ever want to deal with them again.  Their customer service is a nightmare.

I know now that I should have been taking better notes, getting the names and IDs of all the people I spoke to, and logging the dates and times.  I should have stayed more on top of it, instead of putting off dealing with it.   I should emailed them, and called them more.

But I already missed my trip.  And spent hours of my time dealing with this.  I didn’t want to give them any more of my time.    I missed my trip, but I thought it would be alright, because at least I could spend the money on something nice for myself.

So, Expedia sucks.  American Airlines probably sucks, too.  If I could have gotten in touch with them in the first place, I might not have had to cancel my trip at all.  I wouldn’t have had to call Expedia at all.

But I’d rather know that Expedia sucks.

Aon Affinity / Berkely Travel isn’t all that great, either, since they could have told me at the beginning that they weren’t the ones who I had purchased the insurance from.  How hard could it have been to look that up?

Has anyone else out there had a horrible experience dealing with Expedia and trip cancellations?   Or any bad experience with them at all?   Let me know about it down in the comments.  Let’s vent.

 

Oh, and for my trip to New Zealand in a few months, I’m booking the hotels and stuff myself.  No more Expedia.

Ambivalence

One of my pet peeves is the misuse of words, and probably the word I hear misused the most, at least in my life and circle of associates, is ‘ambivalence’.  People use it when what they really mean is ‘apathy’.   ‘Apathy’ means you can’t be arsed, or you give no fucks at all.   People often talk about being ambivalent about things they don’t care about.  That’s not what that word means.

‘Ambivalence’ is when you’re of two minds or have mixed feelings about a thing.

For example, I am ambivalent about intimacy.   That’s right, I have two minds about human touch and emotional closeness.

Almost every night, as I climb into bed, I long for someone to hold onto, but as I stretch out like a starfish, face down with four limbs splayed out in each direction, I appreciate the luxuriousness of a queen-sized bed for me and me alone.  I imagine how nice it would be if there was someone to say goodnight to, but I’m glad it’s quiet and cool, and I don’t have to lie awkwardly still, while someone drops off to sleep, always first, beside me.  I sit here, day after day, so glad to live alone, with time and space to study, read, film videos, and write, all the while feeling that I wish there was someone to sit next to me and read over my shoulder or tell me about their day.  But then, if they could only stay for a short time, and go away again, that’d be good.   I love to sit with my friends and talk for hours about how I just need to have more time peace and quiet.   I love looking straight and deep into my friends eyes when they’re telling me a story, but I wish everyone would stop looking at me.

I crave it, and I don’t.    I avoid it, and miss it.  I wish I had it, and I run away from it when I see it coming.   That is ambivalence.

So, if you really don’t give a rat’s ass about Fantasy Football, you’re not ambivalent about it.  You’re apathetic.

Just sayin’.