Love Letters

This Valentine’s Day, I’m inspired to write love letters.

I know, I know, I HATE this holiday!

Why participate at all?

I guess on some level recognizing the love in my life resonates with me even if the holiday reminds me I’ve been single for fucking ever.

I was thinking this year I would write love letters to my family.

Tell them how much I love them and how much they mean to me.

Really personalize each letter.

Let my family and birth family know how much I love them.

Because they really are AMAZING people and I’m lucky to have them in my life.

And then I’d start in on my friends.

Because Lord knows that friends can be as close as family sometimes, if not closer.

I’ve got a lot of friends who support me who I’d like to send a love letter too.

What started me down this path, you ask?

Well I was on Facebook the other day watching people post public comments criticizing two people I love very much and I thought to myself that the only way to combat that kind of trash talk is to shower my friends and family with love.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Thanks Larry

I learned something new about Larry Harvey, one of the founders of Burning Man.

He and his brother were adopted and you can read about it here.

In case you didn’t know, I was adopted with a sister (who I’m very close with) and a brother.

My sister and I share absolutely no DNA yet we couldn’t be more family than if we were identical twins.

Such is the story with Larry and his brother Stewart.

There’s something magical about being an adoptee.

As if having transplanted roots early in life makes you more likely to spread your wings and transform into whatever you want.

When you don’t know your story, you can make up a million stories about yourself.

And so I too, am a storyteller.

I have a blog, after all. . .

I always felt like I was super special, because my parents told me that and because our adoptions were never hidden from us.

But that’s not all I have in common with Larry Harvey.

I also was born with a strong desire to build community around me.

And it is precisely at Burning Man where I feel most in touch with my ethos.

Just like Larry.

Thank you.

Just the girls

Sorry for the missed posts.

I’ve been a little busy.

First there was a last minute kessel run to Reno to visit my sister (which I made in under 20 parsecs).

Then there was playing catch up with my email inbox because of aforementioned trip to Reno.

I had a great time though.

My sister made me HOMEMADE chicken soup.

If that doesn’t mean she loves me, I don’t know what does.

I got to spend oodles of time with her kitties and I have to admit, touching fur is SOOOO RELAXING!

We should make a habit of this – getting together every so often for a total slacker weekend.

Just the girls.

There’s something uniquely relaxing and rejuvenating about having no agenda and just going with the flow for a while.

We played gin rummy.

We watched Hook which Lisa and I both agree is our favorite movie (actually, mine is The Goonies, but Hook is #2).

I’m back home refreshed.

Ready for another week!

Heart and soul

My mom is having heart surgery today.

She had a heart attack a few weeks ago and her defibrillator saved her life.

We are all anxiously awaiting the results of the surgery.

My dad is especially anxious.

You know it’s serious when they’re willing to schedule surgery four days before Christmas during the middle of a pandemic.

If you have a free moment, think some good thoughts for my mom.

It’s been a rough road for her lately and I think she could use some positive energy.

She is the heart and soul of our family.

No one loves more, gives more, or sacrifices more than she does for her family.

We’re all blessed to have her in our lives.

Dysfunction

My boys complain year round about how weird our family is.

  • A blind grandfather who is cranky pretty much 24-7.
  • A grandmother hooked on caregiving and babies.
  • A single mom struggling to figure out life and balance her social life with her family life.

From my sons’ vantage points, we look like cartoon people, with magnified faults and very little to admire.

I try to explain to my boys that EVERY FAMILY is DYSFUNCTIONAL in it’s own way.

They live our family day in and day out so they get to know all our flaws.

Of course their friends’ families seem stable and functional. Those are families they only VISIT from time to time so they never see the weird inner working of those families.

Eventually, as you grow up and out of teenage angst, I think you come to VALUE your weird family members in all their DYSFUCTIONAL glory because you start to see the good qualities they possess as well.

For instance, my dad may be a cranky blind man but he is the most generous man when it comes to his friends and family. He’s always up to buy you dinner or share a glass of wine with you. Nothing makes him happier than hearing his grandson’s’ laughter.

And my mom, though she may have an unusual obsession with taking care of little ones also is the FIRST ONE who will get in line to help you with a GRUELING TASK – like cleaning up after a party or straightening up your house.

And me? We’ll I might do odd things like go to Burning Man and wear costumes, but I will always go the extra mile for my friends and family, when they need a little help.

The trick is, and I think my sons miss this ENTIRELY, that you have to focus on all the positive things about your family when there are negative things you can focus on as well.

No one is perfect.

But if I had to be born and do it all over again, I’d choose the exact same people to go through life with as I had this go round.

I kid you not

I don’t think I’ve ever told the story of Douglas and Mac, my son and my dog.

Douglas died from cancer on September 22, 1998.

My then-husband, seeing my grief, adopted a dog for me to care for during my recovery.

We named him MacLeod after the Highlander and called him “Mac” and before long, Mac and I were inseperable.

That’s a love story in itself, Mac and I.

We camped together.

When I fell in love with a man, so did Mac.

We trusted the same people.

Loved the same children.

Then one day, while returning from a camping trip at the Yuba River, Mac fell out of the cab of my truck on the freeway and was struck and killed before we could get him off the road.

The date was September 22, 2008.

The 10 year anniversary of my son Douglas’ death.

I’m not making this up.

Furthermore, when I checked the pictures I’d taken of us playing in the river a mere HOURS before the accident that took his life, THIS is the last one I took of Mac:

At the time, I was devastated by his loss.

Now in hindsight, I’ve found some comfort in the circularity of my time with Mac.

He will always be my first amazing dog and an extension of the child I lost.

Red Hot Mama

I’ve had this idea.

But it’s a little morbid so bear with me.

For my funeral, instead of hosting a funeral I want my family to host a party.

Because that’s the best way I can think of celebrating my life.

With a final red-themed party.

I want them to send out red invitations in red envelopes  to Michelle’s Red Hot Mama party.

However old I am when I pass.

We’re gonna call it a Red Hot Mama party and it’ll take place at Burning Man where they can take my pictures to the temple and celebrate my life.

The way I would.

With song and dance.

Food and drink.

And I’m writing it here, just because I need to write it SOMEWHERE that I want my kids to be there.

Yes, at Burning Man.

My final gift to them.

A trip to the Black Rock Desert during August and September to celebrate their mom’s life in the place that meant the most to me.

Nice, eh?

Gifting at Christmas

My 90 year old dad is blind, but exactly how blind is usually hard to tell because he functions very well.

The other day however, a circuit blew and the lights in the kitchen turned off suddenly right before dinner time.

My mom and I tried to fix them but figured out pretty quickly that we needed a new fuse.

I shrugged, and suggested that we use my camping lanterns and not tell my dad.

My dad stresses over these things and asks a bazillion questions and issues even more directives, making what would be a tedious task into a torturous job.

I was curious, would he realize we were eating in dim light?

The answer of course, is no.

He had no idea.

So when it came time for me to pick a Christmas present for him, I decided to get him a one-touch Keurig coffee maker.

Seeing him fumble around for a cup and try to fill it with water without missing or spilling before he even adds his coffee grounds or sugar made me stop and think.

He could really use an automatic Keurig.

Put the mug in place, put the coffee pod in place, push one button, and voila. . . coffee!

Today it arrived in the mail, with K-E-U-R-I-G in big letters on the box.

My mom took one look at it and knew what it was for.

And for once, instead of chastising me for spending money, she congratulated me on getting the perfect gift for my father.

This is why I love gifting at Christmas.

Facebook’s algorhithms

Once upon a time, I HAPPENED to mention in passing that I was thinking of buying a something-or-other.

Verbally.

As in out loud, without typing a stroke on a computer.

Not a day later, I started seeing ads on Facebook for something-or-others.

The best something-or-others out there on the market.

With the most competitive prices.

Something like that happened today.

I bought a Nine Line t-shirt for my son – a pro-gun shirt because he supports the Second Amendment.

No judgment.

I happen to know he will LOVE this gift.

I can already hear his high falsetto voice cooing at me, “You REALLY know me, don’t you mom?”

Now, I’m getting ads for Shield Republic and other patriotism-focused stores and I’m amused.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not amused because the algorithms might think I’m a Republican.

I’m amused because those algorithms have to reconcile the fact that on the one hand I bought a Second Amendment t-shirt but on the other hand, I also bought a rainbow LGBTQ face mask.

I defy definition.

[Mic drop]

I don’t have a love story

I don’t have a love story.

And that’s okay.

I don’t need one.

The love in my life is so overflowing from other sources, from my family and friends, that it seems unbearably selfish to wish for more.

So I won’t keep wishing for a love story.

I already have too many to choose from.

Let me tell you some love stories.

My dad once bought me an enormous basket of every single type of fruit that Lunardi’s sold because I cried postpartum that all my fruit spoiled while I was in the hospital giving birth to my rainbow baby, Duncan.

Or my 15 year old birthmother who had to make an impossible decision about putting me up for adoption.

How heart wrenching to give up a beloved child.

There’s the time my sister-in-law cried with me because I was heartbroken over a breakup.

She felt my suffering like it was her own.

And of course, there’s the time my sister and I giggled as we sat in the back of a car in a hotel parking lot, drinking beer and thinking we were being unobtrusive.

We were SO obvious!

There’s my mom who spent countless nights staying up late, baking cookies for a bake sale or putting the final touches on a costume or wiping my fevered forehead.

And my cousin used to invite me to visit her on weekends because she knew I was alone and had no one to hang with,

So you see, I’ve not devoid of love.

I’m flush with it.

I don’t have a love story because I have love stories.