Sometimes there’s just a little tug on your heart

Sometimes there’s just a little tug on your heart.

Like when I got an email announcing the next Great Bull Run and I was magically transported back in time to that adrenaline-pumping, thrill-a-minute quarter mile run I made with the bulls….

…and with my friend Mark, who passed away at the age of 41 in January 2015.

Mark himself stayed up on the railing and shot this video of my cousin Jennifer and I running with the bulls:

We both struggled to keep cool in the excessive heat.  Mark wore his kerchief on his head, soaked in water and I rolled a wet one around my neck. He kept giving me money to go buy drinks and although he didn’t ride the mechanical bull himself, he had fun watching Jennifer, her brother Nick, and I ride (and fall) off the bull.  After the Great Bull Run we went to his house and he made me take two showers because I was covered in salt.  LOL  Ah, the memories.

So it’s with more than a little sadness that I think about running with the bulls again this year.  It seems there should be some good cause I can support with my activities – mental health, treatment of depression, sobriety – all worthy causes that Mark might support me supporting them.

But for now I have to sit here with this ache and realize all over again what a remarkable man the world has lost.

And that nothing will ever be the same again.

Reunion

michelleSo.

I went to my 25th high school reunion and by and large REALLY ENJOYED THE MUSIC.

I went in with low expectations, basically hoping that I’d meet a friend or two and catch up.

And I did!

I caught up with Kimberly, who I hadn’t seen in over a year.

I ran into people I recognized and people who I’d totally forgotten (sorry Eric and Jason).

But once again I was reminded of online dating – where the focus is on making small talk and getting to know the details (married, kids, job, where you live) etc., rather than making a real connection.

But by far what took the cake was running into a high school classmate who literally couldn’t stand to clap his eyes on me.

He was the one in the fancy suit who was posturing about, looking important with his wife who was obviously trying WAY TOO HARD.

Mentally, I rolled my eyes. HARD.

Meathead in high school, meathead in life.

Some people never change.

But oh, the ones who had!

One woman had so much work done she was UNRECOGNIZABLE!

By and large, I was impressed with my classmates as a whole. People I barely knew in high school chatted with me and shared their lives.

They were friendly, fun, and obviously as stunned that we were at our 25th HIGH SCHOOL REUNION as I was.

The music, performed by a band of alumni led by my friend Mark, was out of this world good and I was as impressed with Mark’s vocals as I was his good-natured response to an alumnus from 1986 taking over his microphone to scream the lyrics to “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

Priceless.

But what really capped off the evening, and I mean REALLY, was me going up to an old professor and shouting, “Hey! You taught me how to type,” followed swiftly by the expletive “fucker.”

OMG.

I may have been referring to the time he gave me an unwanted, unsolicited, unpleasant backrub in class.

AWKWARD!

Over a barrel

michelleI’m not much for reunions.

Mostly because I hate the posturing and “hey-look-how-good-I-have-it” attitude.

And I keep in touch with all the people I want to keep in touch with.

Granted, it’s mostly through Facebook, but that counts.

Well, two musician friends who I follow on Facebook have put together a band to play our Reunion.

That’s right. They play in bands already and are coming together to entertain my high school class.

They’ve gone and done the one thing that I can’t resist the temptation to watch – they’re going to perform.

But it won’t be like it was in high school, playing covers of 80s and 90s music. Performing Gypsy’s “Everything’s coming up roses”. . .

Oh no.

These fellows are dark. Mysterious. Creative. Talented.

I’m guessing it’s a performance that will BLOW ME AWAY.

Who am I to resist?

They’re going to get to me eat my words and go to a reunion. . .

Fuckers!

 

* UPDATE: Just discovered that Reunion is NEXT weekend and I am not allowed to wear anything BESIDES cocktail attire to the Reunion. Fuck!

Hi Miss Michelle

In January 2015, my friend Mark committed suicide.

In the dark dark days following his death, I found little comfort except in knowing that I had upwards of 50 little videos that he made for me that I could watch when I felt ready.

Then in August of 2015 I discovered that I’d inadvertently deleted all the videos after assuming I’d properly backed them up.

I was crushed.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I’m going through my old computer looking for a picture of me salmon fishing when I stumble across all those old videos.

I immediately played one.

Mark’s baritone voice came over my speakers.

“Hi Miss Michelle.”

Heart stops.

Clenches.

Face drops into open palms.

Deep breaths.

Come back! I want to say.

You are missed so badly!

But there are no words to reach him.

There is only his voice, reaching out to me from the archives.

“Hi Miss Michelle.”

Hi Mark.

Crushed

In January, my friend Mark passed away. That’s a gentle way of saying that he committed suicide. Very tragic circumstances surrounding. His family and friends will mourn him for the rest of our lives. He was extraordinary.

One of the things he did for me was make little video clips, almost daily, of him wishing me good morning, hello, and telling me what he was up to.

After he died, I couldn’t bear to look at the images on my phone so I “thought” I moved them to a safe location where I could look at them later when my feelings weren’t so raw.

Today I went to look at the videos and discovered they weren’t there.

They’ve all been deleted.

At first, I was crushed by this news but gradually began to picture my friend Mark, in the afterlife, literally laughing at me and pointing out that now no one will believe me…. he destroyed all the evidence.

Mark was an enigmatic man who I’m sure would rather leave the MEMORY of him behind than a TANGIBLE piece of him behind.

Crushed? In a way, but I have my memories.

And I’m thankful for every second I had with him.

No doubt.

MyEyesOnlyPhoto_2014-05-01-09-41-34-497

Sometimes there’s just a little tug on your heart

Sometimes there’s just a little tug on your heart.

Like when I got an email announcing the next Great Bull Run and I was magically transported back in time to that adrenaline-pumping, thrill-a-minute quarter mile run I made with the bulls….

…and with my friend Mark, who passed away at the age of 41 in January 2015.

Mark himself stayed up on the railing and shot this video of my cousin Jennifer and I running with the bulls:

We both struggled to keep cool in the excessive heat.  Mark wore his kerchief on his head, soaked in water and I rolled a wet one around my neck. He kept giving me money to go buy drinks and although he didn’t ride the mechanical bull himself, he had fun watching Jennifer, her brother Nick, and I ride (and fall) off the bull.  After the Great Bull Run we went to his house and he made me take two showers because I was covered in salt.  LOL  Ah, the memories.

So it’s with more than a little sadness that I think about running with the bulls again this year.  It seems there should be some good cause I can support with my activities – mental health, treatment of depression, sobriety – all worthy causes that Mark might support me supporting them.

But for now I have to sit here with this ache and realize all over again what a remarkable man the world has lost.

And that nothing will ever be the same again.

Mark


FullSizeRender-6

A few days ago, a friend of mine ended his life and his suffering by committing suicide.

He was a gentle man, with unrelenting wit and sarcasm and a clever mind.  He loved quoting Heinlein and was always up for new adventures, like when he took me to the Great Bull Run.

We talked about suicide.  Me, because I had slipped into a deep depression after I lost a son to cancer.  Him, because he lost a girlfriend to suicide.  He told me that if he were a book, he’d be “Time Enough for Love” by Heinlein, which is the story of the oldest living man who has decided he wants to commit suicide and is entertaining his audience with stories from his past.

When we discussed me being suicidal, I told him it was very passive.  That I just wanted my heart to stop beating.  I told him I didn’t want to live.  And Mark, having perhaps explored this area better than I, remarked that there was a difference between wanting to die and not wanting to live.

I blogged about Mark frequently, under a pseudonym.  He was my muse.  I had a thing for him, which I let go of but still felt a little tickle of something when I thought of him.  He and I swapped video messages and I have a collection of him talking to me that I can’t bear to look at right now, but that I will someday cherish.

When I think of how he suffered, I can only imagine the depth of his pain which led him to take his own life.

He will be missed by many and until the end of our days.

Life is precious.

The Adrenaline Rush

The first thing you need to know about The Great Bull Race is that I didn’t do it alone.  My friend Mark and my cousins Jennifer, Nick, and Travis did it with me.

Thank God, because my hands were shaking like a leaf before and after the run.

Imagine a couple hundred people lining a track about 1/4 mile long in 100+ degree heat and that approximates what the experience was like.

We all waited anxiously for the bulls to run.  And run they did.  They came barreling down the track in 3 waves of about 8 bulls.

We let the first wave of bulls and people run right by us.  We ran with the second wave of bulls, captured on video by Mark:

In al honesty, I have to admit I freaked out a little when I got a bit too close to a big black bull.  My, they are big with HUGE horns!  I spent the next 10 seconds glued to th fence.

My cousin Jennifer ran with me.  And she stayed with me the whole time. Even when I freaked out and she wanted to run.  Never left my side.  I love that girl ❤

The whole experience lasted maybe 30 seconds.  But what a wild, heart-pounding 30 seconds it was.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  It was a magnificent experience unlike any other I had, and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Being able to run with bulls was incredible.  And being able to do it with friends and family made it even better.  When I originally signed up, I thought I’d be doing the bull run all by myself.

What a lucky woman I am to have such good friends and family.

And now a photo collage of our day:

photo 1 photo 2
photo 3 photo 4
photo 5 photo 1
photo 2 photo 3
photo 4 photo 5

I opted to skip the Tomato Royale tomato fight.  It was a super hot day and I’ve already thrown rotten tomatoes before in a tomato throwing festival so I asked Mark if we could opt out and he agreed.  Jennifer did it with Travis and Nick. Here’s a glorious shot of her, post tomato fling….

photo-18

 

Horny beasts

I’m about to run around with a bunch of horny beasts.

No, I’m not talking about a progressive with Sigma Alpha Epsilon (the reigning fraternity when I was at UCSB).

I’m talking about real horned beasts.

Yes, I am participating in the Great Bull Run at the Alameda County Fairgrounds TOMORROW.

And I’m totally excited.

Following the Bull Run is the Tomato Royale – basically a big food fight where you get to fling rotten tomatoes at everyone. Keep that mouth closed! Yum.

I’m especially excited because my cousin Jennifer and a friend will be there too. Running with the bulls. And throwing tomatoes on me.

What could be a better way to spend and afternoon?

Wait… don’t answer that.

Friends with benefits

033af69434988fbac64cc7a4884970d6I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve dipped into the FWB (friends with “benefits”) bucket.  It’s a guilty pleasure of mine – it seems so wrong but it feels so right.  And even if it is wrong, it’s much better than romantic and sexual celibacy.

If you google FWB, you will find a whole list of sites offering up their advice on how to make it work, what to look out for, even rules to adhere to, such as:

  1. Pick someone you wouldn’t normally date.
  2. Don’t let things get complicated.
  3. Don’t text for any reason other than sex.
  4. Don’t do sleepovers.
  5. Don’t kiss goodbye.
  6. Don’t fall in love.
  7. Go your separate ways.

Obviously, with lists of rules of engagement peppering the internet, there’s an implied complexity to these arrangements.  Are the rules there to make for the perfect FWB union or are they there to blow a horn in your face letting you know what the pitfalls are?

Someone, somewhere screwed up big time.

Here’s my personal list of rules:

  1. Have more than one FWB.
  2. Try all that stuff you were too embarrassed or afraid to try in your previous relationships.

That’s pretty much it.  Two rules. Keep more than one FWB and you won’t get overly attached to any of them. Also, take the opportunity to try out new things and expand your repertoire. Might as well do it while you have the chance.

My sister suggests that I read books – “Obsess on knowledge!”  My birthmother agrees.

But I want to study anatomy.

Sadly, no one backs me up.  My friend Jenny wrote, “FWB is a recipe for disaster. One of the participants involved will eventually want more out of the friendship & down the road, those FWB don’t usually remain friends.”

Yes, but did they enjoy studying each other’s anatomy for a while?  Cuz in my book that’s success.

It’s not meant to last forever.  Just long enough to get to where you’re going next .

And maybe that’s the takeaway here:  FWB relationships are unlikely to end well but in the meantime, they are just good fun.  When asked, “Friends with benefits….just good fun or a recipe for disaster?” my friend Mark responded, “Yes and yes.”