"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

These Boots Are Made for Walkin'

Today I put one of my sister Julie's cd's in to listen to on my drive to work. I do that sometimes when I want to feel connected to her. I kept all of the cd's she had in her car cd changer at the time she died. They're labeled in her neat, slanted handwriting in her typical organized, logical way--Latest Mix #1, Latest Mix #2, Workout Mix. The one labeled Where I Am Right Now is one I listened to over and over in the weeks, even the months after she died, trying to understand, looking for clues in the lyrics. 
They were all custom mixes that she'd made herself. She did that frequently as her musical moods changed as often as her emotional moods. Her choices at any given time in her life were a snapshot of where she was at in her head at that time. 

Today I listened to the one labeled Latest Mix #2. I realized as I loaded it into the player that it really wasn't that current of a mix anymore, being at least three years old. It's like a time capsule of sorts, filled with musical messages about my sister and her musical choices in early 2010. It started out with Lady Antebellum's song Long Gone, an upbeat country song about a woman telling a man that he's missed his chance with her, she's long gone. 

It's so like you just to show up at my door
And act like nothin's happened
You think I'll sweep my heart up off the floor
And give it to you
Like so many times before
You're talking to a stranger
I'm not that girl anymore

That girl is long gone
Boy you missed the boat it just sailed away
Long gone
She's not drowning in her yesterdays
Betcha never thought I'd be that strong
Well this girl is long gone

Don't waste your breath with baby baby please
Cuz I am so not listening
Don't bother getting down upon your knees and try to beg me
I'm tired of how you twist the truth
You're not talking to the same girl
Who used to forgive you

Next up was Nancy Sinrata's These Boots Are Made for Walking. Who doesn't know those lyrics? The video while dated, still resonates with the message of a woman who just isn't going to take any more bad treatment from a man. She's empowered, she's strong, she's sexy, and she's walking away. Haven't we all at some point in our lives felt like Nancy Sinrata? I know I have. 

I listened to those two songs and thought of Julie. Did she add those songs to her play list during a time when she felt strong enough to end her destructive relationship? Were the words her anthem during those times when she had walked away from him? Or were they words of inspiration, songs she listened to trying to gather the fortitude to walk away, to tell him exactly the kind of person he was and that she deserved so much better? Either way, I wish she would have taken them more to heart. I wish she could have sung along with conviction, believing the messages and walked away for good. 

If only I could have made her see that she was strong, she did deserve better, she could put on her boots, literally and figuratively, and walk away without looking back. When I listened to those songs today I was sad. Sad for Julie. Sad for me. Sad for everyone who loved her. Sad for the people that didn't get the chance to love her. But most of all, sad that I'll never again get to see her dancing happily in her red boots. 
Amy, Julie and I at a Super Diamond Concert.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hence These Tears

In the weeks immediately after Julie's death my grief and pain was so strong and overwhelming that I felt too wounded and vulnerable to be out in the world. When I was out, it seemed strange that people couldn't see my grief oozing from my pores, because that's what it felt like. I remember a day maybe four days after she died, when Amy and I escaped for some time alone together to laugh, cry, scream and even curse about our sister. That was the day I said I wished I could tattoo my pain on my face so people would know and understand what I was feeling. It was then that we decided that someday we would both get tattoos - for Julie. 

It took me almost three years to settle on what I wanted for my tattoo. After much thought and planning I finally decided. The words would be Hinc Illae Lacrimae, which is Latin for hence these tears. Literally translated the words mean from this place those tears. The best placement for the words would be directly over my heart. Since I wanted my tattoo to be discreet, I settled for my torso. The daffodils aren't because they were Julie's favorite flower. Honestly, I don't even know what her favorite flower was. I love daffodils. So does my mom, and I always associate them with Julie, our spring baby. The daffodils were in bloom when she was born in early April and for many years after on her birthday. One of my favorite pictures of Julie shows her in Ireland, happy, young, carefree and surrounded by daffodils. 
Over the last few years three of Julie's four surviving siblings have tattooed themselves in memory of her. I was the last. I guess all of us felt the need to somehow permanently mark our bodies with reminders of our beloved sister, our never-ending love for her, and the permanent heartbreak she left us with.
Taken just after the work was finished.
Mike snapped the picture and then we noticed the time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Home Improvement

It isn't even three full months into 2013 and I've already fallen below my goal of writing at least one blog post per week. My apologies to my few loyal readers for neglecting my blog. I have so much blog reading to catch up on too, and can't wait to read about what's going on in the lives of my blogging friends. 

So, although my blog shows a definite lack of attention, other areas of my life have been getting some much needed attention. For my birthday this year I asked Mike to re-do my closet. This might seem like a strange gift to some people, but Mike is a master carpenter and I could never afford work of his quality if I had to pay for it. As the pictures below show, I was in desperate need of a closet makeover. My house was built in 1942, and like all houses built during that era, the closets are very small by today's standards. 

I was anxious for work to commence and dismantled the existing closet rails one evening while Mike was at work. I even tore up the carpet, as I knew I had hardwood underneath and was anxious to see the condition of it. My long-term plan is to tear out all the carpeting in my upstairs and refinish my hardwood floors, so the closet floor was going to be the prototype for stain color and finish. 
After a couple of trips to the hardware store, it was finally time for construction to begin. My garage was temporarily turned into a wood shop, and I braced myself for the mess that always comes with construction projects, no matter how big or small. 
Did I mention I could never afford to have custom work of this quality done? Not only that, only Mike would put up with my last-minute changes and modifications to his plan. Soon things started to take shape and there were shelves in place. Lucy and Sophie helped us with load testing. It's always a good idea to know if your closet shelves can hold a 80-pound Labrador and a 15-pound Shih Tzu/Schnauzer, right?

Although the project has taken longer than I wanted, it's getting very close to being done. I've reclaimed my garage, and all the millwork and installation is finished. The only things left are adding some lighting, putting a clear coat of sealer on all the wood, and varnishing the floor. Speaking of which, I love, love, love how the hardwood looks with the stain color I chose! I can't wait to do the rest of my upstairs. Here are some pictures of the almost finished project. My hanging space has increased by several feet, I have upper shelves on three sides instead of two, corner shelves, and a shelf for shoes near the floor with storage space underneath. I plan to upholster a piece of plywood for the door interior, add hooks and use the space for hanging necklaces, belts and scarves. What do you think? I love it and can't wait to start using it.