Tag Archives: memory

Remembering and missing my friend Deimos

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One year ago today I lost my friend Deimos. I’m reminded almost daily of his goofy, confident, noisy Presence.

I miss a herd of hounds rushing down the stairs to meet me at the door, Old Greybeard in the lead. I miss that he was so excited for walks or going anywhere in the car, that he wouldn’t stand still to hook up the lead. I miss having a buddy to say with strategic snout placement and that weird low greyhound woof, “Hey, you’ve worked enough, get off the computer!” I miss a not-so-secret 75 lbs of sneaking up onto the bed on chilly nights. Most of all I miss the individual soul that left such a gaping hole behind.

The story of Deimos:

Guilty TV, various shades of blue, and what to do with celeriac

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Ahh. Guilty pleasures: Biggest Loser and Parenthood on Hulu. I’ve hardly watched any TV at all this summer, but now at least I have a few things to watch other than The Daily Show, to shut my brain off once in a while. And soon: Glee.

We’ve had such a beautiful warm Fall. And we deserve it after the long, cold, crappy spring and subsequent very short summer. Today I hiked Pilot Butte at lunch and every time I got to the west side I was amazed at the clarity of the mountains against the endless blue sky. I should get out in it every day, because so soon it will be biting cold. And/or snowing.

I’ve been a little down these last few days. Not sure what it is: Change of season? Finally slowing down a little with no travel planned? Processing and reacting to the culture clash of the Portland vegan world versus my everyday world? Extra time on my hands and time to myself because the kids are back home? Something seems a little empty, a little off. It will probably right itself one of these days.

In the meantime, I’ll keep baking bread {like the aromatic kalamata olive bread that just came out of the oven}, and loving on my hubby and animals. Also, I bought celeriac at the farmer’s market today, just to try something new—it smells so good! Can’t wait to use it in a soup or maybe a slaw, which was a suggestion from the stand worker.

Thinking about Tomoko

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My mind is on Japan today. How could it not be? And I’ve been thinking about Tomoko. Tomoko was my roommate in my sophomore year of college. At the time, roommates were assigned by the college in what I assume was a somewhat random fashion.

Sophomore year, I was hoping for somebody that I had more in common with than my morose freshman year roommate, somebody I could hang out with, somebody who was more like me. Instead, I was given a Japanese exchange student. Which pissed me off.

Tomoko was very shy, and a few years older than the typical sophomore. I was shy and under-confident as well, which made sharing the extraordinarily small room awkward. And because I was annoyed that she wasn’t what I thought I wanted in my romantic idea of a college roommate, I made absolutely no effort to befriend her. Here she was in a foreign country, in a tiny Oregon town, with only a small group of other foreign exchange students from Japan that had traveled with her, none of whom seemed to be overtly friendly with her. To make matters worse, there was another Tomoko in the group: a beautiful, young, outgoing girl—and of course to compare and contrast them was natural. My roommate was always, the other Tomoko.

I made virtually no attempt to get to know my roommate that year. As a result, I don’t remember her last name and I don’t remember what part of Japan she was from. I didn’t include her in my plans, or take her to the coast, or out to eat, or to hang out with friends. I pretty much ignored her. And I made no attempt to stay in touch with her after the school year ended. And for all of that, I am deeply ashamed. Most of that year I spent hanging out with a new boyfriend, who later betrayed me in many ways, including cheating on me with the outgoing Tomoko (not my roommate). If I have any defense at all for my actions, I also found out that fall that my mom had Ovarian Cancer and my world was suddenly upended. Immaturity + life upheaval = bitch, I guess.

Karma bit me back a few years later when I went to Spain as an au pair (nanny). The family in Madrid that I lived with had used an agency to cheaply hire many “girls” over the years. They didn’t include me in their plans, take me many places (I can’t say none), or treat me as part of the family. It became clear that I was there to do one thing: speak English with the kids. And yet, there were other au pairs, young Spaniards affiliated with the au pair program, and students in my community Spanish classes, who did befriend me that year, and for whom I’ll always be grateful. I made little attempt to keep in touch with them after we all left Spain though. See any kind of pattern here?

Regret is a funny thing, and although I’ve thought of Tomoko over the years, and I’ve thought of Japan over the years, I’ve never really felt as badly about the way I treated Tomoko as I do right now, when her country is in shambles. I hope she has had a great life full of true friends. And that wherever she is in the world right now, that she is safe.

I dream, to keep things moving

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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus  – Week 8

This week’s focus is dreams . . . so much has been written about them. Interpretation dictionaries exist, but I enjoy some of the concepts Joseph Campbell teaches about dreams. He says dreams teach us about ourselves and that we can use them to interpret various aspects of ourselves and our lives. To do this,“write your dreams down, then take one little fraction of the dream, one or two images or ideas, and associate with them. Write down what comes to your mind, and again what comes to your mind, and again. You’ll find that the dream is based on a body of experiences that have some kind of significance in your life and that you didn’t know were influencing you. Soon the next dream will come along, and your interpretation will go further.”

This week, as we continue our Year of Mindfulness, I encourage you to pay closer attention to your dreams. Place a pad and pen next to your bed to write down any significant images that arise. What are your dreams saying to you? What are they trying to teach you?

In times of stress, change, or uncertainly, I dream of moving. Moving to a new house, a new town, or a combination of both, but never to the same place twice. Structures and places are often reminiscent of each other, but architecture and layout are different, and there are always new rooms to explore. So boringly symbolic, but that’s who we are.

Every once in a while I have a recurring dream of moving to a large mysterious old house, with secret cavernous rooms. I remember golds and browns, rich carved wood, wandering alone. Seeking. This is the only place that stays the same, waiting for me to dream it into view every now and then. Nothing to see here, move along.

Rarely, I dream of my mom. Always, she is living a seemingly plausible, parallel life. I couldn’t describe it better than I did back in November. An excerpt:

I have that dream every few years too. Except that in mine, I discover that my mom is living a normal life somewhere else, maybe just across the state. When I confront her, she seems unconcerned; she doesn’t wonder what I’ve been up to or want to reunite. She seems content to have been living in that other place all this time. In the dream, I am mildly disturbed by this, but nothing like I would be in real life. And I wake up thinking, is this a symbol, or is this a glimpse? If she exists elsewhere, and is unconcerned with me, this means I am not the center of the universe. But isn’t this what we would want for those we’ve loved and let go — for them to be unmolested by our ultimately insignificant and transient dramas? If they exist outside of this world should they not have their own lives, their own new purpose?

20+20 Vision

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I have now lived the same amount of years without my mother as with her. 20+20. Thinking of you today, mom.

So I wanted to write a long, commemorative post. But I’ve let stresses and deadlines get in the way. There’s still more February for remembering, though.

20 years, half my life, is a long enough time to have forgotten mostly everything. I can’t remember her voice, but I remember how she liked to repeat stories or phrases twice, for emphasis. I can’t focus in on her face, but I remember her eyes (the only non-brown pair in the family), her nose, her mole, her smell, the clothes she wore. I can’t remember any conversations we had, but I remember being loved, of sitting on the couch together watching TV, or a movie. I remember picking berries and mushrooms together, “going for a drive,” and her excitement over having visitors from out-of-town to show off Central Oregon to. I remember spaghetti with dried and reconstituted morels (a gallon jar of dried morels survived longer than she did), sauerkraut and hot dogs, fried zucchini, and sharing “raw” stuffing together at Thanksgiving. I remember that she liked to watch her “stories” (soap operas) and drink Constant Comment tea, which she insisted on calling Constant Comet. I remember that she had to stop drinking coffee because it upset her stomach—and later, so did I. I remember that she liked to take long, hot baths with a book—and so do I. I remember that she loved our companion animals—mostly cats, a dog here and there. I remember going to antique stores, thrift stores, and flea markets, often. I remember a house full of clutter that felt like home.

Most days, something reminds me of her. I wonder where she’s been all these years?