Update

My mother passed away Friday afternoon. She was at home in Albuquerque.

Thank you so much for all your comments, emails, and your prayers and support. I flew back to Chicago yesterday after one of the hardest weeks of my life.

Some of you have asked about memorial donations, and I’ll post here with details soon.

What I haven't wanted to write

I didn’t really mention how our Christmas trip to Albuquerque went. You might have seen on the Flickr page that yes, we made it there; we walked around Old Town to see the luminarias on Christmas Eve, and the next day Chris and I took the tramway up to Sandia Crest. And we spent time with my family: my aunts and my brother and my father and my mother, and it was good, but it was too short of a visit, considering the situation. Just after Christmas, my mom, who has late-stage ovarian cancer, started hospice care. (This is the part I haven’t wanted to write.)

On New Year’s Eve, I booked a flight to go out there again next week. Last night, based on what the hospice nurse is telling us, I changed my flight to this Sunday instead. I hope you can figure out where this is all going. The last time I talked to my mom she sounded comfortable. She’s comfortable and she’s at home. Some of you reading this may know her, or maybe you have some sense of who she is from stuff I’ve written, and if you want to send prayers or good thoughts her way, I’m sure she’d welcome that.

As for how I am, I don’t know. I’m not sure if it’s hit me yet.

There is this little building at the top of Sandia Crest called Kiwanis Cabin, this stone hut perched right at the edge, and from the steep side of the mountain it looks remote and wind-whipped and God-forsaken, and when I saw it from the tramway and through my camera I wondered what it was like there. It looked, well, rough—like a place where you’d have to endure the elements, and someplace you’d go only if you were really lost. Later I searched Flickr for photos of the place and realized that people get there just by hiking up the other side, the “easy” side, up what looks like a pretty ordinary trail, with pinon trees, and grass, and everything looking enough like the rest of the world for you to almost forget how thin the air is getting. I can see that sometimes you might not know how close you are to that place until you’re practically there.

That’s kind of how it is right now: one side of the mountain or another.

This might be the last post for a couple of weeks. I just wanted to let you all know what is happening.

Day 86. (Post-holiday edition)

Yes, still counting towards a hundred days of This Thing I’m Doing. The days didn’t stop for the Christmas season, though of course there were a couple days when my sense of purpose sort of got lost in all the tinsel. I figured that would happen. But for once, I didn’t hit an arbitrary OFF switch for the holidays. I didn’t want to do the I’m-just-not-going-to-worry thing, because what does that mean, that I worry the rest of the time? That I spent the last three months being such an asshole to myself that come December I get to eat a whole cheesecake and give myself a hug? Fuck you, Holiday Self-Entitlement! I thought. Up yours, Ghost of Christmas Present! I tried to just stay the course as much as possible.

(At the same time, though, it’s not like things were normal. How the hell could they be? It’s the time of year when everyone puts huge light-up inflatable crap on their lawns and listens to Lite FM all day and buys Chia pets for each other. Suddenly all the food comes from Swiss Colony instead of from nature. The world goes bugfuck crazy for about two weeks, so what can you do? Try some of that toffee, that’s what.)

Anyway, when the (sparkly, glittery, sugary holiday) dust settled, I was okay. Well, except for the stomach cramps I got from eating too many things I don’t usually eat now. Some of this was probably due to stress and travel, but it was definitely also from things like plowing into a stack of belgian waffles at full speed. I have mixed feelings about suddenly being a delicate flower when it comes to this kind of food. On one hand I’m dismayed that I can’t quite enjoy the stuff the way I used to, and on the other hand I feel sort of validated, because hey, all that sugar and white flour and shit really does do a number on me and throws off my senses and leaves me staggering around belly-blind. Yes, I totally just made up “belly-blind.” Because that’s how it feels—like my stomach is a young Helen Keller, all crazed and confused, and let’s say that something went horribly wrong so that instead of learning how to say W-A-T-E-R she only knows how to spell out the signs for S-N-A-C-K C-A-K-E. I know that’s fucking nuts but it’s the best way I can describe it. Anyway, as uncomfortable as it was, it all helped to remind me that This Thing I’m Doing feels better. And it feels normal now, too. Less of an effort and more of a relief.

The new year doesn’t feel like an empty slate to me. I guess can understand how it must feel like that to people, especially after all the holiday clutter gets cleared away. But this year—maybe this one in particular—already feels chaotic and stumbly and difficult, but at the same time, I feel like I’m up for it. The stars don’t have to be perfectly aligned this time.

2007

Last night we watched movies and drank champagne on the couch, and for a few minutes around midnight we switched to live TV to see Carson Daly start the countdown (and does he have a tapeworm? We really wonder). Then we went to the front windows and watched for fireworks above the trees, and sure enough they bloomed up in two or three places around the neighborhood.

Today we went to brunch at Andrew and Cinnamon’s place and tonight I made Hoppin John for dinner. Oh, and we threw out the Francisco Stop. I lifted off the platform and then we shoveled the rest of it into a garbage bag and then Chris stomped on it a few times, and yes, it sounded as excellent as you might imagine. It was the next best thing to using tiny explosives to destroy it.

Where do I start? A year ago we weren’t in this apartment yet and I was worrying about different deadlines than I am now. Our lives didn’t look like this yet. It’s as simple as that, I guess.