Tag Archives: self

Of Luck, Books, Loss, and Learning


Well, it’s been an interesting week. I’ve had family visit, some weird things go down, emotional highs and lows, and it’s just before 7 on a Friday night after a mentally-grueling day. Tomorrow, I finish my final edit on my first ebook and send it out into the world. My baby gets its walking papers.

Speaking of lows, Wednesday was the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death, and that oddly wasn’t a low this week. In fact, it’s the first time since she died that I didn’t think about her in a “Mom died today” kind of way on her death anniversary. Newer and stranger still is that this doesn’t make me feel guilty. After all, I’ll never forget my mom and I’ll never not be sad that she’s dead, but it’s like I said many years ago, that with each passing year that pain just becomes a little less dominant but a little more permanent, like a scar or faded tattoo, it’s a new part of me.

It’s just a thing. Death, grief, you don’t ever stop missing people you love. That’s the nature of it.my sunset

But I guess there comes a time when we realize we are as much shaped by our losses as we are our successes, and that becomes okay. Well, if you’re like me and you’re happy with the person you’re becoming in the face of all the things you’ve been over the years, then yeah, it becomes okay to be forged through fire and come out of it as steel, whether it’s by people dying or other adversity. It’s really okay.

The older I am, the happier I am about being a strong(er) person.

Stronger, But More Grateful Too

So, it’s a crazy week, right? I’m publishing my first book and now lapsing into reflection about the many years that have passed, the hardships I’ve known, and how tonight I’m thinking about a bike ride to get some pizza, some wine, some sun. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but two years ago I would’ve killed to be able to casually plan to drop $30 on a Friday night pizza/wine combination. Money was still very tight for me 24 months ago. I was having a lot of “budget days” then. And cycling into the sunshine for it, that’s another thing I feel grateful for. Life after back injury is no small gratitude.

Many times over the last 15 years I would’ve given so much to have my “lows” this “death anniversary” week merely be insomnia and a rough day at work. I chuckle at the thought of that being the “low” this week. It’s a good thing, to move on.

I’m sure some reader, somewhere is all “Pfft, you should’ve moved on years ago,” and to them I would merely say fuck you. One doesn’t choose to move on. One can try. One can even force the issue, but the reality is, you don’t move on until you move on. I’ve tried, I’ve forced it, I’ve rammed it into myself. It didn’t take. One of those things.

Last year, I had a friend tell me her daughter’s death day, year 14, was the last time it had wracked her with grief, and year 15 was when she had finally processed it and made peace with it too.

You don’t choose catharsis, catharsis chooses you.

Of Lucky Numbers and Me

My mom sold real estate in Chinatown, probably the only fishbelly-white redheaded woman ever to do so before year 2000. She ate a lot of wontons, loved stirfry, was the token white lady on the company tour to China, and loved immersing in their culture.

She was always thrilled when she’d find or get a new listing that had three or more 8’s in the address, including postal code, because she knew it’d be popular with the very traditional Chinese customers, who were often the high-rollers. It’s an “auspicious” number, foretelling great wealth and good fortune. Abundance in life. Lemme tell ya, I’ve had auspicious abundance since last year, when I moved into my apartment that has three 8’s in its mailing address.

Well, I registered my book today. The ISBN number not only has three 8’s, it also has four 9’s. Nine, it turns out, is the auspicious Chinese number for “long-lasting” and loyalty.

I don’t see these numbers as applying to just this one ISBN, but rather to my future as a writer.

Shush! It’s my fucking superstition, I get to interpret it any way I like. I’ll be auspiciously abundant and with great longevity.

The numbers have spoken.

And now I have some numbers to translate into pizza and wine. Hello, Visa card! (It has 8s and 9s too. Huh.)

In Vino Veritas: Turning Points

[One of those into-and-almost-done-a-bottle-of-wine postings. Bear with me here.]

So, Mission: Get a Life is underway.

Making friends, for me? Not very hard. Not if I am myself. If I’m relaxed, content, sociable, people warm to me quickly and easily. And why not? I’m a good person. Better yet, I’m funny. I even make the aesthete’s basic requirement of being “smart” in the broad yet defined “non-Wikipedia” kind of way.

Bonus: I’m brutally frank. This makes me unpredictable. I still regularly shock my best friends of 15+ years, because I’m unflinchingly honest — always. Fortunately, I’m often (definitely not always) tactful, so it’s a little more easily swallowed. Even my employer calls me “honest to a fault”, but she laughs when saying it, and I notice coworkers will actively eavesdrop when I speak, so it can’t be that offensive. Yet. Continue reading

My Own Private Dichotomy

Fear is not my friend. I don’t care what the bookstore’s self-help section says.

Fear is a bitch. A mean, driven bitch.

I am not a fan of fear.

I bought that book. Twice. Feel The Fear and Do It Anyways. Sometimes I do it anyways. But I always feel the fear. Ever-present, always-niggling fear.

Fortunately I know that I’m apparently invincible. Continue reading

7 More Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About Me

I got tagged for this meme for a second time, this time by JamieLD. The first time was here. And why not just brush it off and say “But I did it already?” Huh? Why?

Well, I’ll tell you. ‘Cos, like, there ARE 14 things about me you don’t know. How do ya like them apples? I know, you’re thinking, “Dude, this is one seriously vast chick.” We’re so on the same page. Here’s just some of that vastness, my fabulous minions:

1. Well, you know I’m funny. In fact, I’ve been told on occasion that I’m even, gasp, “really” funny. I’ll accept that answer. But you know what’s also funny? I don’t watch a lot of comedy. You scour my DVD collection and there are very, very few comedies. Maybe 10% of what I own can be classified as funny. Continue reading

Lightning Crashes… Or Something

There is a world of difference between saying what needs to be said and saying what you want to say. Words get taken the wrong way and intentions are often lost in the mix.

Hi, I’m Steff. I’m a compulsive foot-in-mouthist, and thinking before speaking is a lifelong fantasy I’ve yet to make true.

And you know what? Honestly, I just hope I keep on failing.

It’s so goddamned much fun when I get to actually say what I think. I do curtail it day to day, but not as much as you might think. I’m not one of these secret-other-self type bloggers who has a total alter ego they only bring out to play on a CPU. I don’t have to hit the bong or scarf a tab or guzzle a 2-4 in order to tap into that inner self. I just have to bite my fucking tongue sometimes so I can yield to convention. But, trust me, most people I know have known me to say incredibly crass things sometimes, and I’ve no qualms about playing a fool.

If there’s anything I miss about my old job, it’s that they’d long ago labelled me as “flippant” and knew me to be an absolute yutz at times, and, in fact, they embraced those moments of utter irrelevance. I miss that, and I miss the fact that I’m not feeling as comfortable being myself as I once was. I chalk it up to the oddities of the recent past: the lack of sex drive, the in-orbit levels of estrogen, the sub-terranean depths of depression, and all that shit. But I feel it coming back to me now. I’m waiting, like a lover in the night, I’m waiting for my own arrival, naked yet comfortable.

And that’s the thing, man. Being yourself. It ain’t just about saying what you’re thinking, it’s about feeling comfortable in your own skin and knowing, without a doubt, that the things you’re doing and thinking are all about who you are. It’s far easier said than done, and far harder to actualize than any of those fucking self-help gurus would have you believe.

Why’s that? Well, ‘cos we live in a shrink-wrapped society that thinks image is everything. Hell, it’s apologies-on-demand in our day and age. (I wrote a little ranty thing about just that on the other bloggie-poo of mine earlier today.)

Y’know, there’s two ways I write best: One, with music driving the cadence of everything I tap out, and two, like I am now, seated in unnatural (to you) silence — my little hearing aids turned off, or not even inserted in my ears. I find that if, one way or the other, I drown out the world, that all that’s left is the rat-tatty-tat of my heart and my fingers on the keyboard. Gone is the judgment, the cynicism, the self-doubt, the angst, the bafflement, the groan’n’drone of the world beyond my far too thin windowpanes. I can give in to autolatry and isolation, and, for once, being myself is just a little easier.

I have the misfortune of working at a company with nice people, but with extreme political aspects to them. And with politics comes correctness, and with correctness comes a realization that I might not ever fit in as I’d like to. But, then, I haven’t been there long, and it took me more than a year to gain the unequivocal fondness of my last employers. (But I was in a bad, bad place when I started that job — borderline alcoholic and drug addict, really.) I suspect I’ll beat the living shit out of that time-lapse this time around, but OHMIGOD does it feel like forever.

And I’ve been thinking about this for a little bit today, how weird it all is when we lose touch with ourselves. It’s like trying to dial up a friend and stoke an old relationship. It ain’t gonna be all love’n’kisses as soon as that cup’o’joe settles on the table between you, you know. Takes a little massagin’ of egos and checking in and tuning up and all, don’t you find? Yet we think that because we’re all of a sudden aware of the distance between who we are and who we’re being that there’s some kinda mental Band-aid we can slap on that gaping psychic wound and suddenly be our uber-ally self all over again. Not gonna fuckin’ happen, sweetcheeks — try though you might.

So, that’s where I am. I know who I am but I know who I’m seeming to be, and who I’m seeming to be’s just gotten her eviction notice and I want her ass on outta here, but I know there’s a holding period before that’s gonna happen. Meanwhile, just call me Marcellus Wallace, ‘cos I’m about due to get medieval on that waste-ass tenant if she ain’ packin’ in a friggin’ hurry, baby.

I’m trying to remember when in the hell it all shifted for me. When was it I lost touch with all the little bitty bits o’ Steff that make me grin when I’m alone? At some point during my recently RIP’d relationship, to be sure, and no, I’m not about to blame the ex for causing me to go AWOL. Sure as shit weren’t his fault, not one iota. He liked the chick I am, not the chick I became, and that’s fact that I don’t doubt. The problem was never him, the problem was that I, like most chicks have a tendency to do, managed to fall into that trap of being what I thought was the right thing to be in a relationship, and somehow, that coupled with the estrogen depression and the prevalence of strife and upheaval in my oh-so-tumultuous little dramatic life somehow sent this kick-ass, fun to be with, always witty, always snappy chick somewhere way the hell out into the stratosphere.

And, dude, it sucked!

There’s nothing (NOTHING!!!) worse than waking up with the side of you that you just don’t like. There’s nothing (NOTHING!!!) cooler than waking up with a grin on your face ‘cos nothing turns you on better than liking who you are at 6:53 am, all right?

And you don’t get to be that person if all you’re ever doing is kow-towing to convention and appeasing all the little perfect (read: no fun, dry, unenviable) people around you. You get to be that person when you say things that catch yourself and others off-guard and you bring a grin to their face. You get to be that person when that gleam in your eye sparkles and you find yourself walking down the street with an unwarranted grin.

Ah, well, I don’t know why I’m writing this, and I don’t give a fuck about it, either. I just felt like it. That’s reason enough, no? I wish like nothing else I had Live’s Lightning Crashes somewhere on this harddrive, but no. I do not. If you read this in the next couple of hours, (say, before 2am PST) perhaps you could email me the song and I can rock-the-fuck-out before work in the morning. Not that I’m condoning piracy. Okay, fuck it. I’m condoning piracy. Sign me up, matey, and watch me rock and roll on the pitch of those waves.