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the 9th may 8th; an evolving epitaph

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H. Eric Siversen
November 4, 1944 to May 8, 2004

“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character, would you slow down? Or speed up?” – Chuck Palahniuk

It’s been nine years since I last saw my father in this world.

He’s only visited me twice in my dreams.

When I discovered on my wedding day that my dress was about five inches too long, I looked into his eyes, blue like mine but unstained by streaks of urine yellow.

“Daddy, what if I trip down the aisle?”

His face softened with the satisfaction of knowing the right answers to one of life’s pop quizzes that’s weighted much more heavily than the rest.

“Then I’ll catch you,” he said. “I always have.”

And he knew.

My fear was less about the “trip ” than it was about the journey itself.

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Some days I find myself stamping down an almost irrepressible urge to travel far and wide and Houdini out of my life much like my toddler used to in her much-loathed carseat, kicking and screaming and twisting to be free.

This yearning promises wonder, beauty and enlightenment in the Northern Lights of the Norwegian skies or the streets of Provence should I just decide to keep driving past that second star to the right, straight on till morning.

The song that Dj’s these moments is “Hanginaround” by the Counting Crows. It’s part of the soundtrack of my 25-year-old self speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway on my way to San Francisco where a life waited for me should I choose door number three.IMG_6499

I didn’t.

I still can’t help but wonder though what was behind that door, remembering how the setting sun spun gold highlights into my hair for free. And always in that memory the same uninspired song drones on in an endless loop.

“…well I’m stuck so tight weighed by the chains that keep me.”

The temptation of knowing the world wants to kiss me long and hard on the lips isn’t new. It bubbles up from deep inside, daring me to drive really fast and really far away, melting into the horizon just like my father used to on his motorcycle or in his boat.

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And although I might not understand things like religion, mustaches or boyfriend jeans, I now realize that what my dad craved the most wasn’t the speed, but rather the thrill of the moment, however fleeting, during which he pretended that he wasn’t coming back.

He always did.

And alas that magnificent push/pull of life sends me back as well. To a school parking lot where a snack and dance leotard wait in the backseat for a second grader with crooked braids and a full accounting of the boys who burped at lunch.

As she skips to the car, I’m still hungover from that familiar wave of intoxicating wanderlust that only seconds earlier helped to remind me that my wistful, passionate father never really left.

Because he is that pilot light within me.

And in that truth I find my peace.

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Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

May 8, 2013 at 12:32 am

Posted in heady

existential sucker punch

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“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Warning: this blog will most likely offend everyone I know, but please don’t email me trying to save my soul (only Starbucks can do that).

Yenta: I’m sorry. I “went there.”

LLJM: This is a Yuengling conversation

GBFF: Thanks for those threads (the not-itchy ones)

Recently it seems everyone I know on Facebook vowed to include in their prayers a precious toddler who was fighting for his life following a tragic accident.

I don’t know this family, but the boy’s pictures would pop up in my newsfeed, and I’d stare at his sweet, cherubic face feeling my stomach twist into a knot of grief for his mother.

I understand the family is deeply religious, and there was an outpouring of support from the community. I’d read posts about him being in “God’s hands,” and all I could think was, “I hope he’s in the hands of a good doctor and someone is bringing those poor people a breakfast sandwich.”

I’d read that “God is ALWAYS Good,” and knew that although the deeply faithful would find comfort in that, all I could think was, “Easy for you to say since your child is not intubated.”

Yesterday a family member posted that this little guy was “with Jesus now.”

This is not an obituary.

This is me catching my breath after an existential sucker punch to my gut.

If prayers were calculated like votes in a presidential election, this kid would have won by a landslide. An entire community got down on its knees and begged God to save this child. And yet.

How do we reconcile this?

Thankfully most people will seek solace in the warm blanket of their beliefs.

But what about those of us who find organized religion to be an itchy, wool blanket that clashes with our decor?

I don’t have the answers, but in the meantime I guess we look to the universe to help us knit our own blanket using threads of experience, karma and free will.

Let’s bedazzle it with a sense of humor. If you don’t believe the universe has one, then you’ve never been sitting in a rural cafe in La Tourette, France (population 12) missing your deceased father as the song from his memorial video is heard playing in the kitchen.

Accept the knots woven by chance and cosmic intervention.

You don’t have to accept death.

Just understand that it’s illogical and can’t be undone with a frantic, mid-day trip to Petsmart hoping that they have one spotted green pufferfish left.

Realize that while prayer may help you accept your fate, it doesn’t change the universe. She’s a stubborn bitch.

And although I hope that when my number is called, death is as slow and inefficient as the Fresh Market seafood counter, there are no guarantees I’ll be here tomorrow to help Nan find her phone (it wasn’t in the refrigerator like she thought), or maniacally pick at my daughter’s inner ears with a Q-tip instilling in her a lifelong fear of earwax.

So I hope my eight year old knows I allowed her to eat hot dogs not because I’m unaware of the consequences that random animal parts marinating in sodium nitrate will have on her brain, but because I want her to one day look back with fondness at the garbage she used to eat as a kid the way I do when I spot Little Debbie Star Crunch cakes. She needs to enjoy that chocolate chip cookie now before she learns about fat grams.

I hope she has patience, realizing that she is genetically predisposed to road rage. She needs to know that motherfucking every person who cuts her off in traffic will only make her Botox wear off faster.

Besides, we wait our entire lives for some things. Like self actualization or All Berries Crunch Berry cereal.

I hope she never forgets that beauty is found around even the sharpest corners.

This morning, she stopped in our driveway to look up.

“Mommy…look at the sky. It’s so beautiful.”

And that’s when I realized that sometimes we learn more from our children than we can ever teach them.

My daughter is an “old soul” according to my Gram. If anyone can see angels, it’s her.

And so I end this also hoping that she saw the angel of that little boy today.

And he was smiling.

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Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

November 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

Posted in heady

chick-fil-assholes v. chick-fil-gays

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If there is one thing a journalism degree from the University of Florida promises (besides unemployment), it’s a devout respect for journalistic integrity (e.g. The New York Times) and a disdain for their slutty, uneducated sisters (e.g. Fox News).

No one debates the class whore, so I really don’t know why I’m diving into a peanut oil fryer of chicken nuggets and First Amendment rights.

But there is a good chance I’m premenstrual, and therefore cannot suppress the urge to share with you why I’m not eating *waffle fries today any more than I can overcome the desire to sneak up on my UPS man and hit him over the head with a frying pan because he left my new, poorly packaged Frye boots out in the rain.

The First Amendment does not exempt you from criticism

Let’s excuse them for not really understanding the First Amendment. They are just cows after all.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.”

I don’t think anyone is saying that Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy had no right sharing with a Baptist newspaper reporter that he believes traditional marriage should be between only a man and a woman. The fact that his vitriol of gay marriage is plastered all over every social media outlet that exists is not only pure marketing genius on his part, but also a shining example of his First Amendment rights.

And of course he fucking believes in traditional marriage. His restaurant won’t even let my daughter pee in it on Sunday.

But what the First Amendment does not promise Cathy is an exemption from the backlash of people who think he is helping to thwart progress with not just his opinions but the power he holds as an owner of a $4 billion corporation that, oh by the way, just in case you might care, donates millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations.

Don’t believe they are anti-gay instead of just anti-gay marriage? One of the organizations to which Chick-fil-A’s philanthropic arm WinShape donated was Exodus International, which helps provide therapy to reform homosexuals. I want to know what PR person thought it was a brilliant choice to pass over starving children for “praying away the gay.”

Um, yeah. This was said.

‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” Dan Cathy said. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.”

Here’s how I interpret that statement: “By wanting to marry your partner to get his health benefits, you’re basically calling God an asshole, and you better hope he forgives your pompous ass or else you’re completely fucked in the afterlife.”

Cathy calls homosexuals “arrogant,” but never stops to consider maybe they are not even Christian. Maybe they don’t even believe in God. Or eating their own placenta (Deuteronomy 28:57). Maybe they just want the same rights to be miserable and to half their partner’s 401k as every other hetero couple out there?

I do, however, have to give kudos to Cathy for being a marketing guru. He has been quoted as saying they are “not anti-anything,” that their “mission is to create raving fans.”

Well played, Danny boy. Well played.

If you don’t believe in gay marriage. Then don’t do it.

What the Chick-fil-Assholes don’t get, is that people don’t care what they believe, but their beliefs effect change. I get that abortion, gay marriage, and apparently cutting the sides of your hair (Leviticus 19:27) are against your core values. So. Then. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

I don’t eat anything with a face.

But there is a big difference between me declining the osso bucco special at a restaurant with a polite “no, thank you,” than there is with me giving $1.9 million to organizations that promote throwing blood on your (yes, okay, my) leather boots and saying that the Bible thinks it’s a sin to eat meat.

Think this is a bit of a stretch? Well, so is: “If we allow homosexuals to marry…what’s next…GOATS?!”

And for the record, I’m totally okay with the Bible thinking homosexuality is a sin.

As long as you also believe in getting stoned to death for losing your virginity before marriage (or before your husband buys you for 50 pieces of silver), as well as getting stoned to death for adultery, not believing in the LORD, cursing your parents, et al. I hope you have a gravel walkway, because we’re all dying slow, painful deaths if we take the Bible literally.

My mom taught me more than just my forehead is too small for bangs

Back in 1970, my parents relocated from the northeast to Palm Beach County, Florida. During the drive down through the confederate flag-peppered south, they stopped at a gas station for a drink. My mom was waiting in line behind an African-American girl, no more than 10 years old, with a quarter in her hand anxious to buy a cold Coke on that steaming hot Summer day.

The store owner pointed to a sign that read, “No Negroes Allowed.”

The little girl said nothing, before turning sadly on her heels and walking out of the store, completely deflated. My mom went up to the counter and bought two Cokes. She glared at the owner and made it a point to tell him that she was keeping one, and giving the other to that little girl.

My mom would tell me this story and also how my father gave her the, “when in Rome, let’s not get dragged behind a pick-up truck” stinkeye while she undoubtedly returned his look with a, “don’t fuck with me or else your rectum is being used as a bottle opener.”

And I couldn’t believe that kind of prejudice and bigotry existed in her generation let alone mine.

Also, I secretly made a note that it was normal to want to kick your husband’s ass on a routine basis and that she probably shouldn’t have bought either Coke, let alone two, but I get caffeine withdrawals. So don’t judge.

Homosexuality is not akin to “I prefer blondes, but can be swayed to fuck a brunette”

If you’re like me, you believe that if people had a choice whether or not to be gay, they’d probably choose the path that would not involve a constant battle for equality or the need for very colorful parades.

And just as that little girl couldn’t choose her race, and I didn’t choose that my chin looks like a baby’s ass, homosexuals did not make a choice to love who they love. I understand this could be debated, but I’m erring on the side of those who recall getting butterflies at age seven when someone of the same gender touched their arm.

And because of that, I think the Chick-fil-Assholes are on the wrong side of history with this one.

Someday we will look back at this heated debate and see the people against gay marriage in the same light as that Florida gas station owner.

And I just want to be able to tell my daughter that I bought two Cokes that day.

*Full disclosure: I’m not eating at Chick-fil-A today because I never do. I am not boycotting or condoning boycotting them, I just find their food repugnant. It’s also worth noting that our local Chick-fil-A here in St. Petersburg is very generous and supportive of our community, and I applaud their workers for never begrudging the fact that children vomit in their play area on a daily basis. They also earned my respect when their marquee shared information about a peach milkshake instead of the Mike Huckabee-initiated “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

August 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

my relationship truth-o-meter

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As I peruse the paper in my car waiting for the gym (Nordstrom) to open (cardio Wednesday), it strikes me as odd that we have a truth-o-meter for politicians, but not for relationships.

I’m far from a shining example of relationship success or even good judgment, but I have amassed a fair amount of knowledge in my 30-cough years and can finally put my journalism background to work at debunking a few common myths and misconceptions.

So just as political fact checkers toil to research the accuracy of statements such as:

“The majority of Americans want Rick Santorum’s amygdala studied to determine if his insanity is congenital or the result of environmental pollutants.”

I too will try to bring some clarity and truth to the mind-numbing white noise we consider love.

This is specifically dedicated to those of you whose dysfunction combined with my own will hopefully one day fuel a reality TV show capable of earning us enough money to pay for our Botox and/or children’s therapy. Or, at the very least, cocktails at the Gimpy Vomit.

You know who you are.

“There are two sides to every story.”


(the second most annoying statement you will hear during a break up)

Sure two “sides” exist, but think of those sides as individual perceptions of reality. And some people’s reality is so completely distorted, it bears no actual resemblance to the truth.

So the next time a guy friend tells you his wife howls at the moon and sharpens her talons right before giving him half a hand job, you might want to recognize that his “side” should be given as much credibility as, say, Rick Santorum’s.

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”


(the single most annoying thing you will be told during a split)

Look, it’s a ridiculous statement that undermines the intelligence of any person experiencing challenges in a relationship.

Of course it’s not always greener, but who the fuck cares if your lawn is already dead?

“Divorce is the most effective diet plan out there.”

Next to salmonella poisoning, going through the trauma of a divorce is truly the best way to shed that baby weight.

But be careful. There is a fine line between fitting into your high school jeans and looking like you’re undergoing chemotherapy.

“Dating is the best form of entertainment.”


Because when that mature, charming, seemingly perfect 50-year-old guy who left a Gucci purse on your doorstep starts pulling up his dead wife’s Facebook page while you’re with him at a romantic retreat in Napa, you have to stop and appreciate the universe’s sense of humor.

And even if you’re finding it hard to laugh it off in between feeling obligated to say how pretty she is and “not at all sick looking despite the kidney dialysis,” at least know that you always can count on me to snort vodka out of nostrils from laughing so hard when you tell me about it later.

Plus, I will blog about it.

“If you’re smart, you’ll be the second wife.”

Shortly before I graduated college I was dating a sweet, successful JFK, Jr. lookalike who adored me.

The problem? I would have been his second wife.

Still so green and naive, this prospect had me feeling like a second round draft pick.

I was in my early 20s, 10 pounds thinner and had no gag reflex. I thought I deserved to go in the first round!

Here’s what I wish somebody would have shared with me then: the second wife is always held in higher esteem. She’s revered and recognized as the do-over that men are determined to make it work with since it’s a universal truth (to men) that one failed marriage is always the fault of the first wife. The second failed marriage, however, has the husband looking like the crushed, taped-up box of returned toys covered in clearance stickers on the Target endcaps. They will do anything the second time around to avoid looking like the unwanted throwback (again).

Their first wife was like the first pancake. Automatically tossed out because the second one always seems to turn out better. This determination not to be wrong (again) combined with the coaching and potty training of the first wife makes for a winning combination.

You see, the first wife always looks like the nagging bitch for whining about the toenail clippings all over the bathroom floor. But the second wife doesn’t bitch about that at all. You know why? Because there are no more toenail clippings on the floor! (you’re welcome)

“Women should marry a man about 10 years older.”

Because no matter how old they get or how many ear hairs they sprout, men never really stop wanting a 25-year-old (and we can only pull that off for about five years, max), it’s in every woman’s best interest to marry up about a decade.

The age difference is not vast enough to make you look like you have daddy issues, but it’s sufficient enough to ensure that your husband will worship you for years to come.

For instance, if guys your own age find you attractive, guys about 10 years older will find you beautiful. If you’re rocking less-than-average intelligence, to that older guy you’re simply adorable. Slutty? No problem. An older man will just think you’re adventurous! And no worries if you’re completely insane because to an older guy, that’s just idiosyncratic.

Not to mention older men are less likely to leave you for a younger woman since their ego prevents them from wanting to be mistaken for their wife’s father.

I really see no downside for either party when sticking to this rule since women are not afraid of a few grey pubic hairs or decreased sex drive.

All we really want is someone other than a Vietnamese woman we can’t understand to give us a foot rub and tell us we’re skinny.

“Men are complicated.”



Men are about the only math problem I can solve without a calculator. That’s not to say I like math or have any daily use for it, I’m just pointing out that I don’t think it’s astrophysics.

Men like breasts.

They expect you to swallow, stay thin, water them every once in awhile with a light beer, and not remind them how bat-shit crazy their mother is. They want you to let them watch endless, uninterrupted sports without judgement. They need to know they are your biggest and best.

Men like breasts.

“Monogamy is a simple formula.”

As long as the fear of losing the person you’re with outweighs your desire for another, you’ll remain monogamous:

I’d be lost without him/her >; Hot sex with spin instructor/nanny = Monogamy

Also, it’s helpful to realize that women cheat because they’re miserable. Men cheat because they can.

“Your soul mate & life mate are never the same person.”

The person who is so inexplicably tied to your soul that there is a cosmic collision whenever you’re together is rarely the same person who remembers to use a coaster.

The sooner you accept this as truth, the happier you’ll be.

Also, men like breasts.

Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

April 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

a heart-shaped uterus: just in time for valentine’s day

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For those male readers who didn’t realize “uterus” was your indication not to read any further, this is your final warning.

Cobwebs as you head into the torture chamber

Growing up near a Superfund toxic waste dumping ground disguised as a NJ State Park has always had me dreading the inevitable discovery that my internal organs are completely radioactive.

So it was with full hypochondriacal dismay that I began noticing my recent abdominal bloating. A sane person might have recognized a weight gain due to enjoying more than a country’s share of S’mores on vacation last month. But having earned the nickname “hyperbolsen,” I was envisioning each ovary exploding through my belly in a fury of carcinogenic rage, Sigourney-Weaver style.

Luckily for me, I have a friend who is not only a well-respected Ob-Gyn, but also someone who is not the least bit offended when I start saying things like, “holymotherofafuckingredheadedwhore” while she’s cranking open my Netherlands with a telephone pole that doubles as a speculum.

So after a $500 deductible and more than one reminder to “relax my knees,” I’m happy to report that spending my formative years marinating in my father’s secondhand Camel smoke and drinking Tang made with nuclear runoff hasn’t thrust me into the halls of Moffitt Cancer Center just yet.

However, we did discover that my uterus (apparently pissed off that I’m no longer putting babies in it) has decided to show signs of growing its own little happy meal toy in protest. So I allowed Dr. G to embark on a journey to the Netherlands where she and her demolition crew would machete out a benign mass that has taken up residence in my uterine lining. In reality she probably used tweezers, but just play along.

Pre-opping at Auschwitz

Even the simplest procedures require pre-operative torture. And it is during this process that I realized our healthcare system actually makes the United States Postal Service look efficient.

I requested to have my surgery at St. Anthony’s Hospital since having it at Bayfront where Brian works seemed a guarantee I’d wake up from anesthesia with shaved eyebrows or a Sharpie mustache.

When you enter St. Anthony’s, there are three things you must avoid:

Make a right past Jesus, but do not make eye contact

  1. The homeless men lurking behind the Jesus statue. They get very angry when you refuse to make eye contact.
  2. The hospital auxiliary volunteers at the front desk. Trust me, you do not want to listen to their directions because you’ll end up in drain pipe on the bottom of I-275 if you do.
  3. Any first floor bathroom (unless you like stumbling upon homicide scenes). Whoever used that bathroom before I cracked open the door had such a galactic asstastrophe, that the toilet seat was practically blown off and the wall looked like a Jackson Pollock. One can only hope that person was on his way to the emergency room to have his colon removed.

Once you move past the crime scene to the second floor where you’ll need to make the 4-hour investment in pre-op registration, you’ll be directed to sit in between two waiting rooms (with chairs and CNN) in a hallway with no available seating. You will stand, and since for obvious reasons you could not use the bathroom on the first floor, you will ask for a restroom nearby.

“You mean you have to,” the nurse asks lowering her voice to a whisper, “potty?”

Why are you whispering, I thought? And why the fuck am I standing? Get me a chair. What is this… Auschwitz?

After being talked to like I was auditioning for Sesame Street and not allowed to use the “potty,” I was forced to see three different nurses who all asked me the same series of questions like they were conducting some sort of psychological exam or police investigation. It was almost as if they were expecting my answers to vary based on my desire to go home or the fact that my urine was increasing to toxic levels since no one would let me pee.

“As I told the last nurse and the nurse before that, I do not mix heroin with my cocoa puffs in the morning.”

Then, after I’m given a bottle of antiseptic to wash with before surgery and directed in a whisper to “avoid using it on your lady parts” (what is it with these nurses and their daycare vocabulary?), it’s now time for my bloodwork.

The sight of a needle piercing my vein is always unsettling, so I’ll Linda Blair my head completely around in an attempt not to see anything but the back of my shoulder blades if I’m really lucky. Again, since I was in a place where efficiency is not included in the patient’s bill of rights, the phlebotomist strapped a tourniquet on me before walking away to use the bathroom while my hand turned blue and my fingers fell off. I later found out that my blood “hemolyzed” in the container and could not be used. I can only imagine this is because it took Slowy McSlowington 36 hours to walk it to the lab or because she left the tourniquet on until I needed an artificial limb.

So much for anonymity

I know I'm fat right now, but were the queen sized panties really necessary?

Guess it didn’t matter I chose St. Anthony’s for the surgery because I barely broke Jesus’ threshold when people were already checking out my make-up-free, NPO after midnight, swollen 5am face, noting that I was Dr. Burke’s wife. Thankful I at least had the good sense to get a pedicure, I was delighted to meet Alfred E. Newman, the freckled, 12-year-old, new anesthesiologist who seemed to be the only person yet to meet Brian.

“Oh good. So he hasn’t had a chance to piss you off yet?” were my last words before drifting off into a general anesthetic haze that I imagine will wear off some time in the next few weeks.

My maker had a sense of humor

When I finally woke up in recovery, drooling and delirious from surgery where Dr. Newman gave me enough narcotics to not only kill my pain but most of my brain cells as well, Dr. G informed me that she had to remove the happy meal toy as well as a septum from my “heart-shaped uterus.” How sweet.

This was news to me, but I’ll just add it to my impressive uterine dossier which also includes the descriptions: “retrograde, retroflexed” and “s-shaped cervix.”

Apparently I’m rockin’ a triple spiral labyrinth of reproductive organs. And all those years of birth control pills might as well have been Mentos because I’m pretty sure even sperm equipped with state-of-the-art navigation would get as lost as if the hospital auxiliary themselves were directing them from my “lady parts.”

Now in addition to a belly that looks and feels as if I just birthed an NBA player, I have a very special heart-shaped gift for my Valentine this year.

Too bad I’m on seven days of “pelvic rest.” Or is it seven weeks? Hmm. Guess it’s good to be friends with your OB.

Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Posted in heady

an old tribute to a forever young friend

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March 2002

I first met Michele in 5th grade. She was new and shy and by far the prettiest girl in our class. In junior high and high school, we were BFF, and occasionally, if one of us was mad at the other, we were reduced to “2ndBFF.”

Michele & Tara 100 years ago

Michele Hoffmann 2.21.1974 - 9.11.2001

In 7th grade, we crimped our hair, parted it on the same side, and always wore the same frosty pink lipgloss: #44. I can remember dressing alike in 8th grade, and actually thinking that was cool. But then again so were Benetton sweatshirts, gold nameplates and Z Cavaricci jeans. What did we know about fashion? It was the 80s.

We used to eat Melba rounds and cream cheese after school in her grey carpeted room with mauve Formica furniture while we listened to The Cure and Yazoo’s “Upstairs at Eric’s.”

Our favorite song though was written the year we were born and later made famous by Kim Carnes. “Her hair is Harlow gold,” we used to sing and Michele always giggled at the part, “Roll you like you were dice” as if she held a secret that I’d never know. I hadn’t seen Bette Davis’ eyes, but whatever they looked like, I assumed they were beautiful. And that Michele had them.

Michele’s father Fred once got a limo to take us to see U2 at Madison Square Garden. And even though it was March, when we surfaced after the concert from a giddy, young girl-high, we were delighted to discover it was snowing outside. I’m 28 years old now, but I remember that fluffy unexpected snowfall as if it were yesterday.

During our senior year in high school, Michele drove me and two other friends to Myrtle Beach where we spent a week falling asleep in the sun without sunscreen and using fake names when we met boys. I was Taylor. She was Dale. Michele’s laugh was contagious, and one of my favorite photos of her is from when she fell backwards onto the bed because she was cracking up like a hyena in that oceanfront hotel room that was a spring break palace to four, 17-year-old girls.

After we graduated high school and I moved to Florida, Michele came to visit me in Marco Island where she’d secretly smoke outside my bedroom window, disappearing into a steamy, white, coming-of-age fog. We spent hours that hot, lazy Summer trying to decide, “What’s next?” But we were only 18 then and wouldn’t figure this out until much later.

In 1994, I went back to the Jersey Shore to spend a week with Michele and friends at their Belmar beach house. She looked the same: tan, blonde and still smiling from gold hoop to hoop.

That was the last time I saw her.

But even though college, life and distance made it easy to lose touch throughout the years, she was never far from my thoughts. I’d even dream about her on occasion and wake up wondering “why?” Not quite mature enough to realize that when people comprise the landscape of your life, especially in your formative years, memories of them don’t become extinct with the passing of time. They just lose their shine.

On September 11th, my heart sunk at the possibility. My thoughts turned to Michele’s mother — the pleasant and kind Mrs. Hoffmann — who had a gentle way of reminding me not to paint my nails in Michele’s room.

I naively concluded that this world would never be so cruel as to take a woman’s husband and daughter both on the same day. Would it?

It was Tara, Michele’s closest friend, who confirmed my fears. I became dizzy with an unfamiliar grief that settled onto my shoulders like a dumbbell I didn’t quite know how to lift.

Whenever I remembered that distinct laugh of hers, I couldn’t help but consider the grim reality that Michele would never get married. Never have children. Never look at a picture of our crimped hair again, wondering: “What the hell were we thinking?”

In the days following September 11th, I kept hearing Fred’s voice echoing in my mind, shouting up the stairs: “Shelly! Someone’s at the door for you…”

“Do I have something in my teeth?” Michele used to ask me, but then be too embarrassed to show me if she did. It’s amazing how a voice from a decade ago can resonate so clearly in one’s memory.

With our 10-year high school reunion approaching, I wonder whether or not I should go, and also this: how has it been nearly a decade since we drove back to NJ from Myrtle Beach at 3 a.m. in Michele’s white Grand Am, drinking diet Dr. Pepper and listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

My memories of Michele represent much more than random thoughts of an old pal. In a way, they symbolize our youth and innocence, and always send me back to a time where our biggest fears culminated with a high-pitched, “Does he like me?” at a slumber party.

I was no less ready to lose her as I was to relinquish the playful innocence we cultivate in youth and hopefully always carry somewhere in our hearts.

After hearing of her death, I rushed home to my parent’s garage where my high-school memories aged in a cardboard box labeled, “stuff to keep.” I was overcome with an urge to gather all the photos of Michele in a desperate effort to sustain what I feared would be a fleeting memory.

But after weeks of lamenting Michele’s lost life, and my own missed opportunity to talk to my friend one last time, I am now more resolute than ever to preserve her memory as well as that of our youthful innocence that always manages to bring a smile.

And with that, I hope I always hear the song of Michele’s laughter in the back of my mind.

September 11, 2006

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since I last wrote about you, Michele.

It seems like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time.

In those four years, I have lost my father, given birth to a baby girl and celebrated my 5-year wedding anniversary. Oh – and I saw Tara just a few weeks ago. She’s still the same “LuLu,” plugging along in her slow and somewhat giddy signature style, but left noticeably different by your absence. I was at her wedding and sat behind Nicole and your mother at the church. I knew in an instant it was them, as your mother sniffed quietly into her tissue.

“It took me all Summer to get up the nerve to come here,” she said with a sorrowful smile.

I later spoke to her at the reception and marvel at her strength in the face of what is a crippling loss. She’s still beautiful, with your green-blue eyes and perfectly straight, sun-streaked hair. I often want to reach out to her and tell her you’re still thought about, even by people like me who haven’t seen you in so many years.

But I carry on with my busy life instead, still looking up at the sky whenever I hear “I want you to want me” by Cheap Trick (the song playing as we finally ended our 13-hour trek to Myrtle Beach). I’m not sure what I’m searching for, but I guess I’m hoping for some sign that you’re with us still. I look for my father now too in that same sad and desperate way.

I still think of you on your birthday, just two weeks before mine.

“How can you only be 27?” I wonder, confused.

My brother once said, “Death can never be understood because it defies all logic.” And I think that is true.

But the other night, I had a dream so vivid I knew it was unlike anything I ever experienced. I was on a sailboat with my father surrounded by this beautiful peace and calmness.

“Would you choose it again? Would you do this all over again, if you had the choice?” I asked him.

He gestured around to the still waters with his Barney Rubble-like hands and said, “I would. Because of the quiet…”

It was then that I understood why he left this world just 11 months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

So I like to envision you in that same place. Forever 27 and at peace, sailing along through a tranquil Utopia none of will ever experience until it’s our time.

And if I do see you there, someday, promise me something? That you’ll actually let me see your teeth.

Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

September 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in heady

america’s spiking the ball in the endzone

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I recognize we’re all secretly hoping that the Navy Seals jammed an apple pie and baseball bat up Osama Bin Laden’s urethra before blowing him and his 72 virgins straight to hell. But I’m concerned we might get fined for excessive celebration.

Let’s use our public pep rallies to honor the troops and the heroes who made this happen, or to commemorate the lives of those lost on 9/11.

I’m confident we can celebrate this touchdown without grabbing our ball sack, doing a funky chicken victory dance and yelling, “Fuck yeah!” to the entire world right before we light our couches on fire.

Written by I only Wear White When it Rains

May 2, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Posted in heady

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