BUT I DIGRESS.

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Photo credit: Brett Alan

I’m committed to this whole posting every other day thing to “build the blog”. Yes, there’s intent behind the fervor and a method to my madness, but…

Right now, I’m going off script. Diverting from the hypomanic (diagnosed), OCD (self-diagnosed) treatment. I want to exult the joy one receives from being alone. Going it alone. Being the sole head of household.

Today was extra. Full of professional hustle, managing dumb health shit (fuck you, possible auto-immune crap), and investigating why Bowie (my Subaru Forester) is cranky. I’m not precious; millions had the same Tuesday, likely much worse.

In the midst of the accomplishments and frustrations, however, I paused. I stopped in my hallway and thought, “Holy shit. I’m finally light.”

That’s heavy.

I’m at the beginning of what I’ve dubbed my “magic month” for the past 10 years. In 2009, for 10 days at the end of September, I spent 24 hours daily with my mother in Buffalo, discussing our 34 years together over tea and Bison French Onion Dip. We kibitzed, argued, balled our eyes out, and laughed our asses off. It was a cherished gift, and when I flew back to San Diego, I knew in my gut that it was the last time I’d see her.

She passed away on Thursday, October 22, 2009. From the moment she died, there was a weight lifted off my shoulders that created a smog in my soul. I found some relief while I was in Sweden but the final exhalation of pain came within this past month.

I’ve been in love seven times, two of which were in the past 12 months. I’m a Cancer; it’s what we do. Both ended abruptly and sadly for me. But in the midst of the confusion and heartbreak, I found something that had been eating at me for decades.

I fully embraced the joy of being alone.

I now live solo for the first time in nearly two decades. If there’s anything that losing my mother and former partners has taught me, it’s that branding any outcome, however great or minute, with my seal of achievement is glorious. It’s the best high in the world.

And it’s of no surprise that this revelation came within my magic month. Miraculous, beautiful things like this just happen this time of year of me. (Thanks, Pattie.)

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. And, as always, more to come.

#eatingatme

 

WHY ALBUQUERQUE?

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Over the past five years, I’ve developed deep respect for my wanderlust. I know it’s more than just an itch scratched by an airport Bloody Mary, IKEA-dressed Airbnb, and 10 gallery tour.

The change of environment levels my mania. The anonymity of travel reboots my sanity.

I left Buffalo, New York very little as a child, only because my mother’s poor health and restricted earnings dictated that outcome. Her yearning to see the world was palpable (heartbreaking, at times), and it greatly influenced the healing properties of the spontaneous road trip or plane ticket for me.

My roster of destinations is more remarkable domestically than internationally (there’s only 13 states I haven’t traveled or lived within) but my intercontinental explorations have been curated well. Most extraordinary, and formative, was the time I spent in Sweden, primarily in Åstorp and Helsingborg. In April 2015, as I sat at my desk in North County San Diego, California, and wrote for this blog, an overwhelming need to destroy the redundancy of life in order to foster new growth took over. I put my plan in motion in about five minutes. It was the best decision I made for myself at that time; as I wrote about previously, Sweden saved my soul, literally.

This same overwhelming need is what clocked me across the jaw the morning of Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The bleak path I was walking was losing what color remained by the hour and if I didn’t shake shit up – destroy the redundancy of life in order to foster new growth – I questioned how things would be when all was a dull gray. “Get to New Mexico” was the broken record playing in my head.

Similar to what initiated my interest in Sweden, a dear friend, who moved to Albuquerque nearly two years prior, had been encouraging me to visit. I enjoyed Santa Fe when I briefly stopped in 2009 on a cross-country road trip from Buffalo to San Diego post-close out of my mother’s affairs. My friend, who I’ll refer to as Demetria, was one to always treat me kindly; encourage my personal and professional development; and match my imitation of SNL’s Sweeney Sisters note for note. She’s an amateur interior designer and one hell of a home cook. When we’re together, we laugh ourselves into hysterics.

The idea of fleeing to Demetria’s house, and her welcoming energy, was the one thing that pulled me up off the couch where I was sleeping, gently nudged me to close out my immediate obligations in San Diego, and pack my belongings. This, along with a response to my “taking off to Albuquerque, don’t know when I’ll be back” text from KJ, my guru originally from Albuquerque, that read, “Do you need a co-pilot?”

It was once again time to honor the call of wanderlust and get the hell out of dodge. Get the fuck out of my head as well for a bit.

More to come.

#eatingatme

NOELLE.

 

 

As an only child, I’ve collected surrogate siblings throughout my life. They’re individuals with whom I not only share history, but bonds that are seemingly unbreakable no matter the hammering they receive. I love each of them unconditionally (even when conditions aren’t favorable) and for very different reasons, regardless of the similarities they may share.

But in this family I’ve created – in the entirety of my universe – I say with certainty that there’s no one like Noelle.

We met in 2003 at a time when our roads of self-discovery intersected at an apartment in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California. A mutual friend was adamant that we connect; all week long at work I heard about “Noelle” and how he knew we’d become good friends.

A pistol from the Midwest, Noey (as many of us call her) is built like a flaxen supermodel, with wit like Larry David, the mouth of a trucker, and a laugh that can be heard for several city blocks. She’s the funniest person I know, as well as one of the kindest. She’s a music trivia savant; enjoys hula hooping while roller skating; and is never without a Greek chorus of friends, family, and admirers vying for her attention.

Most importantly, Noey’s mom to Q, her six-year-old mini-me, a child who’s influenced my appreciation for tots. This is no small feat, but Q isn’t your average kid…just like her mama.

Over the years, Noey and I raised hell, some roofs, and several eyebrows. She put up with my tales of woe from the end of my marriage to relationship meltdowns; I grew to appreciate her obsession with Phish and love for playing pranks. Even though there were several years when we barely spoke, I’d always refer to her as “My best friend, Noelle”.

Although life took us in varying directions, Noey and I maintained a close friendship, never skipping a beat when we’d reunite for drinks and dishing. In July 2018, at Noey’s insistence, I moved in with her and Q for “however long I needed”. I was in transition at the time (entertaining a move out of California) and was seeking a consistent place to land while I sorted through my shit. “However long I needed” turned into a year of some of the most fun I’ve had in the past two decades; it also allowed me to witness, and experience for myself, the despair that life can conjure.

On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, Noey celebrated her birthday in the hospital, and I hit the road for Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her bedside was my last stop before leaving town, and as we said our teary goodbyes, we knew we each had a tough road ahead of us. Eventually, we’d be stronger individuals. But damn straight, we’d always be besties.

(Take my word for it: watching your best friend almost die in front of you, inexplicably, is hell.)

More to come.

#eatingatme

IF-THEN. EQUATIONS. QUESTIONS.

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I pride myself on my unabashed nature. Bold action that’s personality driven. Use of out-there tactics. It puts a smirk on my face; it stirs the particles of my universe efficaciously.

A side effect of my way of being is a visceral impatience for stagnancy and vanilla days. I’d never make it in a small town (a road tested and proven #fact by my year plus in Jacksonville, North Carolina). My equation doesn’t compute 2.5 kids + white picket fence + social convention = hallelujah. If the music isn’t giving me heartburn, it’s not gritty enough. If my drink isn’t strong enough, just give me the damn bottle.

If I know all of this about myself, after 44 years of slithering across the planet to shed my skin of doubt and use the brain my parents’ DNA gave me, then why Wednesday, July 17, 2019? Why did I, Rebecca Emily Michael Gaffney, allow my life to become a social experiment that was quickly losing its funding?

Because if I hadn’t, then I wouldn’t know what’s been eating at me for a lifetime.

When raised Catholic, there’s a Shroud of Turin in which we’re wrapped by default. In my experience, it traps the heat of needless guilt and fabricated reasoning. “I don’t want to impose” was a phrase I heard, and mimicked, repeatedly. There were always apologies thrown my way but few course corrections made. Being “close and honest” was often a line of bullshit.

Even though I attended a college where intellectual inquiry dictated the day – we were instructed to question everything – I barely asked the pressing questions of myself, my upbringing, and the things that just didn’t add up.

I continued to make the same mistakes, with slight modifications as a result of experience and maturity, for over four decades until, on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, I woke up, couldn’t breathe, and simply knew that if I didn’t get up and go, my social experiment would shut its doors for good.

It was time to look what’s been eating at me straight in the eye and invite it to fuck itself, unabashedly, boldly, with a sly smirk on my face.

More to come.

#eatingatme

A Great Gift

There’s little I find more mundane than creating my own bio. I welcome writing them for others but when asked to submit mine for a project, I whine.

Unfortunately, it was time to tackle this bitch for eatingatme.

Taking a lesson from my development this year in reaching out for help, I texted my lifelong friend and fellow author, Alycia Ripley. Why make the badly needed refresh of my About page painful? That seemed counterproductive.

Me: “Hey mama! Would you write my bio for me? You’re the only one I trust to do it and I can’t come up with something authentic right now.”

Alycia: “Hi girl, of course.”

Alycia’s a professional. And accomplished. And cool as shit.

We’ve been friends a long time. Our mothers went to Catholic high school together, where, in turn, they enrolled Alycia and me for elementary and middle school. We went to the same all girls’ college prep academy as well. Alycia and I share much in common – we have impeccable taste in music, for example – but our strongest likeness comes from our fierce love for our mothers and family.

(Do yourself a favor and purchase Alycia’s memoir, Wind over Tide. It’s stunning.)

I’m honored that Alycia took time and care to write such a lovely piece for eatingatme. I’m humbled by her kindness; I’m over the moon about her contribution to something that was initiated by a promise I made to my mother. You can read it here.

Thank you, my red-haired rock star. You mean the world to me.

Thanks, Keith…

I don’t have details as of yet, but I’m left to assume you committed suicide.

Well, that’s shit for timing. We had tickets to see Beats Antique tonight at The Music Box, and I was SO EXCITED (but I wasn’t going to let you know that because I’m still upset with you for breaking my heart a month ago).

From wherever you are, I’m sure you’ve seen…

The love.

The sadness.

The support.

The longing.

I’m clear I’m one of many who you’ve loved in your lifetime. But before you fully exit (how was that Alice In Chains, homeboy?), I’d like to thank you for…

-Too Many Zooz;

-Clarity around that if I’m ever to be a mother, my son better be a gay accountant who is compulsive, loves his mother fiercely, and is married to a male professional dancer;

-The nickname “Sparkle Tits;”

-Hope.

I’m drunk, but right now I’m so in love with you.

Find that peace and zen,

Becca

Just A Post

Welcome back.

It’s taking me a minute to get into this post. 2018’s been a metamorphic year. Raw, mind melting, and deliciously heartbreaking.

It’s been fucking magical and has left zero room for anything that feels forced, my writing particularly.

I love this blog and care little that its purpose has never been clearly defined or that it hasn’t been well-tended. Delusions of dressing it up for Sunday Mass to create a linear, palatable theme in order to monetarily exploit regurgitated bullshit just isn’t my jam.

I love eatingatme because it’s a reflection of me: a hot, crass, type A-/B+ mess. And I’ve given myself permission to continue as such.

So I’ll just keep writing whatever because I made a promise that I always will.

But…

This IS also hyper-organized, hypomanic me I’m talking about…and it IS the last day of my miraculous month (September 22 – October 25) during which, for the past nine years, I’ve made significant shit happen. And this year…well, this has been the best year I’ve experienced since my mid-twenties.

So there’ll be some form to this green slime of online content…eventually. I’ve put that in motion over the past month and it feels damn good. For now, though, it’s where I work shit out, or don’t.

And because it’s October 25, I’ll wrap with this:

I’m taking my promises seriously, even if they’re completed at a snail’s pace. In 2009, when I said goodbye to my mother, I made some pretty deep commitments that I’ve been and/or continue to be scared to pursue but at this point, I’ll die trying. Almost did today, in fact; burpees and battle rope exercises are no fucking joke.

Greetings from The Mezzanine

Y’all, there’s no business like show business.

In theater, the best seat in the house is based on one’s opinion; it depends on the experience of the performance which one seeks. It’s commonly assumed that a center orchestra seat is prime real estate because of the exorbitant ticket price and the ability to bathe in the performers’ sweat and spit. That shit costs top dollar.

Then there are those of us who like a broader perspective; back a bit further, up a bit higher…a seat with a view. Those of us who prefer the mezzanine lead from the middle; we’ve come too far to settle for the nosebleeds and equally don’t feel compelled to get all up in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s business.

These days, I’m likening my life to theater (Tony Award worthy and Off-Off-Broadway), and the vantage point I’m choosing today is that of audience member. Spectator. Mezzanine crasher.

Pull curtain.

It was three years ago this week when I decided to move to Sweden. It was when I boldly declared that my 40’s wouldn’t be a star-studded revival of my 30’s. At that time, I couldn’t imagine that I’d have the mental, emotional, and spiritual fortitude to take the stage as a single woman (with a four-legged sidekick) on her own two feet, completely reliant on herself…and her word.

The first act of this performance has been equal parts elegant and electric; I’ve kept the cast small and the drama minimal. The score and scenery have been subtle but poignant. I’m proud of this piece of work.

Intermission.

My second act, currently being work shopped, is what I’ve been creating tirelessly. The costumes are delicious, the technology is advanced, and the adventure is boundless. It’s sexy, fun, and unexpected.

Fun fact: I came up with the name of this post a year ago, and knew it would be my return to eatingatme. I also knew that at that time I wasn’t quite ready to write this, but that I should write the title down for the day that I was.

And here we are.

And here I go.

Cue orchestra. 

#eatingatme