I'm Gonna Need A Moment
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'm home.

I've brought back a giant heap of laundry and a car littered with celebrity magazines and balled up fast food wrappers and a Hansel and Gretel trail of Pirate Booty. How my girls love that Pirate Booty.

But along with the debris, I've carried back something else.

I have this heavy sadness that permeates my soul, weighing down my bones.

My sadness is not so much about my father-in-law's passing.

Because I think he was ready to go. The last few years had been hard on him.

He wasn't ill. And this was completely unexpected.

But I think when death came for him, he decided not to fight. I think he'd grown tired of this life and was ready for the next one and so my sadness isn't so much for his death or even death itself.

My sadness is more about all the days in between our beginning and our end.

Death carries a stealthy punch, even if its arrival is imminent.

And one of its blessings, because even death carries blessings, is the crystalline perspective it gives to everything.

Death allows us to fully grasp the tenuousness of our days here— days that are as fragile as gossamer, days that are so fleeting, their swiftness often leaves me reeling.

I have not marked my days here as well as I should.

And for that, I can't shake this cumbersome yoke of sadness.

And the only way I know to rid myself of my Irish melancholy is to make it better.

You're probably not going to like this too much, Internet.

Because I know I sure don't.

But I need a moment . . . or two . . . or three.

I need to step away from this blog and do what I should be doing.

Most of you already know what I'm going to say.

For those of you who don't, I have this one thing, this one sacred thing that lives inside of me and it's almost done. I am right there, two steps away from the finish line and I have let far too many distractions take me away from my novel.

And you, Internet, are the biggest, most beautiful distraction of them all.

And lately, I sure haven't been fair to any of you readers. You all keep coming back and coming back here while I have not been a good friend. I have not had the time to respond. I have not had the time to visit. I have not been there for all of you. And that kills me more than anything else.

It will be at least a week or two or maybe a little more. We're going to leave this open-ended.

But I promise to be back. I mean, I haven't finished my Mexican tales yet and then there are all those others, I've teased you with.

And we never even talked about the Academy Awards, which by the way: Hated Anne Hathaway and What's His Face. Loved Christian Bale's heartfelt speech and especially his website shout-out to his boy, Dicky Ecklund. And yes, I know Dicky's server crashed from all the hits. It was just one of the most genuine things a star has ever done in an acceptance speech and now I will forever love Christian for that. And also, Melissa Leo? WTF? Don't be freakin' stealing a stroke victim's cane, no matter how shocked you are!

If Kirk Douglas had fallen down, I do believe they would have revoked her Oscar.

And I still haven't asked any of you about your ears, specifically your outer earhole. I've just discovered my earholes are the size of an elf's, a small elf. I discovered this when I mentioned that I haven't found earbuds that fit in my ear. They either pop right back out or they hurt like holy hell, like my ears are giving birth to a giant entity out of their small orifice. Even the child-size buds hurt my ears. And when I mentioned this earbud issue, no one in the room had the same problem. So there was this examination of my ears and I was pronounced to have abnormally small earholes and I was wondering, do any of the rest of you have elf earholes? Or am I the only freak?

And do my small earholes have anything to do with the fact that I can't whistle?

These are just some of the things we need to discuss when I get back.

Please don't get sad on me, because I'm already having a tough time with this. I'm worried that all of my hard work and effort will be for naught, that I'll come back and you all will have gone on to bigger and better things and that it will be like the old days when the only one who read me was my sister. And she has two small children, so she certainly doesn't need that pressure in her life.

I hope you wait for me. I really do. I'll be missing all of you, that's for sure.

I'll still be here, lurking around and you can always give me a, "Wassup Dude" and you can certainly send me any breaking news of Bono and/or Mark Ruffalo and even Libya, I guess, if you really feel the need.

By the way, there's a new movie coming out called, Killing Bono, which I cannot wait to see. It's based on a true story of two brothers who try to become rock stars at the same time as their childhood friends, friends who went on to have a little success with their band, U2. Talk about crap-ass luck.

So that's it, then. We won't say goodbye. We're just going to say, See You In A Little While.

Don't do anything too dangerous or fun while I'm gone. I need to get in on that kind of action.

I thought I'd leave you with a little something I wrote a few nights ago, on one of those singular nights that you know will never come your way again.

So, here goes:

Death has brought us here all together. My husband's mother has a houseful of children, grandchildren and the like. 

And so, her two sons, my husband and his brother and our little families are staying out at the beach just a mile from her home. 

Between us, we have six girls. Little eruptions of chatter and pink. 

Tonight, the night before the funeral, my husband makes dinner for all who are here. 

My little Italian mother-in-law who can't stand the thought of standing still, even though she just lost her husband of 54 years less than 48 hours ago, joins in and makes her meatballs. 

And we all feast. The plates are heaping, the wine glasses stay full. 

And we are together. 

Later on, the clan goes back to her house, leaving our two families to the stillness. 

We decide a walk on the beach is in order. 

The tidal pulse, the crash of the Gulf waves marks the rhythm of the universe, so undisturbed by any other force. 

The sky is black. The stars bright. We can see every constellation and those who are schooled in constellations, name them. 

I've never been one for names. Their powerful beauty has always been all that I needed to know. 

And we walk. 

I take my husband's big hand, hoping for an abundance of good years. 

Just last weekend, while still in the innocence of not knowing that death was right at our doorstep, my mother told me how very lucky we were, how very lucky we were to be young and both entrenched in enjoying our life to the fullest. 

I agreed, but I still didn't fully comprehend.

Tonight, as always, it was my Julia, the child of the earth who notices first.

She says, "Look, my footsteps are glowing."

And we look down and we see the radiant sparkles, glowing within each of her sandy footprints. 

We sweep the sand with out feet. We pounce. We run. We dance. And the sand lights up like a thousand fireflies beneath us. 

I know there is a phenomenon responsible for this. I know that magic really isn't behind all of this. And I mention jellyfish and phosphorescence and really, I have no idea. 

All I know is, our six girls dance and laugh and squeal over the luminescent twinkles and we walk through the blackness, our footprints cast in the mysterious magic of sparkles. And I look up at the sky, at the stars, at the heavens, where my dad and now, my husband's dad reside.

I can hear my dad's clear, beautiful voice singing along to Jimmy Durante.

"I'll be seeing you in all the old, familiar places . . . 
I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new.
I'll be looking at the moon, 
but I'll be seeing you."

And I know there is so much more to this sand alive with twinkling light than phosphorescent glow. No scientist can tell me different.

And I know as we walk, our footprints lighting up the way, our girls dancing before us blazing a trail of light. that, yes, we are lucky, very lucky indeed.

I'll see you soon.

Today's Definite Download: Not a song today, but a plug. I don't have any sponsors. No one pays me to review their stuff, so this plug is from the heart.

A few years back, I stumbled upon some prints in a shop in Vermont and I immediately fell in love with the artist Brian Andreas and his company StoryPeople. He creates works of mixed media using salvageable wood, combining a snippet of a story with really beautiful crude artwork bursting in bright colors.

I am the proud owner of two of his pieces and I salivate on a regular basis at his website, which is right here, if you're ever interested in giving a fantastic gift.

Today, one of his stories really spoke to me about the days before me and I'd like to share it with you.


It's called, Different Plans


I don't know how long I can do this, he said. I think the universe has different plans for me & we sat there in silence & I thought to myself that this is the thing we all come to & this is the thing we all fight & if we are lucky enough to lose, our lives become beautiful with mystery again & I sat there silent because that is not something that can be said.


I feel lighter already. Don't have fun without me.

And thank you one and all, for all your kind words, condolences and prayers. I wish I could give each and everyone a great big hug and make you my best dessert of all times, called Death By Chocolate. But since I can't manage that much whipped cream in my fridge, just know that I love you guys, big, big time. Thanks for helping us through. 


Joann




61 comments:

lvankuiken said...

Joann! I'm so sorry - I've been missing in action too, and obviously haven't been keeping up. I'm so sory about your father-in-law, and about everything you have been going through. I am going to go back and see what else I have missed...

I'm sending you a big hug and hoping for peace and serenity for you and your family.

XOXO

(PS...I have small earholes too and the stupid earbuds never fit me either!)

Sharon said...

Wow.

sandra said...

Just take all the time you need. We will be waiting for you. I know I will. I just enjoy your writing so much, and really really hope you get your novel published, it would be such a joy to be able to read more of your writing! Lots of hugs to you!

MrsJenB said...

Love you, Joann. Truly. Don't even know you that well, but love you anyway.

Take all the time you need because life creates the urge to blog or create just about anything, not the other way around. You need to live life first and foremost. I know I'll be waiting to see you pop up again in my reader. And I think lots of other people will, too. Just a hunch.

Kelly said...

You do what you need to do and your friends will be here when it's time for you to return.

The Furry Godmother said...

How old do you have to be to die? he asked. And I said I don't know if anybody is ever old enough. He nodded. For he was young and remembered how long forever had been. --Brian Andreas

I should have known. I have several prints and a story person who lives above my head in the den.

Take your time. I'm not going anywhere...

Eva Gallant said...

Finish your novel. Do what you have to do. We will be here--at least I will!

duffylou said...

I think we can patiently wait for you to return. I just look for you in my Google reader.

Warm, happy thoughts from me to you.

The Zadge said...

As one of your newest followers, I hope I didn't cause this!! Great luck on your "project!" and looking forward to reading you soon!

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Take all the time you need, sweetie-pie. We'll be here - having no fun without you (we promise!)
What you wrote there, was beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes. Yes you're funny but you're a writer with a writer's soul.
Take care.

d-lou said...

I'll miss you, and I'll wait patiently. It will be sad, but it's understood.

d-lou said...

And yes...I have tiny earholes too. Hatehatehate earbuds.

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

Such beautiful words. You are such a great writer. Which is why I must say this. Stop the jibber jabber, get your butt in gear and finish that darn book. We are all waiting patiently to read it. I say that with love of course.

ps, I can stick my finger in my ear, does that make them ginormous?

Sparkling said...

Oh boy, another one bites the dust. Seems everyone is on hiatus. Or sabbatacle. Which I can't seem to spell. I'll be waiting for your pink essence to reappear at the top of my blogroll lickety split!!

Mom vs. the boys said...

well I was going to say glad to have you back, but it looks like a break is in order. I know how you feel. sometimes I wonder if it's time for me to take a break too. Probably when the nicer weather hits. By the way, ear buds and me don't mix either, can't do it, and I can't whistle either!! maybe there is a connection afterall!
Good luck with all you need to do right now, we will be right here when you are ready to step back in.

From Tracie said...

You need this time, this break to pour out the rest of your heart into your novel and see it through to the end. That is the most important thing. And also, extra moments of time spent with your family.

This is important, because one day I intend to walk into a Barnes and Noble and pick your book up off a shelf and then possibly tell every stranger who will listen to me, "I know her!! I mean, I read her blog, and she reads my blog, but if you are a blogger then you know that that means that I know her....and here she is in print!!!" (which hopefully will not negatively affect your book sales)

All of us will be here when you get back. I know I will. Take all the time that you need. <3

Amanda said...

I love Brian Andreas too.

Take your moment! A few weeks is nothing when you think about accomplishing your dream.

I have a feeling people will still be here waiting when you return. If not, I promise I'll get my sister to read your blog too.

Kimberly said...

Love. Love. LOVE YOU.
This was such a beautiful post that came from right in that sweet spot of your heart...
Take all the time you need my friend. We will all be here when you return.
Write that book...dance in the sand...make fun of how awfully ridiculous the Oscars were. I wanted to stab my eyes out.
Love you.

Lula Lola said...

Take all the time you need to finish that wonderful novel! We'll all be here anxiously awaiting the greatness of this thing!
I love the artwork that you shared. Fantastic!
And your sparkling walk on the beach doesn't need a scientific explanation. That was a gift and a reminder to live and enjoy and to make the most of the time you have.
We'll be here when you get back! Take all the time you need! You will be missed!

Mrsblogalot said...

Clock starts................................NOW

until the minute you return (-:

Take your time (my clock never works right anyway) do what you need to do and come back and tell us everything!!!

Love ya Joann!!!

The Random Blogette said...

I just went through this recently with my hubsand's grandfather. He had been ill for 5 years and he finally decided it was time to give up. It is an interesting mix of relief that he is not ill anymore but also a selfish sadness because we won't see him anymore. The thing that I try to remember is that he is in a better place and he isn't suffering anymore. Plus he would really hate it if we sat around moping about him so I gave myself a few days of mourning and now I am done. Hugs to you!!

Dawn in D.C. said...

Your beautiful words caused me to cry. It was a cry I've needed, as I've had to be the strong one since my mom died last week. It was cleansing. Thank you.

I understand your need to take time to make your days count. I'll be waiting for you.

P.S. My husband has the tiniest earholes for such a big man. Go figure.

Rae Frazier said...

I'll be here when you get back. See you in a little while...Love you.

Judie said...

We'll all be waiting for you, sweetie, while you do what you need to do. We understand--we really, really, do! xoxo

Renee said...

That was a really beautiful post! And you're right - there has to be something more than science that makes the sand sparkle. Good luck with your novel! See you when you get back!

Sara said...

Jo, do what you need to do! Do not worry about leaving your blog and I completely understand that you need to step away for awhile.

I know when you have that time of reflection after someone passes. You need time to re-evaluate things, get things done you have been putting off.

AND as for small ear holes. This would explain why I am unable to wear them as well. I never understood why, just thought I wasn't putting them in right. But I have always just steered clear of them and opted for the ipod style ear buds and even those I have a hard time with, BUT they stay in my ear better then the ear buds....

Missy@Wonder, Friend said...

I'm all for the Blog Break. It's necessary sometimes, like when life is not just calling, but yelling.

This was a fantastic post. My thoughts and prayers are with you & yours.

See you when you get back. I'll still be up for discussing the Oscars weeks from now. I think they were dismal this year... bad call, Academy. Bad call.

Bossy Betty said...

You go do what you need to do, Sweetheart. It's because we love you that we can let you go (temporarily, anyway.)

Heather H said...

I can't imagine anyone abandoning you, Joann. You are too entertaining to live without!

I hope that you and your family find the peace you need and deserve, and that you finish your book (so we can all buy a copy!). In the meantime, we will just have to make due with your greatest hits. :)

Love & prayers to you.

Cheryl said...

Sigh. Those footprints. So lovely.

I am so glad you are devoting yourself to finishing that book. I look forward to hugging you in person when you come out here for your book tour.

xo

Liz said...

You take all the time you need, Joann. Be with your family and finish up your novel. We'll be here for you and your Mexican tales!

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

Joann, you are a much better blogger friend and nurturer than you give yourself credit for! You helped make my vacation become the *ultimate vacation* with all of your wisdom and detailed notes lst fall. I know you need to follow your heart and cross all your t's and dot your i's, and I wish you all the best! Will look forward to seeing you back here.

Hugs and go get 'em!

Gigi said...

Sweet Joann...your writing has so much beauty in it.

I am glad that you saw the blessing that is always there, saw your need to focus, took the steps.

I'll support you however, whenever I can.

This may be my new favorite post of yours. It's just lovely. Sad and lovely.

Tammi V.V. said...

My first time here and I'm in tears already! We lost my wonderful father-in-law last Thanksgiving, adn you have my heartfealt empathy and sympathy.

I, too, own Brian Andreas art and find exceptional meaning in his words.

I hope you gain what you need from your sabbatical, and I look forward to your words when you return. Until the, I'll explore your archives!

Dick Honza said...

I totally and completely get it.

The internet will not be the same without you.

As a matter of fact Kevin came home yesterday demanding to know what was going on with you because 2 gals at his work read you and they were sad to see you go.

Focus on that book and enjoy the time off!!!!

Lady Jennie said...

There is so much to comment on -

I love Death by Chocolate
I love the song "I'll be seeing you" and sing it all the time
It's okay you need a break

but I want to say the most that I love, absolutely love what you wrote.

Baby Sister said...

Take your time friend. Maybe this will weed people out. Those who truly love you and are your friends will stick out and wait for you. Go do what you need to do, take all the time you need. Good luck. :) Remember I want an autographed copy. ;)

Shell said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, and will miss seeing you around. But, you ARE a wonderful friend. And even if you never had time to do all the bloggy stuff, I'd still visit to read your words. B/c you are a fabulous storyteller.

I cannot wait to read your novel!

Cheeseboy said...

Spoken like a true blue hypochondriac. I think we think about death much more than your average non-hypo.

I HATE Anne Hathaway. Always have. She's not hot. She's too proper and thinks too much of herself.

I've always been a James Franco fan since Freaks & Geeks, but I KNEW he'd be an awful host.

Nicki said...

First of all, shut up with the whole "I haven't been a good friend" bit because you are awesome and we ALL have things other than blogging and we ALL should understand! If anyone doesn't understand that blogging is not priority number one (or 4 for that matter), they are not reasonable people! You are a wonderful blog friend!!

Second, I am soooo very sorry about your loss!!!! Maybe that should have been first but I am too lazy to fix it now.

Third, we will keep coming back! How do I know this? Because I have taken some very long breaks from blogging myself and those who care came back to me (and I only have a small fraction of the followers that you have)!

Fourth, don't tell us not to feel sad about your break. If we want to feel sad, we will and your guilt is your own! I am sad but I completely understand because I rarely have time for blogging these days and besides...I REALLLLLY WANT TO READ YOUR BOOK SOMEDAY SO GET YOUR ASS TO WORK ALREADY!!!

Lastly, don't be hard on yourself. Enjoy life, do what is important TO YOU and if someone gets upset about it, it is THEIR problem to work out; not yours. Do for you. Do for your family. The ones who matter will understand! Hugs!!!!

Mama Insomnia said...

This post makes me want to hop on a flight to Florida and search high and low for you just so I could give you a hug. I hope that doesn't sound too stalkerish. I certainly don't mean it that way, it's just your writing speaks to me in such a way that is so relateable.
This post is bar far one of the most beautiful things I have ever read and I am so grateful to have found your blog.

Nicki said...

I know you are taking a break but...

...I was awarded the Stylish Blogger Award and am nominating you as well cuz, well, whether you like it or not, I thought you were award-worthy! If you have already received this award and you don’t want another one or awards aren’t your “thing,” I completely understand. Just know that you are loved by me and no need to do anything more about it! If awards are your thing and you would like your award, come check it out on my site at http://non-trad-diaries.blogspot.com. I hope you have a great day!!!

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

What I love about you is that you always know what is important. The fact that you express it so beautifully is like the icing on your Death By Chocolate. Is there icing on Death by Chocolate? Just wondering. So, I'm sort of caught up in the whole Charlie Sheen drama right now, but if anything major happens with Bono, you can be sure I know where to go. Also, have I ever made the observation that your hub reminds me a lot of Mark Ruffalo? Yeah. And Spencer. Sort of a mix. If Spencer and Mark Ruffalo know a lot about wine and raising beautiful girls and how important ice cream is to that whole raising beautiful girls thing, which I am not entirely sure they do. And that's why I love him, too. All of you Mannixes. Manni? See you soon. Take care.

jayayceeblog said...

Funerals are that strange mix of heavy sadness mixed with the joy of a family reunion when everyone is together to celebrate the life of the one who passed. I'm sorry for your loss but glad your families got to spend that wonderful time on the beach and breaking together. And, BTW, I cannot wear earbuds inside my ears because they just pop out like they're trying to escape. I have an over the ear earbud for hands-free phone use now ... and I can't whistle either. You may be onto something there. Tiny earholes and the inability to whistle-- who knew??? See ya when ya get back!!!

purplume said...

Bless you and all your family. I expect you'll be back before you know it to plug your novel and tell us where we can buy it, ya.

lvankuiken said...

I just wanted to leave another comment to tell you that I have been thinking about you. This last post resonated with me and I just cannot stop thinking about it, and about you and your family, and about life.

I wanted you to know that I will miss your wit and your humor and your uniquely *Joann* look at life.

You were my first "bloggy" friend, and your encouragement and helpful hints have meant the world to me. Take your time...focus on you...we'll all be here waiting when you feel ready to come back.

Deborah said...

Please do what you have to do and take care of yourself.

Don't worry about us! We'll all be here when you get back.

Smooches my bloggy-friend.

Nicki said...

No apologies, Joann! As I said, get that book done already so I can read it! You are welcome! I meant every word so no need to apologize! I knew you were busy and figured you wouldn't get around to blogging for a bit after reading this post. Love!!

The Empress said...

Joann--do NOT blog b/c you're afraid of losing us, do NOT post b/c you think we won't come back.

There's no one like Joann Mannix, which is why we come back.

NO ONE here, commenting here, comes just to get a visit back.

They come, to read a post of yours.

Remember that.

Get going on that book.

I was just thinking the same thing.

All the time I spend blogging: when I should be/could be getting in the time writing.

But we don't want to lose our readers, and all we worked for, and all the millions of unpaid hours we put in to build up a following.

But, that will make no sense when we die.

To say, "hey! I had a really fun blog!"

What will make sense is, "I did what I always dreamed I would. And it felt like I was walking on a cloud."

We're not going anywhere.

Ash said...

Oh dear Joann, I'm sorry for the cause of the reflection, but inventory is a good thing. I've been doing much since my friend's passing in January. I think I'm ready for a break as well. I will miss you terribly as you are an authentic soul, as rare as sparkling sand.

Enjoy crossing the finish line. Remember me when you hand out auographed copies.

Until then, I'll be hanging out and checking in. You would need a restraining order to get me to stop - XO

Grace said...

Oh, my dear. I'm so sorry.

Jerry said...

I understand. I disappeared for two weeks. Sometimes it is the thing to do, and I approve...and do so with the warmest of thoughts.

Jerry

Sandy said...

Have a happy and safe journey, see you when you get back :)

givejonadollar said...

Everytime I visit this site, I do get sad, because I realize I have laundry piled up that I need to do.

But, work on that book, keep your head up, and blog when it's good for you.

Best of skill in your ventures. :)

Jotter Girl said...

I love finding a new blog to enjoy. Of course I get here when you are signing off for a bit - my dumb luck. I have a feeling you are worth waiting for though and hope you are back soon.
P.S.
One of my boys has miniature earholes too. You are not alone :)

Laurie of the Seven Stories said...

I feel you on the Irish melancholy, and the distractions that take you away from writing, and the general malaise that comes from living a life less than the one you have in mind primarily because you procrastinate. I get it that you are busy, but I just want to say, love the title of your blog, struggle with the titanic laundry monster myself being a single mother of five, and if you have a chance maybe you can visit me at my blog, www.icantbeserious.blogspot.com If not, good luck with the book and hope you will continue to write. I love the Irish, being a member of the race myself, and self-pity.

Leanne said...

Joann

I am so sorry. I am sorry for your loss. It must be a difficult time right now.

But to be honest, I'm also (selfishly) sorry for my loss. I only just found you. Today. This is my first visit. And now you are leaving for a bit. Your post had me feeling your loss, had me laughing at your ears and your lack of whistle, had me interested in your novel. So many emotions. Everything I want to come back for. But I understand that life is important ... especially following your dreams and looking after your family in his period of grieving.
So best wishes.
I look forward to seeing you appear on my blog roll again one day in the future.
Cyber hugs
Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

By Word of Mouth Musings said...

Hilarity, beauty, sadness ...
all in a days post.
What lovely words.
Lovely.

And one day, you will share some more. But now, you will be the you that you need to be.

And someday soon, when I travel thro, you will preserve my sanity from that 'Mickey' and we will share wine and I will hear this hilarity and beauty as we sit together ... and the sadness will have receded a little ...

Love to you x

Suzi Banks Baum said...

Joann.

I am so sorry for your loss.
I am so impressed by your discipline.
I am so thrilled by your sparkly footprints.


I am over here, at another site, where you can come get distracted, when you are ready for such fun.

Thank you for this gorgeous post.
You spur me on to post bigger.
While you are gone, know I am writing away too, on my book proposal.
I like knowing we are in this together.

I came by way of shewrites.
So glad I did.
Lots of love, Suzi

W.C.Camp said...

Nothing more to say than what has been said. So sorry for your family's pain. Take some time, reset, but never forget. Then return to us anew. Best wishes. W.C.C.

TesoriTrovati said...

I have been pulling back a bit myself, but for other, less somber reasons. I have been thinking of you and where you have been and I want you to know that your post, these words were so special. I can feel that walk on the beach with your family, reveling in the moonlight and twinkles. And thinking about the finiteness of it all. I hope that you are getting the peace that you need in your soul. And when you do come back, refreshed and ready to dish and challenge me with your words, know that I will be here, waiting. For you will come back, I just know it.

Enjoy the day, Miss Joann!
Erin

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