Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bestest Gift Ever

To everyone who contributed toward this, I simply cannot thank you enough. When it arrived I was puzzled - I wasn't expecting a package - and Bogart almost scared off the UPS man with his mighty bark. And then I opened it...

It is an incredible work - Ami, you are a GENIUS - and the first thing I did (after sitting on the floor with it and crying for about a half hour) was put it up on the wall directly across from our front door. So it is the very first thing I see whenever I come home. It is so very, very special and I love it very, very much. Klaus' hand is perfect, those are his fingers, and the sleeve is from one of his own jackets - he was a fashion designer in Austria and had his own shop in Vienna - that he made. And I am wearing Klaus' ring. And Bogart's expression is right on!

The other reason to hang it up right away is that our apartment currently looks like this (lets all play Spot the Airedale):

Love, Love, and More Love,

Lulu & Bogart

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What a Week it Was

The week has gone by so fast, tomorrow is one week since my big move. I have visited our old house every day in order to clean it out, and so Bogart could have his runs in the old backyard. It's a really odd thing to drive out there every day, to the house that Klaus and I hoped would represent our future, to empty and clean it. And I really hate the act of cleaning a house that I'm moving out of. I always wonder exactly how things got so dirty...

Our new place is nice, just odd. We live in the Pearl District now, sort of the trendy gallery-and-boutique area, and of course we are no longer in a house but a building. As the boxes slowly disappear I've realized that the space should indeed be enough for my whole furry and fuzzy family. Klaus now has his own spot next to my bed with a framed photo next to him, which makes me so sad yet happy that he's next to me.

My days are full of questions and decisions, and I made one clear decision today - to allow my large gauged ears to close so that I can wear Klaus' nipple rings in my ears. Sounds like a silly little thing, but it's really huge for me. The cremation folks properly removed them so that I can wear them - apparently not an odd request for them, but I'm happy that it was done well. I spent years slowly stretching my earlobes and taking care that they stay supple, so to allow them to close a bit is just another process. I have them in now and it feels awesome.

Not only do I mourn for Klaus but I also mourn for myself - my life as I knew it died alongside him. Obviously, I have had to move and downsize my life considerably. But all of the little things, from picking a place to eat to sharing a laugh over an inside joke, or even just having someone to constantly talk to are gone, and that silence is deafening. Whenever I do have the opportunity to talk to someone my voice cracks and I have to fight off the tears.

Klaus was my best friend, my husband, my lover, and my constant companion. That's impossible to replace. I'm just stumbling around now, trying to get through each minute.



PS - an amazing package arrived that I understand a lot of you sneaky, wonderful folks may have had a hand in. Tomorrow I'm going to photograph and tell you all about it. Yes it made me cry for about an hour - but in a really, really good way.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed

The last day of my daily walkie on Powell Butte. One of dad's favorite places in Portland, and where he and I walked every single day since we moved here. So sort of a Klaus Memorial Walkie as mama and I talked a lot about dad and how much we missed him.

I left a little message for ya there dad...

And I collected some pine cones to take with us...

And a nice juicy stick...

Because today was moving day. At exactly 9:00 in the morning (after said walkie), a big yellow truck pulled up in front of our house. Movers - on time? Amazing. And they were completely awesome - they helped mama, shrink-wrapped lots of our furniture, and even managed to keep me from wandering too far into the neighborhood to get in some final pee-mail. The company is called Thunder Movers, and mama was really, really happy with them.

Neither of the guys blinked an eye when they saw all of this:

I, however, had other fish to fry. I needed to make sure that in all of the fuss we did not forget to take some very important things with us...

Like this soccer ball. I found this back in Los Angeles in Griffith Park, and have enjoyed many fine kicking days in my back yard with dad. Even though I understand that the new place doesn't have a back yard, well that's no reason not to keep the soccer ball, is it?


As much as I enjoy being in charge and supervising, I did want to help. I offered to help mama take down the box filled with food and dog treats.

Only fair I thought, as the moving guys were dealing with this:

In the end, you'll be happy to know that our move went smoothly and we are now in our new place. And most importantly, the soccer ball made the cut.



Friday, March 20, 2009

Ground Control to Major Tom

Yes, we are all still alive... thanks to all who have been checking in on us. The work of finding a place to live and then actually going through all of our 13 years worth of things has been incredibly draining. Even Bogart does not insist on walking outside for things other than are absolutely necessary. I know he understands that I am very busy, and very sad, and he is as well.

Even simple things like what to do with the contents of Klaus' underwear drawer were heart-wrenching. Wading through so many years' worth of things - some sentimental, some functional, some very what-were-we-thinking? - has kicked me hard in the stomach. Finding a place to live took a LOT out of me (and Bogart, he was absolutely essential in persuading my next landlord to take us). Packing is always stressful, but when you are packing, taking things away to Goodwill, selling things on Craiglist, and still trying to figure out what to keep and why... well, I haven't had much time or energy to do much else.

Every once in awhile I find something that makes me start crying uncontrollably and then an hour or so is lost. Today's time-waster was finding Klaus' cologne. One whiff made me into a sobbing puddle.

It has been only a little more than a month since Klaus entered the hospital and our lives have changed immeasurably - sometimes time speeds along, other times it is slower than molasses.

We plan to move this Sunday. I have splurged and hired movers. I am so incredibly happy with that idea.


Lulu & Bogart

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Blowout Wednesday

Wednesday, you ask? Surely you jest... it's Friday the 13th after all...

Well, no.

I've decided that I am always approximately 2 days behind - not just in blogging, but in everything. That appears to be the amount of time I have lost in the last week or so either through sleeping or crying. Not to mention that pesky daylight savings time. Spring forward my ass...

On Wednesday evening Bogart and I decided that some ice cream was in order. Those who know me well have probably just gasped for breath. Those of you who don't know me personally have no idea why such a simple thing would cause such trepidation. You see, I am a semi-reformed sugar addict. There, I said it. I've come out of my frosting-filled closet. For the last two years I was able to ignore the siren song of the sugary treat (February 23rd being my anniversary). Not a single bit of goodness passed my lips during that time. Was I happy about it? More like conflicted, I'd say. I gave up everything (cookies, candy, chocolate, pie, ice cream, oh pretty much everything delicious and sugar-y) cold turkey. The only way I could. And it was HARD. Not terribly rewarding either as I didn't do any of the things that those "death to sugar" books would lead you to believe - didn't lose a ton of weight, didn't have a clearer head, still have the pesky pimples, and didn't feel any damn better. I'm sure that inside things were chugging along at a better pace, but I had nothing to hold on to as my flag - I feel so much more energetic! I am svelte! No more pizza face!

Ahem, no.

And it's funny because there is absolutely no sympathy for the adult candy-addict. I've often said that if I were addicted to heroin I'd get more sympathy - would you wave a dirty syringe in front of a recovering heroin addict? Probably not, but I've had many people not only wave chocolate bars in front of me, but eat them slowly, lovingly, and completely while I watched. Not to mention that my drug of choice was readily available, socially acceptable, and completely affordable even during my weakest financial moments. And of course it's yummo.

So for two years I was able to keep this up - not one single misstep. Until Klaus passed away. It's amazing how simple it was to buy a nice chocolate bar for myself (no worry about the law, or unapproving glances from "decent" people) and consume the entire thing in minutes. Something that was entirely verboten only a few weeks before (self imposed, yes, but I was just getting good at it).

I haven't had any ice cream in 2 years. Damnit, I felt like having ice cream. Bogart agreed. So off we went into the night in the Bogcedes to the grocery store. I decided to combine a little walkie for Bogart down Hawthorne so we'd have a little social interaction and he could pee on some things he hasn't peed on for awhile. All good. Then he guarded the Bogcedes (his least favorite thing save for guarding the house) while I went inside to procure some of that Ben and Jerry's goodness. Vanilla, chocolate, caramel and chocolate pieces. Mmm, mmm, mmm. I bought it, came out to the car, and Bogart and I were off for home and creamy happiness.

And then, BOOM!

What the hell was that? Driving down the street I think I felt it more than I heard it but it was pretty unmistakable - my drivers side front tire blew out. This has happened to me before but on my old 67 Mustang, which truly almost blew the car off of the road. In the Bogcedes, it felt like I had hit an unfortunately large bump and then was compelled to drive off slowly to the far left for something very, very important (even old luxury car = goodness). So great. Now I'm stuck far away from home with a blowout on the Bogcedes, Bogart and I in the car, with fast-melting ice cream. Damn. Damn. Damn.

AAA has saved my butt many times, and this time was no exception. They towed Bogart and I home (Bogart did have to ride in the Bogcedes however, my tow truck driver not realizing that he was in the company of someone famous). By the time we got home my delicious ice cream was more of a soup. Not that this stopped me, but I didn't get to share with Bogart the way I'd hoped (I didn't want to give him any of the chocolate). He hasn't liked ice cream in the past, so maybe that was just as well.

Cry, go to sleep, wake up, call another tow truck. Off to Les Schwab to replace the blown-out tire. Why is it that every time I've ever had something like this happen it is never sufficient to replace only one tire? To be fair, they did show me what my other tires looked like and lets just say that I was lucky only one blew out. So now I have to replace not just one but all four tires on the Bogcedes. Double, triple, quadruple Damn.

The good news is that we do have a new place to live next month - finally someone willing to take a chance on us. I really think that bringing Bogart in to the original viewing and interview helped enormously. He was on his best behavior (I think he knew this was important) and did the triple-play of Dale-dom: Head tilt, giving paw whenever someone says Guten Tag, and then lying down. For some reason lying down always makes people smile - I think because it makes Bogart look even more like a big stuffed animal. The space is a lot smaller than where we currently are, but is very close to where I work - so I will be able to be close to the important man in my life, the Boglemeister.

And for those who have been worrying, Charlie's moms dropped off another amazing care package for me (excellent chili and rice salad!!!) so yes I am eating. And not just chocolate.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Surreal For Real

I picked up Klaus' remains on Monday afternoon.

I have only now been able to write about it. Until that moment I felt that Klaus could still pop up on the table, could still somehow still be around. Even though I know that wasn't possible, it was still possible. Now that he has been cremated it is absolutely not possible and that just makes me hurt all over.

I expected that day to be surreal, and I was not disappointed. A shopping bag awaited me with Klaus' name attached to the outside. I stood in the foyer of the funeral home holding my bag from the bottom and not the handles - it was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. Of course I was afraid that the bag handles would break, sending the cardboard box of cremains (whatta word) crashing to the ground, not with a thud but with a whoosh that sent a tornado of Klaus everywhere. So I held it from the bottom, not taking any chances on any mischief from beyond.

Yes, they remembered to remove his nipple rings and return those to me. Yes, everything was handled perfectly and exactly as specified. I have all of my paperwork save the death certificate which was not ready yet. That's for another trip, I suppose. But yet as I stood there holding the box all I could think of to do (other than not drop it) was to rub the box as if to comfort him. I walked outside toward my car in the rain and covered the box so Klaus wouldn't get wet. I placed him on the passenger seat and buckled the seatbelt around the bag so it wouldn't fly around. Safety first!

And then I had things to do. On top of all that I am dealing with, I have to move. The house we live in is very large, and very far away from where I work. It feels very, very cold and quiet without Klaus. So I have been scouring Craigslist and visiting apartment buildings all over town, sometimes with Bogart (sunny days) sometimes without (hello snow). When I reached my first destination I had a dilemma - I did not want to keep Klaus on the front seat while I was inside for fear that someone might think he was something to steal, and as we already have one broken window on the Bogcedes I wasn't willing to risk it. So I put him in the trunk. I cannot tell you how much I agonized over that. It was either take him into the rental office with me or put him in the trunk. Both a little crazy. But as I really need to find a place to live, I felt that I just had to go with trunk rather than crazy-crying-lady-carrying-around-her-husband's-ashes. Especially as I look the latter part these days.

On the way home I retrieved Klaus from the trunk and put him back on his seat, buckled in. The ride home from there was uneventful in the sense that I was talking to him, just as I normally would if he were sitting there next to me. At one point I put my hand out to stroke his leg - something I would do all the time - and felt only cardboard. Damn. Damn. Damn.

My plan is to make a special box for him. He was too much of an individual to be put into something off-the-rack. But for now, the square, white box with his name printed on a plain, white label sits on my bedside table. Just next to the light-up alarm clock that always pissed him off because he said that the light was too bright, and that he would throw a knitted hat over after I had fallen asleep.

I love you Klaus. Sleep well.



Monday, March 09, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

"Strangers" has never seemed like such a foreign concept as it has these past few weeks. The way that my mailbox, emailbox, and front door are overflowing is really overwhelming with wishes from hundreds of people that I "technically" do not know and who "technically" do not know me. One of these days I promise to thank each and every one of you personally, when I have my wits about me again.

I am overdue in posting photos of the wonderful things I have received, mostly because crying and Photoshop don't mix. My few attempts have been pretty darned pathetic. Rest assured that everything that has been sent is sitting on my kitchen table (where I spend the majority of my time when I am in the house) so I can see it all the time - flowers, Bogart's painting, the needle-felted mini-Bogart, the book of well-wishes from all over the world that arrived from Australia, a tiki necklace from New Zealand, and more. And cards - so many cards.

Last night I got a surprise in the form of a visit from Charlie's moms - it seems that people are concerned about my not eating. LOTS of people. In fact it's probably the most-mentioned thing in the comments and emails these days. I am good at a lot of things - just not cooking, apparently. I got to meet Charlie - what a fine, handsome looker he is! - and Charlie's moms got to meet Bogart. And they brought me a cooler full of amazing vegetarian food. I was a little bit in shock - ok, I was in the bathtub just before they arrived - but still kind of wandered around the front yard in a bit of a daze. Ladies, the food is AMAZING, and yes I put it into the refrigerator right away. Yes I had some last night, as well as this morning. I will post photo proof of me eating as promised!

I know that so many times when I talk to people about Bogart's blog in the past, I have gotten an odd reaction, a sort of "you do what?" or "people actually write AS their dogs?" kind of thing. Sometimes I've found it was easier to just go along with it, downplaying the blog's importance in my life, or just saying something like "yeah it keeps me off the streets and out of the bars". I don't think I can ever again do the downplay. After all that has happened, and all of the support I've received, it would be a great disservice to ever have to pretend again that this isn't one of the most important things in my life - in addition to Bogart, my cats, and of course, Klaus. A big shout-out to DWB, for without it we all would not be connected in this special way.


Lulu & Bogart

Friday, March 06, 2009

Ashes to Ashes

Klaus is being cremated. Right now. I woke up with a start at 6:30 this morning, as he was scheduled to begin that process. Bogart and I went for a walk where we all always have - Powell Butte - and I think he was surprised that I got out of bed so quickly, with only one jump onto my chest and full face-lick.

There are so many things going through my head. So many thoughts, so many regrets. So many messages coming in from all over the world expressing love, offering stories and overwhelming grief. I cannot say if they make me feel better or worse, actually I can't say that I feel much at all. Even in my own grief I am so numb, so thinking that Klaus is going to walk in the door or that he is just in the living room watching TV.

I am the world's worst cook. Klaus is an amazing cook. I was never allowed into the kitchen, save for the few times I would enter to make myself some iced tea. Last night I was wandering around the house for about an hour, wondering how some food might magically appear on my plate and be delicious. This hasn't been too much of an issue lately as eating was not high on my list of priorities. But crying seems to burn a lot of calories so I must find a way to replace those, and in a yummy kind of way.

I spent 12 days in the ICU with Klaus. When I returned, one of the things that greeted me were a refrigerator full of spoiled food. Yes, 12 days can do a lot of damage. For several days I could not bear to even open the refrigerator, much less begin the excavation. And of course on the first day that I put on my miner's hat and got my shovel, I discovered that I did not have any garbage bags. Damn. Damn. Damn.

So there isn't much left. And most of what is here is what I have always referred to as "ingredients" - things that are not a meal on their own, but must be combined in some magical way to make delicious food. Klaus knew the combination, I alas, do not. But lo and behold, there was one thing in the freezer that I felt like I might be capable of preparing - a frozen pizza. Nature's perfect food, the one that no one should be able to destroy. Tasty? Probably not, but it should meet my need for calories if nothing else.

Long story short - I burned it. Beyond recognition. I may have to throw away the pan I cooked it on because it seems to have permanently fused to it. If Klaus were here he would be making fun of me mercilessly (and rightly so). Today I will be sure to visit a restaurant - any restaurant - where I will order food and someone will bring it to me. It's safer that way.

And Klaus will come home on Monday. In a box, but he will be home again.



Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Mark of the Beast

First things first - big, giant thank you's to everyone in the dog, cat, hamster, and oh everything else blogospheres for all of your love and support in the last few days. Yes, I am a basket case. There are so many things to do, and so many emotions getting in the way.

In the midst of my very worst moments, there are occasional glimpses of absurdity that force me to laugh when all I want to do is cry. Today I had one of those moments.

Klaus was taken to the funeral home on Monday evening. That is a story unto itself. There is no guide really to choosing a funeral home. After Klaus had passed away in my arms on Sunday morning, I felt completely adrift. What exactly do you do at that moment? The show is over, the curtain has come down, and the stagehands want to start cleaning up so they can move on to the next gig. And you are standing there, sad, lonely, and completely confused. I looked around the room that had been my home for 2 weeks and gathered my things. The bag of Klaus' clothing that he was wearing on that awful morning he was admitted to the hospital. The remainders of the food that had been brought for me that was mostly uneaten. My own handbag, now bursting with everything I had needed (and much I did not). It all seemed surreal. I asked the nurses to give the remaining balloons to someone else in the ICU who might enjoy them (yes they looked a tiny bit sad as the helium no longer kept them at full mast, but they might make someone smile and I would have looked truly pathetic walking out of the hospital with them). And then what? I stood outside of Klaus' room and just waited. A chaplain materialized out of nowhere (they did this a lot) and handed me my "grief packet". So... I leave behind the love of my life and in exchange I get a bag of stinky clothing and a grief packet. Damn.

The nagging question of "exactly what do I do now" never really gets answered.

Call a funeral home.

Um, ok.

Can you guide me in that choice?

Um, no.

Can you at least tell me some place that doesn't bury people in the backyard and fill the urn with cigarette ashes?

Um, no.

So I guess I should go now and read my grief packet.

Um, yes.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

Klaus' wish (and mine as well) has always to be cremated. So I narrowed down the list of funeral homes to those with the word "cremation" in the title. And then I chose scientifically - by covering my eyes and pointing to one. I called, they were lovely on the phone, then I called the hospital to inform them of my choice (who knew you called Admitting for this?) and then waited.

And waited. And waited.

No one called that day. As the hours ticked by I realized that they might not have my correct phone number. So I called myself - bingo - and waited for my next contact.

All of which brings me to today. The facility is lovely. My funeral director is lovely. There is no pressure at all to buy an expensive urn. All of the paperwork I need to complete has been prepared for me. This is actually the simplest part of the entire transaction, except for the fact that I am transacting my husband. All seems very well until it is time to pay.

My funeral director disappeared for a moment and when she returned I could see that something wasn't right. She turned over the paper with the invoice. She stammered, and apologized. I'm sure I did the Airedale-head-cocked-to-the-side thing. This sort of thing doesn't happen, she said. To which I looked directly at her and said in a loud, clear voice, "It's $666, isn't it?".

$666. Yes indeed-y. I looked around for Klaus and I laughed out loud, reassuring her that not only was this ok, it was fantastic and hilarious. Badass to the end - Klaus would have LOVED that.

So thanks for the laugh Klaus, I am SURE this was your doing...


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

In Your Eyes

For Klaus... love Lulu

"In Your Eyes" Peter Gabriel

love I get so lost, sometimes
days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
when I want to run away
I drive off in my car
but whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

all my instincts, they return
the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

in your eyes
the light the heat
in your eyes
I am complete
in your eyes
I see the doorway of a thousand churches
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
the heat I see in your eyes

love, I don't like to see so much pain
so much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired, working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

and all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

in your eyes
the light the heat
in your eyes
I am complete
in your eyes
I see the doorway of a thousand churches
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
the heat I see in your eyes
in your eyes in your eyes
in your eyes

Sunday, March 01, 2009

My Love is Gone

My heart is broken.

My husband has passed away.

I love you Klaus, more than anything else in the entire world.