habits aren't easy to break

Last night I felt the weight of losing my mom more than I thought was possible at this point.

My mom and I didn't always talk at regular times. She'd call me every Saturday morning super early, forgetting the time difference, and I'd let it go to voicemail and call her back sometime within the next couple of days. We'd call each other when something happened or we just needed to talk. But we never had a standing phone call.

We did, however, start our own tradition of always talking before and after flights. When I started flying pretty regularly in 2006, Mom would always worry a bit. So I called her on the way to the airport, and I always ALWAYS called her when I touched down back at SFO. The cab drive back into the city was OUR time. It was a reminder that coming home to SFO was also coming HOME. Sometimes it felt maybe a bit annoying that I needed to report in, but mostly I cherished that time with my mom.

When I was flying to Malaysia or Thailand or China every other week, we spent hours on the phone before and after my flights. Even when I was dead exhausted, that call home was my top priority. I loved sharing my adventures with Mom and hearing about her life that I'd missed while I was way. 

When I flew home from the Funeral at the end of February, I cried as I landed because there was nobody to call. It hit me hard and I spent the next week wallowing in bed (and sick as a dog from some airplane bug).

I haven't flown since then. Until last week.

I recognized the temptation to call Mom on the way to OAK to head out on this trip. But I also was aware enough to realize I couldn't. I let myself feel sad for a moment, and then I moved on.

Last night was different. Last night I was exhausted. It had been a long flight in with tons of turbulence and a 30 minute delay on the tarmac. I was tired and fuzzy and not really thinking. As soon as I got into the cab to take me home, I picked up the phone and hit speed dial on my mom's number.

As it rang I realized my mistake, but I couldn't hang up. I needed to hear that out of service message on the other end. I needed to hear the finality of it. And then I lost my shit.

After all these months, my first instinct upon returning to SFO is still to call Mom. To tell her I'm okay. To find out how she is. To tell her I love her.

It's heartbreaking. It's gut wrenching and it has thrown off my whole day today. I'm not very good at functioning while trying not to cry all over my computer.

But I hope that impulse NEVER goes away.


How Jezebel Just Lost my Readership, and Maybe Yours

Those of us women over 6' tall in the U.S. (I'm 6'4") only make up 1% of the population. That's about 3.2 million of us out there. It's not a huge number, but here's the thing about that number:
  • 99% of us are between the ages of 20 and 50
  • We are internet savvy because we had to be (to find clothes, communities, etc.)
  • A decent chunk of us tend toward the liberal because, again, we had to (traditional roles don't work with us, we faced a lot of bullying growing up, etc.)
  • We are constantly exploring the world around us for innovations (because we're looking for the world to offer things that work for us)
Essentially, we are the perfect demographic for Jezebel. And many of us are readers. In many of the tall communities I'm in, we share Jezebel articles frequently. We are still, above all, women who want to connect with others and the world around us.

Well, Jezebel, you just lost us.

The quick spotlight Clover Hope wrote about the TLC series My Giant Life was bad.


It was dismissive, and the use of the word "gripe" was unnecessarily snarky.

But that's not the problem. No. The problem is Clover Hope and her response to the comments.

One commenter questioned the snark and Clover responded with, "how about you chill," as you can see in the screenshots below:

Kara Brown also commented:

The problem here is the lack of respect for readers. Especially those that represent the population on which are you commenting. Not that I ever mistook Jezebel for serious journalism, but does an outlet like this really want someone with a childish, "I know you are but what am I?" mentality representing them? This is digusting.

There have been over 500 comments in the couple hours since this article was posted. Thanks to Clover's offensiveness, a comment war between short and tall has now started. This is ridiculous.

This is not about Tall versus Short. This is about a wanna be journalist treating an entire population as if they don't matter. Several commenters brought up the similarity to race issues:

And now we have race wars. This is extremely unfortunate and I am personally disgusted that a contributor to a national outlet could be so dismissive and disrespectful of an entire demographic, and then not hear the concerns when they offer feedback.

You can read all of the comments here. 

Clover Hope has, in one comment, invalidated any good she has done in the past. I personally will not consume or share Jezebel content anymore, and I'm willing to bet that my sisterhood of tall women, and honestly - just women who have empathy for others - are with me.

And just to educate those of you who don't understand why tall women "gripe" about being tall, let me throw out a very small smattering of how it impacts our lives:
  • We are pushed into sports, whether or not we want it
  • We get unwanted attention all the time - people constantly comment on our bodies and our lives and tell us what we should and shouldn't be doing with it. 
  • We cannot fit into airplane seats, first class is expensive, and in foreign countries that isn't always an option.
  • We have to buy bigger cars.
  • They don't make pants or shoes in our sizes, we have to make them or wear ugly things. Even when we can find something, it doesn't actually fit right and it's very expensive.
  • Dating is hell - not because we want tall men, necessarily, just because of societal standards.
  • We get back problems, ankle and knee problems, and circulation problems.
  • We never ever ever get to feel "cute".
  • We can't hear our friends when we're out standing somewhere.
  • Want to go watch that baseball game or that movie? Prepare to have bruises on your knees the next day.
  • Our feet hang off the end of the bed.
  • The desk at work don't fit us.
The list goes on and on and on...

I've blogged a bit about being super tall before. You can read those posts here, here, and here

I don't complain about other populations "griping" about their problems. I try to understand them and empathize. I don't ask that you understand my issues - I just ask that you don't call us out as whiners. We are definitely not among the loudest voice of complainers in the world, and a lot of us have worked to change our world to address our issues.

So sure, Clover - I'll chill. But I'm gonna be chilling without Jezebel because of you.


the benefits of never deleting voicemails

My mom left me practically the same voicemail every week. Thankfully, I didn't delete them manually, so I still have the last few before she got too sick to leave them.

I've been listening to my little playlist of 2 and 3 second Mom snippets for the last half hour.

I only wish I had more.


an unusual birthday present

I picked out a casket like I would shop for any other large purchase. I went into it thinking I wanted a rich wood casket. Unfortunately, caskets are ridiculously expensive. The cheapest wood option was over almost four thousand and was not what I would call “rich”-looking. The cheapest casket of all was just under a grand and was literally a dark black metal box. It looked like an ugly safe. The funeral director patiently walked me through the catalog so that I could view the metal choices in between those two price points. The online system had a terrible user interface and all I could think was how I could help them fix this so that grieving families didn’t have to suffer through the horrible waiting times during all the clicks it took to view each option. We clicked (and clicked and clicked) through the slate grey and cheesy blue options for almost an hour. I didn't cry. I didn't waver. I shopped. I planned. I managed the situation as I would handle any professional project. I settled on a warm tan casket that had a wooden feel at nowhere near the price and moved on to choose the flowers, the programs, and the guest book. After I confirmed everything with my siblings, the funeral director brought in the paperwork so I could sign on the dotted line. 

The problem with signing things is that you have to enter the date. I can never remember the date. Even if I've written it a gajillion times that day, even if I've been monitoring my calendar like crazy - I can never remember the date when it comes time to sign a form. This time, though, it flowed out without me thinking. 


My mom's birthday. 

I wrote it without thinking. I wrote it knowing the significance, but without it hitting me until I filled in the year.


Over the past several months, I had become so used to filling in my mom's birth date, that I couldn't write 2/17 without filling in her birth year. I looked down at the papers and realized my mistake. My chest tightened and for just a second I wondered if I could take another breath. The air felt like tar seeping and blocking my lungs from filling. I had just purchased my mom's casket on what would have been her 72nd birthday. 

I scratched out 1943 and wrote in 2015, wondering briefly if the blurred wet ink would be a problem. The funeral director must have thought I was having trouble with the date because he helpfully chimed in, "It's the 17th."

I looked up at him through tears for the first time and made a horrible imitation of a real smile.

"I know."


pure self-indulgence

It has been almost two months, and I have yet to write about my mother.

I know a lot of people process emotions by writing. My challenge is that I process them by talking to people, but I don't internalize them and really feel them until I spend time with them on my own. When I try to write in my journal and keep this to myself, I end up cheating myself. I tend to use a short hand that I expect future Monika to understand. I write a prompt, and then I get caught up in that one thought or distracted by life and I never come back to it. Writing here is different. It's terribly self-indulgent and probably narcissistic, but it forces me to follow through on my thoughts and actually deal with whatever I'm feeling.  

I'm posting this disclaimer of sorts to explain why I’m choosing to share so much in such a public way – why I always do, really – but why it is particularly important now.  I haven’t yet really cried over my mother’s death, or the last few months of her life. I’ve had little spurts, but I’ve shoved them aside. I have yet to honestly grieve, and I feel like I need to start. Now. 



Capital One Handles Account Holder Death with Grace and Assurance

I know most of us think of credit card companies as awful - and I agree they often are. But today I encountered a human and surprisingly ethical side of Capital One that I had to share.

I called the bank to tell them that my mother had passed away, fully expecting them to ask me to pay the balance on her cards. Other debtors have already tried to push me into paying her debts, even though legally I'm personally not responsible for any of these financial obligations. I thought Capital One would be the worst. Obviously I was wrong or I wouldn't be writing this post.

First of all, they have a dedicated line that when you call, they know you have lost someone. Meaning - that person on the other end is prepared for what you are dealing with and knows how to handle it right away. The first thing she said to me was that she was sorry for my loss and she wanted to make the process as simple as possible - before I even told her why I was calling. They don't require a death certificate, which makes things so much easier, and the process wrapped up in about 2 minutes. The other 3-5 minutes or so were the representative expressing her condolences, and then the thing that surprised me:

Rather than trying to get me to pay, the representative firmly stated that I am not responsible for the balance. Only the estate, if there is an estate, is responsible, and I should not make any payments to any creditors holding accounts in my mother's name. She reiterated this several times.

I knew this already, but I thought I was going to have to be the one defending that. I was so surprised that someone representing a large bank would be so adamant about my rights.

So thank you, Capital One, for making this easier. And for making sure you're not exploiting grieving families.