100 Proof

into-spaceship-earth-1235302 (1)If the meme ain’t facile, we don’t want the meme.

It’s getting to the point where I need a food change.  Where the food that is supposed to get me through is tasting gross and slowing my system.  It’s adding to my stress.  I’ve got a few plans cooking that start on Sunday afternoon, but I don’t know if that should also be one of them.  Maybe it would just be okay to force down a salad.  Fake it until you make it?

As I was pulling into the parking lot, we got a text about the cat.  She had gone missing.  She’s a cat that was found on the railroad tracks, a ball of fur and vinegar who by some good grace was put in our path, we of a cat-loving nature.  I can’t say that she’d have had an easier life with anyone else in charge of her comings and goings.  Chessie, the railroad kitten, was at my parents’ house and my father was the one texting.  Then came the sister’s facebook message.  Okay, I said to myself after reading it, okay.  I don’t know if I meant it, but I said okay.   She’s not my cat, but the idea of her lost out there on the mean streets of idyllic, sunset suburbia isn’t great to have to ponder.

It has been a long day of striving again, of being relieved and then sucker punched, relieved, sucker punched.  I’ve heard about Nice, but only tangentially, only in headlines.  I feel like I’m only capable of processing headlines, even if they’re the most stringent and dangerous part of the news.  A distillation, 100 proof.  And I’ve been so drunk on it lately, bashed about with the ceiling for the floor and the floor for the ceiling with fucking shitty news.  Every generation has its paranoia, every generation peering down on the next thinks it’s the end of civilization as we know it, but the truth of it is that eventually one of them will be right. You can read that a crazy fanatic person filled with hate drove into a crowd of celebrating people and your eyes can slowly close to let the picture come in, fuzzy and without sound effects, only a soundtrack that is just this song.

The song ends and you can open your eyes, feel your own body against the familiar air, the familiar ground, the familiar impulse to live.  Say Okay.  Nobody thinks you mean it.

Tomorrow is my mom’s next appointment.  An appointment where they are to explain options and status and treatment.  Okay, I say, without meaning it at all.  Okay. Let me know.

Not an hour later, the message comes through on all fronts.  The cat’s been found.  Was just hiding from the dog, her enemy and was just biding her time and sleeping.  Was surprised that there was a hubbub and secretly pleased.  She looks at you, a ball of fur and Okay.  She wouldn’t know to be otherwise.

Do have my good wishes.

C’est impossible!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First, this.

Thing one.  I refuse to be a prisoner of my thoughts, which is to say I refuse to categorize thoughts which are okay to think, and fretful, frightening thoughts as elsewise.  It creates such a cell.  If a stray news story about bone marrow comes, I flip the channel, I can’t allow it in.  I can’t let it touch me.  And that is not a way to live.

I still have not heard news on my mother and I am recalcifying around the desire to know.  I will have to know.  I will have to be involved.  I want to support and be there.  But I have such a thing in my head related to health and bad health news for the people I care about that I feel as though I am waiting for someone to shoot me with a gun.  That there is no middle ground option and there absolutely, most likely, will be.  There are a whole range of options and possibilities and I am just the person standing around hearing the news.  Not, at this moment, the person going through it.  I think I feel as though my empathy means I could get close enough to experience it as if it were happening to me, and then, somehow, it will be happening to me.

We have the family history.  We have it in spades and I don’t want to think even jot one about it. Not even in terms of sane life precautions.

That…is a mental project.

I did not quit my job today though I was closer than I have been yet this morning driving in.  Pressed up against the wall with things I can do nothing about, the prospect of being able to shift into something stable and away from everything making me crazy felt like the only out available to me.

There was a lot of talk with the boss.  I explained about this other issue, this poker in my side, even though I wasn’t totally sure I should.  She’s my boss, not the poker.  So, I feel like I have to respect my empathy.  Even if it sometimes puts me as last priority as I experience the suffering of others, it still is a deep and amazing gift.  Just to know that you’re not wholly closed off.  That the palette still has all of its colors.

I am still going to apply to the job I found yesterday.  I do still want it, a night’s sleep has not changed that, but I think it’s a lot more sane to casually look and apply than to leap off the tall building and hope that the law of averages would catch me.  We’ve experienced that enough in our family and I know that’s not the safe way to go.  I just felt so…gah, I need to get paid.  And I got paid, today.  We all got paid.  It’s a bandaid on a gusher, but I could at least get one piece of what I am due to pay out to the world out and that was something.  My austerity plans will have to continue apace.  It’s not all that far that we can keep this up.

A Woman of Negotiable Virtue

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Oh, Fallen London, you are really the swell and dandiest, particularly with your free and easy gifts of the titles for posts.

I have about ten tabs open and I am feeling more than a bit overwhelmed, digitally, and in the good old analog braincase.  Let’s do this, please.

Thoughts and feelings, thoughts and feelings!  I now, essentially, have a second job.  With the caveat that I have to explain to my current boss tomorrow that halving my hours means I need a second job and that I’ve got one, at least for the summer and I need to shift things around to accommodate it.   I think this is fine.  I can just work full days there 3 days a week and work a day and a half at the new one.  It’s stressful, I suppose, for all of us, and I’m half afraid that she’d say, oh, I intended to put you back on full-time June 1, but I don’t financially get that as even being possible, at all, so…I am looking after me. She could also say, well, that’s too much of an inconvenience for me, so goodbye you, which is not really likely, but everything feels within the realm of possibility these days.

It’s only retail, it’s only about 25 hours a week with about what you’d expect to make doing retail.  It’s a stopgap measure to keep me in food and drink and health insurance.  This is not the excitement about it.  The excitement is it’s working in my mentor’s boutique clothing store, they trust me enough that it’s was about 10 minutes of chatter before we started laying out schedules.  They also want to talk about me helping with social media/copywriting…some things that I’m interested in doing anyway.  I know these ladies and I know their vibe, I know the town, and they care about me and my life, the role writing plays, and even the fact that I’m kind of at a mental crossroads.  They get that this is rough.   I feel immediately like, oh, wow, I can’t break this.  I can just be carried by it until I get a clue.

It’s also rough because once this all gets conferred and confirmed, I can’t tell my parents.  I can’t because we’ve agreed in the great High Council of this house that they don’t need to know, the little sister, the aunt, either.  This would only lead to histrionics and heaving sighs and phone calls about if we’re going to die in the gutter and other things I am starting to believe are not exactly likely. It is, in fact, our lives rather than anyone else’s and their freak-out doesn’t change the bank balance and perhaps, it would be good to be able to say, yes, this happened, but we got it covered.

But for now, no telling, no facebooking, certainly not until the current boss is made to know the plans as I see them.  I feel shitty because I’m enforcing this boundary of addressing my needs rather than martyring myself – the usual act of comfort.  I also feel shitty because this is a new schedule change I have to adjust to, a new place I need to make sure I’m giving energy and attention.

Overall, though.  This is good.

Hjemlengsel

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Okay, day, okay.

I have a need to write – to continue this story until it reaches its conclusion.  I also have a need to chronicle, to record the memories of today so that they don’t dissipate out of my mind when I crave to return to the story as it was.  As I know it now.

My grandfather ate ice cream for breakfast, something I can only imagine he’s never done for so long as I have been his grandchild as for these 30-some years I’ve only known him as a diabetic. It’s a matter of him getting things as near as we can to what he wants.  He has been alert all day and recognizing all of this visitors.

My father texted and asked if we wanted to talk to him.  Of course, dear readers, I will admit to a sliver of trepidation.  What do you say?  What do you say in your last conversation with someone?  You say, apparently, “I just wanted to be sure you know that I love you so tremendously much.”  To which, your grandfather replies, because he is your grandfather.  “I love you, too.  Well, all things must come to an end.  And I hope it comes sooner rather than later.”

We’ve always been the far-distant children.  We don’t, as my cousin who spent so many more hours under my grandparents’ watchful eyes at the farm, call him Gramps.  We weren’t first, we don’t have children and rooted lives to connect to him as they do, they weren’t needed as surrogate parents as they sometimes were for others.

But that never mattered.  My visits up there always made me feel their love.  My grandfather’s stoicism never for a minute hid his grand attributes of humor and endurance and a big open heart.  That hand patting my shoulder.

We being all the way out here, it seemed like somehow, we weren’t meant to be a part of the goodbye.  But we needed to be.  I needed to be.  The last time we spoke he seemed tired, out of sorts, all that moving around nursing homes and assisted living.  All these changes.

It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was important.  I didn’t get that with my grandma, not really, even though I feel her with me and I know I can reach out and connect to her spirit in my dreams, I wish I had.  This feels so strange to me.  It hasn’t registered.  It doesn’t feel like a loss so much as a move even just a bit further away.

From a long distance, from what I can gather from my father, my grandpa’s not comfortable, he’s ready regardless of what his body has to say on the matter.  There’s no way to know how big the hourglass is.  I know that he wants this to be as inconvenient as possible and like so much of this, you just have to give it the grace to be what it is.

My dad comes home tomorrow, regardless.

The Starcatcher

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Somehow, as a writer, my skill is supposed to come in handy on days like this.

Days when I’ve had these disparate experiences that impacted me and somehow, I should know what it all means.  Or have, I guess, a way to write them all together and distill a truth.

My grandfather’s not expected to recover now and is just resting comfortably under my dad and aunt’s watchful eyes.  He could, of course, get better, but it would not possibly be for anything that could be considered long-term.   He is on the soft and sunny side of this long hill we’re all crawling ourselves up and I have this vision that he’s walking, steadily and surely, down into this valley where my grandmother and uncle are waiting.  It’s comforting to me when I feel so useless.  Again, I have expectations for myself…how grief should look, how love should express itself, how I should be in this moment when my being is in no way part of the equation.  When there is no word I could say, no magical phrase that would make my grandfather as I see him in memory: solid, sharp, clever,  sitting in the chair next to me watching Megadeth up at the farm because both of us were trying to be kind to the other, both of us weirded out by the idea that the other wanted to watch that.  I feel his hand on my shoulder.  Those hugs.  The way he would insist on washing the dishes after every single meal.  The way my grandmother would say Sammy’s so good to me. Ever so good.  The way my dad would call up there and start with “Hello Pop!” The noises of his life. The quiet.  The little asides.  The steady love he gave everyone.  The farm that was his domain.  I feel all of it and it stays and goes.

This was happening today and I felt guilty, somehow, for this invitation to a dinner theatre matinee.  Tickets that would be gone to waste if we didn’t use them.  So I found myself sitting across the table from an elderly couple, not so unlike my grandparents at all.  Sharp in their minds, but ever gentle to one another.  And I making small talk and not knowing what to say – not being able to say that some part of it was my thoughts were elsewhere, another part that I was being rusty and out of practice with faking my way through those kinds of encounters.  Eventually, after the free meal that was excellent but entirely filled with calories I did not count regardless of whether I should, this rapid-fire, insanely creative production of Peter and the Starcatcher spilled out in front of my eyes.

The setting reminded of my story – 1885 British Empire on the seas, yet supernatural, players playing a hundred parts and at the center, a female hero the equal of Peter Pan.  Peter Pan’s heart and his light and his mother, his maker.  That, perhaps, was in the end why they had to be parted.  He wasn’t ready to grow up.  He needed and deserved that time to be innocent after what he had endured, to be childish, free of pain.  She knew that being a woman meant the essence of that great Cheryl Strayed quote, being brave enough to break your own heart.  She had to give him up.

That was really where my interest lied – the campiness, the creativity in making the whole thing work on a stage, the side stories…they all had charm.  But for me, of late, I care about the romance.  Even the romances that hurt.

From there, I flew down to the old stomping grounds and sat in my mentor’s living room for 30 minutes.  She had a fire going and her cat came up and approved of me. Suddenly, it was easy to talk about everything.  The struggle, such as it is, knowing I would be met with genuine empathy.  She suggested I could work for her if it would help in the summer.  That it would help her.  Weekends, retail, it doesn’t pay any more than a usual retail job.  I had thought, laughingly, that I could make something like that happen part-time.  That it would give me time to think.  To process.  I told her, possibly too earnestly, that I would think about it sincerely.  We hugged.  Her husband popped in.  It was nice to feel human, to spill the guts and not worry that the guts would be used against me.

30 minutes past and up I flew again to this Mexican restaurant to say goodbye to a dear friend who was intended to leave for Georgia this past October but the house didn’t sell until now and now she’s moving, homelessly to Savannah.  So the old gang was nearly all there.  It was lovely, for the most part, toxic for the rest.  The changes have rocked everyone.  Nobody’s happy, everything is broken when it comes to the thing that united us.   There was a lot of venting and lately, our get togethers center around the brokenness. It is hard not to feel like my leaving was pulling that first precarious piece out of the Jenga tower.  The nostalgia at once powerful and instantly corroded as soon as it breathed the free air. But it had to be.  I had to choose what I chose.  I had to be here now and you there now and time had to pass for my grandfather regardless of my regrets of how I spent it.

It couldn’t have been any way other than the way it was.   The day, my choice, and everything.

That’s it.

L’Porc Est Fort!

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All these impossibilities – vanquished!

….no.  But.

Odd things.  Good things.  Things that don’t need to be made to mean immediately, but can just be and breathe a bit.

Dreaming about my grandmother who had passed, she looked herself until I fully recognized her and remembered she was on the other side, and then she looked horrible, and in a sort of misery, turning almost into the fetal position on the couch.  She moaned “God has taken almost all my family from me, but it’s alright because of the good ones we have coming up…”  And then, startled, feeling her hand on my face, I woke up.

In the interests of confession, I ate poorly today again.  I am thinking about why that is and how I can still feel okay about myself in light of it.

I read maybe a page of Rilke.  I want to just read the rest of it tonight.

Went and did the taxes over at my parents which is actually a huge financial relief, heard that my grandfather is not doing well and I see this ripple everywhere…in my father…in my sister…in me as I remember my grandmother’s dream words to me.   We – my younger sister, older mother and I – also went and walked to the neighborhood spot, ostensibly for brunch, but I ended up with a French dip.  I always order them and I always wonder why since I hardly like them at all.  Habits.  There we talked about about the usual: the no longer thinly veiled references to grandchildren, my younger sister’s biological clock, my traveling, how nice it was to have a restaurant like that so close to home.  A lot of not really saying anything.  My little sister who hasn’t seen me in a while wanting to encourage me by saying I looked good, that I should keep it up.  Me feeling guilty for the past week of not keeping it up.   We didn’t talk about how deeply painful and frustrating it can be to feel my own clock running, my own personal sense of sand rushing through the hourglass, but feeling as though my clock is a clock we don’t talk about.  A fat clock, a clock with its numbers out of whack, a clock that’s on daylight savings time.  It’s a metaphor that is about to sicken me so I’m letting it go.

We went on a walk and I was ready, I thought, to speak earnestly about that – about how it all felt and how I wanted her to tell my mother to consider how it hurt me.  Instead, my sister reports to me that my father worries we don’t go to the doctor enough.  I said we were fine and she let it go.

I am so glad, though, that we didn’t talk about my sadness or discomfort with being constantly blackballed from the baby/romance talk.  Or about practically being furloughed or only just getting the health insurance back or about the random dude who I talked with the other night when I was just playing at being a girl who was comfortable talking with random dudes.

I have to do this work.  I have to get comfortable. I have to sacrifice, time and treasure and the pacific mind.  There’s nothing they can say that changes that.

So we did not have a fight.

As I was leaving, my mother drug me upstairs and showed me this new lipstick she got.  She pulled my arm as I curled my lip, immediately attaching the semiotics of the thing to memories and hurts she has no idea exist.  It was pinky in a shade that I would never buy, but she put it on my face and stood me in front of the mirror.  And I was okay.  Right then, I was okay.

 

Fumbling Towards Adequacy

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Green grass is not that far away.  I hope we pay attention to the turn towards spring when it comes.  You only get so many Johnny Jump-Ups in your life.  So much verbena and stargazer lillies and clematis vines.  You only get so many January 12ths, as a matter of fact.  And I can’t piss and moan too much because I can wear tights and wander the streets and it’s still the dead of Winter.

I am distracted, as I have to write something romantical for the novel, or something at all for writing group which I am finally returning to.   That feels a little eerie, having left it to manage on its own and now turning up again. Mostly the displeasurable thoughts linger around driving, which is stupid, but they linger so we acknowledge them and go the fuck on anyway.  I need to write or read, and so I find myself here, fumbling towards ecstasy.  Or just adequacy.

Watching more David Bowie interviews, including one about the Internet where he seemed particularly prescient and engaging.   It’s just sad.  A lonely sadness that has to be held and batted about, encouraged, before it can fly away.

On much more physical terms, there’s something oddly pleasing about having the period-tracking app Clue notify you that “You appear to be late” (I am paraphrasing. I don’t think they accuse you, the period-haver, of any particular failing) as it has decided it thinks I need to bleed (like a modern day witch-doctor appraises you for a good leeching) and a few hours later, be able to spit in its metaphorical eye.  Yes, I press into the screen, my endometrial fluid is punctual as fuck, so don’t go around second-guessing it.

The State of the Union.  In another heavy lump on the pile of things that will no longer be, I thought it was really a nice speech.  We still have the year left, but it’s sad and exhilarating to realize that we were given eight years of a President of such intelligence and good intent.  Who knows what the future will bring – aside from

Exercise.  It’s going well, in that it is going.  It’s strange to be able to do the same ten situps and feel like it is simpler to do them.  Less fight, both in the doing and in the willingness to do them.  It has the ease of muscle memorization, a motion down by rote.  Not so well-known and practiced that it isn’t a challenge, I just find my body able to assume the position, ahem, without fussing and mewling and rationalizing skipping a day.  I have taken away the question of whether or not I will do it and that seems to make all the difference.  I don’t think this means I have lost weight, or even if I will, but I am alert now to why it could never possibly work before.  That pizza I love, that fills my stomach so well, that I could eat day in and out – 800 calories.  Meant for two people.  After 12 days of trying to pay attention, it’s harder to eat as much, and it’s easier to stop myself.

I have this whole other thing to say, but I am tired and done and those both mean I should stop.