Time is a healer, just not yet

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So I kind of fucked up my attempt at assertiveness – mainly by trying to see what my mom wanted before telling the sister to calm her bossy boots down and my mom was all, why are you asking, why what, it wasn’t a big deal? And then it sort of became a tiny bit of a deal.  She did wonder why I didn’t come over and she was a bit lonely with my dad working four days in a row, but she didn’t call me or tell me that.  I said she had to promise to call me if she was lonely and this suddenly had aspects of burdening her with having to explain what she was feeling.

But it’s not.  The lyric goes, if you call, I’ll come running to see you again.  Not if you have any sort of negative emotion, my telepathy will ping and I will teleport/time travel to you so that you never have to feel it in the first place.  More tuneful, too.

But I basically ended up sending a facebook message to the sister back that said I was doing the best I can, I’ve been over a lot, I’m going to be back over a lot, and that’s all I care to say about it.  And there’s been no reply as of yet.  SO, somehow, I am certain, the wrong person has been told the wrong thing and someone’s back is up and I…am sorry for that.  I’m sorry that my mom did, for a few moments, feel lonely.  But it doesn’t change, for a moment, the fact that I am just trying to live and do and serve my many mistresses without malice.

I have had feelings about this that have been subsumed under other feelings and other tasks.  This is how life goes.

Today, I got home, put a pizza in the oven, wondered why I wasn’t suddenly making all these massive changes I could be making for half a second, and then watched women’s indoor volleyball and then…saw a film on TV that caught my eye.  I know now that it was Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?

It caught my ear more than my eye as the film was absolutely drab and the film quality was dated and aged and didn’t look meant to be shown on high-def tvs, but quotes were essential.  Without a time nor place to be bound to, these were top-level truisms.

“Time, mister, it’s not a thief. It’s an embezzler staying up nights, and juggling the books so you don’t notice anything missing when you wake up.”

It’s really amazing.

You should just watch this part.  Maybe you’d get something out of it, too.

Now a hundred words to say that I am playing Skyrim.  I’ve had it for a couple years, but it’s so NOT Dragon Age and that made it pretty impossible to enjoy.  However, I think I might kind of like it.  In a backwards, goofy sort of way.  A hundred words to say that I take a deep breath and I deflate.  That I read it everyday, every single day – what we wrote together.  That’s pointless, but it’s pleasurable so I do it.  I hit these buttons one right after the other so the draft never gets in so long as I never stop.

For Those Who Know Better

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I just have to vent.  I have to do my five hundred words, too, so it may as well be a two birds, one stone shot at the heavens.

I am irritated because of a facebook message I just received and this is how I want to reply, but probably won’t because I am sane and want to keep things not about me and sending this screed in response will do nothing but inflame a situation.

The message was essentially to browbeat me for not coming over and seeing my mother today.  The day that the sister came home from her whirlwind tour of New York and someone’s wedding in her boyfriends’ family.  Apparently, I had been “paid” in her forgiving debts about our trip to Minnesota for my grandfather’s funeral by promising to spend every waking moment staring at my mother.

I didn’t do that.  I did what my mother wanted and flowed in and out as much as I could.  And the reason I couldn’t be sitting there watching TV next to her all the livelong day is because I am struggling as fuck right now to get my bills paid and to get myself in one piece and so I have to work six days a week, many of those on my feet, already knowing that it isn’t enough anyway.  So when I turn up at my mom’s I am checking in, I am actively doing my best to turn off all of the shit I’m worrying about for me and to be present. I am asking her what is happening, I am listening as best I can and then I have to go.  And after seeing her yesterday, after doing all of that, I just wanted to do these things I’ve been thinking about doing for weeks.

So this condescension that is dripping off this message…this idea that I blew off my mom and her CANCER is so goddamned frustrating.  That she’s responsible for my mother’s emotions now and I am this massive jerk.  All because she hadn’t been home for five minutes before she decided my mom was lonely today and I needed to feel shitty about that.  Because she made slumgullion and we didn’t come over to eat it?  My mom was capable of calling me to check in – we are capable of coming over tomorrow and eating it in the afternoon.  I told her I wasn’t coming over! She said, oh, that’s fine! I had house stuff to do and I have been doing it, but apparently, we’re just going to disregard all of that and focus on the fact that my sister wants to control everything.

I have been there, I will be there, and I am tired.  I am strong, but I just wanted one goddamned day to sleep in and fold clothes and play video games – and I had one, knowing from YESTERDAY MORNING that my mom was okay.  My mom, who has always been a private person and is capable of being alone for 24 hours with her HUSBAND to look after her, was not going to die without me watching HGTV with her.  I’m happy to do that.  I like to do that.  I have done and will do that.  I didn’t do it today.

But the fact that she upended her whole life to be at home isn’t going to change one cancer cell.  I’m just trying to get by right now, same as everyone else and I have devoted so much of myself to this family, to this sister and it was meaningless.  It wasn’t needed or helpful.  I have to look after me and the shit that is challenging and scaring me – part of that is my feelings about my mom, which are big and absorbing and overwhelming and real – but this is a long, long, long road and I can’t do it the way she insists it has to be done.

JUST STOP IT GODDAMNIT.

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!

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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.