04 December 2016

Who Are All These Kids!?!


We just celebrated a few big birthdays in the family. With the kids there is now an age range of teenager to baby.  We now have three thirteen-year-olds in the family. (not the Littles but three nephews) Sweet baby is coming up on nine months old.  The eldest boy is about to be fifteen.  And we have a three year old boy, no longer a baby as I tend to call him, on the other side of the family.  My adult nieces are now 21 and 24 years old.  Nephew will be 31 in January, Niece will be 35 in a few days.

I carry that feeling that I imagine grandma's do.  There's just a joy in having all these kids around.  It's astonishing to see them grow and become their own person.  Even more astonishing is watching their parents grow into parenthood and adulthood.

The Littles have very distinctly different personalities and now that they're ten, a person can see the individuals they are becoming.  One is super smart and skilled at humble-bragging, one is quiet and in their own imagination, and the other is pragmatic and very careful.

The Bigs...oh, they're so grownup now.  Biggest has a girlfriend and is no longer the nerdy little magician.  C2 is in that weird stage of trying to figure out how he fits in the grownup world, the school-ager world, and just the world in general.  Gosh, I hated being thirteen. 

Sweet baby is moments from walking.  He loves the guys in the family, he's a guys guy like his uncle Kevin.  He's pretty adventurous, if it comes to playing with his siblings or trying new foods, no matter.  He is all in.

The other nephew, same family but different parents, is also thirteen.  He is so socially awkward that it's almost painful.  He's going to school now so I've noticed that is starting to change.  The biggest hurdle he is facing, I believe, is that he has a coming-out in his future. The family is completely fine with that yet his parents seem to be rooted in denial.  "But he likes GIRLS!" his mother says "He loves Demi Lovato and..."  I just want to shout "He wants to do their HAIR and wear their SHOES, not date them!"  This is not a crisis, just something that time will take care of.

The other thirteen year old is Nephew's brother-in-law, whom they had temporary custody.  He's living with Nephew's sister-in-law, visits often, is doing very well in school and has acclimated from being essentially feral.  His "mother" remains in jail and should be there until he turns 18. He still is a little overwhelmed at the sheer volume, both in number and in sound, of all of us.

The grown nieces are doing well, in their own ways.  Eldest has an apartment, rented from her former stepmother (totally weird, right?) and has a long-term boyfriend who is a little on the odd side but very good to her.  (he randomly bursts into song...)  Youngest is still finding her way but has yet *KNOCK EFFING WOOD* to make any life altering mistakes.  No marriages, no pregnancies, no addictions.  She is much like me in  the Go Where the Wind Takes You way of living life.

George, my three-year-old nephew, has finally decided to talk  and holy buckets, he has a lot to say.  He narrates what he is doing or what you are doing, and it is adorable. His favorite thing to do is help, doesn't matter how big or little the task, if he's helping he is overjoyed.

The toughest part I have with this whole grandkid thing is watching the adults make decisions, sometimes what I would consider mistakes, and having to just be a passive spectator.  Instinct is to guide, advise, and frankly, shout. Bottom line is that it is their lives and their decisions, even if we know better.  I realize that this is every parent/significant family member in the world and not just me.  But if you know me in real life, you know I have no hesitation to advise and guide. 

Now we're entering the Christmas holiday where feelings of goodwill are abundant.  I will resist buying the kids All.The.Things and be excited to watch them open their presents.  We will continue to be the naughty NotGrandparents who open all the packaging against their parents wishes.  



25 November 2016

Top Ten Things About Our Trip

Top Ten Things About Our Trip

My Do Nothing Day stretched to two days.  I stayed in the hotel room, watched television, read, played a game on my tablet, texted my friend, and did nothing.  Twice. My version of bliss.

Hanging out with Kevin is always fun but when we're traveling, it's even more.  It reminds me that we're a team in this crazy world.

Listening to Spandex Nation play live at the Fremont Street Experience with our friends who are my age.  We were singing, dancing, and laughing like the teens we were when this music was popular.

We learned more about how to get around Vegas the way the locals do.  It lessens anxiety, for sure.  We're also finding locals spots to eat and that is easier on the bank account, which is always good.

I visited the Titanic exhibit again, this is my third time.  I just enjoy it so much, it's so well done.  We also went to the Bodies exhibit.  I over-rode my anxiety about it and it was pretty cool.  Not something I would do again though.

Our friends held the top three spots in their class at the race, one of them won.

Seahawks won.

I bought another cozy sweatshirt.

Figured out how to check in online for our flight.  This is a game-changer and requires faith in the electronic world.

Finally, just the time spent with our friends.  It's irreplaceable and makes the stress of traveling easier to bear.

24 November 2016

18 November 2016

I'm Not Scared of You

This election has had an impact on me that I would have never predicted. I'm sad, I'm scared, and I'm disappointed. Not just that my candidate didn't win but that a large portion of this nation voted and said that racism is okay, sexism and sexual assault is okay, fraud is okay. People seem to believe that it's now okay to be openly racist.

The racism bothers me the most. I worked for the YWCA for seven years. It is in the actual mission statement to eliminate racism. I admit that that portion made me skeptical. Erasing racism is impossible. But, we can do our part to make sure it lessens. It became a core belief for me.

Now I'm in Vegas. I'm away from my predominantly white state. I don't normally notice much a person's color but now I am painfully aware.  Now I feel protective. I feel compelled, as a middle-aged white woman, to say "I'm not one of them!"

I meant to grab a safety pin to wear but I forgot. Also, that movement has been met with such derision that it gave me a sense of futility. But it's an easy way to say I'm Not One Of Them.

While we were checking into the hotel the other day, I asked the  clerk a question that she misunderstood. She thought I asked her if she'd experienced any abuse since the election. She said no but that she's nervous now. She has to think about it now.

One of our favorite baristas at home is mixed race and she's scared.  She's already had a friend who was verbally attacked. She attends a liberal university in a liberal city in a county that is conservative. She says she no longer feels safe and now feels like she has to be vigilant.

This morning I went downstairs to get a coffee. As I was waiting for the elevator, a man also walked up to wait. I glanced up and he was a gorgeous black man, also by himself. I saw him internally flinch. I felt like sh#t knowing he's probably thinking this tiny little white girl is scared of him.

I looked at him again and he was studiously examining the back of his chip bag. Now I am having a debate in my head as to what to do. I stood there feeling dumb.

Finally the elevator arrived. He stepped on first because he was closer. I stepped on and smiled. I said "Good morning." And he visibly relaxed. Then four college guys got in and off we went.

When the elevator stopped he let me out first. I told him thank you and to have a good day. I can only hope that everyone meets him with the same respect and gentleness.

I effing hate that this is a thing. Some might say that it's always been a thing but it wasn't in my world. While I try to remember that people are mostly good, I can't help but feel compelled to compensate for the ones who aren't.


11 November 2016

09 November 2016

Until It Feels Better

I tried to practice self care today.  I tried to be aware that I was grumpy, pissy, bitter, and all the other alternative seven dwarves.

I didn't watch the news this morning.
I stayed off Twitter.
I posted a few things on the facebook to express my displeasure.  And I liked the sh*t out of other's posts.
Then I went to work, but not before buying a mocha.  I don't normally do that.
I listened to Sting being interviewed by Howard Stern.
I commiserated with my friends.
I put my earbuds in and listened to my favorite songs.
I muttered. A lot, perhaps.
I focused that this time next week we will be in Vegas.
I chatted with Kevin who is excellent at being level headed, even when he's upset.
I got a haircut.

Once I was home, I left the television and radio off.  ADD doesn't normally enjoy this but it was subdued today.
I had leftover Monday Night Football pizza for lunch. (Go Hawks)
I put on my favorite cozy clothes.
Finally, I put on Pride & Prejudice, my all-time favorite movie. 
But not before trading a comment with a troll on my facebook page.  It's the only engaging I'm going to do and ended it with "I will not debate this further. You are welcome to ignore my posts if I offended you."

Now I'm going to lay down with my puppy and watch Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  I hope you find and do what soothes you today as well.


Three Deep Breaths

Image result for desiderata

07 November 2016

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Kevin has wanted to spend time together lately.  This is mostly positive, I mean what kind of horrible person would complain?  I do finding myself on Monday mornings mystified at where my weekend have gone though.

He's not being clingy at all.  It's like we're back twenty-six years ago when we just wanted to hang out together all the time.  I wonder if it's a relationship developmental stage?  I guess we are at the age of parents who are empty nesters, it's just that our nest has always been empty.  So, maybe it is a milestone, just not one as easily recognizable because we don't have kids to make it obvious.

But this has been good and bad.  I'm not reading as much, certainly not writing as much, and suddenly we are spending money.  Not big ticket items, but old married couple purchases like early dinners, trips to the hardware store, ice cream at any time of day kind of thing.  Mostly nice though because we're remembering how it used to be.  We're going on adventures and making memories.  We're enjoying just being us.

Something else I've noticed is that he will ask me out on a date.  Like back in the day ask me out and if I don't want to go out, he's mildly disappointed.  I guess I just never thought of it, after twenty-six years as a risk/reward kind of thing anymore.  But, surprise, it still is.

Again, not complaining, just acknowledging the change and the fact that this change is possible.  Perhaps even a heads up to those of you younger than me that this might be on the horizon. Something to look forward to, even.


And this is a cool problem to have. I mean, it's every teenager's dream really:

06 November 2016

A Dog by Any Other Name

(Continuing in my quest to post silly stuff until a certain day passes)

Kevin has named two of our dogs (Missy & Lucy) and he tends toward people names for dogs.  Our first dog was Aussie because she was Australian Shepard and she wouldn't tell us what she wanted her name to be so we defaulted to that.

With Lucy I noticed that she has nicknames .  It's a wonder she doesn't have an identity crisis.  It seems pretty random too so I made a list over a few days to see how many there are.

Her Better Knock it Off name: UHOHLUCY!
Her You're Making Me Crazy name: Crackhead
Her Code name: Cold Blooded Killer
Her Italian name: Pupparoni
Her Greek name: Pupous Adorkious
Her Dr Seuss name: Lucy Lou Who
Her Ballad name: AwwwLuce

05 November 2016

Unusual Crushes

Years ago Swistle and I played a game of listing crushes on celebrities who aren't normally considered attractive.  Everyman types perhaps instead of societal norms of sexy. People we find alluring for whatever reasons.

In these stressful days, let's play again as a distraction.

Chris Hardwick...Nerdist, @Midnight, The Talking Read. Funny, smart, nerdy.

Patton Oswalt...Comedian and writer. Look up his essays, specifically his latest on grief.

Jason Sudekis...Saturday Night Live... not an unusual crush hot not normal. Funny, smart...you'll see that's a theme.

Rachel Maddow...I am not gay but I  find her attractive all the same. Kevin does as well so that's something.

David Muir...ABC News. Smart, adventurous.

Okay, your turn.

30 October 2016

22 October 2016

Reluctant Traveller

We are headed on our annual trip to Vegas next month.  I wasn't going to go this year but then things changed and I was going.  Now I'm regretting going. 

Now, how can one be regretting going on a trip, you wonder.  Well, a variety of reasons but mainly one.  I have been a bunch of times so there's not much left for me to see now.  I'm becoming more of a hermit as time passes.  And then there is Kevin's brother.

His brother has mental illness, mixed with just being an ass.  The older he's gotten, the worse it has gotten.  He has anxiety and depression and it's untreated.  He not only refuses to address it, his parents have "allowed" (not quite the right word, roll with me on it) him to exist in this headspace that allows horrible behavior.

I have full understanding that people with mental illness can't always control their behaviors and we have made allowances.  We don't ask him to plan things, we don't have him drive anywhere, we know he can't be counted on in an emergency.

 It's not a case of "Well, he just can't help himself" but a case of "You should have put a stop to this behavior forty years ago."  Plus the need for medical intervention.  Instead, it's just "Oh, he's always been that way." and "that's just him" that just ladles guilt onto anyone who dare express frustration.  He has been consistently dickish and when called on it, can rein it in.  So, there is the distinction between illness and being a jackhole.

We have seen him be an ass, to put it lightly, to everyone from his elderly parents to the new baby, to strangers.  An ass in such a way that friends have backed away.  An ass like yelling at his wife so loudly over the phone that we can hear him as if he's in the room.  An ass like wake up a sleeping baby and saying "I was just playing." 

He doesn't pull it with me because he knows there would be bloodshed, not only inflicted by me but by Kevin.  He pulls it with Kevin but always when it's just one on one, which is abusive and makes me furious.  Which shows control and intention. 

This is the part where I say that Kevin has purposefully pulled away over the last year or two.  He has finally recognized the unhealthy state of that relationship.  He also sees his future without his parents as any sort of buffer and support.  And that we have friends slowly backing away.

So, of course, this is who we are traveling with.  He has an unhealthy attachment to Kevin and he does whatever Kevin does.  He includes himself in whatever Kevin does.  If Kevin friends someone on social media, so does his brother.  If Kevin starts liking something, so does his brother.  If Kevin has a friend, he is their friend too.  You get the idea.

Here's the zippy twist and trip regret.  Originally, I was going to skip this trip.  I can't hardly be in the same room as his brother.  To quote a mob movie, I've seen too much.  It's not just the assholery.  It's having conversations interrupted because he can't bear to be not in on the conversation, it's endless texting, it is relentless.

But months ago Kevin mentioned driving to Vegas.  I told him that if it were just he and I traveling, I am all in.  100% down with that idea.  But the idea of doing it with his brother was a dealbreaker.  So, Kevin decided not to do it.  (there were other reasons also, to be fair)  

His brother had decided that he was going to do it anyway.  We were relieved,  finally he was going to do something separate for us.  And this is where we were stupid:  We believed him.

I booked our tickets and was planning our trip in my head.  We were going to have 1.5 days alone and possible one day at the racetrack alone plus the flights.  It was actually going to be a vacation.  I was thinking of things that Kevin hadn't seen or something we could do together.  I was actually excited for time alone with him and knowing that Saturday and Sunday, I would probably just kick it in the hotel room and wouldn't that be lovely.

Then my sister-in-law texted me and asked to get together to book tickets. (because they are helpless. Seriously)   There was a blue mushroom cloud of profanity above my head for quite a while. Of course they (he) changed his mind and we were stupid enough to fall for it.

To make it more awkward, Kevin was with his brother at an event.  I couldn't call him and yell "AREYOUEFFINGKIDDINGME!?!?!"  So, I texted him instead.  He replied that he was sorry and that he would do everything possible to still keep our plans.  Isn't that just ADORABLE?  Like the narcissist is going to let that happen.  Sweet, sweet boy.

Now I'm back being annoyed and wishing I'd just stayed home. But I didn't want to be away from Kevin for a week, I didn't feel great about him traveling alone and I do love Vegas.

"Lucky" for us, they have to take a different flight home because they waited so long to book tickets. This caused a meltdown "How are we going to get to the airport!?!" he said.  "It's called a TAXI." is Kevin's response.  He's already practicing.

They want to share a car (like always) and I haven't volunteered for that yet.  I may lie and say that we can only get a small car and that they need their own.  But then we're stuck with a small car. That's not cool.

So, we'll see.  This is why headphones and alcohol were invented.  And we're hanging with our friends so I have to focus on that too.  We have 25 days to plan.  It will give us a good story to tell, maybe. 

But I'm still pissed.

12 October 2016

Dog Whistle Trigger Warning

I don't hide the fact that I'm a bleeding heart liberal.  I also don't shove it in people's faces.  I understand that everyone thinks a little differently.  I agree with some principals from the conservative side, I'm not a party-line separatist. I diligently try to see all angles.

In this election however, it has brought out the worst in Americans.  I have to take breaks from social media and the news because it has gotten so dark.  And I don't mean because the "side" I am on is losing or winning.  It's just a vacuum of negativity right now.

I'm utterly disappointed in my friends and family who support He Who Shan't Be Named.  I just can't understand how someone who likes/loves me is totally okay with supporting a racist, sexist, zenophobic, hateful person.  Totally fine with his abhorrent behavior and attitude because he's "not a politician" or the other one is "SO much worse."  How is that even possible?

A writer I recently started following on the facebook finally was able to sum up how I was feeling the night of the debate.  I went to bed exhausted and sad.  I was morose and I couldn't pinpoint exactly why. I read this the next morning and felt like I'd just had a therapy session.

Because it bears being reposted everywhere, in my humble opinion, I am pasting it below:
"Last night, I watched the debate at an oblique angle. From the kitchen. Looking away. Sometimes with headphones playing music. I paced. I left. I sought distraction. I came back. The bile came up in my throat.

I wasn't nerve-wracked by the outcome; the statistical cake is baked. More reputation-eviscerating tapes will emerge. I'm not worried about the guy as president. But I was still a bundle of nerves. I didn't recognize why until this morning.

If you've ever lived with an abuser and made it out to tell the tale, then you remember that not every single day was a nightmare. This was part of the hold over you. Some days were average. Some were somewhat livable. Others were not. You just prayed you could get a little bit of serenity, the tiny chunks on which you learned to survive.

But then, especially if you challenged that person, there was the wind up. You thought last Tuesday was bad? Oh...really? THAT bothered you did it? Thought you'd complain, did you?

The weak signals of the wind up were part of the cat and mouse. Make ME feel bad about something, will you? Well what about...this? Or one of...these? Guess who *I* invited over? When? Oh, this evening. No problem, is there? I'll leer at you and for the millionth time force you to pretend that This Is All Normal.

It was never the electrical discharge of abhorrent behavior that was the crux of the abuse - it was that game right there.

When Trump had that press conference with those women prior to the debate, that's when my pulse shot up thirty percent. I didn't understand it until this morning, when I woke up and asked, "Is it over? Is it morning?" and remembered when else I felt that way.
That same weight, the awful obligation to make it all normal, was plastered on the faces of both the Trump and Clinton families. But you saw it make its surprise appearance on the face of America's top television journalists. Dear God, must we? Can we really make it through...how long will this be? What if he...? What is he planning here?

That series of questions and the inexorable focus onto one person's sick behavior is the essence of living with an abuser.

Luckily, like with all of our adult relationships, we get a choice to be in this one or not.
See you all November 8."

THIS. A MILLION TIMES. THIS.

I lived with someone just like he described for two years.  I had people in my life who didn't believe that he was just like that.  I bet, if asked, some would still express doubt.  Even with a permanent restraining order in place, there's a tiny bit of "Well, who knows?"

That is how insidious this type of behavior and person is.  That is how dangerous a person like he is.  Twenty seven years later and I'm still triggered by this type of behavior.

05 October 2016

Completing a Circle

I rarely plan anything in my life.  So it comes to no surprise to me that I stumbled, almost literally, into this situation.

"Closure" is not a word that I enjoy.  It's just too buzzwordy and seems self-serving, in my opinion.  But here I am, feeling the effects of closure.  I mean, I know it's a thing and a thing that has worth.  But I think the need for closure that might never happen will always exist because: humans.

It wasn't really on my to-do list. It was something I've thought about but not something I would have ever had the motivation to put into motion by myself.  It's not an easy thing to do.  Even with still being in contact with this person off and on, clearly there was an elephant in the room that we were ignoring.

It began with an impulsive, simple Happy Birthday text.  Then a joke was made.  Then sh*t got real.  Before I knew it a real and long overdue conversation happened.  The air was cleared, the past put to rest, and a new future is optional.  Not guaranteed because stuff still happened but it's not a duck-down-an-aisle-in-the-grocery-store kind of situation anymore. (which I've totally done)

To protect this person, I am not going into specifics.  This is part of honoring that closure. This is so squelching the need for OMG YOU GUYS. I WANT TO TELL YOU ALL THE THINGS.

Instead of carrying around a consistent feeling of "Sh*t, I effed that all up." when I think of this person; I know that I am forgiven and that person has no doubt of my feelings or intentions, either past or present. And the reverse is true because it takes two.

This is not the part where I recommend "You should do this too!" because No.  I don't know if it was a good idea in the long run, I can only speak for my side, and I think it is a very personal and individual thing.  Really, it's not something I did purposefully so I can take no credit.  I tripped over the universe and here I am, mildly unscathed.  I can only acknowledge that I feel better afterward and hope that the other person does also.








26 September 2016

Someone Just Send Me a Damn Book

For the longest time, I was signed up with a book club that allowed a person to build a Want to Read list and they sent a book each month from that list for $10 monthly. It worked great for me because I could add a book then forget about it until it arrived.  It also allowed me to have a list to refer to when I found myself in a bookstore.

 I had noticed that the selection of books were waning and wondered how long it was going to last.  And, the answer was not much longer.  Now I'm on the hunt for something to replace this club.

I find The Literary Club is annoying.  It's the electronic version of Send in the Coupon or We'll Send You the Book and Overcharge You Greatly.   It's slightly different as it's via email but it's confusing how it actually works.  There's credits, and shipping charges if you don't order more than one book, and it might just be me but a slight tone of disapproval if you decline the  featured selection.

So, then I looked at the Book of the Month Club.  This is similar but different.  It gives a person five choices and the shipping appears free.  But it tweaks my Don't Tell Me What to Read rebellion.  I am considering it  but I haven't committed.

There is, of course, always Amazon.  Here's the thing about that: it's like a crack dealer to me.  I go with the intention of buying just one book but then I've added five more to my cart and a bathmat or movie or all.the.things. So yeah, crack dealer.  I will pre-order a book though then promptly forget that I do it until Surprise!

I just want someone to send me a book I want to read each month with very little effort required of me.  Is that too much to ask?  Probably.

So, I did a search of subscription services and finally landed on this one.  The Bookish Box

It is not a book club, per se.  So, it doesn't fulfill the book need.  But it does fulfill the OMG TREATS! need.

I signed up for the one that doesn't include a t-shirt and I'm still dithering over that decision.  But OMG treats!

Bookmarks! magnet! highlighter & page markers! tea! earrings!  Book preview!



So, the search continues for a book club subscription that fulfills my bratty needs. Until then, I highly recommend the Bookish Box.  It was so worth it just based on the fun of opening it.

24 September 2016

AGAIN

So, here we are again.  Another tragedy. 

We listened to this one unfold almost in real time last night.  There is an independent news page on the facebook that was posting information in real time and by crowdsourcing.  They also provided a police scanner link so we could listen.  In the best and worst way, social media kept everyone in the know.  Again. 

Luckily, we were home last night. We didn't go to Friday Night Dinner because I have a cold that the baby shared with me.  Otherwise, odds are good we would have been in the neighborhood of the mall.

The surreality will be difficult to shake.  It's weird seeing your hometowns in the news.  It's weird hearing phrases you hear in CSI shows and movies being used in real world terms.

We don't know the victims, or so it seems as their names haven't been released but in a small county like this one, it doesn't matter.  We'll know someone who knew someone.

We've been all through that mall, both as shoppers and as workers.  Back in the day when we were cool, we held a car show there that allowed us inside the mall after hours.  We know how dark it is after hours, we know the back hallways.  It was relevant to us as we listened.  The store that it happened in?  I believe we have a photo of our car in front of it in the albums. 

We're familiar. My niece worked in that mall until about six months ago.  A person can only say thank you and not What If.

Our friend's teenage daughter posted this link earlier today and I was really struck by it.  It's a little churchy for some, just heads up. 
https://itisstillwell.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/180/

News just stated they have the guy.  No community connections, just a random shooting. 

There are no words other than gratitude to the hundreds of first responders.  And "Again."

23 September 2016

A Trial Run

 I was just thinking that I need an old-fashioned typewriter to write this post. I need to jab keys and slam the thingy that makes the paper return to emphasize frustration and emotions.

Kevin's dad just spent a week in the hospital with an untreated, massive UTI, a-fib, and out of control sugar.  He was really, really sick and in the CCU for a while.

So, that was awful.  He's a horrible patient, either being jerky or being "funny" (borderline to straight up inappropriate)  He would justify his behavior as flirting and that is "how truck drivers communicate".  You can imagine the chorus of "Umm, NO." from the family.  "These folks are NOT waitresses."  we said.  The CNA said "Well, we're waitresses that wipe butts."  This fell somewhere between funny and OMGSHUTUP.

He's had potty issues, if you will, for a while now.  It's been a thing but if the mom brings it up, he has these massive outbursts and doesn't talk to her.  Because...she's causing him to smell like pee? But he just figured he was old and this is how it goes.  We all admit to thinking that as well.
He claims he didn't notice his heart fluttering or skipping beats but we call bullsh*t on that because we've noticed things.  And, sigh, the sugar.  That's a hopeless topic right there.

To add some extra special sauce on the situation, he is ALL OVER the mom if she doesn't take her meds, or go to the doctor, or whatever.  But the same rules don't apply in the reverse.  Oh no, don't you Even.

Because he is Kevin's mom caregiver, she had to have a babysitter while he was hospitalized.  This is where I say Thank tiny baby jesus for our sis-in-law who isn't working right now.  She shouldered all the burden.

They moved the mom into Kevin's brother's house (again:  thank you baby jesus) and then s-i-l had custody of her during the day, as well as at night.  I know I couldn't have done all that she did and still have everyone alive.  Although, I don't know that she doesn't harbor dreams of smothering multiple family members in their sleep.

Now he's home and saying he feels better than he has ever felt. He said he's going to do All The Things but I don't think he actually left the house today so we'll see.  Even if he does feel brand new, he's still 78 years old and just spent a week in hospital.

He's on massive antibiotics, blood thinners, and is supposed to monitor his sugar.  We are skeptical that all of these things are going to happen.  The both of them are really big on not doing what doctors tell them.  Because: reasons.

AND, we still believe he's had a stroke in the past year or so.  He was so sick while in the hospital that we couldn't get an answer about that beyond "could be".  He's going to a new geriatric doctor next week and we'll see.  He's been unusually combative, saying random garbled words/sentences, forgetting things.  All the things that Kevin's mom does, really.

The problem being (out of many but let's focus on this specific one) is that both parents are horrible reporters.  She can't remember anything or fixates on the one irrelevant thing.  He also struggles with remembering everything AND BONUS ROUND: often goes for the melodramatic.  "It could be cancer!" are words that have actually been said.

Also, we have a solid plan for when his mom goes to the hospital.  Grab her meds, her DNR, her list of illnesses, we know who to call and who's responsible for what.  But with this adventure, it all fell apart.  The biggest piece that fell apart was alerting the hospital staff of the mom's issues.  You know, letting them know about unimportant things like the DNR and that she has vascular dementia so don't expect her to remember or understand everything.

But, the parents don't need help.  Just ask them.  Doesn't matter that they both forget her oxygen, neither wears their CPap masks, eat high sodium, high sugar, and high fat foods, and that their house is a mess.  They don't need help. They don't want Visiting Nurse or Chore Program, Meals on Wheels, nope.  They've got this. Right up until they don't.<----shaking br="" head="" my="">

We have to get to that place where a person just had to stand back and let it fall apart.  Like teenagers, they're going to do it their way and that's that. However, the challenge being is they essentially live with us.  There is no disconnecting.

The "fun" part about my parents when my dad was dying is that they didn't tell anyone anything until it was all resolved.  Ambulance rides, falls, hospital stays, no need to know until afterward.  As messed up as it was, I think I prefer it to the "OMG EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART. COME RUNNING RIGHT NOW" only to arrive to find that everything is fine.

This aging parents thing sucks.  I can't even sugar coat it.  But, at least we have some experience from when my dad was sick, and all the times that the mom has been sick.  We just have to stick to what we know.  Ugh.  We know what to do next time.


18 September 2016

Focus on the Positive

It's been a spectacularly crappy week. I cannot even.

So. Focusing on the positive.

My new favorite song: Vice, Miranda Lambert
New favorite podcast: Nerdist with Chris Hardwick
New favorite movie: Brooklyn
New favorite treat: The Bookish Box
New favorite sweatshirt: weathered blue Hanes that cost $17.99
New favorite drink: white chocolate mocha


11 September 2016

04 September 2016

22 August 2016

A Daily Challenge

I try not to say that I've had a bad day.  Because unless someone died or my house burned down, it is just a day with bad moments.

But man, oh man, has the universe been testing my patience and Serenity NOW!  Work has been challenging, Kevin just finished a nine day state job that had him leaving at 5 in morning and not getting home until 730 in the evening.  It just feels like everything is extra strength challenging right now.

I did look it up because: nerd,  and Mercury is in retrograde this week and there as one of those super full moon episodes.  You can't work in social services and not believe, even just a little, in that stuff.  It's also the end of summer when many folks are cranky. 

So, the prescription for self care is watching Elementary and Doctor Who, listening to podcasts at work so that I don't use my hands instead of my words, I'm trying to eat gawddamned bananas to boost my system and I effing hate bananas. I'm trying to focus that my summer break is next week and that Kevin will be home too, for the first time ever.

But in the meanwhile, if you hear me muttering "only bad moments..." Basically, just run.

So, bad moments, not bad days.  But those moments are starting to add up.

21 August 2016

Like A Record, Baby

This is your mind on ADD.  I came into the office to work on a project and this is what has happened.

I took down one picture that was from my office two jobs ago and replaced it with one of the racecar.  Now I have to decide what I want to do with this picture.  So, it is propped on the lamp, which I'm certain the lamp appreciates.

Then I decided that I was going to make a collage of the racecar with an old frame and a stack of old photos from the track photographer.  The paper on the floor is because I wanted to make some sort of  a mat for the collage.  The paper in the far left corner on the floor is Lucy "helping" me.

So, now there are also stacks of papers on the desk.  I knew I had put some photos in one of the drawers, where I also store bills that are pending or need to be filed.  Clearly, I've not done this in a little while.

Then I realized that I forgot to eat lunch.  Yes, I am that human being who forgets to eat.

Then Kevin called.

All the while, I'm thinking that I have time to go get groceries before Kevin gets home and then I don't have to do it during the weekend.

Meanwhile, I started writing this, started putting things away, then realized that I hadn't scanned three photos that I had, then I sat down to do it and here we are.

11 August 2016

Grocery Shopping - Mouse Maze Level Expert

The grocery store in the city where I work had remodeled right around the time that I left my old job, nearly two years ago. I hate the new layout so much that I will drive south to into the next county to shop at the not-remodeled one.

This is the first grocery store I used when we moved up here in 1991 and I began working in this city.  So, my attachment to it is deep.  This is also an example of First World Problems.

I hate it with the power of 1,000 suns.  Here's why:

As I've mentioned, I work in a university city.  August - May there are a ton of college kids everywhere.  Here's the thing about shopping with college kids: a) they shop in packs. b) because this is often the first time they've been away from home, shopping etiquette is not a thing for them.         c) they whole-heartedly believe they are the funniest people who ever lived and would like you to know this too.  (I might say here that it is a very liberal university.  Maybe it's different elsewhere, maybe the kids are better behaved elsewhere...hello, ninety year old woman here)

This is not the #1 reason I detest this store though.  I know, it's been mentioned that I have perhaps have given this way too much thought.  These are the kinds of things that ruin my life though.  Welcome to my brain.

The aisles are staggered.  There is no straight-through from the back of the store to the exit.  Now, I've been in a store when the power went out and also when the fire alarm sounded.  You want a clear pathway when this happens.  I don't want to dance with four other carts trying to cross to the other aisle.  Liken it to trying to cross a four-lane highway, it's just not a good idea.

But no, in their marketing genius brains, they have staggered lanes.  As in, the cereal aisle ends in the middle and to continue down the remainder of the aisle a) you can't and 2) you have to jog four steps to the right or left to continue down another aisle.  Traffic Jam Central.

AND (of course I'm not done, silly)  They've created little pockets, like little mini stores within the store.  The meat department is tucked into one corner but also stretches along the wall.  The bakery is jammed between the meat department and the deli.  There is a huge wine and alcohol section unto itself, complete with wine tasting bar.  The produce is in it's own little crowded area.  The dairy?  Well, let me tell you about the dairy section.  It goes all the way along the back of the store with refrigerated sections down the middle of the aisle.  So, if you want cheese, it's on one end of the store.  Want milk? it's on the other end. Sucks to be you.

Oh, and every other store in the universe groups cleaners and paper products in the same general area.  Nope, not this store. This store is a rebel!  Cleaners are next to the pet food, then it's the freezer section and then it's paper products.  So, even the aisles aren't grouped in a regular fashion.

I recognize that my brain depends on things being the same.  I don't pay close enough attention often to deal with changes like these.  As we learned when Kevin was grocery shopping, I can tell you that the rice is in an orange box at my eye level.  Brand name or flavor?  Psssh, who needs that.  But I don't feel like I'm asking for an unreasonable thing here.

I have forced myself to shop there.  Forced myself to adapt and deal.  And...no.  There isn't a quick trip into the store.  You have to wander the entire store to get the three different items you need.  I will spend $10 more at the high-end grocery store or go without instead.

The other shopping options are Whole Foods and Trader Joes, (hello, super liberal city), Safeway - which is more expensive than the store I hate, and Costco.  Oh, and Winco.  The last two stores are shop first thing in the morning or last thing at night stores.  That's exhausting, and no.  I rarely need a 55 gallon drum of detergent.

Moreover, it is a safety thing with me.  I don't feel safe in the store if something awful were to happen. The exits are not clearly marked or accessible. I don't understand how any public safety official is okay with this store design.

Heaven help us all if the store in the next county adapts this floor plan.

26 July 2016

This has GOT to be a Reality Show, right?

This might seem strange but we (Kevin and I) didn't know that our niece is a hoarder.  We have only been to her house once because family functions are always up at our houses.

Well, she and her family bought a new house last month. The plan was to move closer to our family, but due to finances and impulsivity, they bought a house 45 minutes away from us.  Super.

It is very rural and up a wooded, steep, and rocky driveway.  The main road is prone to flooding every winter and is notoriously dangerous. We are not excited about their choice.  It's as if there are flashing "DANGER!" signs everywhere and they're blind.

This being said, almost thirty-years ago we moved 25 minutes away from the family when we bought our house.  It was also in a rural environment.  BUT, we are self-sufficient and prepared.  One of THEIR first questions was about internet service providers.  Yea, priorities!

We know that housekeeping isn't even on the top 10 of our niece's list. We have noticed in social media photos that there is clutter in the background. Unfortunately, she was raised in mess so we thought it is just her perpetuating the lifestyle in which she was raised.

She bragged on social media for a month prior to moving about packing and in the last week prior to the move, repeatedly stating that she was all packed.  Now, don't we all feel silly for believing her.  To be fair, and in reality, everyone's definition of being "all packed" is very different.  Moving is never easy or fun for anyone involved.

But she's a stay-at-home mom of a teenager.  Her mother-in-law lives with them.  She's married.  She has the aforementioned teen.  It was beyond our reality that she wouldn't be completely packed.

Wooo boy, we were ten kinds of wrong.

This is where I clarify.  I'm fully aware that I use my OCD for mostly good.  I'm able to keep the house I have because I work part-time and Kevin is wired very similarly.  I by no means judge people by the issues that I have.

This was a legit hoarder house.  This was not "We're moving and I haven't had time to sweep."  This wasn't "We've been gone so I haven't had time to do dishes or laundry."  This was straight-up, no joke, a hoarder house. I don't know that a broom, mop, or vacuum could even be found in the house, let alone used.

I was so overwhelmed that I walked back outside.  I.Could.Not.Even.For.A.Minute.

What a person could see of the floor was filthy with dirt, pine needles and pet hair.  Every surface had something on it, actually multiple somethings.  Dust, clutter, garbage.  There was not a clear space in the entirety of the house.  A person couldn't tell what was furniture versus boxes or garbage. 

After being raised by smokers and temporarily married to one, my lungs no longer have tolerance for any kind of poor air quality.  I couldn't stay inside, I'd actually feel my respiratory system begin to tighten.

So, it was with abject horror that the family had decided it was perfectly fine that Kevin's mom was sitting in the middle of all of it AND without her oxygen.  I actually said aloud "Well, I guess we'll find time to visit her in the hospital."

AND THEN, Nephew, wife and kids arrived.  I didn't realize it until I spotted the baby in his car seat next to the mom.  I walked out to the wife and "hugged" her while whispering in her ear "Get.That.Baby.Out.of.That.House.RIGHT.NOW."

They, also, hadn't really been inside the house.  And they live literally one minute away.
She went inside, saw the state of things, and poor sweet baby was banished to the middle of an empty garage floor.  (still in his car seat.  And perfectly happy because Best Baby Ever, don't make me fight you.)

You know when something bad happens and your brain self-protects by kind of fuzzing your vision and deafening your ears? (please say yes)  This is how I existed for the next hour or so.  I had to stop looking directly at anything.

There was just a path through the living room into the dining area then into the kitchen.   Again, I can't state this enough: it wasn't moving mess.  It wasn't It's Messy Because We're Busy and I Don't Have Time to Clean mess.  It was...ugh, I just don't even have the words to describe.  AND I'm A WRITER.

There was a half-eaten pizza, at least a day old, on the table.  I don't even think it was in a box or on a plate.  Did I mention they have cats and a dog?  Yeah.   There were dirty dishes everywhere in the kitchen, dining room, end tables, mantel. I was there for a full hour before I realized there was a tank on the mantel.  Fish? Reptile? Empty?  We'll never know. The kitchen was labelled as "All packed".  Except, NO.  There were still full cupboards. Everything was sticky.  If it wasn't sticky, then it was damp.

There were boxes upon boxes, some sealed and some open.  They were old boxes, with debris on top of them to show that they had  been sitting there for a lengthy period of time.  They lived there about two years so we're wondering if they never unpacked, just brought in more "stuff."

I didn't make eye contact with the bathroom, I just couldn't bear it.  I went to help their son empty out his room.  Although he was more packed than any other place/person, everything was still covered in a sheen of sticky, dusty, hairy residue.  Finally, I just went outside and told Kevin that I just couldn't anymore. 

We took two big trucks with trailers full of stuff to the new house and it was like they hadn't packed one box.  You couldn't tell a difference.  Yet, the new house was full and they still had truckloads to move.  The kid's plan was to move the furniture next in a box truck.  We waited until it arrived and helped empty a freezer, a dining set, a single bed and a bunch of crap.  We had to move the crap we just moved in to make room for the crap in the box truck and there was still a house full of crap left behind.

It felt like the Twilight Zone.  I kept waiting for the punchline.  Or the real plan.  Or the Hoarders television people to drive up.  Something.  Finally, it was like a switch was flipped.  Kevin came and got me "We're DONE" and we left. 

Oh, wait.  I forgot to tell you.  There was no toilet paper at the new house.  No soap.  Thank sweet baby jesus that my sister-in-law has everything and there was kleenex in her purse.  Also, I "won" a bet because I mentioned to Kevin that I felt like I should take a roll of toilet paper, just in case.  

My sister-in-law spent two full days afterward helping her pack and move the rest of it.  They had to rent the box truck AGAIN.  I'm certain that their rental deposit is a distant memory and I can't imagine how pissed the landlord must be.  It had to look like one of the Before Houses in the flipping houses television shows. 

Fast forward two weeks, the niece gets a great idea and videos the interior of the entire house then puts it on the facebook.  Curious, I clicked on it.  Upon the opening frame, I shouted "JESUS CHRIST!", much to Kevin's surprise and dismay.  I immediately regretted my choices.

"What happened?"

"Go on your page and look at the video she just posted."

"Why?"

"Just do it. I can't even.  She posted a video of the house like it's a NORMAL THING to live like that."

The new house, freshly cleaned, painted, and carpeted, was completely lost in crap.  Again, a person couldn't see the furniture or the floor.  Not the couch, not the dining table, the beds, the floor, the kitchen.  It was awash in boxes and mess.

This brand new to them house looked exactly like the house they just left, only bigger.  And she posted it on social media.  Including commentary like "There's the big tub, I haven't cleaned it since I gave the dog a bath last weekend."

TWO WEEKS.   They have been in the house TWO WEEKS.

Now they're having a barbecue in two weeks.  Kevin is working and I'm trying to figure out how to get out of it.  I just can't conceive of eating a single piece of food knowing how they live, that everything was filthy in the old house and it was just brought into the new house.

And I just can't take the thought/worry that they now own it and it is going to be utterly destroyed in a few years.  At least before, they had a landlord who would come do repairs or replace appliances.  I just can't think about it.

I mean, people get through their lives.  They make horrible choices, repeatedly, and they get through their lives.  I just have to assume that it will be fine.

Now, I can cross off "See a legitimate hoarder house" off my life list.




21 July 2016

Three Things

I whole-heartedly believe that things come in threes.  I've seen it happen too many times for it to be a coincidence.  So, it was a little surprising yesterday when I was caught a little by surprise.

The other day, our faucet sprung a leak.  Not one where you imagine, but on top of the actual faucet.  The metal had developed a pin-hole leak.  I blamed it on the water diffuser first but finally realized that it was the faucet.

So, no big deal.  I planned on going to Home Depot anyway.  Kevin worked on Saturday so the puppy and I slept in.  As I was getting ready, the hairdryer decided not so much on the working thing.  Still, I didn't think much of it other than now I had to stop at a different store.

I took the puppy to get treats at the mocha stand, loaded up the truck with recyclables, and headed off for a quick trip into town.  I didn't need groceries so I thought certainly I would be gone for a little over an hour.

Until I stopped at the recycling center (The sign says "Recycling Park", which made me laugh...nothing says park like junk and the lovely Eau de Dump)  During the second unloading of stuff, I spotted my truck leaking water.  Sh*t.  I ducked underneath and confirmed green water.  Radiator?  Hose?  Doesn't matter, really, I'm twenty minutes from home.

I unloaded the rest then drove the truck down the road a bit to a little, actual park.  Now the truck was having all kinds of water action.  I phoned Kevin at work (his favorite) and he phoned his dad to come retrieve me.

We decided to get my truck home, not stressful at all.  I'm watching the gauge and listening for any weird noises, stopped every 10 miles, and it was not a relaxing drive at all.  But I made it back home.

Kevin got home from work, put a tester on the engine, called our friend who is a genius mechanic, and next thing I know, I'm driving it AGAIN.  This time even further.  Super fun.

I realised as I was pulling into our friends shop that I shouldn't be surprised.  First, the faucet, then the hair dryer, and then the truck.  Theoretically, I can now relax.  Please, Law of Threes, be kind and true.

Oh, and then, our friend phoned and said Thank God that my pump went out because the timing belt was about to go.  This is a life saver as a broken timing belt would mean brand new engine/truck.  Technically, the universe looked out for me.

Vacation Slide Show...2016 Style

So, well, ummm, how's your summer going?  The only way I could think of to describe my summer was to screenshot the photo album on my phone.  The above represents about two weeks of our life.

We moved my niece and nephew into their first home.  There is A LOT to this story so that's all I have to say about that.

It's the Dog Days of Summer here, finally.

I fell down the stairs, again.

Sweet Baby is almost six months old and the best baby ever.

There was nationwide controversy in my hometown over a "miscommunication" about the welcomeness of police officers.

Our friend was caught being a creeper during a newscast about said miscommunication.  (he's in the orange Camaro in the television photo)

My 4Runner blew a water pump but saved us thousands of dollars in the long run so...that's good?

My faucet also broken down but now I have a cool new one that I love.

We had dinner with friends who live far away from us.  He's a Master Carpenter so he had opinions about the DIY television shows.  And we found out he's diehard Baptist.  Everyone discusses theology in Red Robin, right?

The grocery cart shot is because Kevin eats like a six-year-old if allowed.  He asked for Chicken in a Bisquit crackers, which I think are SO GROSS.

And, as you can see, I take way too many photos of the dog and it's obvious that we don't have children.

How's your summer going?

(Oh, I'm fine, by the way.  I'll tell the falling down the stairs story next)

18 June 2016

Focus on the Beauty

A teenaged friend put out a query on the Facebook today: "Drop the names of your favorite poems."

I immediately thought of The Day is Done by Longfellow. I first read it in high school and loved it. I am the type of nerd who wishes I still had that high school English teacher textbook.

Then I remembered Desiderata. I had a plaque with this poem in two of my offices and I think I need to find it again.

After an ugly, emotional week we have all had, here is a little peace and beauty.

The Day is Done - Longfellow

The day is done, and the darkness 
      Falls from the wings of Night, 
As a feather is wafted downward 
      From an eagle in his flight. 

I see the lights of the village 
      Gleam through the rain and the mist, 
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me 
      That my soul cannot resist: 

A feeling of sadness and longing, 
      That is not akin to pain, 
And resembles sorrow only 
      As the mist resembles the rain. 

Come, read to me some poem, 
      Some simple and heartfelt lay, 
That shall soothe this restless feeling, 
      And banish the thoughts of day. 

Not from the grand old masters, 
      Not from the bards sublime, 
Whose distant footsteps echo 
      Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music, 
      Their mighty thoughts suggest 
Life's endless toil and endeavor; 
      And to-night I long for rest. 

Read from some humbler poet, 
      Whose songs gushed from his heart, 
As showers from the clouds of summer, 
      Or tears from the eyelids start; 

Who, through long days of labor, 
      And nights devoid of ease, 
Still heard in his soul the music 
      Of wonderful melodies. 

Such songs have power to quiet 
      The restless pulse of care, 
And come like the benediction 
      That follows after prayer. 

Then read from the treasured volume 
      The poem of thy choice, 
And lend to the rhyme of the poet 
      The beauty of thy voice. 

And the night shall be filled with music, 
      And the cares, that infest the day, 
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, 
      And as silently steal away.