Friday, February 29, 2008

At the restaurant after Nana's funeral, Big/Only Brother and I were left alone, waiting for Mum to bring the car around. It was just the two of us and a waitress, hustling through trying to clean up the debris us grieving people had left behind. (PS: Grieving people apparently eat a lot.) He sat the wrong way in one of those restaurant booths, I was in my chair across from him, making the wheelchair rock the way I do when I am upset.

I asked how he was doing, he asked how I was doing. It was one of those times when it just seems as if the whole thing is too much. I was in so much physical pain, from pushing to be able to do all the things that were required of me, and so much emotional pain, that I could feel only relief that it was over. That there were no more "have to-s" on my list, even if only for that day.

He looked much the same, exhausted, crushed and confused. There were other things that happened then that I am not ready to talk about, but there was a moment when we were sitting there by ourselves that stands out so clearly in my mind. He asked me what I thought: "Do you think she's gone, that this is the end?"

And I told him: "I don't know. I don't know for sure if there's anything that comes next, and that bothers me deep down in my analytical, must know all the ins-and-outs of everything soul. It's one of those things I've studied to death. Back and forth and forth and back: religiously, psychologically, intuitively, factually.

And I've still come up with no answers.

But I know that it makes me feel better to believe that she's someplace else, someplace better. Buying Papa that drink and taking Maryellen to task for leaving without her. Watching over us and crying with us because we're so sad. And I don't care if that is just my subconscious trying to deceive me. If it wants to help me feel better, even just a little better, then I'm going to let it. What does it matter if it's true or not, if it feels true?"

He looked surprised, then laughed and gave me a kiss. We moved towards the door & mum's car and I asked him what he believed. And he said: "Up till a few minutes ago I had no idea."

Inspired by this post by Sweet & Salty.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some laughing links to share:

If I have to explain to you why this is one of the funniest things ever, then I'm not really sure how you got here: God, how I hate that stupid Castle Toad! It's not just about the toad, though: Heather! Anne! nails all 5 as she reminds us all that sometimes being alone on a deserted island is preferable.

Also, you should head on over to Jennie's! place, and see how many times you can say "That's what she said" while you're reading.

Cuz anything that makes me laugh today, is worth it's weight in gold. Or finger sandwiches. Or meat. Either way.

Also, if you're into that kind of thing (which I usually am not), may I suggest you head on over to YouTube and see what Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, Matt Damon & Ben Affleck are up to? Crude, senseless, totally shouldn't be funny. But I laughed. A lot. Out loud at one point. If you want, go see if it makes you chuckle too.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Last week

I had to pick up some prescriptions, and went on the search for the least smelly dandruff shampoo I could find. (My scalp is out of control, people. But I can't use those tar things they used to tell me to use, because of the smells... it's a pickle.)

Anyways... I came across this:

Yes, that's right: anti-sponge shampoo. I honestly could not figure out what they heck they were talking about, and since the back of the bottle was in spanish, I was left totally confused.

The website says it's to combat hair that 'absorbs water and magnifies in size'... So... poofy? Poofy hair is what we're working against here? Except they also have an Anti Poof shampoo, so it must be different somehow. And they also have a volumizing shampoo. So there's sponges, bad poof and good poof.

No wonder I don't get this kind of stuff...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I just want to say a couple of things

Most of those things sound an awful lot like this: Sorry I'm not here so much.

Because I miss it, the outlet, and all of you. And, even though I said it last time, I'm really hoping to be able to recommit to posting here.

I am at my Grandmother's house: enjoying long days of chit chatting & showing of baby pictures, of extra loud news programs & stories I've never heard. Although I am pissed at the PUS because they continue to be insensitive asses, before I left the house I made some decisions:

1) I knew I was going to have to leave (their reassurance that there would be no smells is about as worthwhile to me as something else that smells really bad), and I still don't know if it was for good. And that's sad. If I'm all done living there, I'm all done living there, but it's still sad. Right now, I doubt that it will be permanent, just because there's other things abrewing, but I'll deal if it is. I will.

2) I love my Grandmother: I love spending time with her, even if she repeats her stories or tries to make my uncle give me help that I don't need. I always learn something new about somebody in our family, some nugget of treasure she's forgotten to pass along to me. We look at old albums and point out the guy who came to the reunion that nobody knew, or great-grandfather Gerry and how he walked dink toed, just like me (you know, back when I used to walk). I often feel upset that so many of my Grandmother's children are so far away: for her, and for them. Look what they're missing out on. Every time we get into a discussion, I have to physically resist reaching into my bag and pulling out my camera, turning it to record, and hiding it between the pillows. And I only resist because last time I did that she caught me, and was not pleased. A displeased Grandmother is not a fun time for anyone. So, even though the reason behind my visit is aggravating and frustrating, I decided before I left that I would enjoy it. The additional pain (from laying on her old lumpy couches all day and night), the new smells to get used to, the rashes from her soaps... that's all bearable because I'm more aware than ever that someday, probably soon, she won't be here for me to listen to, won't be here to repeat to me something she heard on the news (even though I was in the room, watching the news with her, and it was just 15 minutes ago). So, today I'll hold our visit close, watch the way she laughs at Lil Girl, the way her eyes crinkle up when she talks about her mother's death (when she was almost 6, so 84 years ago now) and what she was wearing in her coffin. I'm trying to memorize every little thing, because I feel so lucky to still have her here.

3) When I left Thursday morning, it was after the movers came to take Nana's things to storage. That was very difficult, for me and for mum. Because it was like seeing pieces of your childhood, only in the entirely wrong context. Nana's dollhouse didn't belong in a truck, all emptied out and furniture free... It had a place of honor, and was impeccably decorated. The ceramic people (including an older woman in a maid's outfit that we called Nana) should be lined up and waiting: Mother, Father, twin boys dressed in knickers, twin girls in red dresses. Those weird post thingees that I couldn't place were the ends of the dining room table, all pulled apart. Looking at the holes we used to crawl through, endlessly aggravating whichever adults happened to be sitting there, it felt like I had fallen through a hole myself: I was Alice, but instead of a wonderland, I was stuck here.
In tears. I'd prefer the Cheshire cat, I think.

4) There are good things, good and strong and exciting things that are trying to happen in our lives, and I'm trying to be strong enough to let them happen, to make them happen. Wedding showers and christenings, Lil Girl learning to count, Youngest Nephew's first viewing of Indiana Jones. Simple things and extravagant things, and just... other things. And it's hard to be in a place where I can deal with those things, but I know it'll get easier everyday, even though it feels like it won't.

This blog is one of those things.

Getting back to reading and writing and scrapping and the merry go round of medicine: all of those things need to happen, and I'm trying. I really, really am. And other things need to be let go, and I'm trying there too. The PUS, someday soon, are going to drift out of my orbit (or, preferably, be exploded out of my orbit, like that rogue satellite), and they won't be influencing my days any more. I look forward to that eventuality. Sincerely. But, just like I can't sit and wait to get better and do nothing about helping to get there, I've gotta be open to the next steps for getting them gone. So that means I'll be here for now, and they'll be there, and if never the twain shall meet again, that'd be a-ok with me.

(PS - odor free? Means that it smells so badly they moved into a hotel room for the weekend, and Mum, Dad & SisterCh all have headaches from it downstairs. With doors and windows open, in the middle of a snowstorm. Good call. Again.)

So, I'll be spending my day tomorrow (wait, today, as it's 1:14 am), gabbing with Grandmother. Looking at the snow covered streets out the window. Wishing that things were different, but trying to appreciate what is. Thanks for sticking around.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sometimes my life really sucks.

Now would be one of those times.

I've avoided talking about it here, but since my Nana's death, we're having some issues about housing.

As in: wouldn't it be nice to have some?

I know I've talked about our living arrangements before: we (my parents, one sister, and I) live on the first floor, my Nana lived on the second with The PUS: her son, his wife and their three kids (whose bedrooms were on the 3rd floor). Now that my Nana isn't here, there's really no way we can afford to keep the house - she owned it free and clear and left it to my mum, the PUS, and Auntie E in equal shares, but there's taxes (insane) and maintaining/fixing it (about triply insane), plus there's the fact that we don't want to live with the PUS now or ever again.

Now that Nana is not here, there will be no heartwarming reunion where they ask us all to forgive them for what they've done: At the hospital, the morning she died, Mr. PUS claimed one of Nana's hands, and I wanted to punch him in the face. Mrs. PUS walked around in tears and said things like "it's for the best" and "you should call your uncle, he really misses you guys." As if the reason we don't speak to our uncle is that we lost his phone number, not because he is a huge asshole. As if they didn't play a very large role in Nana's illness getting to the point it did as quickly it did. I could do a very large rant right now about their role in Nana's life, and how much they wanted her dead (and said to her face "I'll be happy when you're dead!") but that's not what I came here to rant about, and you know how I like to stay on track.

Anyways, there will be no forgive and forget moments between us - I think they are abominable people and I will not allow them to continue to have a role in my life, because I know them to be toxic. I'm through trying to see things from their perspective, giving them a fresh start/another chance, even listening to their excuses: the only reason I had to listen to them before was because of Nana. I know that they are the same people who called my grandmother a 'raving bitch,' who refused to stop painting the porch when I started having an asthma attack because they were 'halfway through a coat,' who threatened to 'punch (us) till we bleed, because (I) won't be able to stop myself.'

And I know that continuing to allow them access to my life, or my family... would be poisonous and crazy.

Except that we're still living in the same house. And, of course, the PUS are the most self-centered, careless people on the face of the planet.

Which brings us back to the whole 'where are we going to live' issue. Because the PUS, who weren't supposed to make any decisions regarding the house until the lawyer's papers all came through; who assured us that they weren't going to 'so much as dust' Nana's things (and yet threw some of them away); who were offended when Auntie E's husband asked them what they were planning to do about either buying the house or selling it (we haven't even thought that far ahead!") - yeah, that PUS?

Well, they're having the upstairs floors sanded and varnished.

Next week.

Oh, there'll be 'no smells - the guy promised!'

And the sanding won't be an issue either because it's upstairs.


I just did a ton of research, and none of it said anything about 'odor free'... as a matter of fact, most of them mentioned 'health concerns' and 'toxicity levels.' That sounds fine... that sounds like something I'll be react to perfectly well.

So, I may be on the move. I may be permanently on the move, as I doubt, once they start, that they're ever going to stop. There'll be varnish, and sanding, and painting, and gluing, and hammering, and all of those things that come along with fixing up a 125 year old house.

Meanwhile, we don't have enough money to just get our own place right now, so I'm going to, most likely, be imposing on the kindness of my relatives (SisterJ, who's got a couch: Yay, almost newlyweds! Have a sick sister living on your couch! or my Grandmother, who, you may remember, turned 90 last July. Not that she wouldn't love to have me, but still... It's hard enough having to move back in with your parents because your sick and can't do everything for yourself, but to have to move in with your 90 year old grandmother? Yeah, that's not exactly in my life plan either.) But we do what we have to do, and I may not have any choice.

However, Nana's lawyer (who hates the PUS because he's an 'arrogant asshole') says that he'll help us out, so we're going to try to get some sort of Temporary Restraining Order, so that he won't be able to do any improvements without the consent of the two other owners (Hi: we hate you, and no you can't fix anything because it will make me sick. The End!)

We'd still have to sell the house, relatively soon... but by then, hopefully, the money from Nana's trust will come through, so we can find someplace else to stash me. And it won't be two day notice that I have to leave behind everything and live on someone's couch for however long.

The funny part is that the lawyer doesn't really know if he'll be able to get the TRO on the grounds of my health concerns, but seems pretty confident that they'll be able to get it because of the money involved: PUS will no doubt be applying to Nana's accounts for the funding - he, however, gets no funds from her estate... which was as cold as she was willing to be to him, unfortunately.

Me? I've never met people more deserving of the "comes around" portion of the whole "What goes around comes around" maxim. I'd like to say that I'm done letting them have even the tiniest bit of say in my life, but I can't really afford to just move on my own (healthwise or financially).

So for now, let's all pray that the restraining order comes through.

If not, it's just something else I'll have to deal with. Which I will, because I can... I just don't want to have to.

So, I wouldn't mind a break right about now... maybe I'll see if we have any chocolate.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Things I don't get that other girls do...

(Part 1... of probably 1 billion.)

Valentine's Day.

I just ... don't get it.

I mean, I am a Card Person. Capital C, Capital P.

I know the location of 3 local Hallmark Stores. I know two of the salespeople at one store as more than nodding acquaintances (I may or may not know the names of their children).

I can, very easily, spend upwards of $50 (and 50 minutes) on choosing cards alone. I usually have a multistep approach to buying cards...
- Step 1: Pick up cards that I like, have a need for, may someday have a need for, or just plain want.
- Step 2: Try to keep a running tally in my mind of an approximate cost for the cards I am gathering.
- Step 3: About 45 minutes later, after having gone through each aisle of the store at least once, realize I now have enough cards to wallpaper my room with, and no freaking idea of how much they cost.
- Step 4: Realize that I cannot rob a bank in the next 15 minutes, which requires cutting the pile of cards in my lap down by about 75%.
- Step 5: Still spend about double what I had set out to spend, but walk away happy just the same.

If those steps get screwed with -- if I have an urgent need for just 1 card, for example, I feel disappointed that I did not get to loiter in the store for hours on end.

So I love cards. Hallmark commercials make me cry, I am sappy and sentimental and have a gooey chocolatey center. I celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and Grandparents' Day, and even sent a Friendship Day card one year (albeit totally by accident.

In short, I am the sort of person that seems tailor made for Valentine's Day Fever.

And yet, I have none.

I know what some of you may be thinking, but I am also not a Valentine's hater: a cynic, heartbroken at having spent her entire 28 years on earth Valentine free, set lose to terrorize the 'lucky few' out of their moonlit dinners and conversation hearts. (Well, I doubt that any of you are thinking that, but let's just say it wouldn't be the first time I ever heard that theory...)

No, I'm all for you having a great time if it means something to you... I just don't get it.

I like Valentine's Day parties in classrooms ... as you are reading this, children everywhere are sneaking business card-sized envelopes into the specially decorated desks of their classmates, eating cupcakes bedecked in pink sprinkles, or wondering at who could have possibly signed their card with a question mark. (And their teachers are shaking their heads at their naive belief that they might have actually accomplished any work today.) And, when you're teaching, any excuse for a party is welcomed ... but I don't get it: It isn't as if there are extensive curriculums set up that delve into the philosophy of love and it's many representations, or that there's a historical imperative to learn more about this wonderful patron saint of fainting, the plague, bee keepers and lovers (wow, I love being a Catholic!)... It's just, "Hello, it is February, and this is what we do in February."

I don't get buying roses when they're 3 times as expensive as they might be on any other random Thursday. Or heartshaped boxes of chocolates that are irresponsibly unlabeled (I hate those orange creme ones: why are they even in there??)

I don't get why single people have to feel lonelier on the 14th of this month than they would on any other mid-month (especially since, any other 14th day would not find them feeling particularly lonely at all). Or why couples should have to feel the pressure of adding a perfect night to their weekly routines. I don't get imposed happiness any more than I get imposed unhappiness.

I don't get how guys forget Valentine's Day, when it starts being everywhere right after Christmas, but I also don't get why it's so important that they should have to remember it.

It's just one of those things that I missed out on, like the need to buy shoes that cost more than a good camera.


I'm going to try to get back into posting: I've been missing it, and all of you.
My days are still very difficult: knowing the right thing to do for other people who are grieving, particularly my mum, is a hard, hard thing. Knowing what to do for myself is proving pretty difficult as well.

But I think we're all doing ok, and I'm going to keep thanking you all for all your help, just so you know how much I appreciate it. For now, I need to write again ... it helps me remember that there are other things going on -- in my life, and in the world -- and helps me feel more like myself. And I can use all of that that I can get.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Go Pats

Wanted to say thanks, again, to all of you. Mostly because I know you're here: my brain is starting to be able step outside the ridiculous dramas that are happening in my family, and see them and go "What the hell is happening here?" and I know that a large part of that is thanks to the blogging part of my brain. The part that thinks "wow, where's Janice when you need her?" or "Maya's Granny would know the perfect thing to say right now." Please know that with all of the absurdity & disconnection from reality and drama that is happening here, everysingleday, that so many of you are in my mind and heart, helping me to get through it.

And to get through all the regular stuff, the stuff that shouldn't be this hard, like four o'clocks and football games.

Tonight's game is niggling in my mind like no other football game before it, only because of Nana: She and I had a running faux-argument about the merits of football. She insisted that there were merits, and I insisted that if a grown man wants a piece of leather that he can throw around, all he needed to do was go to the store and buy one - there was certainly no need for all this traipsing and chasing up and down of fields, and certainly no need for tackling and being injured for the rest of your life for a stupid BALL. Nana suffered my lack of interest in organized sports (and my Kindergarten teacher-let's all just get along- mentality) semi-stoicly... which means that she and I had essentially the same discussion every time a football game was on, particularly a Patriots game.

Nana was - with the exception of the Red Sox (or "Red Slobs" as she called them), a diehard, home-team sports fan. The heydays of the Celtics and Larry Bird were crystal clear in her memories, and she even had a positive thing or two to say about the Bruins, even though she found hockey mostly boring. But the Patriots were her team - I'd like to remember some of the stuff she told me about them here, but I honestly wasn't paying that much attention: football players that were good, football players and coaches that sucked, traitors and the traded, glories and goners... she knew a lot of useless Patriots information, and watched every game as if the team depended on her in order to win.

Which, of course, they did. She would run up and down the entire field with them yelling and stomping, cheering and jeering. Coaches were called horrible names, players had their honor defiled. Even when they won, she'd be sure to tell me how they almost screwed it up.

And this is - in case you aren't interested in football &/or don't live in New England - a record setting year for the Patriots. They've gone undefeated for the entire season, heading into the Super Bowl. No one's ever done that before, apparently. Which is great for them, and would, ordinarily, mean very little to me...

Except this is a game my Nana won't be here to nag me into watching.

In Super Bowls past, we've watched together, me reading during the football and listening to her scream, her tsking me when I would look up in order to catch the new commercials, then head out for a cigarette. I know there was another football game they were in, the day after she died, but I wasn't ... aware ... enough of anything for that one to matter to me. This one, I feel it.

I feel all the hype and crazinesss, and I just wish it were over. I miss the "What am I going to do with you, you have no sense of team spirit?!?" conversation that we'd have already had 3 times today.

And I know that it's just another football game, that it has no impact in my life besides this: It's just one more thing we won't be doing together.

I don't know whether or not I'll watch try to watch it alone (Sister Ch probably won't be watching, and Mum and Dad will no doubt be smoking in the cellar), or take advantage of my first Tivo-fied Super Bowl and wait till later and just watch the commercials, or just... blow off the whole thing altogether. But I know that Nana will be riding the coach... (I seriously looked up the coach's name to add it to this post, but that felt forced... Nana will know it either way) from the sidelines, giving him her very clear opinions of each and every play. And even heaven won't be able to help them if they lose.