Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ladies who lunch

Went out to lunch today with some of my girlfriends from college, and some of their kids. I had a pretty good time, but it was, as always, bittersweet. They talked about their jobs and their families, their moves and houses, and when it came around to my turn to update everybody, I just talked about all the things everybody else in my life was doing - getting married or graduating from college, moving in/out or heading to the 6th grade - as I had nothing new to report.

SSDD, Ladies. Well, Same (enhanced) Shit, Different Decade, honestly. It's frigging frustrating, for sure. But even with all of that, and the general left behind feeling that follows, I'm glad I got to go out for a bit, be around different people, people that I care about & who care about me. I got to meet new babies (4 and 1 year olds aren't exactly babies, but new to me, anyways), and talk about things that are not my family or my health, which is all I ever seem to have to talk about (as is evidenced here by recent posts, as well as lack of posts). And a friend who lives just down the road a piece volunteered to give me a ride home, so that was even better because I rarely get to go places 'on my own', and not having to wait for your mother to pick you up does help you feel slightly more adult.

Doctors always say things about getting out more, and making sure you have a social network, people you can count on, when you're living with chronic illness. And it definitely has its upsides, for sure. Tons of benefits. But I think they underestimate a) how hard it is to build that network in the first place and b) the toll it takes - not just physically, what with the energy you have to expend to be social and leave the house and all that (and holy jesus, I forget that leaving the house to see other people requires things like makeup and non-holey clothing) - but emotionally, to maintain it. It's hard to see them all moving on and going forward and to still, still feel like you're stuck. I am so sick of being stuck.

Anyways, like I said, it was mostly good. I'm trying to focus on that. Although I should have remembered to take a picture, because one of the girls is moving to Tennessee in a couple of weeks, and who knows when we'll see her next, but that didn't occur to me until about three hours ago, so what are you going to do?

Tomorrow the kids will be over, and I have no plans for what to do with them, but I'm sure we'll figure something out. We always do.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It was strange: There was a perverse comfort in inertia.*

So I'm having a bit of a hard time lately, and I'll tell you, it is not becoming. It's one of those times when there's a lot of stuff just underneath , and you spend a lot of your time (or at least I do), measuring your words and acts carefully, because you're sure that what's underneath could come bursting through at any moment, and that it would not be a good thing if that happened.

Some of the underneath stuff is not my own, just mine to figure out how to navigate - all of that fun (and incredibly high-pressure, fast-paced) stuff related to putting together a wedding with a bride who has a bit of difficulty making choices (and then sticking with them); the trying to incorporate the opinions of everysingleperson ever, apparently; and two sisters with a tentative truce and a still rocky understanding of each other who are trying to collaborate on about 400 different aspects of a wedding in a little over a month. So there's that.

And then there's all my under the surface stuff, like the fact that Soon-to-be Sister-in-law sort of decided that it wasn't worth it to bring the kids up here anymore, only she didn't come right out and say that so I'd get up in the morning expecting them and instead find a text saying no one was coming. Although we've renegotiated for the summer, and she told SisterJ that she did it because she thought bringing them up here was burdening us, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and the feeling that all the effort and time I spend with the kids (because I want to!) is not really worth all that much to her, while here I thought I was helping to raise them for the past eleven years. I guess I am more hurt by that then I let on, even though I know she didn't mean to hurt my feelings, and that - in general - they both appreciate the time we watch the kids.

And, of course LilGirl will be starting kindergarten in the fall, so that means our twice a week commitment with her will be ending anyways, so I was trying to pack as much fun stuff into the summer as I could, because once school starts, we're all weekend sleepovers, and that's just not as much time. LilGirl is not the only one disappearing come the fall - SisterK will be in Iowa to go to grad school in August (right after the wedding), and has been off gallivanting on trips to England and Vermont since she graduated so that I have barely seen her.

I have an uncle, who I am not very close to but still love, who is suffering from cancer and seems unlikely to make it to through the summer, and it also seems highly unlikely that I will get anybody to go up to where he lives with me, (and once there, I'm pretty sure I can't make it into his antique cabin because of stairs). Hell, I can't even get people to walk next door for me to deliver a pie I spent three hours baking (squeezing lemons is not in my skill set), which is another issue simmering underneath everything else. It also turns out that I am eligible for yet another social service program, which might change both my financial contributions to the house and the responsibilities that my mom would have when it comes to helping me out. Unfortunately, our current working relationship is not working out as it is, mostly because she's not been in the best health either (physically or mentally), and it is making it so that I don't always get the help I need. Having this between us, when we are so close, is hurtful, because I wind up feeling both resentful - not that she's not well enough to do something, but that she insists she is and then it doesn't get done - and trapped - we depend on the money my mom makes as my PCA, so if I try to give some of her hours to someone else who could do some of the less personal, errand running type stuff, then I'm taking away money that our family needs; and I assume that she feels pressured and misunderstood, because I am just not ok with the things that are getting left behind. It's very stressful, as you can imagine.

Along with that are some new health issues - not setbacks, exactly, but issues - that have kind of shocked me, and left me unsure of what to do next. It is likely that my body (jokester that it is) is just playing tricks on me, but either way, it's starting to seriously complicate matters, and that is not appreciated. Not to mention, although I hate hate hate the analogy of the biological clock, that certain ticking numbers, including my age and hormone levels (never mind my single & sick status), are making me wish I'd gotten knocked up at fifteen, before I got sick, so that I wouldn't have to worry about it maybe never happening now. (And even just typing that makes me literally sick to my stomach, which is why I am avoiding thinking about it as much as possible.) And of course, every one I know is pregnant. (Well, two cousins, two friends, a zillion bloggers - it just feels like everybody.)

And, if you've been here any length of time, you know that when I'm avoiding things, I take up residence solely inside my own head. Where I can either choose to zombie out - play a few "click a lot and blow things up" games, reread a series full of happy endings, Facebook stalk - or swim in the muddle and try to salvage some sense. Can you guess which choice I have been making lately? If I told you that the Bridgertons are doing just as well as they were the last time I read their books, and that I have a new high score on Big Money, would that help you out at all?

Yes, I've been zombie-ing out, which includes, of course, letting the blog fall semi-silent because "what the hell am I going to say that makes any sense to anybody?" But, as is often the case, it just took me a while to get things into place, just enough, that I could write about them some. So here's some of the stuff that's floating around underneath for me, thanks for letting me vent a bit.

I promise tomorrow's post will be full of ... something else. Hopefully a good something else. :) Have a great weekend you guys.

*Jeremy Groopman, The Anatomy of Hope

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well worth applauding, I'd say

Last week, I turned 32. Those numbers still don't seem real, in relation to me, but I'm working on it. I'm thinking of throwing myself a big party next year, for thirty three, but I'm pretty sure that's another one of those things that sounds better in your head then it winds up being in actuality (you know, like pretty much every big party ever?), so for now it's just a 'thinking of'. I'm trying to be honest when I say that there were a lot of times I didn't think that 32 was a year that would apply to me - I mean, sure, when I was a little kid, thirty whatever seemed like "Ok, when I'm 3X I'll be a grown-up" and I had some vague notions of where I'd be and what kind of life I'd be living (read: nowhere near the life I am actually living right now). But in the past 10 years or so, as my diseases have taken more and more of who I thought I was, and presented me with a whole new set of challenges to face, there were more times than I'd care to admit that my thirties seemed to be a goal that I might not make.

And yet, here I am, two years into them. Still facing all sorts of challenges, still not where I'd hoped to be, but Still Here. Which is the most important part, when it comes right down to it.

For my 32nd birthday, I spent the day at my niece's first dance recital, which is - for me - a huge deal. Because I was a dancer for 13 years, and an assistant instructor for three years, and this is the first recital I've ever been strictly an audience member for. (Well, that's not actually true, I'd just rather forget about my other experience as a member of the audience: the year after I got sick, the year I had to quit dancing, I went to my former school's recital and tried to watch the show. I felt heartbroken, sitting there, barely able to walk unaided anymore, watching all my former friends dance the solos I would've danced and receive awards I would never receive and between holding back my jealous tears and the loudness of the music, I wound up with a migraine that left me incapacitated for the next three days. It was not a pleasant experience.) But this time it was different: I was there to enjoy myself, to cheer for Lil Girl, to clap at all the steps I knew were hard, even if they didn't look tricky.

Lil Girl did great - she had a big smile the whole time, she and I talked about being the tent-pole (the tallest dancer, middle of the line) and how it means you have to hold your pose the longest while you're waiting for the curtain to close, and we both watched the older girls dances with glee, so I hope this will be just the first of many recitals of hers I'll be willingly sitting in the audience for.

I also got to re-choreograph numbers in my head, and move things along at a better pace, and basically pretend it was my dance school's program, and how I'd make it better. (One of those vague things I thought I'd be doing in my thirties, if you'd asked me twenty years ago was operating a dancing school with my sister(s), just another one of those dreams that got put up on a high shelf a lot of years ago). Remembering years worth of selling wrapping paper and window clings and random candy bars in order to pay our way into competitions, I bought raffle tickets from the dance company girls, and won a basket full of coffee & other things I don't drink and quickly divvied it up between family members. I took pictures that came out blurry because you can't use your flash, and I remembered just how invisible the crowd seems from the stage when the lights are blazing in your eyes. And although I missed out on the post-show Chinese food, a tradition that even my brother remembered fondly ("Remembered? It was the only part of the whole thing I had to look forward to" was his response), I still enjoyed it very much.

It was a great way to celebrate a day I wasn't sure I'd make it to, and I'm still not sure I know how to deal with (numbers don't really matter so much, sometimes. Until they do. And when you're thinking of how much you want to be a mom, those numbers are all of the sudden much more important than they ever were before). And while all my brother could talk about (on the times that his little angel wasn't on stage, that is) was how much of a rip-off it was that the tickets cost $15 a piece and the costume was $65 and all some of the kids were doing up there was "playing ring a round the Rosie", I remembered how much fun it was to be the teacher in the wings, while the three-year-olds you'd been teaching for nine months, and you were sure weren't going to anything approaching an actual dance step, finally figured out how to link hands and make a circle. And, ignoring his statement that "clapping only makes it go on longer" , I applauded as much as I felt like it.

Here's one of the less blurry shots of our tent-pole girl, in all her glory:

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I kind of hate bridal showers

So, Miss Janice asked me the other day who was getting married, and it occurred to me that I hadn't written about SisterCh's wedding since she announced she was engaged, last New Year's Eve. The reason for that is that it was, until about three months ago, a nebulous sort of thing - "We're getting married in 2012, so we'll be married before the world ends" or "We're getting married next year, when we've saved enough money" are both actual quotes regarding when the wedding would be happening. And then, suddenly, around April of this year, a near nervous-breakdown SisterCh came to the house one day and just let loose - Why weren't we helping her? Why didn't anybody care about the wedding? Why was she having to do everything all by herself? There was some other stuff, of course, because we are a family, and there's always other stuff, but this wedding stuff was mostly out of nowhere, for me, anyways. I told her that the reason nobody seemed to be helping with the wedding (even though I felt like I was doing what I could) was because it didn't seem like there was an actual wedding to plan yet: She had a sort-of date, but no real plans aside from that, and that I kept expecting her to change the date (for the third time) because they weren't ready financially. When she insisted that the wedding was happening this August 6th (as in less than two months from today) even if it meant courthouse steps and Little Debbie cakes, I let her know that I was totally on board to help out as best as I could.

So here we are, with a little under two months to go, and we just finished the invitations this weekend. And now, SisterJ (who has made miraculous and tentative peace with SisterCh, thank the lord) & I have to plan a bridal shower pretty much immediately. Ideas are easy - it's the follow through that's tough.

The other thing that makes it tough is that I find parties where grown-ups sit around watching another grown-up open presents for an hour or so boring, intimidating, and anxiety producing. I mean, I've never had a shower, but I've been to my fair share, and I know that no matter what, you're expected to open the gifts right there in front of people. Which brings us to Problem A and Problem B.

Problem A is not my problem so much as it is everybody else's, but they insist on making it my problem, which is annoying. I am a slow present unwrapper. On Christmas, I sit with my pile of presents and watch everybody else open theirs first, because I hate to miss anything. Then I start lifting the tape off of each end, and - without fail - at least one person will be complaining before I even finish that first present (sometimes before I even start opening that first present). When it's just my family, I figure "screw you" and do as I damn well please - unwrapping presents is almost as much fun as wrapping them, and why should I rush through it just to make you happy. Even so, I can't recall a Christmas where someone hasn't stepped in to 'help', and moved things along faster. But I think I'd be too self-conscious to take my time unwrapping in front of a larger group of people, who are all sitting there watching me, with no presents of their own to enjoy in the meantime. It would be wicked awkward.

Which brings us to Problem B, aka Why is everybody staring at me ? Seriously: at most parties, even birthday parties, there's a whole lot of mingling, a little bit of focused attention during cake cutting time (when it's dark, at least, while a roomful of people who can't really sing sing you a song as loudly as possible), and then more mingling and eating and then everybody goes home. Showers (baby or bridal, take your pick), are pretty much the opposite - a whole lot of undivided attention focused on that one person, broken up with occasional stupid games, nibbling of foods, or mingling with the people you're seated with. Too much eye of the storm for me, thank you very much.

And, thankfully, that is not a problem I have to deal with right now. Right now I have to figure out a date to have the thing, where to hold it, what to feed people, what to make them do while they're here. I have basically two ideas - a theme and perhaps the beginning of a family tradition? And I pretty much have to do all of that in the next three or four days, because there's very few weekends left between now and the actual wedding. So, I'm going to pin down SisterJ tonight, see if we can't get something started here.

Wish me luck.

And also feel free to comment on any non-boring bridal shower you've ever been to, because we could use all the help we could get.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


I'm loathe to say that I am back, for fear that some other part of my (brand! new!) laptop will decide to commit Hari kari, but I did just want to check in. The tornado that hit Massachusetts yesterday was luckily not in our area - although we did have some pretty intense thunderstorms, which, under any other circumstances I would have called awesome, but, considering, have decided to stick with intense. Tornadoes are atypical in our neck of the woods though, so it's pretty frightening to think of how close they were and how they just decimated the entire area. I watched about .5 seconds of the news coverage today, but when they reported that a mother had died while protecting her toddler, I lost it and had to turn it off. It certainly made all my computer related nonsense seem trivial, though.

So no complaints here, just gratitude that everybody's doing ok, and that I get to catch up with all of my Google Reader friends very soon.