altarflame: (deluge)
It's funny how wholesome and nurturing I can feel for providing tons of carbs and sugar to my kids, that I don't actually think are objectively good. Tonight I laid out a loaf of italian bread on some racks to get stale for french toast in the morning, baked an apple pie that we'll have for tea tomorrow afternoon, and baked brownies and then bagged them up to go with school lunches throughout the week. So motherly; so organized; so diabetic.

We did have a high protein dinner?

I've really loved our long Thanksgiving weekend. Every little bit of it. It went about as good as it possibly could have in just about every way. Weather cool to cold with a breeze and clear skies, food all turned out yummy... My mother actually seemed happy almost all of the time - happier than I've seen her in years. My Dad made it, which was in question (we basically always have good visits when he comes). He got along with my mom, and it's hilarious how the two of them kept pulling me aside to tell me HOW OLD the other one is looking.

Counseling has done wonders for my ability to NOT be emotionally exhausted by being around my mom. There was a moment when my sister and I were sitting on my deck swing, and I gestured toward what had been the fire, out in the yard - "Is that smoking again?" My mom turned around from her spot off to the right, holding a cigarette, and defensively said, "This is only my second one all day!" We laughed until we cried.

My brother and his girlfriend were semi-social and rarely dramatic. They even played Apples to Apples with my mom and a rotating group of kids for about 2 hours, one afternoon. Shaun and Cristy came, loved the food, told me interesting things about the art world and attacked us with silly string.

I stayed up late and slept in, with nowhere outside the house to be, for several days in a row. That in itself really seems like a miracle. Grant is still somewhat depressed, but was absolutely heroic as a facilitator - doing everything from multiple loads of dishes for days as I continuously cooked, to setting up and breaking down projector movie night for a big group of kids, and running out for takeout at 3 different places one evening. And, we had a pretty sweet date, today.

Aaron is coming out of a short phase of being depressed, and it's awesome. I love it when he's just bubbly and happy. I think he's going to struggle back and forth throughout his life. He never stops talking and trying to connect, which seems crucial to me. We stayed up really late alone last night, watching an SNL Thanksgiving Special on Hulu and laughing our heads off. There have been a lot of cuddle piles with kids, one notable one with ALL of my kids, which is increasingly rare.

I posted some highlights.

The only off point is that I've felt uncomfortably bloated or had some kind of vague indigestion for about 5 solid days now. I think I've just splurged on nonstop dairy and fattening rich bs, and eaten way too MUCH (I give myself a break from Weight Watchers for holidays). It's also been a pretty sedentary time. My body will be happy to return to it's previous lifestyle.

Additional glitch: my mom put our electric kettle on the stove, and then went back outside with all of us, figuring she'd go check on it in 10 minutes. Luckily, I went in for something else after just 4 or 5, at which point there was already smoke billowing everywhere and sparks were flying. I lunged to turn off the stove and grab the kettle off the burner - the bottom of it had melted to the point that it fell off as I picked it up, and much of it fell to the floor as a tarry black mess that splattered the cabinets. The thing in my hand had exposed wires throwing sparks at that point, and the stuff left on the burner burst into flames.

After some smothering, an evacuation period with fans, lots of razor scraping and some magic eraser-ing, we were left with a good story and a terribly guilt stricken grandma. I tried to assure her it is ok and everyone makes mistakes, and I tried not to tell her - when she said her phone was dying - to please not charge it in the toaster oven. She was mostly able to joke about how this is going to be one of those things she never lives down, like when she lit her hair on fire trying to light her cigarette, when I was 10. Or when she accidentally took a sip of her bottle of ashes-in-water, a couple of years ago. But come on, who even remembers that stuff?

We started "the Christmas season" all at once, as of last night. With Christmas pandora in the evening, Christmas movies to fall asleep in front of with bedding on the floor at night, and then today we all went and got a tree. I wholeheartedly love this time of year.

We are definitely back to the grind, tomorrow. After the french toast and drop offs, I'm going in the little kids' school in the morning with field trip money, and holiday show ticket money, and a letter withdrawing Elise (that's a long story for another entry, maybe). I have to write a letter to the school board re-establishing her as homeschooled, and do schoolwork with her, obviously, like we started last Mon-Wed. I've got a special trip planned for us. After school, Aaron has an allergist appointment and I have a homework date with Jake. If we have time, we will decorate our hedges and make a big ol' batch of gingerbread dough to turn into tree ornaments. All that may end up pushed back to next weekend, which is fine.

Note: we finally got around to renewing our picture hosting domain, so I will actually put pictures here sometimes, too. It's still harder than tumblr or facebook makes it, but it will at least be possible again :)
altarflame: (deluge)
My husband, who is at work, has slow cooker boeuf bourgignon going. Late last night while he was frying bacon and onions and searing the steak and reducing wine and all, this whole house was smelling so luscious. I bought a giant baguette and some brie to go with it, today. Having dinner taken care of clears the way for me to bake pies and make cranberry sauce and pre-cook some vegetables that will go into things later this week.

I have so much going on in my own little world, thinking about all our trips to the allergist and what they might mean, trying to do stupid amounts of cooking, cleaning, shopping and phone arrangements for Thanksgiving... I simultaneously crave that escape and love it, retreat into it even, and also feel ill at ease that things are so good and so easy for me while so much unrest is happening in the rest of the world.

I'm trying to make some decisions, based on my facebook wall (of course), about whether or not it's becoming appropriate to unfriend people for being racists. Before you say, OF COURSE IT IS, Grant and I were both raised by casual racists (subconscious attitudes, "I had a black friend once" type people) who were raised by seriously fucked up racists (people that said the "n" word and are openly disgusted by non-whites). I have a long history of having to reconcile that, for instance, my deceased paternal grandmother who read us Mother Goose and gave us quarters to rub lotion on her feet also CRIED when they hired black assistants on The Price is Right. My Nana and Pa who took me in when my mother moved away, hosted fabulous Christmases for everyone every year and did things like make sure I had bras that fit...well, it's pretty bad. They taught me that brazil nuts were called "n____ toes" as a kid and thought mixed race couples were "such a damn shame."

All our assorted relatives - along with half the people we went to school with - fall along that spectrum. My incredibly sweet and giving mother in law called us in a panic when she was down last year, to say there was "a black man standing across the street, just standing in the yard, he's been there for awhile now and isn't going away!" She claimed to be really scared and very creeped out, and wondered if she should call the police. We were like, "Um...that's his house. He lives there? Our neighbor is black..."

Actually two people I've been close to for many years are worse than anything on that spectrum, it just rarely comes up and we have so much else in common. Because I have been on a personal mission to weed out my own casual and ingrained societal racism for a few years, I'm aware of nobody being perfect and usually hope that everyone is gradually waking up to this business together. It seems counter productive to just cut people off because they haven't "evolved" and begun to question this stuff.

I am the lone voice crying in the wilderness on many comment threads where I dare to say, "Uh, seriously guys?" to the worst of it all. Which I do. It's really terrible, though. I suppose it's the ultimate in my own privilege, that I've actually been more personally upset by the ugliness people are spewing about Ferguson, than by the situation itself. Food for thought, eh?

Speaking of strange and potentially tense relations...Thanksgiving is shaping up to be really interesting around here. I'm actually pretty excited about it, even though it's hard to actually picture and Grant has reserved the right to hide in our room go to bed very very early. My sister and her kids are coming...with Frank. Frank hasn't been inside my house in 2 or 3 years, at least. Before that, it was another 2 or 3. He did stop by and hang out in the yard at the end of the night for Thanksgiving last year, drunk as all get out (and entertaining, not like terrible drunk). We get along a lot better than we used to, it's just very unusual. My kids were confused that this is a possibility.

My mother is most likely coming... and so is my Dad. Those two were both in my vicinity at once last when I lay dying. Because, you know, that's the level of severity necessary to bring them together. I woke up in the ICU like "OH MAN IT'S THAT BAD?! YOU'RE STANDING THERE NEXT TO EACH OTHER?" Before that, the last time was when Grant and I were teenagers participating in a live nativity roadside scene. I remember crying out, "It's a real Christmas miracle!" When I was a little kid, the agreement was that I spent Thanksgiving with my Dad's family, and Christmas with my Mom's.

My brother is also a likely candidate. I've texted with him for birthdays and holidays, and given him a gift through my mom, since I kicked him out of my house two years ago. He might be bringing his girlfriend of 3 years, who texted my sister this afternoon, "I'm still not sure about you people." He's definitely bringing his 3 snakes, since he's afraid they'll die without him in the cold of his uninsulated home.

So that's some real holiday movie shit, eh? It actually makes me laugh hysterically to read over, but I'm usually game for an adventure.

Off I go to continue readying everything... It's actually supposed to be cold that evening (for us), and we always eat outside, so Grant's planning a fire and homemade marshmallows. I bought cider to heat up, today. All of my kids are half amped, and half already done with the endless list of extra tasks I'm giving them.
altarflame: (deluge)
I talked to my Dad on the phone for the first time in awhile, tonight. It was good, and terrible, and...really fucking awful.

I just don't understand how my parents have painted themselves into such corners, and are falling apart to such a degree. It makes me sad for them, and sad that they aren't available to my kids as grandparents, and terrified that I don't want to ever be in the sort of positions they are :/

I don't know how you can just not consider going back to school or trying out a different industry, year after miserable struggling year, not eventually think to prioritize dental care as things deteriorate, not even contemplate counseling as decades pass and you get more and more muddled up and avoidant about all sorts of things.

My Dad has got approximately 4 teeth left. He's worried that he feels sick a lot of the time partially from decayed pieces of teeth gone by, that are still in his gums. He's embarrassed. He doesn't have any insurance - health or dental - and he lives paycheck to paycheck in a way that's very dependent on tourist (and hurricane) season. He's viciously dreading Obamacare because he works as an independent contractor - and hasn't filed taxes in over 10 years.

My Dad is only 53, guys. His arthritis is terrible, and he's never had any treatment or meds for it aside from self medicating (he was diagnosed at 20), and...oh God I just don't even know how to deal with it. He's living in near isolation and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. He absolutely will not accept help of any kind from me, either - even right after we got the settlement when I tried to gift him with something he'd wanted for a long time, he refused, and to this day if I mention ANYTHING the kids need or that costs more than I expected during our conversations, he says, "Aren't you glad you didn't spend that money on me?" :x

He is still him, with all these visible and invisible issues, and he wants to tell me hilarious stories that really make me laugh, and he sounds like he sounded when I was little - meaning, strong. Invincible. Really, really smart.

There are good things, my Dad has a few things - he lives on a canal his boat is parked in, so he can take it out whenever he wants and he gets a lot out of that. That sounds really glamorous, ok, but anyone can have an old, used boat in the keys and the canals are NOT glamorous where he is. I mean he literally has a 700 square foot duplex he's in with his girlfriend, and a car that breaks down parked out front, and lives on a canal with a boat, just like everybody else in the neighborhood. He's a mechanic and works on it himself. I'm just saying, it makes me happy that there are a few ways in which he is still living his life. He really seems to enjoy his job, too, which is kinda perfect for him.

He just also has this shame, about being broke (regardless of what I say about how I could give a shit less how much money anyone has) and his health, and the brokeness and the health also truly limit his options, and so we almost never see him :/ I feel like he is the person who taught me to advocate for myself, whether in fighting my way through the financial aid office and appeals process to go back to school or hunting down resources for my kids...but the whole concept of him advocating for himself seems too foreign. He truly acts like I just don't get it, and/or am living in a dream world, when I suggest options or avenues for him to improve any aspect of his life. It's so heavy, to think of what it must feel like to be really sad about all sorts of things that you've also just given up on ever improving.

My mother was recently diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), i.e., the precursor to emphysema. This explains her quarterly ER trips for bronchitis, and her need for albuterol (as a non-asthmatic person) to always be nearby, and has in no way slowed down her smoking. It's an interesting combo, to go with the Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA)s, or pre/mini strokes, she's had several times in the last few years. She does not exercise in even minor ways, and barely eats food. Really - one small meal or two snacks in a day feel like a lot, to her.

My mother is 49, ya'll. She's the age many of my kids' friends' parents are - and my kids' friends parents are vibrantly healthy people who take vacations, join yoga classes, knit things, have social lives and/or church mom lives in this teeny tiny place, in a crime ridden yet rural area, with a car always on the verge of breaking down. She has this night shift security job she's struggled by with for the past 5 or more years, where there is no opportunity for advancement. She reads the Twilight books over, and over, and OVER in a way that is probably not ok.

When I was growing up, my various houses (we moved...a lot) could be pretty terrible, but my grandparents were all very good, and actively engaged grandparents. My Dad's parents had some health issues at times, and didn't work, but they lived on their own, had enough money to get us (small) birthday and Christmas presents and leave $20 bills under our pillow if we lost a tooth while we were visiting overnight. They left baggies full of quarters around "from the Easter Bunny." They came along on Disney World trips, when I was little. They cooked us delicious meals and read us stories, when we stayed with them for weeks at a time. Took us in their above ground pool and on their riding lawn mower. We crouched in their windows at dawn with them, watching for deer and rabbits. I have nothing but good memories.

My mother's mom and stepdad (her "real" dad was the "pirate" - read, "international drug smuggler" I'm descended from), who were married from before my birth, both worked full-time until about 5 years ago. They always provided huge Christmas Eve celebrations for the family, including my own children for quite awhile. Laura and I spent every weekend there, as little kids, and weeks of the summer later on. When my mom checked out, that was where each of us ended up living for our high school years. I was driving Nana's car when I learned to drive, on the weekends, and they got me my own phone line and just...

I heard all kinds of stories, from my parents, about how their parents were shitty when they were young. Inconsistent, borderline neglectful, functioning alcoholics, broke as hell, etc etc. What I inferred as the natural order of things, is that people may be kinda derelict, as young parents, but then they get it together enough to take care of themselves, and pick up the grandkid slack, at some point in middle age. This seemed to be the way of the world, a pattern that could be counted on. My various stepdads and their parents seemed to follow this same trend - adults who played too many video games, smoked too much weed, got fired a lot...and their parents, older people who owned homes others could go back to in times of need, and never yelled at children who came over, despite the terrible abuse of yore that would be referenced at times. A need to size up in bras, or to get braces or have wisdom teeth pulled, was something taken to grandparents for review, when I was a kid.

The point is, my parents have not held up their end of this bargain at all. They eagerly accepted the help from their own parents, and talked shit about how their parents had sucked back in the day, and then they just kept on being total derelicts with no self-awareness, once we were grown. I mean. Do you know what I mean?

Grant's parents are not in much better shape, healthwise, though they are engaged grandparents and fully realized human beings - by which I mean, they have friends, and interests, and hobbies, and are living their lives. "Opa" provided half a house for us to live in for 5 years, too, allowing me to stay home with babies and toddlers while Grant built his resume, which is (beyond WAY above and beyond) priceless and lovely and I will never be able to adequately thank him for it. Oma has always been a great place to visit, a sure call and card on birthdays, she stayed with them all while we went out of town to Maryland in August. More importantly, since those kids needed them so much more, they have full on RAISED my sister in law's kids from day 1 of their lives - which has often been an awful lot of very complicated work.

So, I don't mean it as any reflection on their characters, when I say that it is still so scary and awful, what poor health they're in, and how totally without financial resources they are :/ My mother in law has a degenerative bone condition that causes chronic pain and a gradual loss of mobility. She and her husband have also been utterly financially devastated by him getting cancer, losing his business as a result, etc. They're in such a vulnerable father in law has untreated back issues that nobody knew were debilitating him to the degree they apparently have been for a decade, until very recently. The amazing government job he had for a long long time, is no more.

Both of them, like my parents, have moved hundreds of miles away in recent years, and so are not at all easy to help out. There is also a scary, fast-forward effect, wherein more times passes between visits and thus their aging seems to happen in rapid fits and starts since they've moved. Grant and I have rarely gotten used to how old any of them looked the LAST visit, before we're seeing them again and it's progressed...

His parents are early 50s, too. It makes me wonder if maybe that's just how it is - time, and our bodies gradually falling apart.

My sister is really angry about how uninvolved our father is with our children. She remembers how great HIS dad was with us, and wants that for our kids. I get it, I really do, and I also think about it sometimes - but I don't feel mad at him. I feel like our kids (Laura's and mine) are in a totally different situation than she and I were, and NEED external relatives so, so much less. WE read to our own kids, and look at animals together, and take them swimming ourselves, and buy them their bras and their braces...they're safe, at home. They would love him, and they do love him, when he's around, but. Their lives are full, either way. Likewise with how my mother beats herself up semi-annually and vows in a passionate way to be more involved as a grandmother. I just kinda smile and nod. It's not something I'm very invested in. They don't really notice her coming and going.

My anger towards the both of them is more like, "WHAT THE FRESH HELL IS YOU FOOL'S PLAN, for 10 years down the line when you're utterly incapacitated? You're just gonna leave it in my hands, to either take your care on full time or put you in some state run, Medicare type home somewhere? Drink some water, put on some supportive shoes and go for a walk, and start repairing your credit, you assholes!"

That is partially me railing at mortality, and inevitability, as I am wont to do. Mom, Dad and the Grim Reaper all collectively piss me off.

I don't want them to die. Even more than that, I don't want them tottering around suffering and decrepit for long, torturous decades that are not much of a life.

I have these beacons, these inspirations that I look to as role models (and for hope).

Nancy is one. 65, travelling, attending births, speaking at conferences, working on her next book. She gets up every single day and walks or swims for 30 minutes. She has a great haircut, can laugh at Louis CK and is always searching for new music. Her clothes are mostly from Etsy. She really listens, when people talk. Nancy's bringing her mother (who lives alone, drives, etc) to our house for Thanksgiving.

Our pediatrician is another. He's 70, and spends every summer in South America doing charity work and care for brain injured kids. He moves with purpose and energy but stops and takes his very patient time with everyone who comes to see him. He and his wife have adopted over a dozen special needs kids over the years. His jeans are ripped up and he has a long rat tail and the embossed wooden sign hanging out in the strip mall outside his office says, "Dr Spiderman." I was actually shocked to learn his age just a couple of months ago, after going to him for many years and several kids, and then thought, oh yeah. Liver spots on the hands. Around his eyes. I can see it.

I think about my Cuban great grandmother, my Abuela, jogging around the island each morning into her 90s.

I am very aware of how much I'd like to age well - meaning, with tears and laughter but not bitterness or denial, without too much loss of mobility, with introspection and honesty. I would choose pain over loss of cognition, given the choice (which nobody is). Financial security, at least enough to cover essentials like my Nana and Pa have, would be nice.

One thing my "pirate" grandfather had that I think is enviable, is a quick death following a life lived just as he wanted it to be. The man drank all his waking hours, slept on couches (and boats) all over town, told jokes, collected stories, had affairs, got high, hung out with his dog and so forth literally until the night before his liver quit and then he spent a few unconscious hours puking up blood, and died without waking up.

My Nana, by contrast, my poor Nana, following surgery gone wrong, has been wearing diapers and struggling to discern reality from hallucinations for 4 years now, as people spoon feed her in the bed she can't get out of :/ I love her, but she can't stand to have us around and I can't help but wonder at times whether she would have wanted it this way, if she'd had a choice (which nobody does).

Both of them were, I believe, 62 years old - his death, her strokes. It was the same year. They were only 15, when my mother was born. My mother's stepdad, my Pa since I was born, is 80 and caring for Nana. He's starting to fall apart, now, but it's very recent and obviously somewhat related to the enormous burden of her care. All throughout his 60s and early 70s he was walking, dreaming, doing yard work, telling old stories, planning and executing their vacations. He took us out to see hot air balloons take off at dawn, and drug us to hot, bright, dusty things I didn't care too much about (rodeos, air shows with the Blue Angels) that were still better that NOT seeing things or going places. The world has always been very big to him, since he traveled all over it for most of his life before he married my Nana as a retiree and started a kind of second life.

I suppose the lesson to take from every really vital and with it old person I could aspire to be like is, MOVE YOUR BODY AROUND. Every day. Get out of the chair, up off the couch, etc. Keep learning, yes, and keep feeling and communicating, but also keep moving. It's mandatory.

It is so past my bedtime.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Fucking GAH.

Ok! In the past 24 hours:

-a woman was thrown in a van and kidnapped in the parking lot of Grant's job; he and some other people in the office heard her screaming from upstairs. Cops were called. There is video footage, but it's not clear or close enough for identifying the victim or perpetrator :/ For what it's worth, he works adjacent to a nice hotel in a 7 story office building on a main road and this was broad daylight. I'm doing that thing people do, where you hope there's a lot more to this story and it wasn't totally random because then it could be, alright, it's possible this is some kinky consensual shit arranged via Craigslist...right?!?!

-we found our missing cat, Elvis. Dead, under our deck :/ I have no idea what happened to him, and it was not something we could discern looking at him. He hadn't acted strangely, he just went missing and aside from looking for him a lot we didn't know what to do...then it started stinking out there. Elvis was born on my bed three years ago, and used to ride around in my cleavage. He slept with Annie most nights, but Isaac sometimes. Ugh. Grant buried him and it was horrific, just, it is really hot and really rainy and nobody was allowed outside until he was done. G's felt sick all day since. Sophie, Ananda's cat, was at the doors yowling and acting disturbed the whole time he was working and has been lying in Elvis's "spots" around the house all day, since.

-someone whose life I have been following online for about 7 years, and vice versa, announced on facebook that her husband had a stroke driving their son home after work/school yesterday. They're 33. The guy managed to pull over and call for help and seems as ok as he can be, even joking a little in the ICU, but... O_O It's so terrifying and seemingly random :/ This family lives in the greater Boston area and are just getting over the whole city wide terror shit from the Marathon bombers.

I have already been in a state of thinking of my stroke-addled Nana and aging Pa daily, since Aaron and I went up there for the dance convention last month, and have spent the past couple of weeks forcing away shitty thoughts about the abducted women found in Ohio as I allow my kids to branch out and do things. Now my terrible, raised-on-horror writer's mind is seeing all our cats as potentially rotting carcasses and not wanting to handle raw meat. It's pretty terrible.

In an effort to distract myself, while cuddling with Grant, I somehow got sucked into a ridiculous New Times article about a cult based out of central Florida and the crimes, abuse, rape, and so forth they're being accused of now that their guru has died and people are bringing all the stories to light.

How is any of this shit real life? How is ALL OF IT real life? I mean when I was a teenager/young adult I knew of a local cult with a weird prophet-guru, one of our best friends was in a serious relationship with a member and they collectively owned a business we went to a lot. But they were totally peaceful cultists.

Then I start thinking of how people are so desperate for meaning and long for systems of continuity that distract us from the impermanence of everything and how every single thing we do is a way to fill the time we have and make the best of it, O_O You know, as I cuddle and console Elise while she sobs about Elvis being dead.

After writing that first bit - I actually forgot all this crap for half an hour and laughed hysterically just by forcing myself through several pages of - you see what a paragon of depth and meaning I am, over here?


...ah-ight, more pictures from the vault...

these are all from the weekend of the dance convention, away and home... )
altarflame: (Default)
It's hard to finish entries these days. Sometimes I just give up and post the partials a few days later, like now:

I keep getting hit with these weird examples of getting disproportionately upset about something and then realizing I'm making it about me in an unconscious way that is totally irrational.

Exhibit A: Isaac and Elise got to school AT 8:30 (which is when school starts) on Monday and Tuesday this week, which means that by the time they got to their classrooms they were a couple of minutes late - probably almost 5 for Elise since her class is across the campus from the drop off line. She told me last night that her teacher is lecturing her on not being late and she feels like she's in trouble in front of the class before she can sit down. I GOT SO PISSED ABOUT THIS. I understand being late is a disruption, but why in the hell would you penalize a 5 year old? Does this woman think Elise chooses when to get up and how to get ready and then drives herself to school? Rather than shaming her in front of the class, why not send a note home in her folder talking to me about it, since it's obviously completely up to me? Anyway, yeah, I was considering nasty emails and thinking about feeding Elise rude rebuttals and had to stop and be like, ok. Simmer down you weirdo. This is totally about how I was always late and often absent, never had necessary supplies or forms, and was constantly in trouble for all of it as a kid, and consistently felt penalized and shamed for things beyond my control (because, I assure you, attendance and punctuality and art projects were not on my mother's list of priorities). Sigh. They got there early today, as per usual, and I'm considering whether or not it's even worth bringing up in any context.

Exhibit B: Robby - who is my 17 year old nephew, for those who may have forgotten - is in something of a crisis up in North Florida where they live. Basically (Robby is gay), he's fallen in love with this guy and he moved out of my mother in law's place (he dropped out of school awhile back and was supposed to either be getting a GED or going to JobCorps) to live with the boyfriend at his parents' house. They've been adorably happy in this totally unsustainable way, that involves neither of them working or going to school or being awake during the day. I've never seen him in a steady relationship that lasts more than a couple of weeks (it's already been months) and that's great, but the boyfriend's mom moved out and away and pretty much abandoned them there. I don't know the whole story, obviously, I was getting all of this in dribs and drabs because now they need a place to go. My mother in law has given them money and food a couple of times but they just burn right through it. She says Robby can come back and stay with her anytime, but not the boyfriend - and in a way I get that because Robby has snuck him in against her wishes before, and he has burned her in the past with friends taking advantage (I really don't THINK this is about it being another guy). But in our talks about it, as some kind of proof that the boyfriend is questionable or whatever, she said to me, "Tina his mom just up and LEFT? What does that tell you about this family? I mean what kind of kid is this that his mom just leaves him?"

This is my Deep Breathing moment...Robby's mom is in jail. My mom just up and left me, when I was 15, and I was lucky enough to have grandparents to stay with. Just. Ugh. It just put me in this whole fit of wanting to say COME AND LIVE WITH ME ROBBY DON'T DEAL WITH THIS INJUSTICE, COME BE LOVERS AND BE HAPPY AND EAT THE FOOD I COOK - when really this is not so simple, the two of them do drugs (partying sometimes, not addicts, but uh uh), they obviously need to get some motivation to start providing for themselves, Teresa has actually been unnecessarily accommodating and supportive in many ways and still has the twins there in her house, and I get where she's coming from completely. And I have an overly full life as it is in just about every way (time, money, resources, etc all going full tilt) - my kids have to be my priority.

Just. GEEZ! It's not like Teresa doesn't know her daughter has opted out of mothering all along, or doesn't know my history! How in the world could my very loving and awesome mother in law act as though it must be a teenagers fault if they get abandoned?!

(I looked up hostels near them and explained what they are to Robby and gave him links...and I'm mailing them baked goods.)
altarflame: (Default)
I've been thinking about this concept a lot lately.

I've been a compulsive and binge eater all my life - I was staying up til everyone else was asleep to sneak things from the kitchen and feeling self conscious about how I didn't want to move from wherever the food was at school functions and family parties from very early childhood. And I've kinda deconstructed that, and thought about how at home, where I often felt unsafe and didn't really have emotionally available adults, the food was rationed and crappy and sparse, whereas at my grandparents' houses - where we were doted on and showered in love - they totally showed their love through food. Shopping for us, cooking, taking us out to eat, rituals around barbecuing on Saturdays and special foods for Christmas Eve, etc.

But recently I've been thinking about actually being orally fixated and Freud's psychosexual stages and all that poppycock. I was not breastfed, cried it out alone from basically day 1 to sleep, and had a pretty weird, spaced out, unavailable mom who went on to be really weird and ultimately abandon me altogether, as I got older, but I don't really think it's as simple as point a leading to point b. I don't really know what to make of any of it.

I'm just thinking of how I would grind my teeth so badly in my sleep that my parents could hear it in the other room, and how I bit my nails enough to make my fingers bleed pretty often. And I obsessively licked my father, to where he started slicking his arms with salt before sitting down to watch tv to try to break me of it/protect himself. I actually consciously remember my first mouthful of gross salt arm :p And I bit my Nana hard enough to make her bleed twice - she actually has a scar where I supposedly would not let go of her breast and she had to smack me off of it (through clothes).

I think it's really over the top, as all this Freudian shit goes, to actually consider me latching my teeth into the nearest breast that way as a 3 year old, btw, but I also think it's interesting that I did these things to my Dad and my Nana - the people who most reliably and consistently showed me love and nurture. I don't think I ever would have dreamed of doing things like that to my mother, because it wouldn't have been safe.

Anyone who has read me long enough or skipped over to my tumblr has probably had the dubious fortune to hear me rhapsodize at some point about how much I love giving oral sex, can almost orgasm from it, it's one of my most recurring fantasies, etc. I've also discovered in recent years that fingers in my mouth have almost the same effect, and that I will nearly cry from the rejection if Grant doesn't want me biting the shit out of him when he least expects it (though I am completely aware that's inappropriate on my part).

Anyway. All this is in the forefront of my mind for two reasons. 1.) I've started chewing gum in the past year and it's totally out of control, like I'm going through half a pack of gum in the 5 hour block I'm at school twice a week alone, can't drive without gum in my mouth, etc. And, 2.) One of my classes is abnormal psych and one of the things we're studying is cognitive-behavioral psych and restructuring techniques - meaning, rather than trying to go back and discover every long buried and subconscious association that contributes to our tendencies, why don't we just focus on what makes us do these things right now in our daily lives, and how we can alter that behavior in the present. Kinda refreshing, eh? :P

I'm also vaguely curious about whether or not I could sub out gum or a tongue piercing (shudder) to play with 24/7 or something like that for EATING ALL THE DAMN TIME and actually effectively lose weight. If only Grant could quit his job, and I could just chew on him and kiss, all day...fairly certain that could work. As it is with him on his fourth business trip in a month, as I attempt to alter my diet in a positive way, my jaw is actually hurting from being clenched all the time. I'm constantly having to make a conscious effort to relax my face. Which is fucking weird.
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UGH, I am such a MESS right now!

My mother just called me, my grandfather (Pa of Nana and Pa) had his heart surgery today and there were touch and go complications, and now they're in "wait and see" mode, and dude:

1. She just described surgery and the ICU setup and procedures and complications in depth to me, which is not something I really enjoy, and she is obviously needing me to make it better, tell her what to do next, and so on, which is something I try hard to avoid these days.

2. I'm really not ready for Pa to die :/

3. Nana is on pins and needles in a nursing home and can basically never go home if he's gone

4. I'm not sure I can fucking handle it if someone's else's planned surgery goes radically awry. Keeping in mind that my Nana only had strokes because they screwed up hers. And I still need more. Because someone screwed up some of mine in the past.

This really sucks.
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I like to act like I don't really care what my mom thinks because my mom is crazy anyway. I know she thinks my house is too messy and my kids are too numerously chaotic and that I weigh too much, and she sort of runs everything I've ever done for my brother through a strainer such that what comes out the other side is me really failing him at every turn, but, you know, whatever. She's nuts! She's always made nutso decisions. She doesn't even read this anymore - for quite awhile now - because she just can't handle my rare, completely honest, fleeting references to my childhood. *shrug*

Likewise, I like to act like I'm totally cool with my Dad, like he's the not-crazy one, the one I can call for advice when the toilet is overflowing or for a recipe when I can't remember how to make something, and he'll show up for Thanksgiving and since he works graveyard shifts he's available when everybody else is asleep. So he has no relationship whatsoever with my kids, doesn't know their middle names or birthdays or favorite things; so his place is not the kind of place we could ever go to visit. I love my Dad and he did some things right with us! I'm sticking with that. I'm nostalgic when I hear Pink Floyd and I'm eager to hear the latest jokes some cab fare told him.

Then every now and then I can't deal anymore and I start throwing a giant tantrum like a giant baby about how I HAVE PARENTS, live, virile, healthy, YOUNG parents and I want to be able to, you know, GO TO THEM for things! Like, "Hey guys, my book is getting published!!!" for instance. I mean they're only right around 50 (him just over, her a bit under). I want them to care that I'm back in college and burning through this first degree. I want them to SEE how hard it is to do good things for all these different kids and that I do it pretty damned well. I just can't imagine being so apathetic and disconnected from the lives of my grown children if they wanted me in them!

I really feel like a flailing melodramatic first world toddler right now, too, because I can call either of my parents up to say, "I'm in the hospital" or "I don't know what to do about Grant and I" or "money is really bad" and they'll lend me an ear all afternoon and call back to check in two days later. That is good; I recognize that. I appreciate it.

But no...I want them to be proud of me.

I'm even worse than that, because my Dad has always been proud of me and does tell me how great my home/family/kids are and how it sets his mind at ease and how great I cook and whatever. But he has no earthly idea who I am. We were light years apart when I was growing up since I was on my mom's "side" and to this day, I mean...I would be really shocked if he knew any of my favorite movies or music or books or "got" my humor or felt like we could "hang out" without it being super awkward. He just does not have a clue what I'm about, and that's kind of frustrating. He thinks the entire field of psychology is quackery and it's my major and also the lens I view the whole world through. I think his eyes would get as big as plates and a vein in his forehead would start pulsing if I admitted to him that I voted for Obama.

My mother has some kind of distorted and infuriating but closer-to-right concept of me as a person, but she's just never been proud of me. She was the mom who skipped school award ceremonies the rest of my relatives came to, stayed home when I was getting baptised, and could never remember the name of the organization I was travelling the country with.

Two things set this off:

1. She called on Isaac's birthday to cry and passive-aggressively make inappropriate requests of me re: a big blowout drama situation with my brother getting kicked out of JobCorps that I'm not gonna go into and never wrote about because, geez man, living it outside the computer was enough. I told her someone wanted a book of mine and I was getting published. At no point did this conversation EVER drift into Isaac's birthday (what grandmother doesn't send a card? HER PARENTS send a card) or did she even mention the publishing. It was like she hadn't heard me. This was sort of the sequel to the call I made to her in January, at my wits end about Isaac's issues/counseling/resulting investigations into our family/etc. She listened and changed the subject to her life.

2. Later the same week of Isaac's birthday, she posts on facebook that Bob made it to Lakeland on the Greyhound "all by himself" and she's "so proud" of brother is TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD. How is that level of patronizing bs not embarrassing at that point in life? I was taking the Greyhound to go see her in Jacksonville when I was 16, and she sure as hell never said she was "proud of me" for it. Or anything else.


My Dad had really interesting and helpful things to say about Isaac in January, especially as relates to our genes. I cannot imagine trying to call him and explain this small press publisher, though, or the actual collection of utter insanity they're currently editing of mine... On the one hand, he's the one who spoonfed me Stephen King my whole childhood. On the other - Just, no.

Hopefully I have this out of my system, now, and can go back to not caring again. I am 30 freaking years old, after all.
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So far it's went:

-Sleep in while Grant takes Elise to preschool and goes out to the store
-wake up to breakfast pizzas & oj, flowers, hugs from Ananda and Aaron, a homemade necklace from Jake, and dozens of well wishes on facebook
-take a nap with Grant, til he goes to get Elise and then comes back and crawls in bed with me, and Isaac, and Elise
-bedroom door closes for highly satisfactory Mommy and Daddy time
-talk of him grilling me a marinated steak and shrooms later
-trip out to Mama Mia's for bruschetta and cappuccino, in the beautiful weather
-sister shows up to deliver lovely edible arrangement ordered by my mother, which I happily share with children and niece and nephew

(this is where I'm at now)

I mean honestly if this is my thirties I'll take it.

Tangent: this past weekend G and I went up to Winn DIxie in the BEAUTIFUL gorgeous weather on a bike and a skateboard, racing down the same streets we have since we were 13 years old, and it struck me that we were racing down the same streets together that we have since we were 13 years old.

PostScript: Guys, seriously, why can't we talk about whether or not you like it when people talk about sex on the internet, or my weird mood swings, or the pictures I post, or my crazy friends, or college - ? These exploding political threads busting my inbox at the seams, honestly people, sigh. I mean I think about current events at some point every day but I wish I could get a quarter the input and involvement on everyday posts. Ultimately, heated debate of any kind just makes me tired of the subject of debate. <--This is me flippantly whining with a chuckle, ok? So don't come in here like OH MY GOSH YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT THE SUFFERING or I'm just gonna link you to a Rick Astley video.
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I THREW DOWN on some original from scratch peanut butter frosting today. PER.FEC.TION. Chocolate cupcakes to die for. I'm letting a second batch of 24 more cool on the counters for the leftover frosting now - Grant's gonna take some to work tomorrow and the rest will be ours for tea time. We've decided we're making a tent with rope and bed sheets and having tea in it tomorrow afternoon. We haven't had afternoon tea outside in forever.

Aaron and I decided that, during our two hours alone after everyone else in the house was sleeping. Those are the best Aaron times. I taught him how to braid (hemp strands, that he wants to use for homemade nunchucks he's making), and we looked at funny pictures on tumblr together, and then I read him a bunch of poems and stories by Margaret Wise Brown (Mrs Good Night Moon). I also finished this old beaded hemp necklace I started back at Grant Sr's house, while he was braiding, and gave it to him. He loves it and it suits his brown skinned, tank top'd self perfectly.

Grant and I went shopping and got everything for their Easter baskets earlier in the evening. Let's just say we might have gotten a little carried away. For instance, I decided to get a white tshirt for each of the baskets that we're going to tie dye all together after Easter, and we got three different egg dyeing kits (they're like .97 each!), and there may be modeling clay AND candy AND straw cups AND a whole lot of other crap involved, on the "x 5" grand scale. I found a giant hollow chocolate egg that's actually labeled something really grandiose like "The Magical Egg Scepter of Wisdom" and is full of smaller chocolate eggs, that will be the mysterious prize for whoever wins the egg hunt.

Yes, I am throwing myself into them...I woke up in SO MUCH PAIN, today. Abdominal pain. The really alarming kind that means "either this will pass in a couple of minutes or I'm going to the ER today and may be in surgery by tonight". Like tears from the bending required to stand up and get out of bed. It did pass. And I'm just like, alright cool, everything is totally normal, I'm not bothered by this. NOT AT ALL. REALLY.

Rather than be bothered, I worked on this whole "Community" part of Jake's Pre-k schoolwork. I felt like such a bad ass, such a homeschool ninja, because after he wrote out our house #, we went and looked at it on the front porch and he recognized it and thought it was like magic. Then after we came back in and he wrote the street number, we went out to the corner and looked at the street signs and explained which sign is for which street and how they're at all the corners and how that's the one he just wrote, and all the houses on this street have this same street name but they're told apart by the house number. Then we went in and he wrote the town and state, and then I grabbed some mail and I showed him my name and our address as we'd just defined it and he thought it was the freaking bees' knees to understand all that.

My three little kids are usually standing at the edge of the yard waiting every afternoon when the mailman comes by, and he hands the mail directly to them. So they feel highly involved with the whole process. I repeated the whole excercise with Isaac and Elise.

Also - we just started the first chapter of the first Oz book tonight (me and the three youngest). It's the first time I've really felt Elise was paying attention to a chapter book. We're stopping fairly frequently to explain or wonder about something and there are small pictures on most pages, but it's really awesome having her on board and into it. The three of them are all camped out in the tv room tonight to sleep with pillows and blankets, because for some reason sleeping in the tv room IS AWESOME.

This was the second day in a row Aaron did his schoolwork just fine and with no trouble. Beginning multiplication tables and more fractions/graphs. I'm beginning to have a dangerous amount of hope he might keep at it.

Pictures from "Out of Town Relatives Passing Through Day":


Elizabeth! Oh my little niece...

Look at her! We got that chair for her to sit in when she comes over.

Grandma and Elizabeth. That's my mother.

Mother's boyfriend and sister's husband. I snapped this pick and then when Frank looked up I called out "TWINS!" and he scowled at me. Haha.

Elise and Brian (nephew, brother of Elizabeth, both of them are Laura's kids...)

Grandma and a bedgruding Annie trying to play Bejeweled.

I told Brian and Elise to get on the trampoline so I could take pictures of them. They did this.

Hams is putting it lightly.

Laura and Elizabeth. Two of my favorite classy ladies.

Stevie, my 20 year old cousin, and Bob, my 20 year old brother, and Steve, my uncle and Stevie's Dad. Steve and my mom had different fathers and I think they look seriously nothing alike. Maybe that is just me.

As for those other two, I yelled "TWINS!" again, because I call it like I see it.

And here is my handsome, sweaty Aaron trying to make a case for why it's perfectly reasonable for me to let him go a block over and ride go-carts with his friends.

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Ok, yi'zall, I am like, 500 pounds lighter and so freaking relieved, because I have had An Epiphany.

As previously stated, yes, my brother can be a pain in the ass. BUT. (Also previously stated) I've been feeling SO put upon, SO insanely irritated, SO emotional about all of this, way beyond the point he's actually a pain to. I've also been unable to open myself up and do much of anything for him, which sort of defeats the purpose of bringing him down at all.

It's my Mom. Totally and all my mom. I've been suffocating, drowning in the pressure of feeling like she's looking down on me and being so pissed and unforgiving if I enforce any consequences. I don't want to feel obligated and responsible for Bob because otherwise I'll be disowned and lose a parent.

When he actually told her we were going to kick him out, and she actually cried and yelled and then didn't contact me and ignored my sister's email, I got to a worst case scenario situation that somehow...gave me objectivity. Like, ok, THAT? That is not Bob's fault.

She's never thanked me. Not for tucking him in and stroking his hair as a baby, for watching him during all her shifts while he was a toddler. Never thanked me for taking him outside with me everytime I left to play, for meeting with his teacher and helping him with his homework in 6th grade, for playing checkers with him at Starbucks. I never got any gratitude for having him living with us for months at a time as a younger teen, for buying him new glasses, for helping him study for the GED.

What I have gotten, VERY CONSISTENTLY, is "Why did he break that while I was working? Weren't you even watching him?" and "Why did Grant get irritated with him for breaking his Dad's stuff and scaring your kids with his anger?" And a lot of "You don't understand him like I do, Tina" and "He needs me".

Well. Maybe he does. Maybe he did. She hasn't usually been available. He gets a substitute, halfway mom who is either, you know, 11, or has her own kids to deal with. And that has to be good enough, not because I suck that badly but because I am what he's got.

He told me, CRYING, yesterday, that he feels like she's done the same thing his Dad did - dissapear out of his life without looking back. I understand she's extremely preoccupied with MAJOR stuff... but she calls me all the time. She was emailing me for awhile there, saying "Bob's trying to call me again, can you just call and see what he needs?"

So yeah. I'm cutting that loose. I love my Mom, no matter what, but I'm gonna try HARD to not give two shits what she thinks of how I'm doing with Bob because, really? IT DOESN'T MATTER. He's a grown ass man which means she no longer has power which means, NOW IT'S MY TURN. As my sister has pointed out, anyone else who was in her position would walk on eggshells talking to me about him because there's just so much stuff I could say back to her about it. But I never do.

And I'm not going to start. I don't think she's aware I'm making new journal entries. I'm just going to quit giving a damn about her where Bob is concerned. Completely.

With that in mind, and knowing that we are unofficially "not talking" and with nothing else to lose in that arena...I broke down and really got a lot out of viggorlijah and gardenmama's comments and talked with Grant a lot and actually looked at this situation.

I've been very fixated on jobs for a lot of reasons. But, I've completely overlooked other areas of progress, as a result. LIKE, he's went from the first day Frank took him out where he would only ask if people were hiring, to the second day when he actually applied at places, albeit badly, to the third, when he shook managers hands and introduced himself politely and things. The truth is that I know on some level that it's setting him up for failure to demand things he's not capable of. And when you're talking about someone who types "bus" into the search engine and then combs through every result, confused, for half an hour afterward and who doesn't know the months or what "prefix" means on an app...the expectation should be that he continuously improve and keep trying with help, not that he go out on his own and land himself a job right away.

It wasn't quite like that (us expecting him to just land himself a job) - he has had the days with Frank, we did take him out shopping for appropriate clothes, I have helped him with apps here at the house. But I think the expectation for him to go out and do this independently, and immediately, was premature with him. Unrealistc. Totally logical for a normal 19 year old, but if he was a normal 19 year old he wouldn't BE living with me.

But what I really mean about progress is, non-job progress. He does a ton of chores around the house everyday - many WITHOUT BEING ASKED, which is brand spanking new for him. He's GREAT with the kids, all the time. And though he gets mad still sometimes, it's not nearly as often as it was 2 years ago, and I honestly can barely even imagine him moving onto destroying property or hitting oranges with bats to vent it, now, which he used to do routinely. DAILY. Now he just glowers and scowls for 20 minutes, when he's pissed.

Yesterday morning I thought about all this a lot and talked to Grant a lot and then we decided we'd go talk to him about it. We knocked on his door...and he wasn't there. Awhile later I found out it's because he actually put on his interview clothes, left the house, walked and went and applied to all the places he thought were too crappy before, in the plaza 5 blocks away. I told him I was proud of him and he was like...glowing and blushing, it's funny.

So we sat down on the deck swing and made him sit between us, which made him laugh uncomfortably because that basically means hip to hip to hip, and told him listen, we love you and we're just not going to let you fail. You're past your deadline and that means you're doing this OUR WAY now, like, you're sitting down to dinner with us and eating healthy food, you're going places with the family if you're gonna be a part of it, and you're gonna get a job, and you're gonna volunteer and we love you. And then we hugged him. And he got all teary eyed.


He said we should pray about him getting a job and maybe if it works he'll come to church.

This is fucking momentous coming out of his mouth people, you cannot imagine.

So then he and A and A triple teamed the little kids while we went "last minute couple of things" Christmas shopping, including fleece for me to sew him a stocking to match the other huge, home-sewn fleece stockings. His is black with skulls. It's kind of awesome. I also got him bright, his-sized Spiderman underwear, also awesome. And some dark brown cords I hope can begin to branch him out from all black all the time. On sale at Target.

He came out to my friend Kristin's house, where I had a marshmallow-making date, and he played ping pong with her neighbor's kids and helped get an attachment off her pasta maker that was stuck on and carried everything out to the car for me.

I went in his room to get my sewing machine at 11 last night. HE WAS IN BED ASLEEP. It was the weirdest moment of my life.

I'm sure things will be hard and crappy sometimes. I don't think my epiphany = magic. I still have a lot to do and deal with every day. But I'm finding that shrugging it off and saying, "we have six kids" is not so bad. It's a hell of a lot better than an hour long WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO ABOUT BOB hash out everyday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it is Christmas Eve and I am obligated to contact my grandparents, and probably even my MOM. We'll see. Other than this I am not at all stressed about Christmas, like, the craft-presents that aren't done will get done someday, the mess isn't bothering anyone, we're having a good time chilling with the windows and doors open and good weather and Christ is born, Emmanual, God With Us.

Anyway yeah, viggorlijah and gardenmama, I really liked everything you had to say x a million.

Dude, I just realized there are chickens in my dining room. WTF. All cluckity clucking like they aren't INSIDE. I guess they're taking care of the breakfast crumbs, except, no really, gtfo.
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I'm kind of amazed with how productive today was.

I took decent care of Grant and good care of Aaron, both of whom were sick with whatever Annie and Isaac had last week. Annie and Isaac did schoolwork today, significant amounts of it. I made oatmeal for breakfast and scallops and brussels sprouts and things for dinner. I read to everyone a lot, the chickens got plenty of free roaming time, all animals were fed and tended to. Elise's hair was done and her outfit matched and I actually got her to take a nap. Baths happened and we watched educational videos on YouTube and planned a Christmas Eve Itinerary and confirmed our plans for Kristin's house tomorrow, and they even went to bed at a decent time. I also did a much better job with healthy eating than I have been previously.


It's all overlayed with this very crappy situation with my brother. I've had, like, NOT A JOKE, over a dozen "we don't want to kick you out, why in the hell aren't you out applying to jobs right now? Bob you're past your deadline by a day and I've even contacted Shawn about you moving there but, dude, you could be hired already and appealing this decision if you wanted to. You could be up at the plaza going place by place filling in apps, it is 5 blocks away, what is the problem" conversations. He makes half-hearted excuses and light jokes. Today he mowed the front, side and back yards and he played phone tag and sat on hold and re-called and waded through automated options, to get the CELL PHONE my mother sent him activated (on her account)...he instigated and played Scrabble with the kids. He cooked himself frozen pizzas. He did not do ANYTHING related to finding a job. Despite my reminders, my prodding, my half-begging him to DO SOMETHING RELATED TO FINDING A JOB.

I feel very hopeless and frustrated about this situation. Two impossible things happened today:

1. I was in his room, where my craft supplies still are, looking for fabric and notions, and I saw his computer was open to a google search. He actually had typed in the word "bus" in google and had been trying to sift through all the myriad results that come from that. This is like finding out he doesn't know the months of the year; I get simultaneously heartbroken about the massive gaps in his knowledge base that make things impossible for him, and TOTALLY OVERWHELMED by the idea of being responsible for fixing all that. Also, his pride does not help - I have offered before to help him figure out the bus schedules or even ride it with him the first time, to no avail.

2. Apparently he called my mother and told her we're kicking him out during the conversation. And apparently she cried hysterically and freaked out. The one part I had retold to me involved him telling her that we aren't mean and evil, we just can't afford it and I have to think about my family, to which she yelled, "YOU ARE HER FAMILY!" So yeah, this is awkward. Coupled with how I no longer have unlimited long distance (we downgraded to lower the bill, along with reducing our internet speed) to call her, and we're about to have Christmas Eve apart for the first time ever in my life, I predict a rapid deterioration of our relationship.

Also: I realized that the way I post-dated that "I need an agent" post and it is sticking at the top of my lj will most likely keep her from ever seeing another one of my entries in the forseeable future...she just goes and sees if there is something new at the top. I really don't know what to say about any of this. I might email her.

It's hard to not imagining her insane stress levels, up there never sleeping, working and caring for Nana around the clock, fuming and heartbroken about this Bob crap, and totally unable to vent because Laura and I are really about the only people she talks to.

So done with all of this. Done with thinking how Christmas is 2 days away and I can't kick someone out for CHristmas, done with realizing I don't have a stocking or any presents, still, for him, done with feeling guilty for everything all day long except for when I realize there's no reason to feel guilty, and then just feeling like I"m gonna scream. Seriously, this is insane.

What is with how he is mowing our grass and playing with our kids and getting his phone activated and making his lunch? What is with his light hearted jokes? Is he hoping he'll just blend in and we'll drop this whole job malarky? Is he in total denial? He doesn't even act upset about leaving, like, he told me today that Shawn replied to him about how he has to talk to his landlord and then he'll contact him again. What?

*shaking it all off*

I'm not completely rid of this stomach virus gradually making it's way around the house. Stomach trouble + feeling cold really makes me anxious and irritable re: my whole messed up abdomen could be back in the hospital bs. Involuntary nerves...

My husband is SO. AMAZING. He cradled me, and stroked my face, and fanned his fingers across my back, and held me petting my hair, and so on, until I was not just dozing in and out but DEEPLY sleeping, last night. This after layering blankets on me and getting the heating pad for our bed. LIke I swam up to consciousness 3 times, barely, to feel all "MMMM" because it was still happening and drift off again. He is so much better than insomnia, and I cannot wait until he's off work and heading home (30 more minutes).
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I am alternating between, "Happy, in a subdued, heavy and calm way" and "sad, in a loved and blessed but still down" way.

The pediatrician called back and my Jakey is ok, just a flu and he's been seeing fevers go for days and days with this flu. Lots of fluids, keep on nursing. Jake's in sweet sleepy spirits most of the time.

My Mom talked with the neurologist and he's saying my mom and Pa need to make a decision about whether or not to "let" my Nana die by no longer feeding her.

Elise is stringing words together and wants nothing more than to kiss me 500 times a day. She makes hilariously confused faces at me when she sees me crying my eyes out.

My Nana is only 61. She was in good health with a full time job 3 months ago. She was going in for a planned, scheduled preventative surgery.

Aaron is not only riding all over the house on his back-from-the-shop unicycle (and the repair was free as it's under warranty, woo-hoo!) but he's done little HOPS on it twice now that I've seen, AND he just finished his first chapter book. He also teared up with me in the kitchen discussing Nana, he understands so well. "This is how it would be for me and Annie if Laura died, isn't it?".

My Mom will be so alone if my Nana is gone, she's newly separated from her douchebag husband and her father just died a couple of months ago, TOTALLY unexpectedly and out of nowhere. She's lived at the bedside for the past 2+ months...

Grant is holding strong not eating sugar or white flour with me. The last time we did this particular thing together was late 2004, and we lost a ton of weight and it was great. We're also doing Wii Fit together and watching this new to us show Kings that is a great thing to cuddle up with when the kids are in bed, while I work on Isaac's ripple blanket. I'm going to need more yarn soon. My blasted cat has learned to cut my strand in half with her teeth, too, which is hilarious yet irritating.

We all had so much HOPE because of this hydrocephalus thing, they were putting in a drain to take out excess fluid and that would explain how she was acting, it would FIX how she was acting, but instead she now talks in what my Pa calls a "Linda Blair voice" and has conspiracy theories and has lost what little vision and short term memory she seemed to have.

Numb and heavy, I worked with A and A to clean out their entire room this afternoon. I feel better just knowing that room is squared completely away, it was HORRENDOUS. Tonight, slightly lighter from Grant being home to talk with for awhile, we put their faces in the Daily Prophet on the Harry Potter website, complete with swirling mist and captions like, "Newest Azkaban Resident".

I had this ridiculous thought today, so shallow and dumb but it just cracked me in two to think, when thinking of Nana actually DYING, "I should have written her secret barbecue sauce recipe down somewhere safer..." I cried until I could laugh at myself. I think I keep blocking it out, because she is in the back of my mind all the time now.

I reach up for a loaf of bread and remember reaching into the pantry pregnant with Annie and her warning me the baby's umbilical cord would get strangled around it's neck if I reached up that way.

I see that the top is off the cannister of oats and remember her warning me about oat bugs.

I pick up a package of sausage and remember the weird Pennsylvania Dutch accent that made her say it weird. Summer sausage, usually. Or "Keeyoobossa".

And I always come back around to the ironing board outside of the utility room, popsicles with the wrappers around the sticks delivered straight to the pool (Don't let those stick end up in the drain, Pa will have a fit!) and then I end up leaning against the sink with Grant holding me and it just sucks, you know?

My Nana made a lot of wacky mistakes, she cut our hair while it was in ponytails? She said rooms "reemed" of smells, she drank too much when I was younger.

But she stopped, because I was going to have a baby.

I took showers with her, when I was little, light streaming in the window and Pa mowing outside.

We made fun of her too much. She said, "If you keep eating that way the whole pregnancy, you're gonna be as big as a house!" and Laura said, "SHE HAS A TENANT!" She said, when I started my period for the first time, to "wipe until it's ALL GONE" and Laura and I talked years later about how it just keeps coming, Laura said, "Does she want me to light myself on fire?" and we almost died laughing. She was always leaning her head into the dark room threatening us with some imaginary dire consequence if we didn't hush and go to sleep, because we spent all weekend there so many weekends.

Bows stuck on her head at Christmas Eve (27 Christmas Eves), my horrible menopausal overbearingly temperamental boss at the warehouse as a teenager, I told her I was pregnant and she actually stood up and yelled, "DON'T EVEN TELL ME IT'S FUCKING BOBBY!" But we laughed about that years later. She laughed about it with me last year.

She grilled us steaks every Saturday night and she is why I love Elvis and why I hate Savage Garden and newer Cher. She dusts the lightbulbs and the top of the fridge religiously. She made me use a damp cloth to go over trailing philodendrons LEAF BY LEAF to pull tiny little white bugs off by the hundreds so the plants wouldn't die.

She is why I always had good bras and Laura got braces. And she tried, so hard, standing in the bathroom with Frank with the light off to see his glow in the dark tongue ring. "Man, that is SO NEAT".

When my Nana wants to pull something off the front of your shirt, first she has to say, "Now, I'm not getting fresh with you" and she still holds a grudge, I'll bet from her bed in Lakeland Regional, that I bit her so badly when I was 2.

When we stopped on the way back from Boston she told me "that baby is just fine. There is not one thing wrong with her, you can see it plain as day. She is perfect, Nana has spoken".

And she is perfect, and as Ananda pointed out today, she will probably never remember those first two Christmas Eves.

Writing this all down makes Nana seem so close that it makes me nervous, like I need to keep glancing behind me in the too-quiet house and I just want to close this and run and dive into my bed with Grant and Elise.

How are they supposed to make this kind of decision? To give up? It is wild, just wild, how different the rollercoaster of ongoing hospital stay and shifting updates is, than the finality of death. Part of me thinks it's right, that she would not have wanted to be this way, me wondering whether it's right to take the kids around her how she is and my mom a mess taking her abuse day in and day out. Diapers and can't move one side at all and spoonfed by other people. Another part of me thinks, what is wrong with this neurologist? She's not hooked to life support machines. Or anything like that. The only drugs she takes are psych meds, xanex and wellbutrin and sometimes sleeping pills. There's a new anti-hallucination one, that is obviously not working. Part of me thinks, take her off all the drugs and see if her brain does any better. What is there to lose? I mean he says 60 years ago she would have already been dead, but what does that even mean - 60 years ago there wasn't enough compassion to feed a person or change their diapers? They didn't have spoons back then? I'm recommending a second opinion. I'm trying to let Pa know we love him even if he is not part of "Nana and". I'm trying to be there for my Mom. I'm trying to block it out, unsuccessfully. I'm doing not enough, because I am too far away. I feel guilty, because it is easier being far away.

*heaving sigh*
altarflame: (nosering)
Today was a horrible day.

I had everything going against me from the get go - very little sleep last night, back to eating healthy and in moderation (i.e., goodbye coping mechanism), and Ananda is having a "birthday tea" on Sunday and so begins the Clean Up For The Party shannanigans, which always leave me somewhat overwhelmed...

Still and all. I was trying, I really was.

My Dad called, crying - and it kills me, I cannot stand my Dad crying, I have heard my Dad crying more in the last month than I previously have in my entire life, I think - because, 1. Madie (his very very long term girlfriend) is...wait for the hospital. She had a heart attack and then lolled there in his arms while he tried to force feed her aspirins while they waited for the ambulance. She was admitted yesterday. Then, 2. today my Aunt DD, who is now caring for his dying father (who I call Pa), called him...Pa is getting out of the hospital again in central Florida but they want him to go to a convalescent home. DD says it is a nice one. But Pa doesn't want to go, he wants DD to take him home. But if DD does that, Pa loses his insurance coverage (Medicaid) by going AMA. And there is no question he'll end up back in need of hospitalization very soon. He says - Pa says - why can't I just go to Arthur's and die there? I'm dying either way, I don't want to be in a convalescent home. Arthur is my Dad, Pa's son, DD's brother. Arthur also has to work 12 hour shifts driving a cab to even eat right now, and his girlfriend is in the he has to say no. Because Pa would be alone, all the time. And isn't even supposed to be alone for, like, an hour. And this really sucks.

Then I talked to my Mom. Who is still camped out with my stroke-damaged Nana, mourning her Dad, skinny from the misery of new divorce, and damn it all...I don't know. I wrote THAT Pa, Nana's Pa (I grew up with a Ma and Pa, who were Cuban and paternal, and a Nana and Pa, white and maternal....) - I wrote him this big long email about my own neurology references and links and book titles and therapy knowledge and blah blah blah...they are facing some very heavy, heavy choices about whether or not anyone with the resources to do it has the wherewithal to bear tedious, frustrating, seemingly endless hours every day of helping her to get better...or whether they are going to accept her as she is now. Meanwhile, he's made the decision to sell her car, which is effecting my Mom badly. And my brother still being in Titusville, sort of stranded at my aunt and uncle's house is also effecting her badly, as he wears on them and they wear on brother is kind of irritating as a houseguest, let me tell you, and old enough to be WAY more independant than he is (he'll be 19 in July)...and yet, I know how she feels, because he is woefully unprepared to magically turn into All of a sudden. Now. Out of necessity because my mother in indefinitely indisposed.

And my Nana gets snippy and mean and argumentative with my Mom, who takes it personally, and feels terrible, terrible guilt when she loses her patience in any small way.

Such a lot of heavy crap.

Let me state for the record - if we all lived closer together - I would be visiting my Nana and my Pa all the time in hospital. I'd be cooking meals for my non-hospitalized Pa. I'd be making my mother laugh in person. I'd be helping to motivate and guide my brother. My sister would also be doing all of these things. And, our kids would cheer up my father and give his life meaning where all the other meaning seems to be slipping away from him. As it is, though, we act as though this entire state is our hometown and so everything is 3 to 7 hours in the car. And the strain is so much more, on everybody, as a result. I hate feeling helpless and far away. And I can't help but feel resentful, sometimes, that my grandparents and parents all chose to raise us HERE, and then scatter, themselves.

Completely obsessed with this song, which makes everything better for 4 minutes and 27 seconds.

Also, in far too much of a way for me to just not ever mention is insane the degree to which really emotionally connected and intense sex fixes EVERYTHING, for me. I don't know what my deal is, if it's good or it's bad or it makes perfect sense. I am the emodiment of Theology of the Body. But geez, this has sat open for a nice long while and now I feel like a warm, safe bowl of pudding. With a hickey.
altarflame: (Default)
So, I couldn't write about it here because I didn't want her to see it, but yesterday (Monday) afternoon I drove up to Lakeland for my Mother's birthday. She is 45, and seeings how she is newly separated from her cheating and cowardly husband, her father just died a month ago, and she is living at the hospital with her mom who just had two strokes and is now brain injured...well, let's just say "What a shitty birthday".

-It was very bizarre to have an overnight trip BY MYSELF, I just went, without Grant or Laura or kids or anything
-I am really glad the Prius is so easy on gas
-I adore my iPod and like talking hands free with Grant's phone (Blackberry, he's such a...blackberry...owner :P)
-my mother is EVEN THINNER...she's dropped from 165 to 118 through stress-induced starvation over the course of 6's really crazy. In jeans and a hoodie when I got to the hospital I felt like I almost looked older than her.
-she was really happy to see me, and I was so glad :D
-I was very happy to be able to send her to Nana and Pa's house to sleep in a bed for the night while I stayed with Nana - she needed it.
-I was really shocked at how hard it hit me to try to spend the night in a hospital room, and how much crap it stirred up for me :x
-I was very happy with how easy it was for me to get into my Nana's head and understand what she's thinking and make her laugh and things...
-VERY VERY moved to watch Pa kiss her, do her therapies, feed her breakfast one bite at a time, encourage her, and generally just embody what marriage should be. I teared up over and over, even though he is going through these motions with no drama or sentimentality at all.
-intrigued to watch her make new milestones...she's gradually using her left hand again, and now the wrist.
-heartbroken in general to watch her call the cat and warn me about wildebeasts and see her doing random repetetive motions she doesn't realize
-humbled at how grateful I was that *I* am not the one there 24/7, because it is so, so mother is basically giving her a sip of something, answering her questions or adjusting her blankets as she goes from hot flashes to cold spells EVERY MINUTE.
-it kept striking me over and over how radically different I apparently eat than other people...I've just tried to keep moving in a healthier and more energetic and weight loss oriented direction, and nutrient dense because I'm tandem nursing still and can't take supplemental iron anymore and all...basically I usually eat a lot of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables in various forms every day, only whole grains, only trace amounts of dairy and limited meats, heavy on the nuts and beans and olives. Fats are either smart balance or olive oil. We use sea salt. And, well, there are inordinate amounts of fair trade chocolate ;) Which really does taste better! I love food and eat a lot and it's all really good...I don't ever feel, like, deprived. Then I set foot in a Denny's? A hospital cafeteria? Or I go driving down the street looking at drive thrus? Let's just say, holy shit. It's impossible. There are NO truly healthy mainstream choices for a person on the go. It's easy to integrate however many standards or caveats you want to into what you eat at home, but then you go back out into society at large, and, geez. I felt so heavy and awful by the time I was headed back, and sniffling and sneezing and I even have new pimples where there were none. I've gotten to some kind of point where everything processed or "Fast" or fried at a diner has the same/no taste and just seems disgusting, which on the one hand is obviously positive...but on the other hand leaves you feeling like a seriously elitist fool when surrounded by grief and rednecks in a central Florida town. I thought about this kind of stuff a lot...I was in a hospital where most nurses and visitors I saw were very morbidly obese and I'm watching my relatives (and Grant's :/)all fall apart mostly due to cigarettes, alcoholism, diabetes and so on related why do I still feel guilty when my mom is trying to convince me that some peppers in a cheese smothered omelette with hashbrowns and reheated sausage "are vegetables"? Like there's no way I could possibly argue? Blah. I tried to find a Whole Foods with the navigation as I was leaving and the closest one was FIFTY EIGHT MILES AWAY.
-Central Florida in general is so not my Florida, food and crap totally aside...egads. I feel like I'm on another planet or something.

Other Updates:
-my Pa, my Dad's dad, has been denied the triple bypass he needs because his heart and lungs are too weak to manage it...they've basically sent him home to die :/ My Dad has been having a really hard time with this, and I am preoccupied with it, and him...
-Teresa, my mother in law, is no longer able to have pain relievers she desperately needs for a bad neck thing because they're causing bad side effects, and can't have surgery for it because of a degenerative bone disease, and is in a brace and it's just scary :/ Scary scary, she is a wonderful woman and a great mom to Grant and a kickass Grandmother and, also, is raising Mindy's kids and has been pretty much since birth...*sigh*

It was so nice to get home. So many small excited people happy to see me, such a warm yummy husband and a nice old house. We had tacos for dinner. And for the record if you fill a taco shell with refried beans, sliced avocado, sliced black olives and diced tomato, it will be really good and really good for you and *I* won't wake up in the middle of the night with allergy attacks or be eating 25 weight watchers points at once like if it were mainly meat and cheese with sour cream on it.
altarflame: (Alice)
Aaron's cat, Peter, is still acting as though he just got back from 'Nam around everyone in the house - leaping from a litter box amidst a fine spray and diving under furniture as soon as anyone enters the room, and so on. Except with Aaron, of course, who he nuzzles and loves on and purrs loudly with. The other night I peeked in his room and Peter was in some kind of state, I could hear him purring from the hallway and he was acting like he wanted to fuse himself to Aaron's shoulder and face. He was laughing and scratching him and said, "Look Mom! Peter's in love with me! He wants to marry me, and make millions and millions of little cumans!" Oh, Aaron.

So. This has been Surreal Week for the Walker family. I have been having extreme dizziness from antihistamine withdrawal (OF ALL THINGS), Grant is in Tooth Pain Hell, and so both of us are largely useless as my mother calls with updates every few hours because my Nana is in the hospital. She had aneurysm (sp?) surgery a few weeks ago, and it seemed to go very well. We sent flowers and called her and it seemed all good. But it turns out that some thing they did wrong in there was blocking an artery from supplying blood to her kidneys. Two weeks of undiagnosed kidney failure later...and we're dealing with all kinds of horrible effects. She's in the ICU, with my poor mother who is still horribly grieving for her Dad that JUST DIED two weeks ago (her parents are/were only 61 years old here...) Nana has significant neurological damage from swelling around her brain from excess fluid buildup while her kidneys weren't working. She can't move one leg, can't see well, and doesn't know what year it is...this is my Nana who I lived with throughout high school, who we go to be with every year for Christmas Eve, who has a full time job and takes vacations...who's husband that is still fit and active is 18 years older than her.

As I've sat in my office with the room spinning, trying to avoid standing, trying not to dwell, trying to help Grant feel better with heating pads and liquid tylenol and chewable Motrin because he can't take pills and hot tea and distractions of every womanly sort that can be mustered when one feels that they're falling down while just sitting there...I've been doing a lot of browsing around online.

And I've found some awesome stuff! For instance. Alexander McQueen, who I think rocks, has designed some clothes for Beth Ditto. Who is fat. And unashamed of it. And beautiful anyway, in a way that SHOULDN'T BE SO SHOCKING. Like...ok. I am not someone who thinks all fat is good fat or that it's awesome to be huge, I understand there are real health risks and it's important not to forget that. But, I also know that you can take two people and feed them both the same thing every day, and one will get fat while the other stays thin. And I know that a large proportion of Americans are overweight, and yet we continue to idolize EXTREME thinness as the only thing fit to be displayed in any arena, and eating disorders and our young girls and blah blah blah. So anyway this singer who has so many cool things to say has nude magazine covers, she has spandex costumes for onstage, she says that growing up her mom and grandmother would tell her not to wear a bikini but SHE never thought she shouldn't wear a bikini. She thought she wanted to wear a bikini. She thought it was just her body and not so different from a lot of other bodies and what the heck was the big deal that the mere sight of her could offend?
Cut cuz there are four fairly large pics here, including some non-graphic nudity )

Even though I am not really into nudity on magazine covers in general...I can't help but think how AMAZING it would be if there were more like THAT in the grocery store checkout lines. How different all the ladies might feel as they checked out. I mean, wtf, there are guys that like this. This is what was being painted as the pinnacle of beauty for, oh, THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Why do we try to program everyone to think only one thing is beautiful now?

I am also really hoping my kids join forces and buy me this for Mother's Day:

Browsing through it on Amazon is an ethereal experience.

It is really horrible to imagine my Nana permanently mentally impaired. I know so much about neuroplasticity because of all the lay reading I did when Elise was born, and I have some hope, but she has a lot of strikes against her...age, sedentary lifestyle, lack of enthusiasm for new/challenging activities. Still and all the word is that she is in a fighting mood and they'll be starting physical therapy. *sigh*

Aside from being freaked out that my grandparents suddenly appear to be dropping like flies just because I love THEM in their own rights (my Dad's dad has also recently been hospitalized, and I've been talking with him as well...) it's also terrifying to me to feel as though there is some buffer being removed that protects MY parents. Like...once my parents' parents are gone...they're next.

*sigh again*

I set up a flickr account to chronicle my stolen images, btw. I doubt I'll be posting them all here. I'm just altarflame there, too, like most everywhere.

I'm also doing incredibly well with super healthy eating, and feeling good about that...I'm sure I'll expound soon, probably with pictures of weird and wonderful things like cheeseless pizza.

Lastly, Elise's 2nd birthday is May 1. And I am very excited about it. How many THOUSANDS OF TIMES have the Boston peds' words rung through my head? We'll know more in a year - we'll know A LOT MORE in two years, that is huge... And the first, oh, five thousand of them, two years seemed impossible to wait for. "One day at a time", like being boiled in oil to wait and to see what would happen. I am ready to celebrate this miracle child.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
This evening I made a big old wok of stir fry vegetables (terriyaki), a big pot of chickpea noodle soup, and a yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and some of my strawberry filling. All from scratch, all good. And a lot of 10 minute boil in bag brown rice to go with the stir fry.

Every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep last night, I saw my Grandpa's dead body in the funeral home. I cried a lot in the funeral home. I'm still not completely sure why; it was some combination of having known him in life and seeing his dead body, being near a dead body in general, and the overwhelming pain and grief my mother was feeling. Basically I was standing in an emotional tidal wave and there was no way not to get sucked under.

This is the third time I've been near a dead person. It always unsettles me terribly.

It's just so fucking intensely obvious that it is not the person anymore. SO MUCH of how a face looks, is the personality that animates it - even in sleep, even in a coma. I really don't understand how anyone could see a dead body and not know that souls exist. What was gone. What is something else. Vacant, and decomposing.

So those first few hours in bed, I had all these cyclical, exponential thoughts. Round and round, wider and wider...
That is going to happen to me one day - all this flesh on me will be just a carcass.
It's going to happen to everyone I know or ever see.
Everything is so temporary, so changeable, we are all gradually falling apart physically.
Sometimes, people go into the hospital and don't come back out.
Sometimes, there is something going wrong inside your body and you have no idea until it's too late.
It's going to be our parents, before we know it - mine and Laura's, Grant's and Frank's.
Not just that Grandpa died, but my Mom and Dad and Teresa have all been in the hospital for serious things now, in these past years.
My Nana!
When I was in the ICU, I had such a thick and solid wall up, blocking out my emotions, that nothing I perceived can be trusted. But it seemed, it really seemed as though everything was trying to fade to black, as though that's all there would be, if I let go - just black.
Could it really actually be possible that Grandpa is in Hell?
Could it really actually be possible that Grandpa is in Heaven?
I was so afraid of my parents going to hell as a 6 year old in Baptist school.
Everything is so temporary, my mother refusing to come to church where I was getting baptised, my mother getting baptised in a church, my mother in the My Dad years, the Jud years, the (golden) Todd years. My mother now thin and fragile and different, no boundaries, but looking like her old self for just an hour before she left.
Except skinny like she was 17 and in my baby pictures.
I say these things, these wild hyperbole over the top things to joke like I'm so old, but they're ACTUALLY TRUE:
-The bridge I drove over all the time in my remembered childhood is rusted railings falling into the sea and 9 foot trees coming up through the asphalt
-my baby videos are silent flickering things converted from old reels
What will my Dad have left to live for, if his Dad dies? He drives a cab, he lives with Madie, and he takes care of his Dad. That is the important part.
My daughter will be 9 so soon.
My baby will be 2 so soon.
My brother was my 2 year old baby.

It was a long time getting to sleep full of intense dreams.

Grant is still sick. We have been talking a lot about all of this. And I ran a lot of errands with Ananda today - Publix, post office, CVS for a picture print, PetCo for hay and litter.

God feels so real to me. Not just real...always real. He seems so CLOSE. I keep praying and having the sense of turning to yell to someone and finding myself nose to nose with them, and being like...oh. And adjusting my volume. It's how I felt in Boston, and at camp. I spent an hour on the phone with my Dad today. And my mom called 3 times. I pray Mother Teresa's prayer; Speak with my mouth, touch with my hands. I don't know how to explain what I mean except that I FELT my prayers working, in the funeral parlor, I felt my mother's pain and I felt how she needed it and I felt it working. Not taking the pain away. Just the sharpest corners, the roughest edges, making it something she could wade through somehow. Holding her up. There are all these little things I start to want to do - to eat crap when I'm not hungry, to slack off when I shouldn't, to give in to little temptations of all kinds, but it's easy...easy to not do them. It's annoying how easy it is, because I want to be more tempted and do them and like them. But it's just so clear that I'm not supposed to, and don't need it. That it isn't what I'm really looking for. And then the words and tones are right there, to say these things to my mother and to my father that are so hard to say, so harsh to say, that need to be said, and then I'm in some state of curious surprise that I didn't offend anyone because I wasn't offensive.

I guess this is kind of cryptic. But it's amazing. I feel so calm, but calm in this very humble, very raw way that has to do with deep connection and faith in surreal times.

I do hope that I sleep better tonight.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
I'm thinking of writing one. To be read on the boat where they scatter his ashes to the sea. I will not be there, but everyone seems to think somebody should write something somebody could read. And I know it would mean a lot to my mom.

He had so many adventures. The man

-played the flute
-spoke Jamaican patois
-cooked authentic soul, jerk, cuban and other foods
-cut hair on a professional level
-left his country club family to be with my Nana-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks
-claimed to have deep conversations with God

among about a billion other things.

The story he told most often was about my mother being born premature, and how small she was in his hands. His 15 year old hands.

I can understand being from somewhere like Quaker country (York, Pennsylvania) and falling in love with Key West.

His body (I can't really think of it as "him") looked horrible to me in the funeral parlor. And that impacted my mom really badly, especially along with the director there's talk of all the cleaning up and prepping they had to do because of how gruesome his ending went down. But our next stop was his sister's house, and she gave my mom a pic off the fridge of him sitting up on the side of a dock, grinning and giving the camera a thumbs up. He'd gotten a charitable (i.e., free) laser surgery on his cataracts and had went from legally blind to all but 20/20 with no glasses overnight, and everybody down there talked about what a new lease on life it was for him.

Digging things up for my mother (his fanny pack, for instance...) around the island was like touring the cast of characters from Big Fish or something. Raging drunks whooping it up and offending my mother for celebrating his life that way, high people weeping and sobbing, and then the honest quiet ones who have good and bad to say but are sad that he's gone. They're actually keeping "his" seat in the Half Shell raw bar reserved until they can make a plaque to hang over it? The man spent a lot of time in the damn bar, what can you do.

I don't even know.

Third time on the rock in like 2 months, for me. I feel like a kid again, like I'm supposed to be down there all the time now the way I used to. I was sitting on someone's white picket back patio, with their teeny tiny peat rock yard and all these shady tropical trees and shrubs overgrown everywhere hanging over all these close spaced tall white picket fences, and the sound of some totally srtanger's raging party 10 feet away and the humidity heavy in the air, thinking...just how deep that microcosm has implanted itself in me. How familiar it is, street performers and homeless people and RICH RICH people, only in flip flops, and almost everyone you see just visiting but the locals easy to spot. Blinding bright bouganvillia and loose wild roosters all over the place. As many rented mopeds, golf carts, bicycles and streetcars crowding the little roads as regular vehicles. I don't even know how to say what I mean. But I drive up and down that new 7 mile bridge running parallel to the one my Dad drove me up and down as a kid - every single weekend - and the old one is impossibly narrow, gone in places with the rusted railings falling into that marbled, vibrant ocean and trees - big real TREES - growing up through the asphalt from salt water and I just think...time. What the hell, man. Time.

I was definitely born there.
altarflame: (Default)
My biological maternal grandpa - my mother's birth father, that is - I call him Grandpa.

He's never been a big part of my life, and when he has it's been pretty negative.

But he always meant a whole lot to my mother, which I tried to understand. It was not always easy. He could be very demanding of her and take advantage a lot and then insult her to death...I got in some screaming arguments with him for the way he was treating her in her own house, after she drove hours to get him because the cops were after him or some nonsense, as a teenager.

He lived on houseboats most of the time, off the coast of Key West. He did a lot of really small time international drug running. I could never talk about this when he was alive because he was wanted under multiple names in multiple places. We had "grand jury detectives", whatever the hell that means, come to our apartment when I was in middle school and serve my mother a subpoena to appear in court - she was offered the witness protection program if she'd turn him in. But she never would. We had a childhood dog once named after him - "Alias". I visited him in jail in the upper Keys when I was about 11. He went to jail with my x-x-stepdad (not Todd, the one before him) in Jamaica and they ate chicken backs (scraps bones, almost starving) and peed in buckets and slept on the floor for months. My mother would call and ask to talk to "the white man" and they'd bring back either her boyfriend or her dad because those were the only white men in the jail. They'd been on a run together. They came home rail-thin, heavily bearded, with scurvy. Scurvy! I always said he was a pirate.

There were times when my sister and I would get our own hotel rooms in fancy places in Key West, when he'd just gotten back from somewhere, and for a week we'd be eating every breakfast at Denny's and spending every evening in a hot tub. And plenty of times when he was homeless for too long between runs and ended up crashing at our place, sometimes leading shady characters to our door.

He died today. He was 60. It was some kind of sudden thing with vomiting blood that led to rapid detorioration - it hasn't even been properly figured out and diagnosed yet. They couldn't keep transfusing him fast enough.

I haven't talked to him in years, and liked that just fine, because he was mean and spiteful and honestly just all around wack. He drank beer all day every day and smelled horrible and used to wake up on our couch and act like my brother was a deck hand - "Swab, get me my cornflakes" (a beer). Beer my mom was buying for him when we were on food stamps. The last I heard he was talking a lot of shit about my "illegitimate children", who's names he couldn't even get right.


But, my mom. My mom was kind of all he had, because he really drove people away from him...and he had driven her away, finally, this past year or so. They hadn't talked in months, she'd neglected to call in January for his birthday and also at Christmas. Both of which are huge things for them to miss. But he didn't care that Elise was in trouble, didn't care that I was in trouble, caused problems for her and Todd and then also didn't care that she needed help when she was getting divorced, after all the years of her helping him. So she finally was like, yeah, I won't call you anymore then. Basically.

She tried to drive down and see him before he was gone, when she got the call. She didn't make it. She stopped here, in Homestead, and I spent the evening at my sister's house, trying to cheer her up, feel her out, help her somehow. She was numb, we got her to smile and chuckle some because we are always "on" around her, performing. Lots of hugs. It's strange because she knows neither of us cares personally about Grandpa. But we both care a lot that she's upset. And especially just coming out of a divorce, already skinny and strained from stress, to lose her father. She was a total daddy's girl. She didn't get to reconcile, or see him alive one last time. I called Grandpa's sister for her, to urge them to please wait to cremate him until my mother can see his body. Which is really important to her.

My sister says she was a wreck before I arrived. Which I can understand. But I was honestly surprised it wasn't worse...she wasn't shaking much, was walking around a little, was drinking tea, when I arrived. It wasn't what I was afraid of. She says, "Wait until tomorrow" ominously, because tomorrow, she's going down to Key West. I'm taking her to church first. And hoping that it helps. Strange ressurection Sunday, for sure...

I called my Dad, to talk about this. He drives a cab in Key West. He is not in direct contact with my mother and hasn't been for a long, long time, but they hear about each other through Laura and I. Anyway, my Dad, he was like, "WHAT? I gave him a ride 2 days ago! Damn!" and so on. It turns out my Dad's been giving him a lot of rides. And so he can testify that Grandpa had an actual apartment for over a month, a girlfriend who was pretty nice, and was hanging out at bars and doing coke and up to all of his old tricks right up til the end. Trying to get my Dad to deal for him out of the cab, my dad refusing cuz he doesn't want to lose his license. Which I conveyed to my mother and hope can be comforting in some sort of dysfunctional way. I think I'm going to end up interrogating my father for more, because it seems through some odd twist of fate that it's the only way she'll find anything out about the past year of her dad's life. My parents only talk TO each other if I'm hospitalized and they accidentally end up in my room at the same time.

I would appreciate prayers for my mom...she's at a pretty tough point in life. Beaten down really hard. Her mom, my Nana, just had a major surgery 2 weeks ago that she traveled to Lakeland to be with her through. And that came right at the end of this horrible mess with her marriage ending in the worst convoluted betraying way. She's ended up living with her brother and his wife, working as a waitress because the economy in Titusville is so bad, driving this old piece of crap she hates.

So all this is dominating my thoughts in a big way tonight. Since about 6pm or so when it started for me.

It's strange, you know, there have been so many points in the past few years for us, watching and waiting while someone is in the hospital. My mother herself, Isaac, Elise, me, my Dad, my Nana. And you sit there with this baited breath and refuse to think the unthinkable. It's crazy that it really happens. That don't get better.

My mom is looking at my weird protruding belly and BEGGING me to get it fixed before it is an emergency :x

ETA BECAUSE I FEEL GUILTY - Positive Things About my Late Grandpa
-he was really great at sailing
-and cooking
-and cutting hair
-and sometimes told a really, really hilarious story
-there was some wisdom mixed up in his non-judgemental way of thinking that I could probably learn from
-he was really into appreciating the little things and realizing how much more we have - even "poor as hell" in America - than people in 3rd world countries have
-there was not a predjudiced bone in his body, he was actually probably my only totally non-racist relative growing up
-he had a peace sign tattoo on his arm that I liked a lot when I was younger
-and made me feel a certain kinship with a whole subculture I'd never have been aware of otherwise - "dock people" in Key West, daily life on houseboats, all that sort of stuff
-he was really great at training dogs and always kind to animals

Before this shift....
My day with the kids was great. We got this HUUUUUUGE box of strawberries from Knaus Berry Farm to make pies and muffins and waffles and syrup and all kinds of stuff out of. And some of their fresh baked bread, cinammon rolls, peanut butter cookies, and milkshakes, which we had in our backyard while we watched our chickens peck around and huddle together.

I have Jeckyll and Hyde kitchen. I started cleaning it really thoroughly this afternoon - clearing and scrubbing counters, cleaning the cabinets, spraying appliances, the floor, whole shebang - and got almost exactly halfway done when we had to go to the birthday party. There's actually a line you can trace all the way up and down where it abruptly goes from spotless and sparkling, to filthy (spattered flour, caked on dripped batter, piled dishes, crumpled wet dish towels...I have been cooking SO MUCH lately). I'm hoping to go in there after this entry is done and extend the line to at least the 3/4 mark ;)

I think we might do our private family celebrating of Easter on Monday. Because I think I'm either going to be babysitting Brian all day long or in a car with my mom most of the day...I miss Grant. He got off for his half the week off, tonight. I'm glad he's so incredibly understanding and awesome.

The kids totally don't get it. They've never even previously heard of Grandpa (though I think Ananda was around him once or twice as a baby/toddler and my mom was still talkng to him or around him a lot when not with us throughout their lives...). It's so weird to ever try to tell them anything about, like...having relatives you don't really like or talk to. Or people being sort of horrible, to themselves and each other. It's kind of unreal, how different their lives are, vs how mine was as a kid.
altarflame: (Default)
I've been having a lot of fun this week.

You see that suspicious kitten? She's saying, "Look lady, I know you want more babies and you're out of luck - don't even TRY slipping me that titty."

I've had great phone conversations with Laura,

We talked again. We're not "not talking" but we're also not talking very much, if that makes any sense... She told me I should look up Kelly Clarkson's video "Because of You" on YouTube because it makes her think of me singing to her. I was like...I don't know. Sort of rolling my eyes? My mom has horrible suspect taste in music, for the past couple of years. She cried, though, telling me.

And then I cried a lot watching it.

Mom, when did you get all intuitive and full of hindsight?

I've also had great emails from Nancy, who's coming down, and met with a plastic surgeon, which was nerve wracking and shaky legged but reassuring in the end...

I found a new livejournaler I'm obsessed with and I'm reading her lj backwards as though it were a novel. I'm 500 entries in. Grant has to hear about her all day and into the night.

I have a lot of new music, through either rediscovering things in our old files from former computers, downloads off iTunes of stuff I forgot about, and reccomendations from that aforementioned ljer.

February is a cram-packed month for us this year. Ultra condensed short month.

You see that calendar above their heads?
There is...
-Hoppy (the other bunny) having her turn at spaying, tomorrow. The other bunny was also spayed, btw. Because it was a girl after all. So there will be no baby bunnies, and I have to say I am relieved. Apparently female bunnies have visible, external vulvas, and I mistook them for something more after watching them acting...suspiciously.
-Grant is out back digging a fire pit right now...we need a fire pit. Edit: It's mostly done. The grass inside the safety ring is all wet now.

-Ananda and Aaron going together to their first sleepover, at my friend Michelle's house, with their friends (2 of her 6 kids) Grace and Kai - this is Saturday night
-them going to a free ballet with Laura next Saturday day
-the 7 of us camping at Peace River, up in Arcadia, Sunday-Tuesday. Three days two nights. We're getting a small propane tent heater because it's supposed to be in the 50s at night. It's exciting, though, the river is really low this time of year and you can find all kind of ox fossils and shark teeth and things on the canoe rides, if you get out where it's very shallow
-Grant and I are going away together overnight for the first time ever, for Valentine's Day. Laura will be here with the kids. We're going to Dry Tortugas National Park. I've been really fascinated with the Dry Tortugas for months now, I got a book about the's been a prison, and a pirate stop. There are shipwrecks and coral reefs to see with snorkels, and baby turtles hatching, and a big old fort to climb up in.
-I'm (presumably, with everything fine at my exam for the go-ahead) getting an IUD
-ISAAC IS TURNING FIVE. Isaac - 5. O_O He says "Hi!"

Jake wanted to say hi too..

-between the 22nd-24th our chickens will be arriving! Well, chicks. One day old female chicks :)

Grant's shed:

The weird seasonal thing our mango tree is doing (along with all the other ones in the neighborhood):

I've been drawing sometimes. I'm not an artist, it's childish colored pencil stuff, but it's therapeutic. And a little nuts.
Don't say I didn't warn you )

I've been thinking a lot about all the different versions of my self that are out there. Because on Facebook, I have high school friends, PATH moms, (rl) naturalfamily group people, x-boyfriend, church camp peeps,'s weird sometimes to see what I say to one and then imagine them all seeing it. Something really good for me has been the church we're going to. They tell it like it is, with lots of scriptural reference and theologically helpful points...and lots of Tolkien and C.S Lewis references...and lots of science and philosophy...and lots of not normally Christian music...all reinforcing the truth of God, the presence of the Spirit, the life of Christ. I can't really get into it here and now, at the end of an already-gargantuan entry, but there doesn't seem to be anyone there who has a "church self" and a "the rest of the time self". It's very raw. They're really trying to go back to the beginning and do it the way it was done in the Gospels, with our particular community in mind.

May 2017

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