One of the ways that I wish American’s talked about death differently is the way we have trouble acknowledging funny moments that happen when we keep seeing the grim reaper out of the corner of our eyes.

When John was 31 and living in a different town with a surgically implanted rolling suitcase / *heart* he lived in an apartment complex.  The town didn’t have a large college community, but this was the kind of apartment complex where 19 year old women moved to prove to their mothers that they TOTALLY had their shit together.  He had a thing for 19 year olds.  There was a swimming pool.  He came to sit by the side of the pool late in the summer while I splashed around and he ogled the women with tans so well established that you could be pretty sure they weren’t working 9-5. I told him in absolute seriousness that if he (with his life support device and epic amount of antidepressants) could talk any of these women into bed that he had total freedom to do that.  For the next woman walking past, “hey there.”

Later, when his body was lingering and his mind had left, his mom requested the last rights (rites?).  The Haitian priest was surprised when none of knew the holler’backs.  His family had left the church 30 years earlier and I had been in a Catholic church maybe once in my life.  Instead of holler’backs we were trying not to giggle.

My mom sent a typo to me via text today.  For a woman whose husband is in hospice, and during the Halloween season nobody would have believed it had they seen in on Damn You AutoCorrect.

Dad’s true voice showed up yesterday to announce an absurd sentence.

The reality can be that ultimately we bring who we are to every situation we are in.  Sometimes, especially around those we love, we are funny.  We mean to be sometimes, and it happens accidentally some times.  Even in sad times, there will be someone who wants to crack a joke to break the tension.  That is ok.

Here is my promise to you, if you ever want to tell the story of a funny thing during a sad time – I’d love to hear it.  Laughter through tears is amazing.

Ok, so there is some illness and some sadness and some general stresses here.  But tonight, I’m going to be fueled with other things.

I like.

I like than when I walk out of N4G at work there is a big window where I can see the north Georgia mountains in the distance. I like mountains in the distance more than i like driving on them so it is pretty much perfect.

I like that there is a Starbucks where I work. I also like salted caramel mocha – mainly for the salt.

I like that my kid is having a touch of Snugglyness which I haven’t seen in awhile.

I like that my husband supports me in so many ways.

I like that Libby had just the words I needed today.

I like chocolate milk, especially with Ovaltine.

I like bourbon, but not with chocolate milk.

I like that I can find most of my choral parts online to rehearse with, and I like that there is one that nobody can find on YouTube.

I like that I’m singing again this Christmas even though first rehearsal I was totally froggy and feverish.  I like that it isn’t my first time as tenor so when the gentleman next to me was making wise cracks about bad sight reading (I’m horrible at it especially in bass clef) it didn’t feel like an attack so much as him humble bragging because his is quite a good sight reader.

I like fall, and the colors and the memories that come with it.  Most men that have loved me first fell in love with me in the fall, and I like that as a bit of a tradition.  It makes me remember them all fondly.

I like orange – from fluorescent to burnt, I like orange.

I like you.  You’re patient and kind.

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So, at work I started a picture on a resting white board and I was pleased when we collectively added to it over a day or two.

My baseline reaction to the question, “what should I do?” Is “make something”. A list, a pile, a clean spot, a game, a race track, a cookie. Whatever. Just make something.

I needed a bit of that myself today a bit. It is a beautiful fall day that could have been filled with yard work, pumpkin patch, and car buying. The reason it wasn’t was strep throat for two of us. I’m run down and tired and a beautiful day was getting screwed royally because napping was the only thing I could muster.

So I napped and eventually had enough energy to get some pumpkins via The Easy Route.

Then I knew today was finally the day to do the water colors I’ve been flirting with for a year in my mind. The ones that would help sate my desire for an impossible fall beach trip. In a DayQuil inspired mania I got out all of my stuff and got them done.

I am sick and distracted and damnit I made something today.

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I’m puttering around after mom has gone to bed. Dishes (sorry,Dave) and recycling (again, sorry), the counter, but not the kitchen table. It has been a long day but we got to the end with everybody safe and sound.

I can’t find the change dish. It is absurd that there isn’t one because it has always existed. In the kitchen usually, but in Herrin it was on the buffet in the dining room. Even at 23 I snatched quarters like I could still get a bag of M&Ms for 35 cents. My brother drinks Dr. Pepper and that drives the cost higher but I grab from the change dish at 14, or 17, or (apparently) 23 so I can get a snack or smokes. Ok, so the smokes was only at 23.

I’m staying in what I think of as dad’s room. It isn’t here. It doesn’t make sense in mom’s room, she has come to the age where she happily dishes out exact change at a moments notice.

The thing is that I have plenty of change right now. After a couple of days of All Cash All The Time purchases I am loaded down with change and I absolutely hate flying with change. It weighs too much (especially carry on) and isn’t worth the energy. I’m flying tomorrow, back to husband and son.

I have all this change, and I want to leave it here, I took so much when I was young and could pretend that nobody would notice a jar with no quarters or dimes.

I have so much debt to the change dish and I can’t repay it all, but this handful here I want to pay back.

I can’t find a way to put it back.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t need to. I want to.

I’ve mentioned my dad is sick. Well, let’s call dying in that he is clearly in the home stretch but is not imminent.

I have debating both internally and with people whose opinions I value about when / how / why to visit now instead of then. Then instead of later. Someday.

It was the eye rolling and hand flapping that came in the immediate aftermath of the words “possible heart attack” that sent me to orbitz for a same day plane ticket. Not because I thought they were wrong, or that I thought anybody was going to try to do something invasive but just because what this man, my father, is enduring WITHOUT A DAMN HEART ATTACK is enough.

So I am with him and mom, and I suspect that when I leave I will kiss him on the head and say that I will see him next month (the planned visit). He has packed up and put down his social graces, but he is still clearly himself, even if he is becoming the pocket sized version.

Still, I am in my hometown in the fall. My ears are cold but a sweater is too much. The leaves on the branches have only changed at the tips. The sky is perfect. The pumpkin stand that had the perfect pumpkins two years ago for Pumpkin Fest is loaded for bear. The hospital I volunteered at is doing the big raffle while my dad naps upstairs and a friend from LLV is down the hall.

I got a big smile when I walked in the door. Today he wants to sleep without people watching. So he will and I will be wistful.

For awhile, a surprisingly long while actually, things in my life were pretty mellow.  Hectic, and sometimes not.  Sad, but mostly not.  Normal – almost always.  Pleasant.  Busy, but not taxing.

I got soft.

I killed an animal with a 2001 CR-V on Saturday.  In the end they didn’t total my car – but that feels insane because anybody who saw my car would recognize it as kind of a POS.  Not totally, but with the glory days a few years ago.  My car is the the high school cheerleading captain of 1994 who still lives in her home town.  Good lines, aging quickly.  So, surely I should get a new ride, but that was never simple – and I doubt it ever will be.

Jeff had a thing a couple of weeks ago that reminded me that nobody sees him the way that I do.  That is a good thing, and breaks my heart at the same time.  Things have turned a corner since then, I think, because the adults we swore would rise up – have.

You would never believe the amount of dental work I’m getting done between now and December 1.

I went to a conference about lung cancer and left inspired and absolutely crushed at the same time.  So inspirational in so many ways and so late, and so stigmatized, and so … I have done some of the things that I set up as goals, and some I have targeted for November.  Still, I am going to post the link here and I haven’t yet because.

We’re taking a trip to Illinois soon.  My dad, you see, is very sick.  He is old.

He is dying in a more tangible way than we ever believed possible in the dorm rooms in college when we knew everything.

I liked it when I knew everything.

So.  Peter Capaldi.

Gotta say, I like him so far.

 

(grateful to the fine folks at BBC for putting this together)

 

Now, I was never Matt Smith’s biggest fan, but he had moments of grace at enough intervals that he wasn’t a disappointment. He was just never going to be my Doctor (Baker & Tennant if you want to know).  I miss Rory still, and I hope that I see River again some day, but when Matt Smith said he was leaving I didn’t weep.  I think his exit was poorly done, but I’m not sure it could be helped after a 50th episode that clearly took a lot of time and craft.

I hated Clara last season, such a waste of a companion, but she’s growing on me this year.  In part I think it is because of the relationship with Pink, but in part because her role in the Doctor’s life is played out as a job as much as like a giddy, grand adventure.  She isn’t a typical companion, and she’s finally acting like someone with a special role.  Not the Impossible Girl – whispy, ethereal and ultimately just drifting around him.  Instead she is the girl under the bed – she’ll put him bolt upright, but he knows enough to lay down when she says.

So, the minimalist magician.  The introduction was … fine …. it typically has such a burden to Proof of Concept that you can’t do much more than march the new Doctor through the transition, the meeting of people, and the choosing of clothing.  The first interaction with the Dalek (we couldn’t wait … a month?) was also … fine … better than the rainbow Dalek for sure.  Still, the combination of blunt and hamfisted is kind of charming to start out with, and more importantly it gives him somewhere to go.  Matt Smith’s Doctor was flat footed and flirty with dashes of really old from time to time.  Tennant was always tinged with joy but had no problem as The Oncoming Storm.  I think Capaldi has the chance to start rough and smooth out over time – and as equal a chance to harden, and I like that my good guy is kind of a jerk right now.

I like him.  He can stay.

 

 

Pick Up – the idea that junk mail should never touch a flat service in my home so I walk it straight to the trash.

Put Down – the idea of tagging 170 things to make $100 at consignment.  I gave up my number, I won’t do consignment again.

Pick Up – the single food commitment of eating some raw vegetable every day.

Put Down – the idea that teaching my son that difference is interesting will (for the first time in all of human history, I know) be enough.

Pick Up – a book of stamps to mail my mother a necklace.

Put Down and put down and put down.

In my circles it is easier to acknowledge Privilege than it ever has been before.  We are, on whole, people who have a safety net of one sort or another.  Our pride may push back, and it may feel like hell but in the end we are not alone, and we know it.  We may be afraid, or broken, or scared, but through friends and family we have people who want (and who can) help keep us whole.

So I’m going to try out another of those power words.  Entitlement.

Right now I feel entitled beyond measure and beyond good sense.  It toys with my self-soothing mechanism of Buying Things, and it promises me a calm space.

When my dad was waiting for PET scan results to see the extent of his current cancer I left work early because I couldn’t stop crying. A friend of mine asked how I would spend the afternoon and said, “I’m going to go buy an iPad I’ve been waiting on.”  She laughed and commented that she had forgotten that is what I did.  I did.  I do.

My skin is doing that bullshit thing it does when the seasons change.  If  I wait, it will settle down but if I get a ($70) facial it will settle down faster.  I have a job now, I want a facial — and frankly a massage ($80)  and my nails ($30) done.  I have a job now and I have less silence so of course I still want to tend to myself.

I also have a car that sounds like I’ve never heard of a mechanic and I’m $2,000 into a $5,000 dental bill.  I have life that needs some handling right now.  Especially for me to make my car goal.

I went to a Cancer Summit hosted by Free to Breathe last weekend, and it was amazing.  It was crippling in the amount of NEED the lung cancer community has right now – the research for such a deadly disease is so amazingly underfunded.  The stigma and the shame that comes with lung cancer makes me ACHE.  In what other cancer is it assumed that you somehow brought it on yourself?  In what scenario would you choose to identify with another cancer instead just because you wanted compassion instead of contempt?

I bought an outfit that looks amazing at a five-story Macy’s in Pittsburgh.  It was a good sale and the cost wasn’t exorbitant but I got it the night after I got myself a surprise Cabaret ticket.  I was exhausted and so very sad.

I will support my friend in her annual drive to raise money for LLS.  John Green wants to buy wells in Ethiopia and Bill Gates promised money to match dollar to dollar if they raise $100,000 in 10 days (GO NERDFIGHTARIA GO!!!).  In the end I bought an album from a man I met a couple of time 15 years ago because he knows Brian and Brian knew John and John is dead.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I need a new phone at about 4.5.  My current phone is 2.5 years old and the home button is starting to get fussy. It will last until I’ve remedied the teeth cost but.  BUT.  I want it now.  It proves I’m ok.  It proves everything is going to be ok.  There is a new model of my phone out and I’ve never gotten one when they were just released – it would be fun.

Like the clothing.

Like the cabaret.

Like the iPad.

Like the massage.

Like the facial.

Feeling sad is a lot of work, so instead I will buy something sparkly and hope that it helps.  I don’t enjoy sitting with sadness so I’ll distract myself with thoughts of what I should get myself or the people that I love.

Or.  As I grow older, and approach growing wiser, I will see myself for all the things that I am and I will feel lost and rudderless.  I will go to sleep early and try again tomorrow.

 

Fast version:

After two years of working part-time or less, it took less than a month of working full-time again before Aspirational Me said, “If I had a little bit more time I would definitely cook more interesting meals.”  Aspirational me is a total liar, that lazy bitch didn’t even come up with Munchie Monday.

Slow Version:

In January I had instated a Civility Bootcamp that had a troubling ending (tl’dr he was delighted when I packed up 90% of the stuff in his room and he never really cared if he got it back).  That is kind of coming to a head right now.

I think that it is a good thing to make sure my useful things have a chance to be useful for someone else if I am done with them.  To that end I’m a believer in consignment and my hometown has a vibrant (aka rabid) consignment system.  Now, it seems (in retrospect) that the spring consignment would have been a good time to make some money on the things Jeff didn’t want.  For reasons I don’t even fucking remember anymore I barely sold anything at the spring consignment.  It seemed right – and occasionally I am a Dumb Dumb – hard to tell what won here.

So now it is time to prep for fall consignment.  I have a new full-time job, and I won a scholarship to learn a TON of neat stuff about lung cancer (cool, given the fact that my 83 year old dad is handling a second occurrence in the last year right now), and ….

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I spent the weekend gathering up every place I had “Jeff’s room” tucked away and touching every damn piece of it.  Stuffies for goodwill (consignment won’t play that), every piece of “precious paper” in the trash can, every multi-hundred set of everything sorted the (OMG) out.  I didn’t clean it, or tag it, but at least I got it sorted.  I haven’t washed the clothing or found enough wire hangers, but it is sorted.

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Aspirational Me doesn’t think this is all headed to the goodwill.  Aspirational me thinks that I’ll work 12 days in a row, and then on the first day I’m home with my family I’ll be tagging 80 pieces of clothing and then heading to the 7 bins of toys.

Aspirational me is kind of a dumb ass.

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