Saturday, April 27, 2013

Did You Miss Me?

Well.  I hadn't intended to be away from here for so long.  It's not that I didn't have anything to say.  Let's face it, I always have something to say, this blog juts makes it look like I think things through before I say them.  Hang around with me for a few hours in person and you'll see that is absolutely not the case.

There's just been so much going on here lately that I haven't had time to form whole sentences and paragraphs.  I was thinking about grabbing my notes and just listing all of my random thoughts for you but that's probably boring and also the notes are all the way on the second floor and I'm on the first floor and I'm only on my first cup of coffee, so walking up a whole flight of stairs isn't happening.

As I mentioned previously, I started a new job recently.  Let me tell you something about starting a new job.  It's not fun (no offense, new job).  I was at my last job for 5 years and 8 months and my job before that was a 12 year gig.  I'm used to knowing what I'm doing and pretty much doing my own thing.  I'm in no way implying they are hard on me or anything is wrong, but I'm out of my comfort zone.  I'm sure it will get better and get easier and I'm not unhappy at all, I just miss not caring a little bit.  I hope that makes sense.  I made the right choice to change jobs, my new job is great and will be better long term, and I'm in it for the long haul.  I'm just not a fan of transitions.

The other thing is that I went from working 32 hours to 40.  Eight hours doesn't sound like a lot, but I realized that's when I did most of my writing, reading, and housework.  I'm still adjusting my schedule to accommodate all of my necessary tasks along with the things I want to do.  The adjustment isn't going as well as I would have liked.

Nathan is transitioning, too.  On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I used to pick him up from school and we'd hang out for the rest of the day. Now I pick him up, hand him off to the sitter and go back upstairs to work.  The sitter is new to our family and we aren't used to having someone in the house who doesn't live here.  Add the fact that Nathan is just like me in how he deals with changes (as in, we rally against them until, exhausted, we give in and accept them), and it's been another tough thing.

It's hard to get comfortable when I know in July it's all going to change again for the summer when Nathan's in camp all day, and then again in September when he's in first grade and our after school arrangements change once again.  But I'm getting ahead of myself as I'm prone to do.

So that's the story of what happened to my time.  I have a whole different post about my mindset these last few weeks.  But there's laundry to do, a T-ball game, a fish tank to clean, groceries to buy, bills to pay, an office to organize (yes, if you've been following along, that project still isn't done!), a house to clean, and that just covers the immediate needs.

I was hoping my time away from writing would help me get stuff done which would in turn make me feel less anxious, but it seems like my plan backfired.  It seems the more I get done the more there is to do. Expect to see less 11 day breaks.  I can't guarantee that's a good thing, though, so no promises, OK?

I missed my friends at Yeah Write this past week.  Sniffle.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Will Carry You.

Labor Day, 1989.

I had been looking forward to the flea market.  I was hoping to find silver jewelry, posters, and incense.  Mom was looking for rocks and geodes for her ever-growing collection. Although she wouldn't buy any, she also liked to look at the antique dolls. She took pleasure in explaining the origin and possible age of each doll based on markings or distinguishing features.

We walked from one end of the fair to the other and almost all the way back, the whole thing a half mile round-trip. About two blocks from the car, I noticed Mom was dragging one leg, her limp growing worse with each step. She was winded and stopped to rest on a nearby bench while I impatiently waited. She complained of exhaustion, but reluctantly rose to walk the last block to the car.

She placed a hand on my shoulder and soon her arm was around me. I came to bear most of her weight as she struggled to continue.

"I feel like I have an elephant on me. I can't move," she said.

"Yeah, me too," I replied.

"You need to help me," she insisted.

"What do you think I'm doing here?"


She would always get this whine in her voice when she'd say "well" like that.  It wasn't the anxious foot-tapping well, it was the well-what-do-you-want-from-me? well.

For the next few yards, I groaned under her weight and she sighed in response.

"I can't help it," she whimpered. She would have been yelling at me if she'd had the strength to force out more than a whisper.

"That doesn't make you any lighter," I growled. I would have been yelling at her if I wasn't trying so hard to contain my frustration.

"Don't be like that," she said, still sighing.

Don't be like what? Don't be embarrassed? Pretend I don't notice everyone looking at us? Pretend I'm not worried that someone I know might see us? Don't be annoyed that all I wanted to do was spend a nice afternoon with my mother and she had to go and ruin it with more of her Calamity Jane Helpless bullshit drama?

Don't let on that I'm scared to death by the fact that all of a sudden my mother no longer has the energy to hold herself upright in the middle of the street and needs her 13 year old daughter to carry her?

When we reached the car, I leaned Mom against it and fished her keys from her purse.  I helped her into the driver's seat. I should have asked how she intended to drive without any strength in her legs, but I didn't.  She started the car.

As I got in, she said, "I'm sorry, 'Chelle.  Thank you."

No one said another word, we just listened to Paul Simon sing "Slip Slidin' Away" on the 8-track.

Blogger's Note:  It would be another 14 months before we would learn that this incident was symptomatic of my mother's not-yet diagnosed multiple sclerosis, the disease that took her life 3 years ago on April 22, 2010.

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Edited to add:  This post was selected as an Editor's Pick and as the Crowd Favorite.  Thanks everyone!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

An Incident Involving My Purse, My Car, and My Face.

For my seventeenth birthday, I was "gifted" the family car.  My mother, no longer having suitable use of her legs, could not operate a motor vehicle.  My older brother lived away at school and did not possess a driver's license.  I, however, had both working legs AND a license, therefore becoming the sole driver of the automobile.

Some would argue that my getting the car was an act of favoritism on the part of my mother.  Other more rational people would see the logic in not giving the car to the oldest sibling who, as a freshman living on campus, was not permitted to have one by order of the university.  And there was the small matter of his not having a valid driver's license.  But more to the point, someone needed to run the family errands so I agreed to take them on and in return I demanded permission to use the car any time I pleased.

One particularly scorching August afternoon, I was tasked with acquiring Diet Sprite, the latest flavor of Snackwell's cookies, and various other essentials.  Irritated by my mother's request, I just wanted to complete my chore and get on with my day.

In and out of the store in a jiffy, I silently congratulated myself on such a speedy trip.

As I drove home, I reached over to the passenger seat to grab my cigarettes from my bag.  The seat was empty.  Darting my eyes between the road and the seat, I realized my purse was missing. I quickly headed back to the store.

I sped into the lot to discover the cart was exactly where I had left it.  I threw the car in park and jumped out only to find the cart empty.  Turning back to the car, I checked the passenger to seat to make sure my purse hadn't just fallen.  I searched, but to no avail.  I couldn't breathe, my stomach churned and the tears started flowing. Sweat was pouring off of me, partially from the blistering sun, partially from my panic.

It occurred to me that I should go into the store to see if the purse had been turned in. I slammed the door extra hard in frustration.  Unfortunately, I failed to remove my face from the car before doing so, thus slamming the car door directly into the side of my head.

I could feel my face swelling.  There was blood.  My hair stuck to my brow and tears stained my shirt.  I was a sweaty, woozy mess.  Still stunned, I closed the door, gently this time, and wobbled into the store.

Turns out someone found the purse in the cart and brought it to customer service where it was waiting for me. A store employee questioned me about my current state, concerned I had perhaps been attacked.  I mumbled something incoherent, took my purse, and left.

When I returned home, my mother took one look at me and said, "Did you remember my cookies?"

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Stump.

It was a tough day.  I left work completely spent, an emotional second to last day on the job.

But it was only 3pm and I still had about 5 hours of time with my son before I'd have any time to decompress.  Our first argument was before we even got through our block and a half walk home from school.  I dragged his backpack, he said.  He was walking too slowly, I said.

He needed pants for his upcoming first T-ball practice.  Heading to the local discount retailer was the last thing I wanted to do, but it was necessary.  When they didn't even have the pants we needed, I could have cried.

I thought grabbing a quick dinner would ease the burden of the evening, but it didn't.  My six year old acted like a three year old.  He talked nonstop, he spilled my coffee by knocking into the table and then cried about it.  He barely ate. We got the check and left, but not before taking his free cookie that came with his meal which he lamented wasn't as good as if he'd gotten a muffin.  I tried not to call him ungrateful out loud but I failed.

Store number two on the quest for pants was successful, but only if success is measured by the acquisition of pants.

Bedtime brought more tears.  His tears stemmed from my asking him to clean up his things.  He decided I was yelling at him.  I honestly wasn't, but I'm sure my tone by the third request to get up the stairs wasn't exactly perky.

My tears were from reading The Giving Tree.  Somehow the book only gets requested when I'm at my limit.  The tree keeps on giving until she is just a stump and then she gives her stump, too. Tonight, I'm already down to my trunk.

Every evening, after all six of Nathan's night lights are turned on and he's still afraid of the dark, I stand by him and hold his hand as he drifts off.  Tonight he pulled my hand in close to his chest, clutching it like a stuffed animal. His arm was wrapped around my wrist and tucked under his chin.  I waited and watched his eyes flutter.  I felt his warm breath on me, slowing down, in and out.  His body relaxed and he was asleep.  I kissed his cheek, then reclaimed my arm as my own.

He will rest.  It will be quiet and I will rest, too.  My spirit will rest.  Tomorrow, my sweet boy will wake.  He will hug and kiss me.  Then he will whine and complain and be six.  He will wear me out.  And at the end of the day I will hold his hand as he sinks into another restful slumber, feeling his breath on my arm.  I will kiss him softly before sneaking out of the room.

I'll keep giving.  If it's what he needs, I'll be the stump.

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