Thursday, April 16, 2015
My mother and I have never had the best relationship: she is bitchy, overbearing, and bipolar (legitimately) as fuck. She has a superiority complex, and if you did something, she did it better. Or more extreme or whatever. Did you cut your finger and need stitches? Well, she cut off her entire hand and had it sewed back on! These are only a few of her more undesirable traits; to list them all would come across as an excessive laundry list of "she sucks" that could get out of hand really fast. Either way, our personalities clash like whoa, so we've never quite gotten along all that well. But as horrible as she was growing up, she still loves me, and will do what she can to help out whenever possible. She will periodically send a care package, and we talk regularly. She traveled cross-country to see both girls when they were born, and again to help me out around the house after I had my tubal. So, she's not the most likable person out there, but as my dad used to say, "her heart is in the right place."
With that being said, my mom is dying. She was diagnosed with breast cancer just last month, after a mysterious blockage and infection sent one of her milk ducts into a tizzy. (I was actually the first person she called to talk to about it. My reaction was A) "why the fuck are you calling ME about this?!" and B) "OMG GO TO THE DOCTOR!") She had surgery to remove the duct, but a biopsy was performed on the problematic tissues, and that led to the discovery of two types of cancer lurking around, with one being more aggressive than the other. She was labelled as Stage 2 and told she would need a total mastectomy, and possibly chemo or radiation.
Flash forward to now.
My mother has been officially labelled as Stage 3.
She had the mastectomy almost two weeks ago, but the surgeon(s) discovered the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes while they were in there, so those were taken out as well. However, it turns out the cancer has also spread to one of her lungs. From what I understand it's very, very small, but it's there, and probably getting bigger as I type this. The next step, once she gets her drainage tubes taken out (eww...) is definitely some chemo and radiation. However, she isn't sure if she wants to put herself through that; she was musing about cannabis oil as a less arduous alternative.
As one might imagine, this is a very strange and alarming turn of events for me. I just lost my dad last June, and that's still a pretty fresh wound. (Fun fact: my dad and I would usually talk shit about my mom for saying or doing something that was either fucked up or ridiculous.) So, for my mom, whom I have had some really, really bad times with, to fall ill like this is just amazing in all of the worst ways possible. I didn't think I would have to deal with yet another death so soon, but now I need to mentally prepare myself to be able to cope. Yeah, my mom and I aren't exactly on the same wavelength when it comes to pretty much anything, but -- as clichéd as it is -- she's still my mom, and losing her will be a pretty damn big blow to the family. If, or when, she goes, I will be left with an estranged "brother" and another phone number I will never have to dial again. And it looks like this is going to happen sooner rather than later.
Once again, I have to remind myself (and possibly others) that I am not being a pessimist -- I am being a realist.
Monday, April 13, 2015
For the past few days I have taken to the Twitters to express some discontent with apartment living, specifically regarding children and where they can play.
The design of this neighborhood is basically a labyrinth of alleys that are lined with townhome units on either side. Because the playground here is such a bore (it was clearly designed for bbs and toddlers, and is awkwardly placed at that) the kids have taken to playing outside in the street. They ride their bikes and scooters up and down the alley, and then they can park them in their rightful driveways or garages (which, admittedly, they sometimes have to be reminded of -- especially if a car rolls by) to play tag, or hide and go seek, or even to run into their home and use the loo or something. They are always supervised by their guardians: parents or grandparents who will kick it with one another while making sure the wee ones aren't acting out of line.
|An example of one of the streets. This one has a dead end.|
Do you know how devastating it is for a child to hear that they aren't allowed to go play outside with their friends, not because they got in trouble with their parents, but because some faceless asshole simply doesn't like them doing it? Needless to say, my girls (and their friend who came by) were really upset. Now, I did take them to the park, but that place is just rubbish, plain and simple. There's nowhere for them to ride their bikes, hide and seek is impossible, and it's just not ideal for big kids. Also, there was litter strewn about. Yay.
My neighbor friend told me that she had gone to the office to talk to the management, and was basically told, in a very vague, roundabout way, that the kids weren't not allowed to play out on the street, but that we have some asshole neighbors who would basically just keep complaining about it. With that in mind, I decided to go down there (I had to drop off some paperwork anyway) to find out a little more info.
My chat with the management was absolutely useless. I explained that playing on the street has been the norm, and how us parents would sit together and watch everyone, etc. The lady said that she got that, and that they're really lenient, and as long as everyone on the street was cool with it, then it wasn't a problem and they could play. But if there was even one complaint, then the staff had to act on it. However, she then told me that the kids weren't allowed to play in the street -- because it's a street.
So.... wait. If everyone on the street is cool with it then they can play outside? But they can't play there because it's a street?
As you might have guessed, this interaction left me pretty confused.
All in all, I'm at a loss as to what to do with the kiddos. I was able to meet and befriend (most of) the other people on my block, and my kids have made pals that they genuinely enjoy being around because of how chill the atmosphere has been. I don't understand what changed and when. We DO have a couple of new neighbors, but they have come across as pretty pleasant in the few times we have seen them. There is a couple across from me that is quite unpleasant, with two children of their own (they don't let their school age daughter play outside with us; I don't know why, because she's always super nice and says hello to the other girls when they are out), that has been here long enough to know the routine -- though, to be honest, I'm pretty sure a complaint about some clutter (the kiddos left their bikes and scooters in some crappy spots one day) did come from them, which sucks because they could have totally come up and been like, "Hey..."
I think that's one part of what bothers me so much. Like, if you have a problem, then you should at least have the balls to come up and say something as opposed to getting the management directly involved. There's no need, and it just puts a strain on everyone -- especially since we're dealing with leases and things that could be unjustly considered violations (there's nothing in the lease that says the kids can't play in these outside areas, but there's also a really broad "quiet comfort" clause that goes hand-in-hand with renters in the state of CA). Nevertheless, I want my kids to be able to play with their friends OUTSIDE, as opposed to staying indoors and watching telly. They did enough of that in WA; now that we have the opportunity to actually get out without breaking our banks each time to do so, I want to act on that as much as possible. Unfortunately, it looks like this turn of events is going to make that more difficult than it should be.
Yet another reason to miss owning my own damn home.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I can't believe I've gone so long without writing anything. I mean, I can, but...
having to sell our house (which I miss dearly) and move back to California;
Friday, June 13, 2014
I have been thinking of things to say at my dad's funeral for months.
Jeremy and I booked a flight to Atlanta for the end of June. We wanted to be there sooner; our original plan was to arrive somewhere around Father's Day. The girls would be with us, and they would be able to see their grandpa; talk his ear off about things such as mermaids, and unabashedly point out that he looks way different than he used to. Unfortunately, our plans changed, and we had to push the trip out by two weeks.
Dad died in home hospice three days after we finalized our reservations.
Naturally, the dates, etc. just couldn't be changed, and purchasing additional plane tickets to attend the memorial would result in financial ruin (even with bereavement fares).
Anyway, I know that if I did somehow manage to be there I would more than likely be expected to get up and say something. After all, Dad and I always got on so well. Then a verbal mess would kick off with a nervous glance around the room, and a disclaimer about little ones and language. I don't think it's possible for me to go even a day without using a single swear word. Plus, you know, dick and fart jokes forever, since that's how my dad and I rolled.
To everyone's chagrin I would acknowledge how dysfunctional our family was (is), because I'd make it a point to say that no matter how bad things got, he always did his best to make everything as normal as possible. I would talk about how welcoming he was to people -- how he would always offer folks food when they came over. Plantains, eggplants, rice, whatever. If we had it, he would offer it. He liked eating, and would speak very fondly of BLTs and Katz's Delicatessen back in New York.
I always tried to get Dad to come see me (my schedule was much less flexible than his) so that he could get away from everything and relax for a few days. He had the unfortunate habit of playing the martyr; he would take care of everyone with little to no regard for himself. It's part of why we only saw each other four times after I left Georgia: he felt the need to stay put and take care of everyone, lest the house, or his other affairs, suddenly fall into chaos.
At this point I would likely hit a lull; I'm hardly eloquent, so my words would more than likely fail me (if they hadn't already). I'd maybe stammer about how he helped teach Munchkin how to walk, or something like that. There would even be a chance I'd blurt out some discreetly snarky line meant to call out anyone that should have cared more while he was still with us. We always hosted barbecues and parties, with plenty of guests: How many of those people were around when he fell ill?
I'd start to ramble about how things were when he got sick -- about how we'd still talk on the phone quite a lot, and how, for the most part, he managed to stay in pretty good spirits. Of course, his jovial attitude, and our conversations did eventually begin to wane. Soon, I kept being told that I NEEDED to go see him; he looked much worse than he sounded, he was fading; the cancer was eating away at him too fast, etc. Seeing me would make him so happy. "Here, talk to him, tell him whatever-whatever," because, somehow, I was thought to have some sort of magical, cathartic influence over him. If only that were true. After awhile he started to make alarming statements -- like when he said I would cry when I saw him.
Much to maybe everyone's surprise (I would give the room a look) I walked into that hospital room and I didn't cry.
I did have a hard time watching him struggle to do simple things, such as turn his body even a little bit.
For whatever reason, I've become something of a nervous talker so, if I were to even make it to this point without being ushered off the podium, I 'd more than likely start to babble on about the short trip I took over Memorial Day weekend. Everyone thought it was the end, and when I talked to Dad before he went into the hospital he freaked me the fuck out. So, I found a way to get on an incredibly uncomfortable red eye to go to him. I insisted on staying with him in the hospital, but ultimately wasn't sure if my presence accomplished anything. I couldn't help in any capacity, really. I tried, but I failed miserably. He also kicked me out of the room for a little while because he was embarrassed and frustrated that his frail state wouldn't allow him make it to the loo in time to avoid disaster. He yelled at the nurses too though, so whatever. It was nothing personal, and he apologized shortly thereafter.
Knowing me, my brain would hiccup yet again, and I would shift gears to our last conversation, which was on the 7th. He actually called me, which was amazing, since he was always too tired to sit and chat. Seeing his name on my caller ID was legitimately exciting. Like... it was on par with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. Yeah, I'm lame.
He sounded hella exhausted, so we didn't speak for long -- maybe about fifteen minutes or so. I was glad to tell him that, after a few setbacks, Jeremy and I and the girls were finally going to get out there to see him. He said, "three weeks is a long time..." and gave me a line about how we're supposed to "jump over" our setbacks. (I let him know that I tried, but tripped.)
I think that, if I were to lose my shit even a little, it would be here. If I decided to keep prattling on, that is. I don't think I would full on cry, though. Conceal, don't feel, don't let it show -- especially in a room full of people, some of which being near or complete strangers.
The last thing that Dad told me -- before we said "I love you" and "bye" -- was that he would wait for us (Jeremy and I and the kiddos) on the couch, but that obviously didn't happen so now I won't be able to look at any couch the same way again. Especially not my mom's, since that's where he said he would be.
Regardless of whether or not I were to include that bit in my "speech," I would close out with some cliché (but sincere!) line about how Dad's not suffering anymore, which is infinitely more important than, say, waiting on the sofa. Like... he'll be missed; I miss him so damn much already, but at least he can fucking move without the help of two or three people.
That would be it, I think. I'd reiterate that he was a good person, and I would go sit down, and I would wonder what kind of couches there are in the after, if they are comfortable, and if he's sitting on one, eating a BLT.
(He's more than likely shaking his fist at me for not attending the memorial, while, at the same time, not wanting Jeremy and I to completely break our bank to attend the occasion. He was always really, really cheap..)