Sunday Easter Sunday

So, who’s morbidly curious about what I did for Easter?

…Thought so. But I’m going to tell you, anyway.

Headed out at 9:45am. Made it to Lakewood (about 5 miles west of downtown Cleveland) in less than two hours. Lakewood Hospital, where Memaw’s staying, is on the same street as Aaron’s grandparents’ house, so we drove past their place first, thinking maybe we could just walk from there. Alas, it was closer to five blocks than the two Aaron had originally thought, so we drove down and found a parking spot on the street (to avoid paying for parking in the parking garage).

Walked into the hospital, asked the receptionist what room Jessie Lowe was in, and followed her directions (hitting the restrooms that were conveniently located on the way). Since Mom had asked me to get hearing aid batteries for Memaw, we stopped by the nurses’ station on the way to her room to drop them off, and ended up conversing with Memaw’s personal nurse. She gave us a run-down on how Memaw was doing: her hearing aid had just plain died, she wasn’t eating, and she was generally groggy and in "what she perceives as pain." The nurse said that if Memaw doesn’t start eating, she won’t have enough strength to make it much longer. I thanked the nurse, then mentally steeled myself and led Aaron into the hospital room.

The greeting was much different than the warm welcome of Tuesday. This time, I got, "Oh, it’s you." She was much more confused this time around, and I only managed to converse with her at all by hovering two inches from her ear. We only stayed for about 15 minutes, because I saw no point in being there. Maybe it sounds callous. I don’t know. I’d just rather minimize the Memaw-as-a-confounded-invalid memories and stick with the Memaw-as-a-good-cook-and-strong-woman memories. I’m glad I came up on Tuesday, because if this had been my only "last visit" with Memaw, I would have been much more upset. I didn’t cry when we left this time, but I know I’ll be haunted by my (assumedly) final image of her watching me go and dazedly repeating, "I love you, too. I love you, too. I love you, too…"

With the depressing part of the day behind us (I know, I know, I’m being crass and callous in the face of family tragedy), we drove back down the street to Grammie and Poppa’s house. We were the first to arrive, and sat and talked with Poppa for a while, since Grammie was still at church. Five minutes after we got there, Aaron’s dad showed up in his new SUV (who’d have thunk Bob would buy an SUV?). We talked about the wedding and Aaron’s job and everyone’s various medications and unions and on and on… Grammie came home from church and joined the conversaion. it was pleasant. Then Pete’s clan showed up.

If I haven’t explained Uncle Pete’s clan, let me clarify for you. We’ve got Pete, who is Aaron’s uncle — his mother’s brother. (Poppa and Grammie are his mother’s parents.) Pete’s first wife, Peggy, the mother of his children, died some time ago. I want to say about 9 or 10 years, but I’m not sure, since I never met her. The oldest child is Megan, who is 17-almost-18. Then comes Alex (15?), Natalie (13?), and Joey (10). (I’m sure Aaron will tell me if I got any ages totally wrong.) That had been interesting enough, but there’s a recent twist: Pete just got remarried. His new wife is Deanna (yes, our names were confusing to the grandparents at first), and she has two children from her previous marriage: Sophie (16?) and Gabe (14). Most of the kids are old enough that they’re "real people" and aren’t too annoying anymore, but Joey still likes to watch Spongebob and those bizarro Dexter-type cartoons on Nick and the Cartoon Network that make me stare in confusion.

So, this should provide a better idea of the immediate insanity involved as soon as the Bura Clan arrived. …Not that I would have it any other way. A holiday at Grammie and Poppa’s wouldn’t be the same without Pete’s family.

After Aaron and I talked with Megan and Alex for a while, food was ready. We had ham and twice-baked potatoes and kielbasa and paska (polish raisin bread) and green bean casserole (a Bura family staple) and Poppa’s famous salad and there was horseradish and we had a lamb-shaped cake for dessert. Grammie forgot to put out the sweet potatoes, so we all divvied them up and took them home afterward, along with all the other leftovers.

We stayed until 8:00pm, just talking and watching TV (and being bored while Joey monopolized the television with weird cartoons). Aaron and I ended up being the last to leave. Overall, it was a good time, as usual.

I guess maybe I always took my family for granted, since we were always together, anyway. We had big meals on special occasions, but never had any other family over. Mom, Memaw, Aunt Sammie, my cousin Michael, and I all lived together, and rarely lived close to other family, so that was it. No cousins or other grandparents or other aunts or uncles to visit or invite over. Now I’m finding that I enjoy this "visiting family" thing. Even going to visit Mom and Gary for a day is enjoyable (to an extent — the less Gary, the better, I’m afraid).

Now, just to be sure to end the entry on a down note… when we got home at 10:20pm, Mom had left a message on the answering machine not 15 minutes earlier. She was upset that, when she went to go visit Memaw, "the lights were on, but no one was home." She asked me to e-mail her, which I did, pretty much detailing what I detailed here about my visit. I told her it made it a little easier for me, seeing Memaw like that. That way, when she goes, I won’t feel like she could have had a few more good years left in her. I’ll know she was ready to go.

When Mom e-mailed me back today, she had this to say:

"You look into the eyes of the first person you remember, the friend you had before you had friends, the one who taught you all the basics from how to go to the bathroom, get dressed, eat, talk even, and the body’s there but she isn’t. When I worked in the nursing home, I used to think the families of those folks were so cruel to not visit more often; now I understand, it wasn’t that they didn’t love them, it was that they loved them too much to see them that way."

Hanging in there…

I’m sure that there are a few of you who are waiting to see how my trip to Cleveland went. I know of at least one or two of you off the top of my head. So, here we go…

I headed out around 9:15am (after gassing up the car) and made the trip in a record one hour, 45 minutes. Mom, of course, was glad to see me, but we had to hurry and get to the hospital, since Mom’s usually pretty punctual and gets there just after 10:00 on a normal day. She was worried that Memaw would think she’d forgotten. I drove us up to Lakewood Hospital, about a 20-minute drive north, by way of KFC. (Memaw had requested fried chicken.)

Got to Lakewood (after much complaining from Mom about my driving) and found a spot in the hospital parking garage. Remembered to turn off the cell phone before entering the hospital. (I’m still not used to having one of those yet.) Headed up the elevator to Memaw’s room.

Mom went in first, and had to rouse Memaw from her almost-nap. "I’m sorry I was late," Mom said loudly, "but I had to go get your chicken." She had to repeat herself to make herself heard, at which point Memaw replied that she’d forgotten about asking for chicken. Then Mom told her she’d brought another surprize, and I came in.

I had to step closer for her to realize who I was, but once she did, her face lit up and she smiled a big, toothless grin. "My baby!" she exclaimed, and held out her arms for a hug. I bent and hugged her in her bed, and she kept repeating over and over, "You were just what I needed. You were just what I needed," and started to cry.

When we finally let go, Mom pulled a chair around for me, and I sat beside the bed and held Memaw’s hand. "Was that a good surprize?" Mom asked, and Memaw nodded and repeated, "A good surprize."

Then she kind of peered funny at Mom and said, "And you’ve got a bad surprize."

Mom took the statement as a question and said, "Nope. No bad surprizes. Only good surprizes."

Memaw looked pretty much like I remembered from the last time I saw her — was it Christmas? That long ago? The only major difference was her hair. This time, instead of being long and wispy and ungodly thin, it was shaved to half an inch and had finally turned completely white. No more auburn or gray strands left.

The other difference was that she couldn’t seem to stay awake. She was so tired. She and Mom and I would just sit in silence for a while and gaze at each other, then Memaw would start to nod off, and Mom and I would grin at each other and watch her head bob to the side. Then she’d realize she was falling asleep and jerk awake again. Once she mentioned that she’d thought she’d spilt something, and asked if we’d ever had that happen. We knew what she meant, and said that we had. Memaw said usually when that would happen to her, that she’d doze off like that, she usually did spill something. 🙂

Anyway, we gave her the chicken, and she almost ate it, too. She’d refused her meal that day, so we figured she’d be up for fried chicken. I opened the little KFC box and handed her a napkin and a drumstick. With weak hands — so weak — she took the leg from me and cradled it in her lap, on the napkin. The chicken slowly got closer to her mouth… slowly… but never quite made it there.

Memaw asked if I was going to eat mine, and we tried to explain that we were going to eat later, that the chicken was for her. Finally, I gave up and got the thigh out of the box, and pulled some skin off of it and ate it. Memaw’s eyes lit up and she asked if that was the butt part. We said no, that’s a thigh. She said, "I’ll take some of that," and proceeded to pick some skin off of my piece and eat it instead. Then she ate some of the drumstick, and was done. We packed the rest back into the box and put it on her bedside table.

(Keep in mind, this is the woman who used to eat not only the chicken and the skin, but would gnaw on the knuckle cartilage and gristle, and would crack open the bones and suck out the marrow.)

After that, we mainly just sat together. It was apparent to me that Memaw was thinking things in her head, but not saying them aloud. This was kind of funny when she would actually say something out loud, because it didn’t make any sense. Some people would assume her mind’s just going — I know too many people whose minds run in overdrive, I guess, so I could tell that these weren’t just random spouts of words coming out of her mouth. For instance, at one point she just said out of the blue, "You can’t get addicted anymore." Mom asked her to repeat, and she repeated perfectly, "You can’t get addicted anymore." Mom looked at me, so I enunicated for her, and explained that she was probably thinking of her morphine.

Watching her continually nod off put me at ease, to an extent. It helped me realize that this is probably how she’s going to go. She’ll just fall asleep, and that’ll be it. Watching her cradle her chicken helped me to realize that she’s ready, too. That was one of the saddest moments for me, because I realized how far she’s slipped. If she can’t even raise her fried chicken to her mouth (toothless though it may be), her quality of life is virtually nil, even if she is still conscious and relatively coherent.

I knew she knew she wouldn’t make it to the wedding, even if she does survive through May (which is unlikely). I wanted to be sure to mention the wedding, though, to try to include her in it. "For the wedding," I asked, "How do you think I should do my hair? I was thinking of a French braid — what do you think?"

She kind of scrunched up her face in a scowl and said, "I knew that was gonna come up." But then she answered me and said that yes, she thought a nice French braid would be pretty, and that I had a book at home to show me how to do it. Which I do indeed have, and I got it back in Junior High.

We stayed a while longer and watched her nod off, and Mom said quietly, "Let her fall asleep, then we’ll go." But she fought to stay awake because we were there, so we finally had to tell her that we were going to head out. We stood up, and Mom put our chairs back, and we each had our Memaw hug. I rubbed Memaw’s fuzzy head, and she smirked and said, "You had to get that in there, didn’t you?"

But then, as we were saying goodbye, Memaw asked me, "Did you have a bad dream last night?" I chalked it up to randomness and answered no, crouching by her bed to get down on eye level again. "I did," she said, and got a look on her face that reminded me of when she used to pretend to be old and senile — you know, that kind of childlike-pouty-guilty-cute thing that looks genuinely funny when kind-of-old people do it, but kind of sad and pathetic when really-old people do it. "I wasn’t going to say anything, but I guess I will," she went on. "It was about Tinky Poo."

Memaw and Granny always thought that the women in our family had ESP, and I’m not willing to completely disbelieve that theory quite yet. Because as she was having her "bad dream about Tinky Poo," I was writing about the lullaby here in my blog. So, I said, "I was thinking about that last night, too," and she got this understanding look in her eyes that told me she thought we’d made some sort of ESP connection that night.

Then Mom, standing at the foot of the bed, piped up and said, "I remember Tinky Poo. Do you remember?" Then she started singing: "Memaw love the Tinky Poo / Tinky Poo love the Memaw too…"

I tried to sing along, but I only made it through the second line. I just welled up and couldn’t sing anymore. I wanted to, and I wanted Memaw to sing along — but she didn’t. I hoped it wasn’t because she’d forgotten the words. I didn’t want to know. I put my head down on her bed and started to cry.

Now, most of you probably have figured out just from the kind of person I am that I don’t like to cry. I feel like I’m no longer strong, like I’m no longer in control of myself. My family knows this keenly, so me breaking down like that was that much more poignant for Mom and Memaw. Memaw just rested her hand on the top of my head, and Mom came over and stroked my hair.

"I wasn’t going to do this," I said into the sheets.

Memaw told me to take a tissue from her drawer, and Mom gave me some toilet paper that was sitting on the portable potty-walker-thingy next to the bed, so I was soon OK. We wrapped things up then, and promised we’d come visit on Sunday (silently hoping she’d still be there to visit). I didn’t want to go, and I was glad when I looked back for one final wave and she was almost asleep again — but she waved anyway.

On our way out, Mom and I apologized at the same time. She asked if I was OK, and apologized for singing, and said that it was good for Memaw to see me cry.

After that, we drove to Lake Erie, to Edgewater Park, and walked around for a while (after I called Aaron). Talked, got some sun, unwound from the hospital. Then we went back to Parma, hit the mall, got lunch at Mr. Hero, and played in the arcade. Then we went home and Mom finished dinner. Beef stroganoff. Mmmm.

Gary came home, and we ate, and we talked about funeral arrangements, and wedding stuff, and the eulogy, and the obituary, and the headstone, and random important stuff. I stayed until 7:30 or so, then headed out in time to make it to the turnpike before it got completely dark outside.

Overall, I think the visit was as much for Mom as it was for Memaw or for me. I’m OK with that, though. I don’t visit home nearly enough, and I get very little quality time with Mom anymore, especially since Gary came on the scene. (Yes, I know that was over seven years ago now. Yes, I’m still bitter. *grin*)

And I’m sure I heard Memaw mumble, "I never liked Gary much anyway…"

Update

You know, I’d really like to post a nice, long-winded update about all the stuff I’ve done in the last couple of weeks, like how I cracked the "copy-protection" on the brand-new Japanese-only release Matthew Sweet CD, or how A got yelled at for wearing cargo pants and blogging at work, or how I mastered the art of refilling the minutes on my prepaid cell phone. Take your pick.

Instead, I will suffice with a brief note: Tomorrow, I am taking one day of PTO (Paid Time Off). Not to lounge and relax. Not because I’m ill, since I’m not. No, I’m taking tomorrow to drive two hours to Cleveland to see my Memaw. You remember, Memaw who has lung cancer? Yeah. Well, Aaron and I were planning to go visit her on our way to Easter dinner at his grandparents’ house on Sunday, since they’re in the same suburb, but… the step-Gary says the doctors don’t think she’ll last that long. So, to see my Memaw alive one last time, I’m driving out for the day.

What a cheery fucking thought.

Of course, this brings forth all sorts of thoughts in my head, both deeply spiritual and grossly morbid. Some at the same time. Maybe once I see her and get these things sorted out, I’ll post some of them.

Oh, yeah, and I have duties/homework now:

  • Go through my genealogy work and find out Memaw’s parents’ names for sure. (Granny, Memaw’s mother, was adopted by her step-father. Legally or not, we’re not sure, and we can’t remember which was which.)
  • Locate the hi-res digital file and hard copy of the photo of Memaw in her early 20’s that I cleaned up a few years back, for use in the obit and funeral program.
  • Come up with a suitable phrase ("tag line"?) for Memaw’s headstone.

*gulp*

I guess I’m lucky that I haven’t had anyone really close to me die yet. I mean, I’m almost 27 and haven’t had a grandparent kick it yet. Granny, Memaw’s mother, died when I was a Freshman in high school — I hadn’t seen her for a few years, though, since we’d moved up from Florida where she lived. Tom (my first stepfather, Mom’s husband while I was in 7th & 8th grade) died after my Freshman year in college, and that was pretty rough on me. He was the only quasi-Dad I’d ever known, and even though they’d been separated since I started high school (the divorce took a year or two), we still were close. I’d called to ask if he could help me fund a new-for-me car, and his landlord/employers had told me he’d died of a heart attack a week before. That was rough. Neither of those cases gave me time to prepare, though. At all.

But Memaw… damn, she changed my diapers. She created my imaginary friend (apparently when I didn’t want to wear said diapers, she’d put them on "Madge," and I’d get jealous). She composed my very own lullaby ("Memaw loves the Tinky-Poo" …don’t ask). She lived with us — that is, with Mom and me — for as far back as I have viable memories. I used to consider her my second parent. Some people have "Mommy and Daddy" — I had "Mommy and Memaw."

This isn’t helping.

I mean, damn, she’s 70. That’s reasonable. Still under the curve, but reasonable, especially for a smoker and former drinker. I just wish I could have shown her her great-grandchildren. Not that Aaron’s impromptu compositions aren’t great, but I would have loved to have Memaw’s Own Lullaby for my first little one. In a few years.

Memaw love the ‘Tinky Poo
‘Tinky Poo love the Memaw too
Yes she do
I know she do
She told me so a little while ago
With a twinkle in her eye
I know she wouldn’t lie
She said, "Memaw, I love you too"
Yes I do
You know I do…

Pretty little girl go to sleep at night
Wake up in the morning with her eyes so bright

Grow
and
be pretty!

Can I Borrow Your Muse?

My friend Kris burned me a CD of Vegas Video 3.0 this weekend. I didn’t want it so much for its DV-editing capabilities as for its audio multitracking. I’ve felt like composing again, for the first time in about four years — I’m planning to hook up my keyboard, and to make some drum tracks on my computer, and to sing into my built-in monitor mic, and make some generally low-fi stuff. When my first song is done, I’ll give a cookie to the first person who can name the artist whose style I’m imitating.

Assuming I ever get it done and feel OK enough about it to post it…

Today at work, Mary (the upper-middle-aged, slightly flaky one) insisted that I must still be losing weight. "How do you do it?" she asked. I felt like telling her that she only notices that I’m losing weight when I wear two particular flattering shirts to work, but I knew she wouldn’t listen. So, I told her what I’ve been doing: walking at least once a day and cutting back on sweets. That’s all I’ve successfully done, anyway. I must admit, though, that it made me feel good to know that someone thinks I look better than I did. Maybe my weight is redistributing itself as I’m losing a little at a time.

Now comes the bitchy part of today’s variegated blog entry. I know A doesn’t read my blog, so I’m going to be blunt and blatant. [Note: I did edit this after the initial post, to back off on the animosity factor. Just in case.]

A blogs at work. A lot.

Yesterday, I decided to write down a play-by-play of all the ways she stalls from doing work vs. all the ways I stall from doing work. Loni, the third cog in our wheel-o-processing, never stalls from doing work. To give you an idea of how our office is set up: I sit at a computer and run checks through a little machine that reads the MICR numbers at the bottom. (This is what I mean by "processing" work.) If I spin in my chair to face my left, there’s another computer there where I fax and e-mail reports to clients, and log what accounts I’ve processed so far. On the other side of this computer, in the next desk/cubicle over, is Loni. Loni and I face the same wall while we’re processing. Behind Loni sits A. Loni and A sit back-to-back while they’re processing, but face the same way — away from me — when they send reports on their other computers. The end result of this setup is that I can see over A’s shoulder when she’s blogging on the computer she should be sending reports from.

Anyway, yesterday’s tally: nine blog-checks. Minimum. Because, see, while I’m processing, I can’t see her unless I do an over-the-shoulder glance just because I hear her keyboard going clickety-clack. And she’s not always posting; sometimes she’s checking to see if anyone’s responded to her post, or she’s checking other people’s blogs, or she’s taking surveys, et cetera. Me: yesterday, I e-mailed Aaron twice and looked at weather.com three times (mainly to discover I wouldn’t be taking my lunchtime walk due to snow).

Today’s tally: twelve blog-checks. Minimum. These were shorter but more frequent than yesterday’s. I only checked weather.com twice, and didn’t e-mail Aaron at all.

I guess my main rant about this is, if you’re going to blog during the workday, you forfeit your right to comment or complain about how long work is lasting. Because we work until all the work is done. Only in rare circumstances can we lock up work and just get back to it tomorrow.

On the flip side of this, though… rarely, if ever, do any of us take our allowed breaks. We take half-hour lunches when we’re alloted a full hour, and we work through our two ten-minute breaks. So, if you look at it like that, stalling at the computer ten times a day for two minutes each time is equal to taking a ten-minute break twice a day. But then you get into the "using Sky Bank resources (i.e. bandwidth) for personal reasons" argument, which I don’t feel like delving into…

Oh, and one more thing. Yesterday, A’s name was chosen out of a hat and she was named Employee of the Month. She (therefore, we, since I’m her ride) would have gotten a parking spot close to the employee door… had she not been a temp. Yep, she got it taken away from her because she isn’t a full-fledged Sky employee. Which kind of sucks in a way, but also made me snicker in a way. The major bad point to this is that her motivation is now at an all-time low. I guess mine would be, too.

OK, A… I guess I’ll know now if you read my blog.

Girl Talk and Power Outages

I got home from work today around 5:30pm, just in time to have missed Aaron before he went off to work himself. Sigh… But on a good note, I noticed that both my giant 20-disc CD-R trade (lots of The Smiths, The Cure, and similar bands) and my order from Lane Bryant had arrived.

Some of you may not know about Lane Bryant, be you a "normal-sized" woman or just a guy. Lane Bryant caters to the larger woman, sizes 14 to 28. — Guys, you’ll be clueless on the size thing. Let’s say that your average height, average weight (not-too-waify, not-too-fat) female is probably a size 12 or so. Maybe a 10.

(Hey, guys? If you’re squeamish about girlie talk, skip down a few paragraphs. I’m going to talk about my new bra now.)

When I was out lingerie-shopping with Sheryl on Saturday, we visited a place called That Special Woman. It’s actually a mastectomy-supply boutique, but they also carry plus-size lingerie and undergarments, to our surprize. When we arrived, the attendant ushered me into a fitting room and took my measurements, then brought me a few actual bras before I could announce my intentions to look for a long-line or bustier. Anyway, I did try on one of the bras she brought in… and holy crap, that thing was comfy! OMFG. It was an underwire, but the cleavage part didn’t stick out all funny like some of them do, and the back was plenty supportive. It didn’t threaten to pull up between my shoulder blades after a few moments of wear.

This bra, I later discovered, cost between $40 and $50. Holy crap.

So… a few days later, I visited lanebryant.com. — Actually, I visited several online stores looking for a bra just like the one I’d tried on, but Lane Bryant was the first and only place where I actually found one in my size. OK, girls, if you have big titties, or you’re a "husky" girl, I recommend this bra. Just like the one I tried on in Toledo, it has full-coverage cups, non-sticky-outtie underwires, a stay-in-place back, and it’s made of a neat-feeling cotton/Lycra blend, too. Honestly… it makes me want to squeeze my boobies like one of those stress-reliever things you see in Spencer Gifts. TMI… sorry. The underwires still get me in the armpits, though. I don’t think there’s any solving that issue.

(Hey, guys? You can come back now. It’s safe.)

After parading around in my new get-up, I reclothed myself, sat down at my computer (which had been left on to allow fellow WinMX’ers to download from me), and prepared to check my e-mail.

Cue loud, echoing, percussive noise from outside and resulting instant silence inside. Only sound: that of my hard drive spinning down. A transformer had blown, and I was in silence (but not yet darkness).

First action: look outside. I saw the neighbors congregating across the street, so I threw on a ratty old black cardigan and some shoes and went out to hobnob. The guy who lives on the corner had already gotten out the cell and phoned the city. Looked like he was still in his work clothes: dress pants, crisp collared shirt. I wandered across to the other neighbors, catty-cornered from us. I met Toby (I think), Danny (short for Danielle?) and her husband Rob (Ron?), and a few others. We chatted for a while about how much we like the neighborhood, how we got to live here, how nice this side of town is (away from the bar crawl), etc. Eventually Toby’s wife had to go get grilling-out supplies, so we all dispersed from their driveway and went back to our own houses.

The power still wasn’t on, and it was almost thinking about getting on to dusk, but not quite. So on to the second action: get out the candles. It’s not dark yet, but who knows when it will be. I’d rather be prepared than fumbling around looking for the lighter. I managed to locate one votive in a tulip-stem holder; two votives in short, roundish holders; one votive in the snowman my Mom gave me for Christmas; and one scented candle-in-a-jar from my grandmother. I lit them all and placed them strategically around the apartment. Then it occured to me that I wanted to go trim the hedges, so I blew them all out but two. 🙂

Watered the houseplants, trimmed the hedges. As I was outside, I saw a relatively rare occurence: there were people outside. Danny, her husband, and their neighbors had started a pick-up game of basketball — "PIG" or "HORSE" or something like that. Neighborhood kids were biking, skateboarding, and inline skating up and down the street, and some of them joined the game. Neighbors peeked their heads out to see if the city had come out yet, and some still milled about, meeting one another.

I finished pruning, went back inside, got my book and headed back out to sit on the front steps. (Or the "front stoop," as my Mom or Memaw would call it.) Reading was actually a facade — I was listening to the b-ball game ("How old are you? Thirteen?"), watching the kids skate up and down the street, quipping very junior-high-ish rips on one another, and eventually watching the city workers fix the transformer up the road. Once my porch light came back on, I retreated back indoors. Others didn’t, though — the game went on, at least until the families’ respective cookouts were ready for consumption.

It occured to me after this minor incident that the invention and maintreaming of electricity was probably one of the first steps toward the decline of the family and community. I won’t say I’d rather be without it, and I won’t say that it’s done more harm than good. I will say, though, that the hour that the block was without electricity was probably the most social hour I’ve seen here.

Think about it: you can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, play PS2/Gamecube/X-Box, play on the internet… what can you do? Read. Do something creative. Socialize. Gossip, even. When it gets dark, you light a candle, read or write by the flickering flame, talk with family, and go to bed. Simple.

The days before electricity had to be so different… it’s hard even to imagine.

T-minus Two Months…

Yep… I’ll be Mrs. Schnuth in about 60 days. Kinda scary in a cool kind of way.

I guess I should keep all the girls who read this updated on the wedding planning thing. Oh, yeah, and maybe Dan and Eric will be moderately interested, too. 🙂

Well, Sheryl has been kind enough to act as a surrogate bridesmaid while I’ve been getting my dress altered, traipsing 20 minutes north to Rossford on Tuesday, then on Saturday, then again a couple weeks from now. She’s also helped me find some appropriate undergarments, since the neat thingy I bought online totally peeks out of the back and armpits of my dress. Gah. Anyway, I’m sure she’s seen more of my pale flesh than she ever bargained for.

I was totally lucky to get as nice of a dress as I did for only $99 on eBay. (The auction’s expired now, but once the wedding’s done and Aaron’s seen the dress, I’ll post up the auction page that I saved.) I’m not used to wearing form-fitting apparel, so the dress actually makes me feel thinner, I think.

Speaking of… Now that I’ve been on a weight-loss kick (sort of) for four or five months, making a graph of my weight as I go, I can really tell when I gain my monthly few pounds. My graph makes a pretty picture like waves now. 🙂 I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I’ll look like I do now at the wedding. I won’t look like I did during drumcorps, and I won’t look like I did even five years ago. (Would you believe I put on 50 pounds between 1997 and the year 2000? Seriously. That’s amazing to me. What’s even more amazing is how much longer than that it’ll take to get that weight back off…)

This week’s goal is to take two walks daily, preferably after meals. Should be a good week for it, except for Sunday, when snow flurries may rear their ugly heads.

Man, my writing is all over the place today. I can’t seem to concentrate on one topic long enough to get a good thing going. Bah. Maybe I should go watch the news… although I know what’ll be on.

Getting Old(er)

Before I get to the mushy parts (be forewarned), here’s the interesting part of my day:

So, last night was the crazy thundery ice storm of death and destruction. This morning at 9am, Aaron and I were awakened by the sound of the city workers cutting and removing fallen tree branches from the middle of the road. Fun. Once I was ready to go to work, it took 15 minutes to chisel my car out of the ice. Had I known getting my car out was going to involve ice sculpture, I would have brought an ice pick and hammer…

Anyway, all day I was peering out the office windows at the ice-covered trees. Took a couple pics through the window with my point-and-shoot, but was waiting anxiously to get off work so I could take some "real" pictures with my SLR. (For you non-camera types, that’s my bigger camera with the cool adjustable stuff and long lens.) Luckily, I got out of work at 5:30 — plenty of light left for photography, and the sun was just in the right place for backlighting the ice on the trees.

I ran in the house, warmed up a hot dog, put on socks and sneakers over my knee-highs, ate my hot dog, gathered my camera and an extra roll of film, and hit the road again, all in the space of two minutes. Gotta catch the good light, after all. Sped down to the bike trail — although I would rather have taken photos at the end of the trail nearer my house, there’s no parking at that end. I had to drive down to Wal-Mart and park on Gypsy Lane. That’s OK, though; there’s plenty of photo ops all down the trail.

Parked my car, as I said, and gathered up my equipment. As I got out and onto the trail, I was glad I didn’t bring my tripod — the concrete bike trail was literally a sheet of ice. At this point I was getting a little apprehensive about my photo trip, but crossing Gypsy Lane (toward the area I’d originally wanted to shoot, anyway) unveiled a much easier-to-travel trail, with little to no ice for a good 50 yards.

So, I photographed for about a half hour or so, using up one and a third rolls of film. I could have kept going, but I had no more film. I got what I hoped were some great shots of icicles from tree branches, frozen leaves dripping icicles, and some sort of berry or wild fruit sporting an ice covering. Trés cool. Back to the car.

My pants muddy from kneeling on the trail, speeding back toward town, I contemplated how to develop my pictures. I figured I’d hit Blue Ribbon Photo in town — I’d always rather go with them, but I usually go with Meijer for convenience’s sake. I parked in the public lot behind Blue Ribbon, walked around the building, down the sidewalk, into the door, and asked if it was too late in the day to get one-hour prints. (I was really anxious to see these pics.) No, she said, they won’t be ready today. I asked if I could drop them off, thinking I could come back after work Friday. She responded, "Yeah, but they probably won’t be ready ’till Monday."

Monday?

Then she said the dreaded words: "It’s ’cause the machine’s broke." Aargh!

I waffled over leaving the rolls or not, and opted not to leave them at Blue Ribbon to be processed at some indeterminate time on an indeterminately working machine. By this point, my photo high was deflated, and instead of dropping the film off at Meijer, I just brought it home. I’ll get it developed this weekend.

Now, on to the mushy stuff I thought about at work today. If you are ultra-sensitive to gooey sweet musings, please have a trash can, barf bag, or other handy receptable nearby.

I’ve been doing some thinking and reflecting about love. Yeah, love. Not just snoo-snoo, although that’s a very important part of love. And I’ve been contemplating how my relationship with Aaron has transmuted over time. We’ve gone from being boyfriend and girlfriend to being lovers and lifemates. (Wow, that sounds cheesy. Moving on…)

Today, I was thinking of the things that have changed — the little things that make me more aware that we’re in it for the proverbial "long haul." Things like:

  • In everyday conversation, I can start a sentence with, "When we have children…" and Aaron doesn’t even blink. We can talk about these things, because we plan on having children, as frightening as that prospect can seem right now. (And, FYI, I will be one of those parents who says things like, "You are not going outside this house wearing that." Assuming we have children that look like hoochies — which, given their genes, is unlikely.)
  • We bought a car together. Thirteen-grand worth of mutual debt, and both of our names on the title, is a pretty binding thing. It’s a good start to our future of combined debt. 🙂
  • Speaking of future debt, we can talk about buying a house. It’s not a thing to be entered into lightly, but we know we’re getting one eventually, because that’s how things work. You get married, then one of two things happens first: you have a kid, or you buy a house. (Of course, some of our friends do all three things in bass-ackwards order… and you know who you are.)
  • (Wow, this one is kind of personal. I don’t know if I should post this, but…) When we make love (I told you it was personal…), I can look into his eyes and cherish what I find there, not be disconcerted by the intensity or wonder what he’s really thinking. (No, honey, not that I ever really wondered that! Just for example…!)

Sometimes we wonder if we’re getting old, since we don’t "get it on" as much as we used to. Used to be, anytime we were together, we’d end up in the bedroom. Now we don’t do it as often… but neither of us are really upset by this, I don’t think. Hell, I don’t think I could survive a four-hour marathon make-out session like we did six and seven years ago. Damn.

Of course we’re getting old. Or older, anyway. We’ve both matured a lot over the last several years, and it’s one of the things that has helped us grow closer. I’m not upset about this in the least.

And, anyway, he’ll turn 30 before I do. 😉

Fragile Moods

Lately, my emotional state has been unusually unstable. At work, I just zone out and do what has to be done, so I don’t really consider myself to be in a bad mood, even if I look it. But once I get home, one little insignificant thing can puncture any good mood I’ve cultivated and put me on a ridiculous downward spiral.

For example (you knew it was coming), today I got home before 6:00. Nice, normal day at work. Not long, not stressful. Got my raise information from my boss, got home in time for the news. Was planning to vacuum the kitchen (seriously – it’s carpeted) or clean the skanky tub or something after dinner, plus research embroidery websites so I can see what not to do on Sheryl’s and my new web venture. I was proud of myself yesterday for shaking the internet addiction and not even booting up my computer when I got home from work, so I knew I’d have oodles of e-mail waiting for me. So, after eating some pierogies, I fired up the Sheryl Special to see who loved me.

I got three e-mails from Amy, and I knew what they had to be… berating me for not mailing her the vital color swatch for her bridesmaid’s dress. I was right. She gave me a dressing-down like I deserved. Nonetheless, it still punctured my good mood. (Not your fault, Amy. You needed to give me a swift kick in the ass.) So, for the past hour or so, I’ve been kind of deflated. That one thing really brought my excitement about the evening to a dead standstill. That’s not right. I shouldn’t be this volatile. Not even a tagboard post from Timmay managed to cheer me up.

My last post dealt with a similar situation; this is becoming a trend of sorts.

What is wrong with me? It can’t just be wedding planning… can it?

Later today…

The internet is an amazing place. I was just thinking of a poem my mother used to read to me when I was little. She had a whole notebook of poems and sayings she’d collected. (I wish I knew where that notebook was.) I used to have the poem memorized, but I couldn’t recall how it started, so I Googled a line I knew for sure. Sure enough, 48 hits came back, all including this untitled poem. I found a good site about it, with all the backstory anyone knows about it compiled together.

So, here it is, the way my mother used to read it to me, including the intro:

This poem was handed to a teacher by a 12th grade student. It is not known if the student actually wrote it himself; it is known that he committed suicide two weeks later.

He always wanted to explain things
But no one cared
So he drew
Sometimes he would draw and it wasn’t anything
He wanted to carve it in stone
Or write it in the sky
He would lie out on the grass
And look up at the sky
And it would be only the sky and him that needed saying
And it was after that
He drew the picture

It was a beautiful picture
He kept it under his pillow
And would let no one see it
And he would look at it every night
And think about it
And when it was dark
And his eyes were closed
He could still see it
And it was all of him
And he loved it

When he started school he brought it with him
Not to show anyone but just to have it with him
Like a friend
It was funny about school
He sat in a square brown desk
Like all the other square brown desks
And he thought it should be red
And his room was a square brown room
Like all the other rooms
And it was tight and close
And stiff
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk
With his arms stiff and his feet flat on the floor
Stiff
With the teacher watching
And watching
The teacher came and smiled at him
She told him to wear a tie
Like all the other boys
He said he didn’t like them
And she said it didn’t matter!
After that they drew
And he drew all yellow
And it was the way he felt about morning
And it was beautiful
The teacher came and smiled at him
"What’s this?" she said
"Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?"
"Isn’t that beautiful?"

After that his mother bought him a tie
And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships
Like everyone else
And he threw the old picture away
And when he lay out alone and looked out at the sky
It was big and blue and all of everything
But he wasn’t anymore
He was square inside and brown
And his hands were stiff
And he was like everyone else
And the things inside him that needed saying
Didn’t need it anymore
It had stopped pushing
It was crushed
Stiff
Like everything else.

Tired and Crabby

I feel like crap. Not so much physically as mentally.

First off, this has been a ridiculously long week at work. I’ll probably have almost 50 hours in by the time Friday’s over and done; compared with the past few weeks of barely even making 40, it’s grueling. I know I used to do this all the time, but I was getting used to "normal" hours.

It also doesn’t help that my co-workers (and one co-worker in particular) keep complaining about said hours. I might be able to focus on what I’m doing and just push through it, were I not reminded on a regular basis how much it sucks. It also doesn’t help that three out of four days so far this week, we’ve been understaffed due to people being out sick.

To top everything off, one of my major weak points got thrown in my face at the end of the day. Anyone who reads this probably knows that I have a tendency to be about five minutes late. Consistently. It bugs me, but not when I’m half-asleep and should be waking up so I can be on time. Anyway, the co-worker/temp who I’ve been giving a ride to work made an offhand comment as she got out of the car this evening. We were confirming that 9:00am was our start time tomorrow. So, she said, "Nine o’clock," and I replied in kind, "Nine o’clock." At which point she quipped, "Yeah. Right," in that tone of voice I’d take as friendly banter from a friend. Like, if Amy’d said that, I’d chuckle and make some randomly witty remark about Diana Standard Time or something.

But then she said, "Just kidding. I’m really tired," and shut the car door on her own rambling half-apology. Maybe I took this wrong, but that kind of admission — "I’m really tired" — strikes me as less of an "I didn’t mean it" and more of an "I didn’t mean to say that out loud." I don’t know why I’m letting it bother me, but I am, and it does. I know I have a problem with tardiness (not retardness, though sometimes I think I have a problem with that, too), but still… no one likes their faults to be pointed out to them.

Speaking of my faults, I’d better go wash some dishes.

Random Thoughts

Today at work I jotted down several blogworthy thoughts I had over the course of the mind-numbing workday:

When the temperature in the office reaches a certain point — say, 75°F or so — the vents open to allow outside air to filter in and cool things down. Over the past couple of days, this outside air has smelled of a slight tinge of spring. So cruel… so cruel. Barely above freezing, and my nostrils are dreaming of the spring thaw.

Some people at my work have accused others of being resistant to change. One person in particular, by the name of Loni, has done this accusing. Since our boss has begun a transition in our record-keeping from Microsoft Excel (which Loni set up herself about three years ago) to an Access database, it’s amazing how resistant this accuser is to change…

I read an article about premarital counseling in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It had mundane but important questions like, “will you love your spouse if she gains 50 pounds?” Then I realized how much Aaron must really love me… because I have gained 50 pounds since he met me. Literally. I’m surprized he hasn’t staged an intervention in the meantime. 🙂

I’m not eating enough. (Nice segue.) I wake up too late to eat breakfast (I have to be awake awhile before I can stomach it), then when I eat lunch, I just have one of those little Weight Watchers-type frozen meals. When I’m done eating, I’m still hungry. I wait the prescribed 20 minutes after eating, for the food to “hit bottom,” and I’m still hungry. It’s easier to ignore the hunger while I’m at work, but I’m sure that it’s not healthy, anyway. Then I come home and am either too hungry to eat, or I go on an evening-long food binge. Ramen… canned veggies… hot dogs… ham… plum… all the stuff I probably should have eaten (or not) during the course of the day, crammed into a few hours of down-time at home. I need to fix this if I want to lose weight and be healthier.

Loni was telling about the wedding she went to in Chicago over the weekend — apparently the bride wore a scarf over her shoulder, bearing her family’s Irish colors. Neat idea. Then it occured to me… if I were to claim so-called citizenship of only one family in my genealogy, which would it be? There are certain lines I’ve been inclined to research more than others — some because they’re easier to find, some because they’re more interesting to learn about, and some because I’m closest to their descendants. I think I’d probably claim citizenship in the White family if I had to choose one. That’s my Granny’s mama, Maudie (which would be my mom’s mother’s mother’s mother, my great-great-grandmother). Interesting that I choose the matriarchal line; we’ve got some strong females in my family. …So what happened to me?

As far as my last blog entry, where I wondered if I’d become less of a person because I’ve ceased to struggle against my less-than-relevant job, I’ve come to a conclusion of sorts. I’d rather be sated, unruffled and relatively content in a job I didn’t intend to work than be miserable and unsatisfied in the same job. If I can ride things out, waiting in the wings and watching for opportunities, and make rent money in the process, why not?

Mary at work thinks I’ve lost weight. I was wearing my new black pants with the elastic waistband that doesn’t make my fat ooze out where it shouldn’t, and on top of that I wore a thigh-length blouse. I think it was all an optical illusion, since I’ve really only lost six pounds.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: no, I didn’t write all of this at work. I took notes so I’d know what to write later. I don’t have that kind of free time at my job…