Blah Blah Blog

Despite all the depresso ranting and raving I’ve done in my recent entries, I’m really not all that depressed. I promise. It’s just that the vaguely happy things that happen never make it to the blog.

Got home at 4:50pm after making a pit stop on the way from work to gas up Aaron’s car. And he’d already left for work. Poopstain. At least he left me some stuffed crust frozen pizza in the fridge, though. Yum.

Just called Andrea’s cell and left a message. Apparently her voicemail is set on one minute, because I timed it out. πŸ™‚ Asked her if she’d be able to make it to the bachelorette party and bridal shower this weekend, told her it would be cool if she could make it since I haven’t seen her in so long, asked her if she’d gotten her dress yet, and finally got the guts to tell her that if she’s not into the whole bridesmaid thing, because she’s too busy or it’s a weird time in her life or something like that, she can back out and won’t hurt my feelings. The voicemail cut me off just as I was reiterating that she needed to get back to me. Hopefully that’ll inspire her to give me a call sometime soon. If not… I’m not sure what to do.

Bounced my first check the other day. Twelve-dollar check, and got charged a $30 NSF fee. That blows. When I balanced my checkbook today, I realized I was in danger of doing it again, so I transferred some money from my savings to my checking. Now I’m covered. Whew.

Today was Mary’s last day in the Lockbox Department at work. Our supervisors bought an assload of cookies and cupcakes, so I munched on them all day and didn’t eat my nutritious lunch. At any rate, Mary’s husband works in the department she’s moving to: Loan Servicing. I don’t think he’s her supervisor, but they’re closer on the org chart now. Mary has informed me that her husband would take me into his department anytime I wanted, so that’ll be a good ‘out’ if I don’t find another job by the middle of June or so.

I figured out my demands, in case the Lockbox Department wants to beg me to stay (which is unlikely, but I can dream). Since they won’t be able to guarantee stable hours, which would be ideal, I will instead ask for a 6% pay increase, effective ASAP but no later than the beginning of third quarter (October). I wanted to say second quarter (July), but they probably already have the budget laid out for second quarter. Again, I don’t think it’ll happen, but I wanted to have my demands ready, just in case anyone were to ask what would keep me in Lockbox.

Well, I think that was a good, sufficiently undepressed update. Hmm, no, wait. I complained about shit the whole entry. Hang on… Oh, I know.

I’m getting married exactly one month from today! Tee-hee-hee! *girlie giggles*

There. Happiness. I am now going to post stuff on eBay and work on graphics for Sheryl’s Aunt’s online store.

P.S. – Hey, Donna? Here’s Karma Police, just for you.

Karma Police

…arrest this girl
she takes for granted
the people she shouldn’t
and she drives so recklessly

this is what you get
this is what you get
this is what you get
when you mess with us…

When I was planning this entry (all day at work), it was originally going to be quite woe-is-me, and perhaps even a bit guilt-trippy. See, Amy (maid of honor, duh) informed me yesterday that the bridal shower / bachelorette party is going to consist of myself, Amy, Sheryl, and my Mom. That’s it. The end. Then I got an e-mail from the wife of one of Aaron’s friends (which makes us all friends, I suppose) who said that, since she’s with child, she wanted to offer up herself as a Designated Driver. Cool. I forwarded that on to Amy. Then I was bitching at work today about my severe lack of friendage, and A said she’d go to the shower and party. Which could be interesting, since I don’t know how she’ll mingle with the current attendees, but I’ll take any participation I can get at this point. I went against my own better judgment and checked my TagBoard at work today, too, and saw that Beth has to work and Donna has a concert to attend in Toledo. Both good, valid excuses, and apologetically offered.

So, that kind of mellowed me out.

I’m still pissed at myself for this doozie, though: I got my first-ever speeding ticket today. Those of you who know BG, the cop was stationed on Seventh and Manville while I was cruising north down Manville, toward Wooster. I saw him and hit my brakes, but it was too late. He’d already clocked me going 41 in a 25. A says I was too calm; I should have been more nervous or cried or been mad or something. As it was, I accepted my fate politely and quietly. And my fine of $85.

See, for the past two weeks, I’ve been thinking, "One of these days, I’m going to be speeding down this road, and there’ll be a cop sitting there at Sixth Street…" Well, I was one street off, but I knew it was coming. That’s why I didn’t complain or fuss. I had it coming to me.

Same with the shower, I guess, and my less-than-communicative bridesmaids. When you don’t make a concerted effort to stay in touch with your friends, and delete all the stupid forwards they send you instead of actual personal messages, then something important comes up that you feel they should be involved in, and they don’t (or can’t) make time for it, that’s just karma coming around to bite you in the ass. And I’m OK with that β€” well, as much as can be expected. I do wish I could have had a big, crazy bridal shower and bachelorette party. Kathy (the DD mentioned above) had at least a dozen people at her shower (I was one), and her bridesmaids and a couple close friends (not me) all showed up for her bachelorette party. I guess I’m just jealous, maybe. It’ll be fun, anyhow. I know it will.

In other news, I posted for a new job at Sky. Sky Insurance in Maumee has an opening for a Marketing Coordinator, which involves planning and designing ad campaigns and PR materials. I really did just want a lateral transfer to something in my field, but this is more of a promotion to a management position. I mean, I’ll take it if they feel I’m qualified, but I have this feeling I’m not. Not at all. At least this job doesn’t require "licensing" like the last Marketing job I tried to post for. At any rate, if I don’t have a new position lined up within Sky by the time I’m getting ready to get married and take my honeymoon vacation time, I have every intention of finding another job outside Sky.

I mean, I don’t want to leave the company after only seven months β€” I just started my 401(k), I get two weeks’ vacation and five personal/sick days every year, I get annual raises of roughly 10%, and my quarterly reviews have been favorable so far. But I’m willing to look for something more related to my field and with more stable hours and with better pay, and sacrifice my three weeks’ paid time off for something less grandiose.

I keep saying that I’m biding my time and waiting for the right opportunity to come along. But with Mary leaving the department at the end of this week, A leaving at the end of next week, and Loni intending to leave within the month, I refuse to be stuck working the 70-hour weeks that the resultant workload would force upon me. Part of me hates to leave it to poor Rama (a temp who’s just started training on Citation this week) and Sharon (the older woman who’s been with Sky for 10+ years) and the new temp and Andrew (our "Team Leader"). But another part of me says this is my opportunity to get while the gettin’s good.

And I think the rest of me agrees.

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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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. πŸ™‚

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 β€” so weak β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” that is, with Mom and me β€” for as far back as I have viable memories. I used to consider her my second parent. Some people have "Mommy and Daddy" β€” 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!