Thursday, August 29, 2019

August Recap!

Well this has certainly been a month. Not the month I was expecting and definitely the worst Birthday Month since I starting celebrating them. But it was a month and so here I am to recap how it went. Goal wise. Not in general. In general you already know. But how did the goals fare?

Fitness/Weight! Still going to touch on it because it was part of the overall year of goals but as of last month it's not a thing I'm expecting to change, really. Still hitting the gym 5-6 days a week. Eating went to shit this month, cake and compliments month turned into cake for emotional support and the compliment being I have never seen anyone blend that particular amount of junk food into a meal before..So end of the month up a half pound from where I started, basically same for the overall year. I'll get back to healthy eating next month. Emotional eating might not be the best idea, but it works so I will take it.

Reading! Thanks to the release of a few graphic novels I read and some days where I really didn't want to do anything but sit quietly I am actually FINALLY ahead for the year. Started four books behind ended up three ahead. Got the next two Discworld books in the series done and now only need one a month for the rest of the year to hit that subgoal. The funny thing for me is that The Last Continent was the one I just finished and when it came available and I opened it to start reading my thought was..."Well's a Rincewind one." Those have been my least favorite. I don't know why, but they haven't amused me as much as the others. But I'm going to read them all, dammit, so I settled in and...It was great! I finally found a Rincewind story that amused the heck out of me! Never judge a book by its characters...or something like that...

Writing! I'm ahead for the year. It hasn't been the most light hearted of all of my writing, but it's helped me keep from completely shutting down so therapeutic writing has been good writing for me. Fiction I need to write two pieces a month to hit that goal. Submissions, I was going to work on that this month month. I still need one more for the year there. I'll find something.

MasterClass! I decided on the Penn and Teller one thinking it might be a fun diversion for birthday month. And it was a really great class. They teach a couple of tricks, which I'm lousy at, but they also talk about magical theory, and what makes a good trick. And I'm really good at that. How can that be? Good at that but not the trick? Because a lot of what makes for a good magic trick and magic show is the same as what makes for a good short story. Especially the kind I like to write. The look over here while I misdirect you types. I was actually really amused by how much fiction and magic were the same. Really good class. Next month I will probably do Krugman's economics class and save Joyce Carol Oates for October. We will be traveling a bit in October and she has fewer lessons so that's why I'm saving her again.

Monthly Museum/Attraction! We went to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum this month. It's a big deal here, the Spruce Goose is there, in fact it was built to hold it. But there are a lot of planes and rockets there as well. It was really interesting. A bit far out of town, but if you like that sort of thing I would really recommend it. There is also a giant water park, which we didn't do, but that could make it even more fun.

Long Term! Painted the landing upstairs. In fact I'm finishing it today, just under the gun. I almost skipped it, but leaving that space blank bugged me so gold star it is. Of course, now that it has fresh paint I can see that all of the trim work around it needs fresh paint as well so that's a bigger project for the rest of the year. Also made our dinner reservations for our Disney trip in February. Yes, you have to do that stuff WAY far in advance. It's a bit crazy.

Next month I think the long term is going to be sorting the kitchen and kitchen gadgets but Brent is trying to talk me out of it. He's afraid I am not completely in my right state of mind for such an undertaking. He could be right. We will see how I feel next week. But for now, that's the goal. That and figuring out my last submission piece.

Oh, and for the very astute of you reading you're thinking...wait...August isn't over yet, why is she posting her recap? We're headed back to Michigan tomorrow so I won't be hitting any more goals this month, and I won't be at my computer on Saturday to sum it all up. Today is the "last" day of the month. The next two are Go Blue! days. Thank goodness for distractions.

September on tap:
Continue with the yearly goals
Find a submission
Possible kitchen sort

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


When Dad died on Mom's birthday I said it would take me awhile to figure out the poetic part of it. It took until Mom died to do it, but I think I have.

The start of it came to me this year on her birthday. And this is where I tell you again that I knew it was going to be this year for Mom. I kept couching it by saying, "I could be wrong. Women in her family live really long lives." But that voice in my head kept saying, "It's this year. This is the last year." And on her birthday I thought to myself, "At least this will be the last year she has to be reminded of Dad's death every time someone tells her "happy" birthday." And when I thought of that for some reason I pictured Dad just sitting there, waiting. 

Then Mom died.

On Kelsey's birthday.

The day I really didn't want it to happen.

But almost immediately I was filled with an "of course" feeling.  The circle just closed.

And I found my poetic reason.

Mom was Dad's life. She just was. She was the center of his universe. You see families sometimes that are clearly about the kids. The kids are the center and everything else revolves around them. That was not my life growing up. We all knew that the primary relationship was theirs and we all came second.

In the Jewish faith life begins at the first breath. A pregnancy is a life under construction. A vessel for the soul is being made. But life? That starts at birth. The first breath is taken and the soul enters the body. Life. Now, my mother was an Evangelical so her definition was a little different but as Evangelicals my parents thought of the Jewish people as God's Chosen People. So...

My father's life really began with Mom's first breath. He lived for two years on his own, but once she was born he was set on the path to her. That's what I've decided. And once they were together and they took that breath together for the first time? His real life started. His whole life. She was his life. And so on her birthday, when you mark the time the soul enters the body and you begin, he left his body behind and waited with her. My imagination says that maybe on your birthday you are a little more permeable, you are primed to let in a soul, the echo of that first time is there. And so Dad left the vessel that had carried him and found a cozy corner in Mom to hang out and wait.

It's why she could see him places, could hear him, could talk to him. He was there, with her, waiting.

And then when it came time for her to leave this world she closed the circle. The oldest of our family passing on the birthday of the youngest. I like to think that she took Dad and they went to see Kelsey, to introduce Dad to her, maybe in a dream. Because you are more open on your birthday. That way Kelsey was with them both for a minute in her life as well. I can see my mother introducing my father to her and then them holding hands and walking away. The circle closed.

I like my poetic version of the why. It's so much better than sometimes life is shitty and shitty things happen at the shittiest of times. So I'm going to hold on to this version. Dad died on Mom's birthday so he could continue to be part of her life until she was ready to move on. Mom died on Kelsey's birthday so she could show her off to Dad. And now the circle is closed and Mom and Dad have moved on to whatever is next.


Because they were each other's lives.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A New Chapter...

I'm an orphan.

I knew it was coming so I've been trying it out for awhile. Orphan.

We don't refer to adults as orphans. We think of children without parents as orphans. But not adults. But eventually, if the normal patterns we think of hold out, we all become orphans. And when our parents die we are reminded that we are still, somewhere, somehow, children. So now I am an orphan.

Last night I informed Brent that I get to win every argument for the foreseeable future because I can just announce, "I'm an orphan" and he has to let me win based on the "don't be mean to orphans" rules. I told him I had run it by Dana last week and she agreed so that was that. He was a little concerned that Dana and I started plotting against him but has basically agreed that for now I win.

I also got the best night's sleep last night that I've gotten in two weeks. I knew the odds were that Mom would go in her sleep and even though she was sleeping most of the hours of the day it seemed to make sense in some part of my head that it would be the overnight sleeping time. So I think my subconscious was keeping me awake to listen for my phone. Last night there was no reason to listen anymore so I slept like a rock.

I know that I should feel like I'd rather lose the arguments and have rough sleep, but I don't.

Things would be different if she had been healthy and happy and loving her life. But she wasn't. She was tired. She was done. She was ready to go. She never completely rebounded from Dad's death. She got better, she dealt with it, she did her best, but she also missed him every single day of her life. I talked about our visit home this spring and how she spent most of her time talking about Dad. And how she said she could see him a lot of the time. Like out of the corner of her eye. Just waiting.

She was ready.  More than ready.

And she was still fighting the cancer. She was coming to the end of yet another cycle of chemo. And though it wasn't the devastating chemo treatment that she had the first time that almost killed her, it was still chemo. And it was never going to cure the cancer. Cancers. She ....


Sorry about that. My phone just rang and it was my brother. I need to sign some paperwork so Mom can be cremated. And just like that whatever thought was going in that last paragraph is stopped. Because I am signing paperwork to have Mom cremated. Because I'm an orphan.

And I have the easy job of it. I just have to sign this paperwork. Jeff and Susan have to sit at the funeral home and talk to the people about cremating Mom. We all were there when Dad died. It was actually the first time I saw everyone after he died. I flew in and went directly to the funeral home. John and Ann were still living in town so all of us were there. I wrote about being shocked at how bad they all looked and then realizing that I must look just as horrible. Not natural colors for skin. Grief is a bitch.

But this time I'm not flying in right away. We aren't holding the memorial service until October. And John and Ann are living in Florida now. It's all on Jeff and Susan to handle with the direct and leaving the indirect to me and John.

Which honestly has been how it's been for me since I left home at 18. I lived back in New Mexico for a few years after Brent got out of the Navy, but it was just a couple. So the majority of my life I have been an indirect participant in their lives. The Aunt that flies in shows up to dinner and flies back out. The could be an insult could be a compliment just depends on how you take it, "You are just like your Aunt Denise!" The oh we should let her know thought when Dad would get sick, or Mom would get sick or when one of the next generation did something. It's new to John and Ann, they just moved a couple of years ago, but for me it's normal.

But as I learned when Dad died, even if it's normal that I am not there day to day, the grief still comes. It still leaves a hole in you when your parent dies.

So expect more of the grief chronicles. Just now we have moved on to the next part. The actual mourning instead of the pre-mourning. For some reason I was thinking two weeks of pre-mourning would make this part easier. Like I would have had a head start. It didn't. Because even when you expect it, you can't prepare for it. Not really.

I'm an orphan.

It just doesn't seem real.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The New Normal...

I told Brent yesterday that I was doing fine. Except for the not sleeping, the only wanting to eat white flour and sugar, which is exacerbated by the lack of sleep, the lack of patience with everyone, which is exacerbated by the lack of sleep and good nutrition, and the fact that I can't hold a thought in my head for longer than a few minutes. But other than that I was fine.

He said I was doing a good job holding it all together. But that holding it all together is not the same as fine.


So maybe I'm not fine.

But I've sort of gotten used to it.

Which is really bothering me.

Even though it's totally necessary. I mean, that's the way it is with any loss, you have to keep going, you have to keep moving forward because you have to keep going. So even with half of my head waiting for that message, the rest of me is still cleaning house, reading books, planning Disney vacations, talking to friends, laughing at jokes...

But it feels weird to know that this is, for now, normal. Like it never should be normal.

Brent's mother called me for my birthday and we chatted for a little bit then she asked if there was anything new with us. And I told her that Mom's health was failing fast. But I told her after we had chatted for awhile about books and movies wasn't like it was the first thing we talked about. And I'm not sure I would have said anything if she hadn't asked. Because it's not something you just start a conversation with right?

But it sort of feels like I should.

Like I should tell people, Hey, this is the most important thing in my head right now so...

But I'm still doing everything else. Just like it's not.

Because this is the new normal right now.

Live, move, check in with my sister every few days, try to sleep, mainline sugar, ignore what that's doing to my own health, don't cry, bargain with the Universe on when it will happen. Rinse and repeat.

This is the new normal. And as awful as it is, I'm getting used to it.


Well, I guess I shouldn't be too terribly surprised. After all we've all acclimated to Trump being president so you can really get used to anything. Well maybe not acclimated, maybe more of just getting used to living with that feeling of dread constantly in your head. Okay, so yeah, it's completely the same.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Happy (?) Birthday!


Okay, so it's not as big of a deal as 50 was. Nobody dreads 51. Nobody really thinks much about 51. Once you hit 50 you just keep going until you freak out about 55 or 60, I guess.

I mean, not me. You all know how I feel about it all. If you somehow just stumbled upon me then here's your refresher...

Fifty was nifty. It really was. I had so many of my fellow new to 50s join in on the fun. The Fifty is Nifty bandwagon, the age is a gift not a curse movement. It was really great. A really solid good year.

Until the past few weeks, they've been a little rough. Or more than a little. Only a little in comparison to what I know is ahead.

But it's been a good year. And I expect the next year to be rough and hard and sad, but then good again. Or good overall. Or even good while the bad is happening. Because that is the truth of it all, life is a mixed bag. And even in the midst of the worst of it all, there is true beauty and goodness and laughter.

And things that take your legs out from under you.

So, a few weeks ago I stumbled across this picture and as I do I did the math on how old everyone was. And I know how old we all are because of the fight.

Yes, the fight. I was wearing my boyfriend's necklace. And my mother was not happy about it. See, it was a crucifix. In our religion we only show the cross as empty. Resurrection, not death see? The Catholics show the crucifix. And my mother was not pleased that I would wear a crucifix. And I was not going to not wear it so we fought about it. The compromise was that it's tucked under my dress so you can't see it.

But anyway...because I know how old I was I know how old everyone else is. And in this picture my mother is...yep...51. This is a big part of why I've never had an issue with aging. I'm 14 here, still pretty young, and my mother is 51. It's not that old. And she looks great. But want to see something amazing?

This is her 11 years later. Wearing no makeup. And she looks even better! And, just for another comparison, C is just about the same age in this picture as Brian was in the first one.

But basically my mother has been my blueprint on aging. She didn't view it as a bad thing. She also always looked much younger than she was. Which maybe is why she was never bothered by it?

Up until the cancer came she was also very healthy. I've talked before about how she kept Dad healthy as well. He was the oldest living male in his family by a long shot.

They were also the happiest couple I've ever seen. They truly enjoyed each other.

Which is why I think she's so ready to go now. Dad's been gone for awhile. The cancer has never completely gone away. The constant low dose chemo, the side effects, the tiredness. And just the loneliness. I think she's just tired.

So we are waiting. And it gets closer everyday. She lets go more and more everyday.

So yes, 51 is a little less joyful than I had hoped.

But I've had a good role model in life for finding the joy in the everyday. For smiling and forging onward. It's going to be a rough start to the year. And right now I look every inch of my 51 years, you can see them all in my eyes. And in the lines around my eyes. And in the hollows under my eyes...

But if things hold true, in another decade I'm going to be better...

okay, yes, this is actually 50 and 363 days, but it's close enough

So 51...

We're going with #FiftyOnederful even though at times it is most definitely not going to be that.
I'm sticking with the Daily Gratitude posts because I think over the next few months I'm going to really need them.

And we still have 11 days left of Cake and Compliments for Birthday Month so let's keep it going, shall we?

You are all amazing and have been so incredibly supportive of all my wacky ideas and in holding me up while I pre-grieve. If nobody has ever said it, and even if they have, you are rocks. Solid, dependable and incredibly sexy rocks.

Thank you!

Monday, August 19, 2019


This is the story I was working on last week before I got the message from my sister. I had had a dream the night before about graverobbers selling the things they had taken. As the dream faded I thought, "there's a story in there." This was my start. I think there is something here, I'm just not sure what it will be. But at least this way I won't forget it while I wait.

She could feel the breeze even though there was no air movement. No curtains blowing. No gently moving leaves on the palm tree in the living room. But she could still feel the cool breeze. There would be a thin spot here letting in the air she just needed to find it.

She walked toward the big bay window and right out of the breeze. Okay, that wasn't it. She retraced her steps to feel where the breeze picked back up. She took three steps backwards and the gooseflesh on her arms let her know she was there. She reached out to see if she could feel the edges of the cold air while looking around the room to see where else it might be coming from. Was there a vent that she wasn't seeing at first? Maybe the A/C was running and it was just very quiet. Or one of those bladeless fans tucked in a corner someplace. Nothing.

So now she knew.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment. Blocking out what she could see so she could focus on what she felt. She took a step forward into the chilly air, stretching her fingertips out and feeling the edges of...a stream? It felt like a stream. A stream of air, not of water, but flowing air, in a channel, there were definite boundaries. It was flowing towards something. Away from where she stood flowing toward... She opened her eyes and looked. A painting. There was a painting on the wall.

"Have you always had this piece?"

"We actually just bought this. Isn't it wonderful? I was..." the homeowner trailed off realizing that she would not have asked if it weren't significant. "Is this where it's coming from? I mean, it's just a painting?"

She smiled. "Nothing is just anything. Everything you own you own for a reason. Everything means something to you. Some things mean more than others. Art often means quite a lot."

The homeowner sighed. He didn't want to get rid of the piece. He had paid a lot for it and it was an important work. Or at least that's what the art dealer had told him. He actually didn't know much about art, just that expensive was better. Or at least that was his theory.

"So can you fix it?"

She turned and gave him a puzzled look, "Fix it?"

"Yes, can you make it stop...well...stop being so off putting."

She smiled now. "Is that what you feel? That's it's off putting?"

"Isn't that what you feel? It's cold here, when the rest of the room is warm. If you stay too long you start to feel, well, you start to feel..." The homeowner trailed off again.

She understood. He didn't understand what he felt when he was standing in that stream of cold. He just knew he felt something. And most people didn't like to feel much of anything. Especially someone who thought she could fix his painting.

"No, I can't fix it, because it's not broken."

"Well I don't mean it's broken, necessarily, but can you stop it from doing whatever it is that it's doing? That's why I hired you, afterall."

She shook her head. "No, you hired me to find out where the chill was coming from. I've let you know. That was our transaction."

"You were highly recommended!"

"I have no doubt of that. And I did my job. The painting is the source of the chill."

"Will you tell me how I can fix it myself then?"

"Give it back?"

"Give it back? You mean try to get a refund from the art dealer?"

"Oh no. They didn't own it any more than you do. This piece, this doesn't belong here at all. It's supposed to be on the other side."

"The other side?"


"Of what?"

"Of this." She waved her hand around his living room.

"Of my house?"

"No. Of all of this. You bought an artifact. Like the gold from a Pharaoh's tomb. This was supposed to travel with its original owner. That's what it was painted for. That's what it was imbued with. Someone stole it from the dead. You can either give it back to them, or one day discover what is on the other side of that stream."


"The chill. The cold breeze. It's a stream. And eventually it will flow strong enough that you won't be able to resist it. The painting was designed for a tomb. And it's not broken. It will be in a tomb. One way or the other."

Friday, August 16, 2019

One Week Later...

So it's been a week since I got the message from my sister that Mom was failing and we were nearing the end.

It's been a hard week. Waiting. Bracing myself every time my phone buzzes. Debating with myself what is or isn't the right thing to do. Trying to figure out October plans but again not wanting to figure out October plans because she's not even gone yet. Talking to her. Talking to my sister.

Yesterday I decided that it was ridiculous to be so mopey. I mean, honestly nothing has changed. She was ill for a week before I even knew she was ill. Pre-grieving was ridiculous. Yes, she is really weak. Yes she is deep in her own mind. But she isn't gone yet. She is still here. Nothing has changed. And her doctor said it could be as long as a month. There is no way I can pre-grieve for a month. It won't change anything. It sure as hell won't make it better. Time to pull up the big girl panties and stop being such a baby about it all.

I decided.

And then this morning while I was making breakfast the sob came up unbidden and I had to choke it back down. Knowing that if I let that one out there was a flood waiting behind it.

So much for what I decided.

It's also really difficult right now because it's been a week. A week seems like a significant amount of time while you are living it. I mean last Friday when I got the message from Susan I was prepared for soon to be that day. Or that weekend. But now that it's been a week? Well hope starts to set in. Maybe they are wrong. Mom is ill, sure, but she'll get better. A week starts to let in hope.

Which is worse in a way. I mean, I spoke with her this week. She's not well. I spoke with my sister. She's much more aware of the day to day than I am and she is preparing for Mom's death. So I need to keep reminding myself that Mom is not getting better. That's not going to happen.

But it's been a week.

And doctors are sometimes wrong. You hear it all the time.

I mean, mostly they aren't. And the only reason you hear about the miracle recoveries is because they are rare and the human brain loves novelty. And honestly a week isn't that long. If I was telling you this story in five years and I said, "Mom took a sudden turn, her health failed, and she was gone within a month." You'd think, "That's so fast."

But during?

It's been a week.

A really long week.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

One Hundred Paces...

He walked the hallway between the waiting room and the nurses' station. It was 100 steps. Really it should have been 102 but he made sure to fudge a little on his stride length to make it 100. A nice round number. It just felt better to count them off that way, 98, 99....100, and turn and start again.

He made the circuit over and over again. Thousands of steps each day for the past week. He needed to do something to pass the time. He hated hospitals so the fact that he was there at all spoke to how important it was. Hospitals were the reminder of too many tubes and needles and too many people poking and prodding. For a very private man the indignities of a hospital stay were too much. An invasion of space in the justification of health. He traced the scar on his chest, too many memories. He just wanted to bolt for the door every time he saw someone in a white coat walk by.

So he paced.

"You know you don't have to be here, right? We can call..."

"That's okay, I'll wait."

He paced back and forth.

Family members passed him in the hall. Going in to her room. Staying for a few minutes. Shuffling back out. Going to the waiting room and sitting in hard plastic chairs waiting for the next time they might be granted entry. And still he paced.

He had tried to stay in the waiting room with everyone else. He really had. But it was too much. They were too much. Everyone handles things differently. That's what he would repeat to himself. Everyone deals with things in their own way. But he still didn't want to see their faces. Their "trying to be okay" faces. Or their "everything is falling apart" faces. He couldn't stand to see his daughter reading a book like nothing was happening or his son staring at the wall crying like the world was ending. So he paced.

Eighty-five, eighty-six, eighty-seven....

Her hand slipped in to his. Eighty-eight, eight-nine, ninety...

Then he heard the alarms.

Ninety-one, ninety-two, ninety-three...

And the rush of nurses to her room. The doctor on call racing out of the room at the end of the hallway.

He gave her hand a squeeze. "Did you want to wait?"

Ninety-four, ninety-five, ninety-six...

She squeezed back, "I think we've been waiting long enough, don't you?"

Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred...

They stood together and looked in to the waiting room. Their children sitting rigid listening to the distance alarms sounding. Waiting for the news they knew would come.

"She's with Dad now..."

She turned and smiled at him then. "Yes, I am."

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

No News is No News...

I just got off the phone with my sister. I asked her to call me today when Mom was awake so I could talk to her. If she was up for it. If she wasn't then not to, but if she was up for a call then have her do it.

It was the way I finally resolved the call or no dilemma. This way I wouldn't be forcing Mom to wake up or trying to force her to engage, but if she was able...

Kind of a cowardly way of dealing on one hand. Or a really caring way on the other. Just depends on how you want to frame it really.

So sister called around 1:30 (2:30 New Mexico time) and I spoke with Mom for about two minutes before she just wanted to go back to sleep. It wasn't long, but it gave me a reference for how she is really doing. I mean, you can talk to people and have them tell you but you don't know for sure, right?

The picture I got of her was like she was in watercolor where she used to be a bold oil painting. She's fading away. Her voice was much weaker. Her thought process was very simple. Not really able to follow any questions I had. But I got to tell her that I love her so that was good.

And then I talked with my sister for awhile. To see how she was (not Mom but my sister) and then how my brother was. I've been thinking a lot about how my brother is going to deal with this. He has always lived with my folks. There were a couple relationships in his 20s that might have changed that, one in particular, but they didn't. So he stayed at home. Technically he didn't live with my parents, they lived with him. It is his house. But still, his life has always been with theirs.

And since Dad died, with just Mom. And I have always thought, and I would think my siblings agree, that he was always Mom's favorite child. He earned it. He was easy. Smart, quiet, loyal, easy. The rest of us have been challenges in our own ways.

So though taking care of Mom has fallen mostly to Susan over the years, I think her death is going to be the hardest on Jeff. Susan has at least lived away from home here and there. She has her own kids to worry about. She has a social circle to do things with. I think Jeff is going to be really lonely.

Which is another element of grief in families, isn't it? You have your own and then you worry about everyone else and theirs as well. Oh I'll be fine but what about.... Oh I'm sad but poor...  I think it's a way of compartmentalizing as well. Of trying to make it not so bad in a way. That you might be sad but someone else is even more sad so you have to just keep going.

Talking with my sister I was also able to get a little more filled in on what happened. The text message that Mom was failing was pretty out of the blue. I mean, she's 87 and has been battling cancer for years so not totally out of the blue, but still. It seemed sudden that she was failing so fast. And it gave me a chance to hear what her doctor has said. And what she is like now. And...

It helped.

As much as anything can.

My sister and I talked about how each of us is dealing. We are falling right in to basic personality traits. Pressure and stress just makes you more of who you are. Jeff is working as much as possible so he can be out of the house and also doing something productive. Susan is going between practical things that need taken care of and back to calling Mom and Dad, Mommy and Daddy. I'm not even sure she realized it. That fragile little kid is there still. She was the baby of the family for a long time before I showed up. And, honestly, I might have been the youngest but I think in some ways she always was the baby. The girly girl. The one that needed taken care of. I was Little Miss I Can Do It Myself pretty much from the start.

And you all know how I am dealing. I am writing. I am trying to figure out how to do it. Not completely by myself though. With my boys, and with you all as well. Everyone offering a hand to hold as I need it. And I really do appreciate it.

Also, had a dream last night, or really early this morning since it was right before the alarm went off...

I had a dream that I was on a cruise with my parents and I was trying to get a picture of all of us. My arms weren't long enough to get everyone in the frame and every time I would check it Dad would be just out of the picture. An edge of his sleeve, part of his hair, but not him. And I was desperately trying to get that picture of all of us. Mom and Dad and Me and Brent and Christopher. Finally I gave up. And Mom said, you could get one without me in it and just put them together later.

Sometimes my subconscious isn't very subtle.

I'm glad I was able to talk to Mom today, I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep her in the picture.

And still we wait.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Brain Fog...

I am multifocused on a good day. I say multifocused because it sounds better than flighty. And I think it fits a little more. Flighty always seems like maybe not really intelligent. But multifocused seems like you are just seeing a lot of things at once. I'm multifocused.

Or flighty.

It happens all the time. Nothing is really linear in my world. When I clean the house there are usually four rooms at various stages of clean before it's all done. Instead of do this thing then start this next thing I wander. I get distracted. I leave a cup of coffee in the pantry when I am putting away the flour. Or I end up stopping to wonder when I last saw my phone where was I?

That's the best of times.

Right now isn't the best of times.

I'm being reminded of the time right after Dad died. The brain fog. The fact that part of my head was constantly drumming with Dad died, Dad died, Dad died. Now it's Mom is dying. Mom is dying. Mom is dying. And added to that is the bonus material of You should be there. You should stay here. You should be there. You should stay here. So my normal multifocused is stretched really thin.

After working out this morning Brent asked how my workout went. I told him then asked about his. He said, you already asked me that. Oh? Did I? I had zero recollection of a question I had asked and he had answered maybe two minutes before. I shrugged and said he'd need to get used to that for awhile. There was going to be a lot of teflon brain happening.

I posted a long status update about going to the store for sweet potatoes this morning. Paragraphs long. It was actually a condensed version. I'm just not quite all there. I tried to read an article on a new workout theory around muscle development. After the third time restarting it I gave up. I know it was in English, but nothing made sense. I even tried reading it outloud the last time through...nope. Just words in a line but nothing that was intelligible.

I talked with my niece yesterday and she said they had called and had my sister wake up Mom so they could tell her they loved her. Which, of course, I didn't do, so the drumbeat starts with Mom is dying. You should be there. You should stay here. You should have called. You shouldn't call you should let her sleep. You should call. You should go. You should stay. Mom is dying. With a sinister whisper of You are a bad daughter. And then I realized that I had asked Brent if he wanted me to start Waze to get us out of an unfamiliar neighborhood but I was just sitting there staring at my phone.

And then there are going to be times where I seem to forget that Mom is dying. And that's weird too. Like yesterday talking with Christopher and he asked me "But how are you?" and I answered, "Fine." and paused thinking  why would you ask me with that serious tone? Oh...yeah...because your grandmother might be dying but it's my mother and you think that I might be not okay. Yeah...that. So then, of course, I revised my answer to "Fine except you know....the big issue."

So please be patient with me for awhile. I'm going to be even worse than normal, and the odds are I'm not even going to realize it. And my normal is pretty unique so... I'm going to do a lot of even odder things than normal. I'm going to be even less focused than normal. I'm probably going to forget to do the basic niceties and you all know I'm not really good at those even normally.

Mom is dying...You should go....You should stay...You should call...You should let her never were a good daughter...You should go...You should stay...Mom is dying...

There is nothing that I can do right now that will be the right thing. Because the only right thing would be for Mom not to be dying. And I can't make that happen. And honestly, that's not the right thing for Mom, that's only the right thing for making me feel better. Mom is ready to go. I'm just not ready to let her leave. So the drumbeat will keep going until it's replaced with the even worse one.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Quiet Weekend...

So the Tom Petty song keeps playing in my head. You know the one. The waiting is the hardest part...

But then I have to think to myself, it's not. You know it's not. You know that this is going to seem like the easy part when the waiting is over.

Brent asked me this morning what I wanted to do today. We had a few things kind of penciled in but he's letting me take the lead this weekend. If I don't feel up to doing anything then that is what we will (or won't) do. I told him I'm trying to keep as normal of a schedule as possible because I know when it happens I won't be able to.

As if I'm able to right now.

I keep finding myself in time jumps.

Like I'll be doing something, or getting ready to do something and then instead I'm just staring at the wall while the clock ticks.

After my dad died I held myself together. Literally. I had my arms wrapped around myself holding myself tightly. Pretty sure I was trying to prevent coming completely unwound. Yesterday at Target I needed to unclench my fist to be able to pick up the laundry soap. And it took a second to get it to release. Them to release. Seems I was walking around with both fists clenched hard. So I'm not yet to the point where I am just trying to hold myself together but I am ready to punch you if you get too close.

In the shower today I realized that I have had my last conversation with my mother. She stopped talking on the phone a long time ago so even if she was awake enough to do it, there isn't going to be a last minute phone call. Again, when Dad died I can remember being on the plane flying in to Albuquerque realizing that there was going to be no "Oh goody!" reaction from my dad when I announced, "I'm here!" I had heard his voice for the last time.

So now I'm shuffling through all of the files in my brain listening to my mother speak.

Hearing her laugh.

My mother has a great laugh.

And I'm doing my best not to think of her in past tense just yet. Because once that happens it happens forever.

I know I said I'm not going back, and I do honestly think it's the right call but it's difficult to be 1300 miles away just waiting while my mother fades from this life.

I'm holding on with clenched fists. Not ready to let her go just yet.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


It's an odd sensation to wait for the news that your mother has died.

And that's really what I'm doing right now. Just waiting for the text from my sister that Mom has passed.

Everytime my phone buzzes I think...well...

But it could be days yet. She's fading. It's not an instant thing like with Brent's father or even my father. Because even though my dad had been ill for years the heart attack that took him was sudden. He was here and then not. Brent's dad was a complete shock. He had just had a physical for his tour in Iraq that was about to start.

But not with Mom. She'd fading. She's not in any pain. She's mostly sleeping right now. My sister says she's asleep around 23 hours a day now. When she is awake she spends most of her time talking to Dad. So even when she's here she's already moved on.

I've had people ask if I am going to go home. After talking with my sister yesterday I've decided not to. Unless I change my mind. We went home this past spring, the boys and I, and we spent time with Mom then. And she was aware that we were there. Now? I'm not sure that she would be. We don't have any sort of unfinished business that needs handled before she can rest in peace. Or before I can continue to live in peace. Those sort of deathbed things you read about. All it would be is me sitting waiting for her to die. And as morbid as I am, that doesn't appeal to me.

If for some reason she wanted or needed me there I would be there. But I don't think she does. And as I don't need some sort of closure moment either I will wait here. I did tell my sister to let me know if that changes and she needs anything. Though I am struggling with what is the right choice here. Brent and I decided last night that there is no right choice. There is only the choice you make. So for now I'm choosing to stay here.

There are already discussions about when to hold her funeral service. Which is weird on one hand and very practical on the other. I mean, she's not gone yet, and the planning is started. But she is dying so of course it makes sense to plan. My Aunt (her best friend) is traveling and won't be home for awhile so we are looking at October. Which I'm also trying to wrap my head around. Because we will all have the grief of when she passes and then delayed grief on the day of the memorial service. Grief put on pause?

As you all know I don't want a service when I die. I don't want a grave site. I don't want any of that. Mourn or celebrate in your own way, but there won't be anything formal.

But for Mom it will most likely be my last time stepping in to Ridgecrest, the church of my childhood. We will listen to someone give a service on God's mercy and sing some hymns about God's love. Which will bring great comfort to my brothers and sisters. Then we will go spread her and Dad's ashes on the mountain which will bring comfort to me. Which is really what funerals and memorials are for. The living. To help them transition through their loss.

But for now we wait.


It's odd.

Friday, August 9, 2019


So...did you know that if you break out in to tears in the middle of the gym nobody asks if you are okay?

Not sure if they just think you are working past your limit or if they are just freaked out but nobody says anything.

Which I'm actually fine with. I mean aside from crying in public I'm actually fairly private. Which I know is hard to wrap your brain around considering I write about everything. But writing is different. First off I'm in control of what I'm writing. I get to decide how much I share. And it's me sharing. It's not you coming in to my space, it's me giving you information. And writing is how I process things. Sometimes I just need to write about what I'm feeling to deal with it. Or even to understand it. One of the reasons I'm pretty decent at having discussions online without totally losing my cool is that I write. I have practice forming my ideas into the written word.

So back to the crying in the gym and tying it to discussions online for a minute. Just this morning someone on my friend list did one of those "get a real life" posts. Denigrating online interactions as not real. As some people do. Which is always so fucking weird, I mean, you're online right now posting about how people online need to get real lives? What? But when I broke out in to tears in the gym and nobody asked if I was okay I thought to myself, gee, in the fake world if I posted a status that said, "Crying" and just that, I would have a handful of PMs and DMs and texts and responses to that post all asking if I was okay. If it was happy or sad crying. What was going on.

You know. In the fake world. Where people don't interact like they do in the real world.

Just thought it was interesting.

And it was the way my brain started to disassociate from what was going on. Because sometimes you need a little barrier from the "real world." mother is dying. I'm not surprised. You all know that. I've been saying for a long time that I was pretty sure she was about done. She's been telling me for a long time that she was about done. Just waiting. Seems like she is tired of waiting. She's 87 years old. Dad's been gone for awhile now. Her sister died a couple years after Dad. She's been ready. As she would tell me every time I would talk to her. It's why we went home this year. Because it just felt like this was going to be the last year. Like deep in my bones I just knew this was it.

But even not being surprised. Even knowing it was going to happen sooner rather than later it's still hard. My sister sent a text out this morning letting all of us know that she didn't think it would be much longer. I happened to be at the gym when I got it. And I didn't leave. Because I wasn't done with my workout. I mean I thought about it. Because that seemed like the right thing to do, but then again there was that part of my brain that thought, what good will that do? So I finished my workout. While texting with my sister about the end of my mother's life and the planning date for her funeral.

And I cried a few times. Did you know how hard it is to hold a plank position when you are crying? Extra level of difficulty right there.

I'm sure it's a form of shock. That keeping going when you are trying to process something like that. I can remember when Brent's father died and I knew that as soon as Brent got out of the shower I was going to have to tell him. I didn't tell him while he was in the shower because it seemed like he should at least be able to shower in peace before I wrecked his day. And it's practical as well, right? The keep going portion has to kick in or we would all just shut down in grief and not ever stop.

So mother has decided that she is done. I have to imagine she is at peace with her decision. Now we just wait for the final word. And we learn how to be at peace as well.

You know I'll be writing about it for awhile. Because I have to. It's how I deal with things.

Thanks for being here with me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


She wiped the drop from her cheek. Honestly she had no idea how one person could be so messy. You would think that there had been a houseful of monkeys throwing shit at each other, but no, just one person. And no shit throwing. But still really messy.

She looked around the room to see what else she might have missed. There was a smudge on the wall a little higher than her first round of cleaning could reach. She went to find a step stool. There really was no telling how long it had been there. She once found a splash of blueberry smoothie on a cabinet a year after the exploding blender incident. How it had avoided detection for so long was a mystery. But it had. Old or new the smudge was going away.

It could be she noticed it because of that inevitable cascade that happens with a really deep cleaning. You know the one. Where you clean the carpet and then that shows how dirty the couch is and then when that's clean the drapes really look drab and before you know it the whole house needs to be remodeled because cleaning just wasn't going to be enough. Or at least that's how it worked out for her. The cascade effect.

So much in life could actually be traced to that really. You want to try a new recipe so you find one that sounds good but you don't have all of the spices it calls for so you have to buy all of those, then you discover that it calls for a pan you don't have or a cooking technique you don't know so you are buying, researching, and stocking up on all new things for a simple new recipe. It would be easier to eat every meal out, right? But no, instead the cascade takes effect and you have a $50 plate of food in front of you and a cabinet full of spices you'll never use again.

Or how about a new outfit? How many times had there been a really cute top that then needed a new skirt or pair of pants to go with it? And then the shoes really needed to match and how about that necklace that would go perfectly but you don't have any earrings to match? Cascade effect in action. Now you have all new things and have to figure out where to wear them that is special enough for this really great outfit.

Maybe that new outfit could be worn when trying that new recipe.

She laughed out loud.

She really did crack herself up.

She peeled the gloves off of her hands as she did one last look around to make sure that one rouge smudge was all that she had missed. Everything looked good to her. She tossed the gloves in the center of the drop cloth and began rolling up the edges. The drop cloth had saved a lot of extra work. Even though the floor was tile and probably wouldn't have been too difficult to touch up this way she didn't have to mop. She hated doing the floors any more often than she had to. Especially tile with all the grout lines. Really could fall down the cascade well there. Grout lines scrubbed with a toothbrush leading to the baseboards needing to be washed, or worse, repainted if you found stains that just wouldn't come out. Honestly, how much mess could one person make?

She taped up the bundle and backed out of the room doing one more scan of the walls and floor.

She peeled the shoe covers off of her feet and handed them to the man waiting on the front porch. "Put these on before you go inside. And be careful of any leaks. I'm pretty sure I've got it all sealed up tight, but you'd be surprised how big of a mess one person can make."

Monday, August 5, 2019

House About That?

Can you believe that Brent and I went and looked at an open house on Sunday? AGAIN. After swearing we were done. After getting all of the remodeling on this place taken care of. After starting the "Needs Freshened" list. After replacing the hot water heater, installing a plug for the car and having the deck stained...we went and looked at another house.

And if we had seen it in the first round or even second round of looking we would have made an instantaneous offer. And we're still considering it. Though I'm pretty sure that the family we saw sitting at the table with the realtor yesterday while we looked was ready to make an offer. But...

It's all on one floor. It has the potential for a great yard. It has a sunroom. It has a little patio off of the master bedroom. It's pretty close to our neighborhood so it wouldn't be a massive commute change. It has solar panels on the roof and a plug for the car already set up in the garage. It kind of backs up to a park so at least part of the area won't be developed. needs some things. Bathrooms and kitchen remodeling, yes, the things we JUST DID here. A laundry room remodel. Yard work. The double garage doors either need enlarged or made into a single door. And it's an older house....kills me to say that because just like me it was built in 68 but that's older for a house. So there are going to be older house issues that pop up as we work on it. We also aren't sure if the neighborhood is on a downswing or if it's just older people who are living there so they don't take care of the yards like they used to and it's not really something to worry about...

And it's the same discussion that we always have. The cost. We have a reasonable mortgage here and we will be done paying on it by the time Brent retires. No house payment on retirement income. There? We would be starting over with a 30 year mortgage (we were built in 68 remember) so that means no way in hell will we be done paying on it before retirement. It's also a lifestyle changer. I would have to cook more. We would have to travel less.

But it's one story. And it has a yard with tons of potential. And I don't think any of the remodeling things are necessary, as in we could make due for awhile with the tiny bathrooms, not ideal kitchen, etc.

So basically I'm halfway hoping that there were multiple offers on it this weekend and I can just shrug my shoulders and say, "I really like my house and lifestyle" and move along and halfway hoping that we buy it and dive in to the changes.

Halfway between is a weird place to be.

I am pretty positive I'd be happier staying here.

And almost certain that I'd be happier moving.

We never should have looked.

Sunday, August 4, 2019


We had four mass shootings from yesterday afternoon to this morning. Four. Two will get more press than the other, but four. And to be perfectly honest I had three written in that sentence before remembering that it was four. That's how fucked up things are.

El Paso- 20 dead, dozens more injured

Dayton- 9 dead, dozens more injured

Douglass Park, Chicago - 7 wounded

Chicago - 4 dead

We've got a problem. We've actually got a lot of problems. We have a ton of problems. And people are dying because of them.

I'm not writing about guns or gun control. You know I gave up on that after Sandy Hook. But honestly, I shouldn't fucking have to be writing about it. I shouldn't have to try and convince you or anyone else that there are real serious problems with gun violence and hateful rhetoric and poverty and crime and...

But I'm not writing about that.

I'm not even writing about the way that list will be divided to suit political parties. The pay attention to two of these and not the other two because that will suit the story I want to tell you. I'm not writing about how bullshit diversionary tactics solve zero fucking issues. They just give false morality coverage to cowards.

I'm certainly not going to write about how thoughts and prayers are useless without actions. And I wouldn't dream of pointing out that for those of you that practice that faith, the verse is: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead." James 2:26 (actually you should start with James 2:14 and get a little reminder on how we are supposed to treat those less fortunate than we are, but 2:26 is a good one for summing up, if I was going to write about that, which I am not)

I'm clearly not going to write about how fucked up it is that yet another Republican Senator is ready to blame video games when we are not the only country with video games but we are the only country with this level of gun violence so it's CLEARLY not fucking video games. Or that people are ready with their lone wolf theory even though the El Paso shooter posted his manifesto to a board in 8chan where the New Zealand shooter had posted before him and the San Diego Synagogue shooter had as well so it's not so lone wolfy is it? But why would I write about that?

I'm not writing about any of that, because there seems to be no point to it.

I mean, why would we want to examine the real issues?
Why would we want to have an honest discussion about the abundance of easily accessible fire power we have in the United States?
Why in the world would we want to address the underlying issues that are causing these deaths?

20 dead.
9 dead
4 dead
dozens and dozens and dozens wounded


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Grind My Gears...

Okay, I know the title makes it seem like this will be a ranty post. "That really grinds my gears!" But it's more that I seem to have entered an idea wasteland so I will be writing daily trying to get things moving again.

Until I find the sweet lubricant of creativity (sounds super dirty that way) I will be grinding the sand out of my gears.

Grind my gears.

Forced march writing.

Doing the work.


It's such an odd thing. Writing. Especially fiction. I have been watching MasterClasses this year (as you know) and I've watched a few by authors I enjoy. All of them touch on their process. And all of their processes are different. And none of them can really explain HOW or WHERE the ideas come from. They just are. Because that's what happens. They just are.

Like yesterday's short story. I really needed to write SOMETHING and I really WANTED it to be fiction. But I had zero ideas or starts that were really grabbing me. I mean I have notes for stories I could have picked but I didn't want to waste those on a grinding exercise. The things I have notes on are for days I'm feeling it. I want those to be something special, not just something for the sake of being.

So anyway...

I sat down at the computer and thought...let's see who is in the bar today. My bar people rarely let me down. I opened my head up wide and let it flow out. The story was suddenly there. Though it twisted at the end (I even do it to myself) in such a way I had to go back and change a piece in the middle that didn't make sense anymore. Now was it a great story? No. Not at all. But it was a fine story. A good diversion. A thing. And most importantly a thing that showed I can still do it.

Which is the biggest challenge I think people who write face. We are always pretty sure that whatever this magical sauce is it will dry up and go away. And then we will be left with the yearning to write but no words to do so. No story to tell. No rants to rant about.

And fear dries up the creative juices.

And grinds your gears.

So I keep writing. Forced march writing. Waiting for those floods to come back. And you know they will. I hope they will. They always have before.

But until that happens you are stuck with blogs about nothing and stories about bar people.

Grinding those gears.

Sorry for the noise...

Friday, August 2, 2019

Not My Type...

"What are you staring at?" Glen had been trying to track where Janet's eyes were focused but it was too crowded in the bar to pinpoint.

"See that guy over there at the corner of the bar? In the brown leather jacket?"


"I used to date him."

"Really?" Now Glen really looked at him. "He doesn't look like your type at all."

"He's the reason why he doesn't look like my type."

Glen laughed, "That bad?"

"So much worse."

"How long did you date?"

"Asking me or asking him?"

"Well, I don't know him so we are going to go with you."

"I say we dated for a year. He would tell you we dated for two."

"And why?"

"Because he couldn't believe I would break up with him. So he kept insisting we just were too busy to go anyplace but that we were still dating."

"That sounds a little crazy."

"Yup. But that's what he did. Friends would see me and ask about him and I would say we had broken up. They would see him and he would insist that we were still dating but that I was busy at work, or with my family and that's why I wasn't with him right then. They would say, 'Janet says you split up.' and he would tell them we just had a fight and we're fine."


"Like I said, he couldn't believe I would break up with him. After a year of refusing to give in and see him again he broke up with me and moved on."

"He broke up with you after you had been broken up for a year?"

"Yup. Sent me a long email message about how it just wasn't working for him anymore, that I was a great gal, seriously, he called me a great gal, but that he just didn't see a future with us and that he hoped I'd be able to move on."

"Wow. And well, were you?"

Janet laughed, "You'd think so right? I mean I already had. It should have been a relief. And at first I felt that way. Then friends started to act weird around me. People started avoiding me. I wasn't being invited to things anymore. He told everyone that I was crazy. That I had been stalking him. I wouldn't let him go. I was making up stories about him. I was creating drama, saying we were broken up just to make him come back begging for forgiveness for sins he never committed. And since I had been telling everyone we were broken up they thought he was telling them the truth."

"Why didn't they think you were telling the truth?"

"Because he added details to make it all look real. Pictures of me stalking him."


"Yep. Seems as though he had begun following me, I never saw him, but he saw me. He'd take my picture and then send them to mutual friends, 'I'm so worried about her, she's here again, I don't think she knows I've noticed her...' and when they would show me his proof I would sound crazy, of course I hadn't noticed him, I wasn't the one following him! But there would be the picture."

"It sounds like you needed a new bunch of friends if they all believed him over you anyway."

"Yeah, that's the conclusion I finally came to. But it was a rough few years. And so, now you know why he doesn't look at all like my type."

Glen tried to imagine what it must have been like, losing her friends over a crazy ex-boyfriend. But he was glad that brown leather jacket wearing guys were no longer her type. He was not the sort to ever sport a brown leather jacket.

"Do you think he's still stalking you?"

"I don't think so. I don't have anything left he can ruin. He got his revenge over me daring to leave, I can't imagine all these years later he'd still be that invested."

"But he is here."

"He is."

"And you are keeping your eye on him."

"I am."

"So you don't fully trust that?"

"I don't. But what else can I do?"

"Well....we could kill him."

Janet laughed, "Oh, Glen, you always say the funniest things. Thank you, I needed that laugh."

Glen laughed with her. But he wasn't joking.

Crazy is also a type.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Shared Moments...

There was a really loud guy at the gym this morning. I mean REALLY LOUD. I wear earbuds and listen to a podcast while I workout. Most everyone around me wears headphones of some type, either in ear or over ear and I have to imagine there is music or a podcast playing in their ears as well. The gym plays music over a speaker so if you don't have your own thing going there is that as well. Now I don't listen to my stuff on blare, I want to be able to hear things around me just for safety reasons, but it's all pretty muted. And especially when I'm lifting and listening to my podcast I just don't have a lot of other focus to go around.

But this guy was LOUD. Like look around the gym to spot him because holy shit he's loud loud.


And rest.

Then he'd do it all over again.

And he was a fairly large guy. Like I'd say 6'4" or so. And big. Not a willowy guy. And he was lifting decent weight but I've see smaller guys lift more. And quieter. His size probably helped with the volume. Lung capacity or something...

He was LOUD.

And you get that every once in awhile. You always have some of your grunters and groaners and whooshers. You have some that you know sometime in the 70s read an article about focusing their chi with noise and do that EEESH sound on the last few lifts. And it's all a bit much, but this guy? This guy was LOUD. Like his chi was so focused it was peeling the paint off the walls.

But here was where it went from super annoying to quite funny.

I wasn't the only one who was looking around for the noise machine. It took me about three of his sets to start. And as my eyes skipped over the weight area I noticed everyone else doing the same. We were all looking for this apparently wounded animal that had broken in to the gym. And as eyes would meet eyes a smile would break out on each face. Usually accompanied by a small head shake or a shoulder shrug.

Little moments of contact all across the gym floor because of this one guy being REALLY LOUD.

It was so ridiculously loud that none of us could help but be amused. I was quieter when I gave birth to Christopher. Seriously. This guy was LOUD.

So smiles here and there. And then by the time the 15th set of his was finishing there were a few heads hanging down, hands over faces, shoulders shaking, trying to contain the spread of laughter.

Okay, would it be somewhat mean in a way that we were all laughing at how FREAKING LOUD this guy was? Maybe...

But I prefer to think we were all focusing our chi on our laughter...

There was a lot of chi focusing.

I mean it, he was LOUD.