sucker punch

lost.pngI’m starting to better understand why I am who I am.  As my parents age- I think that their personalities are becoming more and more exaggerated. Some of the not-so-nice things that my mom did in small doses are becoming more and more frequent and longer-lived.

Today my Dad called to tell me that my mom was accusing him of all sorts of things and he was getting near the end of his rope. He didn’t say that end of his rope stuff, but I’ve been there and I knew what he was talking about.  I got that familiar sick feeling in my guts and asked what I could do- could I come over? He said that would probably make things worse. So there we were. Helpless.  He said he would try to call his social worker to see if they could do anything.

I went over around noon. And then my mom proceeded to once again, take a death march down memory lane (dad and I were the hostages) as she regaled us with stories about how we had wronged her.  My dad had let his mother and aunts give my sister bourbon when she was a baby and that’s why she had gotten cancer and died at age 27. His family treated her like a slave. They made her wash dishes after dinner. He does the same to her now.

I had made her sleep on the floor by the front door once. (nope- this never happened) I told her I never wanted her to “set foot in my house again” on several occasions (I may have said that in a fit of anger- I admit that.) I picked a terrible nursing home for my dad- implying that it is mostly my fault that he hasn’t made a complete recovery from his stroke. I didn’t tell her I was moving them to Michigan. I didn’t let her pack enough clothing. I said that the apartment would have a cafeteria and that it would be big, and that there would be a doctor…

Imagine if you will, a small, rather dumb child- raised by two fairly narcissistic parents. The child grew up with a longing for attention and affection. Her family was not one to give hugs. The mother was jealous and dramatic and should have had martyr tattooed somewhere on her body, perhaps her forehead. The father,  who fucking knows. He wasn’t home that much and when he was,  he generally said little and ruled with a bit of an iron fist. The mother had no boundaries when it came to the children. She used them as pawns when she discovered her husband’s affairs. They two children were not close, because they spent a great deal of time trying to soak up the little attention that they could rally from one of the parents. The mother would often pit one against the other. In order to preserve her self, the dumb child became rather detached and independent.

As she grew, her parents saw her turn into a rather cold, selfish and calculating young woman.  And she was those things- because she learned that she would get little from her parents. Luckily, life eventually taught her that she had value and was worthy. But it took a damn long time. Which is actually okay. A classic case of better late than never, if there ever was one.

Chinese Chives and Two Batmans

It is definitely the Chinese chives that I bought before we left on vacation, that were starting to decompose in the fridge creating a most pungent aroma that made it all the way to the freezer. Where the ice cubes live.  (Where there is an automatic ice maker that hasn’t worked since I purchased the fridge over three years ago.) I made a point of cleaning the house before we left, so that we could come home to order.  But I forgot about the chives.

So, traveling to Europe. Well- we did it. I’m having a bit of trouble debriefing/processing the trip because of the realization that I’m clearly not a Batman. There are times when I want and need to be in charge of things- but traveling is clearly not one of them. I thought that it was something that I could learn or grow into. But I am too often in a semi-state of being  perplexed, confused and anxious. I try to fake confidence, but can’t seem to hold that for long. This trip confirmed that. I assume that part of that comes from being directionally challenged. I try to read maps, but struggle. I lose my bearings in a flash and discombobulation sets in. Once that happens, I become flustered and the confidence evaporates.

In travel, I am a Robin in need of a Batman. That’s important to know about yourself when traveling. Two Robins traveling together can be a disaster. Two anxious travelers can quickly become paralyzed by indecision and fear. Not overwhelming fear- just kind of a scared paralysis that makes it difficult to navigate a new place. Inconsequential  decisions become weighty and complicated.  The fear of making the wrong decision that might lead into an embarrassing or expensive mistake raises the stakes.  Conversely, two Batmans are probably fine- and may only run the risk of arguing over what sight to see first or what adventure to take. Two Robins may end up, night after night, dining in their hotel restaurant, too timid to wander out into the unknown world alone.

I’ve placed two teacups full of baking soda in the fridge. Well, one in the fridge and one on the freezer. When I was searching for the offending odor, I also found rotting bok choy,  lettuce and what I think was part of a potato.

 

 

 

saturday, in the garage, wish it was the 4th of July…except that not really because that is my least favorite holiday.

My garage. It is full of stuff. But I can happily say that at this moment it is less full of stuff! I took several bags of stuff to Goodwill this morning. And I did some reorganizing, some breaking down of boxes and lots of sweeping. I secretly want to turn my garage into a kind of workshop. That is not filthy. But that is also not shiny floored Kardashian either. Somewhere in between.  But artsy. I want a place where I can paint. And make shit. And maybe still park a car.

I am making potatoes. Well, nature and a farmer somewhere actually made the potatoes, I’m just cooking them. With shallots. And leeks. And garlic, And onion. Like breakfast style.

I took a walk this morning- even though I did not get up until 7. It is a gorgeous day. Chilly but beautiful. I wonder who will get elected in France. I hope it’s not that horrible, horrible woman.

Coffee is a wonderful thing.  Life is good.

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heart in swirlI had the weirdest dream. There was a store- we owned the store- we meaning my family, which was different from my actual family, I think I had a brother and it was with his wife, my daughter and my mom and dad- and we all ran the store together.  And at some point my Mom died.  And I remember feeling a profound sense of loss and sadness. I remember waking up and literally thinking-  “I feel a profound sense of loss and sadness and it is a terrible feeling.”  And then I thought, when my mom does die- I wonder if it is going to feel this terrible- because this sucks ass.  I thought about that for a few minutes.  I wanted to take my mother and her frail little body and hold her, cradle and comfort her and feel love- the kind of mother/daughter love that makes it’s way into movies. And that made me even more sad. Then I remembered that I do not have that relationship with my mother. And that made me sad for a whole other bunch of reasons!

In other unrelated news  I am going to Paris and London next week and I joined eHarmony. And I feel a little embarrassed about that, not the traveling part, the other part. I don’t even know when I officially broke up with the the last boyfriend. I did it so shittily.  Like really terrible. For the second time.  I do have a fairly not great history of ending relationships in a very lame way. (It is usually after things have been pretty lousy- and we’ve tried to work things out. It happens when I just get exhausted and there is an impasse- or  we’re not hearing each other.  Once I get to a certain point, something just clicks and I am done. I follow that up with a “it’s over” text or email.)

(Did you see there how I didn’t have anything to say about my vacay? That’s because I can’t even believe that it is happening and I won’t believe it until I am on an airplane and that airplane is in the air.)

I may not be made for this internet dating business. But it is good for the ego to know that you’re not garbage. It’s nice to dip the proverbial toe into the dating waters. It helps balance out the terrifying dreams.

The Gall

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bubbles

I’m tired. If I stop doing, I’ll never get started again. Or, I will, but it will be like when you don’t get enough sleep and you have to get up for a stupidly early meeting or flight or something dumb, that sounded good when you planned it (theory) but now that the alarm is belching and the bed is extra cozy, and you have to summon up every last ounce of adult in you and force yourself to make the move (practice) from bed to life. That’s what it feels like.

So little sleep! Decisions are more difficult. Judgement gets hazy. Feet drag. But you keep schlepping through, trying to smile like some June Cleaver-y zombie. Just like women everywhere- you do.

Young adults live in a very weird time. The world is an anxious place. Internet. Instant everything. I had the luxury of growing up like an actual kid. No one under 17 had a CLUE what was going on in the their own state, much less the country or the world. Oh, we were occasionally summoned to the ONE television set in the house to watch a man land on the moon, or to hear about a new president. But that was pretty much it. The world was the street that you lived on. And it was manageable for our tiny, developing brains.

Today, most kids are not so lucky. My daughter is one of those. She lives with generalized anxiety disorder and O.C.D. She occasionally has panic attacks. She does not do super well in some stressful situations. But she is learning to manage that part of her life. We are negotiating this world together. Luckily for me, she is smart, funny, kind and 94% of the time we are each other’s most comfortable person on the planet to hang with.

She had her gall bladder out on Wednesday. People at the hospital loved her. She is rather pretty, charming, and funny. And low maintenance. And young and healthy. They don’t even keep you in the hospital overnight for that (which they SHOULD).

We came home later that day and she was ridiculously sleepy. She slept, but it was not good sleep. She ate too much, too soon (my fault!) and she got terrible heartburn. She called it “stairs” because she said it felt like little men were building a poorly constructed and rushed set of rough brick stairs up her throat.  She also had terrible pain in her upper abdomen, which she called “flame thrower” because she said it felt like someone with a blow torch was standing behind her and trying to burn a hole right through her.

When she did sleep, she had terrible, upsetting nightmares.  When you have an anxiety disorder like hers, these kinds of symptoms are compounded by about 63%. Resting becomes impossible, because your brain is on high alert for danger. It’s just a very shitty place to be. It’s exhausting, and it feels never ending and borderline hopeless. Just like getting out of a cozy bed, it takes every ounce of her will to muster up the strength and courage to fight that anxiety. I can help- but I can’t do it for her.

Sometimes I say and do the right thing, sometimes it takes me a few tries to get it right. Sometimes I say and do exactly the wrong thing. I have sent her into full on panic attacks and have literally caught her in my arms when she passed out.  (That only happened once, but it was terrible.) I think I’ve mostly learned when to back off, just as she has learned when to tell me to back off.

We have discovered (this time I am grateful for the Internet) that hydrocodone has some pretty nasty side effects and that she was experiencing most of them. Muscle/body aches, dry mouth, terrible headaches- and this on top of everything else. So last night we quit it all together. And we damned it a lot.  And then I got her some Advil and then we went to sleep.  And we slept. I got the most consecutive hours of sleep that I have had in 5 days!  (But I’m still tired!!)

Today, we have turned the corner. I went to the grocery store (yay! there is still a world outside!)  When I got home, she told me that tonight she wants to sleep in her own room. And I think I can go back to work tomorrow. I will put on clothing that has actual buttons or a zipper! And then I think I can close my office door- and for five or ten minutes I can stop. I can close my eyes and breathe and know that she’s going to be fine.

Almost a Flood

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It’s been raining a lot here. And all the little ponds and creeks and all the not so little rivers are on the verge, if not already, of spilling over onto streets and other low lying stuff. I like looking at the moving water. I drove my parents to look at a river that was very high. And then to a university owned sheep facility- because sheep are just cute. I was hoping that there would be lambs- but we didn’t see any. It was still a nice little reprieve. Nature can be pretty soothing. My daughter was on campus the other night with some friends and they took off their shoes, rolled up their pants and happily waded through a very deep puddle. A flood to some is a joy to others.

Being a parent and being a child at the same time is like living with two heads. Each one requires its own way of dealing with the world. If you’re interested in feeling exhausted, I recommend living with both heads and going full steam ahead. I’m starting to think that the two heads are going to eventually merge into one. At least for a minute or two. They seem to be growing more and more similar. I think. I think they will continue on this trajectory, heading towards sameness, until they collide. Then they’ll kind of high five each other, like two old friends walking by one another.  Then they’ll keep going on their way. Eventually changing places. As my kid needs me less and less, my parents appear to need me more and more. In both cases, I try to act as covertly as possible. Try. Sometimes I can’t keep my big mouth shut.

I’ve been a single parent for about a decade. I chose to leave my marriage-ish thing. (My ex had a very, very hard time with the split. So much so that he moved. Far, far away. One thousand, three hundred and some change away.)

My sister died in her late twenties. She had a very aggressive stomach cancer. I think. We were not super close. I can say with  equal amounts of happiness and regret that we were on the path to becoming close. I was making an effort. I was learning to really appreciate who she was. When we were children, we learned to be fairly competitive for the limited amount of affection that my parents were able to disburse. Once we got away from all living in the same space and had a few years of life under our belts, I think we started to realize that there was true affection for one another. Kindred spirits, if you will. And then she got sick. And then in less than a year she was dead. As in doornail. Whatever that means.

My parents and her husband managed things- and basically kept me in the dark- and/or I was in denial- or it was some sort of combination- that’s probably the most accurate. I’m sure they were going through there own shit. Her death hit me like, you know like a ton fucking bricks. Except that each of those bricks came one at a time. Sometimes landing right in my face. Sometimes the shoulder. Sometimes the groin. They still come from time to time- but seem to land in the extremities. My emotions, my internal, soulful insides are like a jenga tower. Made out of dried up bird and mouse bones, and hair and spit. One little breeze and it all comes tumbling down.

But being the sister doesn’t leave much room for grief. For external grief. That goes to the husband and the parents. Think about it. Have you known anyone who died? Of course the focus is on the spouse and the parents or the children. The siblings are like- an afterthought. And that’s probably how it should be. Maybe. It really depends on the family dynamic. Especially when everyone is an adult. But grief really is for children, partners and parents. That’s just how it is.

So I generally fly solo. And I think I like it that way.

Reprieve

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Had dinner with the parents last night. It went well- meaning nothing crazy happened. The plan was to have my daughter set the parental controls on their TV- to hopefully prevent my mom from ordering another season of major league baseball.

The remote control makes my mom very angry. I totally get it. It’s small, the buttons have tiny writing on them, the writing is white on black- making it even more difficult for older eyes to see. It’s even hard for older hands to hold. My parents remember simple days of turning knobs. Or of big cumbersome remotes with no more than 12 buttons. It’s a bit like Elf, but without all the cute and funny. And there isn’t a friendly narwhal. They live in a world designed for younger people. And it gets harder for them to navigate each day. As their mental and physical capacities continue to decline, the world continues to speed ahead.

 

Four Hundred and Fifty Three Dollars

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I took my parents shopping yesterday. It was fine. Which was a relief. Because someone at the Senior Day Care (where my Dad goes three days a week for physical therapy, all of his medical care, and escape) called me Wednesday to ask me if I knew if my Dad was okay.

It was the day that I called my Dad and he had to hang up because he and my Mom were apparently having an argument- one of those no one win discussions, where my mom berates him for everything. Literally. Everything.  This includes her life,  the Korean war, the weather, his stroke, my sister dying, their apartment. Apparently things got so bad, my Dad called his Senior Day Care in a bit of a panic and they sent over someone to pick him up. I don’t know exactly what that means. I think it means that he was either scared that my mom might pick up a frying pan and hit him or that he had simply had enough and maybe he was going to be the frying pan wielding person in their relationship. When they got there, he acted like he didn’t call. Which sounds like exactly what someone in an abusive relationship would do. Because he’s scared of my mom.

Every time I think my head and heart are at capacity–I am incorrect. I wonder if its because  after my Dad had his stroke and I had gone through a few kooky/trying episodes with my mom and had managed to survive- I felt like a muscle I had never used kept getting stronger and stronger! I started thinking and saying that I had finally learned to be patient. Then I read that you shouldn’t get too gloat-y about finally learning patience, because then God and/or the Universe will sock it to you.  And so it is.

Everything seemed to be fine. I tried to quietly ask my Dad if he was okay and he kept saying he was. But there was distance. But he’s like that sometimes.  My mom seemed fine. She also kind of apologized for her brain being crazy. I will continue to monitor the situation.

When we got back to my parent’s house, they were opening their mail and my Dad opened the cable bill. Xfinity. It was four hundred and fifty three dollars.  There was a pay-per-view boxing match and a season of MLB added. Plus a few movies. I called and was a belligerent asshole. Which I felt terrible about. Anger at the world dumped on some poor, unsuspecting customer service representative. After about 10 minutes, I realized what I was doing- I slowed my roll, retrenched and ended the call.I’ll try again on Monday. And then I will take my daughter to their apartment to put blocks on all pay-per-view channels.

One million sighs.

What’s The Trouble Bubble?

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questionable finger

I’m getting emotional whiplash from my parents. I don’t know what’s what. Today my Dad called and asked when I was bringing the AT&T papers by. I said whenever it was most convenient for them. He asked if I was going to swing by on my lunch break, and I said that I could do that. Then he asked if I could pick up a Bento Box  for their lunch and whatever I wanted. I said sure.

So I ordered their food, picked it up and went to their apartment. I got confused with directions as I often do, and it took me longer than it should have. I got angry about that for a few seconds and then calmed myself down. Five additional minutes was not going to be a big deal. I still found myself driving rather aggressively. Which I felt guilty about almost immediately. Then I tried to breathe and relax about it.  I thought about French fries on the way there. Hot, salty McDonald’s French fries. I think I already did that once this week. Medium fries and a medium Coke for lunch. By the way, a medium Coke is huge. I keep those little McDonald’s salt packets in my car. That salt is finer than other salt packages. So it sticks better to those fries. I’m trying not to go there anymore. McDonalds. Which might be why I think about fries a lot. Food and feelings! A deadly combination. That’s why ya gotta shove those feelings way down deep inside!

I didn’t stay long at my parent’s long. I was on the phone with AT&T for most of the time I was there. I was getting highly annoyed. But I wanted my Dad there, because he is the authorized user. I will avoid all things AT&T for the rest of my life, whenever possible. AT&T and Toyota.  Hate them both. Assholes. When I was getting ready to leave, my mom began gathering some older tangerines. She put them in a plastic grocery bag for me. Along with a bottle of Sprite. This makes me want to cry. This gesture of love. This is my mother trying to do what she can to try to take care of me when she feels that her world is collapsing around her. When I’m the one taking care of them. I tell both of my parents that I love them, which I do, and I gently hug them both. I walk out of the building with my tangerines and get into my car. I want to yell. I want to yell, “FFFUUUUCCCCCCKKKKK YYYOOOOUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!”  to the Universe. I seem to want to do that a lot lately.

 

 

Rollercoaster Cheesecake

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My Mom is not speaking to me. Again. I took my parents  grocery shopping last Sunday and everything was fine. (Today is Wednesday.) I called them on Monday and they were in the middle of some epic battle- so my Dad couldn’t talk. I called last night and everything was fine. I called this morning and suggested that I come by and take my Mom shopping on my lunch break, and drop off some papers. My Dad said he didn’t think that was a good idea. I suggested that we have dinner on Thursday and my Dad said that he didn’t that was a good idea. He actually said, “I think we’re gonna need to beg off for a while.”  Beg off for a while.

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Beg off is a phrase from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s what creepy Patricia Neal says to young  George Peppard on the phone, when her husband shows up, early and unexpectedly and she has to cancel on Georgie. Or, its what your Dad says to you when your Mom hates you. And he probably low key hates you too.

Okay.  I’m like, all over the damn place with my parents.  I don’t do so well with all of the- they like me, they don’t like me. And all the they need me but they resent me for being there for them. If I do too much, they find reasons to get angry with me. If I do too little- ditto. As Cathy once said, “ACK”!

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