Friday, September 30, 2005

Reminders to myself:
Its not always my job to mend the fence. Its not always my job to fill the silence. Its not always my job to bandaid every hurt.

Crying is not something to hide. Not from the vet, not from my co-workers, not from my kids, especially not from my friends.

The rest of the balloon is under less pressure, in fact more durable when a little air is leaked out.

I could consider being at least a half as understanding of my own faults as I am of others.

Tuna fish cans in the recycling make the whole cabinet stink.
No matter how many times you rinse them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

After lunch yesterday I spent a couple of hours at the bookstore, a trip I had postphoned from last week when other errands became more urgent. Only now, I found I wasn't sure why I was there. The book sections were rearranged so I was further confused, but with a bit of wandering I found myself in the travel aisle and lost myself in descriptions of places I haven't been and some I have: history, geography, language, food. A week ago my presumed reason for coming to look through the books was to think about fun places I could travel on my own next year, but after a short time browsing it drifted into thoughts about where I might take the kids, and then, after scanning another 5-6 books, the vague unease of total disinterest. So I moved onto the fiction section. There is a "bookseller's pick" table where I often find books that interest me, and so I read backcovers of this and that and found nothing that I wanted to read. More precisely, I found many books I most definitely did NOT want to read. Moved on to the main fiction area and the first shelf where there were anthologies of stories by Irish authors and best erotica of 2005 and women's stories about breaking up and I even leaned there a while to read a whole short essay by Colum McCann (who is a terrifically lyrical author) but when I went over to check out his new book it didn't interest me either. I am out of reading material but I also seem to be out of my usual self so I pass up on the authors I might have bought a new book from, passed by the genres I would typically read, couldn't really stomach shelling out the money at all. I had thought to distract myself the ways I know work best, but like those match-a-shape toddler puzzles, nothing matched the cut-out I was holding up and it was beginning to bother me.

As I arrived at this realization and started to walk out of the bookstore I had a nearly complete out-of-body experience, watching myself take each step towards the door, no connection at all with the senses, feelings of the person who is me. I wonder for a moment who is in that body now? Where did her interest in things go? Did I leave myself behind in one of those books I had browsed? Does this happen to other people in bookstores?

Through the double doors and out into the parking lot I stepped, where five English sparrows fluttered and sputtered in a puddle near a parkstrip, bathing in the sun. They are not thinking or deciding anything, responsible for no one. Suddenly I am back in my body again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Does a spider angst over the imperfections in its web?
Its good enough to catch a meal.
Now stop.

Hurricane Season

Seven weeks left they say
Not I, I counter, I have had enough of this
Swirl of despair wrapped around its deceptively calm eye.
You might say she has weathered the storms well-
Ignoring the evacuation orders.
But numb acceptance of the inevitable
Is not a disaster relief plan when
The next gale is headed this way
Levees already damaged and needing repair.

I am sorry but
Next when you turn to me for shelter
You will find this time, my windows have blown out
Now boarded up and
Me, fleeing
Before my hopes, too, are swallowed by the gulf.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Its been a busy and emotional week here, so its been hard to get a post up on the blog.

I had a great visit with a college friend from Los Angeles Monday which reminded me what friendship is made of, and how easy it is to be with certain people even when ten years elapses between visits. But Wednesday's vet visit with Lydia brought a sad verdict of a cancerous and malignant tumor under her tongue (high likelihood of Squamous Cell Carcinoma) with no real viable treatment option. Either we do surgery to remove the tumor (which apparently doesn't typically heal well and then just grows back in a month or two from the little ganglia the tumor has invaded her jaw with) or we care for her palliatively until the time comes to put her to sleep, which I'm afraid might happen rapidly, as she is having trouble eating and grooming herself.

Most days I take the single parenting thing in stride, but it was very difficult coming home and breaking the news to my kids without another adult to support them- especially since I was still crying from the visit at the vet. But when I tucked my daughter into bed that night, she thanked me for taking care of her when she fell apart even though I was also feeling bad, and said "I know we'll be ok, we're a strong family." This sounds like a moment out of "The Waltons", but it touched me deeply that she could draw onto that only a couple of hours into the grief.

Now my online time is spent researching what if anything I can do to make Lydia more comfortable and possibly extend her life a little without invasive stuff like feeding tubes. I know for many people that doing the surgery or feeding tube if it had a chance of adding a few months of life is worth it. But I told the kids I wasn't willing to let our unwillingness to let go lead to her experiencing unnecessary pain or loss of her core quality of life and dignity. At least when there's no chance of curing her.

Other aggravations came up with the other pets this week too... the current batch of crickets I got to feed the lizards has been extremely LOUD. So loud my son can not sleep in the room with his lizards now. We keep looking for the offender in the cage but so far no luck. At one point the offender in the cage had found soulmates up in our attic and there was a chorus that filled the whole upstairs. And our dog's radio collar which keeps him from escaping (has worked for two years) stopped keeping him from escaping and I had to rush around to upgrade the receiver because he is impossible to corral once out.

I had some sweet spots this week though... the lunch visit that started it out, the extensive time our vet spent both explaining the disease and my options, not to mention his compassion when he returned to find me finally crying after leaving for a short while to fill the perscription. There were some lovely messages of hope and support about my (non)relationship situation, and a nice note from our plant manager this week about some web site work I had done for my job.

So overall although its been pretty sucky this week, I also keep noticing how lucky I am to have the kinds of friends and family I do around me to keep the sucky weeks from being filled with only despair.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Thanks for all the nice comments and support for Dad's relocation. He's still doing really well. His stuff finally got delivered from the movers, and has started to settle in more. We stopped by yesterday to drop off some extra dry catfood to hold him over until we go to the pet store this weekend, and he was in a great mood. He had eaten over in the dining room again, and there was an Oktoberfest celebration last night, with a special meal (he loves German food), German beer, and an accordian player. He had dinner with a man who had worked in the same industry, and his wife, and at one point Dad rather gleefully mentioned that this man had sung along with the accordianist! He was really excited when I suggested that we go out to a local German restaurant with this couple and talked about liking them quite well. He hadn't gotten out for a walk that day but with all the unpacking I think he was too tired, but he dutifully reported out that he had soup I had stocked in the cottage for him for lunch, and that he'd eaten a pretty big dinner. The food seems to be suiting him pretty well, the night I joined him he came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with the food once you added some salt, that he just hadn't had much appetite in general. Well yeah, he'd hardly been eating at all before he moved up. But its clear that he's enjoying the social part of dinner. Last weekend he complained about how depressing it was seeing men in wheelchairs and significantly disabled when he went to the dining room, but I'm thinking that as he starts to get to know people, they will "individualize" into people he can enjoy talking to and who have a lot of attributes beyond their health related limitations.

We are still working on getting him comfortable with the stick shift in the Cabrio. Hopefully we'll get him to the point he can drive the Cabrio by himself so he isn't depending on me to get him out for his haircuts or other errands. This weekend he'll get to watch his grandson's baseball game (assuming we don't get rained out.)

It was nice to walk in and see the family pictures up on the mantle now, the effort he put into putting some of his decorations out to make the place his. The kids and I had done some stuff so it wouldn't be empty, but now it looks like his place, not just a nice apartment anyone could live in.

Obviously we have a long ways to go before he's going to be sure about staying but so far it really looks good. I'm not anticipating any "much talked about" affairs with the single women there, but he did also relate a story of running into a woman (he hadn't met before) as he was visiting the computer/library space who approached him this way: "Oh Good! Am I glad to see you! I just can't get this zipper pulled up by myself and I was afraid I'd have to wait for someone on staff to help me out." She then turns, revealing a dress open to her waist, and asks him to do the zipper. He was highly amused. I teased him that women sure seemed a lot more forward in making passes as they got to his age. He had to point her out to me in the dining room that night. :)

I hope those of you who are dealing with similar things find something encouraging in this...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

As of this moment, Kurt has officially arrived at another birthday (if you count Nashville time.) I highly recommend visiting him and wishing him the best today.

I realized with a sudden jolt last night that the book I was reading at lunch as a source of comfort and inspiration had a completely different basis of belief about a person's control over their destiny than the book I was reading at bedtime for the same purpose. Yet oddly enough, I seemed to be buying into the implications and suggestions both books were offering.

This is not right I thought to myself. Either you believe that you determine your own destiny, and therefore must act in a way that creates the destiny you dream of, or you believe that whatever destiny has brought your way is exactly perfect for your soul's purpose in that moment, requiring acceptance and faith rather than resistance.

Or of course, the whole thing might be without any predetermination or influence whatsoever. Random.

I find myself wondering, should I be stubbornly picturing a happy future with a man I love as a means of directing that outcome, or accepting that if someone chooses not to be with me, it is probably better for me anyhow? Or accepting that I have zero/zilch/no control over the outcome and even over my feelings about the outcome?
My reading materials yesterday would take different sides in this debate. For some reason I seem to think I can surf all three possibilities. Imagine the best, recognize some dose of reality makes my odds of the best rather low, and justify the worst case scenario as the one which stands to teach me the biggest lesson. Adaptable aren't I? I likely slip and slide among them as they best suit my changing desires for comforting and control.

I suspect this is creating havoc with the universe, much like a remote control addict who can't alight on any one channel for more than a few seconds before pushing the button again.

I've received some particularly caring and heartening emails in the last two weeks, also coming from these many different premises, also wishing in the end for a combination of peace, happiness, and the possibility that my dreams might not be in vain. Stories where things worked out for others (thanks Alison). Visualizing things working out for me (thanks Moria). Hoping things turn out ok for me at the same time recognizing that even failure at love is still worthy (thanks Jan). Faith that things work out as they should (thanks Beth). Sharing that a larger force is affecting things in a certain way (thanks Leslee).

I trust all of them.

I'm coming to the conclusion I'm pretty ok with basic faith in an inexact combination here. Lucy from "Peanuts" would brand this wishy-washy I'm sure. Maybe opportunistic? But my experiences in the past seem to validate all three premises, and none of them with any surety.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I thought maybe the blog needed a bit more cheery post for once.
My Dad is settling into an assisted living "cottage" maybe a mile and a half from my house after moving up from LA last weekend. Well I should say after he and his cat moved up. His furnishings are still enroute. That's another story that's somewhat less cheery so I'll just leave it there. He's 85 and lived in his last house for nearly 50 years and we didn't really think this would be the smoothest transition, but he is doing so great! I had been telling myself to expect him to be depressed for at least a month, that anything we had done to make the move pleasant would be virtually invisible for a while while he grieved and missed his old life. But he's so positive and grateful and seems to be adjusting pretty fast. He'll do even better once the rest of his stuff is here and he can feel more settled!

One of the things we thought would be challenging would be eating in the dining room. I know that I felt awkward walking in with him the first day, having lots of people watch us, "the new folks" come in, look for a place to sit, knowing no one, finding a table. Its kinda like a restaurant, but you eat there all the time. This feels odd, let me tell you. Do you send food back if the meat is tough? How do you get a side of Heinz 57 for your hamburger? Anyhow, I was fairly sure he wouldn't brave it on his own the next day when I went back to work. He has a kitchen we set it up with a fair amount of stuff so he could eat in his cottage, but no, the next day he trooped over to the dining room and had lunch with a pair of total strangers. Same thing happened the next day, but this time at dinner he went over, and ate with two new people. He says he's antisocial.... but when we ask him about it he actually seems to have enjoyed the conversation! The food isn't great. Today I made him a spinach, tomato and cheese omelet and fried some toast (his toaster is in the still unaccounted for moving van) and he told me it was the best thing he'd eaten that week, but I'm super proud of him for facing that dining room the first couple of times. I'll go over with him again on Monday for lunch and by then he'll probably know half the people.

I don't think he's actually antisocial. :)

Next week's goal is getting him driving the cabrio so he can get out on his own.
Don't you love the mental picture of my 85 year old dad zipping around in a green cabrio convertible? The same car everyone told me was a "chick car" when I got it?

Hold good thoughts. He still has to get through a Portland winter.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

After two weeks there are finally some words.
Gentle ones. Tentative and sad and kind.
Many of which are mine.

This pile of rocks
Knocked down, kicked and scattered wide
Now to pick carefully which ones
To replace on the cairn.

I suppose it depends
Are we marking tomb or boundary?
But for now, the smoother stones are a good place to start.
Time will tell which others to bring.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

To Drown You Out

There are six voices in my house now
Sometimes they all talk at once.

I must remember my checkbook tomorrow
I will buy that artist's photo-
Bright faces to smile back at me from the wall
As I take a load of laundry down the stairs.

We need crickets and cat food
and a prescription refill.

So there is plenty to do and no lack of laughter
Or good food
And I meant it when I said "thank you God" at grace tonight
I'm neither lonely nor ungrateful
Nor unaware of the misfortunes of so many people this week.

But don't deceive yourself.

Your absence seeps in amongst the events and the faces
So that when I find myself awake at four,
Watching the debris of our relationship
Float by in this vast pooling of loss,
I can't decide if I should cling
Or hold the memories under
Until waterlogged they sink.

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