New Year’s 2010

I remember being a kid watching “2001 A Space Odyssey” and thinking how far away that was in the future. Now we’ve gone far beyond and are entering a new decade. I look back and the past year and so many things have happened that changed the course of my life. My father dying, my daughter having more ECT treatments… then separating from her husband and she and her son moving in with us. It has been a busy year that flew by so fast and I barely have any blog posts to show for it. That disturbs me more than it should.

I’ve decided to set myself some goals this year. Call them resolutions, if you must. I find that a bit overwhelming. Just the fact that resolution has such a bad connotation to it… I mean, seriously, how many people really keep their resolutions? Whereas if you refer to them as goals, it sounds much more obtainable. Perhaps that is all in my own mind, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

So I’ve heard the best way to keep goals is to make them public. To share them with family and friends. Guess what? If you’re reading this, you probably qualify. Here goes:
– I’m going to take better care of my health, specifically my diabetes.
– Directly related to the above, I’m going to eat healthier.
– I’m going to exercise more. No, I’m not going to be unrealistic and say something silly like “daily”… because, well, you’d just know I’d be lying. However, when you are as much of a couch potato as I am, “more” isn’t too hard to do.
– I’m going to try and clean out some of my “nests”. I am by no means a hoarder. Watching that show has made me cringe, however, and realize that it wouldn’t be fun for my family to have to clean out some areas of my home were I to be unable to do it. They’ll thank me later.
– I’m going to write. Daily. Yes. You heard it here. Daily. There, I said it again. Doesn’t mean I’m going to be blogging daily, but if I’m ever going to meet my goal of writing a book someday before I die, I’d better get busy. Soon.
– I’m going to start my Christmas shopping early. This does not mean December 1. (Although that would beat this year…) I would like to have it done before we get busy with the harvest. This includes wrapping. Okay, family… stop laughing. Now.
– I would like to re-connect with some of my friends. Real life friends. I’ve been a bad friend and know it. I only hope it isn’t too late.
– I would like to refrain from cutting my hair off every time I get a wild hair… no pun intended. It is never going to grow out if I keep doing that. I know that.
– I am not going to wait until the last minute to have the bookwork caught up for the tax man. Bad Sue. Causes stress that is totally unnecessary. Totally.
– I’m going to take a little time to be grateful for all I have. I would like to think I’ve gotten better at this through the years, but I never want to forget it. I have it good. I have much good fortune that many people do not. I don’t want take those things for granted.

Okay… on that note, keep in mind… I never intend to even start most of these goals until Monday. That would be next Monday.

Happy New Year!

Almost

That’s how long it’s been. Almost. Almost a year. Almost a year since my dad fell, hitting his head on the garage floor and sending himself into the long goodnight. The date sticks in my brain as i look at the calender, already full of birthday and christmas and new years and year -end tastks to be taken care of for the farm. Work has been a complete and utter zoo… not surprising, since it does it to me every year at this time. I wish I worked in a job that didn’t have its’ busiest time at the same time as harvest and holidays. I used to enjoy the holidays, birthdays. Decorating the house… baking cookies… making candy… getting everything special. Now between work and the farm it is all so hurried and shortened that I feel I have no time for actual enjoyment.

Now, besides all the rest… I have dad. Mom is lonely, I know. I try to see her when I can, but it isn’t enough… never enough. Was never enough when dad was alive and is certainly not enough now. I feel the weight of her guilt trips with every email I receive. I hear it in her voice when she speaks to me. Yes, he was a bastard… yes, however, she loved him and misses him. Thank goodness she has a dog. Without the dog she’d be lost. Some days I feel she loves the dog more than me. The dog is there more than I am.

I want to go back and have him alive again. I want to be able to somehow get through his last months or years of fog -of depression. To tell him how he’s wasting it all. His wife loves him. His daughter? His daughter could, given the right circumstances. I think. I hope.

Give me the strength to get through the next few weeks. It will be hard. We’re almost there. Almost to the date when he fell… the 11th. After that? Things became a blur… for a few weeks. Until it stopped. Until it ended. Until I ended it. Me. My decision. Yes, they went along, but it was my decision to move him to hospice. My decision to take him off the feedings. My decision to let him go. Almost.

Almost.

Those Days

Do you ever have one of Those Days. You know. The kind where you wake up and think it is going to be a good day, only to arrive at work to find out that while you were sleeping the world turned and things happened you have no control over, but that somehow you are supposed to be the one to fix it? I thought I had an issue at work that was resolved. A technical issue. Then I got to work and found out that instead of the problem being fixed, it was made much, much worse. Craptastic, I tell ya.

Then I go to get a pop from the machine. I am not a coffee person (love the smell, hate the taste) so this is my morning caffiene. I put in the money… and the damn button lights up to rudely inform me that particular item is OUT. Water just isn’t cutting it.

I decided after days of soul-searching that I need to let one of my cats go away to a new home. It’s been hard. Very, very, very hard. I try not to show how hard it is to my family as they have had other losses as well and I don’t want it to seem like my pain is any worse than theirs. It isn’t, I know, but it doesn’t mean it hurts any less. It is our newest kitty, Cleo. She was the stray that we saved when she was eating bird seed off the porch and was skin and bones but loads of personality. She’s still a sweetheart, and that’s what makes it so fucking hard to say goodbye. Several months ago we noticed ‘someone’ was pee-ing and spraying around the house. Not good. Since we have five cats, it was hard to catch someone in the act. When we finally did, it was Cleo. We took her to be checked for any bladder infections, etc., and she came out with a clean bill of health. She was put on anti-psychotic medicine and we’d thought that was helping for awhile. Guess not. The problem has cropped up again. From all I’ve read and researched, it is an issue that should be taken care of by her being an only child. I put a flyer up at the vet clinic hoping we could get her adopted out quickly, but no one has called. I decided to take her to the animal shelter. We have a local shelter that has a no-kill policy (I couldn’t take her to anywhere that wasn’t.) I call ahead, as daughter has kindly offered to take her over as I’m working… and would be a blubbering mess if I had to do it. Now they tell me they don’t know if they can take her – the person who answered said she’d have to talk to their director and call me back. Damnit. Just when I make the decision and get myself all psyched up… and, yes, say a tearful goodbye before leave the house this morning, now we are in ‘wait and see’ mode.

I’m sure this all seems so trivial in the big picture. I keep reading about all the pain and heartache floating around the internets… and so many people are hurting and suffering, even in my own home. I just sometimes feel the need to scream… ENOUGH.

So, you with me people? …. Deep breath… “ENOUGH!!!”

Feel better? I do.

Dear Writer

There are some bloggers out there who are amazing writers. Truly amazing. They can say things that get to me. Deep inside of me. Whether it is reaching down and touching a memory or giving me a giggle, they can get to me.

I know it is silly, but when one of those bloggers comments on my blog or sends me an email I suddenly feel like I have been seen. That I’m Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club” and you have fussed over me and made me pretty and accepted and … seen.

I’ve never been one of the ‘cool’ kids. When I was in school I loved the work, the learning, but hated the rest. I sat in the back and barely spoke unless directly called upon. I got good grades because studying was interesting to me and important to me. I enjoyed the challenge.

Growing up I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. We lived near to a large state university that had great vet med program. I took all the math and science I could cram in… then realized I hated it. I liked the idea of the animals and helping them, but to actually do all the rest? Not so much. The final blow came when I went to visit a relative who was a veterinarian and he let me watch him stitch up a cat that had been in a bad fight. Faint? Yeah. As a teen, that was soooo embarrassing.

Somewhere along the way my English teacher noticed I enjoyed writing. Then they offered to let me take an independent study course of creative writing. I’d get credit for doing something I did all the time anyway… and actually liked? Cool.

Of course, my parents thought that going from a veterinarian to a writer was a huge mistake. Just one of the many mis-steps I was going to have in my life, according to them.

One thing led to another which led to … well, life. I never did go to college. Never did get that degree. Never did turn into a ‘Writer’.

Still? It gives me warm and fuzzy’s when the big kids like something I’ve said. Or, to even realize they’ve been here. I wonder if they realize how powerful they really are? How their very prescence here makes me feel validated.

Thanks guys. It means a lot.

No, I’m not going to name names or link. If you think you might be ‘that person’, you probably are.

If You’ve Seen My Mind… Send It Back

No, I'm not really losing my mind… not in the normal sense of the word. I am just having pangs of mortality. I'm not THAT old, but I find as time goes on I'm having more and more brain farts. You know, you have something on the tip of your tongue – or the edge of your brain, more likely – and it just won't come out.

I have always been fairly quick-witted and pride myself on the amount of won't-make-me-a-dime trivia I have always known. Life lint. The itsy bitsy little things that somehow get stuck in the crevices of my brain that I have always been able to pull out at a moments' notice. Now? Not-so-much. I have to stop and think about it… or start playing the 'relationship' game with my spouse or one of my kids. You know, "they were in that movie with what's his name "… and his name starts with a "D". Then they say something else that triggers the name to pop out of hiding.

Lately, I find myself depending more and more not on my own brain, but on the internet. It is so much easier to google the movie I thought they were in or the one I'm currently watching to remember what else they've been in or "where have I seen them"…

I have turned into a cheat.

Even with all that? I am losing it. The other night I was watching a show with my daughters and I was so sure that one of the characters had played a certain part in another show that I bet my daughter $20 on it. I looked it up.

I was wrong.

Do you know what that did to me? I mean, seriously. Me. I'm the one who knows these things. Now it isn't just about the speed of response, or the fact that I even am aware of the connections that are there to be made… now I am wrong even when I'm SURE I am right.

How depressing.

Crazy Eights

(Disclaimer: I've had this in my drafts folder since November of 2007. I've updated it to change some of my answers since then. I think everyone should do this every two years. You'd be surprised at how much changes…or doesn't change.)

Thanks to Lisa here's my Crazy 8's. (btw, what's up with the crazy blog name, Lisa? You certainly are not refusing to blog…)

8 Things I’m Passionate About

1. My Family. They are each individual in personality and desires and I admire and love each of them.

2. My Critters. Yeah. I know. They are "only" animals, right? Wrong. They are very much a part of my life.

3. Reading. I've mentioned before that I can usually go through a book every day or so. Hubs' teases me the library is going to run out one of these days. I've been a reader since I can remember – sneaking around at night reading by any glimmer of light I could get, be it from the streetlight outside my window or the dial of my radio or the little bulb lighting up my electric blanket.

4. Computers. They frustrate me on some levels but on others they challenge me and I like that. I enjoy a good 'fist pump' when I solve some stupid problem that I know I should be able to get but struggle with. When it all works? YES! I've never had any formal training in the things, but for the most part I have a logical enough (Spock-brain?) mind to "think" like the machine. I always thought it would be fun to take some computer courses sometime and see what it is I really don't know…

5. Writing. Along with reading, I've been writing since I can remember. I never kept any sort of a formal "journal" until the blog stuff started, and you probably think since I've been so fits-and-starts this last year that I'm petering out, but I just have this urge to get things out on paper. As an only child and one who spent loads of time alone and had lots of frustrations in my world, I used it as a great escape to vent, dream, and venture into my own head. Probably if I hadn't been writing it all out I may have ended up with way more mental problems along the way. Just a guess.

6. Crafts. Although I feel very passionate about the crafty type things I like to do, my dilemma is I have tooo many of them that I enjoy. I rubber stamp, sew, crochet, knit, cross-stitch, paint, dabble in photography… and have the supplies and attending 'crap' to prove it. As a matter of fact, Hubs calls my "craft" room my "crap" room. He's more right than I care to admit.

7. Gardening. I don't know if this is a passion or just one of those things I can't seem to stop doing to myself. Every spring I get all excited and plant stuff, then spend the summer getting sunburnt and aching muscles, and finally by the time fall gets here I am so sick of it all I can't even put the gardens "to bed" properly. (Fellow gardeners know what that means.) It is rather like my enjoyment of cross-stitch. I really don't enjoy the process, I just enjoy the end result.

8. Cooking. Passion? Not sure if that's the right term for it, but I do enjoy it. My favorite is when the wind is howling and there is snow on the ground and I have the fireplace going and am whipping up some soup or stew and bread and some yummy dessert… and the house smells so good. Excuse me, I have to go wipe the drool off now.

8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:

1. Write a book or two.
2. Get my photographs organized
3. Go to Ireland
4. Get all the crap out of my house and have the things left well-organized so my family doesn't have a horrible job ahead of them dealing with it all once I'm gone
5. Retire and spend time using all those craft supplies
6. See all my children happy, healthy and at peace – whether it be in a relationship or not.
7. Be sure that everyone I love knows I love them.
8. I'd like to meet some bloggers…you know, in REAL LIFE.

8 Things I Say Often:

1. Shit.
2. What's up?
3. WTF!?!
4. Fuck.
5. Me too! (Hub's and my ever-so-secret code for I love you)
6. You're kidding.
7. Dumbass
8. Bullshit.

(I cuss a lot, don't I?)

8 Books I’ve read recently: (I'm not answering this because they all blur together. Go to any Amazon or Borders Bookstore website, click on the first eight books you see in either mystery, horror, or fiction categories and I will have read them.I will however, list some of my favorite authors.)

1. Stephen King
2. Dean Koontz
3. Lee Childs
4. Patricia Cornwell
5. Michael Connelly
6. David Baldacci
7. James Patterson
8. Jonathan Kellerman

8 Songs I Could Listen To Over And Over: (Again, I have music running most of the time and can't pick on song as they change. I'll just list some favorite musicians.
1. October Project
2. Sheryl Crow
3. Nickleback
4. Linkin Park
5. Five for Fighting
6. Diana Krall
7. Sarah McLachlan
8. Dave Matthews Band

8 Things That Attract Me To My Best Friends: (Friends? What are those?)

1. No bullshit.
2. No bullshit.
3. No bullshit.
4. No bullshit.
5. No bullshit.
6. No bullshit.
7. No bullshit.
8. No bullshit.

Dummy-Down

Today I was reading a post by Brad and it occurred to me that what he was talking about sounded a lot like what I accuse my hubs of doing… I call it "dumming-down". My hubs is a smart guy. He can even speak well, when he wants to. Many times I get frustrated listening to him talk to other people because he'll use poor grammar (ain't) and sound like the 'hick' that he's not. He claims it is his way of putting others at ease and many times they'll let their guard down and tell him things they wouldn't normally if they thought he was as or more intelligent than they are.

In recent years I've noticed my younger daughter and son doing the same thing. I realize these family members can talk to anyone about anything and perhaps that is why. Me? I usually am standing there feeling like the one who really doesn't know anything so I have a tendency to keep my mouth shut and only speak when spoken to. Not around my friends or family, but when I'm around other people  I don't know as well.

Is that the secret to having good social skills? Dummy-down? Maybe I need to learn this some day.

The Written Word

I don't know what prompts us to throw ourselves on the tracks and purge all over the blogosphere, but I've seen it so many times from so many of us. I've seen confessions and breakdowns and infidelity and loathing and love. I've seen blog posts from people that I'm not sure they themselves have a clue what they're talking about. We all have written posts like that, our internal monologue filling in the blanks so that the reader is only getting half of the conversation, only half of the clues to the puzzle that is our thoughts.

I admit, I read some of your posts with envy. I am jealous of the words and the emotion and the absolute beauty that comes through your words. I am a reader. My family will attest to the fact that I am rarely without a book on my person – or within reach. I used to buy them all until a few years ago when I realized I was going to go broke trying to keep up with my habit – as horrible as a crack habit. You do not want to see me without a book. Trust me on this.

I took a New Years' oath to stop buying books. Okay, not altogether, but I cut back by at least 98 percent. I read about one book every day or two. If it is a very long tome, it may take me a week. I am lucky that my local library is online and I am able to put books on 'hold' – including new releases, so I am in there about once a week exchanging one pile for another. It is highly frustrating to finish one book in the dead of night, only to pick up a new one and start to read – realizing you have read this one already. I used to keep a list of books I'd read, and even tried to put them on my blog, but I just go through them too fast to keep lists of them. It slows me down.

So it is that I feel exceptionally bad about not keeping up on my blog reading. It isn't that it would take me a long time to read your posts. It isn't that I don't want to know what is going on with you and in your life and in your head. I can't really explain why it is that I am so bad at it. I only know that as much as I do read I am inside-out green with some of your posts. I want you to expand those posts – I want to see a book that explores this person further and lets me see more insight than the glimmers you've shown me. The way you turn a phrase or bring a tear or make us smile. I envy that ability to move us with words.

Keep up the good work. You know who you are.*

*Yes, you. All of you over there on that list to the right.

OCS

Those of you who have been around for awhile know what that means. It is shorthand for “Only Child Syndrome”. I'm not sure it is anything that actually exists in any medical journal, but it certainly exists in me. My husband is the one who first pegged it and gave it the name and it has grown from a small joke to a large reality. It covers a wide range of “symptoms” including

  • The ability to totally entertain myself – I actually have more interests than I have time in the day, hours in the week, weeks in the month, etc.

  • I can stay at my home for an indefinite amount of time as long as I have food, water, electricity, heat, and either reading material or my computer with an operating internet connection.

  • I don't like to share. Not even with the people closest to me. This means sharing food, property, or feelings.

  • I am a deep thinker… but it mainly all stays in my head.

  • Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, I also answer myself. I know that is supposed to mean something. Deal with it.

My husband teases me that he is lucky I even let him hang around. He's more accurate than I think he even realizes. I've spoken before about being a bad friend. I've tried to analyze that about myself at some point I made at least one connection into a truth about myself. When I was young my parents and I moved a lot. I was a very shy child (am still a shy adult) and although I was bright, it was difficult to make friends in new schools and new neighborhoods. I had no older siblings to pave the way or younger ones to protect. I pulled the shell around myself and kept the walls up, just doing the work and moving through life alone.

The few times I had friendships as a child, they were rocky relationships at best. One of the closest relationships I had was when I was in third, fourth and fifth grades. We lived in a fairly small town and at that point my parents were still “normal”… they hadn't gone into their psychotic phase yet. I had two girls who lived on my block who were my age, one living right next door. Well, you know what happens when there are three. There is always one on the 'out'… and it always seemed that there is an alpha female who is always playing the second friend off against the third. We were no different. As close as we were, it was a painful situation at least a third of the time.

Now as an adult I've had some friendships that I consider good, but for one reason or another they've gone south. When I watch movies or shows where women have such good friendships, ala “Sex in the City”, I wonder why I don't have those types of friends. Then I remember that I don't put up with a lot of b.s., prefer to say what I'm thinking, have a hard time playing the “part”, hate mind games, don't like shopping without a goal, prefer my family's company to others. See? It even sounds bad when I put it like that, doesn't it? I don't dislike the friends I've had, I just don't cultivate it. I don't nuture it. I don't grow it. Friendship takes work. Any relationship takes work. My husband is my best friend, my kids come a close second. I haven't found anyone else I have been able to trust and love with all my heart enough to work at the relationship. I always feel like I'm wearing a mask when I'm with other people – that people aren't seeing the authentic “me”.

As lucky as my husband says he feels… I feel I am the lucky one. Lucky to have someone who has the love and patience to put up with me, quirks and all. Someone who has learned to live with my OCS and love me in spite of it. (Thanks, honey.)

One Foot In Front of the Other

That pretty much explains how I'm doing. Just taking it day to day. I'm good. Happy, even. Just can't seem to get real excited about much of anything… at least, not enough to blog it. I feel I'm letting down my blog. I think of several posts a day, but they never seem to make it to the page. Not even to the draft stage.

It isn't as though I've abandoned it for some other means of communication. I don't Twitter, and although I've got a Myspace and Facebook account, I rarely pop in to do anything there. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've done a thing on Myspace. Just set up the account so I could view someone else's page they wanted me to see. *shrug* I did more with Facebook when my dad was in the hospital, just because I have many relatives on there and it was a quick way to keep them all updated on what was going on with him. Now that I don't have that responsibility, I can't seem to get very enthusiastic about it. I hear people talking about Mafia Wars and Eggs and things and I think, "oh, that sounds like fun"… then never get around to actually participating.

I've been in my head a lot lately as well, it seems. I've had some long talks with my kids and my hubs and I'm trying to think of ways to get those things out of my head and onto the page. Some days I wonder if that isn't how a person with some disabilities feel… the knowing what you want to say, but just not being able to get it out of you in a way that is understandable by others. How frustrating it must be. Me? I'm not exactly frustrated, but am having that experience where it is just on the tip of my tongue, but can't seem to make it from there to my fingertips to the computer to the page. Okay, are you completely confused now? If so, then you know EXACTLY what I mean…