Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The tunes continue

So there's more family drama about which I could write but I need to start moving on. All I'll say is that my stepmother is back in the hospital.* She had a seizure Monday around lunchtime. I got the call while I was at work. And that was when I officially reached the point when I had nothing left in me. To say that I'm burnt would be an understatement. I looked in the mirror a few hours ago to be greeted by ugly dark circles under my eyes. And for some reason the people I see in everyday life, like at work, keep trying to make me smile. Most of the time I want to slap them.

When I get home, I spend a lot of time watching shows taped on the DVR (Reality TV is my friend.) and listening to music. Tonight -- yes, I know that it is technically morning -- I hit YouTube to listen to Two Chinese Boys. Well, more to watch them since they just do a lip sync. And through the related videos, I came across these gems.

Oh, and speaking of music, please do visit my previous post. I like to think that there are still some "easy" ones out there.

* And just when I was getting back to a normal sleep pattern, I have once more returned to my sleepless nights.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Name that tune

There are some memes that I simply cannot resist. This would be one of them. I first saw this through a post that Hilly shared and then over at her blog.

The Rules:

1. Put your mp3 player or music player on your computer on random.
2. Post the first four lines from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song (Skip repeat artists). I decided that if one of these four lines included the song titles I would use only the lines up to that point. If it's the first line, I'll give you the four following -- in one song this meant only giving you three line. So hard this song thing.
3. Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.
4. No cheating.

1. Right about now NWA court is in full effect.
Judge Dre presiding in the case of NWA versus the police department.
Prosecuting attourneys are MC Ren Ice Cube and Eazy muthafuckin E.
Order order order. Ice Cube take the muthafuckin stand.
Fuck tha Police by NWA guessed by rawdawgbuffalo

2. Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day
You'll drink the night away
And forget about everything
Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty

3. Never thought I’d see you like this
You lookin’ good when you’re half dressed
Just let me give you one last test
Is that a sin, no
Showdown by Britney Spears

4. Purely intense amazing
Exquisitely devastating
I'm in a daze and I'm
Drenched in our moment
Safe by Bonnie Bailey

5. It's not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me, oh no
It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation, oh no
Nearness of You by Norah Jones

6. See, first of all
I know these so-called players wouldn't tell you this
But I'm a be real and say what's on my heart
Let's take this chance and make this love feel relevant
Let's Get Married by Jagged Edge

7. My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin guessed by Bella Karma

8. It all came so easy, all the loving you gave me
The feelings we shared, and I still can remember
How your touch was so tender, it told me you cared
We had a once in a lifetime
If Ever You're in My Arms Again by Peabo Bryson title guessed by Nat

9. They're like the latest fashion
They're like a spreading disease
The kids are strappin' on their way to the classroom
Getting weapons with the greatest of ease
Come Out and Play by Offspring guessed by Nat

10. Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice
Everybody spread the word
Holiday by Madonna guessed by Nat

11. I wanna rock right now
I'm Rob Base and I came to get down
I'm not internationally known
But I'm known to rock the microphone
It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock guessed by Bella Karma

12. The more you make me see
By giving me all you've got
Your love has captured me
Over and over again
The Closer I Get to You by Roberta Flack

13. I'm having trouble trying to sleep
I'm counting sheep but running out
As time ticks by
And still I try
Brain Stew by Green Day

14. Boy I`ma make you love me, make you want me
And I`ma give you some attention, tonight
Now follow my intuitions, what you`re wishin`
See I`ma keep you up all night, for a long time
One Minute Man by Missy Elliott

15. Words in papers, words in books
Words on tv, words for crooks
Words of comfort, words of peace
Words to make the fighting cease
Wordy Rappinghood by The Tom Tom Club

16. How can I put this in a way so as not to offend or unnerve
There's a rumor goin' all round that u ain't been gettin' served
They say that u ain't u know what
In baby who knows how long
Gett Off by Prince

17. Son you better be ready for love
On this glory day
This is your chance to believe
What I've got to say
Time Out of Mind by Steely Dan

18. Since I could call you
But everything I can't remember as fucked up as it may seem
the consequences that I've rendered
I've stretched myself beyond my mean
It's Been Awhile

19. You know what the Midwest is?
Young & Restless
Where restless (Niggas) might snatch your necklace
And next these (Niggas) might jack your Lexus
Jesus Walks by Kanye West

20. When your world is full of strange arrangements
And gravity won't pull you through
You know you're missing out on something
Well that something depends on you
The Look of Love by ABC artist guessed by Nat

And yeah, I know that I copied lyrics that include the "n" word. I can do that. Most or the rest of you can't. Unless you want a beatdown. And the beatdown is not being racist but someone of the paler nation using the "n" word is. Why? Because implicit in the definition of being racist is being in a position of power. Last time I checked, my people were not there so while we may be prejudiced, we are not racist. Get your terminology straight. And frankly, I have yet to meet a person who is not prejudiced in some way or another. It's what we do about our prejudices that really matters at the end of the day.

And maybe one day I'll let y'all guess what the default ringtone on my cell phone is. It surprises most folks. And that's all I'm going to say. Actually now that I think about it, I just might be willing to give out a prize to the person who can correctly guess my ringtone. Consider it the bonus question. (Sorry but I am going to disqualify Buzzgirl, Fluffycat, and Zombie Mom from a possible prize for this question as they may have actually heard the tone.)

But in the meantime, try to figure out the songs.

Seems like Nat is the winner. Guess I have to figure out a prize for her.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Daddy's girl

That's who I am, who I've always been.

This weekend was my father's birthday. My stepmother's caretaker prepared all of this wonderful Filipino food for us. My father had never had Filipino food before. I was asking, "Did you make any pancit?" Alas there was no pancit. But there was a wonderful soup with mussels and spinach. And chicken adobo and lumpia. I had thought about taking photos for y'all but I needed to eat up before it disappeared. Besides I just didn't want to go through the explanation for my stepmother. It was hard enough telling her a few times throughout the day who I am.

And then my dad and I talked.

About his crazy ass in-laws. My stepmother's sister-in-law and that woman's mother have been helping to take care of my stepmother. Last Saturday when my dad got home from my aunt's funeral, he was greeted by resignation letters from the two. Yeah, he was paying the heifers. And they said, "Well, we waited for you to get home to let you know."

About his crazy ass brother who must have been hitting a crack pipe. Before the funeral, my uncle announced that there was no need for him to fly back to Alabama when there was a perfectly good car -- my aunt's -- for him to drive back. I expected that. A few days ago, he called up my dad and said that he may as well take all of the furniture in my aunt's house when he leaves as well. What the...?

My dad said how everyone has been telling him what he should do. I told him it was too soon to make any decisions but that I'd support him in whatever his choices were.

Gosh. That felt kind of strange typing that. It seems like it should have been the other way around but that has been my relationship with both of my parents for way too many years. I am the person to whom they go when they are trying to make some sort of decision. I have done this since my teens. It's also why I think that sometimes I like to go out and act younger than my age -- or what people think that someone my age should act. A part of me has always been the grown-up. Being the grown-up is tiring. And not always all that much fun.

But back to the present. I did let my dad know my opinion about certain things. Like how I thought that some of his first thoughts were purely emotional and not the best financial decisions to make. Because between the tears, I can get all kinds of logical.

Bottom line is that my dad has some big decisions to make. That could result in some major life changes for me. That's all I'm going to say for now. I did also let him know that as far as my aunt's furniture is concerned, there is one piece that I'd really like to have. If it doesn't cause too much drama with the rest of the family.

After discussing his options for continuing care for my stepmother, we got to the other big issue. My father was sitting out on the patio with a big box. Filled with my aunt's papers. There were more inside. He said that every time he tried to go through them, he just couldn't. So I poured myself a glass of wine and proceeded to sort through the boxes of paper. Because I have the ability to realize that something is personal and quickly put it aside. My dad sees it and wants to linger. And then the emotions kick in.

I have only cried twice today. When I first awoke in the morning because that's how I start most of my days currently. And then when I speaking to one of my cousin's on the phone. I am sure that my dad could tell that I had been crying at the latter time but I did not actually cry in front of him.

And I say that maybe he didn't really notice because he was close to passing out by that time. Because while I sorted through the papers, he sat there drinking large amounts of wine and tequila. Because that's how he copes. And maybe that would be fine for someone who is not a formerly recovering alcoholic who is also diabetic. But he is those things. And seeing him sitting in that chair completely blotto took me back to my childhood. The unfulfilled promises. The time he asked me drive home from a family event and I only had a learner's permit.

I also talked with my stepmother's sister and my dad's friend about the surprise party that they have planned for tomorrow. In theory, it all sounds great. In reality, they are having a bunch of people show up at my dad's house. And large amounts of people stress out my stepmother. This of course means additional stress to my dad. My step-aunt apparently had the same reservations that I did. She said that when other people became involved, everything kind of snowballed. So we told my dad's friend how things would be. And I reminded him that if my dad ended up stressed out in any way, the people in question would have to deal with me. And no one in their right mind wants to deal with me under those circumstances. No matter how much crap I talk about my parents, I will protect them from others.

I know that I have said that I am stepping back from being the caretaker. I meant it about people other than my parents. They are why I became such a caretaker of others. While I can let go of it all for others, I just can't where my parents are concerned. Maybe I'm being a little selfish. I don't want to lose anyone else any time soon. So I will do whatever is necessary to ensure that my parents are here just a little bit longer. Within reason.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I know that I've done this before but then I saw it at Camels & Chocolate and decided it was time to revisit the list. I am also stalling to get around to writing all the stuff that has been happening.

Let's just put it this way. I have been sleeping an average of three to four hours a night. And working fulltime. My mind and body are tired. And the crazy ass shit just keeps happening. The hard times of day? At night when I try to go to sleep but my mind suddenly starts going through all of the craziness and I can't seem to shut it off and next thing I know, it is the wee hours of the morning. Then I get hit on the other end. Mornings I wake up and realize that I need to talk to someone about all the craziness so I reach for the phone to call my aunt. (For the last eight years or so, I have talked to my aunt on a near daily basis.) And then I realize that she isn't around to talk to me. And the tears flow. Then I go on with my day and people ask how I'm doing. I say, "Fine," because I know that most of them don't really care. Or if I say anything other than that, they will freak out. I cannot tell those close to me, like my dad, how much it really hurts. I remember writing a post in the past. I'm not sure if I actually posted it but it was all about how one woman alone cannot be the mother that so many of us need and so you make up a "pie" of various people. I lost part of the pie a couple of weeks ago -- the part that taught me that it was OK to be me and that it was OK to dream.

But this is not what this post is supposed to be about so let me get on with it.

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

1) Bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE (I opted for asterisks).
4) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible - I would have bolded this but I have not read it in its entirety.
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier**
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden**
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold -- I'm still debating whether I want to read this one.
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

And yeah, some of the books are ones which I should have read for various classes over the years but didn't. I'm still not going to read them. Instead, I am currently working my way through the Stephanie Plum novels and am currently on the seventh. Then I'll hit the books that Fluffycat gave to me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Crossing boundaries

Friday evening found me sitting on the BART platform at Powell Street waiting for a train to take me back to Berkeley. (This was after getting to meet both Sizzle and Heather B. in person.) According to the sign, my train would be showing up in two minutes. Then came the voice over the PA system. "Would the person playing around on the yellow strip on platform one, please stop. If you do not stop, I will halt all trains coming into the station." This announcement was repeated a few more times before my train arrived.

I did think to myself, "If this person doesn't stop playing around and my train ends up being delayed as a result, I will hunt them down." That yellow strip is there for a reason. There are handles near the doors on the outside of the cars. I once saw someone get smacked by one because they were on the yellow strip before the train came to a halt. But I made it onto my train and then I stopped caring about that person.

Sitting on the train, I found myself deep in thought. About how I had spent the past week with people jumping around on my personal yellow strip and how they just didn't seem to listen. And suddenly I knew that when I had shouted, "I'm done!" on Thursday night, it was a permanent, not temporary, thing.

The two things that people have said to me the most over the last week or so are, "Be strong," and "Take care of yourself." Let's start with the second. When I started going to therapy once more a few months ago, I mentioned this concept to the therapist. I've known for years what I needed to do; I just didn't want to rock the boat too much. But now I'm going to give it a try because I've always felt in my heart that it was the best thing for me. I'm finally learning how to be a little more selfish.

I remember telling my mom back when I was in college that one of the best things about getting married would be that I could change my last name. I even questioned my mom about why she did not go back to her maiden name after the divorce. She said so that we would have the same last name while I was growing up. I pointed out that she could have changed mine. She pointed out that my father and his family would have had a fit.

There's a part of me that has felt like I have never fit in with my dad's family. They're always telling you about how you can be better. Except for my dad. He just wants me to be happy. (Of course, he has also pointed out in the past that he lives in California for a reason.) The bitchassness that was displayed last week? Nothing new.

I am done with playing the role. I am done with being around people whose company makes me feel horrible. I think that for the first time in my life, I really am ready to start taking care of me. And right now, it's all kind of scary but I think that if I hold on to the idea that this is the best thing for me, in the end I'll be OK. It's time for someone else to be the family caretaker.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Past my limit

So it happened. Tonight I snapped on my family. They have been working my last nerve all week. Idiots just didn't realize it though. Actually the family members whom I actually like did realize.

The laundry list of grievances is long and I don't have the energy to go into it right now. (I do plan to give you a list of the shit that has gone down this past week at a later time though. I promise.) Let's just say that when one of my cousin's showed up at the house this evening, she asked how I was doing. This would be the same cousin with whom I made snarky comments on Tuesday night. When I answered, "Fine," she suggested we step outside. Because she realized that I was pissed and about to tell some people off. These same people have apparently pushed my father to his limit as well. He may have mentioned the word "bitchslap." (He really likes that word since I taught it to him back in February.) OK. And maybe my father realized that something was off. He said, "You've been a little too quiet." I do that when I'm trying to not rock the boat, so to speak.

Today was the viewing of my aunt. Relatives kept asking, "Don't you want to go to the funeral home?" Ummmmm. Nope. Especially knowing that my two aunts by marriage had taken care of wardrobe and makeup. If you knew these two heifers, you would understand my reticence. They have no style. And my aunt? She had lots. I knew they had fucked her up. My mom went to the viewing early and quickly called my dad's cousin, one of my mom's best friends, to give a warning. Yes, they had indeed fucked up her clothing and makeup. They made her into who they wanted her to be instead of who she was. I knew that if I went to the viewing that I'd definitely be cursing out some folks.

And then I like a fool said yes to something that I shouldn't have. And it totally messed up my plans for the evening. I was going to sneak over to San Francisco for at least a couple of hours to check out the pre-conference stuff for BlogHer. By the time I finished with their crap, it was too late. I had mentioned to them that I had had something planned but they really didn't care. And so while I was extremely angry with them, I'm even more angry with myself. I have this one uncle who just can't seem to understand the phrase, "No, I don't have time to do that." Seems pretty straight forward to me. He thinks that you must be joking. I think that he and his wife need to get their asses on the next plane back home.

Finally around 11 p.m. I called my mom. (Yeah, scary that she's the voice of reason right now.) She mentioned that my dad's cousin has said that she will not be sitting with the rest of the family tomorrow at the service. I told my mom that I had been thinking the same. That's how done with these folks I am. Besides the service, as I realized on my drive home, is for them. They planned it all. They didn't need the input of anyone who lives locally. Actually my first thought was to not show up at all. My mother has tried to convince me that (1) I do need to show up and (2) I need to sit with the family because my father needs me. Damn. She had to play that card, didn't she?

During my drive I thought of many things. Yes, I was still so pissed off that at times, I had to wipe away the tears. First I thought about how people grieve differently. Then I had to think about how I recognized this but the asses in my family didn't really seem to. And the queen of the asses is a psychologist. What's up with that? Actually, I'll just say it. She's the one who drove me over the edge. She and her husband.

I also thought about how this is who they are, who they have always been, will always be. I'm just not sure if I want them around anymore. They've always been narrow-minded, judgmental people. I'm just kind of done with tolerating them.

My mother mentioned something else of which I had thought. If I can get through this week without the therapy, then maybe I can stop. Flying solo has been kind of tough but I like to think that I have gotten through it all pretty well. Remember? I have mad coping skills.

I guess I should try to get some sleep if I'm actually going to try to show up for the friggin' service.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts over the past week. You've been so much better than most of those folks who are supposed to be my family.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hyperventilating again

Tonight was the family meeting since all of my dad's living siblings are now in town. The service will be held on Friday. There was much fighting over the last few days as to which day the service would be held. And then there was fighting about the service itself. My dad says that it is a celebration of life, not a funeral. But tonight was dinner at my dad's cousin's house. As the relatives started to arrive -- because people in my family are rarely on time -- my second cousin, who is like a little sister to me, looked at me and asked, "I'm going to have to hold my tongue tonight, aren't I?" And I knew then that I would make it through the night. We would separate ourselves from the others occasionally to make snide remarks about the others. Isn't that what being with family is all about? Well, it is with my family.

At one point in the evening, my dad and his older sister pulled me aside to share something with me. I'd like to say what it is but it's not definite. All I know is that it has left me feeling a mixture of guilt, joy, confusion, and panic. Thus the hyperventilating. Which is a shame since today was the first day in which I did not feel like crying endlessly.

Just know that I'll be sure that I'll let y'all know the outcome.

Oh, and I did not have to write the eulogy or the obituary. Other relatives stepped up to the plate without being asked. My favorite was what follows, something written by one her first cousin's.

She made living life seem easy,
She made it seem fun.

We all know that life is not fun or easy,
But she did it.
If a person came to her full of woe, and weary with problems galore,
She would give wonderful and uplifting advice.

After the person left, I would ask, “Will this really work?” She would say, “I have no idea.” The person who left was happy and content, ready to try a new solution to an old problem.

It took me a while to understand her wisdom.
You see, she could read people pretty well.

Most people are trying to put a round peg into a square hole and no amount of persuasion will stop them. So it’s best to tell them to keep pounding away until maybe one day it will fit. Hopefully through the experience they will wake up and smell the roses.

She made life seem easy,
She made it seem fun.

She knew life did not consist of the things you had,
but the friends and family that God allowed you to collect in your life. This means that during her life she was a great daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt and friend
Since she made living life seem easy even in sickness, more people tried it her way and found out they liked it
Since she made living life seem fun even in ill health, more people enjoyed life.

She fulfilled her God given destiny and purpose for living.

She made living life seem easy,
She made living life seem fun.

It describes her to a tee. So much so that everytime I read it, I tear up.

And tonight my second cousin's kids were tearing around the house. And eventually, I was right there with them. And then my dad said, "You've become your aunt." Because if she was still here, she would have been the run tearing around the house with them. But she's not. Those kids loved my aunt so much but they're too young to understand that she's not coming back.

We all have our roles in our families. Mine, I have come to recognize over the last eight years, is to fill the voids. I did it when my dad's mom died by calling everyone at least once a month, many daily. And my aunt always told me that while being a mom was great, being an aunt could be better in some ways. An aunt can be the fun person, the confidante. And tonight thinking over some of our conversations during the past year, I think she was "training" me to fill the void. But they're big shoes to fill.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sleepless night

Please bear with me. In the past others have said, and I have agreed with them, that I have some pretty good coping skills. And so now I'm just coping. A big part of my ability to cope with what life hands me is the ability to verbalize that crap in some place or another. Yeah, I'll be calling Thrive tomorrow to set up an appointment but in the meantime I need to get some sleep so that I can go into work tomorrow so I'm just going to put it all down here so that hopefully my mind can shut off long enough for some more sleep. And I may be doing this some more over the coming weeks because I just can't dump this stuff on my family. This is how I stay sane. Most of them are in worse shape than I am.

I guess it all starts with sleep. The relatives to whom I spoke on Saturday and Sunday said that they had a hard time sleeping on Friday night. I didn't. When I finally got home and was talking to my hairdresser, she said that I needed to go out. So I hung up the phone, cleaned myself up a little bit and headed out for the evening. I got to the pub and told my bartender to keep the drinks flowing. While the end of the evening was a bit hazy -- although I do remember my temporary insanity in speaking to Sports Guy cordially -- what I remember most is that once I returned home, I slept a solid eight or so hours. Now most of y'all might not think this is anything monumental but most nights I only sleep four to six hours. Hell. I can even function on three hours if necessary. And on Saturday night -- OK morning as it was around 2:30 am -- I managed to sleep through some guy ringing all the buzzers trying to find me. One of my neighbors dealt with him and from his description of the guy, I would guess it was Random Boy. One of my other neighbors who had been awakened by the guy, who told me about it all on Sunday, said that her first thought was to see if I was up but then she changed her mind after she remembered the kind of weekend I was having. She decided that I needed the sleep.

And so I have been sleeping at night for the first time in a long time -- except for tonight. And taking naps in the day. I'm not really a nap person but after a few conversations, all I can think about is going to sleep. I worry about going to work in the morning. I know that I will want to take a nap but won't be able to.

Sleep has been good but it's the waking up that sucks. When I wake up, I think of all the things I want to do, all the things that I want to say to people. And my aunt is always on that list. Because we used to talk on a near daily basis. While she was a major bitch at times, she was still a part of my support system when things were bad. Over this weekend, I have come to realize just how much a part of my daily life she was.

Sunday night I went to dinner at my mom's house. I thought that it was going to be this hideous event but then the hyperventilating started and my mom said, "If you want to tell me about it, you can." So between gasps, I told her about all the stuff in my head at that moment. She agreed with me that I should ask one of my aunts by marriage to write the obituary. She would do an excellent job of it. And then my mother and I cried together.

When my grandmother died, it hurt. It just didn't seem to hurt as much as this does. But my mother explained. We had time to prepare for my grandmother's death but not for this. Yes, my aunt's cancer was more than likely terminal but she was still active. She was supposed to be alive for a little longer. We had plans -- plans that we had made over the last week, in fact.

We are waiting for the results from the coroner. (The hospital determined that there had to be an autopsy.) When the doctor spoke to us on Friday, I felt like he was trying to do damage control. And then the coroner called my dad's cousin this weekend with some questions. There is a possibility that the hospital screwed up and that she could still be here. And there is a part of me that is so angry in the middle of the pain. If this is true, they robbed us of time with her.

I'm trying hard not to think of this though. I am the caretaker, the one who holds things together when everyone else is falling apart. I have always hidden most of my pain from them in the past. This time things have changed. This time they're worried that the pain may be too much for me. It almost is. To say that I feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath me would be an understatement. But I want to live; I want to be here. And I keep telling myself that one day I will wake up and realize that it doesn't hurt as much. Until then I just hope for sleep.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The hardest writing assignment ever

Over the last couple of days, I have been careful about talking to relatives. I know which conversations are going to be the most difficult. And so today I finally called one of my uncles. He was the next youngest after my aunt. They were a team. I knew this would be hard for him. As my dad pointed out, my uncle is the most openly emotional of my dad and his siblings.

In the past when someone has died on my dad's side of the family, my aunt has written the obituary and I helped her edit. In talking to my uncle this morning, he said that they were hoping that I could write most of the obituary for my aunt. And every time I think about it, I just can't breathe. And when I can breathe again, I start to wonder how I'm ever going to make it through this all. Because the one person who always made things better in the past when I was faced with this kind of crap isn't here anymore.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Change of plans

I have spent the last few days going out and doing stuff -- and thinking about writing about it all. I was going to write about when I went out on Wednesday night. I was going to write about going to Grape and Gourmet in Sacramento yesterday with my aunt. I was going to write about the fun of standing in line at the AT&T store this morning. Then I got a phone call this afternoon that changed everything.

My aunt's battle with cancer is over. She died earlier today.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hitting my groove

I am starting to think that my inner partygirl has returned once more. Perhaps because I have found some kind of balance between work and my personal life. Or maybe it's because it's one of the ways with which I deal with stress.

Over the holiday weekend, I started thinking to myself that since I was still in my birthday season, there was no reason why I should not head out. The first thought of this was on Friday. Then I spent the afternoon with the Zombie family. OK. Let's get real. If I had walked to their house as I had originally planned, there is no doubt that I would have gone out. But then I was a slug and took so long in getting motivated that I had no choice but to drive there. That left Saturday.

I got home from an afternoon with my aunt and put the beans on to cook for the cassoulet. By the time they were done, I realized that I had just enough time to get myself ready to show up at the pub just as my bartender would be starting his shift. No brainer there.

Since it was "early," I brought a book with me. Every thing seemed fine. Cocktail in hand, I headed to the small outdoors area to drink, smoke and read. And then the guys who were sitting upstairs spotted me. Apparently they had just scared off another woman. And they wanted to talk to women. How do I best describe the situation? It was like hanging out with Sheldon, Leonard and their friends. Really. And I was sober. The start of the conversation was a warning to not get my book wet and then a question about whether I knew the story about when Abe Lincoln got a book wet as a child. I shit you not. Then there was some opera singing. There was other stuff but I have mercifully blocked it all. I quickly escaped back into the pub so that I could strain my eyes in their poor lighting and swill down more cocktails.

By the time the chick who warned me that the last OKC guy and Sports Guy both had something off in their heads (Nothing like a little confirmation.), I was feeling more sociable. Thank goodness. Turns out the guys who had made me flee indoors knew her. And you know what? After a few cocktails, they weren't that bad. We discovered a common love of all things Dave Chappelle. They also could not understand how Kate found him so offensive.

Oops. I may not have mentioned that previously. In fact I know that I didn't because I let the stuff marinate at the time and took a bunch of stuff out of my post about her visit. What the hell. When Kate was visiting back in April, she informed me that she found Dave highly offensive after I popped in one my fave DVDs. OK. So maybe she didn't actually make this proclamation until she heard him tell a bit about a guy masturbating on a bus. She just didn't get how it could be funny. I told her that if she actually rode public transportation, she would understand because she would realize that that kind of thing does happen on public transportation. (Hmmm. Makes me think about why I will not take the 22 Fillmore -- or the Hoochie Express as I came to call it after that one fateful ride.) Then there was something about how he and Eddie Murphy were merely retreads of Richard Pryor. The conclusion? Why couldn't they be more like Bill Cosby? Yeah. Ummm. It was on at that point. But she's been my friend for over 20 years so we're still speaking.

Enough about that already. The evening continued and Random Boy made an appearance. (By the way, he created the name, not I. "I'm just some random guy you occasionally run into at the bar.") Now I'm feeling lazy and don't want to check the archives but here are the important things about him. He'll be 25 later this year. He likes to hunt, fish, watch NASCAR, and drink bourbon. I didn't think they made those types in Berkeley. He's also just as sarcastic as I am. And on Saturday, he felt the need to explain some of his comments. As in he was joking when he agreed previously that I was fat. But I knew that he was joking. And then there was the discussion about how there is a small part of my brain that knows that I'm not fat. Unfortunately it's not the part of my brain that processes the image it sees in the mirror.

I remembered those words when I got home from work on Monday night. I had already eaten my daily calorie allotment at lunch since I had made one of those rare trips to a fast food restaurant. But then I thought that it would be OK if I ate more so I had a small helping of the cassoulet. It's all about baby steps. Lots of other people have told me that I look OK but they are all trying to lose weight so a part of me doesn't really trust them. But when Random Boy and Zombie Mom tell me that I look OK the way I am, I believe them. Go figure.

Tonight the partygirl tradition will continue. I'm off for the rest of the week after today. And my bartender works on Wednesday nights. Guess where I'll be tonight?

Monday, July 7, 2008

How I get through it

Note: I started writing this post weeks ago but things didn't quite work out as planned so I put it on hold.

I knew that Father's Day would be a rough day; I just didn't know that it was going to be quite that rough. But I was kind of prepared.

While shopping for the Father's Day dinner, I had another recipe in the back of my mind. I told myself, "If I have enough money left after I buy the things for dinner, then I'm going to buy the ingredients for this other dish." And I did so I threw those extra items into my basket. (This is how I survive Berkeley Bowl. I never shop with a cart, always with a basket. Shopping those narrow aisles with a cart is just insanity.)

Monday evenings I tutor the foster child of family friends after work. This means that I usually don't get home until 8:00 or so. That was too late to start cooking. Besides there was the question of the prep before cooking. So I settled on Tuesday as I knew that everything would be defrosted by then.

So then I spent all that time cooking the multi-step recipe only to have it turn out to be not that good. I made some bad choices in meat. I made note in my mind what changes I would make the next time I attempted the dish. Which I did this past Saturday and Sunday. This time I was quite pleased with the result.


This is a favorite dish of mine whenever I find myself in a French bistro. For some reason, I had never gotten around to giving it a try at home. Now I'm hooked. The first time I used duck breast. That was fine but the sausage choice just didn't blend. This one contains a mixture of duck breast and confit duck legs. And cannelloni beans, pork, sausage, tomatoes... Well, you get the point.

Cooking multi-step recipes has always been relaxing for me. That's why I think I picked this recipe. Having to concentrate on what you are doing in the kitchen doesn't leave much room for all those other thoughts.

This ended up being balanced with the other challenges that faced me over the weekend though. Like that decision that I made to go out Saturday night after spending Friday afternoon at the Zombie household and Saturday afternoon with my aunt. (Saturday was lunch at this place followed by dessert at a favorite place of Zoomie's.) And all the while knowing that I would have to get up Sunday morning to go to brunch with my mom and family friends. So I told myself that I wouldn't stay out too late. Yeah right. But Saturday night deserves its own post. Because it was that kind of evening.

For now I will ponder other deep things. Like how much of the cassoulet, if any, will find its way to the freezer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

When I grow up *

For days I have thought of posting. I just didn't have the energy.

Saturday I headed out to dinner with Flufficat, Buzzgirl, Jade, Emerald and another friend. Let's call this other friend LA Teacher for now. After dinner, LA Teacher and Flufficat joined me at my favorite bar. Well, they joined each other. I was bad and kind of did my own thing. I had meant to take photos throughout the evening but forgot to. Well, I thought I had but apparently I took photos of boys at the bar. And even posed for one with them. Imagine that. Have I ever mentioned that my bartender tends to be a little heavy handed?

Sunday I managed to crawl out of bed to head to the Zombie household for a barbecue. And that's where I received the pictured item. Needless to say, I wore it for the rest of the day.

When I started this blog years ago, I never thought that as a result I would end up with some wonderful friends along the way. And I guess that that's why I have not been able to walk away from blogging completely.

* I wasn't sure what to call this post but on my way home, I was listening to one of my favorite songs in the car. That decided it for me. Or maybe I was thinking of this song.