Sunday, November 7, 2010

what was that?!?

My husband was born in Texas, and for the latter part of his childhood, raised in Kansas. I blame that for most everything about him that used to irk me.

When we were young marrieds, he would sometimes hang up the phone from talking to his dad (his mom was deaf and never talked on the phone), saying “Well, pa says Grandma had a spell the other day.” This would be said in that Kansas twang which is almost impossible to imitate, not as attractive as the Texas drawl, which he would often exaggerate to be funny or just to bug me. “Good Lord,” I might say, “what happened!!!”

He would look at me puzzledly and utter “She had a spell, I said.”

I’m going to quit with the quotes now, because I’m too lazy but he and his dad would have not explored the topic any further than that. If I pressed him and threatened to hit him if he didn’t tell me exactly what happened, he’d say “Well, if he wanted me to know that I reckon he would have told me more but he didn’t.”

I’d ask, “Did she have to go to the hospital?” (I can’t really totally quit the quotes—I loved my English teachers too much).

“Didn’t say.”

“Did she fall down?”

“Didn’t say.”

There was nothing to do but drop it and hope she was still there the next time we visited.

This situation, I think, is akin to the one where as a treat he would take us to Baskin Robbins (this happened once, our only outing that he volunteered that I can remember really). He had the gall to order vanilla. Now I like vanilla, and French Vanilla is heaven, but still, in Baskin Robbins you do NOT order vanilla. I believe he did it just to make me mad. And it did, obviously, as I’m still talking about it 100 years afterward. It makes me certain that the ultimate divorce after 16 years was totally justified.

I’d like to tell you about our infrequent dinners out, but they make me too upset. I’ll just say it took superhuman effort to convince him we should do it, and then he would pout all the way to the restaurant so that by the time we were seated I hated him so much that I could barely eat. The wine went down pretty well though. Once I doubled his rage by seeing a restaurant that we should try instead of the one we were headed to—no changes in plan were allowed.

Something I regret to this day is that my son always wanted steak and we always made him order chicken because it was cheaper. I am so lucky that this boy still loves me. The only enjoyable thing about outings was that my daughter, who inherited my mom’s IT, would, even as an infant, discover from her high chair that she could see the chief cook at the grill or the waiter if he was the cutest, from her perch, and proceed to play peekaboo and flirt with that complete stranger who would fall in love with her instantly and give us the best service ever because of her cuteness.

I took a free right turn in Oklahoma once, which was forbidden there apparently, and when the dour cop stopped me, my daughter leaned forward from the passenger seat where she was buckled in to check him out (she was 3 maybe), and he said “You know, I’m just going to give you a warning because at least you’ve got that little darlin’s safety belt on.” [This was in the olden days before safety belts were even in all cars].

Where was I?

Oh. I had a “spell” myself the other day. I had just returned my mom to the assisted living place Saturday evening and had made a second trip to the car to get the rest of the packages there, and as I leaned into the trunk, I suddenly had double vision. And one vision was diagonally placed over the first, so it was truly impossible to sort it out. My first thought was that my glasses had slipped askew, and I straightened them, without good effect, and then I realized it was not fixable that way and my second thought was “Oh shit!”

Then there was extreme dizziness, and I stood there with my hand on the car until that passed. And I’m thinking, if I clap one hand over one eye, I’ll be able to drive home. The hospital where my mother had her care after her stroke is directly across the street from her assisted living home now, and her experiences there are still fresh in my mind. Going there was not an option. Going to any emergency room was not an option. I felt physically strong—just didn’t know where to run to.

After two minutes or so, everything went back to normal. By then I had almost accepted the idea that I was having a ministroke. When the dizziness passed, I stopped touching the car, and went in, said goodbye to my mother, and drove home. Rested Sunday, although I felt fine, except for a mild vertigo which I’ve had many times and it’s been diagnosed as benign positional vertigo.

Made myself an appointment with my doc (who I’ve never met because two or three docs have joined and left my healthcare organization since I’ve been in there). She does not think it was a ministroke, because I had no physical weakness. My BP and everything is normal. She checked out my reflexes which are normal. She said had I come to urgent care on Saturday, they would have done an MRI, but it was too late for that on Thursday when my appointment was. But I know from my mom’s experience that the MRI doesn’t show anything from a stroke until after about 36 hours. Still I liked what she was saying, so it was all fine with me.

She talked me into getting a flu shot, a pneumonia shot, and a tetanus shot. I did, but I urge you not to, at least not all at the same time. I was in terrible pain the next day—even my fingertips hurt—I assume this is the miniflu that many people experience after getting the shot. After I got home from work I swallowed two very old vicodin, hoping it would either stop the pain or kill me, and it worked fine and I was back to normal the day after that.

She ordered several lab tests for me, which I will get done in the next few days. Maybe. I hate this sort of thing. One is cholesterol which of course will be over the top.

I’ve discussed my spell with my boss who was almost as glad as I was that it didn’t seem to be a ministroke. Then he, at 10 years younger than me, told me about all the physical ills he’s having right now. Not only he, but several of our other [young!] docs are having problems requiring unexpected visits to THEIR doctors. He lives on super stress and lack of sleep. They all do, to one extent or the other.

I intend to go on as before. I marked the episode’s occurrence on my calendar and if it happens again, will consider what that means. I mentioned to my boss my handwriting deteriorating over the past few years, but he says that could be due to a tremor that develops at my age, but is not indicative of anything fearful (like MS, which usually strikes much younger people). Years ago I started to occasionally notice jagged light circles—an ophthalmologist told me these are migraine auras. I do develop the light sensitivity but, thank you Jesus, not the pain of a migraine. And the aura goes away after an hour or so.

Ah, the golden years. What fun.

I have thought, being a single woman, what will I do if I do become disabled? Being bound to a house separated by miles from busy relatives. How will I get along, if I do need help? The thought of assisted care living suddenly did not look like the tragedy that I considered it until now. My mother had to give up a busy social life, full of adventure, when she had her stroke. I’ve got nothing like that to lose, really. If I can work the TV remote, and still read, I think assisted living would not be awful for me. The staff at my mother’s place are delightful—she is never lonely there, and they joke and laugh with her always.

But I am not dead yet. The other day I had to help a most charming guy at work with his travel reimbursement. He is adorable and I’ve long enjoyed his humor and good naturedness. He is Hispanic, and talked about an earlier trip he’d made to Miami, and clasped his hand on his abdomen and mimicked salsa dancing, and it brought a flush to my innards, let me tell you because as every woman knows, the way a man dances directly reflects other things if you know what I mean, and I know you do, but my mode is to pretend not to notice such things (because I’m sure he knew exactly what he was doing at the moment). He was best buddy and cohort to my most fabulous soldier in the world and they would flirt with me shamelessly to see if they could get a rise out of me (and they did but I believe I hid it well, except for the fact that I may have turned fuscia on the surface in spite of my calm demeanor).

But on to other things. Perhaps the elections?

Years ago, I received a mail-in ballot. But I didn’t use it, being reluctant to do anything official outside of work hours like study the phamplets and I can vote in person on my way to work. So I stopped receiving them through the mail. Then, on the morning of November 2 while getting ready for work, I hear on the news that the county in which I live is the LAST one in Washington to offer in-person voting places, and the number of places available was drastically reduced. Now I was looking forward to this election because I am basically outraged at every candidate and wanted to vote for sure. And now, the day of, I wasn’t certain my usual voting place was available. In a panic I actually looked into the voting phamphlet that had been cluttering up my table for weeks, and yes, my regular place was still listed there.

Then there was a red/black/white combo dress that I wanted to wear on election day. Hadn’t worn it for ages because it’s always been too tight at the bodice, so I had long planned to cut of the top and make a skirt of it. It is polyester and stretchy and I had done this with another dress and it worked perfectly and no waistband was needed because it just clung to my hips naturally. I thought the red/black/white one would also, so I cut the top off, folded it at the waist until the length was right, and set off.

Well, this method didn’t work as well this time, as I discovered to my chagrin, while walking out of the church where I voted. In fact, I noticed the skirt was getting longer and longer as I walked to my car, and I put my hand in the pocket of my raincoat thinking I would grab the skirt from inside the pocket, but it got away from me, and hit the ground just as I got to my car. My hands were full with my purse and car keys, and I struggled to decide what to do first—unlock car, throw in purse, and then pull up skirt? Pull up skirt, then unlock car, etc.

Then I thought, “Well, this is a new low.”

Aren’t I lucky the parking lot was deserted—and the other two voters were still inside?

And when I got to work, I used an old diaper pin that I keep on my file cabinet keychain to secure the skirt to my slip in the front, and one of those pin-on military insignias (which was just laying in my office drawer for the past several years) to attach it at the back. So, obviously I must put a real waistband on this particular skirt when I get around to it.

Oh, one last thing—and anyone learning this for the first time will be very thankful to me. Just two days before the election, I found out from my phone company how to delete a voicemail without letting it play all the way through (some of those political messages were about 3-4 minutes long!). Delete on my phone is 7—if you hit 77, it stops the recording and deletes the message immediately. If only I’d known before . . .

Thursday, August 19, 2010

eek! phallic!

Well, I just thought the museum was beautiful, but I see in the picture I posted that it is very phallic looking. No wonder those preying mantisi were fooling around there.

KC is getting better and better

I’m not totally happy this morning. I’m waiting for men who fix things to arrive. I hate having men who fix things here. But figured it was necessary because if I happen to touch my stove and refrigerator at the same time I get an electric shock. My stove and refrigerator face each other in a very small U-shaped kitchen. It’s amazing touching both of them doesn’t happen to me more often but lucky so far (it usually happens when I have my head stuck in the frig looking for a snack and my heinie touches the handle on the stove). Since my stove is 20+ years old, I figured it was the culprit but the other day the men tracked the problem to the refrigerator’s plug in socket. So today they will cap that socket, and add a new circuit. They should be here at 9 a.m. Who knows when they will leave. My only comfort is that they probably want to leave as much as I want them to leave. One will have to enter the crawlspace to run the new circuit to the power box—I hope the stray cats who live down there won’t attack him. I also hope that they don’t find any other problems while they are down there. Or make any new problems while he’s down there.

My vacation was pretty nice, considering we were in Kansas City which was enduring a heat wave at the time. Hard to understand because if it’s not winter, KC is always enduring unpleasantly hot weather. But we were troopers and went to the water park one day, where even the water was above body temperature and hardly refreshing. We stayed until the park closed, just curious to see if the children would ever, on their own, decide they were tired. They never reached that point, and continued to swim at the motel, until IT’s pool also closed at 10 p.m. The kids were a little hard to get moving the next day . . .

I booked the entire trip through one of those services who bundle everything, flight, hotel and rental car. It went surprisingly well. In my congenital cheapness I had booked a compact car and when we all showed up to claim the car, he said no, that won’t work (we are not tiny people, and there were three adults and three children). So I upgraded to a midsize, and they gave (uh NOT--several dollars were involved) us an Infinity SUV with GPS. My son was going to be the driver cause I figured he’d have a better chance than me of finding things, but he had never used GPS, and my daughter wanted to drive cause she’s used to driving a huge Expedition, and knew how to work the GPS. Now I am trying not to buy an Infinity—but that urge is fading and hopefully will go away entirely. But GPS rocks!

After the water park day, we spent the next two days visiting the Union Station in KC, which had a dinosaur exhibit, and the WWI museum which was AMAZING—interesting, heartbreaking, but impossible to see all of it in one visit. Even the kids found fascinating things to do there.

I love old train terminals—I want to see Grand Central Station sometime. Tacoma’s is excellently restored, and so is KC’s. So beautiful with all the big windows, chandeliers, marble floors. I love old buildings. Even those in ruins.

As I mentioned, it was a thousand degrees. As we were walking to the WWI museum, we saw a pair of preying mantises perched on the side of a concrete column, doing the dirty. These bugs are nearly 6” long. We watched them for awhile to see if she would eat his head like we’ve seen on TV but they weren’t at that point yet and the heat was killing us so we couldn’t wait around. We started to continue to the building but on the other side of the column, there were three people watching a single preying mantis perched there. Before I could stop myself, I told them there was a pair mating on the other side, and “you know, she’ll eat his head afterward.” A young man with them instantly gave me a high five, with a completely deadpan “Awesome.” Then I realized there was a young lady in the group so I said “Oh, sorry—but that’s what they do.” They seemed to think that was funny and we all laughed. I surprised myself—I seldom talk to strangers because although it starts out as fun sometimes, at some point my shyness takes over and I can hardly finish the conversation. Luckily I had my kids to drag me away from that one.

I always expect the worst when flying anywhere—not a plane crash, but surly service by plane and airport personnel. However, it was not that way at all. This was a day or so after the Delta flight attendant had his tantrum, telling off the passengers on the loudspeaker and opening the plane door which deployed the slide, so it seemed that everyone we encountered was super polite to everyone else. My daughter misplaced her boarding pass as she went through security taking off shoes, laying out cosmetics, etc. By the time we pulled ourselves together after that, and went to the boarding area, someone had found it and turned it in there so she only had to show her ID, rather than ask the desk personnel to print her a new one.

We ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel one morning, and some “elderly gentleman” paid our tab of more than $60 (and left the restaurant before we knew about this). Sweet, if a little bit spooky.

We just kept running into and experiencing nice things. So I was a little apprehensive about flying home on Friday the 13th, but that was also uneventful and not unpleasant in anyway. On vacations, for the only time in the year, I allow myself to eat French toast. I love it so much, but it seems so WRONG to ruin one’s diet at the very beginning of the day. I’m much more used to ruining it at the end of the day when there’s nobody around to see. It was helpful that the walking and sweating actually seemed to work off all the calories but now that I’m home, I’m missing my French toast.

Well the men who fix things are gone—having taken a pretty sizable chunk of my money with them. I got some yard work done though, while they were in the house, and thinned out some plantings in the scarey snakey part of the yard. Somehow I felt less afraid with these guys nearby.

I have to go back to work on Monday. Torn between regret and knowing I’ve had about as much leisure as I can stand (weight-wise, I mean. It just always seems to be time to eat). But it was a great time off.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

happy things

I was food shopping in Fred Meyer but accidentally passed the jewelry section. Where I saw amidst all the jewelry little jeweled shoes! This was out of the corner of my eye--I originally had no intention of looking in there because I have a weakness for sparkly stuff. But there they were--the perfect item for women--shoes and jewels together in one fabulous concoction. Particularly fetching for a person who can wear nothing but Easy Spirits or flip-flops on her feet now adays.

They are business card holders. I bought several so now I can't afford real shoes or food. Or electricity. Totally worth it; I need to lose a few pounds anyway.

An unbelievable thing--my friend L called me. I let the call go to voicemail because I didn't recognize the name in caller ID but after I listened to that and knew it was L, I still didn't answer her next call because of fear--it was too important to my heart and scarey--I would probably screw it up and say the wrong thing. I assumed she had been asked by reunion organizers to try to get me to come. Several days later I drifted into a more stable state of mind, and called her back. It was about 6:30 p.m. It was dark and three hours later by the time we hung up. It was wonderful to talk to her, and we caught up on everything and there was much in common as her parents had also gone through the illness/nursing home nightmare in the last few years. I will be in Kansas during the reunion but she will try to arrange a lunch with our favorite other ladies of the class later on. Even if that doesn't happen, though--it was . . . great.

Friday, July 2, 2010

the logger's daughter

My friend from high school days, L, recently had a near tragedy in her family—which miraculously turned out alright. I can’t go into detail because the story was too widespread to be able to make it anonymous here. However, although we hadn’t spoken or corresponded for many years, I felt like I HAD to let her know how happy I am that it worked out okay. I sent a snail mail note saying exactly that and nothing else. And though I expected no reply—I’m sure her family still hasn’t settled back to normal yet to even be able to read mail—I’m disappointed that there was no response.

I often see her e-mail address—hers and my other bestie, F—on e-mails with multiaddresses that one always gets—forwarding jokes, informing us all of big news stories about other classmates, etc. But I never allow myself to write one of them that way—if they wanted to get in touch they can also see my e-mail address there.

Couple of weeks ago, I got the ubiquitous invite/notification of the upcoming class reunion (the 50th!!!!! (picture here that horrified screaming cartoon face by Munch)) . They sent a questionnaire—so well constructed that anyone filling it out would have a great outline of the one great story that resides in each of us. Now I would no more go to this reunion than I would to a . . . well, I don’t even know what kind of an event would be equal. But I do want to read the book they are going to make out of these entries. So I filled one out about myself. The first dreaded question—name your significant other. Well, that’s the whole problem—I have none, except my mom, my kids, my grandkids, and my cats.

So I put that there.

Then I stingily filled out the rest of the questions—including one about my strongest memory of school. I entered something, certainly not any of the ones I’ve put here. I think I did a good job of entering stuff but not entering real stuff. But good stuff, meaningful but not related to personal relationships.

Hopefully others were less guarded and the book will satisfy my curiosity about their lives.

The truth about my life and what makes me tick and why I’ve named myself the flooz—this was already explained here and on MSN Spaces before it became too difficult to determine privacy settings there. And I deleted it all once, in a fit of pique. Because I would reveal a horrible or otherwise significant thing and get no responses (I was looking for “well, of course, dear—you are the way you are and through no fault of your own and really you’re a peach . . .” I wrote stuff about why I yam the way I yam, and as far as I can see, could never have been or done anything different. And naming myself Flooz was something akin to my first visit to an AA meeting—it was so great—although I was shaking with the fear that this was the last place left for me and what if it didn’t work, what then. Getting to a chair and sitting down was totally almost more than I could do, but once done—I didn’t have to explain a thing or say a word, all the others in the room knew exactly what I was, how much trouble I was in, and why I was there. And the old timers said things like just keep coming, it gets better or at least different. They understood why I made the choices I had made--even though to me it seemed choice had not been involved.

The fact is, to put it baldly, with no embellishment or excuses, in high school, I managed to sleep with each of my beloved best friends’ husbands to be, back in the days when I was in active floozihood. L, I believe, became aware of it but didn’t seem to care about it—she never doubted his love for her and knew it was meaningless—as did I. F, however, was totally heartbroken and angered—and after she found out about it, would just have cut me off, but I went to her house the next day after she found out, and just stayed there, followed her like a hound dog, silently, unable to do anything else, and she walked around, cried, and acted as if I was not there, but not as if, either, that she expected me to leave. Almost as if in such a terrible time, of course, I would be there with her because we were that kind of friends.

Here are the embellishments and excuses that I was nobly able to resist for one whole paragraph. There are mitigating circumstances, of course. F’s boyfriend and I got together a week after she and her family had moved to another state and as far as we knew, she was gone forever, and we both felt bad about that. He was just a horndog and if it hadn’t been me he was messing with, it would have been someone else. However, F’s family moved back after only a month or so. And she heard about our get-together and, like I said, I sat there with her, with no explanation to provide. And after a couple of years, F and he married. They were married 20 some years, I think, before they split and each married other people. She’s unique if nothing else, and he and she remain good friends and can make each other laugh like no one else. But she finally divorced him because of his horndogginess.

L’s fiancĂ©—I still don’t know exactly how that happened. One night he picked me up when I was out with a group of girls—and we had a sweet night together. I expected nothing from him. I assume L heard of it—but nothing was ever said and it didn’t interfere with their getting married later and they are still together today and she was like the ultimate wife/mother/home maker, helping to raise her grandchildren with the same enthusiasm she had with her own children. And she's the one who had the near tragedy happen.

I’ve missed both these women throughout the years. It was years before I realized that I had not been invited to either of their weddings—didn’t seem odd at the time because by then I no longer lived locally. But I see now, even had I still lived there, I would not have been among the acceptable people who did attend. Now I’m thinking “Well, of COURSE not!!!” But I didn’t realize it then, and I’m not imagining this, we were still friends (with unfortunate history) but still connected. L and I continued Christmas letters to each other for years and years. That didn’t stop until BABNDM’s death, and although she knew he was my everything, she simply wrote “sorry.” So insufficient of feeling and understanding that everything good in my life was gone, that I just couldn’t communicate with her anymore.

One year another, casual high school friend manipulated a get-together with me and several others, and F was included. I screwed that up by apologizing to F in front of the other friend, for the long-ago assignation with her husband-to-be. She was completely offended that I brought it up and stiffened up and we barely got through the rest of the day. Now she said nothing—it was entirely body language that communicated her reaction. This was sadly after a reunion I did go to, at which she and I both admitted we’d never found another friend we loved as much as we did each other. It certainly was not my intention to destroy that tentative opportunity to be friends again.

Just to be clear, I didn’t choose floozihood because it looked like fun—it was never fun. I made the choice after I saw that in the musical chairs of love and dating in teenage, I was left without a place to sit. No one came for me. Or, well, they came for me, but only after they’d taken their girlfriends home. I was the back street girl. And I got desperate, afraid, and took what I could get. And along with that, I took alcohol to stand it.

Eventually a guy from another state married me for 16 years, and gave me a couple of great children, and now I am a contented grandmother—more than contented—amazed at these wonderful people who are only here because my husband and I got together. He and I divorced, and 12 years later he died of brain cancer at age 51. Meanwhile I re-met BABNDM (before and after but not during marriage) and then he died also at age 57 of a sudden death heart attack.

Okay, I get it, I thought then—and although I got it, there was 10 years of intense grief. I haven’t found anyone since then that I’d care to even risk having a relationship with. I’ve considered it—but the guys available and willing are either scarey because of their capacity to hurt me, or are just not my cup of tea. And I’m so afraid of them recognizing the floozihood buried beneath my exterior, that I just can’t risk it. And truly, I haven’t seen anyone worth it (well, maybe my most excellently fabulous soldier in the whole wide world (married) but he’s been stationed elsewhere—and he was almost worth dipping back into floozihood but not quite).

So these days, I’m either working during the week, or spending Saturdays with my mother since her stroke (she lives in an assisted living place). I can’t say I’m happy, but it is relatively pain free most of the time. I love where I live, in the rain-forestish state where I was raised—a rainy day feels homey to me. However, once in awhile there is one of these perfect days—sunshine, warm, the kind of day friends and lovers make the most of to be out having fun and exploring. Those are the days I feel my loneliness most sharply. The friends I love the most are no longer my friends, and the men I loved are dead. When it’s rainy, I know the lucky people are home complaining about the rain—I on the other hand am happily outside carrying out my responsibilities, working, visiting my mom, and doing the gardening/house chores that go just fine in the rain (a bonus—I’ve never seen a snake in the rain).

I haven’t written for a long time. For a weird reason. Good stuff happened. That always concerns me—I’m not used to that. To be brief—my mother changed her will (reasons are explained in previous entries). My mother’s house will come to me solely—or to my daughter should I predecease my mother. I’m still pretty convinced my mother’ll outlive us all and I take her there to her house almost every weekend and she loves it. I’m in no hurry to have the burden of maintaining that home and paying the taxes on my own, so the longer she lives, her pensions pay the expenses related to her house.

Believe it or not, though, getting her house was not my intention. My sisters and I have never loved it like my mother does. The fact that my [step]dad died practically on the eve of his retirement and never got to live there has always made us feel so bad. And my dream retirement home would be a condo overlooking the public market and the water in Seattle, (I would have to win a lottery for this to happen, but I can’t make myself buy a lottery ticket—gambling is the only vice I’ve never had). So the Seattle condo will never be mine. But I’m happy to know that my kids and grandkids will get to enjoy my mother’s house.

My winter project of removing a pesky, overgrown cedar bush about 10’ tall that tried to scratch my car every time I backed down the driveway got done (and mostly by me). I am not the daughter of a logger for nothin'! Even though I never met that logger. My stepdad was also connected with logging, but was a mill wright which was marginally safer than the woods, but he was killed in an accident there. I always heard how dangerous the logging part was, and after watching a few episodes of "Axmen" I see I still had no real idea of how truly deadly that job is until now. Seeing that program a few times—it surprises me there were not even more deadly accidents as I was growing up. As it turned out, the only death I remember from that period was the father of one of my classmates when we were in grade school. He fell from a high tree, and was impaled on another.

Even so, I braved this project (especially since I didn’t have to climb another tree to get to this one). Every summer the bush would fill up with stinging things--both bees and ants. Now that it’s gone, it manages to look as ugly as a stump as it did as a tree. Anyhoo, the ride continues.

I will be going on vacation first half of August.

Nothing else happening. It is as if the evil sisters do not exist—we do not hear from them. It’s good.