Friday, February 10, 2017

Doggie Hospice: Cure for Guilt?

Here for ya, babe.
I just spent a hour with a total stranger in my living room. My dog was there, too, so I guess I was safe. After all, Rusty is half pit bull, even if he is 15 years old, which is approximately 700 in people years. With his characteristic bravery, Rusty could possibly lay down in the intruder's estimated trajectory and trip him with his fuzzy bulk should the man choose to walk directly over him and/or be visually challenged enough not to see 71 pounds of ancient, sleepy beast directly in his path. Rusty is a force of nature. But it's mostly gravity.

Since the total stranger was a hospice veterinarian and since I had him on good recommendation from the relative strangers I meet at my regular vet's office I was not unduly concerned.

What exactly is a hospice veterinarian? you ask.

A hospice veterinarian is ER vet who decides to leave the ER behind and go into the homes of people with ancient or critically ill pets and teach them how to use the wonders of modern medicine to squeak out a few more months or days to have some genuine party time before ol' Rover has to cross the Rainbow Bridge. It's the vet who works out of his car and has no problem being half-bent over, waddling along, trying to get the stethoscope in the right place to get a good heartbeat read, as the dog meanders around on the carpet, deciding whether or not to let this weird human follow him around, thinking about a nice indoor poop. This is a vet who goes by "Dr. Jason" and hugs you when he leaves. I like this in a vet.

Nonetheless, I was initially very depressed about this concept. I was not happy about considering this option and spent quite a while mulling it over before mentioning it to our regular vet, and then quite a while more before mentioning it to Jon, and more still, carrying the reference card in my pocket before calling. It sounded morose and somehow also a "first world problem", privileged sort of thing. I felt guilty for having the ability to do it, and guilty for not wanting to. Guilt is something I do well.

I am used to the pattern of doing one's best pretty much on one's own until the inevitable last trip to the vet to do the deed, then feel at once relieved and - yes  - guilty again.

And what I realized this morning as the hospice vet and I talked about new things to try in order to keep Rusty comfortable and happy as he gets very very old, was that this whole exercise was divided neatly in half between my genuinely deep love for my old dog and my need to wrestle with my old frenemy, GUILT.

Guilt often makes me do the right thing, a goad and stick that keeps me relatively ethical, as much as my frailty allows. Guilt sometimes makes me feel superior, because if I feel guilty about something, that must mean that I am so much more sensitive and caring than someone who wouldn't feel guilty, right? Guilt assures me that, yes, I am still Catholic. Guilt walks around with me and says, "You suck. Congratulations." Guilt visits me in the wee hours of the morning and wants to Talk. Guilt encourages me to hide my mistakes, or if possible, fix them retroactively so that it looks like I never made them in the first place, except that I still feel guilty about it and smell faintly sweaty. Guilt makes me dishonestly honest, which is quite a feat. Guilt gives me a warm hug and then pokes me in the eye. And sometimes, on its meanest days, Guilt is a giant wall of stone with giant iron bars that isolates me in my own personal prison, while I grip the key hard in my clenched fist.

But guilt can also be a bridge. Not a rainbow bridge, though. More like a mud bridge, or a poop bridge, or a three-day-old-snowpack-dirt-mix bridge. A shitty, creaky, nasty, you're-about-to-plummet-to-untimely-death-by-crocodiles bridge.

Guilt bridges me to other guilty hearts. From my side of the bridge, I can see them, wobbling across the divide between us, trying to get from there to here. I recognize the gait. Or sometimes, they're way over there on the other side, waving me over. Sometimes we just stare at each other, knowing nobody is going to move right now, but watching each other thinking about it. Hoping about it. I have a lot of empathy for those wobbly hearts, because I think I know pretty much how they feel about those crocodiles below us.

Guilt, as much as love, kept me at my mother's side for the three days it took her to pass away from a brainstem hemorrhage. Love, of course, but guilt, too. Guilt I couldn't save her, guilt I couldn't love her more than I already did, guilt that she often drove me crazy, guilt that I wanted her to go fast so we -- no, so that I -- wouldn't suffer too much. I'm proud of being there for her. I'm ashamed for some of the reasons. Guilt is like that.

I guess what I'm saying here is that this whole hospice thing is just one small pebble on the rocky road of life. (Dang. Sounds like a song from the 1930s.) It's familiar in its pain, and I think I'm growing some very suitable and possibly useful calluses because of those pebbles. As I walk along, I realize more and more the following, which I will helpfully bullet-point for your reference:

1. I am making this whole "life" thing up as I go along. (I'll bet you are too. Don't ask, don't tell.)
2. Even as I make responsible and loving choices, I am very much aware that I might be making terrible choices for the right reasons, or great choices for terrible reasons. It is a crapshoot.
3. Guilt is sticky. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe not. But it is sticky nonetheless.
4. None of us are going to get this right nearly as often as we get it wrong.
5. Guilt does not have to leave you all alone. Go out there with your crappy, crappy guilt and share it. Pass that crap around and see what grows out of it. You may be surprised.
6. Love does not always conquer guilt but it makes a really nice companion that will let you keep moving forward.
7. Hospice vets are awesome.

So there it is, I suppose. Perhaps doggie hospice is not a cure for guilt because maybe on this side of the Rainbow Bridge there isn't one. Yeah, I think that's true. And I think that's ok. I am going to go on walking with Guilt, and leaving room for it to walk alongside all the other stuff in my life that I like better most of the time. Love. Self-acceptance. Perspective. Humility. Binge-watching Netflix. Hot chocolate. M&Ms.

Very old dogs.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Snow Days

Don't judge me.

Two days ago, it started snowing. It was Sunday afternoon; Patriots squeaked out a Super Bowl win while I watched the flakes come down, heavy, self-important with their own weight, each one a fat, wet exclamation point saying, "Tom Brady is going places, but YOU are not going ANYWHERE."

And so it was.

Monday morning at 5:45am I watched Jon bravely sloughing snow off the truck and shaking ice off the trees in the front so that he could maneuver down our rutted driveway and take his rightful place in his office at work, and all I could think of was, "I am so very much immediately going back to bed right now this instant."

And so it was.

BelPres had indeed called a snow day, and once I had confirmed my suspicions and notified the troops that we'd be sitting this one out, I took a well deserved nap. After all, I had already been awake for at least 45 minutes. So, yes, I took a nap. A four and a half hour nap. 

Having awakened feeling refreshed and deliciously guilty, I hopped into church emails and took a whack at the worship service for this upcoming Sunday. I cruised Facebook, noodled around briefly with Instagram, and decided that my brain had done about half of its share of work today and therefore it was time for some crackers and peanut butter. And a teeny naplet. Which was lovely.

When I awoke, and since it was going on 1:00, I thought perhaps it might be nice to put something on other than jammies. Once I gathered up the requisite enthusiasm to do so, which took about an hour, I managed a shower and some clean clothes that I could actually be seen in public wearing, knowing full well that the public wasn't about to see anything of me at all for the duration. I found the spot on the couch that cradles my heinie with the tenderness of a lover, and I settled in. I spent quite some time staring dreamily at the snow outside, which required a great deal of emptying of the mind. It should have been harder than it was. You would think that entering this state of thought-free meditation would require something other than frozen water sitting on a tree branch, but apparently not. Perhaps there wasn't that much in my mind that required clearing out in the first place. This would not come as a big surprise to the people who know me best.

Another hour later, I did manage to be a responsible enough pet owner to take my dear old doggie out again for a pee and a poop. But that took effort on both our parts, with all the standing up and walking out and opening doors and closing them again, and therefore required an immediate return to the couch for some restoration. I considered putting on the TV but since the remote was approximately 20 inches away, requiring me to shift my bottom from the cushion upon which it was ensconced, I decided the effort wasn't worth it. I was right. And also, slightly dozy.

And so it was.

When Jon came home, covered in snow and the bold self-determination of the gainfully employed, I greeted him as the victor he is, with kisses and cheers. Then sat on my butt again in the same divot on the couch which I had occupied for most of the day.

I stayed there while we had dinner, which he made. (It was his idea, not mine, and who am I to impose?) I stayed there while I helped him look up stuff online to learn how to start up his new "smart trainer" which uses Bluetooth to connect to a computerized simulation of assorted gut-busting bike rides up cyber mountains and over virtual passes. I stayed there, in my personalized couch-dent, while he pounded out 45 minutes of overexertion and excessive sweating.

View from the couch-dent
When he was done, we both agreed that had been quite a work out. After all I had held the phone up for almost three seconds to get this shot, and I was feeling the burn. We both decided to chill for the rest of the evening, and get to bed early.

And so it was.

Today, the snowpocalypse continues. Well, actually, a significant amount of it has melted, but then a significant amount has frozen over again, which has made the roads devilishly slick and dangerous unless you have four wheel drive which of course, I do. And I would make use of it, yes, I would, if I had to go to work today. I think I would, anyway. Let's say that I would.

But since BelPres has called one more snow day, I am taking this one much more seriously, and accomplishing far more than yesterday. I am making tea, people. I took a new bowl for my cereal this morning, instead of using the one that Rusty licked yesterday, which is almost as clean. I am checking emails and texts and getting back to people in a semi-quasi-timely manner. I clicked "like" on three Facebook posts. I am flop-folding the couch blankie, an improvement from the tangled-up ball in which I left it last night before bed. I have been in street clothes since 5am. With SOCKS. I am fully clothed, people. Ok, there's no bra, but technically you can consider yourself fully clothed if you have at least half of your underwear on. And there are the socks.

I have taken the doggie out not once, not twice, but three separate times, in order to do what comes naturally. I put on a hat. I took it off again. I have put up the footrest so that I can balance this computer more easily on my lap while I nestle into my couch-dent. I am writing sentences with actual VERBS. I am a whirlwind of sedentary theoretical activity. I am the action hero for the motivationally impaired. Someday, when she is much chubbier and slower than she is now, Scarlett Johansson will play me in a movie. Perhaps it will be called "Some Snow: The Reckoning". She will not move around a whole lot, but she will repeatedly gaze intently into space as though thinking something existentially deep. There will be close ups of her blinking slowly. In the final scene, she will quietly disappear under a blanket on someone's couch and the mystery will haunt the viewers: did she die? Was she ever real? Or is she just taking a nap?

Meanwhile, this couch dent is pulling me in deeper, and this blankie is leaning suggestively against my elbow. The dog is asleep, which means he won't need a piddle break for at least another hour. Maybe two. It's been quite a day. After all, you can only accomplish so much.

Don't judge me. Or, if you must, do it quietly. SOME people around here are trying to get some shuteye.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Methuselah Knows Best

This is a picture of my dad on a good day. He's going to be 95 this year. He has dementia. He's had it now for more than 12 years. He doesn't know who I am, or what year it is, or where he lives. He has forgotten that he was married, although sometimes he still asks, "Where's Mom?" and we're not quite sure if he's asking for his wife or his mother, or my sister in law who cared for him daily this past year. Probably all three of them, mixed together into one satisfying representation of love, comfort, clean laundry, acceptance and possibly, cookies.

There's a lot that my dad has lost. There's a lot we have lost, too. While not always the blazing fire of determination and zest (well, actually to my recollection, never the blazing fire of determination and zest) his personality did have its fair share of self-will, desires, stubbornness. He could argue his point of view, cheer at the ball game, talk back to the TV. He could insist that creamed peas on toast was the food of the gods, despite every evidence to the contrary. He could take pride in being able to change the oil, find the best price on eggs, pack the car trunk like a Tetris game, using every possible square inch of space to the max.

My father could express righteous anger when he suspected one or more of his sons of driving their car too fast, trying a beer while underage, wearing their hair too long or wanting a leather jacket like a hoodlum. He could ask my mom if she wanted a sandwich and then, when she said yes, ask her to make him one too - and get her not only to make the sandwich, but to laugh while doing it. He could eat unlimited fried oysters. He could keep his kids convinced for years that, yes, Santa really did bring the tree and the presents all at once on Christmas eve.

Yep, there's a lot of my dad that is gone now, only in our memory. I stopped thinking of him as Dad years ago, substituting the term "Poppie" in order to ease the pain of loss. Now I can refer to him as my dad to others, but to his face, I call him Cutie, Funny-face, Ol'Man, Handsome. Often, I think of him as Methuselah, a thousand years old.

But having visited him yesterday in his adult family home, I found that Methuselah still has something over on me.

He listens to music. Craves it. Lots of music, full of melody and sweet lyrics and mellow tones. Perry Como, Bing Crosby. Good stuff. When you take him for a ride in the car, he looks out the window without boredom or impatience, even if he can hardly see. He eats when he is hungry and chooses not to eat when he is not. He always asks for cookies, but doesn't get angry if he has to wait for them. He takes no shame in a public burp or fart, or even when he loses control and has an accident.

He doesn't talk about stuff he knows nothing about. He doesn't talk much at all, and has no need to fill up silences. He doesn't bring up old hurts or insults. He sticks to the facts; the Lone Ranger's horse was named Silver; Ken Maynard always wore a black hat; his birthday is in April; it's sunny outside. He judges no one. He responds heartily and happily to hugs, kisses, laughter. He has no interest in keeping secrets. If you ask him, "You know what?" he will always say, "What?" If you tickle him, he will smile and let you do it even if others are watching. He likes naps.

Little kids, great-grandchildren, know he won't be irritated if they take up too much space on the couch next to him, or if they accidentally kick his leg with their little feet. He never is too busy to listen to what they have to say, and doesn't seem to mind if what they say makes no sense to him.

He's not going to comment on your financial status, or whether or not your job is worthwhile, or if you should be married or single or dating. He doesn't care what you're wearing.

If he can't think of the answer to something, he'll say he doesn't know. Worry about his lack of knowledge does not keep him up at night.

Long ago, he wasn't good with exchanging words of affection. But now, if you say, "I love you," his response is immediate and true. "I love you too."

He runs the risk of being demanding in his many, many needs, but on the other hand you do know what he wants - that is, if he himself knows. Sometimes he forgets or can't find the right words, but there is never subterfuge here, no guessing games. You know what he knows. He is completely vulnerable and transparent. He does not worry about asking for what he needs, over and over again. In that, he is fearless. 

And perhaps most gratefully for all of us, there is not any apparent fear of anything else, either. No anger in confusion, no fighting or resentment or distrust. He doesn't see threats in faces he doesn't recognize. He's not fleeing his life in search of something someone once told him would be better.

Now I am not about to say that his dementia is good, or a gift, or even a blessing. It's not merciful. It's still terribly hard and sad and inevitable in its ending. It's taking him away from us, a piece at a time. It's not something I would wish on my worst enemy, much less my father.

But I can't help but notice the byproducts as they reveal themselves, and take the lessons to heart. They say that in many cases, dementia changes the personality of the sufferer, and turns them into someone else entirely. But in my father's case, it seems to have mostly removed the fearfulness and hesitancy that once plagued him, replacing it with peacefulness and raw honesty.

I know so much more now than my dad does today. I can navigate the world. And yet, his current newfound knowledge of how to simply be a human being is still very much something I am working on. Something I aspire to. To be able to navigate the heart.

Dementia is a ferocious, raging beast with teeth and horns and an eternal appetite; still my father has learned to live with it in a way that still leaves intact the best of whom he has ever been. I'm taking notes. There is a lot to learn.

Sometimes, I do believe Methuselah does indeed know best.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Marching On

Hello, I'm back. Did you miss me?
Well, true to form, it's been a long time since I've written. Four years, actually.

Yep. FOUR.  1,460 days. 35,040 hours. 3,650 cups of coffee. Four years isn't just a pregnant pause. It's a preschooler. It's a presidential term. It's a bachelor's degree. You would think I'd just call it a day. I've stopped so many times and for so long I should have just deleted the site and stopped. It's kind of pathetic, actually, this ridiculous pattern that I've done as long as I remember.

But here's the thing: if you stop entirely, then that's it. You've stopped. You are done. You ain't doin' it no more. You are not moving in a forward direction. You are not moving in a backwards direction. You are not moving. Do not bother to find socks without holes in the toes. You need them no more. Do not bother to shave your underarms, nobody cares. Do not renew your AAA subscription, your car is not leaving the driveway. Do not tell the post office to hold your mail. You are going absolutely no place at all. Give away your umbrella, your days of singing in the rain are over.

And even though I am THE WORST PROCRASTINATING BLOGGER ON THE EARTH, I am not done blogging. Or assorted other things that I am also not done with. Not done climbing ladders to put ornaments on completely overgrown Christmas trees. Not done drinking 8 glasses of water a day, intermittently, with frequent weeks of forgetting entirely, then binge drinking on a Tuesday until my day is just trips back and forth to the bathroom. Not done reading self-help books that assure me that if I just purchase a planner, twelve different colored Sharpies and a box of Post-its I can organize my thoughts and write that million-copy-best-seller-self help book, assuring others that if they just purchase my planner and twelve different colored Sharpies, they too could transcend their place in the universe.

I'm not done taking chances with questionable hair colors. Or learning how to tweet. Or buying yet another yoga mat because I lost the one that I bought last time to replace the one that dried out and turned into a flaky tube of purple rubber shavings.

I am not done with bike riding. Now, of course, it's a racing trike. With a reclining seat. Stop laughing. It's a legitimate thing. Trikes race, dammit.

I am not done with marching for causes. Not done signing petitions. Not done eating ice cream, them regretting it, then not. Not done blending my own essential oils, then forgetting where I put them, then blending them again. I am not done with wondering if my husband thinks I'm still pretty. Or whether these jeans make my butt look big. Not done buying Spanx.

I'm not done blogging, or marching to my own teeny, weird little drum.

And I suppose that's the best thing I can say about myself so far. I wait, I flounder, I forget, I get distracted, or depressed, or unmotivated, or just plain lazy. I fall asleep. But eventually, I wake up. Then I start marching again. Tap tappity tap goes the tiny drum. Tappity tap. Thunk. (That's when I drop the mallet and it rolls under the kitchen table.) Tap.

I don't even know why I'm writing this. I guess it's to remind myself that as long as there is breath and an eventual need to pee, I still have the ability to move. To breathe something new. To change. To write. To grow. To fail. To succeed. To see what the next day will bring, and say thanks.

To march on.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

And The Cardinals Usher In Spring

You can tell that it's spring. The cardinals have returned.

This is a picture of a bunch of men in really cool hats trying to figure out how to fuel the stove in the Sistine Chapel so they don't get a backdraft and inhale excessive amounts of black airborne carcinogens. I am fond of the pez like nature of their heads. Still, I prefer the Peeps version of this scene myself, because in the overall scheme of things, in the great explosion of the universe as it expands exponentially faster and faster into the Vast Unknown, it's more accurate to the relative importance of the event it represents.

And I have a soft spot for Peeps.I mean, who doesn't? LOOK at them.

You see, I so very much wanted to be a dedicated blogger. I intended to write every day - or at least every week - or at least bimonthly - or - well, screw it. It was January. And now it's March. The fact that the pope decided to bag it actually makes me feel much better about this personal decision. I'm writing now, so that will have to do for the moment. There are bigger fish to fry.

Don't get me wrong. I don't feel that we should all collectively duck out of our responsibilities, or our obligations, or our dreams. I am not a quitter. No, that's not true. Sometimes I am a quitter. But I will never quit KNOWING that I am sometimes a quitter, and so in that respect, I continue to flaunt my shiny, tinny self-righteousness. Such as it is.

I don't think people should just quit things. But I do appreciate the occasional bravery that comes with realizing that the horse, after all, is dead. Bury the poor thing and start walking.

Benedict XIV was not the greatest pope. He was an excellent academic, a voracious learner, a prolific writer, and, just looking at him from the outside, probably not a bad guy. He had nice hands. But he was certainly not the greatest pope. Now that he is dedicating his life to being in seclusion and in prayer, it's entirely possible he might not be the greatest at that, either. He can certainly put a whole lot of items in the "been there, done that" column of his life, and..?

Well, therein lies the question. And....? And what exactly? And he was a failure? And he was a success? And he was some old dude who decided it was just not his gift after all, so he returned it?

And. I think this is one of the most important words in the English language. But not for the reasons automatically assumed.

I think most of us (and I include me in this) crave the "ands" of our lives. I am a teacher and a musician and a wife and a writer and a daughter and a stepmom and a well-liked employee and a Catholic and an honorary Presbyterian and a dog owner and a taxpayer and a Subaru driver. And I have all my own teeth. I am all that and a bag of chips. Bet you feel pretty special right now, being so privileged to know wonderful, wonderful me. I like all those "ands". They make me feel adult and respectable. But this version of "and" - the one that is all about the more-ness of things - this is not the version that has done me the most good up to now.

The version of "and" that has done me the most good up to now is this one: I am a pacifist Christian and I fantasize about blowing up terrorists by the hundreds. Sometimes I blow up entire countries in my mind, depending on the latest newscast. I am a teacher and I am woefully ignorant. I am a clown and a jackass and I can be as black inside as that gunked up stove in the Sistine Chapel. I pray like a saint and swear (ok, alone in my car at stupid stupid stupid stupid f-ing drivers) like a sailor. I diet regularly on fresh veggies and bowls of ice cream, which I anoint with little beanie hats of peanut butter, and I eat them just before bed. I pride myself on my patience and I imagine myself, as I am stuck behind slowbies in the grocery aisle, smacking them silly with their own extra large blocks of Velveeta. And then eating their extra large blocks of Velveeta, right in front of them. I laugh at jokes about women with baggy upper arms and giant asses and then make sure I myself am never seen in cap sleeves and am always photographed facing the camera. I love my parents and sometimes I want to drop them off a bridge. I am a decent human being, and I am also a complete disaster of a wreck.

Benedict was pope, and then he wasn't. For all we know, probably at the exact same time.

Wouldn't it be so much more real, not to mention so much easier on the soul, to just live with the ands and lose the red beanies and smoky stoves? Let go of the certainty that we will get this right, and trust that someone else, someone, oh, I don't know, maybe someone with credentials like God, perhaps, let's start there - that Someone else can be certain for us, and we can just be?

Someday, when the end of the world is just a memory of a long ago "boom" and we are all wherever the heck we will wind up, there will be no more "ands." We will have finally reached the end of all things, and the beginning. Crap, that's an "and." Well, there you are. No avoiding it, perhaps we should all get used to it now, while we still are on the practice fields.

In the meantime, I will quit writing. And I will begin again. See you in June.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years Resolutions

I am resolved to be a very fit African American man who runs so fast he has to blow a parachute out his butt to slow himself down for a photo op.

Perhaps not.

Well, I made it through the insanity that is creating Christmas. I say "creating Christmas" because the occasion which we celebrate, the Incarnation, is a done deal. Finished. Complete. Tada. But this annual parade of concerts, gift buying, cookie making, family visiting, house decorating, worship-service-coodinating, yuletiding, card writing, festivity-planning, Hallmark-television-special-watching and packing of calendars with potentially volatile and guilt-inducing events is a creation of our own making that, for some reason I don't really understand, we feel compelled to create over and over again, lest we have no spirit of love within us, we stop being able to hear jingle bells, and Santa only brings underwear until we die.

Don't get me wrong - I love the Incarnation, the idea that God knew we'd screw it up so much on our own that he had to step in and do something about it. I love the whole baby-in-a-manger thing. I love the thought of shepherds freaking out on hillsides. I love the Incarnation, but after all the merrymaking, I am not yet so sure I am in love with Christmas. Nonetheless it does not need my affection in order to triumphantly blow its way in and out of my life for one more year, and it has been successfully - or at least acceptably - created, photographed and boxed up for another twelve months. I have to admit to my own sense of deep personal satisfaction that a 13 foot dead tree in my living room is completely bedecked with trinkets which I picked out and stuck on the branches just so. So there. Shoot me with candy-cane bullets, I deserve it. It's definitely a love-hate thing.

On to New Years. Another creation of ours, since I am convinced the universe couldn't give a rat's ass whether or not we think its time to call it a wrap and start the clock over again.

On New Years Day, both my parents had coughs. By the morning of Jan 2nd, I was driving them to urgent care. By the afternoon of Jan. 2nd I was ferrying back and forth between their retirement home, work, the pharmacy, and the hospital. Dad was admitted for the flu, mostly because he's 91 and the doctors don't like the odds for old dudes running around on the streets with upper respiratory infections. Mom, who is 89, was sent home with bacterial bronchitis, a massive amount of antibiotics and tamaflu, and a prescription for bed rest and fluids.

The rest of the week was hospital visits, full of consultations with pharmacists and doctors and nurses and techs. Discussions with the parents went something like this:

Me: Dad, how are you feeling?
Dad: Meh. Where's mom? (He never refers to her as Grace anymore, just mom.)
Me: She's at home, with bronchitis.
Dad: (looking confused) But aren't we home right now?
Me: No, dad, you're in the hospital. You have the flu.
Dad: (shaking his head.) Well.....
Me: Don't worry, you'll be home soon. Now drink some of this juice.
Dad: I don't have my wallet.
Me: That's right. I have your wallet and keys. Would you like some of this juice?
Dad: I don't have my keys.
Me: Yes, that's right, I have them. How about some juice?
Dad: Where's mom?
Me: She's at home with bronchitis.
Dad: (looking confused) But aren't we home right now?

You get the idea.

Me: Hi mom, how are you feeling?
Mom:  I'm squeak squeak croak croak cough cough cough
Me: I'm sorry, mom, I didn't get that.
Mom: Squeak squeak my croak croak cough cough cough
Me: Ok, I'll do the talking. Dad is doing better. I'm going to stop by later. Is there anything I can get you?
Mom: (holding the phone further from her face) COUGHCOUGHCOUGHCOUGHCOUGH

You get the idea.

So, what about the African American dude with the fanny parachute?

Just this. I am not that guy. Nobody is that guy. And if anyone really is that guy I can guarantee I'd probably find that guy enormously annoying. Who has time to tie a parachute to their butt and run around for the friggin wind resistance? Isn't life complicated enough as it is? Must we hear jingle bells AND have parachutes wafting out our asses?

I am not as misanthropic or cynical as it sounds. Really, I am not. In fact, I have decided to start yoga classes later this month. I will make my creaky knees bend to the dog-saluting-the-sun position, and I will try mightily not to fart with the effort. I will make graceful figure eights with my arms in the hopes of eventually achiving, not nirvana, but a modicum of balance and fitness. I will wear yoga pants in an effort to slow the winds of time propelling me inexorably towards the days when my health will come out of a small brown bottle, my mind will wander, and my butt will be big enough to be its own parachute.

I suppose that's what the holidays are about anyway. Taking stock. Buying a yoga mat. Giving it your best shot, whether or not the jingle bells are ringing. Saying things to people with the hopes that they will hear them, and if they do, that they only hear the smart parts and not the stupid stuff that invariably follows right before I shut up.

So happy Incarnation, folks. And a not too repellent new year. Now move over and make room for my mat. I'm coming in.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thinking About Stuff.....


Well here it is, almost the end of another year. And what have I learned?
I have learned how to make sauerkraut.
I have learned how to take a day off and do absolutely nothing.
I have learned how to admit mistakes.
Well, most of the time.

I have learned how to ride tandem with vertigo, without falling off, or wanting to barf.
I have started to relearn Spanish.
Aprendo espanol. Un poquito.
I have learned what I look like in a photo with thirty more pounds on me than I should, and after those thirty pounds have gone away.
I have learned I still need to lose another thirty pounds.
I have learned yet again that failing does not mean instant death.
Just instant recognition of my fundamental gooberness.
I have learned the perfect time to give unsolicited advice.
That time is never.
I have learned how to master Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.
But the Moron Test is still master over my teeny brain.

I have learned I take too many photos of my husband and dog.
I have learned that this pleases me, and I do not care.
I have learned that Pokemon can be cool, lame, cool, lame, and then cool again.
Which gives me hope.
I have learned how to fit cowboy boots.
And how to enjoy wearing a fancy-schmancy western belt.
I have learned that my life is pretty ordinary, pretty mundane, and therefore priceless.

Not bad in 365 days.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and plenty of seratonin for one and all.