Poem: Happy Father’s Day

I don’t want to be apart from those I love
Any longer.
Homesickness comes in waves
They spread in and expand
The foam pops and crackles.

I don’t want to live away from those I love
Anymore.

I MISS you. I’ve been missing you too much
For days
The feeling has been hard to bear.

To clarify, I’ve been on an emotional
Rollercoaster
Which gradually inched its way uphill
But fell from the track, straight down
Free fall.

But now you’ve tripped
Stumbled
Fallen
Getting stitches in your swollen lip
And a CAT scan of your head
And few memories,
Again.

And I’m so far away.

I can’t give you a hug.
I can’t spend my every minute of every hour with you.

I want to be with you both again.

TW: Death of a grandparent

Well, you’ve been warned.

My grandma died today. It was unexpected. She was totally healthy, aside from being high in age. I hadn’t known, but she was even planning, with other relatives, to fly and visit my parents soon.

It’s sad for the living. I wonder how my dad is holding up. She’s his mom. He hadn’t come down last time there was a family get-together. He was going to see her when she came and visited. I can imagine he would have felt like there was still plenty of time; they were both healthy.

She woke up in the morning. She did the things she normally does. She and my mom were playing a word game electronically with each other; Grandma had put out another letter. But then she was found dead in bed.

All of my grandparents are dead now. It’s kind of unreal. Aside from the initial moments of feeling nothing at all, my next reaction is to crave childhood. To want to go back and re-experience all of the trips and be with them again, from the viewpoint of when life seemed stable and everyone around me was set in themselves and so sure. When I had total trust and faith and belief in the adults around me. And it seemed like everything would last forever.

So I want to curl up and listen to old, familiar music. I want to listen to what my grandparents would listen to, but I can’t think of it. I want to drink the drinks I drank when visiting them all, but most have eluded me. I remember one grandpa’s mystery punch. I remember being allowed to drink these really fancy sodas at the other grandparents’ house. I remember their yellowy-vinel-like table cloth on what I remember as a small, round table. There were a lot of animals there.

At one grandparents’ house, I would play lots of card games. My grandma there enjoyed Gin Rummy and would play any card game. My other grandparents used to play Dominos. I know we also played card games together; was it Hearts? I’ll have to ask my parents.

I can’t believe life.

School goes on, classes go on, work goes on. The people around me go on with their own worries and their own viewpoints. But it’s hard. My mind wants to be in the past. I don’t want to be in this moment. I don’t want to go to class; I don’t want to go to work; I don’t want to chat about anything of interest here. I want Family.

Log: Jul 21 + 22 (Tue + Wed): Just catching up on sleep, still

Jul 21 (Tue): Therapy 8:30a; Work 10:30a – 5:30p;
Jul 22 (Wed): Work; Go to my aunt & uncle’s house and run some laundry

Tuesday: Therapy in the morning. Still tired. Accomplished what I needed to accomplish at work, and rented 1 textbook from online (smile.amazon.com, please! USE IT in place of the regular Amazon so you can have them send $$$ to charities!!!).

Summer Trees

Summer Trees

Spent hours looking online for assistive technologies for reading trouble. I found some amazing ones but they cost over $1500, no joke!!! I searched for phone apps and finally located one that was free to try out, and I loved it so much I went and paid the $2.99 for the full version, without ad banners and such. It’s FANTASTIC. You take a snapshot of a book page, tell it where the borders of the text are on the picture, then use the OCR text recognition. Then it is text that you can edit, save,  or in my case — I have my phone set to read aloud to me with just a 2-finger swipe down from the top of my phone screen. I personally use the male voice English/UK-US accent. I find the female voices very annoying and they break my concentration.

Anyway, it’s awesome. The app is called TurboScannerOCR. I needed to read an instructional manual last night, and I used this and got through the important bits! Fabulous. Technology is awesome.

I’m seriously debating buying technology like the Livescribe Smartpen for school, but the reviews are pretty iffy. It sounds like the best case scenario is that they’ll last about 2 years and then at the minimum will have issues with the display screens and become basically worthless. I don’t think it’s worth the money for something so expensive and short-lived. But the potential they have is amazing.

Friendly Cat

Friendly Cat

In other news, I’m doing something that is to some degree … immoral. I trimmed just the barest tips of 2 toenails off of my boyfriend’s roommate’s cat who has cut me so many times. I have scabs all over my hands from her, and the majority of my clothes now have holes or pulled threads. She is very, extremely friendly and sweet and loving and playful and a great cat, except her nails are so damn SHARP. And when she’s happy, she likes to knead. And she has no idea how to stop catching them on things — I’ve watched her get stuck on the tablecloth and pull it off and things like that. So I kind of … bought a high-rated pair of cutters and um, just let her see them, hear them, pet her with them… rub her paws with them (my boyfriend got her used to having her nails handled as a kitten, back then expecting them to get trimmed). Oops, *snip* one tip gone, she didn’t even notice. More rubs and love and happy times. 8 minutes later, the same thing kind of happened to a single nail on the other front paw… Okay, I KNOW it’s not my cat and I need to obtain permission… And I have all kinds of rationale for just doing it myself w/o asking… But really, I do know better. Not my cat, not my business. And I don’t reeaally want my boyfriend to know I’m a secretive sneak… But this seems like one of those things that is easier to ask forgiveness about and live with those consequences whereas if I asked up front and got a “no”, I’d keep having my clothes ruined and my skin scratched up. I’ll have to be honest about it at some point, but I’d like to get the rest of the front tips snipped before I tell them.

Then I took some selfies with the cat and they’re kind of cute, but stopped when she decided to climb onto my shoulder (ouch! I only did 2 toenail tips, after all!).

Fast forward. Peter came back and we made dinner together and cleaned up afterward together. Then we went on a walk. It was 8:30 pm. I only thought I’d go a couple of blocks, but I stayed feeling okay and we ended up at a park. And swung on a swingset for a while, with a small view of the city far out, between some palm trees. Me in my sandals and hoodie. I wondered at how I could have ever made it here, to this place. In my previous life, I could have never dreamed that I’d be in the middle of a big city at 9 pm, swinging on a swingset in a park, looking out over the city in summer clothes and a warm breeze in my hair. And rats rummaging around in the park around us (they were cute).

But we didn’t get to bed until midnight and I almost cried when he suggested getting up at 6:50am. I said he could, but I would set my alarm for 8am, so I’d have a hope of getting 8 hours of sleep. He decided to get up at 8 with me! ❤ I’m so glad. I was still too anxious (about not being able to get enough sleep) to fall asleep for a while, so I took 1 mg of clonazepam. I’ve hardly taken any in the past month. Then I went back down to my floor mat and sleeping bag, and put in EARPLUGS and wore an eye cover. And I SLEPT. I don’t remember waking up at ALLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sadly, my sleep detector turned itself off during the night, so I don’t know how much movement I had.)

Wednesday: Not a lot to do yet at work today. It’s okay. I want to leave now, go to my uncle’s house, do my long-long-overdue laundry and pickup some other items, and then I wish I could nap. But instead, I think Peter will join me, we’ll go to this restaurant I got a coupon for, and then we’ll head back to his city, assuming my laundry is done.

I’m so behind on so many things. It’s feeling very pressured and out of control. It’s the textbooks and my horse and the non-action I’m taking. It’s so much going on and I’m still so far behind in sleep, but I’m working on getting caught back up. It just takes a long time and I can’t afford a messed up night.

Log: Jul 17 – Jul 20 (Fri – Mon): Catching up on sleep / trying to function

Jul 17 (Fri): Work;
Jul 18 (Sat): Work;
Jul 19 (Sun): Long walk with Peter & his mom 10:30a or earlier @location;
Jul 20 (Mon): Work;

Friday: Work. Later, I slept on a new floor mat with a machine-washable sleeping bag and I felt like I slept better.

Saturday: Peter and I chilled in the morning and then went to work for about five hours because an important deadline is coming up and I had a ton to get done. But I slept on the floor again and felt like I slept better.

Sunday: Very excellent. Fun day, looooong walk with Peter & his folks. Potentially a couple thousand of people total. Lots of dogs there. It was fun. I slept on the floor again and think I slept better.

More Brain Fog

More Brain Fog

Monday: General malaise x 1 million!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YUUUUCK feeling today. It’s kind of a combo thing. I’m trying to get caught up on sleep but now my period’s started, too, which always wipes me out. And I forgot to take my iron tablets for several days leading up to it, but I took some today. But my mind has been like MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD all day. I did get done a lot of really important things at work today. OH! That’s what I did on Saturday.

Frustrating: My facial herpes is not only back, it’s also spreading. I’m being so careful not to scratch it or touch it and to wash my hands all the time. But it’s spreading anyway. Maybe I scratch it in my sleep.

Scary: My dad had a terrible incident while on one of his camping trips. Horrible. We don’t know if he was drugged or if he really did “just” drink too much. TOX and CAT scan came back clean, but those weren’t done for several days after the incident, I think. He came back bruised and bloody. He hadn’t known where he was or the time of day or anything for a very, very long period of time. His car was in a sort of ditch but was fine. He was 3 miles from camp + car and on foot when he sort of came to some awareness, but still not knowing where he was or when he was. He thought he was walking in Death Valley, which is not even the correct state. There are some very strange facts around this incident. My brother called the campground host, who thinks my dad was “just” extremely drunk/an alcoholic because there was an empty 5 gallon wine bottle left behind after my dad left the next day. But this is nothing like anything he’s ever experienced and he was scared / thought he had a brain tumor or something. His audio recordings from the time period are very, very strange (he always keeps an audio log during his trips). Before he really lost touch with location and time, he’d been eating at a restaurant, where the waitress asked if he was all right because he’d been looking at the rain for so long and was behaving oddly. He feels like maybe he was drugged at the restaurant and they were hoping to rob him or steal his car. He got his car stuck after that, although he has no recollection of it. There are more details, but you get the general idea. Something weird happened and I think he is lucky to be alive, whatever it was.

Misc: I’m getting very, very, very stressed/anxious about school. Trying to get hold of the textbooks is sort of killing me. It’s not 100% the money, although every time I see the price of the books, I feel sick and like quitting. I think it’s also the idea that I’m going to have to get through the books somehow. There are so many. The 1-credit vocal class has 2 required texts and 1 recommended. I’m dropping that class. There’s no chance in hell I’m paying over $200 for textbooks for a 1-credit vocal class that was just supposed to be fun. What are they thinking?? Forget it. Okay, I’m leaving. I’m going to go to bed SO EARLY.

Mood Ranking for Days: 4 – 5

Log: Jun 23 – 29 (Tue – Mon) Grandma’s Death and a Bar Mitzvah

Jun 23 (Tue): @ Grandma’s
Jun 24 (Wed): @ Grandma’s
Jun 25 (Thu): @ Grandma’s
Jun 26 (Fri): Fly back from Grandma’s by 10a; Fly to Peter’s cousin’s place at night
Jun 27 (Sat): Peter’s cousin’s bar mitzvah
Jun 28 (Sun): Peter’s cousin’s place; Fly back home in afternoon
Jun 29 (Mon): Work 9:30a – 5:30p; Go to Uncle’s after work

Tue, Wed, Thu: With my grandma, my mom, two aunts, two uncles, and a cousin (briefly). I’m not posting TW’s because I think the title is clear: I was there again because my grandma was dying. I was there for my own sense of closure and saying goodbye as well as wanting to commiserate with my family and be of any support for them as possible. I suppose I won’t go into too much detail here but hospice was involved so we were able to help take away Grandma’s pain and take care of her there at my aunt’s house. My grandma was much more at peace there, and always surrounded by love. Some family issues came up; two siblings had a pretty severe blow-up and might not speak with each other for many years to come. Let me rewind. Also, my aunts and uncles helped me to pick out an outfit for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah, because I left all of my formal clothes back Home (with my parents and dog). I talked to my grandma or just sat near her, and each day I played some gentle piano music for her. She was in a state similar to a coma but not quite; she did respond in certain ways when we would talk to her and stroke her arm or forehead. Her eyes would blink although closed, and her mouth would close, and her breathing would steady a little. She could definitely hear us although there is no way of knowing what she could comprehend; the hospice nurses said her brain was also starting to shut down.

Fri: Left there in the morning, flew back here. Leaving there was hard. I did not want to leave. I would not have left but for the $600 plane ticket that Peter had already purchased for me. So I did decide to leave. I said my goodbyes to Grandma on Thursday night and reinforced them again on Friday morning before leaving. She’s been basically in a coma or maybe a morphine-induced fog, but there were things I wanted to say. So then I flew. Got back here, napped and packed for my flight with Peter and his dad for Peter’s cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. We left that night.

Sat: Arrived on Saturday morning. Met Peter’s paternal family. Everyone was nice. I rested a bit (hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane that night; my restless leg syndrome was being severe AND every time I started to nod off, I would jerk awake with horrible, horrible OCD intrusive thoughts). Then it was time to get dressed and ready for the Bar Mitzvah. It was really nice. I haven’t been to any before this, but I am sure it was a really nice one. The cousin’s speech was really interesting; I’d been afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate to it because I don’t know much about the religion, but he did a wonderful job and I felt very connected to what they were talking about. Of course, I didn’t know to expect a prayer/words for those mourning loved ones’ deaths near the end, so I cried and had no tissue for my snotty nose. Afterward, the reception/ceremony was pretty amazing. There was an open bar and catered food that was really good. There was mandatory dancing and I liked that. Then Peter and I danced to many of the rest of the songs anyway, although neither of us knows any dance moves. So we basically were just shuffling our feet in random ways, but it was fun. I hope a relative sends a picture so I can show my parents (pictures were allowed during this part). They’d LOVE to have seen it.

Sun: So, we left Sunday, early afternoon, after they had a bunch of family photos taken and more chatting and celebration. I got to talk with more, very nice relatives. Peter was asked to play piano for ambiance again. Then we had to leave. Flew back, said goodbye to Peter’s dad, dropped off our stuff at Peter’s place and went out to eat dinner. It was really good food. Then went to a store for a couple of supplies and that’s when my mom called me that my grandma had passed away.

She had been without food or water for a week already, and hardly eaten or drank for a long time before then. It hurts but at the same time, there was an element of relief for me. She died very peacefully, not like her husband, who struggled at the very end. My grandma’s breathing was becoming more infrequent and then at last she did not inhale again. She had waited until the family was back from a walk and they were all with her, and I’m glad for that. But it’s hard not to be there with them now. But I cannot go back right now; a coworker was getting anxious about my absence because of a large, important report that he needs me to print + bind shortly. I was hoping he’d give it to me today and then I could consider leaving again later in the week, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen today.

I had worried so long, SO, SO long, about how my mom would not be able to live on without her mom. I thought she’d be lost forever once her mom died. But it turns out, and so I think I needed to have been there and seen with my own eyes, my mom will pull through this. I saw it. She even helped with some of the night shift medicating. Reality turns into the New Norm and she is adjusting to it. I imagine it helped her too, to see Grandma during this stage of her decline. So there was this chance to see and to adjust and to live differently. I underestimated her. I guess we will all adjust to the New Norms as they happen, and I needn’t have worried so much for so many years. We deal. We handle it. We let our mental expectations change as the reality changes. We adapt.

Mon: I woke up in a pretty severe, serious mood. No joking, just taking everything very serious and saying very serious things. In contrast, I think Peter woke up in a light mood, and our conversation this morning was confusing and I’ve already written him for further clarification. I’m at work. I briefly saw my uncle. I’m going to go to his place after work today, and I’m going to watch a stupid movie with him (we’ve already planned it). He was one of the siblings involved in the blow-out and there are certain topics we’ll avoid discussing, but I’ll be glad to be with him. I talked with my mom for a while last night when she called to tell me the news about Grandma, and then I called my dad and talked with him for a while, although he and I mostly talked about my dog. I needed to talk with family. I texted with my brother some, too. ❤

UPDATE: I’ve been in a shitty, shitty mood all day today. I’ve just gone on a 2+ mile walk in the sun and I’m STILL in a shitty, shitty mood. That’s how bad it is.

Log: Jun 20 – 22 (Sat – Mon) Lots of rest

Jun 20 (Sat): Tree planting 9:00a – 2p; Nap + watch a DVD
Jun 21 (Sun): Spent time with Peter’s father, helped picked plums for homemade jam, sold another large item for my aunt + uncle
Jun 22 (Mon): Work 9:45a – 5:30p; Go to pharmacy; Go to aunt + uncle’s house / Fly to Grandma?

Saturday: Tree planting. I’m glad we went. Peter and I were on a team of four and together we planted six trees and removed the stakes from a bunch of other trees that no longer required them. (I didn’t help with that part, but Peter did.) The first location was interesting and the owners of the lot in front of this sidewalk, who had requested the trees be put in there, were very generous and offered us beverages and gave a tour of the house, which had previously been other establishments and was pretty interesting inside.

Afterward, I only meant to rest on the bed for 15 minutes but once someone joins me for a nap, all bets are off. We didn’t wake up until 11p, at which time I ate some food, I think we may have watched a DVD at this point, and then went back to sleep. Major woops as far as having a stable schedule, but apparently weneeded the sleep, because we were both out.

Plum jam creation!

Plum jam creation!

Sunday: We had a late breakfast with Peter’s dad, hung out chatting at his house, although I ended up falling asleep for a while (well, his dad had tried to make me coffee but he used soy milk that was in the fridge and turned out to have been expired for over a year). I tried it and amazingly, I did not get at all sick from my taste-test (but the trial did make me get up and look at and sniff the carton, which is when I saw the Best-By date, which was March of 2014). Heh.

Then Peter and I helped to pick plums from this amaaaazing tree his dad has. We barely scratched the surface of ripe plums on that tree, but we filled the entire bucket so called it good. Meanwhile, his dad was making jam out of the plums, and gave us a huge jar of it. It’s so amazing. Oh!!! And I saw my FIRST CHINESE CRESTED dog of this area!!! I’ve been looking for over a year, and finally, finally found one!!!!! So I got to talk with her owner for a bit and show a picture of my dog.

Then we all had a late lunch together, and then Peter and I had to rush to meet a potential buyer for a large sale item at my aunt + uncle’s house. The buyer was very friendly and we all chatted for a long while, as his little dog ran around the yard, sniffing everything. Afterward, Peter + I talked with my aunt + uncle for a while before going back home to his city, just in time for bed. And I was soo happy.

Monday: I was only about 3 minutes late leaving the apartment this morning, from the time we’d agreed upon leaving. Woot woot. That’s pretty damn good, for me. I still wish I didn’t have to wait to the last second to get that drive to actually move and gather things, but that’s how it’s always been. It takes an incredible amount of stress and pressure for me to actually organize my thoughts and remember the things I want to grab. I should try writing out more schedules for myself and try out new formats and such. Something will one day be effective for me, I am sure of it.

Anyway, meanwhile, I got an update about my maternal grandma. She is on the morphine regularly now, per doctor’s orders. They think she will die sooner than later at this point. All I can say is that when her husband went onto the morphine regularly like this, it marked one week before he died.

I am torn in several ways. I want to be there with my family. But I did already get to say goodbye to my grandma. I already have tickets for this weekend to go with Peter to his cousin’s bar mitzvah. He bought the tickets himself and they were $600 so I don’t want to poop out on him and his dad and I was pretty excited to get to fly out there and meet his family and stuff. On one hand, I could go to my grandma right now, today, and be there all week. Then leave for the weekend and come back afterward. There is no higher priority to me than my Family. Even if it cost me $1000 a trip, it would still be worth it to me, to be with Family during a time that, in my opinion and for me personally, offers a lot of closure and healing for something that is very painful. When her husband, my grandfather, died, the most wonderful part of the experience was afterward when a lot of family gathered informally in a room there at the hospice hospital, and spontaneously shared stories we remembered about him that meant a lot to us. And it brought me closer to those family members, too.

So I guess it is not that complex for me after all. I want to be there. Maybe I feel guilty to think I would only want to be there if she dies. So let’s think, if I am there for the rest of this week and she is still hanging on, I will have still kept her company in a painful time. I will have still offered bonding and support with the other members of my Family who are there.

I’m on the phone now. I’m definitely going. Looking for tickets right now. 3-Day Mood Ranking: 5

UPDATE I am leaving in a couple of hours. I’m sooooooooooo anxious now, because I’m not even going to get to say goodbye to Peter face-to-face and I’m not coming back until Friday morning, when I’ll see him after he gets off of work that day, and then we leave together for the weekend. I’m going to miss him so much. But I’ll be so glad to be with family once I get to my grandma’s. I’m out for now.