Wednesday, September 28, 2011

but she's my Mommy, and some part of me thinks she may ground me

I guess most people grow up knowing that some day their parents will, gods willing, be old and they'll have to take care of them.  We expect to outlive our folks and we expect that at some point the balance of power will shift and they'll be the kids and we'll become the parents.  But try pulling rank on a woman who isn't shitting herself, who does remember you, and every stupid thing you've ever done to call your judgment into question.  Try putting on your stern face and saying "No!" to someone who will always, because experience dictates it, hear your voice say that word in a whiny teenage tone.  Mom's being pretty good about listening to me enforce the doctor's orders, but I am well aware that I possess no more rank than she permits me to have. If she really wanted to take a shower, stitches and all, I'm not sure anything short of body slamming her in the hallway could convince her otherwise.  And this is all (so far) temporary, so if we're all lucky things will go back to normal soon and I'll be her kid and she'll be a parent of an adult with no real authority but still the ability to make me feel guilty with a stern look, and I won't have to worry about it.  But it also means I can't burn any bridges right now.  I can't just say "You're a sick old lady and I'm the one without a big gash up the back of my head so listen to me or be put in a home!" or whatever else you say to parents when they get all sassy.  At least she's lucid.  I can't even imagine how hard this would be if she didn't understand why I was pulling rank, or if she tried to fight me physically.  If she gets Alzheimer's, I'm shipping her up to my brother in Chicago.  We don't get along well anyway, so I won't worry about burning that bridge.  :D

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the xanax really does help

I get it, Dr Oz did a show on how there's arsenic in the apple juice and now you're scared to give your kids apple juice. But then someone (me) gave you like 4 quick links to various sites explaining how there's inorganic arsenic (the bad kind) and organic arsenic (a not-so-much bad kind) and how Dr Oz's show only tested for total arsenic so they deliberately skewed the results (and then verbally explained it to you as well) because panic = ratings. And then you said you didn't care and didn't want to know what he did; you were just going to panic anyway. Because willful ignorance is a goal we should all strive to achieve.

I understand that a school is a machine. I get it that your job is to assign redundant homework, collect it, flog the kids who don't do it, and then bitch about "uncooperative" parents who encourage independent thought and all. But my kid is sleeping on the floor while her cancer-ridden unable-to-bath grandmother snores the sleep of the Oxycontin in the bed next to her, spending more than her fair share of homeowrk time babysitting her brothers so I can shuttle her grandmother to appointments and back and forth from her house to collect mail and pay bills.  So maybe you just cut her some fucking slack this one time on some of the bullshit.

I appreciate that you don't consider work to be "a break from the house". I love that.  But as someone who has been a working mom and a stay at home mom, I can tell you that it is a break from the house, whether you see it that way or not.  There have been days where I would have gladly held a soldering iron in a poorly ventilated factory for ten hours for free just to get away from kids who only eat one color of the multi-colored goldfish crackers, or who scream when you put their milk in the fridge after they throw the sippy cup over the baby gate 3 times.  Some days I would like to get to take a break from the house. If only got to do it enough to have the luxury of not even thinking of them as breaks from the house. Ahhhhh, to dream.....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Limitless information, at my unwilling fingertips

It just occurred to me that I could probably google the survival rates for metastatic brain cancer. But I can't. And yet now that I know that it's out there it makes it kinda worse. I really really hate my uncle for making me say all that out loud yesterday. It was easier before I said it out loud.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

hahaha I think I broke my uncle.

So "Emmanuel" called me last night wondering if I wanted to ride with him when he went to visit Mom today and I had to tell him that she didn't want visitors.  At all. No exceptions. So he got all sad and pouty on the phone. Then he asked how she was doing, so I told him what I thought was good news. I said that she's recovering wonderfully and could come home now except that they want to keep her to run some more tests because they can't figure out where the cancer came from so they're just gonna do another scan.

"She has cancer?"
*shake my head.*  *smack my forehead*
"Emmanuel, she just had a brain tumor removed. She has cancer.  Didn't she tell you that?"
"She said they didn't know what it was or where it came from."
"They don't know where it came from. It's not brain cancer; it didn't start there. It spread to the brain and they don't know where it started or where else it is."
"But they took it all out, right?"
"They took out the big tumor. They couldn't get to the little ones so they're going to get them with chemo and radiation and hope that gets them wherever they came from."
"I don't know what that means. What do you mean, where it came from? And what other tumors?"
"Em, this isn't something they caught early. She has Stage 3 or 4 cancer. It is spreading throughout her body and is in her brain  now. She has cancer and they say she's had it for a while, and they can't find all of it."

Sometimes it's funny to mess with idiot family members.  Sometimes it's just sad.  I think I'll just text "Sheila" if I ever have anything really bad to tell him. On the bright side, though, Mom called me today while I was at the grocery store and told me I needed to come pick her up because they were sending her home today anyway.  But just in case you've never tried to get into the University of Iowa Hospital as a University of Iowa football game let out directly across the street, let me just advise you never to try. The fucking cops won't let you in the parking garages, there are tailgaters in there if you do manage to sneak in, and the football fans all act irritated that the hospital doesn't just shut down for them.  We live in a really fucked up society when football trumps hospitals as a priority.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A letter to unnamed members of my family

I shall call her Sheila, and he Emmanuel, because those are in no way their names so if they ever read this they can't really sue me.

Dear Sheila,
I realize that you still blame me for reporting you to the state for medical neglect, even though I didn't report you and you were totally guilty of medical neglect, for the time you joked on facebook about how your diabetic 4 year old's blood sugar was in the 400s and it was so cute that he didn't understand why he felt sick while you didn't take him to the hospital, and then followed up with the fact that you were told by his doctor to take him to the hospital at 300 but just wouldn't.  Yeah, that happened but I forgive you.  For the accusation, not for being an awful mother, but we'll let the state handle that.  Anyway, about your dad.
He's a vagina. Sorry to be blunt but he's a big weepy ball of mess.  I understand that you hero-worship him in a way bordering on creepy and West Virginia, and that he's totally the most wonderful man ever to gut animals for fun, but he needs to stop blubbering on my mother about my mother. Seriously, you cannot call someone who is scared for her life and bawl incoherently into the phone about how scared you are for her life. This isn't about him, and she had about a million more important things to focus on than making him feel better. Give him a xanax, tuck him into bed (because I totally believe you do that already) and take away the cell phone.

Also, I text. When I get news about mom, I go through my phone and send out one update to about half a dozen people.  If Emmanuel doesn't know how to text, or can't afford to text, then he doesn't get updated. Not just because he makes me want to punch him in his weepy face, but because I simply do not have the time to call everyone who wants updates. I am not going to tell a brain surgeon to hold on while I call your father. Not gonna happen. Because I'm a bitch that way.

So, good luck with the whole reverse Oedipal thing, and the son you'll make blind before he becomes a teenager, and I'll text you updates if I feel like it. Or not. Whatever.

the black sheep

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

a quick update

I have no patience these last few days. I have this big huge thing in my life to think about and it just seems like the bullshit minutiae of life should step back for it but it doesn't.  I still ave to unload the dishwasher and come up with something for lunch and dinner every day, and why doesn't all this crap just take care of itself? I have brain tumors to google!

My mother uses a walker now, which is great because now she doesn't have to walk along walls to keep from falling down, but it also makes her look old and frail. As we walked into the Iowa City hospital I suddenly realized how we looked to people. The frail and unsteady woman being held up by her paunchy and balding son, accompanied by her overweight, gray-haired daughter. I had an almost overwhelming urge to tell the doctor that this wasn't real. That's not who we are.  My mother is strong and independent. My brother and I are young. His thinning hair is a joke because it doesn't fit him, and my grays are quirky and premature. We aren't old and we aren't sad or pitiful and the doctor has to make everything right again. Mom doesn't stand between us for support. She stands between us as support, and we need to get back to that again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm lucky that they match that way.

My house smells like pot roast. I am infinitely fortunate that I happen to be cooking pot roast, because otherwise I'd spend all day wondering where that smell is coming from.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I swear, I plan to update you

Big whole blog posts swirling in my head. The involve hospitals and neurologists and one psychotic car salesman from LA who may or may not have coined the term "tv" but who definitely did name his daughter Tee Vee. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I don't want to know

Tomorrow we go to Iowa City to talk to the neurosurgeon. I am so scared.

It's like a fashion.

Oh my god! Cancer is a big industry. I mean, you see the ribbons on cars and everything (around here it's all pink and teal, because my town is full of breasts and ovaries) so you know there are shops selling car magnets and silicone bracelets, but I never knew it was so huge. There are multi-colored ribbons, and animal print ribbons because they've run out of colors.  And it must be difficult to A) come to a generally agreed upon consensus as to which color means which cancer, and B) keep it all in good taste.  I mean, breast cancer is pink because boobies = girls, but you can't make colon cancer brown because ewwww. And what if I decide I want mesothelioma to be yellow with pink polka dots but then some group in Colorado wants it to be green and red stripes? What governing board hears our appeals? Who makes the car magnets and silicone bracelets? It would be anarchy!

So I actually clocked something that said "Shop by cancer type" and scrolled through all of the ridiculously colored ribbons (bladder cancer is marigold, blue, and purple, because pale yellow was in poor taste.)  And oh my god there is a brain cancer gift basket!  For only $50 I can buy my mom a whole basket full of crap to constantly remind her of the dangerous chicken egg sitting inside her skull!  Of course, I'm not buying that because we don't know what kind of cancer she even has. It could be from anywhere!  Can you imagine the faux pas of showing up at the chemo office with the wrong car magnet, silicone bracelet, t shirt, necklace, keychain, Swarovski crystal bracelet? It would be mortifying!

It's Nawt A Too-mah!

I don't consider myself to be a hypochondriac, but I can be a tad panicky about some things. My father died from colon cancer and now every time I get a slight intestinal cramp I think to myself, "I need a colonoscopy!"  My mother has MS and I'm always afraid I have it whenever my leg falls asleep for a little longer than normal. 
I get headaches.  I've been popping 800mg Motrins a couple times a day for months now.  And I forget words, and call people by the wrong name, and I tell Ryan to hurry up and do her homework when I mean get ready for bed.  I think I need a peace of mind MRI.  I think for the rest of my life  I will worry that I have brain cancer every time I get dizzy or forget something.  In fact, I'm kinda worried about it already.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

more disjointed brain thoughts

I met this guy one time who liked to chat. I worked at a convenience store and he was a customer and one day I tried to sell him some new candy bar or something and he kind of chuckled at me. He told me he hadn't eaten chocolate in ten years. His wife had had brain cancer and either the cancer or the treatment had robbed her of her sense of taste, except for chocolate. The guy asked me, "Do you know what happens when you can't taste your food? You gag and choke on it." So he said they had to just dump Hershey's syrup on everything. Steak, salad, chicken noodle soup, all of it coated with Hershey's syrup. For over a year every meal he had with his wife smelled like chocolate, until she died. He said the worst part was, she didn't like chocolate; it was just the only thing she could taste. I don't remember the segue but he said in the end she died because the tumor outgrew her brain. He said they cut away her skull bit by bit to relieve pressure until her head was huge and then when she ran out of scalp to cover it the doctors said they could make more room by removing the brain around the tumor.  He said no and the tumor grew and she died.

This story has been in my mind since 4:00 pm today. That man chuckling at the candy bar, telling me about his wife eating meal after meal doused in chocolate she didn't like, and eventually doctor's offering to cut away her mind just to keep her body alive. It's the only brain cancer story I know, except that Dom Mucci had a brain tumor removed in his teens and woke up left handed. So I guess there's hope there.

The ribbon for brain cancer is gray. As in gray matter. As in the most depressing color in existence.


My grandmother lived into her 80s. She'd been "praying for Jesus to take" her since her mid 70s. She was a hateful old woman who insulted her grand children and sat in judgment of everyone.

My mother is a good woman. She is 63. Today they found a tumor the size of an egg in her head. Hateful woman- 80s. Good woman- early 60s?  This is how I know there is no god.  Well, that and logic.  And cramps.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Go Local City/State Team!

NFL starts tonight. Tom and I have negotiated the terms of football season down to 3 games a week.  I am going to try to hate televised football less openly this year because while I do hate televised football enough to want to kill it, I love my husband and want him to be happy and he enjoys it. And knowing that it's only 3 games a week should help.  And I do love all the other football things. I love bratwurst, and beer, and hooded sweatshirts. I just hate watching people actually playing football.*

*but mostly I hate playing single parent so that Tom can devote his full attention to not missing any of the game.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Very Good Day

Today seemed to go slow. I made lunch for the boys at 10:00 because they were hungry and it just felt like lunch time. It was another open-windows day (third in a row after a heat wave summer all cooped up in the AC) and the boys were relatively well-behaved. I put them down for naps at 1:00 and took my hoop quilt and needle out to sit on the porch and only had to get up twice to tell Tommy to stop standing in his bedroom window banging on the glass with a toy garbage truck.  I almost pulled off being stern, but he was adorable standing there in the window smiling down at me and I burst out laughing.  So Tommy never got a nap but I got an hour or so on the porch in the fresh air. Then Tom got home at a decent hour, I made supper, the kids actually ate, and then Tom let Tommy help him work on building the shed in the back yard.  Ryan went out to help/watch and I brought Danny out and he played in the yard. In fact, he and Tommy played quite nicely in the sand box side by side with no crying or fighting or pushing at all!  Then both boys got baths and play time before bed, and everyone, including Tom, was in bed by 9:45.  And once I get done with my nightly wind-down web surfing, I will go to bed as well.  All in all, a very good day.

Monday, September 05, 2011

An Interview with The Child

Tommy, what's your favorite color?

"Bwoo." blue

What's your favorite animal?

"A dock." a dog.

What's your favorite movie?

"Won. Won. Won Weezy!" Ron. Ron. Ron Weasley!

What's your favorite toy?

"A my weiner. I has one!"

Xmas, not Christmas

So far the well-meaning denizens of the internet have corrected me twice in the past 2 weeks when I've written "Xmas". The first just pointed out that when you write Xmas, you leave Christ out. The second actually told me it offended her.  Well, the sad truth is that I do it deliberately to leave the Christ out, although not to offend anyone.
See, Christmas has been commercialized and secularized in our society. It has become, in many respects, a holiday celebrating peace, goodwill, family, generosity, and not the birth of any lord and savior. It has become Frosty The Snowman, and Santa Claus, not Jesus and a Nativity. And it is that secular goodwill that my family celebrates. So I spell it Xmas.  Because I don't celebrate a birthday. I celebrate a rather more obtuse mixture of vague wishes and emotions. And I do it with a tree and stockings, not church services and hymns. SO while I'm very sorry if having your religion's personal holiday celebrated on even the federal level isn't enough, and if my misspelling it and bastardizing it offends you and makes you feel like maybe the world is so cruel as to only mention you in 90% of all media for 4 months a year, I'm not going to put the Christ back in Christmas.  Because in my household, the Earth's Revolution Is The Reason For The Season. Since, after all, seasons are brought about by the passage of time, not the birth of future carpenters.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Lately I've been having trouble sleeping.  I always have trouble falling asleep, but once I'm asleep I'm usually fine. I can wake up to roll over, check the clock, pee, whatever, and fall right back to sleep.  But the last week or so, after I wake up at all I'm just up. 
I have friends who have insomnia and they get things done.  They clean their houses or read books or whatever. I just  lie in bed with my thoughts racing, occasionally dozing just enough to have racing-thoughts dreams that leave me more tired than before.  I wish I could be a productive insomniac.   I wish I could get things done.  But most of all, I wish I could just sleep!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Harsh Reality: Mr Right wants you to take your Prozac

I have a lot of friends who suffer from depression. It's the law of averages that I will, since I have friends and depression is common. And I see a LOT of moping on facebook, which is fine since facebook is full of pointless comments and vents and is therefor kind of designed for moping when one is feeling mopey. But then I see this kind of stuff and it jumps out at me: "All I want is to find Mr./Ms. Right."

Here's the hard, cold, reality. Mr./Ms. Right does not want you. Nobody wants someone mopey and depressed who sits around on facebook posting status updates about how they need someone to make them happy. Mr./Ms. Right wants an already happy person to share time or life with, not someone who will put the responsibility for their happiness on their shoulders.  Do you want the guy at the end of the bar staring forlornly into his beer?  No one else does either. 

Again, depression is common. But YOU need to fix your own depression.  Take pills, get a hobby, do all the things you need to do. People, especially the Rights, want to share happiness, not provide it.  As long as you are dependent on another person for your happiness in life, you aren't what they want. Mr./Ms. Right wants to be a partner, not a crutch.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Got a call the other day inviting the whole family to a giant cookout at my in-laws' house. To celebrate (in part) my ex girlfriend's birthday.  And her children's birthdays, one of whom is the daughter of my deceased ex boyfriend.  How could this possibly be awkward?  I shall keep y'all up to date.