If Things Go Rather Silent…

…it’s because it’s another winter when my mother declines just that much more. She’s back in the hospital, and they’re talking about electroconvulsive therapy this time. Severe mental illness is a merry go round you can never quite step off of.

Please don’t worry about me. It’s sad and chaotic, yes, but not unexpected, and also something of a relief, as when I saw a call from my aunt on my cell phone, I had a horrid moment when I believed the message I’d hear was that my mother was dead, so to hear she’s safely tucked up in a hospital bed is quite an enormous relief, actually. And she asked for a flu shot, they say. Sign of forward-thinking, that. She’s planning for a future without the flu. This is good news. Or so I choose to look at it, anyway.

I’ll keep you posted, my darlings. Thanks for your understanding.


Tell Me Again About Our Post-Racial Society

Actually, tell it to Ashley Miller’s dad, who disowned her for dating outside her race. He apparently didn’t get the memo about racism being a thing of the past. A scene with two lovers holding hands in which there is some contrast in skin tone is, to him, so intolerable that he must cut his daughter out of his life. Of course, he’s a coward as well as a racist, so he made his wife tell his daughter that he is willing to give her up over the skin color of her beau.

Lovers holding hands. Image courtesy Tanjila Ahmed.

Lovers holding hands. Image courtesy Tanjila Ahmed.

Racism is still a reality. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. Don’t tell yourself that lie.

I hope Ashley’s father has a photo like this one.

Parent and child. Image courtesy Steve Baty.

Parent and child. Image courtesy Steve Baty.

I hope it makes him weep. I hope it will make him think, and I hope it will eventually make him come to some different conclusions.

In Memoriam My Maternal Grandfather, I Shall Now Inflict The Statler Brothers On You

I got that message today that you know, in the back of your mind, is liable to come at any time. The tall, thin man with the funny hair and the thick-rimmed glasses was nearly ninety, if not past it, and he’d been ailing recently. So I wasn’t surprised to find a succession of messages on my phone from aunt and mother advising that he had passed, peacefully.

Still, expected and unsurprising as it is, it still seems sudden. These things always do.

We weren’t close. We hadn’t actually spoken in years. Over the last few years, he’s been slipping into dementia, but long before that, we’d run out of things to talk about. My family isn’t a close-knit one. It might have been different, if we’d stayed in Indiana, but we left there when I was three, and we were never good at the long-distance relationships, and the grandparents had stopped traveling a long time ago. So there’s a grandfather-shaped hole, but it’s not a gaping one. I’ve skipped the shedding tears routine in favor of the flickering smile, as memories pop up unbidden. I see him holding a sparkler, that last time we were all a family and whole, back when I was sixteen and I’d insisted on a summer visit. Great provider of the fireworks, he was. He’d always been a provider. The house he lived in to the end of his life was built with his own hands, and he’d never stopped wanting to do for his kids. I remember a photo of him, on a picnic bench outside that house, feeding a squirrel he’d befriended. He was so damned pleased with that squirrel.

The strongest memory, though, is one seared into the little gray cells by sheer terror. You see, I was thirteen or thereabouts, and the grandfolk had come to visit us when we lived in Sedona. They’d roust me out of bed at five in the ay-em for long healthy walks round the neighborhood. And then they wanted to take a drive up to Flagstaff, do the whole Oak Creek Canyon thing, which I was down with. I love driving the canyon. And, what with it being late spring or summerish, there’d be a lot of RVs holding up proceedings and so plenty of time to gawk at the scenery, whilst having a goodish chat with the elder folk. The only thing that worried me was the tape deck, because elder folk are notorious for playing things the youngsters cannot abide.

They put in the Statler Brothers. And we howled the lyrics, once I’d got them. We nearly wore the mylar off that tape, up the canyon and around. This was certainly not the hip music. I’d been listening to stuff like Aerosmith and Pet Shop Boys and (shudder) Icehouse, along with a bit of the old Maxi Priest kind of slightly reggae version of “Wild World” I was absolutely nuts for. No way, you’d say, such a youth would appreciate the Statler Bros. But I did, very much so, and I appreciated the old grandparents for having such discerning musical taste.

We had the time of our lives on that trip. And it was all going along swimmingly until ye olde granddad decided he wanted to take Schnebly Hill Road back home.

The road is about two inches wide, unpaved, with turns that aren’t so much hairpin as a corkscrew dosed with strychnine (which, if a corkscrew were a member of the animal kingdom, would cause it to seize up in a sort of frenzy of right-angle kinks). You may be headed due north on Schnebly Hill Road, and a nanosecond later discover you are, if you were very fortunate and didn’t hurtle into the abyss in attempting to execute the bend, now headed due south. It’s a washboard, with bits often washed out, and there are what the uninitiated call “vistas.” Some even call it “breathtaking,” without mentioning that it’s not so much the spectacular views into the red rock canyon that steal the breath as the ongoing suspense as to your chances of survival. There are no guard rails. There is no shoulder. If you misjudge the thing, you are sailing a few thousand feet straight down into a vista. At least you will die scenically, but that’s small consolation when you are young and wish to live to a ripe old age, like 18.

I dimly remembered all of this from a trip we’d taken along it with a group of intrepid young parents. The parents had enjoyed themselves immensely. The assorted kids had huddled on the floor in the back, teeth chattering from the ridges in the road combined with pants-pissing terror, and tried not to look out the windows. I remember looking out the window once, and coming eye-to-eye with an agave plant that was in full, spectacular bloom. The problem was that it was growing straight up the side of a cliff, and I could have rolled the window down and plucked a blossom, if by that time all traces of bravery hadn’t drained from me and soaked into the potholed road.

“Um,” I said to my grandfather, who at that time was already getting a little shaky in the hands with age, developed some few issues with sight and hearing, had suffered a fairly serious heart attack not too many years back, and had a reputation for not always paying as much attention to the road as he should, “are you sure?”

I attempted to warn him away, listing a few of the many perils of such a journey. I gave it up as a bad job when his eyes gleamed brighter with each warning.

At that point, I would’ve gotten out and walked, if I hadn’t been sandwiched between him and my grandmother on a bench seat. Ah, well, I said to myself as he turned off the perfectly-good pavement onto the gap in the pine forest that marked the beginning of the end, at least he’s old. And he’s from Indiana. He’ll probably take it at a top speed of 5mph. No problem.

I don’t think the speedometer dipped below 35 the whole way down. Most of the time, he seemed to be going a strong 50. Red rocks went by in a blur. Red dust billowed up from the tires. And the man had the audacity to comment on how lovely the scenery was, with enthusiastic assent from my grandmother, whom I’d always considered a sensible sort in the past. How they could even see the scenery at that speed was beyond my ken, and he certainly had no business eyeballing it, in my considered opinion. Not that I could tell him this. It’s impossible to force words past a throat clamped shut like an imperiled oyster.

I had just enough time at the beginning to think that a man who hailed from anywhere as flat as Indiana had no business driving such a steep, windy road to begin with, much less at speeds that even drunk teenagers bent on suicide wouldn’t dare attempt. Then I spent a mile or two contemplating my impeding death several times per second, and bewailing the fact that I was going to die before I’d even finished puberty. The rest of the road finished in one sustained mental scream. I think my grandmother was humming contentedly in between exclamations of delight. I have no idea what my grandfather was doing, aside from slewing the wheel this way and that whilst exploring how far the gas pedal could be mashed. I was too afraid to look or listen.

And then, somehow, as if by miracle, we made it to the bottom of the canyon. I don’t remember where Schnebly Hill Road comes out, because I have never visited it since. I just recall staring at the pavement of good old US 89A with mute astonishment. And when we pulled up at the house, I wobbled out of the truck and refused to ever get back in it as long as Grandpa was at the wheel. Not in Arizona, at least. Not anywhere near a road with so much as a gentle curve or risk of a slight incline.

My mother, damn her, thought it was screamingly funny.

Years later, the immediate shock had faded well enough that I didn’t have too many flashbacks when he drove us to Nashville, Indiana, which is about the only part of the state with topographic relief. And, although the Statler Bros. had played all the way down Schnebly Hill Road, soundtrack for what I believed were the last moments of my existence, I retained a fondness for them. Because it had been one hell of a ride, and in the end, with survival a known fact, sort of fun. You can keep your expensive super-duper-mega-rollercoasters-of-instant-death. My old granddad could do you one magnitude better for the price of a half a tank of gas.

So, in memoriam, here’s a picture of Schnebly Hill Road I filched from the intertoobz:

Red Rocks seen from the vista of Schebly Hill road. Taken on 7-7-09 by Brienne Magee. Credit: USDA Forest Service, Coconino National Forest.

And the song we’d loved the most on that long-ago trip:

Adios, Grandpa. I’m glad we survived that trip by over twenty years.


In lieu of condolences, funny stories of various aged relatives may be left in the comments.

In Which I Admit I Am Not Noble and Can’t Do This Alone

It’s been a day. I spoke to my mother, who had sounded better the last time we spoke. She sounded much worse today, and informed me my grandfather’s in the hospital, although she can’t say for what. A rehabilitation center of some sort. She thinks he’s going to die soon. And then she wants to move to Washington.

I’ll admit that cold dread fills me at the idea.

We have a history. I spent a considerable chunk of my twenties trying to extricate her from a horrible situation. She’d call me in tears every time her husband went back to drinking and began beating her. She’s really leaving him again, this time, she’d say, and so I’d tell her to come on down. She’d live with me for a few days or weeks, interrupting my writing, putting my life in disarray, and inevitably, just when we’d got things sorted enough she could begin to live a life of her own, she’d go back to him. Always. This went on more times than I can remember.

He called me once, drunk, barely able to do more than breathe, and said, “Your mother…” His voice trailed off. My heart tried to explode. My body went cold and numb, my field of vision shrinking to a sliver, because I thought this was the call, this was where I’d find out he’d finally killed her. I still don’t know the reason he called, but I got hold of her later and found out she was fine. But he was drinking and abusing her, and every time she went back because he was good at winning her back, I’d watch her leave with the certainty that this was the last time I’d see her alive.

I spent a lot of time angry and scared. I spent a lot of time confused and hurt. The confusion and hurt would morph into anger. That’s how my personality works. I’m not one of those people who can suffer mildly and patiently. I just get mad, and the more scared or hurt I am, the angrier I am.

But no matter how angry I got, the fear won out. I’d always accept her back. She eventually left him for good only because he beat her dog. I made her buy a house that time, not trusting her not to go back. Get her in a house, something she’d invested in, where we could live together, and this time she’d stay put, I thought. It wasn’t much, but it was a pretty double-wide with potential. Between the two of us, we could afford it. I gave up my lovely little studio apartment, where I’d been happy for a great many years and could walk to work in a trice. I gave up my freedom and independence, and moved in with my mother. And her dog. And her two cats.

It was a disaster. She treated me like I was still a child, virtually a toddler. You’d think someone dancing attendance on you and making you meals would be awesome, but it wasn’t. It felt like being smothered. She wanted to know every detail about what I was up to. And while she didn’t demand, the constant quest for information got right up my nose. We had opposite schedules: she’s an early bird, I’m a vampire. The walls were thin. And she wouldn’t smoke outside. I’m a smoker, but I smoke outdoors. Can’t stand the smell in the house. I’m a desperately light sleeper, awakening at the slightest noise or strange odor. So sleep deprivation piled up on top of the loss of autonomy.

And then there’s the Illness. Being faced with that every day, this shell, wearing an approximation of my mother’s face but with few traces of who she’d been, that was rough. Incredibly rough.

It wasn’t easy. I was miserable, and sometimes she’d push a button and I’d lash out. I yelled, and hated myself for yelling. But she knows which buttons to push and can’t help pushing them. Everyone in the family talks about that, how Linda just finds those buttons and grinds her finger in. I don’t think she’s even aware of doing it. But you’re surely aware. And you howl.

But we were making it, to a degree. I wasn’t happy, but we had our good moments, and they were enough to keep me from going mad myself. We’d get it sorted out. We’d forge a life together. We were on our way.

Then she abandoned my ass for Indiana. Temporary, she said. Just to take care of her mother for a few weeks. Then months. Then it became permanent.

I’ll spare you the details of the shrieking that ensued. I’ll just advise that I was not happy being left with the land lease, and with her trying to also dump the mortgage on me, which I couldn’t afford, and then constantly after me to sell the place for her. The house we’d started to build together, all she wanted to do was get rid of it. She couldn’t think what that meant for her daughter. She couldn’t think.

And that was during one of her best times. She was pretty coherent, back then.

So I told her the truth, tonight, when she said my aunt had told her I wanted her to fly back here. I know how that conversation went. My aunt told her I’d floated the possibility of getting her into an assisted living facility out here, and that morphed in her damaged mind in to “My daughter wants me to live with her right now.” You can’t trust her thinking anymore. You can’t trust that what she says is true. It’s true to her, but it’s like seeing reality through a funhouse mirror. So who knows if she’ll even remember the truth? But I told her:

She can’t live with me.

There’s no way. Both of us would end up destroyed. I don’t have the time, money, physical and emotional resources to handle it. The only way she’s coming out here is if I can get her in to an assisted living facility. And I won’t bring her here unless we have that. She will need to live with people who can take care of her physical and medical needs, in a home where she might make a few friends, so that I’m not her only friend. I don’t know if this state will pay for such a place for a dirt-poor person. We’ll find out.

If they don’t, she must stay where she is. There’s family there, and she’s established residency, and she has a home, and a mental health facility that picks her up thrice weekly to make sure she’s treated and taking her medicine. These are things that are already being done for her. She may not like them, and they may not be quite enough, but they’re far more than I can do.

I’ve had to face the fact that there is no possible way, short of sacrificing my own life, to take care of her. And I’m sorry, I’m selfish, and I do not want to let my life go. I’ve sacrificed quite a bit of it for her already, and I know what happens when I do: I get us nowhere.

I feel, right now, like a trapped animal eyeing its leg and considering how much less pain will be involved in chewing it off rather than succumbing to the trap. I actually, seriously, considered emigrating to South Africa. Not kidding. My dad’s about to lose his job, but he might get a job in South Africa, in a gorgeous region I might add, and I swear to you all I can think about is that if he does, I want to go with him. Because then I could escape.

I’ve considered engineering a break. I’ve considered a lot of things that are not at all noble, and involve me running away at greater or lesser speeds. All this in the course of one afternoon and evening, all this because I want, desperately, to elude that trap. In the end, I won’t do them. I won’t let her completely down. I won’t (probably) move to South Africa. But there’s a negotiation that has to be done, in which boundaries are established, and it’s determined just how much of a sacrifice I can make. It won’t be as much as some. Those people who give up their lives in service of others, that’s not me, and I can’t be that person, no matter how much guilt and anguish it causes to admit it.

So, I shall be spending part of the day tomorrow on the phone with various people, including her counselors, and trying to track down what resources might be available here in Washington, and whether any sort of life for her here is viable, or whether we’re going to have to do this long-distance. Because she agrees: I can’t go there. I can’t move to Indiana. No jobs, and I’d be suicidal almost from the moment of arrival. It has that effect. At least that boundary’s clearly established. But what can I do if we find out there’s no way for her to be here? No help, no health care, no home? How do I tell her that, then, that’s that? How do I live with that answer?

VNV Nation’s “Entropy” speaks to me: “When does enough become enough? / When does “no” have meaning?”

[Los Links is coming. I promise.]

You’re Under No Obligation to Read This

I didn’t even mean to post it. It’s just a person pouring out pain on the internet. But if you want a look at what it means to deal with mental illness, then you can read on. If not, amuse yourself with my cat, partake of the other excellent offerings on the toobz, and wait for Los Links.

I spoke to my aunt today. We’re not a close-knit family: I haven’t actually talked to any of them since my grandmother died, several years and two cities ago. But Mom scared me enough that I went on a hunt for people I haven’t talked to in ages, because I needed to know what was actually going on.

And it’s ugly.

My mother’s disease has progressed to the point where she can barely function. My demented 90 year-old grandfather is actually doing the driving for them now, because she can’t even make it down the road to his house. How he remembers to pick her up, I have no idea. But you know it’s bad when it’s the guy who should be the caree becoming the carer.

There’s other stuff, and I won’t go in to it. But it’s gotten bad enough that her sister and her brother have been trying to find residential care for her. And apparently the doctors are saying that she’s just going to get worse with age. If they can get her to sign the release form, I’ll be able to talk to them directly about that. But considering she’s been out of the hospital for just about two months now and is rapidly deteriorating to the point where she’s going to have to go back, I don’t doubt that things are getting worse. There may be no more good days.

I’ve already lost my mother. I lost her to this disease a long time ago. The woman she was has been gone since I was a teenager. I’ll probably tell you about her sometime. She was incredible. I know most kids are partial to their moms, but she really was extraordinary. She was everybody’s mom. Our entire neighborhood loved our house, and loved her, because she always had activities and adventures for us, so much time and love. And she’s still a very loving person, but she’s been like a child for a long time now.

When she had her first breakdown, once we got her committed, the doctors were able to bring her back. She was my mother again. The problem is, she felt well, so she stopped taking her medicine. You can’t do that when you’re bipolar. And she entered this vicious cycle for a while where she’d have a psychotic break, get medicated, think she was better, stop taking medicine, and descend once again. And they were able to bring less and less of her back each time, until she became a shadow of what she used to be.

But she was still a wonderful person. Everyone loved her. She was like a child, a very simple person, prone to yammer on about her animals and her family, both of which were the most important things in her life. She married a violent alcoholic and only left him for good because he threatened her dog. She didn’t care about herself, but she loved that dog. That fucking dog saved her life.

And then she moved back to Indiana to help out with her mother, who’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She’s stayed there ever since. It was supposed to be temporary, but she and her dad need each other.

It’s been mostly okay. She’d had a few times where she ended up in the hospital, but she’d usually come out stabilized. But over the last several months, possibly longer, she’s gotten dramatically worse. And now begins the coulda-shoulda-woulda, because I don’t know how much of her is left and how much they’ll be able to get back this time. We had an adventure planned. I didn’t go out there over the summer because I got busy, and then she got hospitalized, but we’d thought, someday. Someday, when she isn’t so busy with her dad. Someday, when she’s a little better. Someday, when I’m a little less busy with things here. Someday.

There may never be a someday. Right now, I’m wondering if I’ll ever see her again, and if I do, if I’ll recognize her.

I’m looking in to options to make sure she’s taken care of. My aunt and uncle have their hands full trying to take care of their dad; it’s tough for them to take care of her, too. I’m far away, and there’s no job market back there. If I try to move, all I’m doing is giving up a good union job for probable unemployment. Won’t be able to support myself, much less her. Even with this job, I can’t afford her treatment, and she won’t come out here anyway while her dad’s alive. There are few options for poor people. She’s lucky to be disabled enough that she gets some care from the state – she’d be dead without it – but I have no idea if I can get her care in Washington if we try to get her out here. These are things I’ll have to investigate, before we even try to talk to her about her future. And I can’t bring her here without having a facility to bring her to.

I’ve tried living with her before. It was too much for one person to handle even before she got this bad. I can’t help feeling like a selfish shit over that, but this isn’t something I can do alone. But I’m sure as hell not tearing her away from her family only to have her put in a nursing home. The only way I’ll bring her out is if we find a good assisted living facility that will make her happy. I know they exist. I just don’t know if we can find the resources to pay for one.

And then there’s the fact that even if we can, it might not be a good idea to install her in a strange city, where there’s only me.

These are the kinds of things that those sanctimonious bastards who preach about personal responsibility and sacrifice never have to face. They don’t value lives like my mother’s. They don’t have to make the choice between a job and a relative. They don’t have to worry about their loved ones ending up dead because they can’t get them the treatment they need. According to them, I should have planned my entire life around her disease. I should have gone out and got rich, because I knew this day was coming, didn’t I? Never mind that so few of us can join the 1%. Never mind that we can’t afford the education that might have given us a shot at that. Never mind that no health insurance company in this country would take on a bipolar person, that mothers don’t qualify as dependents for your own health insurance, that even if they did, the mental health care it pays for is laughable when it comes to seriously ill people. Even my vaunted union-negotiated Cadillac health insurance pays well for mental health care. It wouldn’t even cover the necessary doctor’s appointments and medications, much less the 24-hour care she’s going to need soon, and really needs now. My insurance is for functional people.

And I’m not alone. I’ve got friends dealing with the same dilemmas. They’ve got a mentally disabled relative on their hands, and there’s so damned little they can do. Some of my friends sacrifice everything they have to care for their relative. Some of them don’t have to just yet, but might soon. Some of them have discovered that no matter how much you want to help, no matter how much of yourself you give up, you still lose.

But you don’t give up. You can’t.

So that’s life right now. It’s not like other people aren’t dealing with their own crap, and a lot of people have it far worse than I do. And I’ll get it figured out. It sucks, it’s painful, it’s life. We go through some shit, and then, usually, it gets better.

There’s this spark of hope: she sounded a little better today. So maybe, just maybe, there’s still a someday. We’ll try to get there.

One step at a time…

Mental Illness Strikes Home. Again.

Funny we should be having this conversation about skepticism and mental illness now. I called my mother for her birthday today, and it’s clear she’s on her way to another psychotic break.

We’ve been down this road a thousand times. She’s severely bipolar, and her medications frequently stop working. She ends up anxious and paranoid and confused. It’s painful to watch. There’s nothing you can do except ensure she’s getting treatment. They’ll probably hospitalize her soon to stabilize her, and for a while, she’ll be okay. Then the vicious cycle will begin again.

It’s not this way for every bipolar person. Medication helps many of them stay stable, and I have friends who have managed the disease without any spectacular crises for years. My mother’s not so lucky. But with treatment, she’s able to function. Without treatment, she would be dead. Literally dead. There was a point when she was determined to kill herself, because she believed bad men were going to hurt her family to get to her, and death was the only way she could protect them.

Medication has taken those delusions away, and they rarely come back now. But she still has these times when paranoia starts to return. She fixates on strange ideas, and can’t remember anything else. We go round and round in conversations, circling back to the same simple points, and she’s incapable of remember things as basic as how long mail between Washington and Indiana takes, and where a store is. She’s too paranoid to drive. Luckily, she’s disabled enough that the clinic comes to pick her up for treatment, and keeps a very close eye on her.

So this is my weekend: trying to get in touch with family members who can keep an eye on her until Monday. Calling the clinic to make sure they’re aware of her symptoms, because she’s very good at hiding them even when she’s far gone. Trying to do all of this on the sly, because right now she trusts no one, and if she found out what I was doing, she wouldn’t trust me. Trying to sift reality from her fantasies, so that I know what’s actually happening and just how bad it is. And then we have the delicate task of trying to get her to sign a release form so I can have a more direct hand in her treatment, because we’ve reached that point now where the rest of the family may not be able to help. Not with her believing they’re out to get her. Not with her father in the throes of dementia.

One of the reasons I want to see the stigma of mental illness ended is because when so many people believe it’s all in a person’s head, and they could get well if only they really tried, there’s no push to solve these issues. We need research done that will lead to more effective, science-based treatments. We need to understand how these diseases begin and unfold. We need to know causes. And when we think that people are just imagining things, or not strong-willed enough, or don’t believe in God enough, this doesn’t get treated like a medical problem. It becomes a character problem. It becomes the type of problem no one wants to waste time and research dollars on because hey, isn’t it the fault of the sufferer? And we go haring off in the wrong direction.

Things are better now than they used to be. But they’re still not good enough. And people like my mother suffer.

The thing that enrages me the most is that she didn’t have to suffer this way. But she’d grown up in a society that told her that mental problems were horrible character flaws. She internalized the idea that admitting to being mentally ill meant she was a bad person. She thought she’d be locked away forever in a terrible place, a Thorazine zombie. She thought she was a failure as a wife, mother and human being if she admitted she was crazy. And that kept her from recognizing the disease when it began. It allowed things to progress to the point where medication can’t do more than allow her to function. The longer a person’s left untreated, the worse they get. And she refused treatment for far too long. When a person is in such dire straits that they qualify for involuntary commitment, it might be too late for a little medication and therapy to bring them all the way back.

We’ll hope for good enough again. And for the people who come after her, we’ll work for treatments that turn a catastrophic disease into a manageable annoyance, and a society that understands that mental illness is something you treat, not something you hide in shame.

Mother’s Day

Just talked to my mom for something approaching four and a half hours.  The relationship we have is complicated – bound to be, considering she’s bipolar with occasional psychotic breaks, and I’ve got one hell of a temper.  And we’ve both occasionally put each other through hell.  Neither one of us is a perfect person.

And you know what?  We don’t have to be.

She gave me the kind of childhood most kids can only dream about.  And even when she’s lost her mind, she’s always been there for me.  I hope, after this conversation, that she understands that.  I’ve never once had to wonder if my mother loved me.  Wondered how she could love me a few times, mind, but never doubted she did.  She’s been my anchor.  If everyone else in the world stopped loving me, she still would.  That can’t be minimized.

And I love her.  Finally got a chance to really tell her how grateful I am to her for everything, how much I respect and appreciate her, admire her, and am constantly amazed by her.

We’ve had our rough patches.  But so does everyone.  Every family has its problems, every life has its regrets.  There are things we wish had never happened, but like I told her: “We got lemons.  Honey, grab some sugar, cuz we’re gonna have ourselves some lemonade.”

And she laughed.  I don’t know if she really understands it yet or not, but she and my dad are the ones who taught me what to do with the inevitable lemons.  They’re the ones who prepared me to handle just about anything life throws my way.  Hell, maybe anything, although we can never know that until it happens.

My mother did the lion’s share of the raising, which both me and my dad are profoundly grateful for.  So that’s why today’s mother’s day: got a chance to have one of those long, gorgeous, incredible conversations that gets to the heart of everything and leaves both of you glowing. 

I love my mom.  I’m proud of my mom.  And that’s something I want the world to know.  When you look at me, you’re looking at my parents, too: all their hard work and dedication and devotion as they attempted to shape a borderline psychopath (which, let’s face facts, all small children are) into a decent human being.

Hope I’ll always do them justice.

I Haz Been Betrayed

There was only one quiet interval at work today wherein I could check my email, and there was this cry for help from my stepmother.  She’s got a new cell phone. 

What new cell phone? I fired back while my stomach made like iron and nickel on the molten earth and sank.

I will not mention the make and model, as that would betray where I work, and I do not want to tempt my corporate overlords into separating me from my only means of acquiring kitty kibble.  Needless to say, she’d chosen the one phone that is the bane of my existence (and the source of considerable job security).  It’s one of the most complicated phones we carry.  And this purchased by a woman who, a few years ago, swore she’d never own a cell phone ever in her life, and who only last year was flummoxed by a pre-paid flip phone.

So I spent my lunch hour muttering “I can’t fucking believe you bought that fucking phone!” whilst helping her bring it to the point where it could potentially make and receive calls.  I feel betrayed.  I expected better of my family.  Next thing I know, my dear old Dad will be calling me up wanting help with the same model, or worse.  At least I know the ins-and-outs of the thing.  And at least they won’t blame me for its quirks.


At least I have solid proof, should I ever need it, that my bitching about this phone in my private life carries no weight with anyone whatsoever.  Even my own family doesn’t listen to me.  So the company needn’t worry about my impact upon its sales…

On the Other Hand, I have Good News…

…No, I didn’t save a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico. But I found this gold nugget in my inbox:

Your dad is going to vote for Obama. Can you believe it? If he gets nominated that is who he will vote for. If he doesn’t, then he will vote for McCain. Me, on the other hand, if he doesn’t get nominated, then I can do a write in vote, and I will still vote for him. I would rather put a gun to my head than vote for Billary or McBush.

He is crazy and she is a socialist. No thanks.

My father. My bloody father, who I don’t think has ever voted for a Democrat, is going to cast his ballot for Barack.

And my stepmother, who is even more conservative than he is, won’t even dream of voting for McCain.

When the fuck did I step down the wrong leg of the Trousers of Time? This can’t be the same universe I woke up in this morning…

Always Talk to Your Mum on Mother’s Day: A Cautionary Tale

It’s not often I’ll ask you to do this, my darlings, but right now, it’s very important you put your drink down and back away slowly. I refuse to be responsible if you don’t.



So. True fucking story:

I work Sundays, which rather puts a crimp in calling me dear old mums on Mother’s Day. Not a problem in my stepmother’s case: she has email. I dispatched one to her.

My natural mother is a Luddite. I decided to call her at lunch. I attempted to do so. No answer. So I left a message in my sweetest your-daughter-luuurrves-you voice. I pounded out our daily Discurso and went back to work.

My cell phone is sitting on my desk. It begins to vibrate.

It’s my roommate.


In two minutes.

Awshit, thinks I, something’s wrong with my cat. Or our third-floor apartment is now a second-floor apartment due to the vagaries of recalcitrant support beams. Or I’ve done something to piss her off mightily. Or something’s wrong with my cat. Ogods is my kitty dying?!?

I text her, all the while trying to make the customer on my line believe I’m paying full attention to his issue and in no way quietly panicking.

My roommate texts back: Police were here when I came home. Your mother was/is worried...

That’s right. My mother called the police on me. Because she hadn’t gotten my message and I hadn’t talked to her on Mother’s Day.

T-Mobile, the stupid fucks, hadn’t delivered my message. Her phone alerted her to a new voicemail which turned out to be an old voicemail from a neighbor. My brand new shiny HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! message vanished into the ether, and left my mother thinking my roommate must have killed me over a boy.


So let this be a lesson to you all: always talk to your mum on Mother’s Day. Or suffer the consequences.