Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

Greg and I are here in Georgia for a short visit with Mom.

We had a hard time getting here. On Tuesday we were 300+ miles into our 500 mile drive when something went wrong with the car. An hour and $100 later we had learned that a sensor was breaking and the part wasn't available quickly.  At some point it would go out completely and then the car would lose all power and that would be it.

Knowing that it could happen any minute or not at all, we turned around. We did make it home, after 12+ hours in the car driving through pouring rain, the last hours filled with tension that the engine could stop at any moment. We went to bed and got up at 6am and tried again in our other car.

Wednesday's trip went just perfectly, and were were here in time to take Mom to Red Lobster for Christmas Eve dinner.  Afterwards we exchanged gifts in her apartment and it was lovely.

We'll spend the day with her today and head home again tomorrow after breakfast.  A very short visit, but meaningful.

Mom is doing well overall but is getting a bit forgetful and a bit vague, and it just seems like she is less and less herself.

I'm trying very hard not to worry too much about taking care of her, and taking care of Greg.  The hours and hours and hours of driving hurt his back, and I probably shouldn't have let him drive back up the next day. Plus this is one of those meal situations that's extremely difficult for vegetarians; at Mom's retirement home there's not many choices, and it turns out the restaurant here in the hotel is closed today.

Tomorrow night we'll be back at home, and we'll have a weekend to try to relax and take care of ourselves before we are back at work on Monday.

Greg got me the perfect Christmas present, it's something that I had been wanting but just could not justify spending the money for something so silly and so expensive. A black cat Spirithood! I can't help it, I love it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where have I been?

I have been:

Caught up in a job that drains me. I have very little energy, or drive, or me! to do much else, and what little is left over I give to my husband and my mom. I work long hours, I spend way too much time in transit, and as much as I try to force work thoughts out of my head when I'm home, I end up dreaming about it when I sleep.

Peri-menopausal. Some days are fine, some days are bad. I started taking St. John's wort and that has helped an amazing amount.

Worrying about my mom, who I still speak to on the phone every day, although some days she can barely hear me. She is getting more vague, not necessarily with her memory exclusively but with her whole self.  And she is nearly running out of money.

The bad stuff:
Isn't even very bad. I'm just so stressed at work, and it's not just me - things are so hectic there my co-worker burst a blood vessel in her eye. I'm picking up on others' stress and it's hard to let go of when I'm not there.

Seriously, how can I have hot flashes that only affect my feet? Who needs two periods in one month? How can the thing I thought of as "menopause" be so weird, and come and go so randomly?

The good stuff:
I lost NaNoWriMo. But that is good, because I tried. For the first time in three years I wrote, I created, I did it. Maybe I only wrote 15,000 words instead of 50,000, but they are fucking awesome words and I am loving it so much. SO MUCH.

My sweetie pants and I celebrated the 13th anniversary of our first date this past Saturday. Lucky 13, baby!

I don't have the time or energy or serenity to do much blogging anymore, and I miss it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Greg is a Vegetarian

But this blog is about me, right?

Why I'm not a vegetarian:
  • It's hard.  During times when I'm not in control of the situation, when I'm stuck in an airport or it's late and I want to drive through somewhere fast, or I'm with a big group of people who all want to go to a specific restaurant, it can be difficult to find something without meat.  If the only place open is McDonald's, the vegetarian is forced to choose between a very few options and if they aren't in the mood for those specific things then then they are out of luck.  If I'm with a group who all want to share pepperoni pizzas, I can try to talk a couple of people into getting cheese pizza with me, or go without, or leave.  (This is why most non-vegetarians think vegetarians are annoying.)
  • Food is culture. I don't want to go to New Orleans and not get jambalaya with sausage, I don't want to go to London and not get fish and chips. Almost universally, local cuisines are meaty.
  • I can do without many kinds of meat, but I really, really love beef and seafood.  I've been a vegetarian before, and I missed it badly, and I never stopped missing it.
I admire Greg for being a vegetarian, and I'm thrilled about eating less meat myself and having basically no meat in our house (we've stopped buying meat but still have a few miscellaneous cans of tuna and chicken noodle soup hiding in the cabinet). 

I remember being 10 years old in the kitchen with Mom, my feet swinging a good distance above the floor as I sat on the barstool watching Mom at the sink cutting apart a whole chicken.  The bones cracking, the skin pulling, the blood dripping.  I remember being appalled and horrified and really sad that being an adult meant having to do that.

Luckily when I grew up I discovered skinless, boneless chicken breasts packaged neatly for me at the grocery store.

It's been about three weeks and so far I am really liking eating meat only once or twice a week.  Greg's primary reason for being a vegetarian is to avoid eating a murdered animal, and I completely agree with that.  Our culture is not only meat-based, but thoughtless about it: What's the difference between eating chunks of dead chicken and chunks of dead kitten? And there is no doubt that the animals are treated cruelly.

Maybe eventually I'll go completely vegetarian, again, but for now I'm going to settle for just eating significantly less murdered animal meat.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Planning a vacation

I'm trying to plan my time off for the rest of the year. 

It occurred to me recently that I really do have somewhat of a talent for my job in that I love to plan ahead.  I still hate math and spreadsheets and sitting under fluorescent lights for 8+ hours a day, but there are aspects that come somewhat naturally to me.  I like planning ahead and being organized.  I like it when I can help the agents in the call center with their scheduling problems and conflicts.  I like helping other departments with forecasting their call volume and scheduling their agents. I am getting much better at training the supervisors and team leads on using the workforce management computer programs, and leading meetings with a bunch of people around a conference room table, and it's possible that one day I won't dread having to stand in front of the new hire classes and talk about workforce expectations and answer questions.

Anyway, I want to go visit Mom two more times between now and Christmas, and I want to take a little vacation with my sweetie to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary the first week of October.  We just went on a vacation to Cleveland to celebrate Greg's 40th birthday in April at the Cinema Wasteland convention, which means two things: One, he's super grateful because, even though I had a great time, he feels like it was his vacation and I think he kinda feels like he owes me one now.  Two, we spent a lot of money (relative to not going on vacation, anyway) and I think we both kinda feel like we shouldn't spend much again so soon.

There are new cheap flights between the Orlando area and Roanoke, which means we could go back to my "home" (it will always seem like home, but since I haven't lived there since 1988 I'll go ahead and add grammatically incorrect quote marks).  I feel guilty that I'm reluctant.  I should go back now while my 100-year old aunt is still around, I should go visit all those relatives I haven't seen in decades, I should go while my Mom is still around for me to tell about where I go and who I see.

That thought really stabs at me.  She would love to hear about me visiting "home", just LOVE it.  I could bring back pictures and stories of people who haven't been so good at staying in touch. Not to mention visiting my father's grave. And this would be a lovely time of year to visit southwestern Virginia, the Appalachian mountains. Not too cold but a little nippy, possibly leaves turning brilliant red and yellow.

It just doesn't seem fun, though, it seems like an obligation, which makes me feel guilty.  I wish I wanted to do this, I feel like I ought to do it, and honestly I feel like I ought to want to do it.

It's also an expensive option.  Even with the cheaper flights it's still a car rental plus gas plus hotel for 3 or 4 nights plus meals. I may be able to get good discount hotel rates through my company, but still.

Or... we could go to Universal and go to the new Wizarding World expansion.  Oh man, it looks SO fun.  We could stay onsite for two nights in the brand new super cute lower-priced Cabana Bay resort and get a Florida Resident discount; staying onsite would get us into the parks an hour before they open to the non-staying-onsite general public.  We could do the new Hogwarts Express train ride between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, and the Gringott's ride.  It would be less expensive than going to Virginia, even factoring in meals and buying a reasonable amount (!) of Harry Potter crap.

Or we could just say home and spend a bit of money and time on fixing up our house, which has an ever-increasing list of things that need to be repaired or replaced or just fancied up.  That idea has a lot of appeal and would, in many ways, seem to be the most mature and adult option.  Plus a nice staycation would be relaxing.

What would I regret later?  How badly would it hurt me if my mother passed away before I went back to Virginia?  How guilty would I feel if I chose a children's book and an amusement park over an opportunity to delight my mother?

The thought of going back "home" after my mother isn't here to tell about it is just heartbreaking.  There is no one, no one, who shares my memories from my childhood.  I grew up without siblings in the house, and my father is gone, my aunt who lived next door is gone.  I have a few cousins who remember their own slice of childhood that sometimes overlapped with my own, but no one who knows it all like my own sweet Mom.  The neighbors next door who had an outhouse and raised bees, the way the snow drifted in the hilly backyard, the taste of the Silver Queen corn that Dad grew in the garden, the constant breeze from living in between two mountains. 

It's also worth considering that the Wizarding World is going to be crowded; the first week of October is not peak and kids are not out of school, but the new expansion will pack in tourists anyway.  If we waited to go in January we'd have nice (?) cool weather and the smallest crowds of the whole year.

I am sure of one thing, if I hesitate too long to book a Universal trip for October, it'll be too late.  All the media coverage of the Wizarding World will ensure sold-out onsite hotels very quickly.

I suppose I'm lucky, really.  Trying to make a decision between nothing but nice vacation options is a pretty good thing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mom's Heart

I went to GA and visited Mom over Memorial Day weekend, and it was, as usual, a very good visit.  Any time I get to hang out with Mom and look at old photos and get Mom hugs is always very good.

Mom had a health scare a couple of days before I went.  She was on her way to the dining room and felt sick so she stopped in the hallway and sat on her walker seat.  A nurse saw her and brought her back to her apartment, where she lost consciousness for a couple of minutes.  I spoke to a nurse during my visit who used the word "unresponsive" when describing what happened, and that is a terrifying word.  They think it may have been Mom's heart, but Mom doesn't want to go to the hospital for tests, and honestly I don't think I can blame her.  Since then she's felt fine, and she seemed normal to me while I was there.

She was a little reluctant to leave to go out to a restaurant for lunch, so we didn't.  I didn't want to push her, but she never goes out to eat, and I feel like maybe it's good for her to, even if it's only rarely.  She does go out twice a month to have her hair washed and set, but she gets too tired to combine that outing with lunch.

My Mom is so sweet.  I know which of the retirement home employees are good and which ones are, shall I say, less good, by the way they are with Mom.  The ones who have made an effort to speak to her, which can be difficult because of her hearing problems, just love her.  Your mother is the sweetest person, they tell me, the receptionist and the activities director and the manager.  One of the cooks has a whole thing where she and Mom blow kisses to each other.  One of the nurses gives Mom little crosses to carry with her and hugs Mom every day in the dining room, telling her how blessed she is. Mom grasps her hands and looks into her eyes and tells her that she is blessed, too.

The majority of them are like that, and they know Mom's likes and dislikes, and they are clearly fond of her and try to make her happy.  They check on her at random times in her apartment and watch to make sure she eats enough.  (I'm not sure they know that when Mom doesn't like what's for dinner or lunch she'll come back to her apartment and eat an apple, or a sliced up banana with peanut butter on it, or an ice cream sandwich.  My sister keeps her stocked.)

There are a few that seem competent but also seem young and inexperienced, and probably also low-paid, and definitely have less patience for trying to get to know someone who can barely understand them when they speak.  They are okay, just not going out of their way to be nice, and of course since it's my own dear mother I want to smack everyone who doesn't love her. 

It's hard to watch people who are essentially strangers take care of my mother, who is so vulnerable.  I try to look at her sweetness and kind nature as her superpower that does seem to come through (for anyone paying attention) despite her physical weaknesses.  Any retirement home employee would have to be a truly evil person to be mean to her.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Holiday Weekend

In two days I'll drive up to Georgia for a short weekend visit with Mom.  I always get nervous beforehand about the 7+ hour drive and about the possibility of something going wrong, but it's always fine and I'm sure it'll be fine this time too.

This time it'll be just me and Mom, no other relatives going out to lunch with us, so that'll be better.  Mom has such trouble hearing that when we go to a restaurant everyone ends up talking around her and mostly ignoring her, which I hate.  If it's just the two of us, even if we don't speak a lot, it'll at least be to each other.  I'm hoping to take her out to lunch at Red Lobster on Saturday, and then maybe out to breakfast at IHOP on Monday before I leave to drive back.

She's not up to shopping anymore, so while she's taking her afternoon nap I plan to go to a nearby mall and see if I can't find her some new clothes.  If I can do that on Saturday, then Sunday I could return anything that didn't fit.

Unfortunately this retirement home doesn't have a dedicated Guest room like the place where she used to live.  It was a small studio apartment, but it was comfortable with a TV and a mini refrigerator and fresh linens.  It cost $50 but included meals, and it was invaluable to be able to just walk down the hall in my pajamas and slippers to hang out with Mom at night.  This place in the past has let me stay in empty "show" apartments, which was hit or miss with things like fresh linens or TVs, but they let me stay for free.  Now they have a new corporate policy to charge $125 a night, and that doesn't even include a guaranteed TV or linens.  Good grief.  Clearly they don't want people to stay.  So I'll be a mile away at a small hotel that I got at an employee discount rate of $39.  I won't be down the hall from Mom, but I'll at least have wifi.  And I am going to not care about driving a mile in my pj's and slippers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wasteland Warriors

Celebrating Greg's birthday in Cleveland was wonderful.  I've been thinking a lot lately about how it makes human beings comfortable to see and be near others who look like themselves.  This clearly must sometimes contribute to racism or homophobia, but I think it's human nature for people to seek out others who feel the same: women hanging out with women, Spanish-speaking people hanging out with others who speak their same language, gay people hanging out with same-sex couples displaying affection openly, elderly people hanging out other elderly, etc.  I suppose it validates your own thoughts and feelings to be with others who have shared experiences, and I think a visual component is an inevitable part of that.

So on the weekend of Greg's 40th birthday we hung out with a whole hotel filled entirely with 30-40 year old white guys with dark hair who were wearing jeans and sneakers and black horror movie/punk band/exploitation movie t-shirts who also had tattoos and, for the most part, were 20 pounds overweight and drinking beer.

Seriously, there were few exceptions to this one guy, the average Cinema Wasteland attendee.  Greg was completely invisible if I walked more than a few feet away from him.

Everybody say Woo!  (You can almost see part of my head way, way, way in the back)

We went a day early and met up with several friends from Canada and Pennsylvania and California that we never get to see, a few we've never met in person before.  Greg got to talk about movies with multiple people, not only other fans but also people in the industry.  One of the highlights for him was sitting on a couch in the lobby talking for more than an hour to a guy who works for one of the distribution companies that send movies to Greg for review on his site.  They talked about the technological aspects of remastering old film footage for re-release, and this guy told the story of how he found the original film of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre that had literally been shoved in paper bags and forgotten in the upper reaches of a storage warehouse.

Greg handed out business cards and bought hard-to-find DVDs and blu rays and t-shirts.  We went to several of the convention's events in the hotel, including a movie screened by the director and stars, and what was clearly a no-budget but very sincere and fun horror-themed burlesque show.  We drank beer and one of us had a martini.  (I love a martini.)

We took up the front two rows at the burlesque show. 

I briefly had a very informal interview with the guy who runs the event.  He started it a couple of decades ago, and it's truly a labor of love for him and his wife.  They labor greatly, their only hired help being a few people they pay to be on the convention floor selling tickets and admitting attendees, and they love picking the right celebrity guests and vendors to celebrate what they call the "drive-in movie" culture.  I had the thought of writing an article for Greg's website about Cinema Wasteland and how it's so different from other movie conventions.  I do have a bachelor's degree in Journalism, for the love of crap.  But I haven't been able to get started on it.  Because I suck.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I do not celebrate 29 repeatedly and facetiously, I openly declare than I AM 48 YEARS OLD.


Mine was on Monday March 17th - Greg and I got a hotel (with my employee discount, $29) near downtown St. Pete on Sunday night.  We walked around the waterfront, had lunch at a British pub called Moon Over Water.  They had a St. Patrick's day special: Guinness and steak pie.  It had a thick yummy dark gravy with mushrooms, steak, carrots and onions and it was topped with a giant flaky puff pastry. It makes me hungry right now just to remember it.

On Monday we went to the Dali museum to see the Dali master works and their current Andy Warhol exhibit.  It was wonderful, as experiencing great artwork always is, but the museum was uncomfortably crowded and the galleries are already fairly small.  This is the new Dali museum, the old one was not as architecturally impressive but it had much better spaces to appreciate Dali's paintings from a distance as well as up close.

We also went shopping at used bookstores, vinyl record stores and movie shops, as we are wont to do.  It was a little two day/one night birthday vacation, but it was very nice.

Next week we head out of town to Cleveland for Greg's birthday.  He will be 40 on April 5, and this coincides wonderfully with the best cult/grindhouse/exploitation/horror convention: Cinema Wasteland.  We will be meeting some of Greg's friends and fellow movie experts from all over the country and Canada, all flying in for the convention and for Greg's birthday celebration.

We went to Cinema Wasteland once before.  We booked it months in advance when things were going good, then my father passed away and Greg lost his job and we had no money and were stressed and grieving.  We went anyway, having already paid hundreds for the non-refundable trip, and honestly we had more fun than you'd think.  This trip, however, will be wonderful.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


From that same Facebook group of old local photos, this one of a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary by having a fancy dinner at the fancy local hotel, and wanting a photo of the occasion with the owner and her "valet".

When I was 18 I got my first job, working in the summer at a resort mountaintop hotel.  The hotel was 100 years old and built by a lake.  It was beautiful up there, although I was a stupid teenager who grew up in similar beauty and was still too immature and inexperienced to appreciate it.

The year after I worked there a major movie company appreciated it enough to set one of the biggest romantic comedies ever filmed there.  This was a small town and many locals were extras, and when the movie was shown in theaters they all crowded in, dressed in formalwear to celebrate the once in a lifetime event, and yelled THERE I AM when they saw themselves onscreen.

That was kind of adorable in retrospect, but I wasn't a part of that.

William was hot.  He was 25, an older man!, and I was the shy teen who had never had a boyfriend and had never been kissed.  He was outgoing and friendly and flirty with everyone.  I didn't know what it was, really, but we had chemistry.  I would leave the front desk to run get a Coke from the machine, see him in the hallway, and end up talking to him for a half hour.

No one ever said anything to me about it, I was honestly surprised when they declined to hire me back the next summer.

He had tan skin and black hair and dimples and a very Southern accent.  He was a local but had been hired by the elderly owner of the hotel.  She was kind of a cranky old woman, and he said his job was to walk around with her holding onto his arm while pretending like she didn't need anyone to help her walk around.

They got along great, though.  She was really something, she got along with no one in the dining room except the the one server whom she referred to as her "red-headed Negress".  It's a mystery why more people didn't find her charming.  But William could see through it, and would joke with her and make her laugh.

She had her own regular spot at the best table in the dining room with a view overlooking the lake, and they had cut a chunk out of the bottom of the table to make room for the throw blanket she'd have over her lap.  She was fairly famous locally as the owner of the hotel, and the daughter of the original owner.

He was a farm boy who had been working as a busboy the year before, and she liked him, so she hired him and that was that.  She put him in three-piece suits, and there was something infinitely hot about this man who had bulging muscles (from clearing rocks from a field by picking them up and throwing them into the back of a Farm Use pickup truck, he was amazed that people would pay to work out in gyms) who would kill time standing in the lobby, lounging around like the redneck that he was, smoking cigarettes and holding them like joints, in those expensive dark suits and pristine white shirts with French cuffs.  I swear his eyes were black.

He was actually very sweet and gentle with me, and even though he was never in love with me and never my 'boyfriend' I am not sorry to say he was my first.  I swear he is the reason I love to cuddle, and also the reason kisses that taste like beer still turn me on.

We actually kept in touch for years, I saw him again a few times after I went away to college, but unfortunately now I've lost track of him.

I kind of love how they are looking at each other in the photo, oblivious to those people having the special occasion and being so impressed by her that they wanted them in their commemorative photo.  I love how his head is bent toward her, and you can see the lit candle on their table.

This Facebook group and its photos from the past are really messing with me now.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Last week I went to GA to visit Mom.  She's still doing pretty good health-wise.  Every time I go visit she has a little more trouble walking around and she has a little more trouble hearing.  It's gotten to the point where I have to repeat myself several times every time I call her on the phone, so it feels more important to go visit more often.  I can't easily just talk to her on our daily phone calls, if she has no context to guess what I'm saying and it's unexpected, sometimes she never does understand me and it's just painful and frustrating for both of us. 

We had a nice visit.  We went to IHOP and Mom got her usual: the senior special with one pancake (strawberries on top but hold the whipped cream), one egg over medium, and one piece of bacon extra crispy.  She always eats it all, too, which is unusual for her.  She doesn't go out very often anymore.  My brother and his wife and my sister met us for lunch there.

The way Mom looked at my brother really touched me.  She looked up at him like seeing him made her purely joyful, and she clasped one hand in both of hers and just smiled at him.  Now that I think of it, I guess she looked at me like that too, when I arrived mid-afternoon on Sunday.  (We'll assume she looked at my sister similarly even though I didn't notice the moment.)

My sister is primarily in charge of Mom's finances, paying her bills online and keeping track of her checking account.  I don't have access to the checking account, but I'm in charge of her mutual fund, which is what remains of her (and Dad's) life savings.  Based on my math she has enough money for about another year of rent payments at the assisted living home, and then I have no idea what will happen.  I need for someone to tell me exactly how things will go and how long she'll live and what her health will be like and then I can make all the right plans and decisions.  I'm trying very hard not to be consumed with dread about it.  I just love her so much and I want so badly to make her happy and make sure every single thing is taken care of for her.

I feel so far away.

Mom actually has money coming to her from the VA, but the forms my brother and sister filed last January still haven't been processed.  If that comes through it'll help, especially if there is retroactive money from when it should have started a year ago.  The VA is notoriously behind, though. 

I'm from a very rural county in the Appalachian mountains of southwestern Virginia, and recently someone started a Facebook page to share old photos from there.  I'm amazed and fascinated by the photos people are sharing.  I've seen beautiful landscapes from as early as the 1800s, photos of old homes and barns and schools and churches.  Some are not areas or people I'm familiar with, but even still they are interesting to see.

But then a woman posted some photos that just floored me.  She is apparently a descendent of a schoolteacher (and amateur photographer) at the small wooden schoolhouse near my father's family's house.  It was very unusual to even own a camera, and this guy seems to have taken photos of area families and children.  He even saved the negatives, so he clearly took it very seriously.

These pictures are from before my father was born in 1915, I'm going to guess they're from around 1912 or 1913.  I have never seen photos of these relatives as children until now.

This is my aunt Mamie Sue, the oldest of the children.  She was the opposite of my mother; she was not sweet, comforting, or nurturing.  In my memory she was pretty severe, one of those women who would describe themselves as not willing to put up with any foolishness.  She was not unkind, at least to me, and I liked her but I was always a bit afraid of her, too.

This is Ralph and Kathleen.  I have never seen a photo of Ralph, although I'm sure some others must have been taken.  Are these the only ones that still exist?  He was killed at 18 in a coal mine.  My mother never met him, he was already gone when she met my Dad.  I can't get over this photo.  What a cute little face he has.  These photos must have been a big deal to the family, photos were so very rare.  I imagine their mother despairing over her lack of control over his hair.  Mom told me that she made all their clothes, I'm sure they are all dressed in their finest for the occasion.

Baby Kathleen is the only one who still survives, and she turned 100 last year.  Everyone calls her Hun, I have to say I am one of the few who know her given name.  Hun (short for honey, not like Attila) is to this day a very outgoing, friendly, social, flirty woman. 

Greg, going up to her at my father's funeral:  Mrs Hun, I'm Greg, Ellen's husband.
Aunt Hun (grabbing his hand): Oh, Greg!  Of course I remember you! 
And they walked off without me.

She has made arrangements at the family cemetery to have her fictional birth year engraved on her headstone.  (Why honey, she said on her 50th wedding anniversary when they tried to throw a party, you can't tell anyone I've been married for 50 years, there are people who think I'm barely 50 years old right now!)  They tried to make a big deal over her 100th birthday, but she wasn't having that either.  The local news even came by and filmed her surrounded by family on her big front porch, and she laughed and flirted with the reporter and refused to admit her age.

Aunt Mamie Sue looks a little less cranky in this one.  The other girl is my Aunt Cleo, who never married and was an independent career woman, living alone and supporting herself.  She went to nursing college and spent her life working in VA hospitals.  She had retired and lived next door to us when I grew up, and I was closest to her than any of Dad's other siblings.  She was very smart and looking back on it with an adult perspective I can appreciate how much she liked me.  Before he passed away Dad gave me her watch, which was a very pretty and sturdy pocket watch that she used for decades the hospital.

Look at Ralph, sitting like a prince in the little chair, his feet not quite touching the floor.  I love their black leggings and their scuffy shoes and their fancy clothes.  What must their lives have been like, living on the farm, only rarely going into town, no television or computer or car.

I miss Dad a lot, I think about him frequently, and it is purely painful that I can't show him these pictures and ask him to tell me details about their lives and about his childhood.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Years and Birthday Plans

A new year, a new pile of Facebook status updates with lists of resolutions and a corresponding pile of Facebook status updates ranting about the stupid futility of resolutions.

Eh, why the hate.  The end of the year feels like a time to reflect on the past, and the beginning of a new year feels like a time to look forward.  It's just human to think about what you want to do differently in the future.

In not quite three months I'll be 48 years old.

You know how everyone says that time passes so quickly now?  When we were children time passed so slowly, school years lasted forever and it seemed like waiting for things like Christmas or summer vacation was unbearable.  I heard that the reason for that is that as you get older each time period - a year between birthdays, for example - becomes an increasingly small percentage of your life.  At ten, the year between birthdays is one-tenth of your total life experience, but at nearly fifty it's a much smaller fraction.

My husband will be turning 40 in April of 2014.  The birthdays that end in zeros always feel like milestones, don't they?  We are going to do the thing he wants to do most in the world, which just happens to fall on his actual birthday: we will go to the Cinema Wasteland movie convention in Cleveland. Greg has already made a Facebook event to invite his friends from Canada and across the US, the people with whom he shares a virtual friendship based on a shared love of exploitation movies, even though he rarely gets to see them.  I'll have fun too, but this is all about Greg.

In March of 2016 I'll be turning 50.  Gads. That birthday feels like doom. Turning fifty means impending senior citizen discounts and menopause and... I don't know, bad things.  It means more than half my life is over, it means all my best years are behind me, it means Old Womanhood.

Yeah, I know, there are plenty of things to focus on other than menopause and senior discounts, and I can name a bunch of people (celebrities and not) who are over 50 and are clearly still young and awesome, but still.  FIFTY.  Yikes.

I have been saying for the past few years that turning fifty in Paris would be the thing to do, but now I am questioning that.  Greg really, really hates being away from home, and the four nights we spent in New Orleans might be as long as he can stand it.  I really don't enjoy torturing my sweetie pie, so even though that birthday will be all about me I'm not sure it's worth it.  So now I'm considering whether 3 or 4 nights in Paris would be worth spending the massive amount of money on round-trip plane tickets (plus the 14 round-trip hours on a plane).

I went to Paris in 1998 on a business trip.  A very short trip, I was only there for a couple of days and I didn't get to go to ANY museums.  I stayed in a hotel on the right bank near the Champs Elysees, I toured a half dozen other hotels and ate in their restaurants (I absolutely loved that part of my job), I saw Sacre Coeur and bought perfume in Printemps and had a Tequila Sunrise at the Zen Bar.  I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and on a short cruise on the Seine.  It really felt magical to me.  I've had the good fortune to be able to travel a bit, I've been to a few of the major cities in America and to a couple of different countries, and though I've enjoyed them all I didn't feel the connection that I felt with Paris.  The city seemed like the physical, living embodiment of art itself.  It was so lovely, and I still tear up sometimes when I see photos of the rooftops.

It's such a cliché, I know.  Maybe I was imagining it, I was a lot younger and a fair amount stupider back then.

The thing is, I love to travel. I'd love to spend my birthday in New Orleans, or in New York, or Las Vegas, or in a cabin on a snowy mountainside, or on a beach in Aruba, or on a cruise.  All of those would be much cheaper and much easier.

I don't know.  I still have time to think about it.  I guess right now I'll focus on Greg turning 40 in the midst of cult movie stars and exploitation movie fans and horror movie directors.