Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Night

I've had two tall screwdrivers, and have been watching an old Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD--one of the ones with Mike. I'm not sure I have any with Joel. I've been wanting a drink a lot this week, but have refrained, figuring it wouldn't be a good precedent. But since I have to go back to work on Monday, I thought I would indulge tonight after I got the boy to bed.

Yesterday, I tried to go through some old pictures and stuff from the funeral, but I wasn't ready. This week Tom and I rearranged the living room, and I think we've hit the magic configuration. I've been coloring and playing with CJ a lot, and generally just enjoying him (which is hard to do when he's having an ornery day, but the cuteness makes up for the stubbornness eventually). I've been catching up on Top Chef and Mythbusters and doing lots of word puzzles to keep my mind occupied. I have all these puzzle magazines lying around so I'm trying to finish them off. Some of them have been kicking around since I lived in Tucson and worked second shift and graveyard relief--that was ten years ago, for those keeping track.

Why, yes, I am just a big old nerd.

I talked with Mom last night and she's mulling over the idea of early retirement. Apparently she can buy some service time, enough to meet her 240 months required (she's only about 4 years short in actual service time). She doesn't like her new teacher, a guy right out of college that doesn't seem to understand that she's been working with these kids for almost 20 years, can feed a child and change his diaper, and made most of the contacts to form the community programs and jobs these kids participate in on a daily basis. He's a micromanager to the extreme--so much so that if he were my boss, I would have already told him to bite me, and followed it up with an email containing full, detailed illustrations.

Mom has more patience than me.

Anyway, she would like to go ahead and leave, draw her pension with her benefits paid, and either work at the hospital doing what she does, or freelance--she sometimes works with her kids over the summers and the parents pay her for her time, and at least one family has said they would love it if she could do it full time. I told her not to do anything out of spite, but if the financial aspect allows her make her bills, follow her heart. I think it hurts her now that Wilma has retired and many of her peers are rather new--they view their jobs as just jobs, while Mom has always felt it as more of a calling.

That's about it for now. It's 11 on Saturday night and I'm an old, big dork who's up way past her bedtime.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Slowly Returning to Normal

I've been back in AZ for a few days, but haven't had a moment to log on and post about last week. I figure this time is as good as any, and talking about things has been pretty good in terms of getting a bit better.

As I posted before I left, the service for Dad was last Tuesday, with the military ceremony at Camp Nelson outside of Nicholasville. I thought the service was rather nice, and I was glad to see Tooz there, as well as people I hadn't seen in years. Our old neighbors from Sadieville from almost 20 years ago came--they saw the obituary in the paper. The hospice chaplain, Gary, told us a few times he wished he'd had the chance to meet Dad during the good times--in his line of work, that doesn't really happen. After the service, Dad received a 21-gun salute at Camp Nelson, and since I've never been near a gun when fired, I almost wet myself at the first volley. Mandi was there, and she grabbed me and held me for the rest. Somehow, we got through the day. Mom wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening alone, and Jamie and John called us that night to have dinner. Jamie and I had a couple shots for Dad and talked about the day. We agreed that while people meant well, and it's a social convention, asking us, "How are you?" at our Dad's funeral wasn't the best idea. Jamie had to hide to fight the urge to punch the next person who asked her. Me, I watched people ask me, then realize what they had asked, and I had to fight the urge to laugh as they struggled with wanting to take it back. Completely irrational, we know, but it was so difficult and our nerves so raw it was really hard to predict how we were going to behave.

We spent most of the week with Mom, Jamie, Todd, and Erin, in various combinations, as we just needed to be together. I felt badly for Tom since he was trying to be so strong for me, but it's only been a year since he lost his father, and he really liked Dad. I helped Mom with the finances, attempting to get her on track with the changes, and helped Jamie move into her new place in town. Thursday night, Tooz and David invited us for dinner, but only Christopher and I could go. Tom needed alone time, Mom had plans with a friend who was bringing her meatloaf, and Jamie had to get the kids settled into the new house and their homework done. We had a very nice time at the Plum Tree, Christopher was amazingly cute on his best behavior, and they forgave his newfound curiosities withs straws and styrofoam.

Friday afternoon we left for Phoenix via Lexington, and I'm glad we decided to fly through Lexington instead of Louisville. Tooz, I did call about bereavement fares, but the airlines don't do that anymore. They just guarantee the lowest fare available for the route, which is what I got. Since getting back, the reality of everything is finally sinking in and I'm finding myself puttering around with a lot of nervous energy. I find that I'm impatient on a lot of things (though I'm trying to be more patient with CJ, who's beginning his terrible twos), and I have this driving need to finish making our house a cozy home--something we've been working on since we moved in. This weekend, I went out and got baskets, boxes, new towels, new shower curtains--things I've been putting off for a while, and I've starting nesting with a ferocity I haven't matched since the last trimester of pregnancy.

I tried going to work yesterday--until I dropped Tom off and discovered I had forgotten my laptop. I went back home and logged in from there, but it became obvious to me as I was trying to catch up that I wasn't ready. I talked to my boss, delegated some tasks, and I'm taking the rest of the week off with plans to return on Monday. So far, I've put together a bathroom cabinet, reorganized my entertainment center and living room, filed my taxes (I get my W2s online early), called about my PLUS loan on Mom's urging to have it discharged, and straightened out a few bills. Considering I can be an exceptionally lazy person when I put my mind to it, that's a lot and it's only 1pm. I still have other financial work to do, grocery shopping, a kitchen to clean, bathrooms to clean, straighten, and redress with the new towels and stuff, and CJ's room to clean and reorganize.

What am I going to do tomorrow?

I realize it's a little manic, but since it's an acceptable reaction and it's constructive to my home and my sense of needing something to do, I'm going with it for now. I'm still having my moments, but I have a feeling that will last a while and just when I start to get past them, it will be Dad's birthday, then Father's Day, then their wedding anniversary, then. . . .

I do have to say that Dad's passing really is a blessing, considering what he was going through over the past few years and how quickly he slipped over the past few weeks. Jamie and Mom were stressed out, spending every moment trying to care for him--Jamie while juggling her own family, and Mom while running out of sick days and trying to figure out how to pay bills. I wasn't in the trenches, but I was the sounding board and the mediator, carried a lot of the worry for them, and tried to help when and where I could while regretting I couldn't help more. Dad told me long ago while driving back from Tennessee one break, while I was mourning a broken relationship and trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong, that you can't live a life of regret since that really isn't living. Somehow, you have to pick up and move on. I know he was proud of me and Tom and CJ, and understood that we couldn't visit as often as we would have liked. And I know he wouldn't want me to dwell on missed opportunities and make myself sick--he'd want to me to be there for my son, do my best for the rest of family, and move on. So I'll try. It'll take me a while, but I'll try.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Suffering Has Ended

My father passed away a few hours ago at home in Kentucky. It was very fast. Appears to be a massive stroke (the one we always knew was on the way).

Jamie and Mom are with him now and will be calling the funeral home soon. The hospice care nurse he likes was there when it happened. We'll be flying out sometime this weekend, but I haven't made any arrangements for tickets yet.

I'm not sure what to say about my father other than I love him dearly and I will miss him. Who he really was was lost some time ago to the ravages of the congestive heart failure, poor circulation, and complications from his diabetes. While I am, of course, upset that he has died, I am largely relieved that any pain, frustration, and indignity is gone now. He knew he wasn't the man he used to be, and that upset him more than the though of dying.

I'm not sure how long I'll be back home. Tooz, I'll likely give you a call at some point to give you information on the service. Since I think just about everyone who reads this knew Dad, I wanted to let you know.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Did It!

This morning I called and scheduled an appointment to tour the Lifetime Fitness club near me and sign up for membership. I talked to a gentleman named Chris who despite the fact that he heads sales for the club, never went for the hard sell.

Tomorrow, I have an appointment at 1pm for a baseline consultation with a personal trainer. The trainer will help me with an assessment of my goals, the exercises I want to do, and my current physical activity level to develop a basic plan of attack--what exercises and how often. I told Chris that I was looking to lose around 80 pounds total, but that I'm not really looking at the number. I know what I looked like 10 years ago, I know how my clothes should fit, and since I'm looking to do some muscle training, the number wouldn't be relevant anyway. I'm hoping I can get back into fighting shape by this time next year; if I'm dedicated, it's doable. Basically, when New Year's 2008 rolls around, I want to be able to reflect on my accomplishments in meeting my goal rather than sit on the couch and think about joining a gym.

I think I'm really going to like the club. They cap the number of memberships they sell to make sure that members don't have to wait for equipment or trainers. They have a broad assortment of treadmills and low impact machines, as well as a very nice selection of free weight machines, dumbbells, barbells, and other toning equipment. The weight machines are arranged based on target area: go down the row to work all aspects of a particular area, or go across the rows for total body. They have basic yoga, pilate, and aerobic classes included in the membership, basketball courts, and an indoor heated pool and sauna. There's also an outdoor pool scheduled to open shortly after some pump and heating issues are resolved. The pool has operating hours, but the rest of the gym is open 24/7. There's also a child center where I can table CJ if I need too, and he can get swim lessons there (along with me). They also have a full service spa and cafe attached and wifi internet access. A bit hard core for me, but I saw a few people in the cafe on their laptops, and wondered if they were working in between workouts.

The thing I liked the best was that they seemed to have a very diverse clientele. I was afraid that the place would look like a Bally's commercial, filled with hard bodied women wearing only sports bras and hot pants--the kind of women I could only work out near if I slit my wrists and popped out my eyes first. Instead, I saw a few people who were obviously training for something, and most looked like me. I also saw some older people there and some teenagers.

For right now, I just got the membership for myself, but I may add Tom and CJ if Tom can find time in his schedule. One benefit of being able to work from home is it gives me some more flexibility in going for a workout before starting my workday. Hopefully, I can get the approvals needed this year to work from home all the time, which would mean I could go every day before work without getting up before dawn.

So, I've gone and done it, and I start work tomorrow on meeting my goals. I just wish finding a sports bra in my size was as easy.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hold On

So today I went to the grocery store to take advantage of some meat sales, restock the pantry, and replenish my wine supply. I went to a cashier I hadn't seen before. Big mistake.

She's scanning my groceries and she says to me, "Has anyone ever told you you look just like that lady?"

I chuckle, "Not exactly. Depends on the lady."

"I don't know her name. She used to sing, and she had gastric bypass surgery on the internet. Her dad was a Beach Boy, I think."

I realize she's talking about Carnie Wilson, and say as much. The cashier replies, "Yeah, I think that's her name. Anyway you look JUST like her--after she got the bypass surgery, but before she got really skinny."

It is not often I find myself truly speechless. Those who know me know I like to talk, and usually have some snappy retort for almost anything--it's like a compulsion. I honestly did not know how to reply to this woman. Carnie Wilson? On what planet is that a compliment, honestly? ESPECIALLY since she clarified that it was before Carnie reached her target weight, so the implication that I'm fat--really fat--is pretty blatant. And this cashier wasn't some skinny stupid bimbo--she was bigger than me, and told me that she was getting lap band surgery herself, once she quits smoking.

Then I'm almost positive she said, "Quitting smoking is, like, *so* hard. Much harder than when I quit smoking crack."

Again, I was speechless. Twice in about 30 seconds--that's some kind of record! This woman is my conversational Kryptonite. Now, she talked really quickly and maybe the crack comment was more hypothetical and not an actual anecdote, but still. Yikes!

I suppose it could have been worse. She could have told me I looked like Rosie O'Donnell or Mama Cass or the mother from What's Eating Gilbert Grape. She could have told me I looked like one of the motorcycle twins from the Guinness Book of World Records.

She could have just said, "Wow! You're fat!" Maybe then I would have had some sort of response other than a shocked, stupid grin.

The funny part is I was just thinking last night of taking advantage of an employee offer and joining a local gym at a discounted rate. I figured since I plan to quit smoking by Groundhog Day (seems like a good day), I could use the savings on smokes to pay for the gym. This very uncouth woman solidified my intentions--I am going to tomorrow to check it out and sign up for membership. I suppose that's a good thing.

Carnie Wilson? Honestly?!? Excuse me while I go sulk for a while.