13 07 2008

At the beginning of the summer I committed to visiting my family in Maine in August.  Then we went in June for a packed weekend of graduations and family parties, and I saw some family members I didn’t expect to see, which was great.  We were also completely exhausted from toting Mr. E around and sharing a hotel room/bed with him.  It felt so nice to come home and get back to our routine.

I couldn’t imagine going up there again two months later, but I told myself that after two months I would feel refreshed and willing to make the trip again.  Uh, nope.  As the date neared I was dreading it, thinking about August traffic on the highway, Mr. E not taking great naps in his car seat, and toting him around from one party to the next (a couple family get-togethers are planned for that weekend).  I couldn’t even picture where he would get a horizontal nap the entire weekend, which made me sad and a bit stressed out.

I swore I would be a parent who wouldn’t care about such details – that we’d be the on-the-go parents whose kids would just nap where they could and we’d all just adjust.  Er, not so much.  Turns out details like good naps are kinda important, and long car rides are even more exhausting when you have to make diaper-change and feeding stops, not to mention either sitting beside your kid to entertain him or listen to him cry.  But when you have to travel to grandparents you do it – just maybe not as often as you would like.

So I canceled the trip.  What. a. Relief.  I know my parents are disappointed, but our sanity is more important.  And I think Mr. E is at an in-between difficult traveling stage – too old to just sleep through it all, and too young to have long stretches of awake-time when he can entertain himself well.  I do see a portable DVD player in our future….

The best part of all is that instead of us traveling, my bestest bud who lives in England is coming to visit!  I’m so excited for her to meet Mr. E and for us to spend a few days hanging out.  We decided that the fall will be a better time to see my family.

My in-laws are teasing me about being a real Cape-Codder now that the thought of going over the bridge in the summertime seems dreadful to me.  I think I’m integrating well here…


Daughter from a Distance

10 07 2008

I’m not sure what would be different – would I really be seeing you much more often, spending “quality” time together, perhaps taking you to your chemo treatments?  Perhaps.  But I suspect it’s more the symbolism of nearness that gets us – like distance in miles equals the distance between hearts, and who am I to say it doesn’t?  Ours is probably about balanced – 4.5 hours to drive on a good day, without traffic.  One phone call per week (for you, preferably on the same day).  Pleasantries exchanged.  Our comings and goings updated.  Sometimes a couple laughs.  Plently of silences.

What do we wish for when our parents become ill?  That we’d been closer, that we were chummy like those mothers and daughters we know who get pedicures together?  That our chumminess will more easily carry us through the dark and scary?  Or perhaps we reconsider every argument, every rash judgement we’ve made on them, so that we can make right with ourselves that at one time or another we’ve hated the people who love us the most?

I’ve never felt so distant as a daughter as I did when you told me that you had blacked out from chemo – and I found out about a week later.  The way you said it “maybe your sister mentioned my incident to you…” NO, she neglected to mention it.  In fact, you did as well.  And so did my father.  It’s as if living in another state somehow dropped me off the call-list, so that now I only qualify to ring an answering service and listen to the drone of the wait music.  In other words, I’m the last to know.

But this is what I do, right?  Get angry at YOU, and everyone else who’s convenient, instead of the real culprit: INCRURABLE ILLNESS.  CANCER.  The big F-ing C.

I shouldn’t blame you at all – I know you try to protect me from its ugliness.  But its ugliness creeps into all of our beds at night – haunts us until morning when we force ourselves to face another day in its wake – we are held hostage.  I don’t know how you do it – take in poison over and over again into your body so it can hopefully kill the bad cells and leave the good – all the while you feel like your dying and that might mean you’ll get to live – what a dirty trick you are forced to play.  The thought of it makes my skin crawl – but I know I’d be forced to play the same game if I had to.

The bottom line is this: I love you so much it scares me, and this F-ed up illness just gets in the way, and some days it’s all I can do to hold onto the thought of us – our family – before any of this began.  Perhaps it’s just living in the past.  But right now I need it for the future.

From the Homeland

9 06 2008

*Written this past Saturday morning – didn’t have time to publish this on the road….

We are in Maine for my sister’s graduation – as I type we are in the hotel getting ready for the graduation party and Mr. E is napping. I just got off the phone with the deli owner and told her that I’M DONE!

So we were shopping in Freeport yesterday when I got a call from the department store where I had just interviewed on Thursday. It was to offer me the job! E. and I had already talked about what I would do if this happened, and whether or not I would want to wait and do my 2nd interview with the special needs school. I decided I didn’t – it just didn’t feel like the right place for me – and would have completely taken me out of subbing next fall – and would have been a really, really difficult job. I liked the people a lot at the store, and I really think I would feel proud to work for a 5th-generation family-owned store. So I took it. I struggled a bit about not giving the deli any notice, but I REALLY didn’t want to work there this coming week (I don’t start at the store until a week from Monday). Tuesday is E.’s birthday, and Thursday is out wedding anniversary. So I just told her I wouldn’t be back -and she seemed to take it ok. Yae!! Now my honey and I can have some time to ourselves and be able to celebrate her birthday the way we like – without work ruining it!

I’m happy about my new job – and happy to know that I can make some time next fall to start subbing.

*Added today*

I just stopped by the deli to pick up my last paycheck, and now am convinced THERE IS A GOD because I quit just before this heat wave.  I was drenched in sweat JUST STANDING THERE in the back for 15 minutes – everyone was running around with beads of sweat on their foreheads.  It seems the summer rush has finally arrived there – and I’m gone!  I do feel a tiny bit guilty for leaving her right now, but I spoke with her today and she seems happy for me, and understands that I need a full-time gig with benefits for us and the boy especially.

I am now a Master of Education – whatever that means.  My graduation yesterday was hot, sticky, and surreal.  I just can’t believe the classes I took and the work I did qualifies me for a Master’s, but it seems as though it does.  First Lady Diane Patrick spoke, and between her and another speaker there was much  talk about hope, both in the personal and the political sense.  I know I need some of both myself right now.

My sister, graduating third in her class, gave a speech at her graduation, and it was so great and made me so unbelievably proud.  It was good to have a weekend of celebration, hope, and time to sit and be inspired. Particularly at this time when my mom has had her 7th surgery this year, the most recent the result of incompetent medical professionals (she had to have emergency surgery because of an infection on Saturday that her doctor kept ignoring and downplaying, and almost didn’t make it to my graduation).  The depth of incompetence runs so deep and wide among her medical team that I know she has lost hope in anything changing.  I constantly struggle with living far away and not understanding every detail of the treatment process, and often feel like I should know the ins and outs so well that I could give her some advice.  But breast cancer is so deadly that it holds us hostage in our fear and doubt and we have nothing to rely on accept the doctors and their tenuous knowledge of it.  What are we to do?  We can barely deal with the diagnosis and treatment and the pain let alone figuring out what changes to make and how.  All this frustration and its. only. been. five. months.

Happiness:  I no longer work at the deli.  I have this week off.  My honey turns 30 tomorrow and we get to spend the day together.  I have the best wife in the WORLD.  I have the best son in the UNIVERSE.  I love my family so much.

I keep going, I keep going, I keep going.

Aptly Named

9 05 2008

Since I haven’t posted anything on here since March, and it is now May, it might be obvious that I was thinking of abandoning my dear Fumbling. Indeed, I did abandon it, and you all (all 3 of you who actually read it), until now. What can I say for myself?

I was fumbling.

Fumbling around trying to just hang on with everything going on – finished up my student teaching and began staying at home with Mr. E. I had high hopes that I would post even more often once that change occurred, picturing myself cozily seated on the couch with Skeeter while the little lad slept the day through.

(All you stay-at-home moms can commence hysterical laughter now).

Uh, I was kinda busy. Like, CONSTANTLY busy and when he slept I GOT STUFF DONE because when he was awake he required ALL OF MY BEING. When I had a brake, I sat and gazed at the computer screen or TV.

Uh, I watch A LOT of TV now.

(All you stay-at-home-moms can commence your enthusiastic “uh-huhs” now).

Then, well, I just felt drained with the blog thing. Believe it or not, my life just felt too full to add blogging to it. Well, I guess that’s not quite true, since I’ve become somewhat of a F*ace*book addict, but I digress…

So, then came the BIG MOVE, which JUST HAD to occur right after my mom visited, which JUST HAD to occur right after her first chemo treatment, which she got sick from during her visit. In the midst of all our belongings packed up in boxes throughout the house. I thought she’d be there to help take care of Mr. E while we finished packing. Instead I had to take care of her. A lot. As in, had to drive to Maine to bring her home because she was sick. The DAY BEFORE our move.

We were both in a sh*tload of denial about that one.

So I was leaving a place I love, being a reluctant stay-at-home mom (more on that later I suppose), getting ready to give up having our own place, and dealing with my sick mom, who couldn’t even hold her grandson during her visit. It was all I could do to cope day-to-day and get everything done, and when I’m stressed like that I usually turn inward instead of outward.

I’m learning I need not to do this.

Same thing has been happening the past few days. We moved, and it was completely exhausting and stressful beyond belief, and until I started my summer job I was having a rough time with the lack of structure. Once I started having a place to go that was JUST MINE, even if it meant grilling up steak and cheeses, it was something. But the deli is VERY cliquish, with my co-workers 20 years older than me and native Cape Codders, and think nothing of making gay jokes right in front of me. They’ve never known anything different. They talk openly about going out on Saturdays together dancing at the local bar, without a thought to ask me (I wouldn’t go anyway). But we are of two different species: me, just washed ashore, young, queer, with my M.Ed and this deli gig just a stop on the way. Them: this is their life, period.

I just really, really want to teach.

I know it’s early, and I know it’ll happen for me eventually. But last night the faces of my kids from student teaching flashed before my eyes and I just cried. I miss them. I miss doing what I love. I CAN’T WAIT to do what I love. Sometimes it’s just hard.

Getting used to life in our new community has been both exciting and frustrating. It’s gorgeous here – things are blooming, and I LOVE our church. Even before we moved here I claimed it as my/our place to connect with this community and make our own friends. E. has lots of family, and her family has lots of friends, but as for us having our OWN friends, it comes down to nil. I thought the church community would be a great way to meet people. Last week we officially joined.

So did my mother-in-law.

Ok, I’ve REALLY tried to be open-minded and understanding about this. Obviously anyone can join or attend whatever church they wish. But I started attending this church last fall, and felt at home there. She recently learned we were joining, and wanted to join too. I think she likes it ok, but has attended just a couple of times. Let me explain. She’s the type of person that likes to join ANYTHING. There’s a famous family story that she once saw a huge line somewhere and got in it just to see what all the fuss was about. In short, she’s a JOINER.

Whatever. I can still make my own friends and get involved in my own way. But put all these things together, and I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. I found myself turning inward again, not wanting to deal with anyone, even E. Thankfully, my wife is quite observant and patient, and made me talk about it. I felt so much better. We decided that since we live with her parents, and don’t really have our own social network yet, we really have to make time for just us – either the three of us, or the two of us. I think that will really make a difference. I’m realizing I need to talk things out with her instead of retreating.

I’m also remembering I don’t do well with big transitions.

A similar experience happened when we moved to the Valley. I think I was mildly depressed for months (might have had to do with the fact that we were completely broke as well). But I’m just a stable gal – I like knowing what’s ahead – a loooong way ahead: where we live, where I work, etc. Being with E. has helped me relax a bit in this area in very healthy ways, but to some extent it’s just the way I am.

So perhaps this transition will be hard for me for some time. I think blogging about it might help, too.

Thanks for reading, whoever you 3 readers are. 🙂

Counting Sheep

18 02 2008

It appears in the last couple of days I’ve had a touch of the Insomnia.  Mr. E. wakes me up, then I can’t get back to sleep for like HOURS.

I’m tired.

But sleep does not come.

Instead my mind races with a million different thoughts from what time we have to leave the next day to drop off the car for an oil change, to how in the world we’re going to manage to get Mr. E out of our bed someday.

But mostly I’ve been thinking about this: my mom has breast cancer.

I posted recently about how she had a scare a couple weeks ago – had a lump but Dr. said it wasn’t cancer – but somehow now they know that it is.  She is having another surgery this coming Thursday, then will find out how much/if it has spread, and plans for chemo and radiation.  When she called me she was completely devestated, since she was told she was in the clear before.  It’s also such hard news to hear since my Aunt just passed away from breast cancer last fall, and my mom is not that much older than her.

When my Aunt passed away, I posted about my relationship with cancer, so I won’t repeat it here.  What makes me the saddest is that when hearing my mom’s news, I felt a familiar defeat to such a pervasive disease.  I was in shock for a few days, now I think I’ve hit the anger stage.  I know I have not fully accepted it, and I keep trying to think about E’s aunt as an example of the possibility of living with cancer instead of dying from it.

We planned a trip for two weekends from now to visit my parents, and that also keeps me going – I really need to be with my mom right now.  I know she’s shocked and terrified, and I want to comfort her as much as I can.

2008 brought us our wonderful Mr. E, but so far the rest has been really. damn. hard.


6 02 2008

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed and busy lately.  More than anything, I’ve been feeling a lot of different things, including:

  • completely overwhelmed at what I need to accomplish during my student teaching
  • exhausted from sleepless nights, coupled with teaching all day
  • a deep sadness at the loss of Emmy Lou – more than I ever thought I’d feel
  • sheer awe and humility at the intelligence, resilience, cleverness, affection, and persistence shown by 4th graders
  • appreciation and excitement that I get this time solely dedicated to learning how to be a teacher
  • profound wonderment that I had such a hard time deciding which Democratic candidate to vote for, and still in utter shock of the loss of feeling like I’m voting for the lesser of two evils (or, my favorite twist: the evil of two lessers), and instead feeling completely satisfied if either of the two front-runners get the nomination
  • a deepended love and appreication for E., who cares for Mr. E. all day and night, crafts diaper liners and homemade wipes, manages so many household importances, and does it all with such grace and without any complaint
  • complete relief and thankful that my mom, who is getting a lump removed from her breast, is ok and without a cancer diagnosis
  • completely in love with Mr. E., who stays on my mind all day, and is the first thing I want to see when I wake up, and when I walk in the door after a long day, and whose skin I’ll never tire of kissing

Delayed Reaction

2 01 2008

My cousin visited the other day, a rare occasion although we live a mere 30 minutes apart, albeit separated by the vast but unmentionable class and racial geographic boundary of this area. She came to drop off some of her homemade fudge and a small gift, and I was excited to see her after so long. We grew up together – are the same age and share our birthdays, but as adults seem to have little in common.

While we were visiting, E. and I were telling her about our troubles with our cat, Mr. Lou. She immediately began talking about her own situation with her cats (ah yes, a quality of hers I’d forgotten about), and how one of her cats had died and she discovered it, freaked out, and her boyfriend took care of it. She looked at the two of us, and asked, “If you discover your cat dead, who will take care of it?” I think we disregarded the question with our plan of the next time he gets sick, we are taking him in to put him down (plus the fact that I’ve hardly EVER heard of this happening to people!). Thus, since we know his illness so well by now, we won’t let him suffer to the point of death.

Later on I’m vacuuming and whirling around the house like a tornado, when I cut he power, turn to E. and explode into a stream of curse words including “What the F was THAT about? What, does she think we are SHORT A MAN around here, or something??!!” Holy delayed reaction! I had been festering about that one, quietly, for a couple hours (and perhaps the pre-parent jitters also had something to do with my sensitivity level…). My cousin also made a couple uncomfortable comments during her brief visit that painfully reminded me that she is not “all there” with being completely ok with us – or me – at least not in the way I’m used to. Another one happened after she saw a framed newspaper article from when E. and I got married, just after the court ruling, and she remarked, “The subtitle saying ‘Lesbian’ is kind of weird – almost used in a derogatory way.” Um, it really isn’t – perhaps the derogatory use of the word came out of her own head onto the page.

What a weird reminder. I literally live in the bubble of supportive friends, family, bloggers – that I completely forgot how strange (and possibly wrong) my life is to some people. How lucky I am to only have this brutal reminder once in a great while? I know so many others have to walk around with daily shields of defense.

It also sadly confirmed for me our distance to one-another. She’s lived with her boyfriend and their now 4-year-old child forever, and I’ve met her boyfriend maybe once, and he barely spoke to me. How do I know how he feels about me? I don’t have the energy to care anymore. I’ll see her occasionally, but I just don’t have the space in my personal life to put up with judgments*, not if I can help it. I’m luckily surrounded by a gazillion supportive and loving people, thank-you very much. And I certainly DON’T need any of this around our child.

It’s such a bummer when those you love disappoint you.

*While we’re on the topic, if you are reading this and you are not queer, please refrain, when your queer friend is talking about his/her family, from asking “are they ok with you/your partner?” If you do, I hope that person asks back, “Yes, and are YOUR parents ok with YOU?”

ETA: Note to self: Use as a springboard for an angsty post about the “inner dad.”