Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Greetings from Pinellas Park

My mother had total knee replacement surgery last Wednesday. I've been here in St. Petersburg since last Tuesday. I don't go home until Saturday, but, holy fuck, I am exhausted.

My mother's house is a wreck. It's not that she can't take care of herself. She has always been a bad housekeeper, but when she became enmeshed in chronic pain, the clutter, dirt, and lack of maintenance became borderline hazardous.

The Home Depot near 22nd Ave. and 28th St. N. is like my home away from home away from home. I've been there a lot in the last week, and I know I'll be back before the week is over. I've also been to the Walmart on Park, a place I despise. My mom is currently in Edward White Hospital (which I keep calling Walter White Hospital) not working very hard at all on her rehabilitation. I leave on Saturday, Mom, step it up.

I am not an only child, but my life plays out as if I were. My brothers want nothing to do with this situation. If you've been following along on this blog, you know that this is the third surgery I've helped my mom through in the last five years. My brothers have been AWOL. After the first surgery--which I took off from work for without pay--my mom invited my niece to come visit and showed her the town. Me? I got to change the kitty litter and clean up vomit and find my own ride to the airport.

My family does not take me seriously. They see me as being someone whose job does not matter and whose personal life is irrelevant. This pisses me off.  I'm hoping my younger brother can come and take over for me since I'm definitely leaving on Saturday. I guarantee that if he does come down, my mother will laud him to everyone she knows, talking about how her son cleared his schedule to take care of her. Me? Well, that doesn't deserve mention. Everyone in my family just expects me to be available and step in when needed.

I resent this.

I need a massage. I need my husband next to me in bed. I need some help getting this disaster-area of a house into habitable condition. God, it's a pigsty.

I had some really good things I wanted to say in this blog post, but I'm on my third glass of wine, so the words are now muddled. Fuck it.

Here's a picture of the dryer vent tube at my mom's house. I thought I could smell the dryer exhaust every time I did laundry, and this is why. My mother never noticed any such thing. this pretty much sums up what my week has entailed.

I hate Florida. Lizards, snakes, toad, roaches, rust, rot, blech.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blogging on a plane…again.

A stream-of-consciousness post that is only a little about 9/11, my mother, or travel...

So, it turns out that Frontier Airlines now offers half-bottles of wine. Since I’m about to spend eleven days helping my mom after surgery—once again—I thought I would treat myself to this. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to drink when I’m in Florida, as I’ll have to be able to drive at a moment’s notice. At the moment, I’m very carefully timing my wine consumption so as not to finish while there’s still a lot of flying left to do, but not leaving myself in the position of having to swig down a lot of remaining wine at the last minute, either.

The light outside is rapidly dimming as we fly from west to east, into what is already night on the Gulf Coast. The sky below is a blanket of clouds with the occasional columnar formation that is probably pounding a thunderstorm on the land below.

I could sit here and post something about how resentful I am that my mother demands my presence in these situations, or how much I despise myself for always giving in, or how I know I’ll spend at least five days cleaning a house that likely hasn’t seen any housekeeping since I last took on the challenge in January, or what a truly entitled, ungrateful, and demanding patient my mother is.

I don’t need to write about any of that because I’ve done it all before.

We may be flying over the Gulf now, but in the dusk, all I can see is an endless stretch of slate blue. In a few minutes, there will be no way to differentiate between up here and down there. It’s a great metaphor for how I feel much of the time.

Sometimes I think I want to tell you my name. Not my pen name, but my real name. I‘ve never liked my name very much, but it’s still mine and an important part of my identity. I try to share this concept with the refugees when I struggle to pronounce their names. When I ask, “Did I say it right?” it’s not unusual for someone to say, “No, but it’s OK. You can call me that.” That’s when I say, “No. It’s not OK. This is your name. You’ve come here with little else, and the least we can do here is get your name right.”

I still can’t sleep. Maybe that should have been the theme of this blog all along: May’s Insomnia. If anything, the situation has only gotten worse. On a good night, I get six hours of sleep, but never six hours in a row. I should be psychotic by now. Instead, I’m gaining weight and losing mood points. Always losing mood points.

My wine is almost finished, but there’s still an hour of flight time left. My alcohol consumption is outpacing this fine Boeing aircraft. Maybe it’s an Airbus. I didn’t really pay attention during the safety briefing.

OK, here’s something I’ve never told anyone. I always buy a cocktail on the plane, regardless of the time of day. I also always eat a two-pack of Resses’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s my ritual. The ritual seems even more necessary tonight, when it’s September 10, just a day before September 11. I allow myself these treats when I fly because I don’t take commercial flight for granted.

When those planes crashed on September 11, my parents called me that night. They had never really embraced my change of profession from cable corporate superstar to social worker for the refugee population, but on that night my mother said, “We’re just so relieved you aren’t traveling constantly for work anymore. That could have been you. How many times have you flown out of Boston or toward DC, or over Pennsylvania? It so easily could have been you.”

Until she said that, I had not personalized the tragedy. She was right, though. I used to travel on a near-weekly basis when I was a corporate soldier. Ever since then, I have made a point to enjoy—truly enjoy—a cocktail on every flight, regardless of the hour, and to savor my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a true indulgence. If my plane ever goes down, damn it, I will go down having tasted pleasure and appreciated it on my tongue.

I usually fly Southwest. It was a bit of a jolt to get settled in and realize that Frontier doesn’t have onboard Wi-Fi. What the fuck? I’m composing this post in MS Word and I’ll upload it later. Still…Seriously, Frontier?

If they had WiFi, I’d have been on Twitter the whole time. Instead, I’m trapped here with a head full of thoughts because although I’m willing to pay $14 for a half-bottle of cheap chardonnay, I am too cheap to pay $5.99 for onboard television. It’s possible I’m trying to prove to myself that although I may have an alcohol addiction, I can still say no to television, goddamnit.

I tweet under my own name, or at least, something so close to it, there’s no actual masking my identity. About 100 people follow me on Twitter, and I’ve never figured that out, really. I only know six or seven of them. The rest? Who knows.

Are we there yet, are we there yet, arewethereyetarewethereyet?

No. We are not.

I wish I could sleep. I wish I could feel better about going to Florida. I wish a lot of things.

OK then. I am officially out of alcohol and attention span, but not flight time. Sigh.

There is one more thing I do when I fly, and it just occurred to me to share that, too. In the last 15 minutes of the flight, just before they tell you to turn off your electronic devices, I watch a video on my laptop. Yes, a video. It’s just as good and important as the cocktail and peanut butter cups. I watch the 2008 Matt Harding dancing video. It’s necessary.

I’ll try to write again tomorrow. I’ll be spending the day at Bayfront Hospital. See you then.