Salt in the Wound

How is it that I am back here after only 2 weeks to write about another massacre?  Oh, that’s right…I live in America.

Whenever I go to the grocery store now, and probably for the rest of my life, I will think of the ten people who lost their lives on Jefferson Ave.  I know many of my fellow Buffalonians can echo that sentiment.  And now, whenever I go to work, I will think of the dozens dead or injured in Uvalde.  And I know my fellow educators feel the same way.

Listen…no teacher is out there receiving combat pay, so stop acting like they are the first line of defense.  I saw a meme yesterday that said not to even suggest arming teachers, because apparently y’all can’t even trust them to choose books.

When I graduated high school, I was told there would be a teaching shortage right about now, and there is.  There were many incentives in place at the time for those who wanted to pursue education, such as reduced tuitions and 5-year Master’s programs. Naturally, I jumped at this, as I had wanted to work with children and teaching seemed to be the obvious answer.

Ooooh boy am I glad I dropped out of college now!

As if teaching through a pandemic wouldn’t have been hard enough, you finally get back into the school setting and now you have to worry about “active shooters.”  No, thank you.  Yet…I look at these kids I teach and the crazy thing about it is that they know what to do in the event of a gunman, better than I do.  I’ve had no training; they’ve been doing it since pre-k.  So while I am the one expected to lay my life on the line for a child, they are the ones more likely to save me.  I have a better chance following a third-grader’s directions than they would have following mine and ouch…I think I just found a blind spot in our program.

Last Saturday, I took a CPR and First Aid course.  It’s required for work, but it’s also something I like to have.  It’s a skill I have thankfully never had to use, but I am prepared in case it happens, and I guess that’s how we are spinning shooter drills to the kids.  Except it seems more and more of them assume they are preparing for “when” it happens, not “if.”

Listen, I hate guns, and if you’ve read a lot of my stuff, you probably already know that.  However, I am pro-choice on pretty much all topics…so if you like guns or own one, whatever…that’s your right.  HOWEVER, I do think we should have common sense gun laws.  I mean, why do you need a AR15?  Explain it to me like I’m a child, and don’t use the words “target practice.”  Oh, and as soon as you mention killing humans, even if in defense, you are proving my point.  I don’t care about your shotgun, your handgun, your hunting rifle; I care about your semi-automatic assault rifle.  ASSAULT is right there in the name!

Anyway…I wrote a poem, video below, about the events in Uvalde.  Too much to process, and far too soon.

Performance Anxiety

Back in 2019, I went to an open mic night with my friend Beth at my side for moral support and fought my inner doubter-I shared my work.  I continued to attend this monthly soiree until March 2020, when Covid came and shut us all down.  It moved to a virtual format for a bit, which then kind of morphed into its own thing.  I was sad…I liked poetry night at my local bookstore.

Every time I was in there, I asked the proprietor if the event would return, and he would tell me it would, sometime in the future.  I waited.

Then one night my father asks if I follow a guy he knows on Facebook.  I say no and inquire, and he tells me this man will be picking up where we left off with poetry night, bringing it back better than ever.  This delighted me, and so I marked my calendar for the first meeting in two years. 

I didn’t know anyone there, just like I didn’t know anyone when I went back in 2019.  However, my circumstances had changed…I had once been so hesitant to share my work, but I have grown past that now.  What really struck me that night was a woman named Mary, who was sharing her poetry for the first time.  And reader, it was lovely, and absolutely relatable for me.  She seemed so nervous, and brought friends for support, just as I had, and though I did not know her, when she was done reading I wanted to run up and hug her, because I was proud of her the way I had once been proud of myself for having the courage to share my work. 

There have been two meetings since the first.  Mary has been there both times, prepared with poetry, and I can see her bravery expand each time she reads.  It’s a pretty awesome transformation to witness, actually. 

Anyhoo…Tim, who runs the show, mentioned that he was still looking for features to fill out the year.  I don’t know where my anxiety was, perhaps asleep at the wheel, but I proceeded to message him and ask if he would like me to be one of those readers, to which I received a solid “yes.”

So now, in October, I will be the featured reader at my poetry open mic night.  The 2019 version of me has no idea how this happened…that I would have the audacity…the sheer BALLS, to just asked for what I wanted?  Who the hell is that person??

As always, I stand here with more confidence than I have any right to have.  I literally just said this to Kevin: “I was a fat, four-eyed, balding middle schooler; I have no business feeling this fabulous.”

But honestly, I’m not who I was that first night I read.  I have always been comfortable on a stage, mind you…this was about my writing, not my performance technique (another thing I have ridiculous confidence in,)  The “stage fright” is gone now, though…there is no anxiety about my words.  I have shared them, and they have resonated.  I have been told by friends and fans that my poetry is something special, and I hope that is true.  All I know is that I am more comfortable with it today than I was yesterday, and it can only get better from here.

Happy Monday, folks.

Church on Sunday

“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” – G.K Chesterton. 

I was raised Catholic, as the seasoned reader may already know, and spent about fifteen years in Catholic school, going to church every Sunday with my family and every other Friday with my classmates.  Around age 25, I completely dropped the “act” I’d been running since I was fifteen and first saw the quote above.  I’m not saying that one quote changed my outlook on things…it just gave voice to an opinion I could not find words for. 

I remember being young and telling my Aunt Ka, a Sister of Mercy, that I wanted to get married at the Botanical Gardens because it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  She told me that I couldn’t, that I was Catholic and therefore had to have a wedding inside a church…I could have the reception outdoors, though, she claimed.

This concept was a hard no for my ten-year-old brain that wanted what it wanted when it wanted it.  I had been taught, almost daily, that God was in every living thing, including trees and grass and sunshine.  So why on earth did I need to CELEBRATE in front of statues of dead people, under a roof made by man?  It was nonsense then; it’s nonsense now.

I had a friend get married a while back and a priest came and did the vows, outdoors.  But it wasn’t an “official” wedding, according to the church.  The priest was just blessing them.  I thought maybe someday I could do something similar to appease my Catholic family…I was not yet telling my mother I was done with the whole shebang.

By the time I did get married, she was well aware of my opinions on the Church, and we butted heads a little.  She wanted some Christianity in the ceremony, and I had to keep reminding her that my husband was not a Christian, and all that would be weird for him.  Not to mention, I wasn’t feeling it either.  In the end, I got married in a little gazebo, outdoors.  The readings were all literary, the music was secular, and the officiant was my uncle who got a license online.  My mother won in the sense that I allowed her to say a prayer before the meal.  I was cool with her doing that because she mentioned Ka, who had passed by that time.  But that was it: one prayer.  That’s all the God I invited.,

But he was there, you see.He was in the trees and sun and grass and breeze.  Nature, that is where I believe God lives.

On Saturday…in the beforetime…I caught a giant fish in the Buffalo Creek.  It was a smallmouth, but there was nothing small about it.  I don’t have a picture.  Mark snapped one, but I accidentally deleted it.  Just believe me when I tell you it was a monster.  I fought the thing, hard…I’ve never really fought my fish before; usually I am far stronger. This guy gave me a run for my money.  When I finally flopped him onto shore, I felt immense pride.  Mark helped me unhook him, and I thanked him for the challenge and sent him back on his way in the stream.  Then I went home, and the world changed.

So, on Sunday, after the events, I was getting a hankering for prayer.  I’ve been arguing with my ancestor’s spirits as of late, over this mess with my mother. One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, said that “Praying is talking to the Universe. Meditation is listening to it.”  So, I figured, why not try a little listening?  I’ve ben talking so damn much.

I went back to where I caught the big fish.  All I caught that day was a pumpkinseed, but it was still worth it to sit there and look and listen.  I saw God all around me, from the fish in the water to the no-see-ums buzzing about to the big tree with all the fishing line and old bobbers caught up in it.  I watched the water of the creek lap upon the rocks and focused on the word “Peace.”  I needed peace.

On the way home, I remembered it was Sunday and thought of church.  I had the same feeling then that I had when I was a child leaving Mass.  Yes, when I was small, I was relieved that the sitting still and being quiet portion of the day was over, but I also always felt that feeling you get when you visit am old friend.  Also, I always kind of felt it hearkened the start of a new, fresh week.  A clean slate.

That’s when I realized: I go to church ALL THE TIME.

Fishing is church for me.  That might sound ridiculous, but where else would I rather be on a Sunday morning? And every time I go, every time, I think of God.  I didn’t even realize it until I examined my thought pattern closely this past week.  I tend to remind myself of God in nature whenever I fish.

Now, no, I no longer believe in a stereotypical Christian God in the sky…I think God is more of a universal fabric, with an understanding that we have not yet evolved to know.  Yet…I find God in the sky, because I find him in the earth, too.

Where do you find God?

Anyway…that’s just the thoughts running around in my head right now.  That’s all for today.  Happy Thursday!

Buffalo Strong

I had a plan, you see.  I was going to write today about the Bans Off Our Bodies rally I attended on Saturday morning.  Then, for Thursday, I was going to post about how I caught my biggest fish yet, and how nature has replaced church for me. 

But then, after fishing, I stopped at the Tops on Harlem real quick to get some milk, and then I headed home and curled up with my phone…y’know, to check my socials and messages and such.  I saw a Facebook post from a friend about the local hospital, and suddenly the world crashed down and the fish, and even the rally, seemed insignificant.

On Saturday afternoon, 13 people we shot and 10 people died at the Tops on Jefferson, fifteen minutes from my house, because a self-proclaimed 18-year-old white supremacist decided that was the place in the state of New York where he could murder the most black people.

That is a lot to unpack, and I don’t know how much I will get to in just one post.

I had just walked out of a Tops.  I texted Jaime…she had just walked out of a Wegmans.  How many of us went grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon? It may seem silly, but knowing that I was doing the same thing as my neighbors on the east side of town when they were gunned down…it just turned my stomach.

As details came out, we learned the shooter had posted a manifesto online, as well as livestreamed the attack on Twitch.  We discovered that he had selected the Tops on Jefferson because that zip code has the highest black population in the state.  Our elected officials made it very clear that he was an “outsider.”

Cute.

Listen, I love my city, deeply.  But we have a racism problem…deeply.  We are on the list of the most segregated cities in the nation, and even a tourist can tell, folks.  Have you EVER taken a visiting friend to the east side for any reason, white Buffalonian reading this?  Ok, actually, I have done this…I took a friend there because they wanted to get some weed.  That’s the reputation the east side has in white Buffalo.  Drugs, crime…and black people. 

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t white folks on the east side, because there are certainly black people in my mostly white south side neighborhood as well, There’s just less.  Everyone who lives here knows: the whites live in North and South Buffalo, the blacks live on the east side, and the Hispanics are to the west.  All of this sounds super racist, and it is.  It’s also a fact. 

My neighborhood is strongly Irish, and therefore mostly white.  We live within ten minutes of 6 grocery stores…3 of them are Tops.  The Masten neighborhood is mostly black, and they have one.  Wegmans won’t set foot over there.  There’s an Aldi’s not too far away, but you would definitely need a car to get there, and Masten is a lower income neighborhood, so that’s not an option for everyone.  People in that area live with food insecurity everyday…I don’t.  I might feel like it lately, while money is very tight and I can’t get the things I want, but I do have enough food in my cupboard to survive.  I’m not worried about where my next meal is coming from.

And I’m not worried about being shot at my grocery store, either.  Probably should be, but I’m not, at least not by a Nazi.  I am never worried about being attacked by a hate group, because I am a white woman, and no one wants a dead white girl on their hands.  Generally, I don’t worry about gun violence at all…because I am privileged.  The people in that grocery store are more worried about it than I am, because someone gets hurt on that side of town from gun violence nearly every day.  My point here is that I worry about neither guns nor white supremacy, because I live in a “safe” (read: white) neighborhood.  I put “safe” in quotes, because it isn’t, exactly.  We have crime, too.  We have our low-income section, and we have folks who just don’t give a crap sometimes, also.  Overall, though, my neighborhood is definitely considered “better” than theirs, here in Western New York.

Anyway, like I was saying, mayor Byron Brown was adamant that the terrorist came from outside the community.  Here’s the thing…I know more than one person who was betting on which suburb this asshole came out of, because we all automatically assumed he was a WNYer.  EVERYBODY knows we have a racism problem in the area.  We had a crapton of arrests in Erie County related to Jan. 6th.  I remember seeing tour buses carrying folks down to DC.  Yes, my city is mostly democratic, but the outlying areas are abundant with MAGA republicans.  And while Buffalo itself tends to vote blue, we do have a fairly dodgy police force to contend with, along with the basic segregated setup of the city.  I mean, my first thought when I heard about this shooting was: we need to check on our black friends.  Might sound racist because I was thinking about their skin color, but the truth of it is that they all use that grocery store, because they all live on the east side.

Me, I went to that Tops once at 8am to use the bathroom on the way home from a doctor’s appointment.  I have never had any reason to be there, other than that.  I only ever go to that particular neighborhood if I am visiting the Science Museum there.  I have often wanted to…they have a big park with an amazing splash pad that my kids would have loved in their youth.  Alas…we never went. 

Racism is a huge problem in my city and if you don’t believe that then you either don’t live here or you’re a racist.  It’s as plain as day to anyone with a conscience that we need to change the way we do things around here.  Because that murderer wasn’t from here…but he could have been.  He oh-so-easily could have been.

Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors, and it is.  One time my car got stuck in a snowbank on the east side, and four very large black men approached.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous (of course, their gender trumped their skin color in my mind, but still.)  These gentlemen pushed me out of the snowbank and got me on my way.  I was exceedingly grateful.  Yeah, maybe it’s true that nobody wants a dead white girl on their hands, but I’d also like to believe that nobody in this city wants anyone to be in trouble if they can help.  Do you have any idea how many snowbanks a stranger has pushed me out of, or how many times a neighbor mowed my lawn just to be nice, or helped shovel the sidewalk?  Tons and tons and tons.  All we do is help each other, which is why I have no doubt that we as a community will make it through this crisis.

So sadly, I can’t tell you about how great the rally was, or how big the fish was.  Maybe I will save those for later this week, but they have become afterthoughts in my mind.  And I’m nowhere close to being done talking about what happened in my city, because I am a firm believer that if you want change you have to stay and fight for it.  All I know right now is that my heart hurts for this place I love so dearly.  I only hope we can all find a way to heal.

My Tiniest Bestie

I didn’t write this week, except a piece for my Patreon, because I was too stressed out to settle my head into any sort of space to get work done.  Even now, a part of me doesn’t want to sit here at the desk and peck out my words, but I am because if I fall off too hard, I won’t get back up.  So, here’s some words about my tiniest bestie.

Last night I was feeling down, so after work I went over to my Gram’s house because on Fridays there’s always folks over for dinner.  It was just her, two of my aunts, and my 12-year-old cousin, G.  I was going there solely to get a hug from my Gram, because Gram hugs are the best hugs, but I ended up with a solid gold 10-out-of-10 hug the moment I walked in, and it came from G.  They are short, so they wrapped their arms around my waist and squeezed and said they were happy to see me.  This filled me with joy and made me feel instantly less crappy.  G has a way of doing this, though, and has been doing it for over a decade.

I remember the Easter when my aunt Mary told me she was pregnant and I was so excited, and then the following Thanksgiving they burst on the scene, a miracle baby made from love and science!  By the end of June, my yet-to-be husband was living in their house, and I was seeing them every day.  They would toddle over in the morning and take my empty coffee cup and climb onto the sofa beside me and watch the news while pretending to drink from my cup.  Mark would play blocks with them and read them stories.  They would holler out the window at us when we were in the yard, baby-speaking to us as though we  could understand them.  “Skibidee,” or “Skibs,” remains Mark’s favorite nickname for them-those were the noises they would make when they were in deep conversation with us, before they learned their words.

After Mark moved out, I didn’t see tbem as much, but we still had playdates often and family events where we would hang…and that’s when I realized-we hang.  They have always thrown down with me the exact same way an adult would.  They has always been considerate and kind with me, never bossy or manipulative or begging or the million other things kids can be when they are kids.  They show great maturity when with me, so in turn, I have always spoken with them as though they are my peer.  G isn’t just my little cousin, or a friend of my kids, they are my friend.

So yesterday, when I needed a friend, I walked into the door of my grandmother’s house and found one.  They ran up to hug me and instantly took away my rain clouds.  We sat across from each other at dinner and they had conversations with me and Gram and my aunts, and it was lovely.  They also drew me a picture of a cat, which I shall keep because I personally also think they’re a brilliant artist.  The moral of the story is that I went home smiling and now it’s morning and I’m thinking about them and I’m still smiling.  So what if they’re 12?  That’s a good friend that can make you do that.

G’s first Christmas.

Keep Your Pulpit Out of my Bedroom.

It’s long, because I’m pissed.

Schedules have gone out the door.  Time means nothing. I think it’s Friday.  Nothing means anything, at least it hasn’t since three days ago when I checked my news feed after being in the sick-mom bubble all week.

Once, in an old blog, I talked about a proposed South Dakota law that would make it illegal to help someone get an abortion.  This was in February of 2011…11 years ago.

In May of 2019, I wrote about how tired I was that this was still an issue…4 years ago.  7 years between posts…seven years of the same old debate.

In September of last year, I wrote about my rage toward the Supreme Court and how they’re a bunch of asshats, and I’m standing by that observation today.

Listen…I was pro-choice before pro-choice was cool.

Picture me, a twelve-year-old Catholic schoolgirl who spends her weekends hanging with a Baptist youth group and you can pretty much figure out that I was anti-abortion…”pro-life,” as they liked to call it.  I had it coming at me from two religions, you see.  First, there was the day in 7th grade when our church got the big “Respect Life” sign installed on the front lawn, and we were taught that it meant we, as Catholics, supported life in all forms.  Which sounds great, but has caveats that they didn’t bother to explain to us.  I thought it meant you do everything you can to save a baby, and you don’t support the death penalty.  Again, perfectly great ideals, but asking a child to blindly follow something that they do not truly understand is not okay, in my opinion.  Then, there were the Baptists.  Now, I’d love to write a blog comparing the two religion’s influences in my youth because I’m sure it would be fascinating (to me at least) but for the sake of this blog, we’re just talking about abortion.

The Baptists provided more information, but it was mostly incorrect.  No, I was not invited to vigils and pickets and the March for Life-that was reserved for the high schoolers.  But I was taught that barbaric methods were used during abortions and that those who performed or received them were going straight to hell.  We were to pity those people, and pray for their souls.  I went off to my Catholic high school with this idea in my brain.

Then came October 23rd, 1998.  I was a sophomore, and Dr. Barnett Slepian of Amherst NY was murdered in his home while making soup.  He was an OB/GYN who provided abortions, and for this, a zealot shot him in the head.

This was the moment when “Respect Life” took on a whole new meaning for me.  Obviously, this man was not respecting life…I’m talking about the shooter, not the abortionist.  A true Christian, I surmised, would aid the supposed sinner, not play God and remove them.  My eyes opened then, as I realized neither my church nor my youth group seemed to take into consideration the lives that were already walking the earth.  So, I did as I do when confronted with a problem, and I researched.

Wow, was I lied to!  From both parties!

First of all, the barbaric practices the Baptists spoke of were practically nonexistent, and what did seem terrible only seemed that way if you look at the fetus as a whole human instead of a grouping of cells, which is what it is in the beginning.  Then the Catholics and their rhetoric just seemed ridiculous, because on one hand they were all “let us pray for the family of Dr. Slepian,” and on the other, “be sure to register for the Walk for Life!”  I was already seeing all kinds of Catholic hypocrisy, so this was really no surprise.

Anyway, long story short, I was anti-abortion at one time, because somebody lied to me.  A lot of somebodies lied to me, over and over again, so of course I believed them.  So, what am I saying?

I’m saying that if you’re still anti-abortion, I’m going to need you to ask yourself why.  If it’s a God thing, cool…you do you.  But that’s just it…you…do…YOU.  Not me, not her, not anybody else.  You don’t get to decide for me how I get to live my life.  No one does, in any way, ever, and that is the hill I will literally die upon.  Just like I can’t force you to get an abortion, you can’t force me not to.  I will not risk my health or sanity because you got a beef with your church.  Note I said church, not Creator, because that dude does not care, I assure you.  Jesus never said one word about abortion.  And my favorite little bit of Bible in this particular case?  “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.  Ain’t no fetuses breathing, is all I’m saying.

But, Bible aside, (because it should be-we aren’t all Christians, and shouldn’t have to live by their dogma,) this is so not about babies at this point, and it’s so glaringly obvious, that I just don’t think I have the energy for the enemy anymore.  If you can’t see that this is a total attack on all women, you are not paying attention.  For instance, some states are proposing legislature that would persecute a woman who has an abortion for an ectopic pregnancy.  Those pregnancies are 100% not viable, and can kill the woman.  So, should I have one in one of these states, I would have to choose between letting myself die or going to prison because I had an health condition. 

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

So, this is just a note to say peace out to everyone I know who is supporting Alito’s document.  I am done with you.  You do not value my life, or the lives of the women I know, or the lives of the women you know.  If abortion isn’t for you, that’s fine…but you don’t get to speak for me, and if you think you do, you can just be on your merry way.  Unfollow, delete, block, do what you gotta do…but I’m not coming around on this one. 

Of course, 90% of the people I’m taking to right now are men.  All the ladies I know are outraged, while the dudes are just standing there with their hands in their pockets.  Look at your wife; look at your daughter.  Look at your mother.  Do you really believe a rich old white male politician knows more about her body than she does?  If you do…then you need to leave.  You don’t value her as a human being if you think she can’t handle herself. End of story.

We are not idiots, you see.  We are brilliant, and we are systematically held down because of our brilliance, in ways such as this.  What are you so afraid of, men?  Why is being in control so important to you?

Perhaps because you know that if the roles were switched as they are now…you wouldn’t like it.  You wouldn’t like making 72 cents on the dollar.  You wouldn’t like that 1 in 4 of your friends have been sexually assaulted and/or domestically abused.  You aren’t going to like us catcalling you on the street when you’re just trying to get through your day. You aren’t down with us making you get a vasectomy or taking birth control pills.  You have no desire to stand in our shoes, because you have made them incredibly uncomfortable, and you know it.

Oh, and don’t “well that’s a different generation” at me! I know 15-year-old boys who think they can control girls, so what the fuck makes me think they didn’t learn it from their parents?  Don’t tell me “well, if women don’t want to get pregnant they should keep their legs shut,” like you’d want to live in a world where no one is fucking you.  Don’t pull the old “well the body has ways of shutting down a nonlegitimate pregnancy,” you total goon!  Go read one of those science books their trying to ban.  I mean, MY GOD, a simple Google search, guys!

So, in conclusion, if you decide that you yourself do not want an abortion, that’s nice.  But you don’t get to speak for me, you don’t get to pity me, and you don’t get to try to change my mind, any more than I do for you.  There is one Christian tenet that I have carried with me throughout my long spiritual journey…do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  And for a bunch of folks claiming to be Christian, you sure aren’t following the main rule.  I would never force you to get an abortion.  You don’t get to force me or anyone else out of one.

The World Ain’t Slowing Down

On Thursday, I had therapy.  My counselor was quite pleased, because for the first time in our year together, I was at baseline!  Sure, there was some circumstantial stuff happening, but overall, I was peachy-keen, and we were so pleased with my mood.  Then Friday happened, and I thought, “welp, that was a nice minute of calm.”  I desperately want to get in for an emergency session right now, but my therapist is booked up at the moment so I’m waiting on a call back…which means that you, dear reader, get to play counselor today.

My mother, as I mentioned previously, had a quadruple bypass on the 19th of April.  She came home the following Saturday, and was doing ok.  In the mornings, I would go over and make her coffee and get her pills and wake her up, so Dad can sleep in a little.  On Thursday night, she called and told me not to come over at the usual time, which is between 5 and 6am, because she wanted to sleep in.  So, I set my alarm for 7am, when I have to take my eyedrops.  I woke then, got myself moving, and headed over to Mom’s at about 7:15.  I made the coffee and got the pills, and went into her room to find her sprawled on her back making a terrible noise.  Dad was snoring beside her, completely unaware.  I tried to wake her, but it was no use, so he finally came to when he heard me yelling at her, and tried smacking her in the face.  Nothing.  We tested her blood sugar and it was very low, so we trier to get sugar in her, but she only choked on it, and I had to get behind her and lift her up, which couldn’t be good for my eyes or her heart, but needed to be done.  No use.  So, we called 911.

As I type this, I think of my mother some time in the future reading it, and doing two things: one, she is crying because she feels terrible to have put us through this…which is silly, mother.  Stop that.  And two, she is slightly peeved I’m posting this on the internet, but you know what Maureen?  I can’t talk to you right now, so I’m going to go talk to them.

Anyway, she’s been unconscious since.  There have been slight improvements, in that her brain scan is normal, her blood sugar is normal, and she has been moving her hands and feet and occasionally opening her eyes.  Nurses seem to think she is aware that she’s got tubes in and is in the hospital, but that’s about it.  It has become a long game of wait-and-see.

Friday was extremely hard for me.  It was very triggering of my PTSD.  First, I am confronted by a woman in a bed who is making a terrible sound…just like when I was 8 years old and found my Grammy dying in her bed, her death rattle signaling me to get an adult NOW.  And then they put my unconscious mother in the ICU at Mercy…just like when my aunt Ka was dying, and they made me visit her there.  Nope, sorry mom.  I love you, but I cannot just walk myself into a waking nightmare.  You know that.  You don’t mind. 

So, when I told Sahar what happened, she packed a bag and drove up from Cleveland because she is the best, and she spent two days here trying to keep me busy.  I blocked a lot of Friday, so I don’t know what we did, but I know she was next to me the whole time.  And on Saturday Beth came by with breakfast, and then Sahar and Mark and I took a drive and went to get groceries.  At night, we went to the bar at the corner and heard my cousin Dom’s band play, which was a good time.  (Funny sidebar: so Dad calls me while I’m there and I can tell he’s in the car and he says “WHERE ARE YOU” and I panic, assuming the worst.  I tell him I’m at the bar, and then he says “oh ok, be right there.”  Man just needed a drink.)

Sahar didn’t leave until 2am, when I was tipsy and tired.  I woke up feeling surprisingly not terrible considering the previous night’s drinks, something I have all but given up since living that gastroparesis life.  Mark and I went to the History Museum to se the Cherry Blossom Festival.  It was a nice little walk through a beautiful little park, and then we went to wish my Gram a happy 91st birthday.  Sahar went home to Ohio, and now it is Monday and back to the normal life.

But it isn’t the normal life, because Momma isn’t here in it at the moment.  The doctors are positive.  Her brain scans came back normal, and she has been moving around a bit, but there is no real change.  They just tell us to wait, as through I am not the most impatient person on the planet.

But I will wait.  And I will hope and pray and wish and wonder, and soon my Momma will wake up and read this and say “Jesus, Brigid…did you have to tell them everything?”

Alright.  I’m off to call my therapist again.  Have a…Monday.  Just…have a Monday.

This is one of my Momma’s favorite songs.

Observations

I cannot stop thinking about how well I can see.  It is getting ridiculous.  I am commenting on every pothole in the road, every street sign on the corner, every leaf on every tree.  I am going on and on about how clear words on paper are and how my phone looks different and how I can see that you haven’t shaved in a few days, Mark.  I am exhausting, and I’m sorry…not sorry.

Mark said that I am reminding him of some of the videos he likes to watch to cheer himself up when he’s down.  Usually, it’s people’s pets doing cute things or soldiers coming home from war to their kids, but a lot of the time it’s videos of colorblind folks who get those special glasses.  They put them on and see colors for the first time, and it’s so cool.  He says I sound like one of those people, amazed by what I can see; and I am.

Still waiting on a good stargazing night, but otherwise I have observed many things.  We went fishing over the weekend, and not only did I actually see a big fish swimming in the water, but I saw about a thousand tiny minnows swimming in a school.  I have never been able to see the minnows before, so this was exciting. 

Another exciting observation: driving at night!  WOW, I do have working headlights!  I always thought those things were on their last leg, dim as they seemed.  And other cars headlights are not as blinding as they were two weeks ago.  I drove the other night and felt eerily confident.  Really, the whole of driving has changed, as I can now see every groove in the pavement, as well as every sign on the side of the road.  I wear sunglasses without having to wear my glasses underneath, which is fabulous.  And I truly don’t mind the reading glasses life because the words are so crystal clear with them.

So, yeah, I’m still going on about my eyes.  I can’t help it.  It’s a brand-new world.  As I said…sorry. 

Not sorry.

Open Heart and Open Eyes

I’m hopped up on anesthesia.  Not now, as I write this, but now, as you are reading it on Monday morning, when I am scheduling it to be posted.  I figured I would save myself some grief and just get Monday’s post out of the way now, on Saturday morning, while my husband and kids still slumber. 

So anyway, if you’re not family or friend, you probably didn’t know that my mother had a quadruple bypass on Tuesday. 

She found out a few weeks back that she had had a couple of small heart attacks, and this was alarming, so they scheduled a procedure called a cabbage.  At least, I think that’s how it’s spelled, because it’s certainly how it sounds.  Anyway, I guess once they got in there, there was more work to be done, so she got the whole she-bang. 

The day of surgery was intense.  First of all, I had a follow-up for my cataract surgery from the previous day, so while mom was under the knife, I was sitting in the ophthalmologist chair hoping my sistter wasn’t crying in the car because Dad called with terrible news or something. But no, when I came out she was there and no news was still good news, so we went on with our day.  It wasn’t until about 130pm that Dad called and told me that she was okay.  Surgery was over, and she was still asleep.  Later, he told me that she woke up around 5pm and they took out the ventilator. 

On Wednesday, I got to see her for a few minutes after work, and she was sitting up in a chair.  She was on oxygen, which was a good thing because she wasn’t breathing as well without it, and was able to talk much more.  Visiting hours ended early because Covid, so I was only there for a little bit.  On Thursday I went for lunch which was chaos at the hospital.  Visiting hours start EXACTLY at noon, not one second before, so there was a line out the door of folks waiting to see their loved ones.  When I finally got through the screening, I got upstairs and found her and she was delighted I was there.  I was delighted they took out her chest tubes.  I got to hang out for a bit before work, but she kept falling asleep on me mid-sentence, so I just let her rest until the TV or some nurse woke her again, and we’d go on talking like nothing happened.  Then a nurse came in with some medication that Mom was really excited about, because it would make it easier for her to breathe.  That night, Dad said she was doing even better.

Yesterday I was crazy busy, so she called me to say hello at night and that she was sad.  See, she wanted to talk to her sister, my deceased aunt, and was sad she couldn’t.  I told her it was ok, because Ka wasn’t available last night anyway.  She was at my poetry reading, listening to me read the one I wrote about her.  Mom liked that idea.  She then told me she might come home today, which is wonderful.  Alas, I am still going to visit her at noon…well, perhaps a little after, given how many people were in that line.

So, overall, she is doing well.  I am happy.  All is good. 

Edit: It is Monday.  I am not hopped up on anesthesia, because I took this last surgery like a champ and am in a fan-freakin-tastic mood because I CAN SEE ALL THE THINGS.

Furthermore, I never went to visit my mom at the hospital again, because she came home that afternoon!  She’s sore and a little woozy still, and the coughing sucks, but she is a trooper and is doing pretty good.  So today…a good mood overall.  Happy Monday, indeed.

Gift of Sight

Ok, I missed yesterday because I was, for the first time in some time, just too damn busy.  I had to get a Covid test and visit my mother and run errands and go to work and was gone from the house for a solid 8 hours, only to come home to having to fold the laundry and cook dinner.  So when I finally sat down, words…they weren’t coming.

Why did I need a Covid test?  Because eye surgery #2 is coming on Monday.  Looking at my blog, I see I updated via phone after my last surgery.  I, of course, have no real recollection of this as I was hopped up on anesthesia.  So I can’t tell you if I will or will not post this coming Monday, as I obviously have little control over what I do the day of surgery. 

The best part of last Monday was wen I told Mark my eyes were really blurry.  He told me to take my glasses off and rest a bit, after all, I just had surgery.  I agreed with his logic and removed my frames, at which point I screamed with delight. Guys…I could see.  It was blurry because I was wearing super-strength lenses.  At my follow-up appointment, they told me that technically I can drive without glasses now.  I’m not prepared yet, though.  I popped out my right lens and am going monocle-style until they do they other eye next week. 

Still, I can see.  I can see better now than I ever remember seeing, and that’s only after the one eye.  I can see colors I didn’t know were there, every crack in the pavement when driving, and my dad tells me that soon, on a clear night, I will see the stars.

I haven’t seen the stars in longer than I remember.  Once, we took the kiddos out to a field in the middle of nowhere and looked at the stars, but I couldn’t see them.  I faked it.  They thought it was beautiful and amazing, but I couldn’t tell.  Soon…I can.

(Fun anecdote, that night wrapped up when a cop pulled up and asked just what we thought we were doing standing in some farmer’s corn field.  I told him that we lived in the city and decided to drive the kids out to the country to see the stars.  “Oh, Well, in that case, enjoy.”  And he left.) Anyway…I can’t wait to see the stars.  I want to go camping.  They would be amazing out there.  (Hey…family and friends who camp…if you’re looking for two more for a trip, hit me up.)

So, this is the first time I’ve sat to type at the computer and I am noticing a few things, for one, I need to lower my brightness.  Another is that the extra-large fonts are no longer necessary.  Third…I need to clean this office.  Like deep-clean.  There’s dust I never noticed, cobwebs in the corners, and someone splattered coffee on the screen.  I couldn’t SEE this before.  That’s the downside of all this.  Anyway…today is errands and work and poetry night and the kiddos, so I must bid adieu.  Happy Weekend, friends!