12 Dec

“It’s not I have fatigue but I AM fatigued. Je suis fatigue.”
“Oh.”
I had forgotten how hard French was. I already can’t sleep. Worried about getting packed and everything done.
“Just think honey, in three days…”
“NO! Not in three days! In six!”
“Well, in three days we won’t be in our house for a while.”
Ugh, thanks, minus three days from when I was planning on panicking.

I am more than excited over this trip. It has been a while since I have gushed about my husband but he is…I actually feel guilty most days for what I have. He is absolutely dreamy. Even when he is annoying he is pretty great. Something that is fairly recent for us to talk about is how we came together. I mean, what was going on in our separate lives.
We were both falling. And I don’t believe one person can “save” another speaking so, but we definitely caught each other on our ways down. Ever see those parachuters? The real pros that meet in free fall and lock arms? That was us. Suddenly the force of the ground creeping up seemed to slow. We landed safely, still in each others arms.
“Dans les bras.” he says holding me in a solid spoon after a good session
“Oui. Je me sens tranquil dans tes bras. Je t’aime mon chéri.”
I had forgotten how much I love French.

Follow me to…

8 Dec

El Cosmico

A home is a home is a home

30 Nov

After a change in anti-psychotics, awake for almost four days straight, 4a.m. I woke to her calling out. YOOHOO!!! Over and over. “YOOHOO!” I followed the calls to the dining room. “YOOHOO!”
With the exception of her underwear, Betty sat naked at the dining room table, her caregiver scratched and at a loss. “YOOHOO!” fidgeting with a camera case on the table. She looks up at me. “YOOHOO!” The urgency of the word knocking the silence off the walls. Angry at God and terrified, I scooped her lead body up from behind and somehow managed to get her to the bedroom, dressed and in bed. As she kicked and hit, not knowing what else to do I held her legs firmly, trying to soothe her best I could. “tshh, tshh, tshh,” over and over. Finally, sleep came. I took her off the meds, called our aides and told them not to come. She slept for days. While she slept, I cried.
******

The point was to keep her in her home. To figure out our lives around hers so she could be comfortable. What we were too dim to realize was that without her reason, what kept her mind working, her husband, nothing made sense. Her routine was disrupted and suddenly their quiet house in the woods was bustling with nurses, CNA’s, social workers, around the clock sitters, her son and that girl. Our good intentions accelerated her condition and now all she wanted was to leave. Where she wanted to go depended on the day but usually it was to see her parents in Philadelphia. To go home. “Is the car gassed up?” “Do you have a license?”
But it was always too late to be on the road. And we did not want her father to worry. So we would get some sleep with the lie that we would be leaving first thing.

For weeks we were being told that it was time. Time to get her somewhere while she could still adjust. Somewhere they could care for her properly for less than what was being spent on the thieves, drunks and liars being sent by the agency, (not to mention the weird lady we found in the classifieds that wanted to throw rolled up socks at her like a cat). So when B got called back to work I began the search.

What most people do not know is that I was not at all close to my mother-in-law before her husband died. I had vague memories of her being strict with her son when we were teens. This time around, over the past three years during our visits Betty would watch CNN turning the volume up when she was tired of hearing us talk. B’s father and I were building a relationship but still only beginning to get familiar. For Betty, she only knew that I was tied to her son through photos.
On one of the first nights after her husband passed as I was getting her ready for bed she grabbed my hand and asked me not leave her alone. My heart ached. I said she would never be alone. I gave her a hug. She said she loved me and there I did not care that she had no idea who I was. She was afraid and I loved her too. It became all that mattered.

*****

When she sees me her eyes widen. She asks, “When did YOU get here?!” She no longer walks on her own. I push her chair around and we listen to classical music in her room, which is decorated with all of her favorite things. In her recliner she moves her feet to the tunes. If it is warm out I put her sun hat on and we walk along the path outside. I push water in her face throughout the visit because even the good ‘homes’ are lacking and I want to make sure she is hydrated. My thoughts are forever with her bowels. I try to time visits around lunch to make sure she is eating. We don’t talk much because there is not a lot to say but often she starts out with an, “I’ll tell you, this place…” and shakes her head.

We sit at the same dining table every meal. There is Rae. According to her she never married because she didn’t need a man to take care of her. She worked hard and bought herself a Cadillac. She’s from San Antonio, has 6 siblings but only one brother. He lives in Austin. She played the trumpet in a nightclub for a time. She doesn’t know many Mexicans because they weren’t allowed to socialize with them. Oh, and everyone is a jackass.

There is Tony. He is an author from Cuba. He is not very talkative but he does makes kissy noises at me, grabs my hand and says gruffly, “beautiful girl”. Yeah, I like Tony. He will not eat his greens but he will eat three desserts if you let him. And unless you want to get smacked or stabbed with a fork, I recommend NOT touching his napkin, soup spoon or anything else really, on his side of the table.
The three of them make a good group. Rae gets up, grabs her walker. Betty calls out, “Wait for me outside.” even though they are never seen together beyond the dining room walls, she replies, “Okay.”

The place is the best out of the ones toured. Quirky and cute when it is being shown. Each wing with a theme, a front porch and a mailbox. The colors chosen from studies of what is calming to people losing their minds. Most of the staff are not whistling down the hallways because they love their job but some do. There have been some falls, a hospital visit complete with stitching glue and a small hematoma, and many more minor frustrations and concerns but all in all…
I do not get out to see her everyday. Mentally, I just cannot. And even though I know it was, I will not say it was the best decision. It was the decision that was made. It was what was less worse. I am sorry there is no real close to this entry. Too much has happened and it is 6a.m. and I have watched the cursor blink and chase typed words away trying to feel better about things. Maybe there is no feeling better to this.

Just when you think things can’t suck any more, they do.

15 Jun

Alaprazolam keeps her seated somewhat but makes her more confused than usual. Lorazopam at least lets her sleep at night but I think that is because she stays up for twelve hours at a time walking from room to room to room looking for what, she doesn’t know. “Why are you getting up?” ” I don’t know.” she says grabbing for her walker, her feet swollen and puffy with fluid from her poor circulation. Halo-something rather has the opposite effect of what ever the hell it was suppose to do in the first place. It is all trial and error. Our attempt at making- whose life easier? I don’t like to keep her medicated. I have cut back to keep her from being too zombie like. The worst realization I have had is that there is no pill combination that will bring her memory back nor pull her out of the fog; B and I living in that season of Lost where the island keeps jumping through time, given little clues to know which era of Betty’s life we are in.

We try and make sense of the swings. Forcing logic, listening for Mozart in a cat’s heat.
“Well, I gave her her medicine late.” “Oh, she didn’t get much rest last night.” “She’s reacting from the company. The pills… her lunch…I noticed when it’s dreary out she gets this way….” There is no rhyme; and reason left the building years ago.

There is just Betty. Betty who always gets her way then screams for help because we aren’t letting her do what she wants. She will let you know, she is NEVER coming back here once she gets home. And if you ask her, she hasn’t had a bite to eat since yesterday. She rolls her eyes at B when he calls her ‘Mom’ because she does not get why her husband is teasing her and why am I touching him? I sleep with the door locked and keep the knives at a distance. He is suppose to play along but pretending he is his father is too much. “Yes, MOM.” “What do you need, MOM?”…Then she looks at me and complains how B never comes to visit and asks again to call her husband.

Her husband. Up until his heart attack, my 79yr old father-in-law was doing everything on his own. Yes, they were in their own routine, and things have quickly deteriorated because that routine has been disrupted but still, a man more than B and my combined ages was taking care of this woman’s madness all on his own for years. Amazing. I have found notes around the house. “Gone to HEB. I love you, Bruce.” We know from him he tried to get all of his errands done while she was sleeping. We know from her, she was scared when she woke and he wasn’t there. It is something she says often in her confused searches, “He wouldn’t just leave and not tell me where he is going! Where is he!???” It has almost been three months.
And like clockwork, once Betty learns that her husband has died she immediately wants to call her parents. Doing some simple math you can see why this is problematic.

If it were merely Betty’s condition we were dealing with I could handle this better. I tell B if it weren’t his mother I could punch out and go home to get some sleep then come back to it with more enthusiasm. But then I remind myself if it were not his mother, we would be home.
We have help but the help has proven themselves unreliable and inexperienced be it private or through an agency. I am always on call. Just in the next room to come out and calm her. To dismiss the sandwich that is about to be made to prepare a real lunch. To stand over the caretaker to make sure she is being properly dressed, or being spoken to with the right tone.
I am tired. Tired of hearing what a wonderful thing we are doing. Tired of telling someone their spouse is dead. Tired of pretending this is the first time they have heard this. Tired of going through the same motions every night. There is a toll being taken. My eyes burn from crying this week. On Tuesday B and I were married ten months ago…
*****
Sitting with the Hospice nurse as she fills our her paperwork, I cringe as Betty leans in to read…
“WHO HAS DEMENTIA!?”
Her nurse smiles and says, “We all do.” She is not wrong.

A negative thought

12 Jun

It is hard for me to be grateful for all that I have when I know that he is not and we have all the same things…But mainly each other.

Who’s on First?

25 May

In trying to describe what some really difficult nights are like for us I have heard B say it is like the movie Groundhog Day. In it, Bill Murray wakes up to re-do the same crappy newscast in the same shitty town over and over again until he gets the entire day right, which in his case means getting the girl. That same thought had crossed my mind but it didn’t quite meet the level of stress and anxiety. Then I thought about the movie 50 First Dates. Although there is some real fear in Drew Barrymore’s character not having a short term memory, thus forgetting she had met the man of her dreams, married him, then had his child and was stuck on a boat to watch a video every morning recounting all of this, has a darkness and comes close,(especially since it is an Adam Sandler video she is sentenced to see for the rest of her life), it does not quite get there either. The winning loop, the loop we are currently stuck in, I can only compare to, "A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dream Master" clip.

When Betty wants to use the phone it is an ordeal because everyone she wants to call is dead. It makes no difference whether we tell her this or not, be it her sister, her parents, her husband, because five minutes later she is searching for the number and telling us all over again that she would like to use the phone and do we have the numbers? A phonebook? Could we perhaps call the operator to help? We made the mistake of letting her do this once after much hesitation, debate and finally her smashing her walker on B’s foot in a huff. She dialed the operator, tried to tell the automated voice she was looking for her parents, then followed the prompts pushing the buttons on the television remote.
We try but are not always able to change the subject.
“We only have a phonebook for Texas. The operator will want a first and last name and probably a town, what should we tell them? Where do you think you are? Look at that dog!”

B has worked out that where we are in time and space depends on which room we happen to be in. Betty remembers Idaho in the living room. The farm; a car accident. When we are in the kitchen she is a nursing student back in Pennsylvania, out past hours. They will be looking for her. She asks if she can stay the night with us until she can find her wallet and make her way up North the following day. “Sure. We have a room all set up for you already.” Then once we take her back we have travelled to Texas and she wonders how all her stuff got there.
It is a tedious subject, the phone and where her husband is but nothing compares to the job of keeping her in bed and off of her now swollen feet. Betty once stayed up for almost 36hrs. Sleeping pills nor pain killers could keep her mind from puppeteering her body. Spinning and spinning, the way women keep themselves up at night with worry but ten fold. Up and down to check the lights, the locks, the dogs, the shades because Betty forgets she just laid down from checking them a moment before. I listen for her on the baby monitor through the night when there is no sitter, watching her on my iPhone through the cameras hooked up throughout the house. “Hey Betty. Why are you getting up?” “I don’t know.”
B says she can hear a mouse fart across the street. He imitates his mother, “Did I hear a piece of cotton touching felt?” But once asked why she is getting up there are a lot of “what’s, huh’s” and misheard phrases. “What time is it?” “Midnight.” “Do I have to eat tonight?!”

So this is our life together as newlyweds. Not having the time to mourn his father, we only grieve the simple life we left behind. An opportunity to laugh turns quickly to tears because emotions are so stifled they seep out given any chance. This post sounds like a real bummer and I will admit the situation is not ideal and it sucks on many, many levels but I am learning so much and in the end, in her finale, B and I will have a clear conscience knowing we did everything we could to keep Betty safe and comfortable. We have been told the woman B knew growing up is long gone but the fragmented person in her body is the only mother in law I know and when through the confused tears she squeezes my hand and tells me she loves me I know we are doing the right thing. For now at least.

Life with Betty

9 Apr

“Do you ever sleep?”
“I sleep when you sleep, Betty.”

She recognizes me, reaches for my hand, and on her good days gives me shit as any other mother-in-law would but she cannot tell you my name. And no, I do not sleep. I nap between the care takers’ shifts, periodically checking up to make sure they are more alert than I am, which sadly, even for the money, they are not. I had one pulled from our schedule and among the many apologies I received from the supervisors I found myself repeating a disgustingly PC phrase I learned when fired from a law firm last year, “She’s just not a good fit”, I said after a third phone call.

Think back to a time you have gotten out of bed to see why the t.v. was on in another room, or who was quietly closing doors or walking through the house. Usually it is a family member or roommate and all is well and calm. Betty forgets she was just up 15mins before and for hours will do this.

“It’s still light outside.”
“And it will be for the rest of the day, Betty. It’s morning.”

The most painful is when she forgets why we are here and asks for her husband. We relive his death in re-breaking the news.

Flipping her schedule has been hard. Something was lost in the days she stayed alone. Recalibrating her while orientating the care takers while taking care of B.

“Here is the vacuum, the cleaning products are in the usual places, under the sink, in the laundry room, under the bathroom sink as well. Please open the blinds last/first thing of your shift if it has not been done by the person before you. Do not give out any information. Do not small talk my husband. He is too polite to say he does not feel like being social. Do not worry about our laundry. If she asks to call her husband or where he is, the answer is he is gone but B and I are here, then please get us.”

Of all of this quiet chaos, I miss my husband. More than our house, more than my friends. I miss our privacy, laughing, our quiet time, lovemaking. I miss opening my eyes to feel rested. I miss when he didn’t remember his dreams. I miss when I could make everything better. But still there is no time to be sad, only more errands and appointments. Piling on the fatigue which seems to be never ending.

The Turn around Trip

1 Apr

B was busy packing for his ski trip. I was washing clothes and working my schedule to have a solid two days of quality time before he left on Sunday. I was excited for him because he will most likely never get me to agree to a winter vacation. It was a win win. He got to have some guy time on a cold trip and I was left behind to have Happy Hours and a something in the vault that I could cash in later. Loving as I am, I am still a woman.

Friday came. I had a tentative plan. A movie matinee, wine tasting at East End, and the little new green restaurant that had just opened up by our house, Farmacy…something rather. Lots of going out of town sex. Then Sunday morning I would take him to the airport, have a brunch, come home to watch Desperate Housewives, drink some wine and cry a little because that’s what I do when we are apart.
As the week carried on I would make him feel a little guilty for having fun without me, even though I told myself I wouldn’t because he really did deserve the trip, and I was sincerely excited to see him so excited. My husband. My world. But I also needed the time to myself. I had been working so hard the house was a wreck and I hadn’t seen my friends in a while. Not to mention, not getting much sleep.

Things had been slowly settling down since the break in. From what we gathered, it was some kid. A grab and go. I had just bought those pillow cases. The fucker pulled one off to empty the change bucket, my jewelry, and B’s grandmother’s silver. It wasn’t what they took but what they left us with, worry. To be honest, I think B took it harder than me. That feeling of helplessness. Of feeling safe in our home only to realize a sheet of glass is not much of a shield. Our charmed lives interrupted by the ugly of the world, but I suppose anyone willing to take such a stupid risk needed those things more than we will ever.
We got the window replaced and some motion lights. Up and down, B checked them over and over, yelling at the dogs, “Charli!!! YOU’RE RUINING MY TEST!”
We had been looking forward to SXSW so tried to act normal the same week when it came around. As if we weren’t afraid to leave the house. But again, things were settling and the trip was only a day or so away.

Eager to get home I ran out the back door from work. While at the longest light ever, I scrolled through my Facebook feed, then feverishly dialed B. His dad was in the hospital, our sister-in-law had posted. He had just gotten off the phone with his brother. Even after, he didn’t know how bad it was, but B never asks the right questions.
I got home, sent him to a friend’s with our keys so I could gather my thoughts. A few laps around the house wondering what to take with no idea of how long we would be gone or if he needed his suit. No, that was too morbid too soon, right? I had to have it all ready before he came back. I had to have my shit together and be calm before he came back. That’s what I do. That is my job. To know what to do even when I am clueless.
The dogs and our bags were loaded quickly enough. Thank God I had put gas in the day before. They had called the chaplain, his sister-in-law said.

The day B would have gotten back from his trip, we were unloading what we could fit of our city lives into his mother’s house. She hadn’t asked about where her husband was yet. That was just yesterday; over a week later. Her routine disrupted because that was HIS job. To take care of her. To know what to do when the rest of us were clueless. We have invaded her space on a promise that was made. Although we both knew this day would come, I knew in my heart sooner than later, even still, I thought we would have more time. I thought it would be different. I thought B would have some time to grieve. I thought we would have time to grow up a little bit more. There is no time for that. There has been no time to cry. Only in spurts does a heavy sigh turn to a choke to hold back the tears, but there is much to be done.

Famous Last Words

9 Feb

“I think I’m going to sleep in tomorrow, honey.”
Ugh.

I finally checked my phone. 4:45 #nowireallywontgobacktosleep Why did I do that?! It would have done no good to try to drift back anyhow. I was too riled up by some stupid work dream. Not even present day but *shudder*, that last place. Lucky for you I have jotted down a few notes of things I would like to share with you.

#1
What married life does to us in a little blip I like to call, Things I never thought I would hear in my future house said back to back while lying in bed.

“That was the worst episode of Glee I have EVER seen.”

“I applied for Yelp Elite status today.”

End Scene

#2
Here are ideas for skits I would like to see made. Call me if you are interested in making my dreams come true.

Don Draper, wait for it…..Present day. BOOM!
Same suit and speak, smoking in public with no apologies. Hospitals. Offices. Pouring drinks in meetings, shushing women for talking out of turn, ending up in the HR office being classy. That HR broad never stood a chance,(he has sex with her).
Or maybe we go opposite. Don Draper later years, homeless then coming back and selling AA like nobody’s business. The world buys into it and people stop drinking, smoking and every one becomes vegan. Then he has sex.

Stoner Master Chef

Bring in three regular people. Get them seriously baked. Let them chill on the sofa for ten minutes, then unleash them to choose their ingredients to see who makes the most creative, delicious freaking meal anyone on this earth has ever had.#runonsentence Who will be the next Stoner Master Chef?

Those are two of many. I can’t share all my secrets.

#3
Next up is my review of Haywire

I would like to know whose nephew wrote this movie to have Stephen Soderbergh, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton and Michael Douglas all on board. It is the most over choreographed pile of stench I have seen since Margin Call(if glares and long knowing stare offs can be counted as choreography). They should give Oscars out to the guys who cut terrible movies’ trailers because over and over I am getting tricked into these POS films and have now forfeited my right to choose what we watch.#Bputshisfootdown
Well stated by B, “The best part of that movie was the first five minutes in when you asked me if I wanted to watch something else.” Worst of all, we were in the theater!!!
Well, we sat through it and if you just must, I recommend sneaking in some booze and taking a drink every time someone says, “Barcelona” then calling a cab to take your disappointed drunk ass home.

Midnight in Paris
If you like Woody Allen and Hemingway DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. It will ruin everything. I just don’t get it. I like Woody Allen and after re-watching the trailer to find out where things went wrong I am still amiss because it made me want to see it all over again. #damndamndamn
I even read A Moveable Feast prior just to get the feel for it. I sat on a reclined chair with my IPA in an indie theatre and still hated it. Maybe I am just not sophisticated enough to get it. Or maybe Woody Allen is capable of making a bad movie. #thatsrightisaidit

Okay, my power cord is far away and B’s alarm is about to sound. Time to make the doughnuts…

Rants to come…
How I was denied Yelp Elite status, more bad movies and restaurant fun

Oh and don’t forget to see the video of B wooing me in a fancy hotel.

A Festering Pile

27 Jan

Okay, I have seen this picture before. It is not my photo and I don’t know who took it. But I had seen this one, or a version of it, before one of my Facebook friends shared it with me this morning. And admittedly, the fact that fast food is not good for me,(duh),is something I should have realized on my own back when I was gobbling it up daily and a year later while vacuuming my car would find perfectly, in tact french fries. I hardly remember those days but if I had to guess finding the fries most likely led to me driving over to McDonalds. Perhaps that is the goal. To make ‘food’ that will not decompose as a reminder. A Pet Cemetery version of a past meal, reaching out. Beckoning. “Eat me….”rattling chains.
Anyway…THIS IS NOT FUCKING NORMAL.

Mmmmmmm.

B and I do not have kids, which I have mentioned before is CRAZY considering I’m in my early 30’s and Hispanic. Especially to Mexi’s I meet. It’s not, “do you have kids?” it’s “how many kids do you have”, and nobody asks if I am married because it is irrelevant. One of my El Paso friends once told a story of how some Chicano girls called their friends over to meet her once they found out she had never been pregnant. Well, that is what I get now. I am an anomaly. Other races find it normal, but other Latinos take a few steps back then make the sign of the cross. We will eventually make or get a kid and I have a list of lessons I cannot wait to teach. This one I came up with on the front porch, drunk, smoking a cigarette staring at our compost pile.

First we will watch this video:
The Symphony of Science
Then we will make a meal together or a fresh juice engaging in conversation about the video.
Then we will take the scraps of food, skins and stems, outside to the pile.
And then I will say:

“Baby B, do you remember when we had dinner last week and mommy went outside and put the leftovers in the dirt? Well, they went back to the earth and made more dirt. And we came from dirt and when we die, we will go back to the earth. So this is why it is important to put good things in our bodies, to be good to ourselves and to the earth, because we are all connected.”

And then Baby B will say:

“Mom, you so crazy!” (our future kid loves old episodes of Martin. I know, kids!)

Anyway, I don’t have the time this morning to really get into this post as much as I’d like to, but I want the self-hatred and pressure out of your mind when it comes to food and dieting. Don’t diet or work so hard to change your diet. Take baby steps. And when you are hungry, eat. But before you decide on what to put in your mouth, ask not, “Is this meal good for me?” ask, “By eating this meal, am I being good to myself?” And be honest. And I love you! You are special and yes, it is not often but sometimes I smoke. Deal with it.


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