Friday, December 31, 2010


To my lovely, amazing, wonderful readers:

I wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Thank you so much for the support, encouragement, laughs, and wisdom you've shared with me over the past year. I never would've imagined when I started this blog how many truly awesome and amazing people I would "meet." I didn't anticipate the many friendships I'd form with people I've never actually met in person. This has been an amazing experience, thanks to you, and I struggle to find the words to adequately express both the appreciation and amazement I feel over the fact that many of you consistently come here to read what I have to say and to share your thoughts with me.

One of my goals for next year is to post at least a few times a week in order to maintain my contact with you all and to further grow the friendships that have formed. Of course, I did get a Kindle for Christmas, and classes start up againg January 10, so there's going to be even more competition for my time; but, blogging is a big priority for me.

I will be working on a post over the weekend to tell you all about the wonderful Christmas MusicMan and I had. I'm also working on a post to share my thoughts on the memorial bonfire we had for my sister. Please come back soon to see those!! For now, I leave you with a recap of 2010:

 January started out bumpy with a trip to the emergency room. Things didn't improve, because a few weeks later, I had car troubles. The end of the month started to show improvement when I bought a new car.

Feburary found me feeling nostalgic, receiving my first blogging awards, and celebrating a couple birthdays.

In March, I tried my hand at being an economistexamined the differences between my younger classmates and I, and was a little overwhelmed with how busy life had gotten.

The overwhelming busyness continued in April. I pondered life and death and was excited to receive more blog awards.

In May I shared some information about my family and the constant frustration they cause. I started my Wayback Wednesday sereis to tell you all about how MusicMan and I met, and I also celebrated my 32nd birthday.

The Summer of Hell started in June. In one of the few blog posts I had time for, I talked about choices people make.

I was quite busy in July, due to the Summer of Hell, and ended up feeling really burnt out.

In August, I shared the story of how MusicMan proposed in anticipation of celebrating our two year wedding anniversary.

I introduced you to mud volleyball in September, and opened my heart to tell you about a day I didn't think I'd ever get through. I rounded out the month by sharing an embarrassing secret.

I suffered from writer's block in October and only posted a quick update and shared my thoughts on the power of words.

In November, I risked alienating some readers by writing about some of my strongly held beliefs.

The power of forgiveness was on my mind in December. We also had an unwelcome visitor to contend with.

It's been an incredibly busy year, lovely reader, but I've also made a lot of progress towards completing my degree. I look forward to chatting with you again in the New Year. Whatever you decide to do to welcome in 2011, I hope you have fun and stay safe!!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

R for Raaaaaaaagggggggeeeeeeee

I’m going to warn you right now, lovely reader, this post is anything but fun, humorous, or light-hearted. I am so filled with rage at the moment that I literally cannot focus on anything else. I decided the best thing to do, because I’m stuck at work right now and thus cannot bury my face in a pillow and let out a few hundred primal screams, was to blog it out. Viewer discrtion is advised. This post contains adult language not suitable for children or those with delicate sensibilities.

I have completely and totally run out of patience for my mother. Not just patience, but compassion, respect, and even love are out the window at the moment. I’ve had it!!! I’m so ready to just be done with her, and yet I can’t completely cut ties because I want access to my nephew. My mother is a vindictive bitch, and I truly believe she would withhold my nephew from me should I not keep up the illusion that we are a truly loving mother-daughter pair.

I’ll try to start from the beginning-ish (I don’t have the time to get into the history of me and my mother’s relationship right now, but I will at some point.)...

This is a terrible time of year for my family. If you’re a regular reader, you know why. If you’re new here and don’t know why, I’ll summarize it: my nineteen year old sister was murdered on December 19, 2007. You can read more about that here, if you’re so inclined. I wrote earlier this month about how I refused to let this time of year drag me down anymore. How, instead, I choose to celebrate my sister’s life and celebrate the holidays as she would, were she here with us.

My mother is making it nearly impossible for me to do that. It’s like, because she’s completely miserable this time of year because she chooses to wallow in grief and sadness, the rest of us should be as well. She called me yesterday and said, “I think we should all be together on Sunday (the anniversary of my sister’s death), so everyone is going to come over here.” Well, that’s great, but she doesn’t get to make those decisions for everyone anymore.

I’m a 32 year old married woman with my own family and agenda. I will decide where I need to be and what I need to do. I lost a sister—no, a daughter, because that’s what she basically was to me my whole life, especially after my mom and my stepdad divorced—too, and as such, I (and I alone) get to decide how I’ll spend the anniversary of her death. Besides, we will all be together on Saturday at the memorial bonfire meant to honor her.

Kristine has been gone for three years now. Time has healed the wounds for some of us; it's left behind jagged, ugly scars—sure—but the pain isn’t as raw anymore. While others, like my mother, choose to wallow instead of trying to heal. And that’s just fine, as long as they don’t try to force the rest of us into it. But it’s not her wallowing or insistence on focusing on the loss and death that gets to me so much. That I can get past. People grieve differently, and she has a right to her methods. What I cannot get over is her never-ending need for attention and the fact that she consistently tries to profit from my sister’s death.

That is where I draw the line. Right now, I’m nearly ready to vomit over how disgusted I am with her.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom and her husband are not in a good place financially. They probably never will be either. Why? Because they make stupid, bad decisions and don’t have their priorities in order. At all.

For example, mom’s husband up and quit his job last spring. Why? Good question, lovely reader! Because he has a bad back and the hard work of sitting on his ass driving a school bus every day was just too much for him. He was off of work for three months, and it was only when the threats of eviction started that he realized he probably needed to get out and get a job. My mom’s meager school bus driver salary couldn’t support a family of four all on its own. Of course that put them even more behind than they already were, so now they’re playing a constant game of catch-up.

The new job that mom’s husband got doesn’t pay nearly as well as his old job. And, due to my mom’s illness, is the only income they have at this point. There is no doubt that they’re struggling. They depend on the food shelf, barely get by paycheck to paycheck, and are behind on all of their bills.

Musicman and I have offered to take custody of my nephew since the day after my sister’s death. And I consistently remind mom and her husband of our willingness to do so. Not just to remove some of their financial burden, but also to allow my mom to just be a grandma again. And, of course, to make sure that my nephew’s needs are consistently met and that he grows up in a home that’s loving, nurturing, and supportive.

A memorial fund was setup, a few days after my sister died, to help the family with funeral costs. I don’t know where that money ended up, but it’s gone now and my sister’s funeral was never paid off. Nor will it ever be now that mom and her husband declared bankruptcy. A few months later, there was a benefit for the family, because new financial concerns came about after my grandmother passed away and mom’s husband’s son had medical issues. Of course, at that time, people were reminded that this family had tragically lost a daughter to a senseless act of violence. (Gotta tug at the heartstrings; it gets people to open their pockets and wallets a little wider.) Thus began mom and her husband's addiction to public support and attention.

Musicman and I have helped them out faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar more than we should have. This year alone, we’ve given them well over $1,000 in financial assistance; to save them from eviction, to put food on the table, and to help out with my nephew. Or so I’m lead to believe. Until I read Facebook and find out that they had their internet turned back on (not a necessity), they’re eating takeout, and my mom’s husband is out standing in line (with his bad back) for the midnight release of a $60 video games. But, whatever. Shame on me for giving them the money and expecting them to honestly use it for what they said they needed.

We’ve given them money to help my nephew more than anything, because our offer to take custody of him also came with the offer to help when needed, and they’ve caught onto that and have started to use him as a pawn to try to get more out of us. When we found out that, due to my mom’s recent illness and lack of paycheck, they weren’t going to be able to buy even a single gift for my nephew for Christmas, Musicman and I offered to buy gifts on their behalf. Despite the fact that we’re already out over $1,000, we refuse to let my almost five-year-old nephew go without Christmas.

We decided we’d purchase one “big ticket” item (around $50) from them and a few smaller gifts and some clothes from Santa. I figured my mother would see this as our Christmas gift to her and her husband (even thought adults in my family don’t exchange gifts) and that we’d give them the gifts at the bonfire this weekend so that they can have them all wrapped up and under the tree—ready for Li’l D on Christmas morning. Of course, we will also purchase additional gifts for him from Auntie Elle and Uncle Musicman too.

Yet what do I see on Facebook yesterday? A second fundraiser has been setup for them. One fundraiser was setup weeks ago, but apparently that one hasn’t garnered enough interest or attention, so a second one was started. Of course my mother insists that she and her husband had nothing to do with this and that their friends and neighbors want so badly to help them out. Yet she’s the one spamming everyone’s walls with the link to the fundraiser.

This recent fundraiser says that the family tragically lost their daughter three years ago to a senseless act of violence, and since that time have cared for her son. That’s pretty much the only part that’s true. The description goes on to say that the family faces financial hardship because mom’s husband was forced to temporarily quit working due to a back injury and that they’ve been struggling financially since their resources were used up in their quest to make sure that the murderer was convicted. Oh, and that because of this financial hardship, they will not be able to provide a Christmas for my nephew.

*Queue eyeballs popping out and head exploding here* What. The. FUCK?!?!? First of all, mom’s husband was never forced to quit working. As I stated above, he chose to quit his job. Because that’s what you do when life gets hard, right?! You just quit and later on depend on other people to finance your life. And it wasn’t because of an injury he had recently sustained—it’s an old injury that, to my knowledge, he’s never really sought treatment for, choosing instead to complain and whine about it. If there's one thing he and  my mom excel at, it's playing the martyr.

Secondly, NONE of their money was used to convict my sister’s murderer. The state prosecuted him. The only out-of-pocket expense any of us had was getting time off of work (some of us unpaid) and paying for transportation and/or parking to attend his trial, and numerous pre-trial hearings, which of course wasn’t required of us. But, we all attended every day; each for our own individual reasons, but also for one we all had in common: to see justice served.

The part that really gets me though is where the fundraiser's description says my nephew isn’t going to have a Christmas. REALLY?!?! Why are my husband and I busting our asses, while watching our bank accounts dwindle, to purchase gifts for my nephew on behalf of my mother, her husband, and Santa?!! It’s like a slap in the face! No…A kick in the gut.

The slap in the face came after our generous offer when my mother texted me to see if we could bring nephew out shopping to buy gifts for her and her husband, because Lil’D has really been talking a lot about buying Christmas gifts for nana and pop-pop. Apparently our gift to them wasn't enough. No; I’m not joking. Within 24 hours of us offering to basically finance Christmas for them (not including all the food I’ll be preparing and bringing…just talking gifts here), she texts to see if we’ll also buy gifts for her and her husband on nephew’s behalf. SERIOUSLY?!?! Who does that?!? Selfish much?!?

I haven’t received a Christmas present in I don’t know how many years. Musicman and I agreed long ago not to do gifts (we go all out for each other’s birthdays instead), and no one in my family can afford to do an adult gift exchange, so no Christmas gifts for me. It goes without saying that, since most of the adults can’t afford a gift exchange, we also do not get auntie and uncle gifts from our nephews and niece. And that’s okay. Christmas shouldn't be all about presents. I think the focus of the holiday should be on the kids, and I pay out quite a bit of money each year buying my nephews and niece what I hope are the perfect gifts.

Needless to say, I told my mom I wouldn’t have the time or the money to take my nephew shopping and sent an email to my sister asking her to step up (for a change). I wrote to my sis that, if she was having her kids make gifts for grandma for Christmas, it would be nice if she could include our nephew in that. She responded that she was going to take all of the kids (her two and Li'l D) to see Santa and to shop for gifts for mom and her husband from the kids. Great. Finally a break for me. My mom’s response to me saying no to her request? “No worries. You’ve done enough already.”

Really?!?! You fucking think so?!?! I’d say mooooooooooooore than enough. Waaaaaaaay more than enough! And, apparently, it’s still not good enough, because now there is a fundraiser that outright lies to people in order to get them to finance your life. The pathetic thing is people fall for their sob story. Their chronic bad luck is just unimaginable and so undeserved. How could such a caring, kind, hard-working family deserve to endure so much hardship?

The sad thing is, no matter what, it’s never going to be enough. Nothing is. Because my mom and her husband apparently think that the world should pity them for the rest of their lives, and as such, should pay to support them. It won’t be good enough until they are millionaires, because neither of them should actually have to work for a living.

And, as though I don’t have enough to be upset and angry about already, I get an email this morning from my mother indicating that she had forwarded details of the bonfire to the news media. One local station responded that they will pitch this as a story idea for their Saturday evening news program. WHY?!? Why would she do that?! Because my mother needs attention. She is addicted to drama and attention. I seriously think she went off the deep end long, long ago.

God forbid the memorial bonfire be a private event for friends and family to remember and honor my sister. Nope. That’s not good enough for mom. She needs attention on her.

I’m telling you right now, if the news media shows up on Saturday, I’m leaving. Enough of  my private, personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions were on display for the public three years ago; when I was in too much shock, and my emtions too raw, to know that I could've (and should've) said no to the interviews and the prying. I will not stand there and watch my mother’s disgusting attempts to garner sympathy and pity by telling the world about how not only does she continue to struggle with recovering from the tragic loss of her daughter and the burden she carries raising her grandson, but also her bad luck never seems to change. Now she’s terribly ill and once again faced with struggles that no one should have to deal with. Poor her. Poor, poor her.

I’ve had it. I’m pissed off. I’m beyond pissed off. I’m so livid right now that I’m almost turning myself inside out with rage. I don’t want my nephew being raised to think that this is how life works; that because his mom was murdered, he’s entitled to do what he pleases and not worry about the consequences because the world owes him everything. That’s bullshit! I also don’t want it constantly thrown in his face that his mom was murdered and that he should be perpetually sad about that. Of course, he is probably the biggest victim in this awful, terrible, horrible tragedy, but that should not define him. He doesn't need to live his life as a victim; not when he can live as an inspiration, a survivor!

I honestly don’t know how my mom lives with herself. How do you sleep at night knowing that you’re lying to conning people to try to profit from your daughter’s death?!? I wonder how much time she spends each day anticipating what the award she deserves for stepping up and taking care of her grandson will look like, and the monetary value that will be attached to it, of course. Because, apparently, she deserves big things.

When, really, she let her daughter die. She sent my sister to the murderer’s house that day. Alone. Because she insisted that her grandson should see his father. Despite the fact that she, unlike many of the rest of us, knew that the murderer had been violent towards my sister in the past, she sent her daughter to the lion’s den. Of course, she will admit that to no one.

Instead, she gets to look like the poor, grieving mother whose heart was ripped out the day her daughter—her baby—was murdered. And, while there’s no doubt that’s tragic—trust me, I get that; I live through the loss of my sister every single day—the true tragedy lies in the fact that she chooses to capitalize on her daughter’s death instead of celebrating her daughter’s life and focusing on the wonderful little piece of her that's been left behind and helping him to grow into a better man than his daddy ever was (instead of using him as a pawn).

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A for Absolute Madness!

Let the madness begin!!!

This past weekend, MusicMan and I both got the obligatory Christmas plan emails from our moms. Even though both of them should know the routine by now, because MusicMan and I have been married for a little over two years and celebrating holidays together for about four years, our mothers like to be coy. We spend Christmas Eve with MusicMan’s family and Christmas Day with mine.

My crazy mother, who you’ll remember is sick and thus supposed to be taking it easy, decided that we’d do brunch on Christmas Day at around noon. And, just in case people stick around long enough to get hungry again, she’ll have lasagna ready to go in the oven later on in the day. The email she sent to my sister and me indicated that we should invite our in-laws. (Well, my sister isn’t technically married, and it’s hard to keep track of whether or not she and the doofus who fathered her children are together or not at any given moment, but whatever.) The more the merrier, right?!

WRONG! My MIL (Mother-In-Law), though I love her to pieces, and my mom are way too much alike, which means they don’t necessarily get along very well. This is understandable, because it’s hard enough to give one drama queen enough attention (Is there ever enough attention for an attention-whore?!), so you can imagine how hard it is to muster up enough attention for two. MIL most likely won’t join us; nor will my father-in-law, but there’s always a chance (however slight that chance may be).

How my mom thinks we’re going to cram four extra people into her tiny house that barely accommodates the “normal” crowd is completely beyond me. Also, she’s supposed to be taking it easy, but she won’t be if my and my sister’s in-laws join us, because then she’ll have to play the hostess with the mostest to prove just how incredible she really is; especially in the face of adversity. (She is still incredibly sick. We find out Thursday if they're going to hospitalize her for a bit or not, because she's retaining so much fluid that she can now no longer bend her legs and her skin is starting to show signs of being stretched to the max. There is also fluid in her lungs—likely because it has nowhere else to go.)

I, being the loving and helpful daughter that I am, asked my mother to let me know what I could bring to Christmas. I was really hoping the answer wasn’t going to be fruit salad. That’s the standard item usually assigned to me for all holidays. I’m assuming that’s because my family knows I’m not much for cooking. I am capable of more than fruit salad, and MusicMan is quite a good cook, but still I get stuck with the fruit salad.
Photo Courtesy (My family prefers it sans nuts. Doesn't that just look like a culinary delight?!)

I hate the fruit salad!! I don’t even eat it—practically no one does (except mom’s husband and his son)—yet I have to prepare it every holiday. It’s not particularly hard to do, which is why I get the task:

Take a large can of that gross, syrupy fruit cocktail, drain it, pour it in a large bowl
Add three or four sliced Bananas and a can of Mandarin Orange slices (drained) to bowl (I usually forget this part.)
Add one bag of those pastel colored fruity mini marshmallows to bowl
Add large container of Cool Whip to bowl
(Don’t use real whipping cream, because that will totally mess it up. The “salad” needs to taste as overly sweet as is humanly possible without it being actual candy. The irony of the healthy image projected by the name—fruit salad—is the secret ingredient to this not at all healthy “fruit salad.” So, it’s very important to use Cool Whip.)

That’s it. See? Not very hard at all. The hardest part about it is making sure most all of the syrup from the fruit cocktail is drained so that, once it’s mixed with the cool whip, it’s nice and smooth instead of a congealed mess. Oh, and remembering the bananas and oranges; I seem to always forget those for some reason, and the lack of bananas totally ruins my mom’s husband’s life. I think I’ve totally ruined his life like three times now. Also, trying not to slit my finger open on the jagged, sharp metal edge of the fruit cocktail can seems to be an ever-present challenge.

(Don’t want a repeat of the Thanksgiving of 2007 when half the fruit salad—i.e. all of the bananas and some of the marshmallows—ended up in the trash because they were covered in my blood. Maybe preparing fruit salad is harder than I thought.)

I learned too late to be careful what I wish for. My mom responded to my offer saying that she’d love for me to bring my French Toast Bake,* a “bunch” of cooked sausage and bacon that we can heat up in the oven, and maybe some fruit salad. (SERIOUSLY?!)

(*Which I introduced at Easter last year, just to show that I’m capable of more than fruit salad, and it would’ve been great with other brunch foods, but someone forgot to tell me that the menu had been switched from brunch to lunch, and French toast doesn’t go so well with ham, cheesy potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, various vegetables and other savory items, and then I vowed never to bring anything to a family holiday meal ever again. Ever! But, you can see how well that worked out. Sometimes, but very rarely, I might have just a tinge of my mom’s drama queen genes.)

I will, of course, obediently bring the foods I was assigned. Except the fruit salad! I am taking a stand. This will be a fruit salad-less Christmas, because I am going to conveniently forget to make it and bring it. Thus single-handedly destroying the holiday for my mom’s husband, I’m sure, but hopefully he’ll find a way to pull through and survive; he’s a fighter. (No, he's not.) Too bad. Important causes, like this one, sometimes have casualties.

Now, I’m just wondering how I’m going to get everything done. You see, my mom seems to have forgotten that I’ve already offered to make and bring five types of cookies, a few dozen cake balls, and some fudge. And, while she is off of work and can make one of each of her five types of cookies per day on the week leading up to Christmas and get done in plenty of time, I don’t have that luxury. I can’t even start baking until next weekend.

This coming weekend I have to study for my Algebra final. Next weekend is, of course, the memorial bonfire for my sister. The Friday night before, I have to prepare the food I plan to bring to the bonfire. This means I’m stuck baking five types of cookies (and hopefully cake balls and fudge), at least four dozen of each kind so there are plenty to go around, on the Saturday night after the bonfire and that Sunday. I work the following week, and that next weekend is Christmas already, so truly next weekend is the only time I’ll have!!

My mother also seems to have neglected the fact that I work on Christmas Eve day, because my company is apparently run by Ebenezer Scrooge and is too cheap to give us the day off. Granted we only have to work a half day, but still; it's inconvenient and kinda sucks. A lot. So, instead of unwinding for a bit between getting home from work and going to my in-laws’, I’ll have to prepare the French Toast Bake that needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the bread can soak up all of the custardy goodness. (And I can hopefully prove to my family, once and for all, that I'm capable of culinary delights beyond fruit salad.)

Photo via

I’m tired just thinking of doing all of this, but I have to find the energy to actually do all of it now! And, I feel like I’m coming down with something, but I’m not even going to think about being sick because I just don’t have the time for it. Mind over matter!

If you don’t hear for me for a while, lovely reader, it’s likely because I’ve been overcome by cookie dough. You’ll probably find me, rocking back and forth in the fetal position, under a mound of Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal cookie dough. Don’t approach too quickly; you don’t want to startle me and end up getting pelted with cake balls!!! :-)

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Friday, December 3, 2010

W for War is Brutal

MusicMan had a gig Saturday night, so it was just the puppies and I hangin’ out at home. It started out as a peaceful, quiet night. I practiced some Algebra problems, realized I was really tired and not in the mood to do anything but laze around, and decided to watch a movie instead. We’ve splurged on Showtime in order to be able to get our Dexter fix, so I decided to see what movies they were playing. “The Road” sounded interesting, so I settled down to watch.

Have you seen or heard about this movie? It’s based on the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name. Just in case you haven’t, I won’t spoil it for you, but here's a brief summary:

The movie takes place within the few years following an unknown apocalyptic event, the details of which are never revealed. The world is constantly dark, covered with what seems to be ash, and plant and animal life have been wiped out. Few seem to have survived, except for the main characters—a man and a boy whose names we don’t know—and the few others they run into along their journey south. The man and boy battle to stay alive as they journey towards, what they hope, is a better and brighter future.

Perhaps I’m not as “cultured” as I’d like to think, but I really disliked this movie. I wanted to stop watching it several times, because it was really just depressing, but I just had to see if there was a happy ending. It didn’t help that, because the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world, everything was always dark and gray—that really set the mood. But all of the struggles the man and boy face along the way just got to be too much. I found myself wondering when they’d catch a break! So, yeah, this movie just wasn’t for me. That shouldn’t prevent you from watching it, of course, if it sounds interesting to you.

When the movie was over, I went out to our attached garage to have a final cigarette before bed. (I know, I know, it’s a dirty, horrible, disgusting habit. I’m trying to get myself into the right mindset to quit once and for all.) As I was standing there, contemplating what I would do were I stuck in a post-apocalyptic world and forced to face some of the situations and decisions the man and the boy did, I noticed movement in the periphery. Turning my head more to the left, to get a good look, I noticed a little gray mouse peeking over the safety sensor for our automatic garage door.

W.T.F?! From about 10 feet away, I slowly and carefully walked over to the other side of the garage to see if there was a hole that Mr. Mouse had come through. I saw nothing, so I figured he must’ve scampered in when the garage door was open and now couldn’t figure out how to leave, or he’d gotten in under the gap between the garage door and the concrete. I opened the door to the house and called Dexter, our Pug, out to the garage in the hopes that he would scare Mr. Mouse away. It seemed to work, because when I looked again, Mr. Mouse was nowhere in sight.

Realizing that, if Dexter was to actually see Mr. Mouse, he might try to get Mr. Mouse, resulting in a much bigger problem for me, I let Dexter back into the house. A few minutes later, Mr. Mouse reappeared. I was starting to freak out. I didn’t know what do to.

After looking around the walls shared by both the garage and the house, and determining there was no way for Mr. Mouse to find his way into the house, because, ya know, I’m a damn expert on finding teeny, tiny little holes and mouse entryways, I decided MusicMan and I would just have to deal with the issue the followng morning. I consoled myself with the fact that Mr. Mouse probably wouldn’t try to enter the house, because the telltale scent of dog would ensure understanding that it was an inhospitable territory for a mouse, and instead would intelligently decide to find his way out of the garage. I shut off the garage lights, went in the house, and texted MusicMan to beware ‘cause there was a big, bad mouse in our garage. My main concern wasn’t so much the mouse getting into the house, but instead, the mouse crawling up into MusicMan’s nice warm car and wreaking havoc by chewing on wires or something.

After a brief lecture to Lulu and Dexter about how we were at war with Mr. Mouse and they must warn mommy if the enemy tried to infringe on our territory, I went to bed. Even though I was pretty sure neither dog understood me too well since they both just stared at me, occasionally tilting their heads as though they were trying to understand, or at the very least, pay attention, I felt comfortable enough (read: was too exhausted to care about the mouse's possible actions and motives) to go to sleep.

The next morning, I showed MusicMan where I’d seen Mr. Mouse, and MusicMan went out to purchase a couple mouse traps. We’d decided he would buy a couple live traps, if they weren’t too expensive, because we didn’t want to kill Mr. Mouse simply because he’d had the misfortune of stumbling into our garage and not being able to find a way out. The big box hardware store MusicMan went to didn’t have live traps, so he settled on these:
Photo via

The guy at the store told him that these traps likely wouldn’t kill the mouse unless it was trapped for so long that it starved to death. Even though the box had that kill guarantee on it, MusicMan reasoned that we’d check the traps often enough to avoid killing a mouse by starvation, so he purchased the two-pack and setup the traps as soon as he got home. He put one close to the sensor I’d seen Mr. Mouse standing on and the other on the opposite end of the garage, by our garbage can.

Two hours later, as he was leaving to run an errand, he saw that the trap by the garage door sensor had been sprung. Upon inspection, he found that the trap did, indeed, contain a mouse. Sadly, the mouse was dead.

MusicMan came into the house to tell me that we’d caught Mr. Mouse, he wasn’t as little as I’d thought he was, and the guy at the hardware store lied because Mr. Mouse was most definitely dead.

Well, what can I say? War is brutal. It isn’t easy, and it’s never pretty.

I realized, were this a post-apocalyptic world, we’d probably have saved Mr. Mouse's carcass instead of throwing him, trap and all, into the garbage (which would, thankfully, be taken away in a coule days). In a post-apocalyptic world, we’d have to rely on eating mice and bugs for sustenance, assuming they somehow survived the apocalypse too. That’s not a life I want to live. Having to fight, every single day, simply to survive is a scary proposition. I think that’s why I disliked “The Road” so much. It forced me to think about unpleasant, scary things that I didn’t want to think about.

Thankfully, for now at least, the war seems to be over. The other trap remains in position, unsprung, which is a very good sign that our enemies have gotten the mesage that this is our territory. But, a good warrior knows never to let her guard down; the enemy could strike again when it's least expected. And we remain at the ready.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

P for Passages of Time

It is amazing how quickly time manages to fly by; isn’t it, lovely reader? Life has been hectic lately. Like don’t remember what day of the week, let alone what month, it is kind of hectic. Psychology class is over, and Algebra wraps up in a couple weeks, which means I’ll soon be on a lovely three week winter break! Wooohooo! I’m looking forward to having some downtime, catching up on my blog reading (I have a lot of catching up to do), and enjoying some time with friends and family. In addition to the busyness of school, work, and life in general, there has been some pretty major family drama too. I just don’t have the energy to get into it right now, so I’ll summarize as best I can…

My mother, who had weight loss surgery over three years ago, is incredibly ill. Like the possibility of dying exists kind of sick. While she insists that this illness has nothing to do with her surgery, it’s hard to deny that it makes recovery more difficult. It’s also hard to ignore that she’s been ill, in one way or another and to one degree or another, since she’s had the surgery. But, whatever.

She’s severely malnourished; her body does not retain any nutrients, or calories, or apparently anything from the food she eats. She’s gained 30 pounds of water weight alone. Apparently there's a possibility that she might have thyroid cancer, but the tests haven’t come back yet. She just started 24/7 IV nutrition therapy in the hopes that they can get her nutrition levels up enough to figure out what exactly is wrong with her, and then hopefully fix whatever it is. To top it off, she and her husband continue to barely scrape by financially. I have loaned given them more money than I care to think about or admit. And there’s no sign that any of that will get better anytime soon. It could, in fact, get worse, because there is a very real possibility that my mom will lose her medical insurance as a result of having to take 3-6 weeks of leave from work in order to try to get better.

It has become a very real possibility that MusicMan and I will need to take custody of my nephew, Li’l D, a lot earlier than we thought we would. We’re as ready as we can be for this, and of course, we want what’s best for Li’l D. Unfortunately, my mother remains stubbornly resistant to the idea. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to tell her that, if I’m going to financially support Li’l D any longer (because that’s really the only reason I have given her so much money), then he’s going to live with me. That’s not going to sit well at all. She might sever ties with me, and as a result sever our access to Li’l D. In which case, I will be forced to drag the whole thing into court, because I want what’s best for my nephew. But for now, we wait. And hope…

That things will get better. That my mom will heal and survive. That Li’l D living in such a stressful environment won’t affect him detrimentally for the rest of his life. That mom will come to her senses and do what’s best for Li’l D. That MusicMan and I will be able to handle suddenly becoming “parents” to an almost five-year-old basically overnight. That life will just quit being difficult for a while.

Speaking of difficult, I mentioned at this time last year that I hate this time of year. I gave a few reasons; the biggest of which, is that the anniversary of my youngest sister’s death is in December. It’s amazing the difference a year makes, lovely reader…

December 19 will mark three years that my sister has been gone. I’ve been so focused on finishing up the semester at school, getting ready for the holidays, and excitedly anticipating the bonfire we’ll have (on December 18) to celebrate her life that I momentarily forgot the significance of the date. My cousinfriend made a comment in a conversation we had recently about the date, December 19, being a hard day for my other sister and my twin brother (this is what my mother told my cousin, anyway). I seriously had to think for a few moments about why that would be. Imagine my shock and horror when I realized that the significance of the date is that it is the day, almost three years ago, that my sister was robbed of her life. Time flies.

This, of course, caused me to think about how far I’ve come in that time. I don’t cry nearly as much as I used to. I no longer fear the question, “How many siblings do you have?” and can talk about Kristine’s death without feeling anxious or having a panic attack set it. These are really good changes. Yes, I’ve come a long way since December 19, 2007.

When I first noticed that I hadn’t “lost it” in a good long while, I felt so guilty. How could I not be crying over my dead sister? What was wrong with me?! Then I realized that there was nothing to feel guilty over. Not crying regularly doesn’t in any way diminish the feelings I have for my sister or the profound sense of loss that will always exist as a result of her absence from my life. I love her beyond words. I am thankful that I got to spend the time with her that I did. And, I will never, ever, ever forget her.
I can't cry forever, and crying really truly doesn’t make me feel better about anything. Nor will it change anything. Don’t get me wrong, when those moments of extreme, gut-wrenching anguish hit, I give in to them. I cry my heart out until I just can’t cry anymore. But those moments don’t happen nearly as often anymore, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. The fact that I don’t cry as often anymore means that I’m not in pain as often, and that’s a good thing. It means I am moving forward.

I still think of Kristine every single day—at least once a day, but usually quite a bit more. I miss her more than words can even describe. Of course, I want her here. I want to hear her laugh, I want one of her amazing hugs, and I want to be enveloped in the light—the spirit—that was her. I want my nephew to have his mommy; to know what an amazing mother she was instead of having to hear about it as he grows older. These feelings never go away. My heart physically aches at times over all that she’s missed out on, and will miss out on, and over just how much I miss her and long for her to be here. But, I’ve realized that just isn’t possible. She’s not coming back. Ever. That is a cold, hard, unchanging fact of life.

The grief and healing process is a weird, horrible, confusing, multi-faceted, terrible, amazing thing. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but at the same time, I know I will be healing for the rest of my life. A big part of that healing lies in forgiveness. I swore I would never, ever forgive Kristine’s murderer, Zachery, for as long as I lived. Like most people, I confused forgiveness with forgetting. Just as I will never forget my sister, I will never forget what Zachery did. I will always, always remember that he hit her so hard that he knocked her out, made a ligature out of a shoelace, and used all of the force he could muster to squeeze the life out of her for no less than two minutes.

But, I’ve forgiven Zachery. I really mean that. Those words—I forgive—come from deep down, the bottom of my heart.

I. Forgive. Him.

Of course, that forgiveness is more for me than it is for him. It means nothing to him; it would mean nothing to him even if he knew. It doesn’t mean that I’m in any way okay with what he did. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss Kristine. It doesn’t mean that I love her any less. It certainly doesn’t diminish the tragedy of what happened. No.

What it does mean is: I’m done with him. Forever. He’s not worth the time or effort I was spending on hating him, being angry over him, or wondering why he did what he did. There’s just no room for that in my head or heart anymore. I’m taking back the power he, or at least what he did, had over me. He did what he did, and he’s being punished appropriately for it. Just as we have to deal with our loss for the rest of our lives, he has to deal with what he did for the rest of his, and that’s good enough for me. I’m done.

I think I needed to forgive him in order to move on with my life, and I really truly have. I feel lighter...cleaner...just plain better. My realization the other day—that I had sort of “forgotten” the significance of the date—makes me realize that I have chosen to honor my sister’s memory not by focusing on her death, but by celebrating her life.

I’m choosing the good memories over the bad. This was her most favorite time of year—the festive feel of the whole season and the buildup to one of her most favorite holidays. Since she can’t be here to enjoy it, I owe it to her to at least appreciate that I can be. This year I’ll do one better. I will joyously anticipate and celebrate Christmas like she would have. In her honor. Because I can’t think of a better way to honor her. Besides, she wouldn’t want me crying all the time. That was so not her style.
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