Monday, December 5, 2016

Dreadful Holidays and Painful Goodbyes

For many people, the holiday season is the time of year where they can put differences aside and come together to celebrate family, friends, and cheerful spirits. Generally, this is how my family and my friends have treated this time of year and I go with enthusiasm into it, singing and baking as time allows and putting together caroling stops for dear friends and family.
The last two years have been difficult for these activities, and my heart has not been in it. In August of last year (2015) my maternal grandmother fell ill after a senior trip to Canada and was in and out of the hospital. She was misdiagnosed with pneumonia and a few other things before discovering her kidneys were failing and she would need dialysis every few days while still in the hospital. She was transferred just after my birthday in September to a hospital about an hour away from my hometown after treatments were unable to be provided at our local hospital.
During that time, I went down weekly as I was able to see her, and my mother was about to return to work because my grandma's condition seemed to be stable, but not improving or getting worse. Two days before my grandma's birthday in October, she passed away in a hospital bedroom after hallucinating and being unaware of her current surroundings. She had declined rapidly in a matter of days and the difference was shocking, heartbreaking, and all around something I am still coming to terms with.
In previous years, there have been other family tragedies around the holiday season as well. In 2012, my paternal grandmother had a stroke very early the morning of election day, and the family was called to gather and say final goodbyes, despite her desire not to be put on life support in the event of a traumatic event or injury. I watched a woman I had grown up and seen only months before, turn into someone I didn't recognize but for her features, and my heart broke then too. At six years old I lost my grandfather on my mother's side, but being so young, I didn't truly understand the meaning of loss, and only when it was explained he would no longer be coming home, or seeing his family, did I know he was gone forever.
Now a year after my grandmother's passing, there is another family crisis that I am struggling to deal with. I feel like I have less of a right to struggle with it, but I know that this person would tell me I have every right to feel the way I do and that it doesn't belittle anyone else's suffering. I still feel guilty because the only tie I have is my marriage to her son.
Nealy three weeks ago, my mother-in-law passed away very suddenly, without any warning, leaving behind three minor children (two by blood, and one step child who she loved as her own) and three adult children, one of which I am married to. She had just gotten her degree in clinical counseling and was on her way to working in a paid capacity. She was happy and finally somewhere in life she could be proud of and enjoy with her family. Life was looking up. To be caught so off guard, and to have seen her the day before, making dinner and complaining about trivial and more important things, but completely normal, fine, and in no way different, it is unsettling.
The autopsy required for burial revealed that the tissue around her heart was extremely fatty, and resulted in something similar to a heart attack. This was brought on due to rapid weight loss in relation to a bariatric surgery prompted by the discovery of precancerous cells in her esophagus the previous year. Throughout all of this, money had been the main discussion topic because there was nothing put away, and no reason to expect that a healthy woman of 46 would have something happen to her and she would be gone.
What's more, her father, someone who owns property near Santa Margarita Lake and was part of the homesteading families of the Santa Maria Valley, refused to put out any money on her behalf without the broken and still grief stricken family coming up with at least half of the funeral costs, postponing the burial for more than a week. This man has thousands, if not millions of dollars put away or tied up in savings, stocks, bonds, and who knows what else, and is unwilling to provide for his daughters family in this way but expects everyone to drop their pain, grief, confusion, and feelings, to allow for him to step into the limelight of suffering and chauvinistic, patriarchal, and selfish displays of indifference I have ever seen in my minimal life experience. I was outraged on her behalf, because growing up, my mother-in-law witnessed things of this nature and much more at his hand.
If it weren't for the younger children, I'm sure all of the older children would have opted him out of any decision making in the first place. As it is, he has a plot that she will be put to rest at, but getting to a point where it wasn't about him and his money was time-consuming and frustrating.By the end of this, as far as I am privy to, no one wishes to contact him any further once the burial is over, and no one wants to deal with him because he is incapable of seeing past his needs and wants.
With all that going on, it has been difficult for everyone to process and deal with this. All the older children came together and made a proper Thanksgiving meal like their mom would have wanted and celebrated together. My mom and brother came over and played games with everyone and it wasn't the worst holiday ever. I'm sure my MIL would have been happy with how the day turned out and seeing everyone together and enjoying themselves, but in the back of my mind is a nagging feeling. 
It makes me think of the worst episode of Buffy in the history of the show, the one that catches you off guard and tears you open, rending your soul to pieces. In the episode, Buffy's mother has passed away and she comes home to find her on the couch. I can only be glad that the children didn't have to go through that added trauma, it is enough to lose a parent when you are still going through mandatory schooling. 
One of the supporting characters goes on a rant that is the most heart wrenching and poignant in my opinion that describes exactly what it is to lose someone at all. This is an excerpt from the episode:

Anya: Are they gonna cut the body open?
Willow: Oh my God! Would you just... stop talking? Just... shut your mouth. Please.
Anya: What am I doing?
Willow: How can you act like that?
Anya: Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot? I mean, is that the helpful thing to do?
Xander: Guys...
Willow: The way you behave...
Anya: Nobody will tell me.
Willow: Because it's not okay for you to be asking these things.
Anya: But I don't understand.
[begins to cry]

Anya: I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's- There's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. And-and Xander's crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.

For my husband who reads my blogs whenever they are posted, I'm sorry to pull this up and I don't want to make you feel like your suffering is any less or the like. I cry almost every day, when no one is around and now that I have so many people I cry for, the spells last a little longer. It just seems that everything happens around the holidays with my family, and the last six years have been no exception. 
So for all my friends and family, if I am a little distant or unaware at times, or if my eyes sparkle with unshed memories and my tear streaked face happens to catch yours, don't try too hard to comfort me, just having you there is a comfort. make new memories with me and live to your fullest. If you are scared, do it. If you are excited, do it. If you don't know, learn about it, and do it. Don't ever have to wonder about anything if yo don't want to and make every second count. I want to enjoy life with you and those around me, I want to be able to say, yes, we did this. Life is too precious to not go after your dreams. No matter how long it will take you, or how difficult the path, if you want it, pursue it. Please.
In solemn and contrite closings, thank you all for reading and putting up with my roller coaster ride of emotions and grammatical incongruencies this time. I hope to bring something more pleasant to the table when next we meet.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Cross Country Flights and Other Sundries

Surprisingly it hasn't been that long since I have graced my blog with another post. Unfortunately, this tale has not much to do with happy endings and more to do with unfortunate happenings. Where I should begin escapes me, but I have to start somewhere, right?

First, a wonderful kick off to summer. My in-laws were given a 60-day notice on the house they are living in, the first of June. That is a doozy in itself, let alone trying to find a place to rent, in the summer with three children under 18. Nearly impossible. To help as best we could, we (my husband and I) are trying to find a place that will accommodate all of us to combine incomes and allow some ease of living for the time being, but to no avail. The only house we were all able to view was given to other renters, presumably because it was a single family with only one, possibly two incomes at most, and no pets. This has been the biggest hurdle, finding homes that allow pets at all. The clock is ticking down on this and the places available are extremely limited. Not to mention that our family vacation was planned for the last week of June, to go to Florida with my parents for their time share. Just to make things easier, yes?

No. Not easier in the least. The flight went well, we arrived safely and even got a good reception from my parents who arrived earlier that week and would stay past as after we left (they had two weeks of the time share to use). Upon arrival, we go to the grocery store to stock up on grocery supplies and other things we may need. By the time we get out and back to the resort, my phone isn't turning on to save its life. I switched batteries, and still, nothing. As Eric is searching the internet for any idea as to why this is happening, I am spending time planning our days out with my family for the trip. He finally concludes that I have burnt out my CPU and that is the likely cause of my phone being unable to restart and do anything that resembles smartphone things. 

The week was fun, we spent time at Dinsey World and Universal Orlando and got to spend time with my family. It was a nice break from reality for a little while. Coming home was something else entirely. We get there the designated two hours prior to flight to ensure we are through security and able to make our flight. We find out our gate has changed and our flight has been delayed by more than two hours. We go on with it and don't worry, that happens sometimes. Finally, we are getting close to boarding and we find out that the flight has been overbooked. They ask if anyone would like to volunteer their seats to be bumped to another flight the next day but nobody steps up. Last minute we decide to bump so that people who have business or other important things to get to can board and make it to California. We are getting a free room fo the night and transport to and from the hotel for our flight in the morning. We also receive $600 each in flight credits, which wasn't explained very well, because we thought it was going to be $600 cash each for the inconvenience. No worries, we can plan a trip, book seats in 90 days (which is when the flight vouchers need to be used by) and maybe visit my Aunt in Michigan. See snow for the winter instead of just feel the bitterly cold wind from time to time here. 

Well, the night was fine, we get to the airport eh next morning for our flight, did  I forget to mention the food vouchers they gave us too? Anyway, we have breakfast and are looking for where to purchase snacks for the flight home, a connecting flight from Orland to Clevland then Clevland to Los Angeles. Only one store that sells snacks that will accept vouchers in the terminal. A little annoying but, still workable. We board and make the two-hour flight to Cleveland no problem, even talk the whole way there with the lady sitting next to us. We choose to not get off the plane since it will be the same one taking us home. I've had some water to keep hydrated, and eaten some trail mix and a handful of M&M's after boarding almost three hours after breakfast. I have no Dramamine or any kind of motion sickness medication because I have never had a problem flying. I drink a little bit of soda so that I at least have some electrolytes (I know juice would have been better, but the caffeine was nice so I didn't have a headache) and I'm not depelteing anything by drinking only water. Stupid me.

Halfway through the flight to L.A., we hit some turbulence. Not a whole lot, but enough for me to be a little wary. We get through it alright and have even made friends with the person sitting next to us this flight, too. She teaches high school French and college Arabic. Her family is sitting across the aisle and joins in from time to time. I try to sleep so that I don't feel the turbulence and have less chance of getting a headache while on the plane. I don't even sleep that much, or that well. Soon enough we hit some more turbulence and I am feeling it. I look around as a precautionary measure and signal for the attendant at the front (we are in row 7) to let her know I need something and ask Eric to check his seat as well. No air sickness bags. I am wearing a dress with a V-neck and sandals. The lady next to me is looking for her bag as well so that I can use it if I need, and by this point, I am sure I will need it, but not sure when. We are all three frantically looking for bags, the flight attendant at the front is trying to signal someone at the back of the plane, and I am ready to blow. I throw up all over myself and the back of the seat, managing to project onto the person directly in front of me as well. In her hair, on her jacket. I am horrified, embarrassed, afraid to get up and clean myself because it is literally in my bra and all down the front of my dress. The back of the seat is covered along with the snacks I was eating and drinking. The flight attendants find seats for the lady next to me and in front of her because who would stay next to a vomit smelling seat while the girl cleans herself up.

Walking up the aisle to the bathroom is mortifying and I can't meet anyone's gaze because I am so embarrassed. Eric was allowed to go help me clean up in the bathroom, thank God. Crying in the bathroom I'm trying to clean up the vomit on Eric's shirt and jeans. He is trying to clean up everything on the front of my dress and scoop out what is in my bra and eventually I have to take the dress off to try and make it look decent. They give me a lavender perfume that does nothing to cover up the smell and is only a trial bottle so it is gone immediately. The poor attendants Are trying to clean up the area as best they can. The girl I threw up on is being a total ***** (use your imagination) and blaming me for the airlines inability to be prepared. 

When we finally land in L.A. we wait for the majority of people to gett off before we leave the plane and make our way to the terminal. The person at the desk says we need to go to the manager who should be at baggage claim. We walk down to baggage claim and no one is there, so we go up to the ticketing counter on a broken escalator to find out the manager just went down to baggage claim. Down again we go in search of this elusive manager, since no body else is allowed to try and remedy this situation, and my favorite passenger is making herself heard. We wait until she leaves and go in to claim our bag that arrived before our flight did, and see what they will do for us about me being unable to walk in public like a normal human being.

After sitting in the airport for nearly three hours talking with this manager and his manager on the phone and being told "she can clean up in the bathroom" we are feeling beaten. They brought up the voucher for the hotel in Orlando and our response of trying to be considerate and helpful customers goes unnoticed. Fine then. After all this trouble I finally dig through our luggage for something that is clean, meaning there is no vomit on it, and got to the bathroom, wait for the handicap stall so I can change without feeling more disgusting and grab paper towels so I don't use all the toilet paper to clean myself off as much as possible.

After that we are told that he has to close the baggage claim office and return to the ticketing desk, he hasnt been able to help us at all. We shuttle back to the hotel our car is parked at, take care of that and start driving down Sepulveda just to be going somewhere. We stop in a parking lot and Eric calls the number he received again, to find out we have been calling the wrong number and we have been on hold for the better part of three hours for no reason, and the people we need to talk with are out of their office and won't be back until tomorrow. After being on hold even longer, we are told that they still can't do anything for us but WE WILL RECIEVE A CALL then next day at a specified time so we can be helped then. We are tired, and angry, I'm feeling hungry and thirsty because I don't have anything left in my stomach and I haven't for the last seven or eight hours. We start driving home around six or seven thirty in the evening and don't make it back until eleven thirty that night.

I get up the next morning because I was too tired to shower and fight with it the night before and clean myself off. I use a whole bottle of travel shampoo and conditioner and I scrub everywhere I can reach because I just don't know where I will find remnants of vomit. I get out of the shower and ask Eric if he has gotten the call we were supposed to have and he checks his phone and see's that it is an hour after the time we scheduled with no call. He calls them, being proactive, and gets told that he will definitely get called back by X time. Whatever. We get ourselves together and take care of a few things before heading over to his mom's to visit and rehash the whole stupid thing. Finally, the call back we have been waiting for since four thirty-ish the previous day, and the manager lady says, "Well it just is not our responsibility to provide you with those bags. We are sorry for the inconvenience but we cannot do anything for you at this time." Not the exact words, but damn close and the with as little feeling as she said them with I'm sure. Eric says that if that is really all they are able to do is tell me my humilation is not a proiority, especially since they were lacking proper equipment to handle the sitauation in a timely manner, then he may need to look into what legal options he has. She isn't phased, so obviously she gets this threat a lot. I wonder why. And I have been home for a week and am only now getting to vent about this to the internet because I have been working like a dog.

Not only did I find out the day before because of the craziness this problem created, but I had to work from 5:30am until 8pm because my dumb ass coworker doesn't know how to put in requests, and can't read a schedule, but also wants to give one of the oldest ladies in the kitchen lip while she is telling him "You're on the damn schedule, come look for yourself!" because he swears on his grandmother's grave he doesn't work. The day before Fourth of July. Two days before his birthday. It's not my responsibility to ask for your days off you nut! Get yourself together and actually manage yourself, don't blame everyone else, especially when you are older than me and I have my life more together than you at this given moment. Okay seriously, if I write any more it's just going to be bad. Sorry, ranting done for now.

P.S. FRONTIER AIRLINES is the cheapest thing you can use, and if you don't mind throwing up on yourself and others or getting thrown up on, use them for your flying needs. Otherwise, look at the damn reviews and listen to the people complaining. They aren't just the disgruntled people who everything goes wrong for all the time or just want to make someone else's life hell, they are people who generally have a good outlook on life, and haven't had a problem until (flying) Frontier.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Over a year

That is how long it has been since I last posted a blog. I know there aren't many of you that read it and I know that even less of you who read it truly care about what I post or rant about. I do this as an outlet for myself and to practice my writing, gain a style or rather an understanding of the style that I am comfortable writing in. I want to pursue writing as an artform and in that endeavor I have created and dropped many projects, and the longest standing one, I feel needs a remodel. 
My newest project is a work of fanfiction that two readers I have enjoy very much. For that I am grateful but I also am unsure. I do not have much time to pursue my passions because over the last year I have been working almost full time. In the last few months I have moved up to full time and with that change I have also not had very much time to spend with my husband, Eric. This is something that has made both of us very unhappy and has been beyond frustrating to say the least. It's not for lack of trying or poor planning event wise or with scheduled days off, it is the result of my workplace being unable to predict when and how things can go wrong or how to handle them tactfully and in a way that everybody can agree on.
For the last year, I have done what was needed of me in order to ensure that I still had a job. Holding out until Eric is finally put into a managerial position that has been dangled in front of him for the last year and a half. I guess what I am ranting about this time is the complete and utter lack of mutual respect and the inability to keep to their word on both of our jobs parts. I just want all of this to come to a close sooner than later and I don't want Eric to keep pushing for something that will forever be out of his reach. I know I am asking a lot, especially for people who read and are powerless to do anything. I just wanted to get that out there and post something. Anything that can make me feel a little more normal and can keep me from going stir crazy in my own head. This post is fractured at best and has no flow, no continuity to keep it together. I don't really care, I just wanted to write something so that I was doing something other than holding all my creativity in. Also thank you for putting up with this rant and reading it through. Although its short and broken, at least it is something.