Getting Rid of the Roommate…

My roommate made himself much more present in my life last week.  The noise was getting to be unbearable and something needed to be done.  In the past, I’ve taken the high road and let him just have his way.  Last week I ended up in the hospital because of the confrontation that was forced on both of us.  This isn’t a tale of domestic violence or even about a person who has a hard time controlling their temper; we’re talking about a lesion that decided to sublet some of the space he was occupying to a tumor that wanted its own say in how things were run.

It took years before someone would sign the paperwork removing the kidney.  Years of medications, hopefully thinking and way too much discomfort.  Waiting until it was just not reasonable to leave it in anymore.  (I do miss having a normal bellybutton.  This flat line thing just doesn’t look real!)  Now I’m having to make this decision at a time when my mind is clouded by other things.  Academically I know the right thing to do, but that lovely emotional side also wants a say in what we are going to do.  Who gets to win?  In the horse race to control my future, depression is riding in a very distant third but gain some ground.

If this were work, I’d have made the decision in seconds.  Taken the lumps if I had chosen poorly, smiled in some embarrassed manner if I received a compliment on having done the best thing possible and it working out that way.  Years have been spent training my brain to understand those options quickly and just diving in.  Emotionally charged choices have become increasingly difficult over the past two years.

When I saw that my niece had written something here because she was scared and lonely, frightened that she wasn’t going to get the chance to say something ever again; it made me cry.  I gave her a hug and told her it was alright.  Teenage girls are a learning lesson for me, and she needed to let out her emotions about finding me slumped over.  Her decision was purely emotional, not an ounce of logic went into it.  Fear has always been a powerful motivator.

I don’t want fear to make me decide to do something rash.  Can I go on with increasing symptoms from my roommate and his roommate?  Sure, plenty of people do.  There are multiple options available to me.  Drugs (which are offensive in many ways, but the easiest option!)  I could go with a lovely Gamma Knife, but that did little the last time; thus still having the roommate we tried to evict earlier this year.  Lots of choices, but none really fun ones!

When I woke up Friday, after 36 hours of sleep, the world was once again a little scrambled.  Details that I would never want missing weren’t readily available.  Details about my daughter and having “forgotten” that, even for a few hours while my brain dealt with itself, that can send you into a deep depression.  Back to fear driving this car at times.  Fortunately people keep my phone and computer away so that I don’t go looking for information, or even at pictures.  Their choices are for my benefit, as hard as it is for them to make them.

It can be difficult admitting that fear and loss, depression and anger sometimes are the driving forces behind some choices I’ve had to make.  Love enters the equation when it finds its way out of the darkness.  I know that I can’t stop the world from spinning around, or the pull of the moon on the tide.  But I don’t believe that we’re in this alone, I believe we’re along for the ride?  (all credit to someone else for that stanza!)

Making hard choices, they used to be simple.  These days I need to think twice before finalizing something since I worry it’s emotional not logical.  My mother used to say I was Mr. Spock about decisions, I could just bury it long enough to get through and find a way of dealing with it later, on my own.  That thinking has hurt more than you can imagine.  Lary can take care of himself no longer applies.

At some point this subleased space will need to be dealt with.  There is a small fear about a squatter that won’t take everything when he leaves, some little bit still lingering waiting to come out from under the bed.  That the part I worry about, so many things have been taken away I love.  Fate seems to think I may need to be the next thing…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Decisions, Decisions.”

Guest Writer

My uncle can’t write to anyone today, he fell ill last night.  He was just sitting in a chair and when I came back he was on the floor.  My Gram tells me he’ll be okay but no one will let me see him.  I get to sit in the waiting room and have a nurse check on me.  Being young doesn’t mean I don’t understand!  They keep telling me something might happen.  Last night it did.  Why keep telling me to prepare for something and make me sit in the corner?

I know he writes in this most days, Dad tells me he wants to reach out and this is the only way he knows.  They think I’m watching Netflix, but this is important.  Telling people he doesn’t know what he can’t tell us.  Hoping someone see this.  Even I know she doesn’t care about him anymore!!  What he doesn’t get is that I read this so I know anyway.  Maybe he needs a better password on his laptop?  I see his hurt everyday.  I want to help.  My Uncle just wants us happy, even if he’s not.  I keep praying that he gets better.  I want him to not be sick.  He says praying for that is selfish, but I don’t care.  I thought that was what prayer was for, asking for help for someone who needs it

He means more to my family than he knows.  We love him and need him to get better!!!!  Please pray for him.  Please let him be okay.

I’m going to go now.

The year changed everything…

The day I turned 16 should have been about begging my parents to come home from work early so that I could go get my driver’s licence.  Every 16 year old dreams of that day of “independence” that comes from being able to get in a car with their friends, lower the windows, turn up the radio and just hit the road.  The months leading up to that day had been hard, way too many bits of life I shouldn’t have learned about had happened and it made that day just another day to me.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but when my parents handed me a ticket to Europe and a promise of 5 weeks touring around with some friends I was grateful.  I needed to get away from my house, other people, and even my family.  Barely a month had passed since I had buried the first girl I had ever truly loved.  And I was still spinning from how to deal with that.  I was watching my grandfather slowly turn more and more to drinking as a way to handle his grief in my grandmother’s passing 3 years previous.  I had a friend who was cruel enough to utter the following phrase “You could date anyone in the school just by asking.  No one would turn you down even if only for a weekend!”  Rack it up to him being dumb, but he was also one of the people who went to the funeral with me, so he got some leeway.

I wanted to grab those car keys and drive anywhere, just me and that radio blasting anything that would make me feel something.  Here I was 6 feet 4 inches tall, weighing around 180 pounds and dark curly hair.  That was the person you saw when I entered the room.  The guy who was inside couldn’t make eye contact because he was afraid of the eyes looking back at him.  As an adult I know how hard it is to talk to others about those things, as a teenager I just didn’t understand how to.

Baseball was an escape, singing in the chorus was fun but I still would sit there and look over to where Patre would have been sitting at the same time.  At a time when I was hoping to find myself and a course toward the future, I was wondering if the future was going to even be an option.  Having come through the first ever round of cancer the year before, and Patre being the person who got me back to where I wanted to be, having that vanish confused that future.

Europe was fun, I worked as a lifeguard for the rest of the summer upon my return.  The job offered to me literally the day after I landed back in the States.  Another friend who wanted to help me come back.  The next school year started with some of the same whispers about me, and I learned to just ignore it.  I buried it.  I made a new friend who helped remind me that my life needed to continue in different ways and she remained a friend for the next decade.  (I moved across the country to take a teaching job so it just sort of faded away.)

The thing about that year that continues to this day, I live with Patre’s family while seeking treatment for the cancer.  The odd circle of life bringing me back to a family that had made me part of them, a niece who I adore even if she isn’t blood.  If I believed in destiny, I guess somewhere along the line that person who helped save me years ago has allowed for a future where her family is now part of trying to save me as an adult.

So while that year was so very painful in ways that I just try to keep in balance, what I have now because of it has meaning.  I still would trade this help for having Patre around, but I live in reality.  All the prayers in the world won’t changed history.  And that 16 year old guy might have ended up with a speeding ticket for his birthday, just like a few other people he knew!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Only Sixteen.”

Five Minutes of Honesty

I needed last week more than anything anyone could ever understand.  Actually plenty of people could understand, for five days I kept my head held high and lived my life.  The cancer didn’t matter, the pain of other things didn’t enter the world I was creating, nothing hurt me because I made sure to steer clear of anything that could possibly be an issue.  Even my office found a way to help me with my fantasy of a trouble-free world.  When you know something is coming you want to have every possibility to have positive thoughts, good memories, and just be normal in every way.  That came to a screeching halt on Monday…

The word I would ban, hurt.  It’s something I have tried to avoid doing to the people around me.  If I were completely honest about how I feel, I hurt in ways I don’t like and don’t handle well in my lonely hours.  But something I have been steadfast in protecting someone from has hit a point where nothing I do will stop what will happen.  All of the phone calls, involving people who tried to sideline the issue, have amounted to me having to make a choice.  Either I lose or someone else loses.  For two years I have been taking the loses and absorbing them, I can’t anymore.

Those secrets I protected, they are coming home with a vengeance.  But at the same time I’m going to end up knowing information that might change everything about how I feel.  See, when those other people get their answers, they will be required to tell me.  Even if they don’t want to, they’ll have no choice.  A little hurt for them since nothing positive comes from these situations.  My father once said this – “Investigators for the government have no humor about their jobs!”  He said this to someone who didn’t take the hint, let us fix something before it gets out-of-hand.  Welcome to the Cliff!!

Here is where my problem resides.  The doctors have told me that work will become increasingly difficult, not the mental aspects but having to meet with people.  I would need to create a very fluid world where I might not show for something.  That’s not fair to lots of people.  If I left my job completely, there would be no need for anything that follows.  No people poking around, nothing sitting in a manila envelop waiting for my signature acknowledging the findings.  The secrets remain just that, secret.

I don’t know what to do.  Betray my future for the sake of someone else’s?  Hey that word “hurt” has come back into the conversation!  I’m willing to die knowing that I did everything possible to protect the ex.  Stupid thought, her family had no issue hanging me out to dry over something much less serious.  My family made the choice to protect her years ago, we still have protected her from things, but should we be doing that anymore?

Having my good name restored is important to me.  I’ve worked hard for 25 years to get where I am.  My friends, family, co-workers have also worked hard to help me get here.  I can’t betray that, lessen all their sacrifice, hurt their feelings over this topic.  My boss tried to handle all of this quietly, but when the other person doesn’t reply; his hands became tied.  He has a job to do as well.

The humor in this. I would have asked her about how to deal with this situation.  I relied on her compassion to help me make the right decision.  I can write down how I feel, but looking someone in the eyes and telling them, I still have problems with that.  My mother refers to me as “Mr. Spock”, I feel the emotions deeply but keep them buried.  Spock at least has some ceremony where he could let it out (nerd alert!).

Well, is it wrong to hope that my cancer becomes more aggressive?  I don’t want to deal with the other pain, that one I can take something for!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “No, Thank You.”

There’s No Joy in That

The news has been full of articles about pills people can take for a variety of things.  Little blue pills, little pink pills, medications that will allow you to live longer, fuller lives simply by spending money.  Why would anyone want to do that with food?  Does someone think I’m going out to dinner and be presented with a plate of pills?  Science fiction has allows talked about that, but then on the news last week the astronauts currently in orbit are growing lettuce.  So technology recognizes that you need more in life than a pill to comfort you at times.

My grandmother used to baby me for a simple reason.  When I was 7 I knocked her completely over while she was boiling water to make hot dogs for my brother and I.  My right shoulder was burned severely and she never got over the fact it happened.  It was my fault, not hers, I never should have been running in the kitchen.  But every time I visited her for the next 6 years until she passed, there was always some danish type thing for breakfast.  My grandmother knew I liked them, so there it would be every morning.  Along with a big glass of orange juice.  Her guilt never left, but it paid off in those danishes!  You can’t replace that with a pill.  Not the guilt, but the memory of my grandmother trying so hard to do something small for me.

There are a lot of things I remember about the first time a girl cooked for me.  The smell of the dining room when she put the pasta in front of me.  The garlic bread that had cooked just a little too long and was more of a crouton than a side dish.  Both of us so very nervous that things turn out right.  How romantic is the glow of a candle on a gel-encased pill?  It was about the effort she made, something that wouldn’t have been quite the same with a pill unwrapped from a bottle!

There are plenty of medications in my life right now, too many to count.  I fear the time that will come, today, tomorrow, sometime in the future where food is delivered via a tube in the arm.  To me that’s not living, that just staying alive.  Those are two very different things.  One sustains your body, the other is about your soul.  Sitting there watching my niece learn how to make cinnamon rolls from a very talented baker was an experience that we both enjoyed.  One that can’t be replaced by us popping a flavored pill.  All those times that I dug into some book to make something for the ex, just because she said she liked something, I wouldn’t replace those memories.  Or when my neighbors send me a text message asking what exactly was in the cookies I sent over, me laughing because they know certain secrets won’t be shared.  Even when their daughter was in the kitchen making them with me!

I value cooking, for myself or for a crowd.  Society wants us to sit around a table and share ourselves, I don’t want to share a jar of pills.  That just doesn’t sound like fun.  You want clinical, go visit a hospital.  A place where even they value trying to put a meal in front of you rather than shove a pill down your throat.

(yes, every time one of these cooking/food things comes up it really pulls out the emotions.  Like everyone else, I have too many good memories of cooking to undercut them with nonsense!)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Red Pill, Blue Pill.”

The Divide of Route 95

The irony of the years I lived in Boca Raton, Florida haven’t been lost on me.  Route 95 runs along the eastern part of the state for the top to the bottom.  Really you can drive it’s length the entire coast line of the united States, but in this case it truly makes a difference in the way people live.  The normal assumption is to go with the closer to the water, the more expensive the homes therefore the more money someone has.  But in this case the houses are made up of the families who do all of the heavy lifting for the “Other People”.  The entitled class that lives along the Intercoastal Waterway, where you have neighbors literally in your side and back yards, the theory of zero-lot lines really comes into play here.

I lived about 6 miles inland, technically in an area that was the “unincorporated” portion of Boca Raton.  All the joys of the mailing address, alligators living in some of the pools around me, but still not really part of the town.  Why this part, I liked being able to buy a house that had two floors.  Living in the north my entire life, the idea of a courtyard where my bedroom looked into the kitchen across the pool was not my style.  Yes, that also makes me part of the entitled class.  I looked at plenty of places before settling on this home, but I wanted my two floors.

Whenever someone I worked with said they lived on the eastern side of 95, you tried not to look to crazily at them.  And most times you hoped you weren’t going to invited over for dinner because the fear of what might happen to your car entered your mind.  It was never founded in reality, just prejudice and ignorance about what you heard through the grapevine.

One of the biggest fallacies about people and money is about their cars.  Southern Florida is a great example.  Coming from Massachusetts, where you drove Volvos, Saabs, and diesel Mercedes; the land of Rolls Royce and Ferrari was a head-turner.  Only later I learned that in almost every single case those cars were being leased and not a single person actually owned one of them.  Sure, there was really old money there and they did own the cars, but it was all a show for the neighbors.  That was my high school in an nutshell.  Mommy and Daddy bought you something really nice, you complained about it, and when the time came for you to stand on your won two feet- lots of them fell over.  Those companies they thought that they would inherit were sold so that people could move to Boca!  Irony abounds!

My parents gave me lots of things, I can’t say I wasn’t spoiled to some degree.  The summer camps, nice clothes, good vacations, and allowance when I went to college that was equal to some people’s paychecks [this caused some friction with the girl I was dating, she didn’t like that she worked her tail off and thought I didn’t do enough.  My parents were happy I got out of college early and saved them a ridiculous amount in tuition, so it’s was a rub for my family.]  How have I paid them back, well that Ph.D. sort of was my answer to it all.

Money is what destroyed my relationship last September.  It was great when someone’s mom could brag about all these things, but when the situation changed she made sure to become an issue.  It’s said when she sat in my living room and told my own mother she wouldn’t give up until she had her way, even if it meant poisoning her daughter.  But then some people also wanted to know how much money my father made at his job and where he invested it.

There are things I’m an absolute snob about, the types of tea I drink and the headphones that were purchased for me several years ago.  Beyond that, I’m good with anything anyone has to offer.  Why those two things?  Tea is just my comfort thing, I like what I like.  The headphones were because I have sensitive ears to certain sounds and wanted to get the best set for the price someone was willing to pay.

What did all of this teach me?  I’d crawl over my own body to help someone.  That part of me is something I hope to never give up.  Even with the ugliness that occurred between the ex’s mother and myself, I still worry about her overall health.  [there was a rough patch and I truly hope she found relief for it, or from it.]  If the phone rang asking, I’d find a way to help today, even from miles away.

It’s also why I’m so proud of my niece for giving up her saved money to help someone else.  Or my nephew for starting to learn that he has been given lots of things and passing them on to others is a good thing.  Teaching simple values in a world where they both are hit with messages about needing the latest something, it’s hard.  Thank goodness for Netflix where he isn’t exposed to commercials every three minutes.

End of my sermon, but now I wonder about someone’s health!  Need to go hit myself in the head to let that one go!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “West End Girls.”

Baking Class

I don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s plan’s because today is the day I am taking some time out to celebrate. Work has been put on hold, their messages will go directly to a waiting area. The family hasn’t asked why today is important to me, they seem to just want to help me plan something special to do with my day. We have so few opportunities to just act like children, play hookie, that we’re going to seize on it for as long as possible.

The big ticket item is a baking class that we arranged with a local purveyor of fattening, high calorie, only good for you in small quantities sugary goodies. I’ve spent several years trying to perfect her recipe for cinnamon rolls and today she has agreed, for a small fee, to teach me the trick I obviously feel I am missing in their construction. My niece is going with me, a birthday present from her and her father that I can finally take advantage of.

I’ve been saving my strength for today. Nothing is going to stop me from doing these fews things. Bar being arrested for something obnoxious, we’re going to party like we have no cares in the world, at least for 24 hours! We’ve planned around the medications and the doctor was more than willing to change an appointment so we could do these things.

It’s amazing that no one is asking why? They just want to help, or maybe they also need an emotional break from the harshness of the world and the realities it sometimes forces on us. If they want to join, I’m good with that!

Today is also a big day in the Greater Boston Area, the annual Jimmy Fund Radiothon. Yeah it’s a cancer thing, but they do important work and every dime they get helps people. So we are also taking the “T” down to Fenway and handing over a rather large jar of coins Suzie has collected. Her need for a new iPhone seems to have changed, we’ll see if someone else picks up the slack for her later? 🙂

Dinner is going to be simple. We’ve all agreed to toss our electronics in a drawer and eat dinner at an actual table, together. It’s important to me and to them I hope. No one has told me what the food selection is going to be, only that I need to make some bread to go along with it. Easier than they think, but what type shall be interesting given I don’t know the menu.

See for me this is about normalcy and family. I’ll talk to my mother at some point during all of this amusement, might even try to call my little brother and see how his new place is working out. Grand plans don’t matter to me, they never have. For me it has always been about something simple that lets me know that I matter in the scheme of things. Last year I felt like nothing I did mattered, and it radiated into everything I did, everything I felt. I can get back to the worried and sick guy tomorrow, he’s there anyway whether I acknowledge him or not is the ultimate question.

This week has been about trying to reach out to people and let them know they matter. People I know and people I only see across the hallway. If you knew me in real life, you would understand that it is completely the opposite of how most people see me. The tough guy is there underneath it all, but how about for a few days we let out the guy who just wants to be nice for a short period of time?!!!

n response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Nothin’ But A Good Time.”