All down hill from here

As is custom, when I sit on the edge of a new year I take a look back at the previous one. And it must be said that 2019 was quite the train wreck. All the politics and world issues aside, my personal life was a rollercoaster.

Going chronologically, it started off great. In February of last year I passed my real estate appraisal licensing exam (on the third try) and officially became an appraiser. Then in May I was awarded my AA degree, summa cume laude (then proceeded to transfer to a more distinguished college campus). And in the space between these two landmark achievements, I felt empowered and returned to editing my novel (because nothing could stop the success train!)

I got halfway through my revisions before life turned on a goddamn dime.

The first punch to the gut was my mother getting, officially, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. (Prior to that a nurse practitioner diagnosed her weird mental failings as being under too much stress.) Her loss of memories be damned, it was her erratic and bizarre behavior that finally showed my father and I the ugly truth we had been denying.

Following that my grandmother was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She was given a month to live and that she did. She passed away in the early morning hours after everyone had left her to rest.

Immediately after that death, my father fell and hit his head while taking his morning piss. (His third time falling that week.) He arrived at the hospital unresponsive and stayed that way until I gave the order to let him rest. He was gone in less than a minute, surrounded by his family.

Since then it has been failure after failure as I struggle to balance my job, my academic life, my romantic relationships, and being the sole caretaker for my mother. I try to keep up but I’m always letting someone down or forgetting to do something.

This had been the way of things until very recently…

After my husband had his weight loss surgery he began to have issues with his balance and walking. It got to be so worrisome that he was sent to a neurologist who ordered MRIs of both his brain and spine, and who gave an early diagnosis of “pressure on the spine.” He has since had them and now we wait for that news to hit us across the face.

To say that 2019 fucked me up would be an understatement. It bludgeoned me and left me on the side of the road to die.

But all is not lost…

This notion that at the stroke of midnight we are all given new lives and new opportunities is ridiculous. In reality we have that at all times. Even when things are shitty. Every moment is new and undiscovered. We get to forge new paths everyday. But just like any route the terrain is vastly different from the one that came before it. How you navigate through it depends solely on your willingness to keep going.

I am glad this year is done. But the shit storm that has become my life will only get progressively worse. It’s just the path I tread. However, I will take every moment I can to find happiness. I will surround myself with love and companionship to remind myself that in the end all that matters is what we did with the time we were given.

Dripping With Narcissism

I am about to write the most “first world problems” post of my life, and I want you all to hunker down and prepare yourself to get dizzy from all the eye-rolling you’re about to do.  Maybe take some Dramamine.

Okay?

Ready?

Sometimes it really sucks to be a nice, “attractive” guy. I use quotes because I think I am mildly pleasant looking, and I in no way think I’m that good-looking. I’m just going off of the instances when people tell me I’m “hot” and then immediately inform me that they want to “bed” me. (That last one is not a direct quote but more of a stand-in for the proper word.)

I say this because in the past few months I have met new people who have (almost immediately after our outing together) contacted me, privately, to inform me of their feelings. And this is after meeting and engaging with me with either my husband or my boyfriend. Evidently I exude this sense of “hey say whatever the fuck you want to me” that I don’t intend to do.

Of the instances that I have been accosted by gentlemen, I have only told the boyfriend. He won’t react the same way as the husband who will spin it into something else, primarily because he has been through this shit time and time again. (He also internalizes it and makes it about him and how “no one wants” him, etc.)

After these moments it becomes crystal clear to me why traditionally attractive people become assholes. The barrage of people who must hit them up is a lot (if even I just get a few) must get exhausting. I try to be polite to their advances but inevitably I am an asshole for being up-front. (They appear to take it that I find them unattractive or undesirable because of their looks or age. Nah, girl. It’s just that I am twice taken.) I never asked them to hit on me. Nor did I make it seem that I was flirting with them, at least I, in no way, intended to. I am not exaggerating when I say these people, who have tried to hit on me, got to know me with my significant other. Maybe it’s just the “polyamorous” aspect in which these people get the impression that I’m up for a fucking third… I don’t know. I just wish it would kind of end. I’m not looking for another and, in the end, how shitty would I be if I ended up cheating on TWO GUYS. And would you really want to be someone who was willing to cheat on two guys? Sometimes men don’t think about the long-term. (I understand, I am just as guilty here…)

The lesson I am learning is to be cold and aloof, and that goes against my usual way of being. (Don’t get me wrong, I can be an asshole it’s just not as frequent.) I’m always ready to make friends, (bizarrely I love people and find them interesting) but from my experience it makes situations complicated because the single (and from the most recent, married) guys will think I’m flirting or coming onto them. Sorry, dudes. I am twice taken. We’re all stocked up on significant lovers here in Josh land. So peddle that penis somewhere else.

What’s the point if no one sees it?

I hate that I had to make my blog private. I did so because of the office politics that are current putting my husband under undue stress. However I wish I hadn’t, but I understand why it needs to be done for the time being. And it isn’t forever. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

In “going dark” it has revealed to me that I do enjoy the telling of my own tale. I like laying bare my secrets in a digital space and not caring who knows, as long as someone “listens.” My blog is kind of like that woman in the supermarket who starts telling the cashier clerk all about the drama between her sister and her mother because the checker happened to scan the apple she purchased.

This (and other things) has weighed heavily on my mind lately and my first instinct is to run to the blog and lay everything on the table. Yet, knowing it will just be solely for me has made it where I don’t care. Well, not that I don’t care, more than I don’t see the point if I’m the only one who would ever see it. I’m not writing for myself. I like to write so that other people can read what I wrote. Plus… I’m sick of my own fucking thoughts, let someone else take them for awhile.

The block will exist here and on twitter until my husband is either hired or fired from his current position. And in the mean time I just need to remind myself that I am doing this for his own safety and peace of mind.

Is it still a birthday if they’re dead?

I’ve tried to write this particular post multiple times already, and for the life of me I can’t get it right. I want to it to be pensive and inspiring but it won’t be that. It’ll be another post from a person who’s lost a loved one.

The previous attempts had all the stereotypical tropes. I claimed that it didn’t feel real. (Which it doesn’t.) And that he would be back any day. (Which he won’t.) but right as I got to talking about my doubled responsibilities my brain shuts off and I am incapable of forming thoughts. Ill take the hint, brain. It’s too much.

Regardless, today is/was my pops birthday. He would have been 67, which to me is entirely too young. Some of the most influential women in my life lived to be 80 and 95. So 66 is far too young to pass. Especially since he wasn’t ready to die.

My father fell and hit his head. In a matter of hours he was gone and left behind a body that could only stay alive by assistance. Once that help was removed (by my request) he was gone in less than a minute.

He wasn’t old enough to die.

The thing I battle with the most is do I miss my father or do I miss that my father cared for my failing mother? The second feels so cheap and selfish and if that is the case I hate that person. But it is very possible. Since his passing the burden of caring for my mother has fallen to me. And only me. And I don’t want it.

Today though… it is very real that I miss my dad. I miss his trademark laugh and sigh I could get him to do. (I loved making him laugh.) I miss that I won’t be getting him a birthday card. I miss that he won’t get to go to Red Lobster for the all you can eat shrimp and only getting one additional order, which he would take to go. (This is genuinely making me laugh by the way.)

I wrote on twitter the weird pattern of my patriarchal line of poetry… I am the age that my father was when I was born. And I am also the age he was when he lost his father. The same amount of time existed in our hello and goodbye. (I suppose it always does though.)

Midnight Mumblings

Life right now seems impossibly hopeless. At one point in time I was not concerned with current affairs or about politics in the slightest and now I cannot stop myself from devouring everything I come across. And all it does is make me feel more hopeless than the thing before. I want to believe that sanity will be restored and we will return to the rule of law but I don’t think it ever will. This crazy train is heading straight for hell and it won’t end until we’ve all been annihilated.

I hate to sound so bleak but it’s all I can think about. Everyday more shit happens, worse than the day before, and nothing is done. It’s like everyone that has any power just throws up their hands and go “what am I supposed to do?” Almost like a parent whose child is throwing an epic tantrum in the super market.

This year has truly been the biggest shit show and I’m 100% certain that it isn’t done dropping steaming pile after like onto me and the world.

All I can think about is the speech Samwise recites at the end of Two Towers and the hope he speaks about even when everything seems lost.

I need a Samwise. I want A chubby, gorgeous man, who loves potatoes, and doesn’t like to dance to come to me when I’m at my lowest, and tell me it’ll be alright.

Right now feels like darkest of times. And what’s unfortunate is it can only get worse.

Familiar Strangers

It almost seems as though my mother has a list of specific “Dementia To-Do” items she must accomplish. At first it was leaving the gas on all night and now we’ve moved onto inviting strangers into her house.

The event happened in a small window of time when my mother’s care taker went home (aka next door) to take care of some business. When she returned my mother informed her she had invited a man in. Panicked, her caretaker texted me immediately and asked me to review the tapes to see if she was telling the truth or if it was a delusion.

I immediately went to the ring app and followed the trail of recordings to see that she was telling her the truth.

When I questioned her about it the following day, she told me that she thought it was my “friend Josh.” I just let it go because I could tell she understood the gravity of what she had done. I also think she would have gotten upset if I had pressed her further, so I let the subject die. Hopefully this is a fluke, but I’m certain it will happen again.

As I review her response a few things pop into my mind. The number one thought is, is she lying to me? For someone who was so honest before her disease took over (so much so that she told me when I was 4 that there was no Santa Clause, cause she hated lying to me), she has become the polar opposite of that. She has no qualms with bending the truth or flat out denying things to me now. She will send them out without any remorse because the ultimate goal (in her mind) is to preserve her presence in her home. Any negative action on her part threatens that. And quite frankly it does.

The reason I think it was a lie is because when I reviewed the recordings she never once made any cues that she thought he was my boyfriend. She just offered to let him sit on her porch and read his book while he waited for his friend, who was at the neighbors house. Then when he followed her up the walk she (without hesitation) invited him inside. Once inside he asks her if she’s ever read the book “Fight Club.” The video ends and five minutes later the next one begins with him leaving and rejoining his buddy out front. She stands intent at the kitchen sink doing something (I know it’s not dishes because she only rinses utensil and plates and puts them back in the drawer.)

The other thought that has been percolating in my mushy gray is, did she really believe that it was him? And if so, did she really believe he was just hanging out in front of her house, hoping she would come outside and invite him in? Did she really believe that this short Latino man looked like my tall German-mixed boyfriend? If she did, does that mean her visual recognition for faces is starting to wane?

My mother has a telephone made specifically for those with dementia. There is a grid of 9 faces that when one of them is pressed it will dial that person. On Sunday, she said she was trying to call my cousin but instead called me. She seemed genuinely flustered on the phone when I answered so I don’t think it was her trying to “con me” into feeling bad for her, but a genuine accident. As I mulled that incident in my mind, I started to wonder if it is in fact the beginnings of my mother losing her ability to recognize faces. However, that is hinged on her believing this stranger was Josh.

Regardless of the correct answer, it is very apparent that my mother is quickly becoming a danger to herself. The only logical step from here is to put her into a group home. She needs constant attention and care, of which I cannot provide. Not to the level that is required.

Birthday Card Blues

My mother’s birthday is this coming Monday.  And as it is the first one since my father passed away, I want to do something somewhat special.

I started to roll through all the usual things, a trip to her favorite restaurant, some clothing that is comprised of some gaudy printed top and bright colored, flashy pants, and … as I thought about getting her the usual birthday card, I stopped and began to cry uncontrollably.

Since my mother’s dementia has progressed her ability to read has significantly decreased. I got her a card for mother’s day which she never even opened and instead focused only on telling me how much she didn’t like the 4 out of the 5 tops I picked out for her. (Which is absolutely out of character for my mother. She used to be the kind that would rather die than tell someone she didn’t like a gift.)

My gut reaction was truly puzzling to me. Yeah, it’s sad that she can’t read, but I didn’t understand the overreaction. Most of the time I usually just feel the ache in my chest and move on. As I picked it apart (as I tend to do with most of my thoughts) I realized two different things.

The first realization had to do with my weird obsession with birthday cards. For a few years I would actually buy two. One that reeked of sentimentality and the other that was a giant joke. And with the sentimental card I would write a long paragraph about how much the person meant to me. The last few years, as cash has been tight, I boiled it down to one and stuck with my schmaltzy reflections.

Those days are gone with my mother.

That last piece is what led me to the next conclusion…

I want to be a published author and if I ever get off my lazy ass and finish editing my “completed” novel, maybe one day I can achieve that goal. And if I were to do that, no matter the subject matter, I would want my mother to read my book. Which, even now, would be a miracle if she could. She would pretend she was understanding, maybe even put a bookmark in to complete the ruse, but ultimately she would not. The only thing I could do was read it to her. Which would be sweet but… I broke down crying over the idea of a birthday card. How the fuck am I going to read her my novel?

This birthday I will just skip the card, and instead provide her the one thing she has been severely lacking, companionship.