The End of the World, Not So Much, and Where to From Here?

biteme

I haven’t been here in awhile.  I have posted on my other sites that are mostly on things theological but as far as my personal life and the transitions I’m going through, I haven’t commented much.  It’s been a lot to process, and continues to be a lot to process, so I really haven’t put the words together yet.

My silence might sound strange given the rather cynical nature of my commentary here, and also a bit critical because there really is no compartment of life called a “spiritual life.” Spirituality is everywhere- from the sacred to the profane and everywhere between, so why can I write about spiritual things but not so much on others?  I am well aware that while by the grace of God I may be a saint, but I am most certainly still a sinner too.   Given that, I realize that what I write here may or may not be spiritually edifying to others even though it may be a.) funny and b.) cathartic for me.  Perhaps I have needed a bit less catharsis than usual, which is probably not a bad thing.

As far as living in my grandmother’s old house, I have never felt more at home.  Possibly it’s because I can (within budget and reason) do whatever I want with décor as well as with my time and- this is key- who I spend my time with.  I am almost afraid to even mention that someone has found me (because trust me, I was NOT looking) and suffice to say life is different.  Interesting.  Purposeful.  Alive.

prettykitty

I never bought into the princess stories as a child.  I knew I wasn’t the princess.  I was the leftover, the consolation prize, the last choice, the one who shovels the shit when the parade is over.  I still don’t buy into fairy tales.  But it is a gift and a welcome comfort to have someone in my life now who doesn’t see me as a whipping post, or as a built in maid, or as interactive furniture.  It is a welcome change to be a part of at least a symbiotic relationship, but dare I admit- it is much more than that.

Of course being one of those once bitten, twice shy people I am moving with caution.  I don’t need a man.  I certainly do not need to be a substitute mommy for anyone.  I’ve never been in this position before and I’m 48 years old- where I want to be with someone simply because it feels good and right when we’re together.  And that’s all I want to say publicly for now.

As to the macabre business of dealing with dead people’s stuff, that’s not so pleasant.  Just a couple of weeks ago I finally boxed up the rest of Jerry’s old stuff- clothes and various kitsch- and gave it to the Salvation Army.  I kept the tools and a few momento type things, but not much.

cantmakemecat

I wanted to make the spare room nice for my granddaughter when she spends the night, so she can have her own special place. There is no sense in keeping old crap around that’s not being used and taking up space when someone in need might get some use out of it.

I am still going through the shit of getting his truck title and bank accounts released to me through the court.  Not that any of that stuff is horribly valuable, but I have been pursuing it since October.  I don’t know if it’s the lawyer’s office that is pokey as hell or the court itself.  Probably both.

I don’t know how common it is when someone who survives a person who was terminally ill actually feels more relieved than grieved when his or her spouse dies.  Maybe it’s normal in some circumstances.  He’s been dead since October and I really can’t say I’ve ever been the classic grieving widow.  Granted, our marriage was never a terribly happy one, to put it mildly. It was pretty much defined by Jerry’s alcoholism and gambling, and then the pulmonary fibrosis.  Maybe that’s why the primary emotion I’ve been feeling is relief, as if a huge weight has been lifted off of me.  That’s not to say I am completely heartless.  There are things I miss about him, but on the whole I have a better life.  I am no longer making a game out of how many times he can call me a bitch between 5 and 6 AM as I’m getting ready for work.  I certainly do not miss that. Should I feel like a total shit because I am no longer being bitched at and browbeaten every time I turn around?  At least I am being honest, and that should count for something.

I am not sure exactly what my life is going to look like moving forward.  I know my boundaries a lot better.  I know I enjoy quiet, a simple existence, a tidy home, autonomy and my dogs.

laxative action

 

 

 

Squirrels in the Family Tree, the Cat Lady, and Everyone Has an Uncle Bob

Every family has its skeletons in the closet.  This is an encouragement to me, knowing I have ancestors who were crazier than I am.  Then again, heredity explains a lot.

Part of the fun in genealogy research is finding all the squirrels in the family tree, and I’m discovering I have more than my fair share in mine.  It’s been a bit of an adventure finding out which family members had issues with mental illness and to what degree.  Let’s see, for starters, Mom is bi-polar.  Her biological father was certifiably crazy- most likely he was bi-polar (with an emphasis on bizarre manic episodes) also as well as being an incorrigible alcoholic.  He died at age 53 of cirrhosis of the liver.  Thankfully Mom never had a taste for liquor.   Mom didn’t need alcohol to go off in a frenzy.  Her manic episodes were bad enough without it.

Mom and her biological father are not the only ones by a long shot though.  One of my great-uncles was institutionalized most of his adult life, after he had a severe head injury while working for the railroad. It was really quite tragic.  Oddly enough on his death certificate the cause of death was listed as pneumonia resulting from “Huntington’s Chorea,” or Huntington’s Disease, which is (99% of the time) a genetic disease.  In almost all instances, one of your parents has to have it in order for you to get it.  He was 46  when he died, but neither of his parents had it.  However, the tremors, violent outbursts and general insanity this poor guy suffered from was more than likely connected with brain damage.  I would be curious to find out, but I would guess that rather than Huntington’s Disease, he probably had damage to the frontal lobe of his brain. That wasn’t inherited- which is sort of a relief, but still sad.

Alcoholism is a big character flaw on both sides of my family.  My great-grandfather and another great uncle were notorious for boozing.  Being a drunk isn’t necessarily what I would call mental illness, but way too many drunks drink to drown their depression and despair.  I was enough of a binge drinker in my youth, but thank God the whole binge drinking thing lost its charm for me.  Dad for all practical purposes is a tee-totaler (he likes a very occasional beer) and Mom is a complete tee-totaler, so we never really had to deal with alcohol at home except when my oldest sister came home wasted from time to time in high school.   I was smart enough to crash where I partied when I got wasted.  She is still somewhat of a casual drinker but not a real boozehound.  Of course Mom thinks drinking a social beer now and then will turn you into a lush, but it really depends on the person.  If you’re drinking every night or downright getting stupid with the binge drinking then you need to evaluate your relationship with booze.  I don’t have much use for it other than a very occasional glass of wine.

Then there are the relatives you just don’t want to claim because their behavior makes you really wonder how much DNA you share with them.  I had some really interesting ones.  Aunt Frances, for instance, was a 400# cat lady with a deep disdain for all things foreign (especially my old Subaru,) a loathing of ear piercings and earrings (thankfully she never got to see Steve-0’s 7/8 gauged earrings, or the SS helmet for that matter) and a general distrust of females who insist upon wearing makeup.   I have nothing against cats- I have three of them- but having thirty five of them wandering in and out of your house, eating you out of house and home and breeding uncontrollably is not the proper way to keep cats.  Sending half of your Social Security checks to Jimmy Swaggart probably wasn’t the best decision either, but she just couldn’t resist the televangelists when they appealed for cash.

Uncle Jack was actually one of my great-uncles.  He was a tiny dude, about 5’5″ and slightly built.  He had a withered hand, a taste for whiskey and he chain smoked unfiltered Pall Malls.  Every time I saw him, he always seemed to be either getting ready to go to jail for something or had just got out of jail for something.  He had some really hideous tattoos,  and used language that would make a trucker blush.

I had twin great-aunts- Glenna and Gwendolyn.  I don’t know for sure if they were identical twins or not, but they had the identical horrible bleach-blonde hair do.  I remember when Great-Grandma died (their mother) they got in a fist fight over her stuff, none of it worth a whole lot.  Gwendolyn was married to Uncle Bob- the one with the nudie pics all over his garage- who gave my sister a Budweiser when she was six or seven, and who would look up girls’ dresses if he got the chance.  They had a miniature poodle named Jacques who liked to hump people’s legs and piss on everyone’s hub caps.  Jacques went to the groomer, had his nails painted blue, and always smelled like girly perfume.  Dad always wondered why anyone would prissify a male dog like that, but they were kind of strange.

Everyone has an Uncle Bob- the family pervert.  Thankfully I only got to experience Uncle Bob once a year or less (Dad didn’t want us kids to be around alcohol, especially after the Budweiser Incident) but that was enough.  Everyone wondered why I would not run up and give him a hug.  First of all I am not a hugger by nature.  I am very selective about who I want to hug even today.  As a child I tried to avoid physical contact as much as possible.  So be happy with a handshake- and I was that way with most people I encountered.  I’m not being rude, but I don’t want you looking up my dress or trying to slip me the tongue.  Something about the nudies on the garage walls creeped me out.

This is NOT the Subaru DL I had, but it is the same model.  This one is a 1978, mine was a ’79.  Mine was also red -or at least it was painted red at the factory, before it oxidized, rusted, and ended up covered in fiberglass body filler, primer, duct tape and bumper stickers.  Either not many of them were built, or they just couldn’t handle Rust Belt winters.  It took a lot of duct tape to hold those marker lights in the fenders.

I Need a Video Camera (if only for my own entertainment) and Why Dogs are Better Than Men

I have a very rude pic of Jerry experiencing the aftermath of a particularly stupid drunk and stupid episode, but I have enough decency to keep that in my own private collection.  I thought about posting it for a moment, but that’s a little worse than my usual passive-aggressive revenge.  That borders on aggressive-aggressive revenge, which I’m a little too soft hearted to engage in even when I know there is little chance of getting caught. There is no actual nudity involved, but he is down to his whitey tighties, and I figure nobody needs that visual.  Nor do they need to see the reason why I spend so much time getting intimately acquainted with the rug shampooer.  Suffice to say that the dogs are housebroken, so unless they have an attack of Montezuma’s Revenge, it’s not the dogs.

I spend a lot of time among members of the species canis lupus familiaris, and even though I trust my dogs more than I trust any fellow humans, it’s good to remember that as far as taxonomy goes (the naming and classification of species) the domestic dog is a subspecies of canis lupus– the grey wolf.   Dogs can be dangerous if they are ill-treated and/or one fails to respect their strength (a 65# dog can easily take down a 250# man, for example) and the potential lethality of their bites.  More humans die as a result of dog attacks than from snake bites.  Even so, I believe the trust I have in my own dogs is warranted.  There is no love more sincere than the love of a good dog.

It’s fascinating that one species can have so many differences in its members.  I am not the reigning expert in scientific matters by a long shot, but the current theory is that dogs have such a high rate of mutations due to what are called tandem repeatssequences of DNA that repeat themselves multiple times.  Of course we humans have made some genetic diseases in dogs worse by limiting the gene pools (i.e. line breeding.)  I don’t have any purebred dogs at this time- but both of our now departed purebred GSDs, Kayla and Heidi, ended up having to be put down due to rear limb ataxia that progressed to near paralysis due to probable degenerative myelopathy.  This is a genetic disease in GSDs and I am sure that it is more prevalent than is reported.  Since DM doesn’t show up until a dog is 7-14 years old, no one would know if a breeding pair are carriers until they have already reached the end of their reproductive life.  Today there is a genetic test, but not all individuals who carry the gene develop full blown DM.    Even Lilo and Sheena, who are crossbreeds, have hip dysplasia, which is primarily a genetic disease as well.  Most dogs, purebred or crossbreed, carry at least one genetic defect.  Lovely Clara, who is an ideal canine specimen in many ways- and actually has good hips- was born with an umbilical hernia, which would have automatically made her unsuitable for breeding (though she would have been unsuitable for breeding anyway as she is a crossbreed.)

Despite the capricious nature of canine inheritance, and the potential that dogs have to be dangerous if ill-handled, I prefer the company of dogs to humans.  Maybe that’s a bad thing to admit, but dogs are better than men for a number of reasons.

Dogs (generally) don’t drink beer.

Dogs don’t smoke.

Dogs generally don’t dirty up laundry.

Dogs will eat what they are served.

Dogs are always happy to see me.

Dogs don’t care what I look like.

Dogs are always great listeners.

After this morning I am tempted to embark on a bit of aggressive-aggressive revenge on Jerry.  I have threatened for years to video record his drunk and stupid incidents for his review (also for sharing with friends and pretty much most of the free world via You Tube) but I haven’t wanted to come off of the $$ for a video camera.  If I have any tax money left over (yeah right) I may contemplate planting a couple of Jerry-cams in strategic areas.  I will have to have audio too because the comments, as well as the thuds and crashes of drunk and stupid fallings down, are half of the fun.

I am not one of those people who buys the common wisdom of  “alcoholism is a disease.”  What a crock of shit.  I used to be a binge drinker myself.  Drunkenness is a decision.  You either decide to suck down those beers (or in my instance, liquor and/or wine- I never could stand beer) or you decide you are going to stay sober.  If habitual drunkenness is a “disease” then why isn’t smoking considered a “disease?”  Nobody feels sorry for smokers (nor should they- even though smoking is a LOT harder to get free of than drinking) and society makes no provision for the smoker to indulge his/her habit.  Why don’t we treat drunkenness like smoking and just stop tolerating it and making excuses for it?   In my world, as I was growing up, bad behavior carried consequences.  You make a bad choice you pay the consequences.  Get shitfaced and act stupid, then end up as a worldwide laughing stock on You Tube.  I’m thinking about it but will probably be too tender hearted to carry it out.