assorted rants, dogs, gratuitous self pity

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

 

 

 

Standard
assorted rants, creative writing, gratuitous self pity, historical interest, misanthropy

Grief, a Primer, and We All Need New Frontiers

dream after dream

I haven’t been here in awhile.  Between moving (still can’t find most of my winter clothes) and tending to the dying, I am surprised I am still relatively calm and sane. Even so my absence here is ironic, because I’ve certainly had the need for catharsis and venting and a place to sort out all the conflicting emotions (there’s that dirty word – emotions– again) that have been rolling about in my head.  I’ve just been scattered so far and wide that I’ve not had the time.

Unfortunately I was right about Jerry in his illness, that he would not survive long once he couldn’t work any more.  He was deemed permanently disabled July 8th.  He died October 21st.  It was a hellish ride, and slowly suffocating to death is a cruel and shitty way to die.   Pulmonary fibrosis finally won out, and I emphasize, it is a very shitty way to die.

I am thankful that he didn’t die like his Dad did (also of pulmonary fibrosis)- after a week of poking, prodding and fruitless and painful interventions in intensive care.  Jerry was fortunate enough to die at home, I think, if only because of his determination to stay out of hospitals.  After witnessing his Dad’s horrible death in the hospital a only a week earlier, yeah, I’d want to stay the freak out of that mess too.  Especially when you have a terminal illness and death is the inevitable outcome.  Nothing that hospital could do was going to make him any better or move him toward any kind of recovery.

I am not going to pretend that our marriage was loving or happy.  Most of the time, with some brief exceptions, it wasn’t either one. Most of the time it was barely tolerable.  For me it was upholding a choice to do what I said I would, even if the decision I made was an ill-advised one.  Marry in haste, repent in leisure. Got it.

funny-bad-decisions

This isn’t to say that I didn’t love him or care, but that I’ve been worn down by many years of dealing with his alcoholism and weathering the emotional and verbal abuse that is part of that.   I can’t say that I was perfect or blameless either, and hindsight being 20/20 I still wonder if it would have been more admirable or noble for me to have left him quietly long ago.  Even though it came about in a fashion I would not wish on anyone, twenty one years later, that obligation is over.

This is the hard part that my family (as well as his family and some of our mutual friends)is having a hard time understanding.  I’ve been mourning for a very long time already.  I’ve been mourning the fact that I spent 20+ years of my life in a difficult and troubled marriage.  I’ve been mourning the reality of living with an alcoholic and riding that rollercoaster ride. I’ve been mourning witnessing someone I once loved suffering and dying in a most horrible way.  Mourning has been a way of life for me for way too long.

mourning-black

Even so, I’m not dead yet. I’m not getting any younger, either.  Excuse me if I want to live. I am not prostrate in grief.  Yes, I am sad that he suffered the way he did, and I miss him in some ways, but in most ways I’m relieved.  Relieved that his suffering is over, and that I am free to pursue my own life, whatever that might mean.

By the grace of God new frontiers are right in front of me, and in ways I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.  I’m living an ending and a beginning at the same time.  As truly bizarre as it might sound, I can’t help to stand back and feel blessed and in awe.

 

 

Standard
dogs, gratuitous self pity, historical interest, misanthropy

Death, Life, Mourning and Dancing

girliessleepin

It’s been a month and I’ve just gotten to where I can talk about it.  Yes, Clara was a dog, but there are some dogs who are more than dogs. Even now, just remembering her big, soft ears and deep brown eyes, and the way she would lean on me so hard she almost knocked me down at times, brings me to tears.  I know that the love of dogs has a price- their lives are far too short.

Everything I had learned of the Malinois breed indicated they are noted for health and longevity. Most of the 12 years she lived in our home she was happy, healthy and robust.  In spite of Clara’s difficult start as a rescued dog with a laundry list of physical and emotional issues, she healed and blossomed with us.  She mentored our other dogs.  She visited the nursing home when my Grandma was there, and offered comfort to many of the residents. Clara was a gentle, intuitive dog, who even took care to mentor Brutus, her final protégé, who she had a month to teach, until she got ill.  He has many of the same beautiful, intuitive traits Clara had.  His gentleness reminds me of her.

Brutus

I am thankful her final illness was brief.  It took only a week from the time I noticed she was getting a bit melancholy and slow, then she stopped eating, and by then she was displaying all the classic signs of congestive heart failure.  We took her, and for the first and only time, I had to lift her in and out of the truck- to our long time family vet.  I hoped the vet would have a different answer than what I knew to be inevitable.

clarakayla620

Our vet knew the labored breathing and heavy plodding of a dying dog all too well though. One look at a dog who used to be vibrant and alert and active, but now was struggling just to breathe and move a few steps, was enough for the vet to conclude that given her age, and the signs of heart and probably multiple organ failure, that Clara was, indeed, dying. We agreed that letting Clara go in peace without pain would be far more humane than heroics that may or may not buy a week or two. I held her in my arms as she passed, so she would know how much she was loved. We buried her near the gate she used to guard.

Clara 14 small

Clara was 14.  I was blessed to have her for a little more than 12 of those years.

Unfortunately there is more impending death around me, and it will cut even deeper than losing Clara.  Jerry is getting more and more ill from the pulmonary fibrosis.  He keeps getting put on more meds. He tires easily and is spending more and more time on the oxygen box.  The only hope for him to improve- and hopefully not die right away- is to get him on track for a lung transplant.  He will have to go on disability to do that, which will be at most optimistic, the very least a month or two away.

To add more to the chaos in my life, we will be moving as we are buying my grandmother’s old house.  Dad is selling it to us, and I am glad to get the strangers he’s been renting it to gone. They are supposed to be out tomorrow, then I can assess what needs to be done before we can move in.  I will have a lot longer drive to work for me, but it will get him into a quiet neighborhood out of the city.  The house is small but the yard is huge and there will (soon) be a large fence so the dogs can go out safely.

clarawindow1

Talk about the psychological maelstrom that I am trying to navigate.  I want Jerry to stay healthy enough for a lung transplant but the reality is that I may lose him too.  Yes, he is difficult and high maintenance, and he takes out his frustration on his health issues on me, but contrary to logic and reason, I am in this regardless.  Death, life, mourning or dancing- it’s all part of the drama of life.

I am looking forward to moving if only because it feels like I’m going home.  I will finally be able to be in a home I will own, that nobody can arbitrarily throw me out of, and my grandparents’ house will stay in the family. I’ll also be closer to my parents, my son and my granddaughter.

 

Standard
dogs, gratuitous self pity, misanthropy

The Reality of Canine Longevity, Denial, and a Catahoula Cur

Brutus

Brutus, my 1 year old male Catahoula Cur

I might as well begin with the Catahoula Cur.  I had been half-heartedly looking for a dog for Miss Clara to mentor for awhile before her time with me is through.  We got Clara as a two year old- when our Kayla was 14.  It was a great arrangement in that Kayla had some time to work with Clara, who was a rescue with a laundry list of issues. Now she is well-adjusted, a fine protection dog, and has had many good years of happiness and health.

clarakayla620

Clara (left- 2 years old) Kayla (right- 14 years old)

I admit I am still in denial that now Clara is 14 years old, and she is slowly fading. I know, and lament, the limited lifespan of dogs, especially when I consider Clara, who is very precious to me.  Lilo is 13. She is also dear to my heart, and a good protection dog as well. Lilo has been Clara’s shadow since she came to us, and will probably not outlive Clara by long.  They are only eight months apart in age.

girliessleepin

Lilo (left- 2 years old) Clara (right- 3 years old)

lilo521closeup

Lilo- 3 years old

Even though my mind understands the limitations of canine longevity, in my denial I wasn’t looking very hard to find Clara a protégé.  I was thinking either I would save up some money and try to get either a GSD pup from someone reputable, or that the Hand of Fate would somehow place another Malinois in my path.

SAMSUNG

Lucy – 1 year old, being good, but only because she was sleeping.

For me the thought of living without at least one protection dog is not a pleasant one.  Lucy (the Bulldog X Beagle) is only three years old, but at only 40# and with dim wits (love the dog, she’s very sweet, but she’s as thick as a post) she’s not a protection dog.  So I faced the prospect of not having a protection dog at all, and then trying to educate a green dog without the help of a seasoned dog.  Lucy is not a role model.  If anything, as far as canine behavior goes, she serves as a primer on how not to act.

clarawindow1Clara used to get up in the window to watch the world go ’round, but not much any more.

Oddly enough, Providence doesn’t necessarily share my aesthetic, my timing, or my professed desires.  Let’s just say that instead of a young female Malinois or GSD… I ended up with a young male Catahoula Cur.

One of my son’s friends had come back to Ohio from Texas (don’t know all the background info, don’t really need to) and couldn’t keep his dog.  My son- and only male children have a surprising amount of sway on their old decrepit mothers- implored me to come meet this dog before he was consigned to the dog pound, which, given his looks, could lead to a probable nasty fate at the hands of local dog fighters.  So, even though he is not a GSD or Malinois, I agreed to meet the dog.  And I fell in love. Let’s just say I’ve gotten Mr. Brutus his rabies tag and dog license, and he’s loving having a three-girl-dog harem.

Brutus LucyBrutus and Lucy

I’d never even heard of a Catahoula Cur (or more properly, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog) before last week, and I am pretty aware of dog breeds.  I thought he was a very large (1 year old and 65#) and strangely marked Pit Bull.  But Catahoulas are not Pit Bulls.  Their bodies are longer and a bit leaner, their feet are larger, and the webbing on their feet goes all the way out to the ends of the toes.  They are larger (males are 65-95#) than Pit Bulls, and are known for the leopard patterns in their coats. Many, like Brutus, have blue eyes.

Catahoulas are used to hunt wild boar in Louisiana and Texas, and they likely have Pit Bull in their lineage, along with Mastiff, and various sight hounds.  Even though Brutus and Clara look nothing alike, they have eerily similar mentalities.  Both dogs are infinitely aware of their surroundings, and both are intuitive.  He will learn well, and it is good to have a young protection dog again.

Clara 14 small

Clara, age 14

I know that I will grieve down to my very soul when Clara and Lilo pass.  They have been most excellent dogs,  but that is the condition of loving a dog- that their life spans are quite finite and all we can do is love them well in the time we have.

I could talk about and dote upon my dogs forever, and that’s a great thing because they are positive.  Not everything in life is so good.  Jerry is failing at an even faster rate than Miss Clara, and that is not a good thing.  He has gotten the oxygen concentrators he needs to help him breathe.  Life is finite.  Do what you can with what you have.

Standard
assorted rants, gratuitous self pity, historical interest, misanthropy, miscellaneous drivel, theology

Sex, Death, Rock-n-Roll- and It’s Eternity In There

image

I never really made it a point to contemplate the paradox of sex and death.  Perhaps someone ten years (and more, sadly) removed from the enjoyment of carnal pleasure isn’t qualified to comment, but I still live, breathe and dream. I have desires whether I can act on them or not.

The French have a way of making things that can sound vulgar in English a little more mysterious and exotic. A ménage a trois doesn’t sound as bad as a threesome, even though it means exactly the same thing.  So while calling an orgasm la petite mort (the little death) can seem a bit melodramatic and bordering on morbid, it is certainly apropos.

image

These things usually hit me when I least expect it, if not in unbidden memories, then in dreams.

Old Dr. Freud would be having a heyday with my dreams.  The things I find myself embroiled in (in dreams, that is) that would leave me shocked and mortified in the waking world are beyond the pale.  Which may be why they are safely relegated to dreams. The things I imagine are just too impossible for reality, and I will not attempt to chronicle them here.

dream after dream

Yes, Dream. After Dream (the Journey album) is awesome.  My dreams are just bizarre.  And rated X.

Many years ago, Stephen King wrote a short story called The Jaunt. It was about a scientist who discovered a virtually cost-free way to teleport people through time and space.  The only problem is that living things would die shortly after being “jaunted”- unless they were put under anesthetic.  At the end of the story, the man telling the story to his children awakes in horror as his son went through the Jaunt awake- and the son had aged by decades and decades and gone quite mad, before he dropped dead.

Before the son dropped dead his last words were, “It’s eternity in there.”

Of course The Jaunt’s version of eternity isn’t a positive one, so it’s probably not the best illustration of that moment where time stands still and the universe is simply two, but it’s a similar concept.  There is a dimension beyond time, for good or ill.

bennyhill cupid

When I was growing up I was given the impression that sex was The Ultimate Sin and the only thing worse than utilitarian procreational-only married sex is murder. It didn’t help that Mom is old-school Catholic (and I mean pre-Vatican II) and Dad is more or less a lapsed Regular Baptist. Both of their traditions will drill it in your head that you are better off dead than to have sex and enjoy it.

indulgences

Yes, Christians are hypocrites, just like everyone else.

Good “Christian soldiers” are allowed to have sex only if they are married to each other, the lights are out, the only position is man-on-top missionary style, they only do it because they’re trying to make a baby, and they aren’t allowed to enjoy it.

disappointed-parents

We did what?  For that? Why?

Since I never really had a desire to go out and kill people, (at least not a desire to kill anyone that overrides my fear of arrest and inevitable incarceration) then for me, sex was the only “mortal sin” that had any allure to it.  And it had a LOT of allure to it when I was younger.  I freely admit it. I just had a really hard time finding suitable, complicit males.  That was probably a blessing in disguise, and nature’s way of chlorinating the gene pool to some extent.

ride with hitler

I’m not into carpooling, because I’d rather “ride with Hitler” than with the friendly neighborhood serial killer. I like having my car all to myself.

My son doesn’t get the sex=mortal sin concept because I made a conscious effort not to represent it to him that way.  My mother may have given me the “dirty duty” speech, but I didn’t pass that along, except for comedic effect, when he was much, much older.

The more a parent makes a “forbidden fruit” sound absolutely vile and horrible, the more likely the offspring are to run right out and try it to see if it’s as horrible as Mom and Dad contend.  As much as possible, I tried to give him the rational approach to life, as in yes, sex is good, but with certain boundaries.  Such as “try not to bang ex-strippers,” “wrap that rascal,” and “avoid venereal diseases.”

syphilis

So where did they get it?  The dance hall?

There is good reason for caution in the pursuit of all things amorous. The 1980s taught us that the anti-sex crowd had a point: sex with the wrong partner can kill you.

aids

I guess once they give you AIDS, retribution is sort of pointless.

For centuries humanity has known the fear and shame of venereal diseases, and the possibility of a lifetime of pain or even an untimely death for a moment of pleasure are quite real.

Even given the potential risks involved with sexual congress, I don’t think I can agree with the lights-out missionary-position sex-for-procreation-only crowd.  I do believe in caution in guarding one’s body as well as one’s heart and spirit, but not in total denial.

There is a certain distasteful and soul-killing element in the “friends with benefits” mentality, just as there is a distasteful and soul-killing element in the outright rejection of something that is a gift and a blessing in the proper context.

When the person and the moment is right, surrender to that universe of two.  Savor, enjoy, revel, and live, and thank God for that rare opportunity.

It’s eternity in there.

Standard
creative writing, gratuitous self pity, historical interest, misanthropy

The Nexus of the Crisis, and the Origin of Storms

hindenburg

I wish I would have thought of the title line, but it’s actually from a song by Blue Oyster Cult (later covered by Metallica) called “Astronomy.” It’s probably a good thing I don’t have (and I certainly don’t need, nor want) access to the psychotropic drugs that were available in the mid 1970s, but people came up with some hella cool song lyrics while stoned on that stuff.  Now it seems the pop stars and rappers are more worried about whether or not the words rhyme, and/or if cop-killing and sister-raping can be successfully included in the story line.  Apparently today’s drugs just don’t motivate good song lyrics.

I like that old psychedelic stuff.  The song lyrics, that is.

I found last Saturday’s short hiatus and respite to be most energizing.  I love it when I can turn off the world for awhile, and I need to do it a lot more often than I do.

Tonight I have to do something rather distasteful, although it does involve a short solitary road trip (that part of the adventure should be pretty good.)  I have probably at one time or another told the story of my grandmother’s twin sisters – the ones who, when my great-grandmother died, were about 70 years old. The both of them were rather eccentric, and their tastes were largely indulged, as they were both married to relatively wealthy men.  I never really liked either of them very much, but I acquired a little bit of contempt toward them when they got in a fist fight over my great-grandmother’s paltry belongings.

01351~Muffled-Screams-Posters

70 year old twins duking it out over a bunch of worthless old lady kitsch is a little bit over the top.   I’ve walked past better stuff at garage sales.  Great-Grandma was not a wealthy woman, and she didn’t need a lot of stuff.  None of her stuff was particularly valuable.  Neither of the twins needed any of that stuff.  It was about possession and control.  I was never close to either of my great-aunts, and after that I never really wanted to be.

Witnessing that little melee convinced me that I never want to fight over dead people’s stuff, even if it’s really good stuff.  My sisters will cannibalize my parents’ stuff, should they both outlive my parents, and they will fight over it, though the oldest one will ultimately end up with everything she wants.  If I am still alive, I won’t be there to stand back and watch.  They can have it all.  My Dad had to hide a lot of Grandma’s stuff- as well as all of Grandpa’s WWII medals and other memorabilia- to keep my oldest sister from taking everything.  What she wants, she takes.  Unless she can’t find it.

dropdead

The only reason I don’t drop dead is that I don’t think my son can stand the visual of my sisters fighting over my bras and underwear.

The older twin (I think she was 98) finally went to the Great Beyond last Saturday, and the calling hours are tonight.  I can’t take off work tomorrow to go to the funeral (OK by me) but I at least have to show up at the calling hours to keep my mother from having a coronary, and so Dad might have one sane person to talk to.  Mom’s relatives are downright weird, and they are the huggy-kissy type which is positively nauseating to me.  But politeness dictates.. so I will show up.  Briefly.  Very briefly.

I wish funeral homes had drive-thrus.  I don’t think the idea would catch on in Ohio, where people make a really big deal out of funerals and wakes, but I wish that at least that the one I have to go to tonight had a drive-thru.  Sign the book and get the hell out…

drive thru funeral

Standard
assorted rants, historical interest, misanthropy, political commentary

Fascinatingly Horrible, a Painful and Awe-Inspiring Truth, and a Silent Witness

old car

I’ve often wondered when it comes to abandoned cars- why this particular dying place?

I find entropy fascinatingly horrible. Part of me doesn’t want to watch the process of death, decomposition and/or decay, but at times I am almost compelled to do so, because there’s also a strange and captivating beauty in it.

Perhaps my fascination with old and decomposing things lies in the knowledge that somewhere, in a better time, those things were once new and whole.

old attic

I could get lost in a place like this. Intentionally.

I don’t like what this world has turned into, at least culturally, and the turning began years-decades, actually- before I was born.  Not all change is bad of course, but the moral and cultural disintegration of society is definitely a negative change as far as I’m concerned. I’ve said it before: Orwell’s 1984 was meant to serve as a warning, not an instruction manual.  I think Orwell would be spinning in his grave if he could see just how eerily true his observations have become.

bbwatch

All the freaking time.  Just look up at all the traffic cameras.

I do appreciate many technological advancements- in fact I would probably been long dead without a fair number of mid-20th century medical advances.  Most likely I’d never lived beyond infancy, for good or for ill.  And being the third (unwanted female to boot) of three, they’d probably never even bothered spending the scratch on the post mortem pic.

dead baby

Once you’ve had three kids, don’t they all sort of look alike?

Anyone old enough to have ever had to mess with a broken cassette tape or who has been stranded miles away from a phone gets what I’m saying about technology.  If we could have the technology without the dumb shit, and without the social and moral atrophy that seems to come along with it, perhaps utopia could be achieved!

I am not nearly that naïve. (Back to Orwell and Animal Farm and the time honored truth that some pigs are more equal than others.)

Of course, we all know that there is no such thing as a perfect world. In fact, I honestly believe in the devolution of humanity.

old VW thing

If only people knew… the VW “Thing” was a thinly disguised Kübelwagen.

And the whole Volkswagen concept was brewed up by Adolf Hitler.

I’ve commented many times on the strange beauty of abandoned machinery, and also of the concept that there might really be literal deus ex machina or real “gods in the machines.”

I can only imagine the silent witness written in cold, dead steel, and what does it have to say?

old bus

Sort of like a post mortem for an old, old VW Transporter.

The reality of the Transporters was (and is) that these are pretty much only meant to be owned and operated by technicians capable of repairing them.

Standard