5 Ws and an H

Who: Me. Remember me?

Where: Work, mostly.

When: The entire month of January, 2017.

Why: It started with work. So much work. Like, I worked 6 days/week the entire month of January so much work. Then there was the inauguration. On Inauguration Day, I stayed off of social media. For the whole day. (That’s a big deal.) Then there was more crazy busy work. And then, this week, I became a phone warrior. I am calling my senators and representative like it’s going out of style. I’ll write more about that later.

How: I’m not sure, exactly. There was a time in my life when, if I wasn’t blogging, I was lost. That’s not who I am anymore. I still enjoy blogging. It just isn’t the priority that it once was.

I still plan to write here, however. I have things to write about! Politics! (A little. Avoid me accordingly.) Skating lessons with Lucy’s sons! My 2017 resolution to be less crazy! Brady!

How was your January, friends? Still sticking to your resolutions?

2016’s Last Hurrah

Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed, my mom’s sister and brother-in-law, drove in from Chicago just after Christmas to help out with my grandparents.

My grandma had surgery just before Christmas. It was a minor procedure, but everyone was committed to making sure that she took it easy. As my mom handled surgery and the days that followed, she and my dad left the care of my grandparents up to my aunt and uncle and took a short vacation.

Really short. 48 hours.

The first 24 hours were uneventful. And then, on the second day, Grandpa had a bad day. His mobility was horrible (this happens sometimes if he was very busy the day before – which he was) and his behavior was awful (this also happens sometimes if he was very busy the day before – think overtired toddler).

My aunt and uncle called an ambulance. I don’t know why my grandma didn’t stop them, other than she’s constantly afraid of pissing off my aunt, but she did not.

It was a curious choice, as there was nothing going on that was life-threatening but I will chalk that up to them being inexperienced with his care and also scared.

He shouldn’t have been in the hospital. And, when he got there, he acted as many dementia patients do: like a crazy fucking lunatic. Yelling, kicking, tearing out his IV, hitting.

Eventually he was sedated.

When I called to tell her, my mom was devastated. To her credit, she had some restraint and decided not to come home. She assumed that he would stay overnight in the hospital (he did) and then they would discharge him to come home.

At one point, her voice got especially said as she remarked that my grandpa would probably be put in restraints unless there was somebody with him overnight.

I thought about how I wouldn’t want my father in restraints. So I stayed overnight with my grandpa.

(Meg, my sister, drove home and sat with Grandpa at the hospital and was a great advocate for him. I think we did a decent job of being a surrogate for our mom.)

Despite a horrible night of sleep, I sucked it up and went to work the next day. My mom stayed in contact with my aunt and uncle. Don’t put him in rehab, she told them. Don’t agree to physical therapy unless it’s at-home physical therapy. Don’t put him in rehab. Don’t put him in rehab. He’s not the right candidate for rehab.

They put him in rehab.

When she found out, my mom was a wreck.

Upon returning home, she expressed this to my aunt. Supposedly kindly, though I wasn’t there. They did not like that she wasn’t appreciative or supportive of their choice. My aunt and uncle, who were staying at my mom’s house, responded to my mom’s honesty by sneaking out of her house at 6:00 the next morning.

My aunt left her Christmas presents behind as a final fuck you.

Very mature.

That morning, Aunt Louise and Uncle Ed took my grandma up to the rehab facility. They texted my mom to say that Grandpa had a very good night.

(Meg, talked to my grandma during this same time and she told her the complete opposite.)

Then the left and went back to Chicago.

My grandma went back to the rehab facility that afternoon.

And by early that evening, was crying to my mom that she wanted him out of the facility. Immediately.

For all of the reasons that my mom said that he shouldn’t go to rehab in the first place: because it’s not a memory care facility, because there will be one nursing assistant to every 20 patients, because they wouldn’t have any choice but to drug him and hold him down and leave him sitting in dirty briefs.

My mom had him home by 11:00 the next morning.

He gets better care at home. He does better at home. My grandma wants him home.

My mom increased the hours that his caregiver works. She’s scheduled at-home physical therapy (though it won’t do much good). She takes my aunts calls and pretends that my aunt hadn’t fired the first shot by sneaking out of the house and leaving her Christmas presents behind.

If my grandpa had miraculously done well in rehab, Aunt Louise would have written my mom off completely. They wouldn’t be speaking. Guaranteed. But Aunt Louise has her tail between her legs (as much as my very arrogant, very proud aunt can) and she’s pretending like nothing is wrong between them.

Grandpa got home on New Year’s Eve. He was exhausted and covered in bruises.

2016  was 2016 right down to the last minute.

Happy New Year, friends. I hope you’re enjoying your fresh start.

Brady Takes a Dip

img_2415Tuesday morning, two weeks ago. I am outside with Brady boy before work, throwing him a ball in an attempt at burning a bit of his limitless energy.

He is not tied up. The yard doesn’t have a fence. But the ball keeps him in line. As long as I keep throwing it, he keeps coming back.

Until the ball gets buried under the snow and he loses sight of it. Therefore losing interest.

He sprints to the neighbor’s house to investigate the happenings in their garden. Then a pair of ducks catch his eye. The lake is mostly frozen but the ducks are swimming in a patch of open water. Brady meanders out to see them.

And falls through the ice.

I was right there and, thankfully, the water wasn’t deep. He could touch the bottom with his back feet. His front feet were up on the ice. And he was humiliated. Wouldn’t look at me. Just standing there in the cold water, pretending he couldn’t hear me.

If I could have just communicated to him to swim a bit to his right, he could have reached shore just fine. But he’s a dog and he doesn’t understand my hand signals and he wouldn’t look at me anyway.

I stayed mostly calm.

Seeing as how he, at 60 pounds, fell through the ice, walking out to get him was clearly not an option. I remembered all of the instructions that I was given on this topic as a kid (I grew up in an area where there are lots of lakes: all public schoolchildren went through a water safety class that covered wintertime hazards, too), and I stretched out on the ice on my stomach. I kept my feet on solid land and I reached for Brady…who was a good 5 feet away and still refusing to look at me.

So I get off of the ice and I tear some fencing out of the neighbor’s garden (sorry, neighbor) and I stretch it out on the ice just far enough that I can poke at Brady’s paw.

Somehow, that was enough to break him out of of his trance. He jumps up and onto the ice.

Relieved and eager to get him on his leash, I sit up on my knees.

Concentrating all of my weight at that one spot.

And crashing through the ice.

I wasn’t even in a foot of water but that didn’t stop me from getting soaked. From my feet up to my thighs.

But we were both okay.

And I learned an important lesson. Brady is not to go free when the ice isn’t safe to walk on. Because he’s clearly not smart enough to stay off of it if he’s in pursuit of a duck friend.

It was mostly a funny story to me until I got to work. I’m telling my employees and one of them tells me that her granddaughter’s dog fell through the ice and drowned.

I spent the next week thinking about how devastated I would have been if Brady had died.

But now I have now learned to compensate for those feelings with retail therapy. We have transitioned to super-expensive food that is in a hologram bag and still smells like stinky dog food. I spent $100 on dog treats that have no preservatives and therefore have to be kept in the freezer all of the time (I no longer have room for my own food). And, yesterday, I spent $50 on various nose and foot salves even though he doesn’t have any nose or foot problems.

So we’re coping pretty well over here.

Well, I am.

Brady had no idea he was ever in danger. And has most certainly forgotten about the whole incident by now.

Very Merry

It was a lovely holiday but I am not sad to see it go.

This was the first December that I can recall feeling truly overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to make December 25 a proper Christmas (cookies, wrapping, buying, decorating).

I never put up my tree. I didn’t bake a single batch of cookies.

I did, however, make a delicious cranberry upside down cake for Christmas Eve that was as satisfying as it was easy. Try it.

I also managed to buy some pretty damn good Christmas gifts. And to roast tomatoes for the world’s easiest appetizer (a longstanding favorite recipe).

Most of this time crunch was thanks to work. (Work is so bad right now.) But it was also thanks to my desire to sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep. Plus my grandma had surgery (a triple hernia repair!) on Tuesday morning and, while my mom took on the bulk of that responsibility, it was a full-family affair. She’s doing quite well and my grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s disease, never even realized that she had surgery.

This Christmas was a good reminder that the holiday is still the holiday, even if the Christmas cookies aren’t made.

I hope your December 25 – spent celebrating Christmas or not – was lovely, too.

I Get Points for Trying

I didn’t write about it while it was happening. Something about writing about it felt like I was guaranteeing that it would fail.

I can write about it now that it’s over. Failed.

I met him at a nonprofit function. Lucy introduced us. She really liked him and I was willing to try.

I cancelled our first attempt at a date. For legitimate reasons. I was sick, super sick, and he was understanding. And out of town the next weekend. I think we went out the weekend after that.

It was a surprisingly easy first date. I might have even had fun.

I saw him again a couple weeks after that. (This time, I was the one who was away for the weekend in between.) Again, surprisingly easy. Again, fun. Again, it was followed by a weekend where he was out of town.

He seemed: normal, ambitious, smart, straightforward and clever.

He was fun to be around. He had potential.

He ghosted me.

Sleeping Late on Thanksgiving

I have a permanent cramp in my shoulder and a new employee to hire and a month of work to do in five days. I need to get my hair cut. I haven’t had enough cheese today. Nor have I done enough Christmas shopping.

Blogging isn’t the only area of my life where I am behind.

Thanksgiving with my family was lovely. We had a miniature holiday. My grandfather doesn’t do well with big crowds and unfamiliar places; my mom hosted my grandparents, my cousin Emma and our family. Not even half the size of our traditional Thanksgiving celebrations.

Grandpa had a good day.

For the second consecutive Thanksgiving, Meg and I skipped our annual Thanksgiving morning race. Running isn’t bringing me joy and that particular race was ruined for me two years ago, when a well-meaning reader recognized me and outed me as a blogger.

Thinking of that day still makes me cringe.

Memories of that day still make it hard to blog.

But sleeping in on Thanksgiving is pretty awesome.

Quiet

I didn’t have anything to say in the days following the election. My world felt different and I didn’t have anything to write. So I didn’t. I just didn’t.

Not writing felt pretty good. Different from not writing when I want to be writing. Or not writing when I have things to say but no time to say them. Or not writing when writing is impossible because my fingers are as twisted up as my thoughts.

This was intentional (if unplanned) quiet.

It was nice to have some space to process.

But now, I am here. I am back. Needing to write about the date I went on almost two weeks ago (it was mostly good) and the kitchen backsplash that I finished almost three weeks ago (also mostly good) and Thanksgiving plans (HOW IS IT THANKSGIVING?) and Brady’s new future as a circus dog (agility class 4ever!) and, oh, maybe a hundred other things.

But first: how are you?