Saturday, November 26, 2016


I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving. I dream of being able to spend the November holiday anonymously, perhaps traveling to a place where they don't celebrate gluttony and violence (football) and unfettered capitalism (Black Friday). While I do have some happy Thanksgiving memories, in recent years the day is just something I want over with as quickly and undramatically as possible.

This year we -- my mother, daughter, and I -- were not invited to anybody else's "celebration," and so I cooked a more or less traditional dinner. My daughter and I like the leftovers more than the meal itself, it seems. My mom enthusiastically helped herself to the homemade cranberry jam, "that red stuff" as she keeps calling it, even piling scoops of it on her salad and pecan pie. Whatever.  

Since it was just the 3 of us, our table conversation was easily enough steered away from anything political -- my condolences to anybody who had to endure otherwise. We talked about the dog show that was broadcast earlier in the day (why do dachshunds never win Best in Show?), the wildfire smoke that made the day seem glooomy, and Thanksgivings past. Although my mother and I shared my first 25 or so Thanksgivings at HER mother's house, my mom's brain betrayed those memories, and instead she complained about having to cook Thanksgiving back when she was married to my Dad and lived wherever that place was called. I tried to make some references to specific traditions and dishes that were part of all of our actual Thanksgiving get-togethers, but Mom didn't really seem to make the connection, to remember that she was there, too. 

Instead of worrying about my mom inventing memories, though, I kept to myself how hilarious the idea of her making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for my Norwegian dad was. Sticky sweet potatoes, turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie -- all of those foods were indeed foreign to him, and we never had anything like that in our house unless it was leftovers schlepped home from Gram's. 

As I was saying, the reason I made Thanksgiving dinner was so that we could have leftovers. And I guess leftovers are like memories. You can recreate the same meal you originally enjoyed, true, but you can also create something entirely new, like my Mom did with her memories of Thanksgiving past. It's not worth getting upset over, it just IS. 

I wonder what she'll be putting cranberry jam on today.....

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Raise Your Hand...

...if you won't be able to get through the next 4 years without therapy.

My issue is that I just ... can't ... handle ... the Donald's ... voice. It provokes such nausea and disgust in me, seriously, that I don't know how I will make it through the coming months. 

Luckily, my new job is housed in the same building as Counseling for Faculty and Staff, so I can relatively easily get the help I need. I suppose part of the problem, though, is that I don't want to accept hearing his voice as a normal part of my existence. 

How are you all coping?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Not Great

Tempting though it is to stay in bed with my head under the covers all day....all week....I don't have that luxury. What I can do is surround myself with good people. 

And start campaigning for Elizabeth Warren in 2020.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Falling Back, Looking Ahead

Photo Source: Deb Campbell Photography
Fall kind of snuck up on us this year. The weather, even for this region, remained stubbornly summer-like well into October. But now, finally, the trees have begun shedding their leaves in earnest, and there is frost on the neighborhood lawns this morning. I'll have to remember to grab a jacket when I head out for work tomorrow morning, to my still-new job that this fortune cookie foretold. 

The new job is a welcome development. I'm still at the same university, but in a department that seems vastly more grounded in the day to day business of helping students achieve their goals, and am free of the drama and dysfunction and denial that made going to my former job such a chore. I am working a lot harder, but also getting paid a lot more, so all in all life is good between the hours of 8am and 5pm. 

But Fall isn't the only thing that snuck up on us. When I wrote my last post about my mother's increasingly unreliable memory, I wasn't prepared for how rapidly and severely her memory loss would progress. In fact, the neurologist said, let's stop referring to this as a memory problem and recognize it as Alzheimer's. To which Mom, always ready to deflect what she doesn't want to hear, said "No, I won't have that." She saw my step-father virtually disappear from that disease, so I can only imagine how terrifying it must be for her, if she allows herself to think about it. I'm not sure she does think about it, though....

It seems strange to say that this disease snuck up on us, since I have been living under the same roof as Mom for the past 12 years. But, being the stubbornly independent women that we both are, we have been doing a good job of living our lives as we damn well please for the most part. Mom had given up driving 2 years ago when her chronic pain condition made her afraid to drive, but other than when she was recovering from a broken wrist and then from pneumonia last year, she gave the impression that she had everything under control and let us know that she was just too lazy to be bothered with certain things. 

Now, though, as I try to organize the physical clutter that has accumulated around my Mom so that she can better negotiate her mental clutter, I am seeing signs that she has been trying to compensate for lots of things for a long time. It felt somehow disloyal to attribute some of her odd behaviors over the past couple of years to anything other than the eccentricities one might be entitled to as they age. And when the elder in question already has a lifelong tendency toward the unconventional and non-conformist, it's even harder to tell when they're just being themself or when something isn't firing properly in their cranium.

So, I admit that it is pretty damn scary to look ahead. However, I am embarking on this new "journey" with open eyes and an open heart. I remind my mother that I understand that what is going on with her mind is something she can't help, and I remind her again. I'm touched that she trusts me to do what is in her best interest, even as we try to work out what exactly that is. 

Fall is finally here, yes, but it won't last forever. I am not going to take a single one of these bright, clear, sunny days for granted. Metaphorically, or meteorologically.