I Smell Like My Grandmother

I was sitting on the couch next to @archietheboy when he farted.  His farts come from a place inside his body where old rubber bones and balls go to die.  I thrust my nose into my shirt to avoid the stench and I was hit with another kind of smell.

Nana Frances, is that you?

Visiting Nana Frances, who is my Dad’s mother, was always fun.  She was an artist, painting portraits and houses and horses and dogs on placemats, of all things.  Commissioned from the mysterious “Mrs. Lowenstein”, she would be given a picture that she would have to recreate several times to make a complete set of placements.  Sometimes I helped her cut the placements out, scalloping the edges with my small scissor.  I loved watching her paint and when I was old enough, she taught me how to draw- quick and easy steps to make vases and how to shade it.

Artistic talent runs in my family- my dad is an artist, I can create and draw stuff when necessary and Zombiegirl inherited her talent from my lineage and from her dad.  I was always impressed with Nana’s talent mostly because she painted in OILS.  Those were (and still are) such a mystery to me that my many tubes of oils I’ve acquired over the years have dried up because I couldn’t bring myself to experiment with them.  But Nana painted paintings and placemats with oils and drew pictures with charcoal and watercolors.  And they were all good.

Except for that damn clown.  That’s a story for another time.

Yeah, when I was younger and my Nana was the same age I am now (mind: blown) I loved her and looked up to her and loved visiting with her and my Grandpa.  It wasn’t until my pre-teen years that I started noticing that she didn’t exactly love me back as much.

My dad has a sister, who has two kids, the oldest the same age as my brother and the younger two years younger than that.  I guess because my Aunt was the daughter (the baby) it was only natural that her kids would be the favorites.  We lived in the same neighborhood as Nana and Pop-pop-turned-Grandpa (again, another day) we saw them often, going to their house for Trick-or-Treat, visiting for birthdays and other minor holidays.  The cousins lived further out on the island and didn’t see them as often, but damn, they were brought up every time we saw Nana.  We were told of accomplishment, big or small, my cousins made.  They sneezed, we heard about it.  They farted, my Nana told us.  When we got together at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we already knew all the news in that household.  And if it was more recent, Nana made sure we knew about it- telling us in front of the cousins what they had done.

It was all very uncomfortable.  For everyone.

I put up with it for years, until I was about 14 and feeling sassy one day, I asked Nana if she told our cousins all about what we were doing.  I know my mom talked to her almost every day and filled her in on news of her other grand kids, did she talk about us to them?

-No, what are you talking about?

-You are always telling us about what our cousins are doing.  Do you talk about me and Robbie to them?

-No.  I don’t do that.  I don’t talk about them to you.

-Yes you do.  A LOT.

-Well, I talk about you to them too.

I found out at the next holiday that she never did.  Something big that I did (First class Girl Scout?) was not relayed to the family- they were surprised when my mom announced it during dinner.  Maybe they were told and they didn’t remember, it’s possible.  But I remember that this was the second time my grandparents betrayed me.  And it hurt.

Over the years, I realized that my Nana wasn’t really a nice person.  I feel like she didn’t care for my mom and as an extension, me and my brother.  My Aunt fueled the fire (they would point out dirty spots in my mom’s kitchen, or catch each other’s eye when my mom said something at the dinner table).  I noticed and I was heartbroken over it. It wasn’t until after she died that we found out that it was always her that wanted to leave (she blamed Grandpa) or that it was her that said hurtful things, not Grandpa.  Nana blamed Grandpa for such much when they were alive.  Poor Grandpa. And poor Nana.  I feel sorry for her as an adult.

I digress, as usual.

Sitting next to Nana, I knew her smell.  It definitely wasn’t a sweet perfume, and it wasn’t the tangy oils she painted with.  It was her own smell and you would get hit with it when she pulled you into a hug.  I know now it was body odor- not a chicken-soup kind of BO that you get a whiff of on the subway- but an underarm/breast/fat sweat that a body gets when they’re going through the changes.  I got a whiff of Nana when I pulled my sweater up over my nose.  My deodorant obviously isn’t working if I’m channeling my grandmother in my pits.

I’m going shopping later for a heavy duty deodorant and powder so that my grand kids don’t tell me I stink.

The World Would Be a Better Place If Everyone Just Did This.

Read the fucking email/text before replying back.  Then read it again for good measure.  It will save a lot of hair-pulling and excess emailing/texting if one reads and comprehends first.

Case in point: at work, we have a sign-off system for business managers.  It’s basically a CYA deal- they are responsible for their space and who sits in it, so we send them an email from our group- a detailed, easy-to-read email- how to review their space, who to ask for information and when the deadlines are.  We’ve dumbed this email down yet the responses we get back are incredibly stupid.  Need info on NY, it says to contact me.  Not the group that sent out the email, not the NJ guy you always deal with, not anyone else we sent the email to.  Need floor plans?  We give you a link- please use it.  The floor plans are up to date-don’t send me that floor plan I gave you six weeks ago and say it’s all wrong. And apparently, deadlines only mean something when you need information, please ignore all our deadlines.

I wasted an hour with this one business manager this morning.  The deadline for changes was last Friday.  She didn’t contact me for any changes, so I uploaded her final space inventory onto our site and started her approval process.  OF COURSE she came back with changes- someone moved out of NJ into NY.  Okay, I can make that change, what’s the desk location?  She emails me back with the building location.  <eyeroll> I email her back asking for her DESK location.  She finally sends it, I make the change, run the spreadsheet and try to upload an updated spreadsheet to our site but it was too late, I couldn’t update the final.  I told her- TOLD HER- I was going to make the changes in the database and send her an updated inventory and if she gave me a “verbal” approval, I would approve her final space inventory with a note that the changes were made.  She emailed me back her approval after I sent the spreadsheet and I went in and approved the final.  Not the solution we strive for, but it works.

After about an hour, she emails me again and says the link to the final spreadsheet doesn’t show the changes.

Wut?

No, sweetie, it doesn’t.  I couldn’t change the final spreadsheet.  I sent her the updates as “proof” that I did it.  She emails me again and said she’s that’s fine, but the file is not updated when she clicks on the link.

<now I’m banging my head on the keyboard>

I send her my original email, and tell her we’re good and it’s approved verbally and that the final is closed and approved.  I refrain from telling her that this all could be avoided if she had bothered to look at the space during the two weeks we gave them to review.  Eighteen emails were exchanged, and about an hour of my time was wasted.

Of course she makes double what I make…

 

Dreamscape

February 17, 2019, on the couch at 5:00 am because of a headache:

February 17, 2019, on the couch at my parent’s house at 5:00 am because of a headache, which is weird because Dad doesn’t have a couch. The smell of something burning woke me up so I got up and walked into the kitchen where I found all four gas burners turned all the way up.  On the back right burner was a large skillet filled with water, boiling away. The left burners had small empty pans, smoking furiously.  The right front burner’s flame was licking at the grease that was spattered everywhere.

I reached with one hand to the back of the stove for the knobs, trying to avoid being burned while I held a kitchen towel over my mouth to avoid the fumes and smoke.  I managed to turn all the burners off, then turned and ran to wake up my parents.

As I approached their room, I met my mother coming out of the bedroom dressed only in her nightgown.  She wildly asked me, “Why is the stove on?”.

How did she know that the stove had been on?  I passed their bedroom on the way to the kitchen and they were sleeping.  The only way she would have know the stove was on was if she had been the one to turn it on.  I told her this and she took a swing at me.

Since we were in the hallway in front of the bathroom, I pushed her inside.  She was like a wild animal, teeth bared and attacking me- pulling my hair, pushing me into the walls.  I tried to fend her off, but we clashed and crashed into the shower, the sink and over to the toilet.  That’s when I grabbed the tissue box (?) and smacked her in the head with it.

She let go of me and fell to the floor.  I ran out of the bathroom and shut the door.  As I ran for my parent’s bedroom I was yelling for my dad, who was still sleeping.  I got to his side of the bed and shook him awake.

“Mom’s crazy!  She’s trying to set the house on fire and she just attacked me.”  To my dad’s credit, he didn’t stop to question me or tell me I was imagining things- he grabbed a baseball bat (?), ran to the bathroom and opened the door.

My mom was standing there with a can of lighter fluid.

She sprayed a stream of viscous fluid all over me.  I looked down and could see the strings of fluid on myself. I was too stunned to move.  Then she clicked the BBQ lighter (?) and set me on fire.

I had the sense to run outside and roll on the lawn to extinguish the flames. After I was put out, I just sat on the grass, panting and wondering why my mother would do something like this.

Then I woke up.

Bullet Journaling

Yo. You still reading here? Hoping I’ll show up with a scintillating and informative blog post? Yeah, me too. I have all these thoughts running around my brain but I just can’t pin them down. I haven’t had a lot of time lately- work is busy, chickens need tending to (I’m officially a “chicken tender”, lol), grandkids need playing with and I’m up to my neck in crocheting and sewing projects. All good things, granted. But from time to time those pesky thoughts buzzing around my head need to be set free and memorialized on my tiny little blog.

For awhile, relying on Facebook or Timehop was ueseful to jog my memories. That is, until I had to delete Timehop because my stupid iPhone was always out of memory- exactly like it’s owner. Facebook has become a sea of stupidity, so I “peace’d out” and deleted the app from my phone as well. Now that I bought a new phone (buh-bye iPhone. My Google Pixel 2 is the bomb.com!) I may load back Timehop. Since November, however, I’ve gone old school. What I’ve been using to journal my day lately is an old notebook from one of our furniture vendors. I draw out the week in a two-page spread with a small monthly calendar in the corner. Each day had the week’s cleaning task written in green and any appointments I had for the day written in blue. Each week I had 5 goals. Each month, another five goals. Before I go to bed, I was supposed to write a short blurb about what happened that day. Uh huh. Riight. Every Monday, I had a blast writing out the dates in fancy, artistic numbers and then filling in the cleaning task and goals for the week. Then I started following all these bullet journal Instagram accounts. I was envious of all the creative, beautiful layouts, the colorful pens and the wonderful lists they made. I started feeling very inferior and the thought of opening my journal made me crazy. I wanted to put so much down but I lost my journal mojo. So little by little, I stopped updating and every week, by Wednesday, the book was in the bottom of my bag and an hour was wasted drawing numbers and filling in the blanks. Doing this over and over every week and forgetting to look at it by the end of the week was depressing.

I realized I hadn’t even started February. It’s the 20th and February ceased to exist.

Fuck that. I deleted all those bullet journal accounts and I put my journal on the shelf in my office and ordered a cute weekly planner/journal from Amazon. This one– it has the layout I want, small month in the weekly view and an overall monthly view. Small enough to fit in my bag and on my night stand. No more wasting time drawing out the week- if I need to be creative, they have places on the pages for doodling and coloring. Who the hell has all that time to draw out freaking life goals? Or cleaning tasks with cherry blossom branches adorning the list? Or a full page of hearts spelling out “February”? I can’t make my living drawing in a book, so I bought it instead. It was cheap enough not to break my budget and I even bought a set of fine tip pens as a treat.

Let’s see how long this will last.

Bye Bye 2017

There were many goodbyes in 2017. Goodbye to my life long belief. Goodbye to high school and all the drama, both student and parent. Goodbye to weekend soccer games. Goodbye to high school softball games. Goodbye to our honey bees. Goodbye to loved ones who have left this world. Goodbye to friends who have moved away. Goodbye to fake friends.

Some sad, some happy, some very much anticipated. Goodbyes are often hard- my grandson won’t suffer goodbyes. He likes hellos much better.

The past year held many joyous hellos for our family. Hello college. Hello to the feathered additions to our family. Hello to a new engagement and the start of wedding plans. Hello to our cute new Jeep. Hello to new friendships and renewed friendships. Hello to many new clients. Hello to Lions and the ones they serve. Hello to a new attitude.

Happy 2018.

Karma, I’m The Chameleon

I’m not sure when it happened, when I stopped believing.  No, not really stopped believing, more like not feeling it, not feeling the entity known as “God”.  It’s been awhile now, I was just afraid to put it down in writing, to actually get outside of my head and acknowledge it.  Afraid of repercussions, perhaps?  Afraid of that bolt of lightning coming down from the sky?  Afraid to admit to my family and friends that this life-long Lutheran, this zealous church-goer/church-dragger no longer believes in a higher entity? Yeah, that last one is pretty much spot on.

It started with my break from the church we were currently attending.  I was super-involved in the church life- Sunday School, Youth Group, Council, Book Club- even heading up the major redesign and renovations to the interior sanctuary.  Throughout my life, I’ve always been involved in church stuff, mostly with kids.  My parents were involved, therefore I got involved.  Not so much my kids, but that’s their decision- I brought them up in the church from Baptism through Confirmation, after that they were on their own.  And not one of them looked back.  In retrospect, I should have taken their lead.

Anyway, yeah, I was super involved.  After attending for almost 16 years,  I got close to the Pastor and to some extent, his wife.  I babysat their birds (one of which died almost immediately when they brought it home, oops), I redesigned their kitchen (pro-bono, of course), we acted in plays together, we travelled to Youth Events across the country together, he commandeered my mother’s funeral.  I confided in my spiritual advisor on many occasions and I thought we should have been considered friends, or at least close in the service of the Lord.

I should have known better.  I never learn.  I’ve thought the same of half a dozen people in my life and the end result was never good.

There were little things that started to piss me off- things we (the Youth Group) would do that would be ignored, or forgotten.  Attempts to pin down dates or plan trips or events would never be acknowledged.  Things would be done behind my back, planned with someone else.  Look, I can take a hint- I’m incredibly perceptive- if one doesn’t want my help just sit me down and talk to me.  Don’t go behind my back in front of my face.

And don’t…do not…insult my child.  Do not insinuate that she did not work on her Confirmation project.  If you know me, or know my family you would understand our work ethic.  We do not do things to get over, or take short cuts.  We give our all and if you asked us to do something and gave my daughter permission to use it as a project you don’t get to speculate whether or not she did it.  And you should not speculate or insinuate in front of the other Confirmands and their families at the official dinner the lack of my daughter’s role in her project.

Yes, I understood he was sick and maybe not himself.  I tried to cut him some slack, I really did.  But right after she was Confirmed, I stopped going to church.

I was hurt, but this next part was truly the icing on the butthurt cake…

I stopped going to church and not one person- not the pastor, not the secretary, not the council, not my neighbors, not my friends who also go to that church- not one of them called me up and asked my why.  Not one of them said “Hey, we miss you.  Come on back.”  Not one of them texted, emailed or Facebooked me.  Months went by and my tithing amount was being taken out of my account.  I emailed the secretary (also my friend) and asked for the form to stop donating.  Not one word was said when the form was sent.  Still, no outreach.  After all that time, after all I did, I felt that no one cared enough to want me back.

Was I hurt? Beyond belief.  Was I mad? Oh, hell yes. Did I get over it?  After many years, yes.  Only two people knew why I drifted off and now I’m finally able to type it out without alternating crying with cursing. Time heals sadness and anger.

I’ve been to a few churches since then, trying them on, see if they and I were a good fit.  Warily, I sang the songs and listened to the sermons and tried not to read the brochures where they were looking for volunteers.  I liked the Holy Roller/Rock Music church I went with my friend to a few times but the last time I went I felt something else other than the LOVE they were fervently preaching.  It took about a year for me to realize it was disbelief.

Agnostic? Atheist? Neither of these actually describe what I think I believe.  I do believe we’re all connected some way.  There are too many instances of Synchronicity in my life to argue otherwise.  And there may be a force at the center of that big web of inter-connectedness, but I don’t feel we should be worshipping it, or praying to it (and why are we still saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezes?  It’s an expulsion of  body fluids!)  I believe in Jesus Christ- the person- and I believe he did die for “our” sins and because he loved “us”.  His message to me is to be kind to my fellow persons, live a clean, good life and do good works.  Do I need a god-figure to tell me to do that?  Do I need a preacher to remind me of that?  Karma plays a big role in my belief these days- rattle that web between you and I and what goes out will definitely come back.  Good and/or bad.

Maybe I’m Buddhist, I don’t know.  Let me meditate on that.