PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Monday, July 31, 2006

Finishing School

I had Wed-Fri off, and five days away from work was nice. Actually, because I get OCD (and control freaky) about things, I still checked email, but successfully resisted the original plan to "pop in" on Friday to make sure everything was fine. I got one phone call and was able to answer the question, so hey - it was nice. Time not spent on death, dying, cancer, driving, the will, the burglary, more driving.

So I got it in my head to finish some things. And finish things I did! I had a pair of socks on the needles that had begun as socks for JWo, were diverted briefly towards my dad, but then obviously everything HAPPENED. So. Back to the Wo they went, and I got those done first:

Opal on 1's:
Socks for JWo

Then, I turned to the truly evil project that has been waiting since late Winter/early Spring: The Homespun Prairie Stripes Afghan. Yes. Knitting with Homespun. Now, here's the bitch of Homespun. I hate how it knits. That binder thread snags & it's hard to control. But the finished product is so soft, washable, and this pattern's pretty. I had half the yarn for it in the first place, plus the pattern, so I figured, knit 'er up. And I turned a blind eye to the part that would later be my biggest stumbling block: the border.

I thought it would never end

Because the border has mitred corners, so you not only pick up 8 gajillion stitches on each side, but you increase your stitches, so it takes even longer, for the 16-row border. WOOHOO. All I can say is, it's nice, it's pretty, it's soft, and IT'S DONE.

See? See How Long It Is?

Then, I also finished Under the Banner of Heaven, by John Krakauer - talk about a mesmerizing, informative, disturbing & jaw-dropping book. I was raised without any organized religion, and knew very little about the origins of Mormonism & even the history right here in Independence, MO (a Kansas City suburb, now known more for meth production than divine salvation...) Without inciting a debate on religion, I can say that it gave me a deeper understanding of my favorite HBO show,Big Love! And that there's a thin line between faith and a cult, and the fundamentalists who have 46 wives who are on welfare, or sleep with their own daughters or wed 14 year olds should be stopped. OK, that was kind of inciteful. But I don't think my blog really plays to the polygamists, either. ;)
posted by PlazaJen, 10:40 AM | link |

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nothin' Plastic Here....

Ran across this blog and laughed my butt off at the different Kansas City Barbies. Also slightly relieved that there was no South Kansas City Barbie, however, I'd wager she does drive a Honda.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:44 AM | link |

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Conversation Snippets

While waiting in the spacious waiting area at Carmax, to get their extremely lowball offer on my dad's truck that we did not even consider:

"I'm moving away from you. You're putting off too much heat."

"I know. I'm like a furnace."

"YOU HAVE A FUNGUS????!!!!!"

"I'm like a FURNACE, Jennifer. But thanks for shouting that I have a fungus."
posted by PlazaJen, 8:25 AM | link |

Friday, July 28, 2006

Some Days.....

Some days I wake up, and I feel all energetic and bustling and ready to hit the day. Other days I wake up and I feel really focused, really polished, ready to knock out some work. And still other days I wake up and feel sluggish, slow, and wish I were going back to bed.

Then? I have the occasional day I wake up and feel like..... this.....

The Jen-nino......

Look out, Kansas City.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:53 AM | link |

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Moments of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion wrote a book called "The Year of Magical Thinking", and her words, her stark, stark writing, take my breath away. It's essentially a chronicle of the year following the death of her husband, John Dunne, and her grief. I can only read it in demitasse spoonfuls. It is beautiful, it is so accurate, it is like an acupuncture needle to my heart and it is like air in my lungs, simultaneously. Painful, reflective, reassuring.

She speaks to the moments, where you forget, where you believe reality is different, when you expect your loved one to come through the door, call on the phone, those moments that happen in just a fraction of time, like when you first wake, before truth is confronted and settles around your shoulders. In that fragment, you can believe it was all a dream, it didn't happen, there's a mistake somewhere, an error in the code. Then you are reminded. Then you see the other memories. Truth prevails. That kind of vascillation can make you feel pretty crazy.

In the grief group, I gravitate towards talking about anger. Anger is a safer place for me. Anger lends itself to a semblance of control. I also quiz the facilitators. We have been asked to bring in pictures, to talk about the person we lost. I could feel the room shrink up in fear, as I felt my own skin retract, pull in. As graciously as I could, I acknowledged that they had run many of these groups, and so I was not questioning the validity of this assignment, but WHAT PURPOSE DOES THIS SERVE? Of course there was some nervous laughter from the other participants, because I believe I was saying what they were thinking, and honestly, I knew from my own reaction they were wondering if they could do it or just avoid it altogether. The answer was that it helps. It helps to memorialize the person, it helps to solidify the experience, and, well, they've done a whole bunch of these groups and me? I haven't done it before, ever. So I'm trusting them. I want to burst into tears at the thought of doing this. But I won't avoid it. I am processing the fear and the grief right now, and over the next few days, so that by Monday night, I can do this, even if it means I cry through the whole thing, but I will do it, because like Joan Didion, I, too, am scrambling for a process, a structure, a loop to grab onto as the grief bus lurches and surges and screeches to a halt and the moments fleet by when I hear the word "Dad" in my head and I know it will never, ever, ever mean the same thing because I am now without one.

I know I'll never stop missing him. I just look forward to that point in time, and I guess it all comes down to time, when it doesn't feel like a cheese grater on my heart when I realize he's never coming back, he wasn't mysteriously switched in the hospital with a doppleganger, this wasn't all some crazy joke, that he won't be on the other end of the phone, giving me advice, laughing about Jon Stewart, singing John Prine with me, loving me. I miss him so.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:57 AM | link |

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sorry Dad.

Flying right in the face of my father, who told me nobody was interested in my dreams, today? I choose to give you BOTH the dreams I remember from last night. It's been quite some time since I remembered a dream, even - and I know all the ones I've had in the past month have been scary, bad, filled with conflict, filled with fear. No great shakes to interpret that, I suppose.

The first was extremely vivid. I dreamt that I got up super early, and rode my bike 30 miles, to a quaint shopping area in a small town outside of St. Louis. When I got there, I found the bike shop where I'd originally purchased the bike, and wheeled it in, stating I needed repairs. It had a flat tire, and was missing one of the pedals. I amazed them with my story of having ridden the bicycle there, especially with only one pedal, and then we decided the bike was worth $8 and I could just buy a new one for $500, but they had to put it together, and I was really stressed out because I still had to ride it another 30 miles to get work.

Would that I exercised half as much in a week's time!

Then I had a second, awful dream, where two guys were trying to kill us, and I kept shooting my shotgun at them, but instead of blasting, it worked like a pellet gun, and I was really pissed, because the whole point of a shotgun is "general aim" and then I finally disabled the one guy by pelting him in the arm, and got his gun away and we were waiting for the police. Yeah, that last part? Doesn't require a lot of interpretation, hm.

I have a few days off, in which I am revelling. I haven't had a day off that wasn't linked to cancer, death, burglary or exhaustion from driving, in a really long time. So if it means I still have crazy dreams when I sleep, I'm ok with that, because at least I'm sleeping, and at least my brain is finally trying to untangle everything. I have a whole 'nother post on grief & the erratic process (Hey! it's definitely like riding a bike with one pedal!)
posted by PlazaJen, 10:32 AM | link |

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pilots of the Caribbean

So we're in a meeting today, and we're talking about Lasik surgery, and whether insurance would ever even cover such a thing, and I chirped, "Well, maybe for pilots or something," you know, always trying to think outside ye olde box; Kristin thought I said "PIRATES" and basically the whole conversation derailed while everyone shut an eye and started shouting in piratey accents, "ARRRRR" "Swab the decks!" "Ahoy!" "Matey!"

That's the fun part of advertising. The not-so-fun part is never shown, like billing, or traffic. But seven grown adults pretending to be pirates? That's a movie scene even Johnny Depp could get behind.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:31 PM | link |

Monday, July 24, 2006

Skinnernet & Shopping

OK, here is the mental picture I have of our internet connection at work: Take a monkey. Preferably a monkey with issues. Give the monkey a hefty combined dose of speed and barbiturates. Put a bucket on his head. String bananas and firecrackers at varying heights around the room. Scatter some tacks on the floor. Close all the doors and windows, and spin the monkey around. Hand him a lighter. See what happens!

Yes, the more I ponder that visual, it’s just like that. We’ve returned to the Skinnernet, clicking the mouse constantly, hoping a frozen snickers bar might eventually drop from the ceiling; some things get through, but then mysteriously, pages cease loading and freeze up. It’s frickin’ maddening. I’m writing this blog in Word (Word. Fo’ bloggin’ and shiznit.) so as not to lose it when the monkey lights up a firecracker.

All of that aside, I had the bad luck to exasperate a cashier at World Market on Friday. They had emailed coupons that gave you 25% off your order, including sale merchandise & gourmet food, so I took advantage of it – picked up some staples, some clearanced drapes & a curtain rod. What wasn’t clear was that you have to present your coupon at the BEGINNING of your transaction. So the little dude exploded when I said, Oh, hey, I have the 25% off coupon, and he tried to cover by saying he needed to start asking for coupons first. Uh, yeah. Because all my couponing has been conditioned by the grocery store, where you hand over your coupons at the end. Plus, I was unloading everything. So, his manager told him he couldn’t cancel it, and we had to return everything, and re-ring it up. Egads. That happens. I had the afternoon off, so no need to panic or rush. I load up my stuff, puzzling in the back of my head why it was still so expensive, I put it all in the car & look at my receipt. He gave me 10% off.

Back into the store. He has me get back in line & we return everything, again, but it’s crazy, because he’d given me the employee discount and he had to manually calculate the prices and I said yes, it was fine if we were off by a few cents. Then, he could not, for the life of him, get the correct code to work on the food. At one point, he offered me another 25% off coupon just to call it quits & walk away. That was the only thing that pissed me off; I said, basically, you’re requesting I spend MORE money, and I can print another coupon at home! So he slogged through, the manager never returned, even though she was paged, and finally, with the assistance of yet another cashier, we got the whole thing rung up correctly. And yes, I got almost $20 off, so it was worth it, but it was stunning to me that a major company (they’re owned by PierOne) would have such a deficit in their register systems. I actually went back to World Market on Saturday (a different location, mind you, and I was quick to present my coupon at the start!) and my cashier still had some issues and questions & had to consult her manager.

Needless to say, I’m done shopping for a while. And, apparently, that applies to online as well, since nothing stays loaded more than three minutes, what with THE MONKEY running around.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:25 AM | link |

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sweetcheeks & Applesauce, I Never Thought Friday'd Get Here.

I am telling you, working five days in a row is a bitch. And I even have the afternoon off. So maybe we should change that statement to four days in a row. Maybe it's just all downhill once you mention the word "working"; I dunno. All I know is, the process of grieving, the process of re-fortifying your fortress after a burglary, re-establishing your routine, the process of reclaiming your formerly-scrubbed and halfway-normal life, which is now an unwashed and unkempt life, like a runaway ragamuffin at the train station, who needs to be deloused and fed hot soup and put to bed with a hand-knit blankie and properly lectured when the time is right - all of this takes a whole lot of energy. Energy you don't even realize is pouring out of your pores into the universe. But it's why every night, and thankfully so, I sleep as though I have been drugged with horse tranquilizers and when a dogfight breaks out at 2 in the morning over who gets to sleep on the big pillow at the bottom of the bed, I snuffle and snort and have absolutely no impact on the situation. (Thank Goodness there's JWo! DogWrangler Extraoridinaire!)

A portion of my energy has been spent badly, fretting and being irritated with my mother. She is also grieving, and I cannot fault that - but in her desire to be the Ultimate Victim (Now with Lifelike Hair! By Mattel. Wine bottles and internet account sold separately.), she is trying to make me feel guilty, sad, bad about myself and my actions as they did or did not affect her throughout my father's illness, death and subsequent events since. But! Because I have gone through a rehabilitation of sorts, Therapy Boot Camp for Dummies, the al-anon for co-dependents and only-children with Excessive Desire To Please Syndrome (EDTPS), I recognize her melodrama and woe-is-me bleating for the rusty saw-toothed bear trap it truly is. However, it has not prevented me from spending four days being extremely angry and burning up some energy as my brain tries to quiet it, fold it neatly like a 400-thread-count sheet, smooth the surface one last time with the palm of my hand and put it away.

And, as usual with trying experiences, there is a lesson. A lesson I've learned and re-learned and put into practice any number of times over the years. I wrote about it some time ago, when things at the former employer were pushing me to near-critical levels - in retrospect, things that pale in comparison to the trials of this year. But that lesson originated from my lifelong conflict with my mother, and it is still true today: the handle opens from the inside.

Today? I'm spending my afternoon with a chair shoved under the handle and a wardrobe pushed up against it. Let the healing recommence.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:21 AM | link |

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Today, I re-named LaFonda (temporarily) the E-Z Bake Honda. Seriously. We could bake bread in that car, casseroles, souffles, you name it, it could be accomplished. Someone needs to invent a big suction device that sucks up all this heat and then stores it away for winter! Git on it, you spammers! I can sacrifice hearing about your Nigerian money trail and your enlargement creams for - oh - ONE MONTH - if you just put your noggin into creating a vacuum (that doesn't lose suction!) to store up all this dreadful heat for when we need it most, like, January. Mmm-kay? In the meantime, I'll be frosting cupcakes in the trunk.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:55 PM | link |

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Rooms Of My Heart

I was sending an email this morning, and in describing how I felt about my mother, I wrote, "There will always be an echo in that room in my heart," and it struck me, how those simple words strung together so accurately captured the essence of my relationship, or lack therof, with her.

I do believe we have rooms in our hearts. We come pre-built with some, and others we build on or remove or downsize as we allow other people to move into them or we tell them to leave. The beautiful thing is the malleability, the infinite size and structure we can create to accommodate those we love.

My mother is nuts. I'm not going to give her any more space here than that, I've ranted to enough people in the past twelve hours and I'm drawn to a lyric snippet from She Wants Revenge that says, "You can rent a space inside my mind, At least until the price becomes too .... HIGH". My heart and mind are valuable property to me, and while I arrived on this earth with a room in my heart for her, one I've never been able to get rid of, I've had to downsize it. Take out some things. Build some other rooms for the wonderful women who have been like a mother to me.

After I wrote that, about the echoing, I wondered, was that also a description of how I felt about my father, now that he's gone? And I was so glad when my heart boomingly replied, "NO", for his room is full. Full of memories, full of love, full of his spirit. What a comfort that is.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:48 AM | link |

Monday, July 17, 2006

CodeCracker Jen

OK, I've been in a small skirmish with the water department for about four days. If you're like me, and you have all your user names & passwords stored on your computer? You need to write them down & put them in your safe deposit box. Or use the same combination for roughly the same set of accounts. Because when stupid mean people take your stuff, you have to recreate the wheel and it's a piano in the ass. (I just trademarked that, btw. I typo-ed "pain" and I think piano is fitting.) It's handy advice, it's free. Do with it what you will.

I went online to pay our water bill, and disaster ensued. I kept getting all kinds of angry admonishments and vague threats to lock me out of the system if I continued to insist on hacking in to PAY THEM. OK, whatever. So I called them up to address this. Turns out, they've been having a bunch of issues with their computers, including the online portion. So we chat briefly, and she just resets our entire account, so I can re-register (to PAY THEM). She gives me the account number, and I go on my cheery way. To be foiled. Again. I try and try, and now I'm getting a message that the last name doesn't match that account number. That's like telling me "YOU ARE NOT WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE AND NO YOU CANNOT COME IN HERE AND GIVE ME MONEY." I chalked it up to their computers, and resolved to try again on Monday.

Monday is here! Monday is today! I try again. Nope. You, dear water customer, do not exist. I call them back. For the time being, my faucets work, so I know I exist somewhere. We review my account number. Whups! Lady on Friday forgot to tell me there was a 'zero' between that one and three. Hey now! It should work! We part ways, I return to the computer.


Now I am swearing and using "motherfucker" and muttering about how heads are gonna ROLL down at the H2O department toDAY! I call back and explain that I am simply trying to give them money, can we please see what is the matter? So we go back to the account number. Starts with, "Four, zero..."
Wait a minute. She interrupts me. It's not Four, Zero - it's FOUR ZEROS. The dawn has risen! Light is shed! We review the 16-digit account number. Okey-dokey. Problem solved!


Oh mah god. I thought I was going to have to get my nails out of the dropped-ceiling tile. Now, I have three numbers written down, and there was still some difference in the last six, what with the number of zeroes and where they appeared.

So I started code-cracking. It only took three tries, and when that worked, I wrote it down. I should probably put it in our safe deposit box this weekend.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:44 AM | link |

Sunday, July 16, 2006

This Afternoon, I'm Baking Cookies On The Driveway.

So, it's like, totally hot. Not in the sleazy Paris-Hilton-slutty-drawl trying-to-trademark-the-stupidest-phrase-ever sort of way, but in Holy-Crap-I-burnt-my-eyebrows-off--re-entering-the-atmosphere-in-my-car sorta way.

This turns us into The Mole People. Shades drawn, a/c on, slowly moving only when necessary. Yesterday, that meant a lot of crawling around on the floor, because I was hooking up our surround sound (I am becoming an expert and soon will be seen driving a painted/wrapped Scion emblazoned "Jen on Demand! Hookin' Up All Yo' Shit!"). The only benefit was the scientific fact that heat rises, and by being flat on the floor, I was as far from the heat as I could get.

I saw a lot of people yesterday driving around with their windows down, and I could only guess that they were trying to improve their gas mileage by not running the a/c, or else I missed the bit on the news about a large number of folk breaking out of the asylum & knocking off a car dealer. I must say, unless you are from oh, around the equator, I can't justify the gas mileage savings in this heat. Oddly enough though, I am the girl who immediately starts to sweat & takes a good fifteen minutes in front of a fan to stop? Yesterday? Didn't crack a sweat until I left Target and walked to my car. Even IN Target, I usually sweat, because the air isn't moving. I get that lovely clammy skin-chill combined with sweat pouring out my head. It's damn sexy and if you see me coming, do us a both a favor and run the other way, because you will be unable to fight the desire to run up and touch me. mmm-hmmm. I'm like another sun, the gravitational pull is so great.

Anyway, it's going to be 98 today, 99 tomorrow & Tuesday, up to 100 on Wednesday, and then a cool front comes through, dropping it back to 99 on Thursday. I'm going to be fighting off a LOT of fans this week. No pun intended.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:26 AM | link |

Friday, July 14, 2006

Things I've Learned Today:

1. Working the front desk of the KC South Patrol Police Department has got to be interesting, every single day. While waiting to be helped & then waiting for change from having to purchase a copy of our police report, someone called in and was pissed at Walter for taking his car and then wanted to tell additional stories, presumably of how Walter had done him wrong on other occasions, and the woman firmly instructed said caller, over and over, on the proper procedure for reporting crimes and what she could and could not do over the phone. Then, a skinny angry young lady came in to file a complaint because the police never took her mother to a battered woman's shelter like they were s'posed to, and she was PISSED, even though this happened three weeks ago.

1A. I was moderately irritated that I, said victim of burglary, had to pay $8 for a copy of my police report. So much so that when the woman helping me exhaustedly asked if I had exact change, I didn't even try to look and see if I did. Find me my change, lady. Y'all couldn't get to my house in under 20 minutes, thus allowing four men to take thousands and thousands of dollars in personal property? I'm not going to do backflips through my purse.

2. Two thumbs up to American Family Insurance. I love my agent, in St. Louis, and I've been happy with their service every single time. Unless they drop us, and then I'm going to blog about that and curse them. But in the meantime, highly recommended.

3. Did you know a large number of people go in to the cable store to put money on their cable bill? I felt like a cake-eater, but I just did not understand why anyone would wait in line 30 minutes to pay their bill (and I waited in line for a good ten minutes to pay the glorious cable company $510 for a fucking DVR cable box that won't even work now that it's left our home). I got back in the car and told JWo, my world would be FUBAR'd if I had to go and pay all our bills at the various offices. Seriously, once you put the water, electricity, phone, gas bill into the mix? I'd be taking three days off of work every month. Internet, I love thee.

4. Banks are now hiring tellers who are 14 years old. The young man-boy working at the bank looked like he wasn't old enough to mow my lawn, let alone dabble in my checking account.

5. It's 1,000 degrees today, and it's going to stay that way. Apparently this is the price I pay for living my winters without fourteen feet of snow. Fat Girl Sweating. I'm just warnin' ya.

TGIF! But we already knew that one.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:41 PM | link |

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's Like Asking the Monarch to Return to the Chrysalis

One of the downsides of "recovering", as I can't think of a different, more elaborate word for it, is that it takes a shitton of energy. As in, by 3:00 each day, my eyelids are hanging heavy, and by the time I get home, I not only feel like I've been jetting around the world, my face looks like I've been dancing at an all-eighties discotheque and I just had to have that last shot of Jager & gyrate to one last rockin' song by the Hooters. I actually accused JWo of slipping me a mickey tonight.

When you make an insurance claim, you have to fill out a big spreadsheet with a list of everything you lost, with age of item, how much you paid, blah blah blah. Then, your claims agent calls you & you have to read it out loud for posterity and agree, twice, that you have agreed to being tape recorded. I was mortified when, two-thirds of the way through the list, I simply fell apart. Somewhere, in the great Insurance Records of All-Time, my nasal husky voice will remain on some tape, cracking, breaking, and then me crying, because when I got to the lines where our travel wallets were taken, I realized the last time we'd used them was when we went to Jamaica to get married. And now they're gone. They're not inofthemselves sentimental items, granted, but it just was that little proverbial straw, cracking everything under its barely-there weight, and then everything tumbling and rumbling and settling underneath it while I wavered and quavered and regained composure.

I miss my stuff.
I miss my dad.
More than all the stuff times infinity.

I miss my naiveté, the innocence I didn't even know I had, just a few short months ago. But it's like looking at a pair of pants that are torn & ragged and six sizes too small and the zipper's gone and the seams are blown - it's empty regret, a hollow chocolate easter bunny. Wishing you could put the water back into the faucet. As if you could will the leaves to shrink back into their buds. What's done is done, there's nothing to come of missing that innocence except to acknowledge that it's gone, and I must carry my wisdom, my experience with me until it grows more comfortable, and I learn to be less burdened by it.

Sleep, blessed sleep. I know my cells regenerate and repair, knitting themselves new accessories and shoveling out what's no longer needed. May my Remedy Gnomes get to work on my heart and my soul, as I slip into darkness, so my eyes look forward more than they look down or look back.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:38 PM | link |

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Birthday Yarrrrrrn

Birthday Yarn

Well, I had secret high hopes that Miss Kristin would be gifting me some handspun.... little did I know how absolutely splendiferous it would be!!!!! She made me enough for a pair of socks, it's superwash wool and some of the softest yarn my fingers ever have touched. (Say you wanted some, you could go buy you some right here on her Etsy page.) The colors are a rich cherry & pink with dark plum and lavenders shot through. She named it "No Place Like Home" and informed me that knitting with red yarn has healing properties. If I could, I would thread a darning needle with the stuff and sew up all my rips and tears on my psyche and my heart that the last few months have rendered. Instead, I will knit myself some socks, and I will heal up my wounds, keep moving forward, the only way out is through, my old normal will never be with me again, but all of this is ok. Life is for the living, and I'm still here. I want to stand outside in the rain that is pouring down, turn my face to the sky and feel water on my face that isn't from my own tears. And I want to whisper under the rumble of thunder, feeling the reverberation in my chest: "I am loved."
posted by PlazaJen, 7:53 PM | link |

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Only Way Out Is Through

Somehow, I think I might've titled a previous blog that same way. Who knows. I'm tired. The trip back to the farm takes right around 7 hours, 425 miles, and I've made the trip five times since the beginning of April. That's 4,250 miles roundtrip, which I had to use a calculator to calculate and that right there should tell you I'm still working hard at becoming whole and in posession of all my faculties. Because the old Jennifer would know to take 2 times five first, giving you ten, just add a zero to 425, but instead I took 425 times two, and didn't feel like calculating 850 times five. Sigh. In addition to not being a mathematician, I can tell you right now, I was never meant to be a trucker. I might swear like one, and I might haul across the miles like one, but the notion of getting up the next day to keep on drivin'? Makes me want to crawl back under the covers.

We drove home separately, because we brought home the truck my father left me. I had no desire to drive it, because it is one size smaller than a semi, and I could keep track of JWo just by the wingspan of the mirrors on the thing. I'm going to sell it, because it's ginormous, it gets 12 mpg, and even my dad had suggested doing so. The time driving separately meant we each listened to music we preferred, but I discovered I had a big mix that included Sarah Mclachlan, and so I wept and wailed and bawled until my vision was blurred and then I remembered I was driving, and the last thing any of us needed was for me to shoot LaFonda right off the interstate. It was a lot of time spent in my head, and the swirling and the hamster wheel and the imagination of things got to us both. Dying is easy, it's getting through all the shit left behind that's tough. There's things related to the will, to how things were left, to having this whole new family who was the center of my Dad's life the past 6 years, there's all the bullshit that goes with small town living, and I'm angry. I'm pissed off that all these things cloud my mind and jump in front of the true task at hand, mourning my father. They're worth addressing, they do require thought, but all the same, I hate how they suck me dry and work me up and cause me angst & worry.

I always, always excelled at walking away. I walked away from that small town, because my father conditioned me my entire life to never want that existence, to go out and find the whole world and achieve my greatest potential. Now I find myself like Brer Rabbit and the tar baby, as I punch it to leave me alone, I only become more stuck to it, and all I want is for everything to be resolved, to be fair, to be back to normal, and I fear normal will never come again. So I keep walking, dragging all this crap through the darkness, everything's sticky, and I hope that I am at least getting through, not going in circles.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:46 AM | link |

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Live from the Improv

Well, we hauled ourselves back up to Iowa because today is the Celebration of My Dad's Life. That's sort of what I dubbed it early on & it's stuck. Basically, 40 people at the house, appetizers & drinks, and two hours of who knows what. People like funerals because they're scripted, often have a set formula they follow, and they are a ritual, have order. Since my dad didn't want a funeral, but instead a party, we are all busying ourselves with getting the house ready, making food & avoiding thinking about what anyone might expect or be wanting when they get here. No speeches, that's for sure. I can already feel myself shrinking & wanting to stay upstairs away from everyone, which is not an option, of course.

Last night, we had birthday cake (for me!) and I cried later as well. I'd heard from many people all the "firsts" you have after someone you love dies; it hit me hard last night, first birthday without dad. Grief manages to get in all the sucker punches, huh.

Brenda got out some old photos and envelopes, and I was fine until I saw the photo of my great-grandma Hattie, I know I've referenced her here before, and I burst into tears. There were a couple of her letters in the mix as well, peppered with admonishments, advice, updates on her life, and always a complaint about the price of gas or fuel oil. What a gem. Reading her letters made me smile, and dry my tears. It's how we live on in the hearts of others, I suppose, that determines your legacy. I know my father touched so many lives, and today is about allowing everyone who loved him to celebrate their own memories, their relationship with him. No script, no formula. It's how he lived his life.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:29 AM | link |

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cold Nose, Warm Heart

Well, thanks again to everyone for the b'day wishes, emails, and general good vibes & karma that were sent my way. I'm pre-publishing because I just uploaded a few pictures, and I absolutely adore this one of Miss Suzy. Even though I was lying on the floor with her, it's the same look I see just as she nuzzles up under my chin to give me a snuffly small lick each night. (Opposed to Polly, who tries to exfoliate every inch she can lick.) A magnificent guardian, her growl would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, but in the end, a gentle giant of a lab-chessie mix. Love & affection surrounds me, both from humans and canines, and I am basking in it. Thank you, friends.

posted by PlazaJen, 5:07 AM | link |

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Here's to a brand-new year.

I always think of birthdays (even more so than New Year's) as a fresh start.

Looking over my shoulder at the last month, I think it's an understatement to say there's nothing more necessary right now than a start so fresh, daisies grow out its butt.

And that's just a Hallmark image for ya, huh? Well, it's my birthday. We'd always hold back some sparklers from the 4th for me to light & burn my hands with on my birthday as well. I can still smell 'em. Did I ever tell you about the time I thought it would be smashing to put sparklers, instead of candles, on a birthday cake for a guy I dated (briefly) in college? Yeah. That's not advisable. It sets off smoke alarms..... Just an FYI.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:07 PM | link |

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Random Orts....

I have no interest, ever, in being shot into outer space. The very notion makes me claustrophobic. Not even if you sent a monkey or a dog with me.

Criminals are uber-stupid. UBER. If I could put the umlaut on that word in Blogger, I would.

Private investigators are tres cool. I can't put the accent mark on that one, either.

When you go to Detroit for a five-day backgammon tournament, you come home and use the qualifiers "uber" and "tres" a lot. We're still researching why.

When JWo is home, the dogs stop barking at everything.

I have started being able to sleep. In fact, just took a three-hour nap.

I keep discovering things they've taken. That part really sucks.

I read the Wikipedia summaries about the Book of Job. Because last weekend, I kept thinking, "Huh. This is starting to feel a little like I should maybe change my name?"

As a kid, I read the play "JB", by Archibald Macleish, a hundred times; it is a modern-day parable of Job, and how he cries out for God, even on his dung heap. Thankfully, I haven't a dung heap. Or boils. But if the locusts come? I have a big flyswatter, and I'm ready.

I am blessed with wonderful friends and family. Blessed. And grateful.

I turn 38 in two days. I feel like the month of June aged me, rapidly, but I don't mind. It won't always be this hard. And, as I said just a couple short months ago, in answer to the question, "Will you be ok?": "I don't have a choice." Of course we have choices, we choose our paths, and while I'm prone to falling down and tripping, I am always and forever going to choose the path through, towards the sunshine and stars, towards the voices of friends, a black dog at my side, knitting in a bag, and whether it's today, tomorrow, next year or seventeen years from now, I will always be ok. The reason I bring up all this Job stuff is not that I believe my life is a parallel, for it has not been destroyed, but to show we have the choice, to have faith that life will get better, rather than allow ourselves to become mired in sorrow and anger and bitterness. The subconcious of my mind brings it to the top, because even though it's been 20+ years since I read that play, the lesson remains.

But I still want to punch the burglars in the nose. Hard. Actually? I decided putting cosmetic lip plumper? Like "Lip Venom"? On all areas where there's sensitive skin? Would be a really satisfying revenge.

And then after all their skin's drenched in Lip Venom, we'll put 'em in a space suit & shoot them into outer space. With monkeys. And locusts.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:40 PM | link |

Monday, July 03, 2006

Slumber Party Week!

In the wake of the burglary, I've had a houseguest each night, in addition to both dogs sleeping in the bedroom. Sadly, not one night was spent doing hair, makeup or nails. However, last night, my friend Jimmi & I got caught up on the Grey's Anatomy finale, still on the DVR that was NOT stolen, and while it was good, it was oh, you know, a frickin' knife through my heart. The heart patient dude dies, the resident who loves him stays on his bed curled up with him, just like Brenda did with my dad after he died, one of the other residents carried her off the bed, just like her oldest son did to her - and let's just leave the trip down memory lane at that. I snuffled. But I didn't fall apart, because right now, the last thing I can do is fall apart.

James gets home today (he has been in Detroit for five days) and I expect I'll fall apart then. I will at least start getting more than 5 hours of sleep. Then, the alarming of the home commences. Outdoor siren is a GO! I wonder if there's an extra service charge to get dudes rapelling from a helicopter & ninja ass-kicking would-be thieves. I was hoping for some sort of Raiders of the Lost Ark booby-trap, like a thousand nail guns firing if a trigger gets tripped, or a giant net falling from the ceiling and releasing a million fire ants on the trapped pigfuckers. Perhaps I'll need to form my own security company to install those measures. Evil suggestions are welcome.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:15 AM | link |

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Serenity NOW!

I'm feeling a little like George Costanza's dad, walking around & shouting angrily "Serenity NOW!"

On the other hand, I feel a strange sense of calm. There are only so many things worth valuing and wringing your hands over, and all of them are still here. Of course, except my father, but I also recognize reality.

We are going to turn the abode into one level below Fort Knox, and I'm still debating on the outdoor siren. For whatever reason (probably the same reason I love me a megaphone), it speaks to me. I guess it comes down to whether I want my neighbors to speak to me after the first false alarm?

The dogs are maintaining the front lines, and Suzy especially is not having any time for the security people coming in with their quotes. This morning was especially eyebrow-raising, just how pissed she was. I have to admit, I love it. They did this last time I had a scare, picked up on my anxiety & stepped up their own guard-dog levels. They follow me everywhere and it's a great feeling. Polly might try to lick someone to death, but I have complete faith that Suzy would take someone's arm or face right off. Reconstructive surgery: a bitch.

My task at hand is to have some serenity, and to enjoy as much as I can, the time off. So, if you're in the metro area and you see a round red-head marching about in her off-road crocs, muttering SERENITY NOW! hey - just say hi, I'll tell you my life story, I did it to a stranger at Target yesterday, and we'll have good times. Just keep your hands away from Suzy.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:58 AM | link |