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01 - Introduction
02 – Your first love
03 – Your parents (this is long as HELL) )

04 – What you ate today
05 – Your definition of love
06 – Your day
07 – Your best friend
08 – A moment
09 – Your beliefs
10 – What you wore today
11 – Your siblings
12 – What’s in your bag
13 – This week
14 – What you wore today
15 – Your dreams
16 – Your first kiss
17 – Your favorite memory
18 – Your favorite birthday
19 – Something you regret
20 – This month
21 – Another moment
22 – Something that upsets you
23 – Something that makes you feel better
24 – Something that makes you cry
25 – A first
26 – Your fears
27 – Your favorite place
28 – Something that you miss
29 – Your aspirations
30 – One last moment
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One of the only reasons why I keep my Facebook account active is because it keeps me in contact with Middle Brother. We're pretty much all the family that either has got. I mean, I have my father, but that's it. And Middle Brother only has me (he's my half-brother, but we were raised to ignore that fact). He updates rarely and its usually forwards of one kind or another, but they're there and it's a small bit of contact I'd like to retain.

He came over last night because he's moved back to the area and right before he arrived at the apartment, I was struck with the realization that I had not seen him since December. It left me unsteady for a few moments, with a bitter and metallic taste in my mouth.

We hung out for several hours, me and him, the Engineer and the Amazing Larry. Middle Brother sat in the recliner and drank his shitty beers and talked a lot of nonsense about aliens and programs on the History Channel. It was a good time and he left with the two of us making plans for me to visit his new apartment in the very near future.

When I logged into Facebook this evening, I saw that he had "liked" the page: I WISH I HAD MY MOM I TRULY MISS HER TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOM CAUSE YOU DONT KNOW HOW LONG YOU HAVE HER

And it made me cry. Even though it'll be six years in November since she died, we still don't talk much about her. I don't know if it's our family-taught brand of stoicism or our own emotional stuntedness, but we just don't talk about her. Once in a while, one of us will pass a comment about her, but it's always in a general our mom was a little bit nuts, in a slightly annoying and charming way. And whenever it happens, we both smile for a brief time and kind of share a small laugh over it because, at her heart, this was very true.

She could also be a real ball-breaker, our mother. And I won't lie and say that I don't carry many scars. She could be warm, when she let herself and when we, because it's not all her fault, let her. She loved us fiercely and would go to great lengths to protect us. One of the things she said in the lead up to her death was that she was scared. She was scared and worried for my brother and I because she wouldn't be there to take care of us. When she said it, I put my arms around her and told her not worry about us. And while it didn't settle her mind completely, it was enough to calm her.

She loved us. But, at the same time, she was deeply unhappy with how her life had turned out. Even back before the cancer was just the barest thought of an abnormal cell in her blood, she was miserable. Pregnant at 16 and married to an abusive narcissist. Divorced at 23, with two young boys in tow and no skills to survive. Married again to a man she didn't love because her attorney told her to "get married yesterday" because her ex-husband was making noises about a custody battle. A single mother, who initiated the divorce, in that time was not a sympathetic figure. Working an endless stream of dead-end, soul-killing jobs. Failed relationship after failed relationship. Drunk mother. Dead father. All of that and then cancer gnawing away at your guts? Yeah, I'd be a downright cunt about the entire affair too.

So, I don't blame her for being miserable. She didn't have many options. The disparity between her life at 35 and my life at 35 gives me The Fear and the idea of a very similar bullet I am dodging every day leaves me awake at night. No blame and no grudge held, but the scars remain.

Every year, they grow a bit fainter. I look in the mirror in the morning and see her face more clearly every day.

Last night, my brother had himself a good laugh over the thick crop of white hairs I have been growing as of late. I haven't dyed my hair since January or so because I haven't had the money, so my grey has gone dandelion wild. Despite the fact that he is older than me by five years, I'm the one who got hit with the shitty end of the genetic stick. Both of my parents were completely grey by the age of 25. He only has half of the faulty genes I'm afflicted with and from all reports, his own father still has a full head of jet black hair.

Her birthday is coming up in two months. I should go to the ocean for a visit. Labor day weekend, perhaps.
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If I have learned one, single thing from being the significant other of a Freemason, it is the art of public kissing (and by public kissing, I mean the act of kissing hello and goodbye, something which has fallen from mannerly fashion).

Every time I attended some form of masonly gathering, I find myself not being able to enter or exit a room without a flurry of kisses from older men in suits. And when I say art of kissing, I mean it. There is an intensely subtle craft to it. The kiss must be centered precisely on the proferred cheek; too far towards the ear and it lends an air of creepiness, too close to the bottom of the jaw and it's just awkward, and too close to the mouth, it's just plain inappropriate. One's mouth may not be too dry (painful) or too wet (gross), nor should one's mouth be too open or closed for the same reasons. A kiss of greeting (or departure) is specific and regimented, failing to perform it perfectly just leads to uncomfortable situations.

When the Engineer first entered Freemasonry, I was not even remotely comfortable with so much physical contact, let alone from nigh-on strangers. I fidgeted and stammered when forced into attending events, finding excuses to slip away and generally keeping to myself. I'm not sure when this exactly changed, but I found myself going through the steps of casual social encounters. After so many years of holding myself apart from people, it felt alien at first and there were many nights when I went home and laid awake for hours trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

In part, I believe the change was brought about by our friendship with one of the other officers-in-line (the Engineer was going through the chairs), who is now soon to be a Past Master. He and his wife opened their home to us, greeting us with such warmth and friendliness that it was a bit staggering. I found myself participating in things like fundraiser bake sales and spaghetti dinners (that year was a record-breaker for funds raised, and I cooked/baked for both. Coincedence? heh...) and donating my time to help out in several, painstaking projects. I didn't enter into these endeveours with any type of motive in mind. I just deeply respected the people behind them. I didn't do them for the lodge; I did it for them.

Recently, over the past few months, there has been some drama engulfing the lodge and there has been an enormous amount of trash-talking and outright disrespect to done to the soon-to-be Past Master. It pains me to see it, particularly when other people I admired and respected have involved themselves in it (they say they have valid reasons to do so, but I have yet to be convinced). The Engineer is upset as well, even moreso because of his personal commitment to the lodge. He removed himself from line and the past couple of weeks have been spent trying to figure out what happens next. I reckon we'll find out when we get there, though the wait is annoying.

It's amazing, the political machinations I have witnessed throughout all of this. It brings to mind the petty squabbling and gladhanding of the doomed Roman Senate. Whenever I have been privy to conversation, I always feel like an anthropologist in the field, studying a wildly different culture than my own. Once, I was asked by one of the Brothers for any opinion I may have had on a conversation that had happened earlier that he knew I witnessed. I told him that since I don't understand the majority of the subject matter, I don't pay attention. He looked at me for a moment, smiled, and said: "Somehow, you being you, I doubt that." I laughed when he said that. We had always enjoyed each other's company and he had always treated me slightly different than the other Significant Others. We once bonded over a mutual love of HP Lovecraft and Otis Redding. He's also one of the ones who I'm currently waiting to be convinced by; since he was always one of my favourite people, this is a particular pain.

Even if all of this ends in broken bridges, stepping out from behind the wall I've built around myself for years and years remains an interesting experience that I hope continues. I've spent far too long wrapped up in my own head and loathe to unentangle myself from my broken brain. Too long, immersed and afraid. I don't want to live my life like that anymore. I don't want to get to the end of my life and think to myself, I could have done so much more. That singular lesson from my mother's death lies particularly bitter and green across my tongue. I loved her deeply, but do not want to follow in her footsteps.

She gave up her life and dreams to be a mother (of some irony, she wanted to be anthropologist), something which many women do and have no problem living with their decisions. But, I get the idea that my mother was always vaguely resentful of being forced to do this (her first marriage, at age 17, was in direct response to a pregnancy and her second marriage, at 28, was prompted by being told to "if you want to keep custody of your two sons, get married yesterday" by her lawyer) and thus, spent the rest of her life always wishing she had done better, but drowning in the notion she was too old to start over. Being so much like my mother as it is, I've always been afraid of falling into the same trap. It's what eventually prompted me to go back to school two years ago.


This feels a lot like that "growing up" thing I've heard so much about. I'm not sure of my opinion on the matter quite yet, but I reckon I'm willing to wait and see.
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Last weekend, the Engineer's brother got married. It seemed like there had been an enormous amount of years inbetween the announcing of engagement to now, but during one of the speeches at the reception, I realized they'd only been together about two years or so.

I am happy that he is happy, as he is a man who has always had difficulty finding his own niche in this world and someone to share it with. We have told him many times over the past eight years to figure out who he was before he went on any kind of journey to find love, but he never listened. Little brothers rarely do.

And even though I am glad that he has found apparent happiness (and it's with a woman I can stand being around for slightly extended periods of time, which is always nice), the wedding and subsequent festivities have left a feeling of uncomfortable disquiet in my person.

I couldn't put my finger on it all weekend; not until about fifteen minutes ago when I stood up from my aimless internet wandering and went into the kitchen for a glass of ice water. I couldn't place this unsettled, slight sadness and instead, choose to worry at it from all angles like a particularly stubborn hangnail.

And it all boils down to this: I miss my mother. It is September, the month of her birthday, and I am missing my mother terribly. She would have been sixty-five.

It was a vague sense looming so subtly in the background that I have grown so accustomed to that I almost overlooked it. This feeling of absolute loss has just become so intertwined with my normal day-to-day activity that it has simply become a fact of my being, much like the facts of my having blue eyes and crooked teeth. It'll have been five years this November. Five years since she died holding my hand. Five years since I heard her voice and felt her smile. Five years since I was swept under with an overwhelming mixture of heartbreak, relief, guilt, and liberation that hit me like a rogue wave capsizing a tiny boat. I always knew the heartbreak was coming; it is an imminent feeling for anyone close to one, or both, their parents. We are meant to be preceded in death by them, so it's generally just a given. But the other emotions? Therein lies the rub.

I knew my attendance at the wedding/reception would bring a host of things to the forefront of my brain; other people's family affairs always do, as I stand constantly alien within them. Consistently, I am uncomfortable at these gatherings and never know how to behave. My blood-family doesn't have them any more, at least not that I am invited to, and when we did- they were very different affairs. And I am filled with a bizarre envious desire whenever I see someone lavished with attention by their relatives.

This event was no different, in that regard. It was, after all, the first marriage produced within the children of the Engineer's parents and the parents of his brother's fiancee. So, freakouts were plentiful on both sides. I expected that. I did not, however, expect the fleeting shock of narrow-eyed hurt to course through me when the Engineer's mother gave a tearful speech at the reception stating how much she had always wanted a daughter and her joy at how she now has one.

I immediately tensed up (I've been around for eight years; what am I?), then grew very still at the realization that I have always held myself ever so slightly aloof from his parents and made it quite clear that I was not in the market for another mother. The Engineer's mother is a lovely woman who has never been anything but kind and warm to me, but I have always been fidgety at the idea of her, of anyone for that matter, claiming me as another child. I also recognized that this event was entirely about the Engineer's brother and his bride; of course their mother wouldn't be thinking of me. Ridiculous and shame-faced, I thrust my brief hurt away, silly and selfish, and applauded her when she was finished speaking.

I drank a lot of rum, made friends with an older woman who has known the Engineer's mother since high school and beyond, but refused to dance. Public dancing and I are currently not on speaking terms. I sang songs to the Engineer, smoked a metric shittonne of cigarettes, cringed at overly loud music, and accepted hugs from a variety of strangers. A normal wedding reception, essentially.

Throughout everything, there was still that weird little feeling in the pit of my stomach that took me until the small hours of Monday morning to figure out was the lack of my mother. It was uncomfortable; I was uncomfortable. Since my mother has died, and even for a short time before, I have been coping with her non-existence. Every day, I do not have a mother any longer. I am constantly reminded of this fact.

The interesting thing is that when she was sick, I had made a comment in my journal that watching her die of cancer was like watching someone being slowly washed away by the sea. The tide tumbles in, and when it rolls back out again- a small piece is missing. Over and over again, this was slowly repeated until there was nothing left and she was gone from my life. It happened again as I made the apartment into my home. Her belongings, the objects infused with her presence, were taken out in gradual increments. Her couch, her end chair that was hideous but I loved anyway, the bed she only had for four years, her elderly dresser. I put most of it out on the curb for someone else to take and every time, it felt like I was abandoning her on the side of the road. Another tide slowly taking her away, piece by piece.

Now, I've noticed a similar thing is happening with the hurt I've been carrying around with me. The ocean is slowly washing it away. It won't ever completely vanish from my life; the Powers That Be aren't quite that benevolent to give us such a great escape clause. But, over time the edges do wear down and things aren't quite so prickly. It's no longer an open wound; it's a trick knee that aches when bad rain is coming.

The pain used to be bad, so sharp within my chest that it hurt to draw breath. For two years, I walked as the blind undead. Everything I touched that belonged to her sent a hot spark through my fingers. I flinched away from all but the most casual of contacts and connections. It all just hurt too much. The third year, the pain began to slowly lose its hard diamond luster. Fourth year, I was finally able to speak of her death in practical terms and not bawl in the middle of a sentence.

Year five? It's not over yet, but things seem to be following the same pattern. The tide still rolls in as I watch it wash the familiar away.

Her birthday is next Sunday. I've been thinking of driving down to Cape May to where I scattered her ashes. I've gone twice already this summer, but only for pleasure trips. Never alone and never with the express intent to visit. I could drive down in the late morning and stand on the shore, smoke my cigarettes, and watch the waves.
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Last night, I went to a bar in a town whose name sounded more like a cheese than a geographic location, one of those really stinky and gooey blues. I got myself extremely drunk on multiple orders of Malibu-and-diet, plugged entirely too many dollars into the jukebox to play Otis Redding and Black Sabbath), stood outside in a light rain and laughed my fool head off until the world spun as drunkenly as I was. It was a good time I was not entirely expecting to have.

This bar was roughly twenty minutes or so from my apartment, where the whole scheme of South Jersey slides into a dimensional gate which delivers to you to the heart of Mississippi. That version of South Jersey is one I am quite familiar with, if not a bit comfortable. I grew up in that sort of environment. For the Engineer, and the majority of the rest of our party, it is much like the surface of the moon: disoriently alien and more than a bit frightening. We saw a man on a ten-speed riding across a highly traveled road heading to the liquor store next to the bar, holding a baby on his right hip. Then we saw him on his return trip, holding a six pack in the same arm with the baby. The baby waved at us our his father shoulder. I waved back.

When we first entered the bar, we were greeted by a blast of Neil Diamond. I must have visibly blanched. As of that night, it was only four days until the four year anniversary of my mother's death and she adored Neil Diamond to the point it embarassed the hell out of me and amused all of my friends incessantly. I can't hear his music without thinking of her face. Sometimes, I'm able to enjoy the moment. A year or so ago, I drove back from Pittsburgh with Joanna, endlessly restarting a greatest hits complimation for five hours, picking apart the meaning of the lyrics to Shiloh. Not a month ago, I attended a friend's wedding and sung along with gleeful and drunken abandon to Sweet Caroline.

Last night at the bar, it was Sweet Caroline once more and my reaction couldn't have been more different. The Engineer turned to me and asked if I knew what day it was. I told him I was well aware of it and that in the next four days, I would grow increasingly aware of the date. He pushed a piece of hair from my face and held my hand.

Tonight, someone on my friend's list posted a link to Chemo Angels and for the briefest spans of time, I contemplated signing up to be a part of it. They match individuals with people going through rounds of chemotherapy. The Chemo Angel is responsible for weekly sending the patient cards, notes, letters, and small gifts to bring them cheer and encouragement. I read through the website, thinking to myself that this was such an amazing idea and that I would be interested in participating. A thought popped into my head that my mother would have loved this sort of thing.

And then, out of nowhere, I started to cry.

These wounds are still far more open than I believed them to be; the edges are raw and bleeding, only I hadn't noticed. I had fooled myself with jokes and bravado into thinking the brunt of the pain had finally dissolved, but it's barely scabbed over, isn't it?

I wish I could find a recording of her voice. I don't remember what it sounds like anymore and that screws a small twist of bleak winter cold into my heart.
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The other day, I was heading outside for a cigarette with one of my co-workers and I paused at the copy machine to look at something that had come off the printer. I had turned around to walk away when my co-worker, Gloria, teased me impatiently for holding her up and, out of nowhere, said:

Come on, Matilda.

And it froze me in my tracks.

My mother used to call me Matilda; it was a pet name. When I was wee, I had this little, hand-me-down plastic giraffe toy that I called Matilda from some Playskool zoo or jungle set. And I took her everywhere I went for years. I don't know if the giraffe came first or the pet name, but no matter where the name came from- that's what my mother called me.

She would stand and brush my hair at the kitchen table in the morning, and sing to me.

One of my earliest memories is of that. The autumn sun spilling through the curtains, the hard bristles of the brush running rhythmic against my scalp, the dark and spicy scent of my mother's favorite perfume, and her voice.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

I stood stock still there and stared at Gloria for a minute, until she gave me a funny look and said, "What?!"

I told her the story I just related to you and it made her brain blink. She didn't even know why she called me that, she said. She'd never called me anything like that ever before, never called me anything by my given name. It had just popped in her head and came out of her mouth before she even realized she was saying anything.

Mother's day is coming up.
Strangeness is afoot.

I miss my mother so fucking much.

Her absence has become so commonplace, so business-as-usual to me that it almost bowls me over when I suddenly remember and that wave of loss comes roaring back again. It washes over my face and I taste the sting of the ocean on my lips, the wave that knocked me down after I threw my arm in a wide arc and scattered her ashes into the sea.

I wish I could find that giraffe.
I miss her, too.
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I am, at turns, a caged animal baring its teeth at everyone who happens past and a dancing, spinning top.

The past month has been so incredibly fucked up and insane that I can't comprehend the smallest details. I teeter between soul-crushing lows and OMG EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! highs; odd, even for me and my bizarre cycles.

At a glance:

I'm still very sad over the death of Charlie. I didn't take her body in for a necropsy because I plain just don't have the money. I've put out my feelers for another snake, but I'm taking that slow. I want another scaley friend, but I'm not in a rush. Money, as always, is a factor in this.

One of the cats has fallen ill, Mittens. He used to be as fat as Lunchbox Tinker, but ever since my mother left for the hospital and never came home, he has not been the same. He's a different feline now, which is distressing. The weight got so alarming and his behavior changed so dramatically, that I took him to the vet the other day and received a diagnosis of insufficient kidney function, which in less fancier words basically means that he is in the early stages of kidney failure. Being fifteen years old, he's at great risk of this. Along with diabetes (which Nympho has) and hyperthyroidism (which Misty had). I didn't relish the idea of dealing with another diabetic or hyperthyroid kitty, but I'd take either of those over this. He needs to be on a completely opposite diet of what he had been on and now must be fed in the bathroom to keep the other cats from eating his food and vice versa. He's been on this diet for about a week and I haven't noticed any weight gain, although he's stopped acting so blessed weird all the time. Now it's only part of the time.

My car remains, as ever, an anxiety. The hose was re-soldered back on to the radiator and I was sent on my way to the tune of over five hundred dollars (about $175 of this was for the tow from Trenton). It's still leaking transmission fluid and Lord knows what else. And because of my father's behavior over this (I'm not going to get into it because I'll just get riled up again; needless to say, I don't enjoy people telling me what to do with my own goddamn money), I've been contemplating getting my own car on the road. My own car, with my own car insurance. However, there's a reason why my father pays for everything with the Eldorado: because I can't afford it on my own. There's no way possible I could afford a car payment and an insurance payment. This idea has been backburnered, but I constantly pick it up and hold it to the light.

Work is still work and it still makes me crazy. It's gotten to the point that whenever I'm paged by a certain person who I'll call the Skeksis, I cringe. Or show my teeth to the phone. Or flail around, making obscene hand gestures. I. Hate. That. Woman. I hate her like I have hated no one else before in my entire life. Beyond her simpering buffoonry, there's also the omnipresent specter of layoffs looming over all of our heads. Yes, I've been whoring my resume all over God's green earth.

I've been sick for the past few days. I've had an itchiness all over my face, accompianied by red blotches, and have been suffering through a general all-around ickiness of feeling. At first, I thought it was something I ate on Sunday night because we ordered from a Chinese take-out that we'd never ordered from before. But, the more I examine my symptoms and the more I think about things, I think it's largely stress-related and thusly, largely work-related. I left early on Monday, stayed home on Tuesday, and dragged myself back into the office today. The past few days, I've rarely been vertical and instead, spent a large portion of my time on my couch with any number of cats grouped around me and generally, just felt shitty.

I think I need to start seeing some kind of mental health professional. Problem being, I can not afford the health insurance my work offers. Our lowest, shittiest plan is roughly a hundred dollars. Out of every paycheck. And that wouldn't be the plan I'd pick because it is, after all, shitty. I largely don't qualify for reduced-cost care because, get this, you'll love it: I make too much money. Hah! And I can't even find much information about reduced-cost care on top of that. Lovely, isn't it? I'm still looking; I haven't given up on it and am still open to ideas.

Tomorrow would have been my mother's 63rd birthday. It's gotten to the point where I kind of forget what life was like with her in it, if that makes any sense. I forget and it hurts that I forget. And at the same time, my life is so much easier without dealing with her medical problems that I'm halfway happier without her. And if you think that doesn't affect me in thirty different ways to Sunday, you're sorely fucking mistaken. Guilt for days, I tell you.

So that things aren't all doom and gloom, I went camping this weekend with the Engineer and Miss Ella and Tony, which was quite lovely. Even if the skies opened up on us Saturday afternoon and drenched us to the skin. I laughed my way through the entire spectacle. At one point, we had just finished moving the tents out of The River Runs Fucking Through It and Tony and I glanced at each other. Proceded to crack the fuck up for about ten minutes straight, barely able to breathe from laughing so hard. Later, I got to burn things and talk shit. Two things I am excellent at doing.

Class tonight. Stress Management. Irony does not escape me.
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I've been wobbly since Emperor Nympho's vet appointment on Thursday (and even moreso since the follow-up vet phone call on Saturday, with test results).

The vet was enormously concerned as soon as she saw and felt the lump on his back. Thought it was a tumor, and a deeply embedded one at that. They aspirated it and sent the core sample out to be tested. She wasn't sure what it was attached to and we discussed several options, like surgery and the like, which all depended on the test results. She thought the lump could be attached to one of his kidneys, due to placement, but wasn't ruling out the idea that it was just skin-related. I left the vet's office that evening with a slightly irritated cat who talked to me the entire drive home about how MUCH he was peeved at me for sticking him in a box and bringing him to the Place of Bad Smells and Pointy Things (tm).

The next day, Joanna and I sat outside of work and talked about how awesome it would be if I got the call from the vet and found out that the tests showed either a. the lump was actually a cupcake, b. the lump was full of Brie (my vote), or c. that Nympho was actually immortal. We went on to discuss at great length how wonderful cupcakes and immortal cats are.

Satuday morning, as I was lying in bed and trying to convince myself to get up, get dressed, and go outside to sit on the apartment steps and wait for my copy of the Harry Potter book (deliveries don't always make it to my apartment, so I wanted to be proactive), I received a call on my cell from the doctor with the results.

Suffice to say, things are not good.

She said the lump is indeed a tumor. Sarcoma. Malignant. Cancer.

She said that in cases like this, surgery is not recommended.

She said that treatment would be taking him for an MRI or a CT scan to see what it's attached to.

She said that treatment would include radiation therapy.

She said that this is incredibly expensive and must be done by a specialist.

She said that without treatment, he only has a a bare handful of months left to live.

She said that with treatment, it would probably only tack another couple of months onto the end of that sentence.


I was silent for the majority of this phone call because if I spoke, I would start to cry and the only thing I hate more than crying in front of my friends is crying in front of (basic) strangers. She talked a lot, in a slow and halting voice. The voice of one who knows exactly how badly the news they are breaking is being taken.

I do not have much of a choice in this situation. I can shell out exorbitant amounts of money (even by my standards of pet care, we're talking multiple thousands of dollars) that I don't actually have and put him through extreme stress and discomfort with zero guarantee that this is actually going to accomplish anything. Or I can watch him slowly decline over the next few months until he dies on his own or it gets so bad that I euthanize him. The end result for both options is exactly the same: my cat is going to die. And a lot sooner than I had always thought.

My cat, my thirteen-year old Russian Blue with the rusty old-man meow and the enormous tail, is going to die. My cat, who I have had for almost his entire thirteen years, is going to die. My cat, who has been with me through the best and worst times of my life, is going to die. My cat, who has lived with me in eight apartments and with twenty-some roommates, is going to die.

In a few months.

And I can't do a single thing about it, when it gets down to it. Not a goddamn thing.

This sucks so bad, I can't put it into words.

Since my mother died, there has been one thing I have been absolutely terrified of. One single thing that continually creeps into my brain and keeps me awake at night: the idea of having to once again watch someone I love die slowly as some black and insidious disease eats them away from the inside.

Some people may think I'm overeacting. That I shouldn't be so upset over a pet and shouldn't ever compare it to the death of my mother. If anyone I know believes that, I say this now: you are cordially invited to fuck right off. This is my friend who is going to die before my eyes.

At this point, I'm at a loss. I feel helpless in the face of this. Despite the fact that I know pursuing treatment isn't the best idea, I still feel guilty over making the decision to not do so. Any other time one of my animals has been sick, I have gone to great lengths and spent a lot of money to make them well again. But, putting him throught treatment is just going to make him miserable for no reason. With no cure outcome on the horizon, there's no sense in doing all that. But, I can't help it. I still feel guilt.

On Tuesday, I'll be calling the vet and letting her know my decision. After that, it'll be a lot of little steps and deep breaths.

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This is the division/classification essay I wrote for my English Comp class. My professor suggested I should think about entering it into the English department contest because he was quite enamoured with it. Joanna and I jokingly refer to it as the "My mother is a whore and she made me into a whore!" essay, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with my mother being a whore or with me being a whore (well, maybe just a wee bit).

This Woman's Work )
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She's been gone for just over two years now, but it is always startling to me how my mother still creeps into family gatherings and watches quietly from the corner. Her name was evoked last night, frequently and with great love.

Last night was enjoyable, except for the ages-old arguement between my father and I over how the Mason-Dixon does not extend to New Jersey. It's been quite some time since he started prattling on about that how part of New Jersey is considered the South (tm), I'd almost forgotten how much I want to kick him when he does. He wasn't as melancholy as last year's gathering, which is always good, but there was still an odd air about him. I know he was at the bar before he got to my apartment (and he was late getting there!), but he wasn't visibly drunken or anything of the sort. He just

He got a sad cast to his features when talking to Middle Brother and I about how we're not associating any longer with Eldest Brother. I had to explain to him that this isn't just a case of family nonsense; we simply can not put our selves and our hearts on the line for that man anymore. He causes too much pain and takes no responsibility. Of course, my verbal version of this to my father included far more profanity because I had been hitting the wine all afternoon as I cooked dinner and I know the color was high in my cheeks by the time dinner rolled around.

Still, all in all, the evening went well. I didn't burn anything down, I only forgot one thing (and it was a pre-dinner baked brie en croute), and Wemble only fell asleep once. I still have a load of dishes in my sink that are currently weighing on my obsessiveness, but I'm going to take care of them when I get home from work.

thejunipertree: (Default)
The perfect rainy day.

Earlier, someone caught me standing at the edge of the office porch with my face turned up against the sky, catching the rain in my face.
What are you doing?
Enjoying myself.

Last night, I laughed so long and so hard that my sides hurt and my head began to ache. This was during a discussion concerning the merits of human beatboxing. I had made the declaration that the worst news could be broken to me with nary an eyelash batted if someone were to beatbox right before.

Lately, I've been laughing a lot for too long and far too loudly. It makes me forget the the nearness of November and the tightness in my chest. I constantly sway back and forth between unflappable exuberance and numbing desolation. Honestly, I can't say which one wins the fight more often.

This afternoon, I was outside smoking a cigarette when a little spider dropped down on its silk right in front of my face. One minute, empty space. The next, wee spider hanging there. Normally, a surprise visit like this would leave me cowering under the bench and whimpering. Spiders, whom I enjoy from a distance, are generally not welcome when they drop in for a wee chat so quickly and with no warning. This one was tiny and such a break in my day, that I smiled and puffed a little breath at it, to see it swing out in an arc slowly and then climb back up its thin rope.
thejunipertree: (Default)
Yesterday pretty much sucked, all the way around and back again.

I knew it was going to be bad because it was 09-27, which is my mother's birthday. This is her second birthday since she died and this year, I seem to be handling it a little worse than usual. Originally, I was going to take the day off from work and go to Cape May to visit where I scattered some of her ashes, but I had class that evening and I really didn't want to have to rush back to this part of the state. Especially through rush hour traffic. It would have been a little slice of deep-fried Hell and not something that I wanted to even attempt. Therefore, I found myself going to work.

On the drive in, I noticed a dead cat in the middle of the road. I think that it had been hit by a car fairly recently because I saw another small cat running away, already across the street. Maybe two of them had been running together or chasing each other, I don't know. But, dead cat in the road. Not something that puts a smile on my face during the best days, so it put me further into an already black mood.

Throughout the day, the mood grew steadily worse. I had to deal with one of our office employees lying straight to my face and trying to change her story several times. I got quite severe with her on the phone, which brought out the crocodile tears and attempts to manipulate me. This never works. I spent about an hour on the phone with her in the CFO's office and by the end of it, I was quite exhausted.

Leaving work, on my way to class, I had to drive down the dead cat road again. It's really the only way to get where I'm going without using the highway and since I was leaving at five o'clock in the evening, I didn't relish the idea of travelling by highway. Too much traffic. I was prepared for the cat carcass and as I drew nearer to it, I practiced steadily staring ahead of me. Out of sight, out of mind. Right?


Traffic backs up to a scary degree on that road and at that time, one could sit there for quite some time before being able to move up and go through the light. Where did I get stuck? Right next to the dead cat. Fucking hell. Not only that, but cars were driving up the center of the road to get to the turning lane and every single one of them ran over it. Every. Single. One. I couldn't get the wet slurping-thunk sound out of my head the entire night for love or money. Not exactly the best way to spend my Algebra class.

And this morning? A second dead cat, this one on the side of the road and not stuck in the middle. It looks exactly like the one I saw yesterday, running away. This does not make me happy, to say the least.
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On Sunday (07-09-06), my good friend [ profile] rhiann31 is going to be riding almost 60 miles (on a bike, the kind what pedals) in support of the American Cancer Society. One of the people she is riding in memory of is my mother.

It would be rocking if anybody could donate any amount of money to this, her webpage for it is here. Passing this on would also not be kicked out of bed for eating crackers.

thejunipertree: (Default)
Except in the case of The Secret Life of Lobsters, have I ever found a book title that suited me more than Enslaved By Ducks.

Finished it in less than a day, with the ever-familiar feeling of 'crap, I read that entirely too quickly, now what do I do?' To stave off the nigh constant reader's remorse, I also bought Dominatrix: A Memoir and Death's Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve (the second book looks to be absolutely fucking awesome).

I had to spend the day at home today because the apartment's toliet decided to give up the ghost this weekend when I was down in Frederick, Maryland for the firing of some stealing-ass employees. I don't care for the maintenance man to be in my apartment without my supervision after he came in last year to replace my air conditioning unit and accidentially let one of the cats out (and didn't notice). Thankfully, someone else noticed the cat (it was Misty, he of the hyperthyroid) and brought him back in. So, I spent the day alternating between reading and finishing up the paint job on the bookshelf the Engineer built for me.

A mid-afternoon nap, which is strangely out of character for me, brought me odd dreams that have left me unsettled for the rest of the day and night. I dreamt it was discovered that my mother hadn't died and that she was going to be coming back home. In the dream, I was enormously upset by this turn of events because it meant I would have to vacate the back bedroom and would thusly have no where to sleep, since the closet I used to sleep in is now occupied by carpet cleaning machines and the four litter boxes.

This isn't the first time I've had this dream, though it is the first time I dreamt of her coming home. The first dream I had like this, I found out that she hadn't died and was joyous over this. However, shortly after finding out and before I could see her again, she died in a hospital. Overwhelmed by grief is putting it lightly, I would think.

It reminds me of something I read a while back, I don't remember the author, about dreaming that a loved one had died, slightly waking up and being hugely upset over the death in the dream, then thinking "My goodness! Thank God that was just a dream!", then waking up fully and having the realization that the loved one had been dead quite some time come crashing down. I think it might have been something Neil Gaiman wrote about, but I can't quite recall.

I frequently forget that my mother had died, usually when I'm just running on auto-pilot at work or when I'm driving. I'll be mindlessly going about my business, then have a sudden flash of anxiety over how I should be going to the nursing home (this usually happens when I'm driving home from work or when I'm just fucking about on the weekend). Then my brain pokes me with a sharp stick, reminding me that I'm not expected at the nursing home and that the reason I'm not expected there is because my mother is dead.

How could I forget something like that? It's astonishing.

I reckon that all of this is in the forefront of my mind right now because Mother's Day is coming up and I'm dreading it. Maybe I'll drive down to the ocean, the beach where I scattered some of her ashes, on that day and just spend some time there. It's over an hour away and it'll eat up my gas, but maybe it's something I should do.
thejunipertree: (Default)
It's over.

The eldest brother is out of our lives. Again and, I assume this time, for good. I sat at the kitchen table and clenched my little hands into tight fists, nails digging bloody half-circles into my palms, against a roaring tide of rage as he called Middle Brother a fuck-up and and unjustly accused him of being a liar. So many times, I opened my mouth, in an attempt to shut things down, but something in the back of my head caused it to snap shut again without voicing any of my objections.. Middle Brother was standing his ground and holding his own. This was his fight and I was only peripherally involved, if that at all.

I had expectations of this extending into the wee hours of the night, like the last fight did. I continually stole glances at the clock, watching the minutes tick slowly by and refusing to leave the apartment because I feared for leaving them alone together. The Engineer wouldn't leave either, much to my discomfort. One's family, on a good day and in a normal group, can be slightly embarassing. My fucked-up family excels at embarassment because it seems as if they become even more insane and puerile whilst in the public eye.

At eight forty-five, I rubbed the bridge of my nose and lit a cigarette. Thought to myself that if this shit wasn't over by nine-fifteen, I was going to bust out a referee flag and call the match. Then, at nine o'clock, it screeched to a halt when I was barely paying attention. Before I knew it, the words, "...and I want you to leave. Now." came out of Middle Brother's mouth and Eldest Brother was being ushered towards the door with a slam and the locks being snapped into place. I heard him in the hallway, profanity and self-righteousness being spit at the door.

And then he was gone.

And I'm bothered by this more than I've been realizing. I spoke of it a small bit last night to the Engineer, after Middle Brother had finally gone to bed. That my entire life, all I ever wanted was one of those families who, you know, speak to each other.

I know better than to expect normalcy, no one gets to ride that particular free bus, but I'd like a sembalence of closeness, at the very least. I wanted a family that got together at the holidays. I wanted a family that called one another, even if it was to shriek at angry hyper-sonic levels once in a while. I wanted a family that could be in the same room, at the same time, and not have too many uncomfortable silences. I wanted a family that gathered for more than just funerals.

Apparently, this was just a bit too much to ask. I knew it was hopeless, this obscene wanting of mine, but it was there all the same. And when our mother died, I had nurtured a small and fervant hope that maybe this time, the three of us could be our own unit. That we would band together in the face of our grief and, somehow, work things out between us. That, at the very least, I could have a small tribe of people who shared blood with me. Other than my father, my brothers had been the only part of the family to associate with me. One side are too remote and removed from my upbringing to really give a damn about me or mine, the other side just plain want nothing to do with us for reasons not of our making.

Middle Brother and I had basically dropped any animosity towards Eldest Brother, in a good faith effort of extending the olive branch. But, it looks as if he just didn't give a damn about either of us. Ever. As always, it's about him. His pain. His shitty upbringing. How people treated him. Who has done him wrong. How he's put himself so out there for everyone else. And how no one has ever done the same for him.

We are both so, so tired of it all. And it hurts like fucking hell to shut him out of our lives once again. Only this time, it's not his choice like it was before, but ours. My emotions are warring in my head; a huge and swirling mass of sadness, anger, pain, disappointment, disgust and relief. I can't sort through them all without turning into a puddlemess. This hurts. And the hurt pisses me the fuck off. Why should I be hurt that a fucking junkie turned his back on us? Why should I be unhappy that someone of that low character wants nothing to do with Middle Brother and I? Why do I care? What difference does it make, honestly?

I don't want that sort of person in my life, so why am I so fucking upset over this?

Above all else and for the first time since she died in 2004, I am straight-up glad that my mother is dead. She didn't have to witness the filth spewing from Elder's Brother's mouth at Middle Brother and she also doesn't have to deal with the semi-unrelated VC Andrews-sized scandal I received confirmation of last night after all of this or any of its predicted and expected fallout.

All of this would have broken her heart, much as it's coming close to breaking mine.

"I'm sorry." I said to Middle Brother last night, after the smoke and debris began to settle.
"Don't be. What're you sorry for?"
"I'm sorry because I know you wanted this work. And because I wanted this to work. And it didn't."
He ducked his head and wiped his face, as is his habit whenever he doesn't want to show any emotion.

Throughout today and last night before, I was wobbling on the knife-edge of hilarity. Maybe more like hysteria if you look at it a bit closer, but I just wasn't noticing the difference then.

Make your bed and now lie,
just like you always do.
You can fake it for the papers,
but I'm onto you.
I'm onto you.
I'm onto you.
I'm onto you.
I'm onto you.
thejunipertree: (Default)
Saturday burned bright with me ditching work for the day and deciding that now was the time to do more moving things around the apartment/throwing stuff out.

This was one of the bigger jobs I've been needing to do, with a hell of a lot of junk having to be hauled all over the apartment, cleaned off, sorted through, and placed in its new home (whether that be somewhere else in the apartment or in the trash). Two of the things that needed to be emptied were the china cabinet that has been in my family for as long as I can remember and the natural wood hutch/cabinet thing. Both of these sat in the living room, where I did not want them to be. They're big and take up far too much room.

The china cabinet. )

The kitchen hutch. )

A short digression into animal hoarding and responsibility. )

More on that goddamn kitchen hutch. )

Apartment blather. )

Mom. )

My brothers. )

At any rate, I've exhausted myself typing all this out and I'm in dire need of my bed.
thejunipertree: (Default)
Dear eldest brother:

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a VICTIM.

My upbringing did not make me one. My lack of opportunity didn't make me one. Being poor didn't make me one. Moving around a lot and not spending more than five years (and that was the longest stretch) in any one place didn't make me one. Our mother getting divorced twice didn't make me one. Not being guided and encouraged during my formative years didn't make me one. Coming from a broken home didn't make me one. Being a drug addict didn't make me one. Being a latchkey kid didn't make me one. Having a mental illness didn't make me one. Our mother being promiscuious didn't make me one. Our mother getting pregnant at sixteen didn't make me one. Being told that I could be whatever I wanted didn't make me one. Not being forced to go to college didn't make me one. Making the right decisions too late in life didn't make me one.

And none of these things caused you to be a victim, either. You did that all on your fucking own.

You seem to have this idea that our mother was a completely wretched person who never thought of anyone but herself. Sure, our mother wasn't a storybook depiction with freshly baked cookies after school and gentling prodding to finish your homework. Nor was she even halfway to that. She was loud-mouthed, had a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush, drank in bars, slept around, got married when she shouldn't have, made bad decisions, spent money too easily, and was entirely too selfish to be raising three children. However, she was not a bad mother. She was human and did what humans do. Some of her choices were far from the best, but she loved the three of us more fiercely than you could ever fucking know and sacrificed her life and her dreams to raise us.

Did you know that she wanted to be an archeologist? I didn't think you did. You don't know jackshit about her. You don't know jackshit about our brother. And you certainly don't know jackshit about me.

All you know is your own bitter pain and deluded jealousy. Yes, there are people in this world who have the things you want. Our mother did not impede you from having them. You did. Free will is a marvelous thing, you asshole. Telling me that it doesn't exist changes nothing. You made your own decisions. No one pushed you into them.

Not only that, but your life isn't that fucking bad. You have your own business. You have two incredibly intelligent children who are excelling in college and will hopefully go on to be far better than you. Your life is not "wasted" because you don't have a summer home on the beach and the ability to jetset away for vacations twice a year. Your childrens' lives are also not wasted if, when they are completely grown, they don't have these things either.

And our brother's life isn't a washout because he never got his high school diploma. He's content with the kind of person he is and struggles to further himself in his career. He's smarter then you, sometimes even smarter then me and I'm the smartest out of the three of us. He may not have all the things you so dearly wish you had, but he's not an unhappy or covetous individual. Unlike some other people I could name.

Furthermore, we were not ABUSED in any way, shape or form. And to say so is ridiculous and asinine. Do you even know what abuse means? Are you able to see far enough past your own nose to realize exactly how much our mother really did for us?

You sit there and have the gall to ask me why I've gotten so defensive about this. Why am I reacting like this? Because our mother is DEAD. She died, her body riddled with cancer, in a shithole nursing home with me holding her hand to my lips and our brother sitting at the foot of the bed. Where were you?

Where were you when our brother and I got the news that the mass in her small intestines was a malignant tumour and it had ruptured? Where were you when she was told that if she didn't get a second round of chemo in the next handful of months, she'd be dead before the year was out? Where were you when she shit herself in the car on the way home from the oncologist's because of the chemotherapy? Where were you when she puked up everything she'd finally been able to force herself to eat? Where were you when she cried in the middle of the night because she was so scared? Where were you during the countless blood tests, PET scans and surgeries? Where were you when she realized she was never going to walk again? Where were you when she realized she was never coming home?

The woman who gave the three of us life is gone forever and you have nothing but bad things to say about her? Count yourself lucky that I only raised my voice slightly above speaking level and said 'walk it off, you fucking nancy'. Be thankful that all I did was go into a rant about how none of us are victims. Be fucking glad, eldest brother of mine, that I didn't break an ashtray over your thankless skull.

You tell me that I'm a carbon copy of her?
I'm proud of it.

I'd rather be a strong, hard-headed, selfish woman who's made too many mistakes than a piss-and-moaning, self-righteous, sour old man who can't see the forest for the 'could have' and 'should have' regets that he continually conjures up. I can only hope that you eventually pull your head out of your ass because I don't want your children winding up holding hatred and disdain for you.

Despite how angry you make me, I don't hate you. I used to, but not anymore. I've moved on from that.

That moving on thing? I suggest you try it. It's amazing how one's mind clears when one doesn't walk around with so much regret and bitterness in their heart.

Your sister,
thejunipertree: (Default)
This has probably been one of the crappest days weeks I've had in a long, long time.

work blather )

All I wanted to do today is come home and get some ferret nose kisses, but as I was leaving work, the realization of Edgar's death finally fell around me. I knew it had happened, after all, I found his body. But, I hadn't really had any time to actually process it.

Ferret and rat blather )

Depression is seeping in from every angle. The one year anniversary of my mother's death just passed, which feels very weird to me. I'm still not used to it and I suspect I never will be. My car is currently sick beyond belief, though hopefully that will be straightened out soon. The holidays are creeping up, which is never a good time for me. And money is unbelievably tight, which it always is.

Money blather )

Hoarding blather )

If you've read this entire entry, I'll be mighty surprised. For those of you who decided to skip to the end, you didn't really miss anything. Just a lot of me working some stuff out in my head that needed to come out.


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January 2011

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