Print Story A Week (Or More) of Miscellany
By toxicfur (Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 04:36:50 PM EST) (all tags)
Sometimes, a bunch of stuff happens in a relatively short period of time. I think, "You know, I should really write a diary about all this stuff." And then I get slightly overwhelmed by the whole process. And then more stuff happens that I should write about. So I download a few more crossword puzzles from the New York Times.

Today's diary is going to be a mishmash of the stuff that keeps percolating in my brain. I apologize in advance for my lack of brevity.

Yesterday, I turned 32. Or, according to ana, 100,000 in binary; 20 in hexadecimal; 0 in Celsius. Also, the coming-of-age year of a hobbit. Or something. 'Twas a really nice birthday - lunch with iGrrrl, $office_mate, and $other_writer. I had a kim chi pancake and a sushi box at my favorite Korean/Japanese restaurant in Chinatown. Hm. I think I just about covered East Asia there, eh? Then to dinner with ana at a Thai place near my house for dinner. Perfectly fried tofu in a spicy lime sauce. And Thai custard. I could damn near live off the Thai custard. I also got an email from an old friend - someone I've known since college - who I'd lost touch with. I wrote him back and filled him in on the goings-on of my life - I hope I didn't scare him away. Another email from my very good friend B, and a phone-call from my friend J and my brother J. I'm lucky to have friends and family who remember these things, both here in Boston and scattered across the country.

For most of my post-high-school life, I've compared my life path with my mom's. She was 19 when she got married; 20 when she had me; and by 28, she had 4 kids. She separated from her husband at 36 and went to college at 38. Each year, on my birthday, I'd imagine my good fortune at escaping her fate. I sometimes wonder what I missed, though, spending my 20s destroying my brain cells with chemicals and using post-secondary education to avoid taking any real responsibility for my life. My mom was a responsible adult at 20. It took me until I was almost 30. The comparisons aren't quite as satisfying as they used to be. I don't have regrets - I don't think I would have been happy living a version of my mom's life - but still. I wonder sometimes.

Last weekend, as ana reported, we hung out for a couple of days with iGrrrl and family. I had a great time, and I fear that I've been re-bitten by the boating bug. I've only sailed twice, counting last weekend, but the complexity is fascinating, and I would like to learn more what to do. I also want to go up the mast, as iGrrrl did. She didn't look particularly happy up there, and fiddling with parts to replace with carpal tunnel can't be a great deal of fun. But I think it would be really cool to be fifty feet in the air, with a tiny-looking boat down below.

When I was a kid, my family (brothers, mom, grandfather, and assorted dogs) would take our 15-foot jon boat and our 13-foot canoe out on the Northeast Cape Fear River. Over the course of several summers, we traversed the entire navigable length of the river, from just north of Chinquapin through downtown Wilmington. We'd take a few miles at a time, trading off who would paddle the canoe and who would ride the knee board behind the jon boat. This was really rural country, and we saw alligators, herons, otters, beavers, and lots and lots of white-tailed deer. I don't think I realized how much I miss doing that sort of thing until last weekend.

My 87-year-old grandfather had a car accident a couple of months ago. Single-vehicle, in his gigantic Dodge pick-up truck. He cracked a vertebrae and a couple of ribs and had a rather serious knot on his head. He spent a couple of weeks in the hospital and another week in a rehab center before moving to a nursing home. ana and I went to see him when we were in NCia for B's wedding the end of May. Prior to the accident, he'd been showing signs of increasing dementia. He'd call my mom in the middle of the night, not knowing where he was - thinking he was at a long-deceased cousin's house or at his sister-in-law's house and not knowing how to get home.

Since the accident, it's gotten progressively worse. Apparently, he spent some time fighting in Iraq recently. This week, he refused to leave another resident's room because he was watching a non-existent fire in the nursing home. He hit a physical therapist. He was convinced that my mom's older sister was pregnant with a black man's child (this one is a direct result of his racism). He is certain that my mom is cheating him out of his money. And every day, my mom goes to the nursing home, feeds him his dinner, tries to convince him of what has happened, and goes back to her house discouraged and hurt. It's a miserable situation all around. I imagine that he probably doesn't have much time left.

Neither does my mom - her last oncologist appointment showed that the protein marker for cancer, CA125 has gone up slightly, after decreasing remarkably over the past 18 months. It's still in the "normal" range, but she also has an infection in her abdomen, and the antibiotics will delay the next course of her medication. Her cancer is terminal - I know this, though I can't quite accept it.

My grandfather, with all of his faults and his overbearing personality, and his horribly right-wing views on women, gays, and the world in general, was more of a father to me than my biological father was. It was his boat we took out on the weekends. My brothers and I worked in his garden every summer. He taught me how to ride a horse, how to milk a cow, how to drive a tractor, how to shingle a roof without falling off. He had a wicked sense of humor, and if he were younger, he'd be a dkos troll, I'm certain. He survived his first heart attack when I was six. A week or so after he came home from the hospital, my grandmother found him in a tree, cutting down dead branches with a hand saw. He's one of the most stubborn people I've ever met. When my grandmother died, he admitted to my mom that he wished he'd not had heart surgery - he just couldn't imagine living without her. My grandmother often disagreed with him, but they really seemed to have a happy and solid marriage.

My mom is now taking care of him, and this puts both of them in an odd position. As a father, he was overbearing and exacting. My mom intimated that she never felt she measured up, and I think she's spent a great deal of her adult-hood trying to make him proud. She succeeded, absolutely. And now she watches him forget that pride. She watches him as he moves backward in time, forgetting the person he was 20 years ago, and becoming someone completely other. He's become some sort of demanding, almost evil, child. I ache for him - for the loss of self-ness - and I ache for her. And I watch it all from 800 miles away, helpless to do anything but light candles and guiltily hope for resolution.

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A Week (Or More) of Miscellany | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Let me join Mr.Ha and Mr.ObTroll by cam (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 06:14:19 PM EST
in chorus of, "you so young!"

I didn't mature to a socially acceptable level until 27, however I knew everything at age 18. That hasn't changed.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

Yes, at 18, I knew everything. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #7 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 03:49:35 AM EST
Everything worth knowing anyway, and those few things I didn't know I could learn from my introductory college classes. I was also an insufferable asshole. I sincerely hope that I'm a nicer person to be around now than I was then.
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM
[ Parent ]
next time by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 07:45:13 PM EST
I'll happily send you up the bosun's chair.  The only thing was, I'd seen what needed to be done when the mast was on sawhorses on the ground, so it was easiest for me to do it.  I'm still amazed that Little K noticed and found the grommet that got loose.

Okay, really?  I'd rather do it.  I hate it less than I pretend, and I prefer it be me that takes the risk.

You are good guest.  Come sail again.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

the perfect scoop site by Wolf At Large (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 11:06:43 PM EST
is right in between husi and k5. your comment made me realise that

[ Parent ]
Why is that? by iGrrrl (2.00 / 0) #16 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 06:24:22 PM EST
signed, Curious in Beantown

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

[ Parent ]
When I read... by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #9 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 03:53:12 AM EST
"I'll happily send you up in the bosun's chair," I knew that wasn't really true. ;->

And really, I would like to go up once just to take a look around and to be able to brag on husi that I did it, but, well, you actually know what you're doing up there.

Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM

[ Parent ]
this diary haiku by fleece (4.00 / 2) #3 Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 08:48:27 PM EST
death and dignity
oftentimes part company
you don't get a say

I like this. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #10 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 03:56:18 AM EST
Thank you.
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM
[ Parent ]
responsible adulthood by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 02:52:56 AM EST
I'm not sure I'm quite there yet. I can fake it pretty well, but I keep thinking I should have it more together than this. I guess it's as friends around me have children and people keep glancing our way and going, "so how about you two, wink wink," I always think "I'm not grown up enough to have kids."

Boats of all kinds really are fascinating. Sometimes intimidating, but I don't think I've yet had a boating experience I didn't like. When D and I dream about our future house, there's water nearby.

Oh, and no need to apologize for wordiness. I think of diarizing sometimes as a sort of unstructured NaNo exercise ... just dump a lot of things out there and perhaps some of it will be interesting. Or if not interesting to others, then useful for you to have written.

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."

Re: responsible adulthood by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 03:45:26 AM EST
Most of the time, I think I manage to be the responsible adult now, although I periodically regress to the adolescence of my mid-20s (this is not a pretty sight). I've been turning the kid-thing over in my head and wondering why I'm generally opposed to the notion of having kids. I think it might be that when I was younger - and more willing to take risks and less aware of just how badly I could fuck up another human's life - that I could've had a kid. As I've gotten older, I realize just how young my mom was when she started having children, and I think she operated mostly by instinct. She also did a pretty damn good job of raising us.

Re: Boats. I've always had something of a fascination for boats and bodies of  water, especially salt water. Sadly, ana tends to get seasick, and my enjoyment of boating is not such that I'd want to do it entirely on my own. This is why it's nice to have friends with boats. ;-)
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM

[ Parent ]
Parental Benchmarks by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #8 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 03:50:59 AM EST
I was married at the same age my parents were when they married, and initially bechilded on a roughly equal schedule. So naturally I can't help but note where our timelines overlap and diverge.

Were I my father and my wife my mother we would already be cruising fast down break-up alley. I would already have sullied my stir stick in another pot of honey, and she'd have already given me up as too hopelessly selfish to share the load with. In 2008 we might have a brief attempt at reconciliation. By 2010 we'd each be on to greener pastures, and connect only about the children.

(That's not so, though.)

...He's become some sort of demanding, almost evil, child.

Yeah, we have one of those too.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
I'm certainly glad... by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #11 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 04:00:19 AM EST
(and I'm sure you are, too), that your path diverges from your parents. My comparisons have usually been something of awe as I got older, and something of disdain when I was younger. When I was 20, I couldn't believe that my mom would drop out of college to have a kid. As I've gotten older, I like to think I've become more generous.

I hope your demanding child-man stays under control. Congrats on staying on the high-road - the hardest way to travel, IME.
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM

[ Parent ]
Inverse Experience by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #12 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 04:46:44 AM EST
...As I've gotten older, I like to think I've become more generous.

I've had the opposite experience -- as I get older and go through some of the same life-trials myself, I'm less forgiving of certain behaviours...behaviours whose perpetrators I might have, in the past, given the benefit of the doubt to on the basis that I lacked the life experience to be judgemental.

I think, "So, that's how you coped with this? Huh. A bit of a lame response, really."

Bear in mind this isn't some Parent Trap-esque wish that my parents had never been divorced (they clearly didn't belong together), but rather that, during certain trying periods, one or both have them had acted from a place informed by greater foresight. Foresight wish in the past I imagined was just an illusion of hindsight, but which I now think of as more accessible.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
how much of that foresight by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #14 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 10:29:50 AM EST
is influenced by hindsight? eg, is it possible that your knowledge of what your parents did or did not do provides you with more information when you are making your choices than they (or others) had when they made theirs?
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
happy birthday! by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #13 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 10:28:50 AM EST

somewhere in the last five years i've gone from being a mid-twenties teenager to being an adult, but it's just now that i'm willing to sit down and look at my life and go "ok, what do i want to do as an adult?"

it's hard, though, for me to put long-term planning before short-term enjoyment. It's something i think i need to work on.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

happy late b-day old lady by yankeehack (4.00 / 1) #15 Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 10:43:57 AM EST
ok, a few weeks older, but still... ;-)
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB
Responses: by molasses (4.00 / 2) #17 Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 02:34:58 AM EST
  Happy Birthday!!!!
*  Please post definition of "being an adult", because if age is it, then I'm screwed.
*  Glad you had a great 4th.  Maybe next year I can come play, if I get an invite.  I don't eat much and I can sleep in a tent...put in a good word or me, huh?  ;)
*  Sorry to hear about your gradnfather and mother.  I think the "adulthood" thing hits harder when you feel so helpless about your elders getting closer to their end.  At least that's one of my (only) measures.
*  Kid:  i'm not sure anyone is ever really ready to have kids.  But i do think we inately (sp?) know if we will or won't.  Or when we're faced with it, that's the only time you'll make the decision. 
*  Thinking of you.  Kisses to ana.  **smooch

A Week (Or More) of Miscellany | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback