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June 16, 2005

I chase my memories alone down through my dreams

It's been a hell of a month, y'all. Anybody still visiting? I'm surely sorry I haven't been posting; it'll take a bit of explaining to even get across how it happened that I've just gone quiet for weeks and weeks.

It wasn't writer's block, not in the normal sense. There were things I meant to write about, that I wanted to write about. Some of those were things I ended up scrawling in my little Moleskine as I rode the train and which aren't actually fit for other people to read, though. Some of the things I sat down to write at the computer ended up being so lengthy and far-ranging and emotional that they were becoming essays more than blog entries, and I just couldn't wrestle them into a more concise format. The biggest problem over the last few weeks, though, has been that I've been overwhelmed. Before I became overwhelmed I hadn't thought of myself as being in a precarious state, but looking back it seems kind of obvious. The addition of some mom-induced anxiety overbalanced me, and I just fell over into a quivering pile of jumpy, irritable, spaced-out insecurity and neurosis.

Well, I took it up as a part-time job, actually. In between I was going to work at Facts on File, and keeping up my running, and doing freelance work, and minding the store, and little bits of everything else. The wretched anxiety was filling up more and more hours of the day, though, so I had to call a halt; a couple of weeks ago I saw a psychiatrist, and she was very helpful. Next week I start seeing the therapist she recommended. I'll get this all straighted out. (I'm not new to the world of helping professionals, so I know the drill. It's actually kind of interesting to have a problem that is so *straightforward*!)

Anyway. That's been the background of the last several weeks. What have some of the details been like? There's been cool shit, I tell you what. I ran Prospect Park for the first time! Twelve minute miles on average, but that included some walking, and it was fucking awesome. I've gone on to keep running the main loop of Prospect Park, and last week I ran the lower loop twice, for a four-mile run. *A four-mile run!* Wow!

On June 5th I ran my first road race, with NYRR. It was a 4.7K race, in honor of their 47th anniversary as a running group. I was slow as hell, as it was the first day of our major heat wave, but I finished, and I was on top of the world. I ran, out in public, with a bib number on my chest, just like a freaking athlete!

I've gotten to do some cooking recently. The supper club I belong to was my baby this month, and I had a meal to feature all the good stuff I brought back from my last trip to Louisiana. I made crawfish etouffee and a chicken and andouille gumbo, and I also served head cheese and some wonderful boudin as appetizers. I had even brought home some pickled quails eggs and some locally smoked beef jerky, and it was all awesome. My friend Mary made delicious bread pudding with bourbon sauce, and my friend Jenny made fabulous pecan praline ice cream, and we had a little taste testing of different bourbons along with our desserts. Oh, that was a fine, fine meal.

I've also been experimenting with putting up liqueurs. So far there is a jar of rhubarb and a jar of strawberry liqueur in the cupboard, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how I like the results. I became interested last year, and then I read Teresa Nielsen Hayden's lovely blog entry on the topic, and then I saw the site she linked to, and then I've bought a book that Gunther Anderson recommended, and it's just all becoming lots of fun.

As for things that are less fun, well, there's been some of that, too. I've got a lot of work to do with the therapist I'll be seeing, that's for certain. The raw anxiety is calming with the help of the pharmaceutical interventions; I expected that, and it felt appropriate to seek out that help. Now that I'm calmer, I have the opportunity to actually think about what's really upsetting me, and damn, there's some big scary stuff there. The meat of it should get its own entry, since I'd like to address it fully and more thoughtfully, but there are a few aspects I can touch on quickly.

Teaching myself how to interact with my mom through her illness has been a really interesting challenge. I'm learning a lot about myself, and about her, and about how we are very different people, at least in how we face difficulty. I am a person who gathers as much information as possible, and asks every question she can think of, and tries to eke out some semblance of control. My mom just relinquishes control entirely. She dwells in a place of fear and ignorance (real, literal ignorance -- not stupidity, you understand -- actual *choosing to not know things*) that I would find absolutely intolerable. I find it very nearly intolerable just to know that *she* is existing in this place. However, this seems to me to be my chance to learn how to tolerate the intolerable. Her doctors are kind, smart, compassionate people. They are keeping *me* informed, and they are not going to let *her* do (or not do) anything that will harm her. Therefore, her choice to remain personally uniformed, however uncomfortable it makes me, is not harming her, and I need to learn to let go. Can I just tell you that this is easier said than done?

As I deal with my mother's illness, and as I deal with *her* dealing with her illness, I find myself missing my father more and more. I didn't expect this to happen; it never really occurred to me that it might happen until I started noticing it. I'm finding it a little hard to bear some days. Yesterday I had an epiphany; unfortunately, my epiphany has been making me feel like a bit of a bad person. Here goes: if I'd gotten to pick one parent, I'd have picked my father. I think some of my frustration with my mom is because she's not him, which, of course, is not her fault. It's also utterly irrational; he was fifteen years older than her, and had treated his body horribly over the years -- he was lucky to live to 72. So there's no way in hell she was going to die first. It's just, well, sometimes if I'd call and she wasn't home, he and I would have the best talks on the phone. We were getting closer as I was getting older, and some of the stupid, broken, painful crap from when I was younger was getting more distant. And then he had to go and die. He's not here to help with taking care of my difficult, frustrating mom (who's the woman *he chose*, not a woman I'd have chosen), and he's not here to talk to me when I want to talk to him, and dammit it all to hell, I'm 33 years old and I want my damn Daddy.

Posted by Rose at June 16, 2005 12:20 PM


My father was also 15 years older than my mother. He died on his 90th birthday, December 13, 2003. I miss my daddy, too.

My mother, thankfully, is in relatively good health, but still getting used to widowhood.

Posted by: Ellen at June 16, 2005 09:02 PM

You are brave and wise woman and you've been able to articulate and put down on paper what so many can never even acknowledge. It sounds like you need to channel some daddy and examine what he would be doing and saying right now. When I get to where you are right now I channel my grandmother Lucile and then the world is better place and I have a more comfortable spot in it. I will see you next Friday...I had to play tennis last night, but I am looking forward to hanging at at Yarnivore!

Posted by: Martha at June 18, 2005 11:42 AM

Congrats on your first race!

I'm in the same boat as you re: religion -- my mom believes in God and I consider myself at best a Unitarian and don't believe in God per se -- and my mom's not thrilled. Luckily parents and in laws are healthy, but they're all in their early 60s and I worry.... I used to get angry at my dad b/c he totally doesn't take care of himself, I'm surprised he's still here, he's had bypass surgery, multiple hernia surgeries, and is now diabetic (and still obese).

hang in there.

Posted by: Steph at June 19, 2005 06:04 PM

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