Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goodbye Grandma Ellie

Early last Wednesday morning my grandmother was found, she had passed away in her sleep sometime during the night. Her death wasn't unexpected. She was ill and had been for a long time...and even though you are expecting a death, it still feels unexpected when it actually happens.

I think that I have cried more for her passing than my grandfather and my uncle put together. But these haven't been tears of regret, but more tears of relief. I think that I am finally able to mourn them all.

When Uncle Don died it was the end of the semester, Mr.3 was just starting to get squirrely with the fateful forged loan check, my grandpa was shutting down and all I wanted to do was fix things for my family.

When my Grandfather died (five months later) my father was out of a job, Jimmy had been moved up to my house to finish out school, Mr. 3 was in jail, and my mom was valiantly trying to hold herself together after a grueling month of taking care of my grandfather before he died. All I wanted to do was fix things for my family.

But there is only so much that I could fix. I lived in a constant state of anxiety, feeling obligated to hold up my entire family (and Mr.3)....all the while I was crumbling inside. Realistically I never had time to mourn either of them. And it was heartbreaking watching my grandmother mourn someone that she couldn't fully remember anymore.

I didn't go to the funeral although I wanted to. My parents kept saying that it was "too much" citing that my car wouldn't make the trip. And while I think that was a really lame excuse for making me feel like I shouldn't come. Instead of letting it fester, I did confront my mom with it. There was no satisfying answer, but the mere fact that I even addressed it with her was huge. At least to me it is. There has been so many little injustices that I have felt in my life that I have just kept quiet about, just let fester and burn.....speaking out was huge for me. And when it comes down to it, it was "too much for me to handle"....not for my car, but for me. I've been a wreck since I found out on Thursday afternoon (please note, she was found Wednesday morning and my step-aunt didn't bother to get around to telling us until late Thursday afternoon). I've been exhausted and emotionally frayed. And for once.....I really wasn't physically able to make the long haul emotional drive in the middle of the night for someone who wasn't there. I did that once trying to find Mr.3 in Denver...and it was awful. Trying to do the same thing for someone who I have felt that I have lost years ago would have been lunacy.

I have never really had any strong inclinations about the afterlife. For the most part I figure that I'll find out when I get there....and as long as I have been a good and decent person in this life, things can't really be that bad in the next, if there is one.

Since my Uncle passed away in 2006, my life has gone through alot of turmoil. And each of the terrible things that I have experienced cannot be dealt with individually but as a whole.....and so it would make sense that I would be experiencing all this grief now. When you look at the stages of grief they go in cycles, and cycle out until the pain is gone. First, there is denial...and well, there is alot about the whole Mr.3 saga that fits under that category. Second, anger (uh, yeah!), the third is bargaining.....there has been alot of that. The fourth level has been depression....another checkbox there. And the fifth level is acceptance. I read an article that separated out the fifth step into three parts: the upward turn, reconstruction and working through, and acceptance and hope. And I think that my feet are planted firmly within stage five. In fact, when I saw Esther today, I realized that I could move on without her. I actually got up to leave almost 15 minutes before the end of my session. When she asked me why, I told her that I didn't really have anything else to say. I'm sad and that's ok. I don't want to talk about my grief but just cry to get that emotion out of my system. I don't wish for my grandmother (or even my grandfather and uncle for that matter) back. I am sorry that she is gone, but I don't feel abandoned. And even though the old drama between my aunt and my mom threatens to resurface again with the finalization of the trust...I don't even care about it. Because I can't fix it, and I shouldn't have to. I've offered what I can emotionally and physically and said where I have to draw the line. This is big. So big that every word that I could look up in the thesaurus for big wouldn't be able to describe the enormity of it.

I realize that very little of this post has been about my grandmother....but honestly....when we grieve are we grieving for the person or ourselves? Similar to the case of my grandfather, I wasn't able to have any mementos of my grandmother, and I am now on the lookout for a stainglass hummingbird decal for my window. When I was little, Grandma had just cleaned the stained glass window (leaving the screen door back) and had told me that the kids next door were waiting in the backyard to play with me. She told me that I could go out and play but not to run in the house. Being the little kid that I was, and seeing what looked like an open door, I only heard "backyard" "play" and "run". The result of which was me shattering the glass door and a permanent scar on my head. From then on, Grandma had hummingbird decals on the windows so that I would realize that the door was in fact- closed. Finding something similar would be a fitting memento of her.

As to memories of her, I like to think of her when I visited last just after my uncle's death. My grandfather was inconsolable, and Grandma and I had banded together to goof off and have a bit of fun to relax away from my brooding grandfather. We had gone for a walk in her neighborhood, did lots of giggling....and when we came back my Grandpa was in the living room talking seriously with my mom. Grandma had sat on the arm of the sofa...I can still remember how her feet looked in her slippers. As we were sitting there, she kept slipping backwards onto the sofa...finally she just let go of the arm and slided onto the couch with a little "wheee!". It was so unexpected. Grandma and I were trying to hold in the giggles because of the tenseness of Grandpa...and then....he let out this belly laugh. A laugh that I hadn't heard since I was a little kid. It was a moment of levity and closeness in the face of immense sadness...and that is how I wish to remember her...


Goodbye Grandma Ellie, I love you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting Rid of the Rest of the Books

Can you tell what these are?
These stacks of 60 odd books, 67 to be exact, are all books of Mr. 3's that I am going to be getting rid of.

I originally kept them because they represented a sizable amount of money that I spent buying them for him, and I also had some wild and crazy idea about writing a book on terrorism for parents and teachers. Honestly, I know that these are books that I will never read. I also don't want to try to sell them...that takes time and energy that I do not have. I don't need to have any more negativity from these books hanging around in my house.

So over the next day or so I am going to put them in the hallway by the MEC with a sign that says "Free, Please Take".

In honor of this latest cleansing, here are the titles of what I am giving away: Mirage- Power, Politics, and the Hidden History of Arabian Oil; Twilight in the Desert; Infiltration; The Eve of Destruction; Islam and Terrorism; Politics in the Middle East; Nation and Religion in the Middle East; Desecularism of the World; Religion and State; The Political Language of Islam; Through Our Enemies Eyes; Troubled Waters; The West at War; Disinformation; The Two Faces of Islam; Hamas; No God but God; An Anatomy of Terror; New Glory; The Osama Bin Laden I Know; Uncharted Journey; Over a Barrel; The West's Last Chance; The Palestinian Right to Return; Atomic Iran; A History of Islamic Societies; The War for Palestine; The Sword of the Prophet; The Shahids; Unholy War; God's Rule; The Story of Political Philosophies; Profiles in Terror; The Military Balance in the Middle East; Countdown to Crisis; Holiest Wars; The Muqaddinah; Why I am Not a Muslim; The Future of Political Islam; Airbourne Carpet; American Political Thought; Islam and Revolution in the Middle East; Seven Theories of Religion; European Union; Guadalcanal; Battle of the Reichswald; Rouge States and Nuclear Powers; Runaway World; Voices of Terror; the History of Jihad; War and Destiny; An Autumn of War; Unholy Alliance; Warrant of Terror; Modern Tyrants; Peace is Possible; The Road to Martyr's Square; the Myth of Islamic Tolerance; Information Assurance; Ideas and Foreign Policy; The Emerging European Union; The Government and Politics of the European Union; The Formative Period of Islamic Thought; Bringing Religion into International Relations; Journey of the Jihadist; Islam; Islamic Imperialism; and Between War and Peace.....phew! It is a long list! And probably represents close to $1000 in books.

So come one and come all....help yourself to a pile of books in the basement of OSH!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brilliant! IKEA Heights

So I try to share the wealth with the various gems I find in the course of working Job 3, today's gem is a site called IKEA Heights. It is a melodrama that they are filming in an IKEA store, without the store's knowledge...it's just awesome.

IKEA Heights from DaveAOK on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Staycation

Well I am now at the halfway point in the five day holiday weekend that I am taking. Part of the focus of this weekend is to reflect on what I want and how I want to proceed with the current employment situation.

A couple of odd things have happened since my last post. One, it was dictated to me that I must change my working hours from 7:30-1:30 to 9:00-3:00. This totally throws my work schedule out of whack, but more importantly it has just infuriated me. Yeah, I could adapt....but I am not willing to bend. The second thing that happened was that I approached the new Director with some concerns. Originally I had intended the conversation to be just about dispelling some rumors about the hiring of the new Outreach Director ("That's a personnel issue!"), but it ended up turning out to be about alot of my job frustrations...the triple workload, the new hours decree (he doesn't care that I have other obligations that might interfere). I think that if it had been anyone else, I might have come away from the conversation with a ray of hope. He was after all willing to consider other work-hour arrangements for me.....but then again he just wants me to be at his beck-and-call for as much time as humanly possible between 8 and 5 Monday thru Friday and not go over my 30 hours. He was willing to listen to my concerns, but kept reminding me that the Outreach program and how the system was set up was an "abnormality that shouldn't have been allowed to survive".....which unfortunately kept making me feel that the Outreach program was some runt kitten that he was trying to get rid of. Like in the Disney version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame when the judge first sees the infant Quasimodo, cries that it is an abomination, and is about to drown the baby when the priest stops him....it was sorta like that. But as I said, if it had been any other person I might have been able to believe the best of what he said. I might have been able to "just adapt" as he told me to do. Upon reflection, I can't. I cannot trust him. I have no respect for him. And I don't believe that anything he could do could make me change my mind.....well, at least, I can't think of anything at the moment that he could do that would make me feel better about him...not even something like saving my life, because I would be worried that he would hold it over my head for something else later.

My realization this morning was that no matter how much I might be able to look forward to some of the fun Outreach events that are coming up....the last thing that I want to do is return to work on Tuesday morning. If I could survive on the two jobs (I'd be about $400 short a month) I would give my notice immediately.

The very thought of returning to work at the Center makes my stomach lurch.

I applied for four jobs this morning. I have one other on my list that I want to apply to but I need to have a version of my resume that is appropriate to an advising job. And seeing that I know that another job of that nature will be coming up soon in my friend's department, I really should have a version for this as well.

In the meantime, this lowly events coordinator (as the term Outreach Assistant is not an actual job title--another 'abnormality") is going to get some hours in for her other job. The one she likes....

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sometimes the Silver Linings in the Cloud Doesn't Make A Difference

Call it jinxing myself.
Call it wishful thinking.
Call it counting your chickens before they were hatched.

Whatever its name, it comes down to the fact that I didn't get the job. Which really shouldn't be that big of a deal, but I pinned my hopes on that little paper star called "a new job". It was my chance for an escape of a work situation that I emotionally cannot handle. It was my chance to help myself and my family. And it has fallen off the wall, landed in a puddle, and that little paper star has disintegrated away.

Bye, bye little star, I shouldn't have made you in the first place.

I don't blame the UMFA for not hiring me. They hired the best person for the job. I do blame myself for believing that the job was mine. I blame myself for figuring out what the pay raise would be and then counting on the money being there. I blame myself for preemptively planning on how I wanted to write a blog post detailing the first interview, and the second interview- knowing that the job was between me and one other person- and for having it all planned out that I would drop the good news in the last line of the post.

Cause now I left with the double edged sword of being sad that I didn't get the job and feeling stupid because I let my hopes get up.

Have you ever noticed that bad news never has good timing, but that good news always does? Poor little bad news messenger..... the only time people are ever really happy to see him is when that person is glad that someone has come to great harm.

And of course, today's news didn't come at a good time. I was so overloaded and emotional about the current state of work, that I didn't have time to process the news....and having to process bad news at therapy isn't very constructive. It just results in me crying so hard that I can't speak but snort. It also results in my therapist going on about how my emotional reaction might have more to do with my inability to handle uncertainty in my life and how it relates to my abusive relationship with Mr.3. It results in her going on and on about how I was hurt my Mr.3, the constant state of pain and burden that I was in, etc. etc. etc. And I couldn't stop crying/snorting long enough to make her stop. Because my emotions are not focused on the past with Mr.3, but on the fact that I am not sure how I am going to handle Wednesday.

It will only be a matter of time before she starts to equate this with why I am not dating. I know that I can not handle uncertainty. I need to know where I am at all times. The uncertainty in dating is too much.....although I also can just say that it is a hassle -so why bother. I can't deal with my own issues, why add others to the mix? And while it is a hassle, it also helps me NOT focus on my deep rooted fear that I am woefully inadequate and not worth being loved by someone who is not already someone I consider family.

I am tired of feeling like damaged goods, and I'm tired of feeling bullied, and I'm tired of feeling overworked. I'm so tired of it all that I lack the strength to fight back. And I know that it is what I need to do.

So boys and girls, what is the moral for today's story? I think that it should be "playing with paper stars can be fun, but beware of papercuts", but I am willing to take alternative suggestions.