An unexpected smile of delight

To help get me back into the blogging groove, I’m trying out The SITS Girls daily writing prompts. Today I am supposed to discuss what brings joy into my life.

As cliched as it’s going to sound, it’s my family that brings joy into my life. And, honestly, the younger members (niece and nephews) accomplish this with very little effort.

Last week I was driving my youngest nephew to Spanish camp. My sister’s school doesn’t break from Summer school until this week, so she needed some help getting him to camp on days when she couldn’t arrive later to work. I pitched in a few days, my sister-in-law pitched in a few days, my niece did a day, my brother did a bunch of days, and between us we were able to cover the morning drive.

My youngest nephew is a surprise, a child who exceeds all expectations for intelligence and whose point of view never fails to astonish me. His mother enrolled him in the Chinese dual language program (instead of the Spanish one) because she hoped it would prove challenging; it hasn’t. He has been bumped up a year, the result of which is that he’s the youngest (and smallest) child in his class; she refuses to bump him up another. She has enrolled him in a multitude of after-school activities, including some sports, to keep him engaged and entertained. He goes to school for socialization, she tells me, and does middle-school level reading and math on the weekends for fun.

Smart kids are normal in my family. It’s common to hear from teachers about how well “we” are doing/have done in class. Even allowing for the different personalities, none of us had any difficulties in school. Yes, a few of us were distracted students, failing to turn in schoolwork and even failing to turn up for class. But, usually, there would be a test or something (for which little studying was done) and the term would be saved. We are used to seeing the children in our family be at the top of the class.

None of us were prepared for my youngest nephew. If he hears it, sees it, reads it, then he remembers it. And he makes connections with what he’s learned to apply it correctly to conversations or situations. He is a walking endorsement for “educational television” and proof that there’s educational value to Youtube.

Last week’s ride is an example. I had news radio on because he doesn’t care what I listen to as long as he has his iPad for the ride. I never count on conversation, he doesn’t “do” conversation on demand. There was a story about a Bob Dylan memorabilia item being auctioned off. I think he only caught the end of the story, when they kept repeating just the last name, “Dylan.” This caught his attention, since he recognized the last name as a name from school.

“Dylan?” he asks, a bit puzzled.

“They are talking about Bob Dylan,” I tell him. Then I proceed to try and explain that who Bob Dylan is, but he cuts me off.

“I know who Bob Dylan is,” he says. “He’s a guitarist.” Then he proceeds to tell me a lot about him, more than even I ever knew.

As he tells me that he knows all of this because it was in an educational video at school, I can feel the smile of delight on my face. My 7-year-old nephew knows who Bob Dylan is, I tell myself in a moment of awe.

A week later, that’s what I remember about that morning, not the fact that ten minutes later he threw up all over the back of my car. Because even the smartest 7-year-old is still a little boy.

What brings joy to your life?

* * *

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Sorry for having a moment of levity

In a moment of weakness I agreed to do a favor for someone when I don’t have the time and really didn’t have the inclination. I’ve come to regret that in a major way.

I’ve been out of town quite literally watching my grandmother die one breath at a time. It’s an excruciating experience.

I have been unable to meet with the “contact” for this favor. I sent a brief email explaining that I was dealing with a family issue and would contact her as soon as I was available again.

Tonight I got a message telling me that since she saw that I was posting “fun and informative updates on Facebook” she was going to assume I’d resolved my family issues and was available to meet. My reaction is not printable.

I explained that I advance post many many of my updates and that my grandmother had in fact died in another city, where I was staying for a few weeks (nowhere near the actual state where the meeting would have happened), so I was just a little bit too busy for her volunteer activity. In other words, back the fuck off!

Yes, I’ve been posting the odd little moments of my day as I move along — the truck stops and the weird food and the moments of hilarity that have made these weeks bearable. And now, because I was too stupid to say no when I should have, she expects me to justify this.

I will remember her name.

Image source: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Hospice

I just learned that the doctors have given in — they’ve told my family that there’s nothing else they can do for my grandmother. She’s too weak to survive any more treatment or the surgery.

My mother is devastated, though she says she already knew this was coming. But I know that you’re never really ready for your parent to die.

My grandmother is being placed in a hospice for end of life care. They are going to try and “make her comfortable,” but they’ve told my family that they need to start making arrangements. What they mean is that we need to make plans for what happens when she dies.

I don’t know what happens in the meantime. I’ve offered and offered and prompted and bullied my mother to no avail — she says she doesn’t want to go see my grandmother while she’s in pain and so sick. And I keep telling her that I think she’ll regret that later.

What she feels and why she’s made that decision are personal to her, and not something I feel I can share here. They’re not mine to share.

And now we wait…

Image source: Giuliamar / Pixabay

You want me to tell you what?!?!

OpenClips / Pixabay

Is there a polite way to tell people to back the frack off and that what they’re asking is none of their business?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.

At a breakfast this morning someone I barely know grilled me for 10 minutes on the retirement plan at work. And I was polite, I really was. I answered her questions as vaguely as I could, growing increasingly irritated at her more pointed and less polite questions as they came my way. And at no time did she realize that she was being intrusive and offensive.

The most important thing here to note is that we were having breakfast so she could ask me to do some committee work for her group. She was asking me for a favor, which I’ve already declined once, and the way she did that was to make me irritated and upset.

I honestly don’t think she knows that she essentially guaranteed that I would not take her up on her invitation to be on the committee and that she’s also ensured that we never become any closer than we are today, which is not at all. I’m petty that way.

When did it become OK to ask someone whether they have a retirement, what they pay for it, what their employer pays, and how long you have to be there to be vested? Unless I’ve made an appointment with you to review my retirement plan, these questions are out of bounds. And, for future reference, if you ask me intrusive questions on a day when I’m not feeling polite… well, the dislike will go both ways.

Turbulence

After a few hours in your presence I am struggling for air
blinking furiously
trying to keep the moisture in my eyes
from becoming drops that will break me

It’s my fault, really
I became distracted
I forgot who I was with
I let too much of my real self shine through
I let me be me in enemy space

Your reaction was predictable
a blast of destructive cold
leaving an unforgettable aftermath
wondering if today’s scars will heal
when others haven’t

That I love you truly is not in doubt
I would give you my life
I would take someone else’s in your defense
I would not choose you, did not choose you
I do not like you
You do not care

The war of the dirty dishes

2014.03 tableware“I haven’t been able to eat at home for days,” my friend tells me over dinner.

“Too busy?” I inquire politely. It’s a common theme in our conversations, discussing how busy we’ve been.

She smiles ruefully even as she’s shaking her head, “No, it’s not that. I just can’t dirty any dishes right now.”

Feeling a little bit like she somehow spoke in code, I mentally go through what she just said. I understand the words, but somehow the meaning was just out of reach.

“Why can’t you dirty dishes?” I finally ask. Based on her answering grin, that’s exactly what she wanted.

This is her story, told through me:

My roommate and I have a dirty dish war going on.

It started when she began to leave the clean dishes piled in the sink. Not a big deal. A pile of clean dishes doesn’t bother me. And when I cooked or had dishes of my own I just cleaned them then put then on top of her pile to dry.

Then she started to leave a pile of clean dishes and a small pile of dirty dishes. So, when I cooked or dirtied my own dishes I had to put away the clean dishes, clean her dirty dishes, then clean my own dishes. This happened enough times that I finally decided that if I was putting away her clean dishes and cleaning her dirty dishes, that it was only fair that she wash mine. So I started to leave my dirty dishes piled up for her to wash. And she did wash them, for a while. Then she stopped.

I clearly remember the first time I saw the dirty dishes piled onto the counter next to the sink. So there was a pile of clean dishes on one side of the sink, a pile of dirty dishes on the other side, and a pile of dishes on the counter. My first reaction was disbelief. Surely she wasn’t so busy that she hadn’t been able to do the dishes at all! So I washed everything, put everything away, and forgot about it. Until the next time.

Suddenly it seemed like she never got around to washing her dishes. I would see the piles of dirty, and clean, dishes take up the sink and the counter next to it, and I would wait for her to clean them. And she never did. Eventually I had to clean them myself because I had to cook. So she was basically waiting me out.

One day, about two weeks ago, I got home, cleaned all the dishes, and put everything away. And I stopped dirtying dishes and I stopped cooking. If I make a cup of coffee, I clean and dry that cup immediately. I bought a bunch of frozen dinners and plasticware for lunches. I pick up to go food or drive thru meals for dinner, when I don’t actually eat out.

It’s costing me a fortune.

Her dishes stayed there for five days before she realized that this time she was just out of luck. And then her next batch stayed there for four days… which she eventually cleaned. Right now there’s a big pile of dishes again.

I think I can’t actually eat at home until I see that there aren’t any dishes piled up in the kitchen for more than one day straight. Which hasn’t happened in months.

I think I need a new place to live.

I think she just needs a good voodoo doll.

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