• 23Mar

    We’ve missed the last couple of Luza Easter gatherings. Two years ago, we were just exhausted. Last year, it fell on our anniversary and we wanted to do something “better” than eat cheap frozen hamburgers and hot dogs in Dime Box. (We went downtown, had burgers, and bar hopped a little.)

    This year, though, Emil and I had a plan that would get us there with minimal hassle and kill at least two birds with one stone.

    Since my mom is in her, um, situation, I need to make sure she does some paperwork. She’s been promising to get an attorney and write a Will, but she hasn’t done it in large part because she can’t work on that stuff with him around…and he’s always around. Well, a DIY Will from the Internet is better than nothing, so I’ve written one listing me (her preference) and my grandmother (my preference) as her beneficiaries.

    Texas has funny laws about unmarried women. We are her two relatives; it should go to us, in my opinion. My grandmother disagrees and thinks it should go to me, solely. Since neither of them have a computer (because mom’s abuser destroyed hers), I get to say what we do.

    Mom keeps saying she doesn’t really need a will because I’m her only beneficiary. I keep telling her that if she’s dead, she won’t be able to tell anyone that. I swear she thinks she’ll never die. She’s stubborn enough to cheat death, so maybe she’s right.

    So our plan was to go to Paris April 1-2, get mom to sign the Will with a Notary, take lots of pictures for digital records of the Will, get it tucked into my grandmother’s safe deposit box (since no place my mom has access to is safe from him), and then head back to this part of the state. We could swing through Bryan to see Emil’s mom and hit Dime Box on our way by for Luza Easter (on Holy Saturday). It would be a long 3 days, but we’d have Easter Sunday to recover and we’d hit all the necessary stuff. This plan was Emil’s suggestion even though it would mean he’d miss his Thursday D&D group.

    Dear plan, meet the monkey wrench

    Emil’s coworker has some family stuff going on. He was out a couple of days 2 weeks ago. He’ll need to be out Thur/Fri this and/or next week, but doesn’t yet know. They are part of each other’s backup so they can’t plan to be out at the same time.

    • We can’t plan Easter until we get this paperwork thing planned with my family….even if they aren’t the same weekend. We’ve been putting this off for too long and I need to a) see my family and b) get this taken care of. [1]
    • We can’t plan this paperwork thing until Emil takes the time off.
    • He can’t take the time off until the coworker decides if he will/won’t take the time off.
    • Coworker can’t take the time off because his thing is family and he can’t risk taking time off he doesn’t need since he might need it worse, later.

    So when the email came in this week asking everyone, again, if we’ll be at Luza Easter, all we could say is “we’re trying” and “well let you know when we know”.

    And, of course, now it’s spring and pretty weather and I’d rather be in Austin than Paris for any of it. I wish we had done this paperwork in the dead of winter. We just couldn’t find a date that worked.

    [1] As you might imagine, there is a lot more going on with my mom and that┬árelationship than I’ve talked about on our blog. This is what you might call the tip of the iceberg. …and I’ve probably already said more than I should. Although, it’s not slander or libel if it’s true, so I have that on my side.

  • 09Mar

    I guess maybe there is pretend truth to the statement that time heals all wounds.

    This was the first year since that awful day in 2002 when “God” took Daddy from this world that I didn’t hone in on the date.

    Of course, I don’t believe that “God” took him.[1] I believe that we aren’t yet skilled enough in science to have saved him. The DOG knew weeks before. My MOM knew weeks before, too, but she can’t remember any of her behavior that then seemed erratic. My grandmother & I knew, but to a far lesser degree. If Randi Cae the Schnauzer could have talked, she would have told us he was dying.

    It wasn’t until I saw Sandra Tweet to Emil, “Did you call Mom for her birthday?” that I realized the date. It a terrible thing to have an immediate family birthday and a immediate family death on the same day. Every reminder is a curse.

    It’s not easier with time. In fact, the distractions I had today made it worse. I feel worse for not remembering (either of) the events.

    Dear Daddy, I still miss you every damn day. I still wish you were among us. It’s not fair to this world that you are not. Neither I nor any god can satisfactorily explain your sudden departure from our world.

    • Did you leave me so I’d not have the kids I didn’t really want? For sure, your part of their life would have been a big pro on that list. But, I don’t think it would have out-weighed all the cons. There are so very many.
    • Did you leave so Mom could end up with Larry3? Seeing as how he beat her, broke her house, and repeatedly continues to emotionally abuse her, I don’t think that is sound or logical.
    • Did you leave Mom so she could be there for Larry3? If so, why is he mean to her?
    • Did you leave your golf buddies for being the bigots they are? If so, you could have just moved to place with less bigots. It’s clear that Paris, Texas is a shit hole, but you don’t have to live in that shit hole.

    ….See? It’s not easier with time. The best you can hope for is to remember early in the day so you don’t feel guilty for forgetting until late in the day.

    Fuck you, “god” and “universe”. You don’t deserve my love or adoration or attention. You took Daddy at half his life.

    Happy Birthday, Mom L. (She can’t see/read this, but I wish it to her all the same.)

    [1] It’s possible that recent bigotry (from Chad) had me distracted.

     

  • 04Aug

    2014. Today would have been your 68th birthday, Daddy. I miss you. You left us all much too soon. The world is weaker without you in it. My world is sadder with you gone. God is either cruel or non-existent; I believe in the latter.

  • 07Aug

    It’s been a year (& little) since my grandfather passed and since our vacation this direction last summer…and thus since we’d been “home”. Of course, Paris has never felt homey to me and hasn’t been my home since the day I left for college…other than a couple of very-temporary summers.

    This trip is for my grandmother, Mama Bee. We arrived surprised to find my mom in attendance. Last time we were here, she either forgot we were coming or didn’t care to see us. I never heard from her, so I assumed she not only forgot, but also never had the “oh shit!” moment after the fact.

    Anyway, dinner prep/post caused me more concern for my mom’s physical health. Neither Emil nor Mama Bee noticed what I did, so maybe I read too much into her trembling while carrying a plate of rolls. She was polite & seemed to be distracted-at-worst…I’m sure by the permanent elephant-in-the-room.

    After she left, Mama Bee showed me some keepsakes, including the shadow box that was her Xmas gift to herself. It contains all of my grandfather’s military insignia & medals.

    We talked until midnight…trying to solve all the problems…& then when I went to shower, I found the beaded bluebonnet ornament she hung in the guest bath. It’s from around the time we got married, so it’s been in there a long time, but I always forget about it & seeing it mis-matched against the wallpaper she picked when they built this house alway makes me smile…

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  • 31Oct

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  • 05Sep

    My great grandmother, Mama Salter, put a crochet hook and some yarn in my hand when I was just a baby–far too young to remember. She didn’t care what I did, she just wanted me to play with it. I can not remember learning how to crochet the basic stitch. I only remember my grandmother, Mama Jo teaching me variations and helping me problem solve. I crocheted for fun. I rarely made anything of value. I guess Mama Salter taught me to love the craft for the sake of the craft.

    A few months ago, my dad’s cousin, Thom, called me. He was helping his mom, Rebecca, or Aunt Becker to all of us, clean out a closet. They ran across two doilies that Mama Salter made and passed down to them. Thom asked her if he could give them to me. In that family of all boys, he knew they wouldn’t get the care or appreciation like they would from someone who grew up with it.

    Life gets in the way and we moved before he could send them but last week, Thom and I connected again and they arrived! I was honestly moved to tears at how beautiful they are.

    Now, the only question I have is who should get them next? Maybe Thom’s son will fall in love and have a crafty daughter someday.

    Thank you, Mama Salter. I wish I could have known you longer and better.

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    As you can see, they are quite large. I centered our crystal wedding vase to show scale. Also, our dining table is 54″ and they span the full length of it when end-to-end. One has a tiny stain and the other has a minor tear (which I may try to repair if I can match the thread). Regardless, they are full of love and family (and are now tucked safely away from the oral-fixated Marble).

  • 27Jun

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  • 15Jun

    Thursday at ~12noon, my mom called to tell me:
    “they have taken away all the fluids” from Grandaddy.
    What?
    They took away the fluids and you know the body just can’t survive very long without liquids.
    I’m sorry. So….Grandaddy’s in the hospital?
    Yes.
    And you didn’t think it was important to call and tell me?
    (big fight; and yes, I’m right in this case)
    If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because he was in the hospital for weeks March 2011 before my mom bothered to mention it.

    Emil and I looked at our calendar. He had waited 6 weeks for a doctor appointment so we planned to leave right after that. It’s a 5-hour drive, so leaving after work gets us in quite late., anyway. We couldn’t have been there “in time” without more timely information.

    I called mom to tell her our plans and explained 3 times that we’d leave Austin by ~11am. She then said he could be “like this” for days and implied that we didn’t really need to go up there.
    Again, What?
    Still, the only change we made to our plans was to ask friends to check on the critters on Sunday night if we weren’t back, we got on the road just before 11am. I texted my mom our departure time, but I never know if she gets texts or not. My plan was to call her as we leave the DFW area (and traffic) to give her an arrival time.

    A few minutes later, my grandmother called with an update. She was sure my mom had called to tell me: Grandaddy passed away at about 3:30 this morning.

    So, we’re on the road to hell, aka Paris effin Texas. It’s fathers’ day weekend and the annual family reunion that was started when Grandaddy’s father passed away and he/siblings would gather with my great-grandmother, “Mom”. Poignant.

    RIP Frank M. O’Brien
    3 July 1923
    15 June 2012
    Retired USPS Letter Carrier
    WW II glider pilot
    Purple Heart (shot down over France)

  • 09Mar

    Just moments ago, I realized today’s date. It’s funny what your emotions remember when your brain tries to forget pain.

    It’s been a decade.

    I still miss you very much.

    Daddy, you are loved.

    Now, I know why I woke up with tear-stained cheeks.

    This post comes to you from atop the 3’x5′ oak desk that was in his school office. It comes complete with his handwritten phone list taped to one of the slide-out trays and the holes on top where he mounted the phone so people couldn’t turn it around when they used it (because they never put it back where it “belonged”). It’s full of his spirit and his love and I’m quite grateful to be using it again.
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  • 19Jan

    Ack! 2012 has started off with a bang. This must be what runners and racers feel all the time….except we are sprinting through January instead of December. So, here’s a collective update.

    The Move

    Last year, our rent went up almost 10% and added some fees, too. We knew it would happen again (we heard rumors of $100-$150 increases in 1/1 units!), so we started shopping around. It had to be a Perfect Storm in a lot of ways. It’s not worth moving unless we can stay close to the same total expenses, get more space, get nicer fixtures and stuff, etc. Well, when we started looking around, there were a lot of ways we could make this happen. So, on 25-Feb, we’ll have a new place to live. We have until 22-Mar to get out of Riata, but we’re hiring movers so we can leave early in the hope that they can flip our unit quickly like they did for our neighbor. We have been quite happy at Riata. Unless they screw us over on move-out, I’ll give them a 5-star rating on Yelp. But, when we got this “shoebox” shaped apartment, it was an amazing deal we just couldn’t pass up while we still had a mortgage. We were so happy here that when the lease came around, twice, we just stayed. Now, we’re ready to face moving again to go for bigger/better.

    We looked at ~20 places and had a very strong Top 5 list. I fell “in like” with two leasing specialists, one where an acquaintance of ours lives. We found: a lovely town home, an ├╝ber quiet place up the road, hardwood floors, door-to-door valet trash service, amazing views, and a couple of places with a lot of rugrats. All of the options gave us more space (so I can use Daddy’s desk again!), better amenities for our lifestyle, garage options (so we can stop paying for a storage unit primarily for Daddy’s desk and “junk”), better fixtures, and a better layout.

    Just like we did when house hunting, we made a matrix of all the “stuff”. And just like most brides do with a wedding gown, we ended up at the first place we wanted to see: Villas at Stone Oak Ranch. We have good/affordable access to a game room and a 30-seat movie theater. There is a “gift wrap” area full of paper and tape and scissors. All the standards are there too: gym, pool, business center, etc. We have a detached garage, a square balcony, “Romeo & Juliet” doors off the dining room (which I’ve re-named Rapunzel doors), garden tubs, a kitchen that is open on two ends, an excellent pantry, and data ports in all the rooms. The only things we didn’t get: gas cooking (REALLY hard to find) and a fireplace (again? dammit!). But the deal was just too good to pass up compared to the other places in consideration.

    Aside: During the process we met an amazing woman named Wendie. She gave us the low-down on why so many communities are doing away with their hot tubs. Turns out, some really scary (as in: there is no known cure) stuff can survive even in 104?-temperature chemical-treated water. The report is new and we could not find it online, but it’s scary. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT get in a public hot tub. Feet only. No “sensitive” areas allowed. eeeeeewwww!

    Don’t worry friends and family: we’re hiring movers. We are also cleaning out the storage unit and holding a big moving sale in their parking lot. What doesn’t get sold is getting donated. Goodwill is going to LOVE us! LMK if you are close and care about the few big-ticket items we’re selling.

    Oh! And we were able to surprise a friend with the referral fee paid to REALTORs. She’s a single mom and a cancer survivor, so she was elated with the news.

    (The) Grandaddy

    Grandaddy is quite frustrated and bored. His hip is so messed up from the botched “Paris-effin’-Texas” surgery that he can’t sit up. He’s been laying down since Hallowe’en. The Longview/Tyler doctors have deemed all surgical options too risky. Health care is a joke from the beginning; but in a small town that is 20 years behind the times, 1 hour from an interstate highway, and 2 hours from anything you’ve ever heard of, it’s nothing short of tragic. Mama Bee is still fighting the residuals from the beotch who called APS on her (the witch has since apologized), but no one wants to take Grandaddy on as a client. They claim he’ll have a stroke if he stays in bed too much longer, but they won’t come help her get him the physical therapy he needs to get out of the hospital bed. It’s heartbreaking….worse so to be physically and financially powerless to help. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d care-flight him to one of those fancy-schmancy places in Dallas where he’d get all the help he needs. Again, I need to win the lottery for that. I don’t know what those places cost, but even the crappy Paris nursing homes are $6K per month…and for terrible care compared with what my Grandmother can do (even at her small stature).

    The Fraud

    In the midst of The Move, we got a call that we’d have to pay rent with “certified funds” like a cashier’s check or money order. We’ve been on auto-draft, so this would be a real pain in the butt. Today, I called the “ladder” of people to find out the cause. Some jackass spoofed my Texas driver’s license number when writing a bad check at Walmart in a town I’ve never been to in Oklahoma. Telecheck reported it to credit on my DL number without checking any facts like the name. So, now, I’m in the middle of yet another fraud mess. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened. So, to all the people who gave me shit (my sorority included) for wanting to protect my SSN, DL, DOB, mailing address, and other “credit” information, Fuck You! THIS is why. Less than $300 of stupid means we have to get a money order for rent every month? Are you kidding? Since Emil was just frauded over Xmas, this is just another reason to try to get off the financial grid. I haven’t even owned checks in years and I’m still dealing with this kind of bullshit.

    Dear Walmart: stop taking checks. They are not money. They are only theft.

    “Dear” Telecheck, this a’int our first rodeo for something completely out of my control. I already don’t shop at any store that posts they use you. You have needed better processes since ~1993 when I bought <$10 worth of socks from one of your client stores. Your sign in the window means I don’t shop there. fuckers. Oh, and if you think I’m alone in my opinion, search “telecheck” on Twitter. You need to learn/use social media, too, BTW.

    The Fun

    Austin is about to ride the big wave of fun that is Spring. Right after we move in, we’ll have RISE (free workshops for entrepreneurs) and the four South by Southwest conferences. I’ve been invited to return tot he photo crew for SXSW. And, I’ve been selected to wrangle for another all-time favorite photographer at Texas School in May. It’s a fun ride, but it’s a sprint, so jump on board fast if you want to hang with us!

    Oh, and for those of you close by, look for a party in April or May. The party room at the new place is stellar (pool, poker, shuffleboard, music, swimming, etc.)