Monthly Archives: December 2011


My aunt Adrienne died tonight. The 25th. It was awful. To put it mildly. But, as life does, there were also beautiful bits.

In june I found out that she had been feeling pretty bad for months (which I had’t realized at Passover), progressing to the point where she was having trouble remembering things, and occasional balance issues. I found out because the doctors finally realized she had a large mass on her adrenal gland, and she was going in for surgery. I went and visited her in the hospital and then at home after. The mass was the biggest one the doctors had seen, but she was feeling better and was cheerful and positive and I fixed an outlet for her. But then they found out that the mass was indeed cancerous. She was still super upbeat and gung-ho about kicking its ass and getting on with life.

I’m pretty terrible at keeping in touch with people, even ones I like a lot, and so I didn’t really hear anything until October? when my parents said she was out in California for chemo, and they had dinner with her. I called her a couple of times, but again, bad at keeping in touch and at that point totally absorbed by school. Then I had that stupid family history report, and wanted to talk to her about that side of the family. That’s how I found out she was in the hospital again. Thank god for that stupid, stupid report, because that’s the last time I had a conversation with her. She wasn’t super clear, but she was focused and interested and we talked. She was having problems with her legs and was headed to the physical rehab section the next day. She was worried about my cousin, Sarah, but generally, she still seemed determined, and like this had just been a little thing, she was bouncing back.

And then on the 23rd my mother called and said she’d taken a turn for the worse and was on a respirator. I was out doing last minute christmas shopping with John, and stuck with him for a little bit until I called my cousin and found out where to go and heard what Sarah sounded like. I’m so so so glad that I went. It was horrible and terrible and Adrienne was on a respirator and couldn’t talk and looked awful, a bruised shell of herself, but I talked to her, and she squeezed my hand both to answer questions and in response to my squeezes. I told her about school, and plans, and I got to stay with her for about half an hour holding her hand. It was terrible, but also very sweet. There were also a ton of other people out in the waiting area, a lot of Sarah’s friends who also knew and loved Adrienne. I stayed for a while. Her partner, Marilyn, was there and was fantastically helpful to me. Sarah was a little fragile, bouncing between laughing and crying, and Marilyn was a good solid ballast for steadying me, and answering questions.

I was supposed to go again on the 24th, but the christmas eve stuff at John’s house wiped me out, and also I convinced myself that she was fine. And then today, I was tired and didn’t feel like going anywhere, until my mom called again (somehow, she ended up being the chain of communication, even though Adrienne is my dad’s sister) and told me she was doing worse.

I got there and again, so many people. This time more of Adrienne’s friends, her ex husband, people I’d met at Passovers. Most of them knew who I was, I of course had no clue about most of them. But they were all there. I waited my turn (still, like a idiot, not quite realizing that “go in and say goodbye” meant that she was going to die tonight. I figured it was at least a little precautionary, and we had a few days. Like how on the 23rd I thought we had a few weeks.)

When I went in, it was worse. The first time I visited, my initial thought at seeing her was “oh, no. She’s dying and she knows it.” This time I knew it. I held her hand but she was asleep orĀ unconscious. I told her everything I had to say, about how grateful I was for her constant kindness and acceptance and generosity and humor, how much I love her. I told her what bullshit it was and how sorry I was that her body betrayed her and how much I was going to miss her. I squeezed her hand and she didn’t squeeze back. It was useless, standing there, but somehow letting go of her hand felt like a betrayal. That was the hardest part, to just let go of her hand and walk away. Again, I was so grateful that Marilyn was there. She told me how proud Adrienne was of me, and that I was really special to her, and held me for a bit. But that letting go of her hand. It was such a simple action, and still so big and difficult.

I went back and sat with everyone, and at some point people decided to sing. It was low and quiet hum/singing, and had this been a movie montage that is what would have been playing over it. And that’s what we were doing when she died. At some point Marilyn, my cousin, a good friend Michael, and Tommy, Adrienne’s aunt-in-law who lived downstairs (and is 90something and will outlive us all. May I be half as sharp as her when I’m half her age) went in, and I guess Adrienne knew. Her heart and respiration rate slowed down, and stopped.

We out in the waiting area, singing (in my case, crying and listening), didn’t realize until those four came back out, Marilyn breaking composure for the first time sobbing and screaming Fuck. People ran to her and Sarah, but I think it didn’t sink in for most of us until the doctor came out and said My condolences. You can go in now.

The rest of the night was long, awfulish. Figuring out things with the funeral homes and travel and all (the funeral home we called was amazingly expedient. They were there about an hour an a half after she died).

There is nothing fair about this. I know, it’s death, it’s not fair or unfair. But really. Aside from being sad, I think all of us are angry. She was 65. She had an amazing, beautiful life for the most part. The main downside was she never got to retire. She was 65. Her decline was swift, unexpected, and devastating. I get it that death isn’t fair and this is never easy, but this. This is beyond. This is bullshit.

But Tommy was sitting there quietly and Marilyn asked her what was up and she started listing all of the people she’s known who had died, and none of them had had that many people gathered, and singing. And that part, that part was beautiful.


Winter. It has arrived

The last few months been very odd weather-wise. We had that freak storm before Halloween, and since then it’s been in the 40’s-60’s. Mostly towards the 60’s. We’re all so well trained that we all got out our wool and down coats and wore them anyway. Yesterday it finally went into the 30’s, and then today was about 24 all day. As much as I thought it was weird and unnatural before, I do not like the cold.

Also, I’m the one paying the gas bill, and so I’ve been determined not to turn on the heat until I really have to. We hit that today, and even with it at 60 (I’m trying really hard to do bare minimum) my feet hurt, they’re so cold. I don’t think it’s actually 60 degrees in here. The cats are huddling constantly, and actually I feel like turning up the heat more for them than me. But they have fur.

Also, it’s almost Christmas. I’m really not into this. I’m starting to realize I like the traditions surrounding it, but not the day. I like the lights. I like the wreaths. I’m not that big on the tree, but I do appreciate other people making nice ones. I like the cookies. I miss the Christmas Revels that we used to go see (and I worked for a few years). I miss my parents cheese and apple breakfast spread. But presents? I dunno. I struggle with them more every year, and I need stuff less and less every year (or I need/want big things, like comforters and fancy boots and stuff, things I feelĀ glutinous and wrong asking for, and would be embarrassed to receive [although I did get pillows for my birthday one year and that was amazing]). I feel like it’s a lot of pressure all around. John and I aren’t giving each other anything, although I did find a tshirt that he’ll like and got that. But we do stuff like that in an ongoing fashion. Perhaps I need to get better at that and just save all those up for christmas? But I’m really bad at keeping surprises like that. I get too excited.

Anyway. Tomorrow I’ll figure all of that out and hopefully get it squared away. Along with cleaning my room. Eesh.


Over the weekend I started to kind of feel it, and then yesterday the cold emerged full bloom. Like a butterfly. A really sneezy butterfly. It’s a good thing work involved not doing anything, because I am a useless whineypants when I get sick. Well. Not always, but I really feel like being a useless whineypants, and get irritated when anything interferes with that goal. Yesterday did not interfere.

A low point of yesterday (aside from constantly sneezing, feeling like I was about to sneeze, or blowing my nose) was when I went to get a second cup of tea, and they had replaced the hot water urn with the decaf urn but I didn’t realize until there was already coffee in my cup and all over my teabag. Who does that? Apparently they hadn’t actually taken away the water and were probably just refilling it because it was back when I went to check later.

Another low point was when I went to school to upload my algebra project thing, and then it turned out I didn’t need to upload it, I could have just emailed it to him. Dang. I could have been home an hour earlier (maybe) if I’d known that. Oh well.

And then this morning I was supposed to go to rope class and then realized that in addition to not being able to go upside down, my teacher probably wouldn’t appreciate me sneezing on the rope. I called her and she told me I was right. The sucky part about that is that this is the third class I’ve missed. The first I slept through because I was coming off a huge bout of work and probably shouldn’t have scheduled an 11am class after a late night. The second time, my super reliable bus turned on me and didn’t show up. And now this. I guess I’m not supposed to go to rope this month? Or something? Frustrating. But, nice to be at home with the cats, and hopefully this means I’ll be a little bit better before I go breathe in my dentists face tomorrow morning.

School done!

Whee! I took a quiz in Vet Tech on tuesday and found out that my average is 100, and so I don’t need to take the final as he drops the lowest test score. On wednesday I had my final essay in English, and got my research paper back. I’m reasonably confident of an A on the final, and my other grades in that class are 3 A+’s and and A-. So. And then in Algebra I was ready to take the last test on thursday, and I got a 93 on that. I still have to stop by on monday and drop off this weird heart rate project we have to do and upload, but other than that, first part of first semester- over, and a rousing success. In january and february I’m taking Critical Thinking for the 6 week session, and that should go well.

Other than that, I keep finding travel blogs, and crazy internships and training courses. I need to start playing the lottery again. It might be a total waste of 5 bucks a week, but it might also mean I can stop working, focus on school, and travel in all of the breaks. Dream big! I also need to start doing the “do I want to order indian food, or do I want… (school next semester, peru in august, africa ever again, thailand someday etc etc)” because although I made a good chunk of money this fall, between the cats vet bills, and being lazy and too overwhelmed by work and school to make my own food, I spent a lot on takeout. Generally really good takeout. But. That’s a few hundred dollars gone.

Speaking of food, I keep vaguely thinking about eating paleo again, and I don’t know. It was good, I liked what I was eating, it made me remember foods that I don’t normally think of, and now I like sweet potatoes. But food was all I did. All thought and energy went to what I was going to eat next and when I would be able to get ingredients and make them. And I know it doesn’t have to be like that, it gets easier, you get better at thinking ahead, using stuff on hand and all. But still. It took so much energy and focus and I have some hard classes coming up. I could do with making more food in advance and bringing lunches more, but I can’t handle reading every ingredient and rejecting 3/4 of everything because it has soybean oil, or cheese, or butter, or whatever. Exhausting. And I didn’t feel the benefits everyone raved about. I didn’t feel oh so much better. I felt fine. I feel fine now. I lost a little bit of weight. I gained it back immediately.

Speaking of food, it’s lunch time.

Unrelated good deeds

So my favorite blogger, Jenny Lawson, is a hilarious and fantastic person. A few years ago, she bought a taxidermied boars head, and that ended up with strangers donating 42,000 to other strangers for christmas/hannukah things. It’s an amazing accidental story written about here. This year, she got flooded with requests to do the exchange again, and most of the people asking were people who were helped last year. Organizing that again is a little overwhelming, but she has other ideas, and it’s all to be found here. I think these are all awesome ideas, and might even do a couple myself.

It always works this way.

So, I was a little worried about work because it’s been slowing down the last couple weeks, and I didn’t have anything lined up, and Snippet’s vet bills are a little higher than anticipated (more on that in a second), and so I sent out a few emails saying hey, I’m available. Good timing, because one of the people I emailed knew someone looking! So, now I have another 5 days of work, running a board for a corporate budget meeting. Which I anticipate means two things- Doing almost nothing, and Getting paid a lot. It’s a meeting. I assume it will be babysitting, and bringing up lights for some speeches. It’s a corporate gig, as a board op. It’s not a fancy board, but both of those things tend to mean higher rates. I don’t know the rate yet, but even if it’s lower than I think, it’s still 40 hours at a decent rate. Hooray. I also booked a late-night strike that I’m regretting now because it’s at the same time, and the corporate stuff is all early morning starts. Oh well.

Snippet got spayed yesterday. I got her back last night, and apparently it went well but turned up some really weird things. My cat is clearly the genetic victim of inbreeding. Her intestines are missing a couple sections, and one section is super malformed. Luckily enough, she’s never had digestive issues, so while she’s not formed right, she seems to function fine. Then her spleen had funny things going on, little lobes like skin tags, and the omentum, the membrane that holds the squishy organs, was about a 1/4″ thick, which is ridiculous. Also when they took out her uterus, it was odd and very thick as well. Young cats should have smooth thin uterine walls. There was also a bunch of liquid right when they opened her up, they think old blood, and it wasn’t an active thing, so that’s odd. They saved stuff for me to biopsy (and took pictures!) and I decided to do the spleen but not the uterus. I figure if the uterus was the problem we’ll know because she’ll get better. It’s being saved in formalin in case I change my mind. Fun.

Today she’s super lethargic and not interested in eating. I think she’s in some pain, but she won’t tell me about it. I’m a little worried since it’s so opposite her usual behavior (well. The eating. She’s usually pretty lethargic) but it is normal for post-spay. So we’ll see if she perks up in the next day or so. In the meantime, her sweater is pretty funny.

Good thing I’ve been busy.

It’s been a really good fall. I had a lot of work all the time, and managed to keep up with school. Because I had so much work, I had a little extra money. Which was good because Pidgeon got sick for the first time ever, and that cost a good amount to figure out (so far. She’s due back for a checkup soon). And then even after that I had some extra money, so I decided it was time to get Snippet spayed. She has this chronic issue which originally meant her medication would interfere with surgery, but it’s been decided that it won’t, and spaying might even solve the chronic thing. Let’s hope so. That’s where she is today, they’ll send me a text with a picture of her when she’s out of surgery.

But then after all this money being thrown at cat care, I decided to spend a little on my care. My wisdom teeth are still all in and give me some problems every now and then, and also I have this (I’m sorry, it sounds gross) mouth growth thing. So I took myself to a dental school, and got an exam and xrays. The xrays show that my lower wisdom teeth are indeed terribly impacted, and the upper ones are mostly okay but a little tilted out towards my cheeks and that’s not great. Other than that, no cavities, everything good. I think I got lucky there, I never had cavities in my baby teeth, and the one tiny tiny one that I got when I was about 15 they sealed right away.

Then the mouth growth thing. Apparently it’s one of three things, all benign, but I get to go have it checked out and biopsied. Hopefully at the same time, if they do both on the same day I only pay for the biopsy. Otherwise I have to pay for the exam as well, and while my little extra money is still going, it’s a lot smaller, and there is no work on the horizon.

So now, I go to scare up some work, since I have a few weeks off of school and I would like to use that time productively.

Incidentally, I did decide to take math of medical dosages instead of bio 1. Relief. It will still be a much harder semester than this one was, but it feels much more manageable now. Hooray.

Picking classes is hard.

My registration appointment for next semester is today. Hooray! Next semester will be a little terrifying. This semester was easy. I had one class to study for. Math had a decent amount of homework, and English I had to write some stuff. But that was about it. Next semester- Fundamentals of Chemistry, Intro to Biology 1, College Algebra and Trig, and English 102. Wheee.

I picked out a schedule a couple weeks ago, but today I went back to look through and see if I could do anything better. Answer- not really. In an effort to maximize my ability to work, I looked at the last two months and found that out of 8 weeks, I worked 4 sundays, 5 mondays, 4 tuesdays, 4 wednesdays, 5 thursdays, 7 fridays, and 2 saturdays. So, I need to keep mondays and fridays free, which I was already doing. There was no good way to clear thursday, though. I originally had everything packed on to tuesday-thursday, so the only thing I could do was move chemistry from those evenings to all day saturday. So, not ideal, but my thursday afternoon and evening are free. And now I have SEVEN HOURS of chemistry on saturday. Oof.

I could trade bio out for math of medical dosages, and that would be a little easier. But…. might as well just go for it? I guess? We’ll see. I have a few hours to decide.

I think the hardest part is that Bio starts at 9 15 those three days. I am not a morning person. I’m not sure I can train myself to be. But perhaps.