December 29, 2011

Ring in the New Year with Writing and Sugarless Goodness

I have a few New Year’s Resolutions this year, but the top 2 really are the ones I am focusing on. The others are there just to torment me so I don’t get too self-satisfied:

1)      Stop eating sweets. Cake and pie will be the death of me. Damn you King Cake, I will not eat you this year by the fistful. I will not even try to display my non-existent self-control. I will simply avoid you and your sticky sweet friends all together.

2)      Post to my long-neglected blog once a week. I did it one year, I can do it again. Dammit.

3)      Fit back into my skinny jeans. Even if they are what I wear in my open casket, I will get back into those bitches one more time, dammit. And yes, I meant bitches, not britches.

4)      Travel less for work. I don’t even know how I am going to do it, but I think listening to your 6 year old cry on the phone because he misses you is one experience I can live without repeating ever again, thank you very much.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

December 22, 2011

Random Post

The Christmas shopping is done. The tree is up. The house is more or less decorated and everything is ok, except my son seems to have confused God and Santa Claus. I mean, really, they are very similar. I can see why one would get them confused. My stepmother says that children have a stronger faith than adults because they believe without question, in God. I think it is because they are gullible. They also believe in Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny. And whenever I lie to my son and tell him Taco Tico is still out of Hi-C punch and that is why we are having water, he believes me.

On a totally unrelated note, I was thinking the other day, why do we call something we look at as wimpy or feminine “gay?” I mean, seriously, I think as s society we are using the word gay totally wrong. I would think it takes enormous cajones to be a man and have sex with another man, and I would imagine, but don’t know for sure, that there is not very much flowery and frilly about it. So it makes no sense to me why we are not saying things like, “Did you know that John just lifted a burning car off of another burning car and pulled out the victim from the flaming wreckage. It was so f&^%ing gay!” Or, “It was so gay – that man literally lifted that other man up by the throat using only one hand!”

I hope this isn’t taken wrong.  Although, of course, I am not known for my tact or kindness, but with this case, I really do think we are using this word all wrong. We need to change it and start associating the word gay with not only with men who sleep with other men, but also with feats of incredible strength and bravery. Just my opinion.

And on another totally unrelated topic, my sister is nice. And she seems to be so without having to work very hard at it. I find this amazing. There was a time when I thought she was actually not nice and was pretending to be nice just to make me feel like shit. I figured she, like me, had black gooey meanness at her core and that ire was actually fueling her “kindness” which was being displayed just to highlight my grouchiness. As I have grown older, I have come to realize that she is simply a kind person and while not perfect, she is not purposely pretending to be nice so that others around her will pale in comparison.

I, on the other hand, have to put “be nice” on my to-do list and check it off when it is done. It does not come naturally to me. I am quick to judge and often times, quicker to open my mouth with whatever ridiculous thought has fallen from my brain. I had a boss once who told me my mind was like the house and there was a set of step stairs leading from the front door of the house to the front screen door. And every ridiculous and inappropriate thought I had was the ill-behaved dog of the house barreling down the stairs and crashing through the unhinged screen door, right out into the yard

Just some random nonsense for your holiday reading pleasure!


November 6, 2011

Goodbye Dad


The story that keeps coming back to me about my father is from when I was 13. I liked a boy named Joey. He was 15 and drove a blue Camaro. I think he also had an earring and perhaps a moustache. I liked this boy and he came to the house once to see me. I was, under no circumstances allowed to ride in the Camaro with Joey. I was the last child and my parents were tired, but they were not stupid. And thankfully, I was just stupid enough to be a very bad liar, so I never managed to successfully sneak out.

If you stop here and think about it, the real miracle is, as I recall this, that my father lived as long as he did. He had 4 daughters and was principal of an all-girls Catholic High School. A lesser man would have crumbled under that weight.
Back to the story -  Joey comes to the house to see me and instead of coming to the door, he honked the horn for me to come out to see him. As I went for the door, my father stopped me and said, “You are not going out there until he comes to the door and rings the bell.”

I was furious. I cried, I screamed, I pleaded. Joey honked the horn a few more times and then, I suppose, assumed I was not home and went away.

I was beside myself with anger toward my father, toward Joey, toward all the injustice of being thirteen years old, but my father held his ground and said, quite plainly, “one day, you will thank me for this.”

No doubt I disagreed and likely expressed my displeasure in all sorts of unpleasant ways. It took a few years, but I did eventually thank my father. I thanked him for taking up for me when I did not know how or why I should.
My father was a good man. The story I told you was one of thousands where we disagreed. For a long time, we could not agree about anything - from politics and religion down to color preferences and pets – I love dogs and Dad was “allergic” to them. Everything was always so important to me back then. Getting him to see my point of view and all the ways he was “wrong” was my second job for a while there. And, as tends to happen, as time marches on, things and issues lose their significance and what bubbles to the surface is not words or beliefs, but actions.
During the hurricane fiasco, when we were homeless evacuees wandering the state of Texas, it was my father who stepped up to care for my dying mother. He sprang into action with his list. Yes, if you knew my father, you know the man didn’t do anything without a carefully planned list. He organized setting up their Houston apartment and making sure my mother was taken care of at MD Anderson. He did all the housework and grocery shopping. And although I had to show him how to work the washing machine, once he learned, he did all the laundry afterwards.

I thank my father for being steady and consistent. My sisters and I often teased him for his predictability and fastidious nature, but in reality, we never had to worry about anything because he took care of everything for us. When Alice and I were at the funeral home with Gail, Alice remarked that this seemed more organized and easier when Mom died. And I said, “It was, because Dad did everything and made all the decisions.”

He mostly planned his own funeral as well. I can picture him orchestrating all of this from heaven, where he was positive he would spend eternity. He told me, one day not long ago, that perhaps he would not go to heaven right away, but he was pretty confident he would end up there eventually. And how could I argue with that? It was, after all, on his list. “Go to Heaven.” Check.

My father, on top of being highly organized, was also in his own way incredibly flexible. He loved to travel and was very good at it. As a frequent flyer myself, I can tell you, letting yourself and your fate be at the mercy of the airline is not always easy. But, Dad was an incredible traveler and always went with the flow. I suppose being stranded at an airport for a few hours is child’s play compared to being responsible for 1500 hormonal teenage girls.

Dad also, while being the serious one in our family, also went along with the craziness more often that you would expect. He and Mom had come to visit Mike and me in Houston once and when I declared I was going to pay for everything in Sacagawea dollar coins because I had taken to wearing my hair in braids, he offered to bring me to the post office to get some. I was in my thirties at this point, so it’s not like he was placating a child. He was an active participant in the Murphy Family craziness.

 

Dad was also the official videographer of the Murphy Family. So much so that we used to joke around that the grandkids were going to grow up thinking Grandpa had a video camera and tripod growing out of his face. We would hector him mercilessly for this insistence on filming every occasion, but the end result is thousands of hours of family memories captured. It was a couple of months ago that my Dad passed his video camera onto my sweet husband, Mike and dubbed him the new video man. He knew he was leaving this world and that he would not need his camera anymore. His work was done. And he did it well.


I loved my father and I will miss him. It is an odd place to be in this world without living parents. We are lucky to have a host of friends and family like Sue and John Barker who can remind us all of the good times from years past, like trips to Grand Isle and Mardi Gras Days spent chasing floats and counting children to ensure none were left behind in the chaos. My father adored his best friend John Barker and I am so grateful we have remained close to our Asher Street friends. Aunt Mary and Uncle Bill have also stepped up and filled some of the void left by the departure of Mom and Dad and for that, I am so very grateful. And of course, we have Gail, our Stepmother who has accepted this crazy family as her own. After Dad passed, she expressed concern about losing us and we laughed at her silliness – does she really think she’s going to get off that easy? Nope, she is stuck with us. She is GG to 11 grandchildren.

I happened to be at my Dad’s bedside when he died. We were all at his house and people were wandering in and out of the room. I wandered in to sit at his computer and for some reason, turned around to hold his hand. And it was then, that he took his last breath. It was peaceful and calm and he simply slipped away.  It is the way he wanted it – a peaceful death without lingering on. It was on his list.

Goodbye Dad.  I love you and I will miss you.




October 5, 2011

Love You Forever

This past Sunday, when it was time for bed, Max and I climbed into his bed so I could read him some books. We chose “Are You My Mother” and then he specifically asked for the blue book with the baby on the front that we had read the night before Christmas. Seriously, how does he remember this stuff? I finally figured out he meant “Love You Forever.” I both love and hate this book. It is a beautiful little story of a mother who, every night, after her son is asleep, picks him up and sings to him:

                I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
                As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be

She does this until he is an adult – she drives to his house with a ladder and climbs in his window. Finally, when he is grown and she is older, he goes to see her and she is too sick to sing, so he sings to her. And then he goes home and sings to his baby girl. By the time we finish this book, every single time we read it, I am choking back tears. And last Sunday was no different. I read it quickly, choked back some sobs and turned off the light. It has been a big day – we had gone to my sister’s for lunch and then over to Grandpa’s (my dad’s) house so Mike could move some furniture around as hospice was bringing the hospital bed over on Monday.

As we lay there in his bed, Max asked me if I would miss him when he grew up and moved to New York City. He told has told me more than once that he and his wife and their three children – Fergus, Felicia and Laney, will live in New York City at the Plaza Hotel and he will write and illustrate children’s books.
I said that I would miss him, but that I would come visit him and he would come visit me. He then asked if I would sit in his room after he was gone and cry and would I sell his toys at a yard sale (I think someone has been watching Toy Story 3) and I said, I would not sell his toys that I would put them in the attic.

He was quiet and then he turned to me and pushed his little face into my shoulder and began to cry, “I don’t want to grow up, I am not ready to grow up.”

And of course, I began to cry and said, “I am not ready for you to grow up either, you are not grown up yet we have lots of time and you do not ever have to move out of our house! You and your wife and Fergus, Felicia and Laney can all live with us!”

And we lay in bed crying next to each other until I kept hearing a popping noise over and over again and went out to the den to find out what was going on. Mike told me there were fireworks for some reason so I got Max and we went out on the roof to watch them light up the sky. He stayed up too late and the fireworks went on and on, but time is short and he will be grown up soon and won’t let me read books to him or lie in bed with him, so I want to make it count. I am not ready for any of this this, but I will do it anyway because he is my little boy and for as long as I am living, my baby he’ll be.

May 19, 2011

Ya Dig?

I haven't written in so long and I am not sure why. Yes, I am busy, very busy with work. But, I was busy before and managed to write. Have I used up all my stories? I wonder why I am not writing as much. Part of it, I suspect, is my ego. I confess, I like the praise I would get after a good post, but each post, I felt like, needed to be better than the next so that people would not get bored. At some point, this blog became, or maybe always was, about me getting an ego boost from other people. I think, unexpectedly, it also became very cathartic for me. I managed to purge my soul of the stories that were swirling around inside of me and now, I don't have much left. Which is ok, I guess. But makes me feel a little swirl-less.

But I miss writing. I like to write. I like words, and unfolding plot lines and choosing just the right adjective for just the right noun. I used to write on planes a lot and now I spend it either reading or staring straight ahead wishing I was home.

Truthfully, I am a little bored with all of my online activity lately. Facebook is a drag and makes me wonder why I check it each day. I hear people saying they are going to take a break from it and I think I should do the same, but I always go back just to check in and see what is going on or post a cute picture or something like that. But, instead of making me feel more connected to the world around me, I get kind of sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is the same feeling I would have as a kid on school nights as it approached dinner time. I don't know why, but that time of day depressed the fuck out of me. I can almost smell the frying paneed meat in the kitchen of the house where I grew up and my mother standing over the stove holding the spatula with a far away look in her eyes. Now that I am grown up, I am sure she was wondering how she ended up in a house in the burbs with 4 ungrateful and lazy children.

So, I will attempt to write more often, if nothing else to complain that I am not writing enough. It is not a should thing. I don't feel like I "should" write more, I just wish I DID write more often. It is calming and provides me with a sense of being alive and having some other purpose than work, work, work for the Man, Man, Man.

Ya' dig, my brother?

February 26, 2011

30,000 Feet and Nothing To Do

The person who invented the mammogram machine did not have boobs. Or possibly hated boobs. And also severely underestimated the usefulness of gravity. I am done. I am not having any more mammograms. There, I said it. I will not subject myself or my tits to the horror of this obnoxious and useless procedure. My mother had breast cancer which is why every doctor has gone all bonkers about making sure I get mammograms, however, my mother had an estrogen feeding breast cancer, which is not hereditary, and she found hers herself, it was not detected by a mammogram. Oh, and did I mention that the treatment for that cancer is what caused the cancer that eventually killed her? Oh, and of course, we can’t forget that it was hormone replacement therapy that probably caused the initial cancer that resulted in the radiation treatment, which caused the radiation induced sarcoma that did her in?

And that, my friends, is why I say pooh-pooh to modern day medicine’s version of leeching.
What I think would be really nice is to have a doctor who said I should have my boobs removed and replaced with perky, store-bought ones. And, to have a doctor say I also needed a hysterectomy and while he or she was there, he or she would do a little tummy tuck, too. That would be really nice. Much nicer than once a year putting my already beleaguered breasts into a flattener. That shit hurts.

I am on a plane.

This is not a surprise, is it?

No, it is not.

Planes are where I read, write blog entries, day dream about cosmetic surgery and figure out how I am going to get out of being a road warrior by the time Max is 7. Because that is the oldest he can be for me to keep doing this. Little kid means little problems. Big kid means big problems. And I want to be there for him. I don’t want him to turn 16 and start smoking and doing drugs and blame it on the fact I was never there. Plus, worse than a mammogram, would be dying in a plane crash or getting cancer from the full body X-rays at airports now. That would suck.

What would suck more is something I read in People magazine a couple of hours ago. A man had tongue cancer and had radiation and chemo to treat it. It caused the lining of his esophagus to slough off like snake’s skin and he had to “pull it out of his throat while coughing and vomiting.” I just threw up a little in my mouth and shuddered.

I can agree with my father’s decision to forego chemo 100%. I did not even try to talk him into it. He has inoperable lung cancer and the chemo would be palliative, perhaps gaining him a month or two…a month or two of horror, pain and suffering. He has no symptoms right now, and perhaps, as it gets closer, he may change his mind, thinking 30 more days alive and in pain is perhaps better than 30 fewer days. And I will support him then, too.

He and I are not as close and my mother and I were. I don’t know why. Maybe because my mother and I had the same sense of humor – bitter and dark. I don’t know the reason, but I know I will miss him when he is gone. There will be no one left in this world who loves me more than themselves, no one who can fill me in on the tiny details of my childhood, no one to compare my son to me at the same age, and no one to record our lives’ special events. I doubt anyone will take up doing the filming. We all poke fun of him for recording our every gathering, even saying the children will grow up thinking Grandpa has a tri-pod growing out of his face. But he will leave us with close to 100 DVDs, I think, full of the birthdays and holidays and Sundays at mom’s house for roast, rice and green peas. Or as Nick used to call it, “the brown meat.”

I would give all those DVDs and much, much more to have Mom back and Dad cancer-free, even for just one more Sunday. But I am grateful for the time I had with them both. I could, however, do without the gaping hole in my heart, thank you very much. 

February 7, 2011

Hidden From View

Today, while cruising Facebook when I should have been working, I almost wrote on someone's wall who is constantly complaining about everything in her pompous way, that she was too judgmental. Until, of course, I realized that I was judging her. Which I am. She is so self righteous - that commercial offends me, that person should be ashamed, etc...but she does it all in the name of defending others. It. Drives. Me. Bonkers.

So, instead of accusing her of being judgmental,  (which she is. And, yes, we have already established so am I.) I hid her on Facebook. Oh the power the "hide" feature gives me. It is a silent "Shut the Fuck Up" to the annoying people who call themselves my friends on Facebook. I love wielding the power of the little "x" and, poof, they are gone, erased from my feed, erased from my mind. Oh, but if life had a hide button, then all would be right and good in the world. I could, in one fell swoop, have peace and quiet and be done with the annoyances of my world.

There are days when there would be no on in the news feed of my world. And then there would be days when everyone and their mindless blather would be welcome. Even the cousin who repeatedly offends with his anti-gay, pro-military, pro-hate everyone who is not white, straight and conservative status updates. But, really, I would practically have to be high or the recent recipient of a frontal lobotomy to unhide that clown.
Because, as we've established, I am judgmental, and frankly, so are you. So pipe down and stay hidden.

I suppose I could just stop looking on Facebook. That too would achieve the same thing and free up a lot of time.

February 3, 2011

The Lazy Woman's Psychiatrist

I found the following post in my drafts...I am no longer in this state. I guess Sudafed and caffeine work.

I am battling a depression. I am trying to make it go away before it comes by drinking lots of caffeine and occasionally popping a few Sudafed. I mean, thousands of Meth addicts can't all be wrong, can they? This is a familiar depression. It is the one in which I wish so badly that I did not have to work and could be a lady who lunches that I actually have to fight back tears at my desk. Usually it comes upon me in the Spring, right before Jazz Fest, but this year, the beast has reared its ugly head right smack in the middle of Janaury.

During this time I dream about quitting my job and becoming a cashier at Whole Foods. That is my dream job. I get to wear jeans, it is rote and with a limited set of tasks, and I assume I would get a discount. Of course, even with the discount, I doubt I could afford to shop there.