retro-post: Mama told me not to come… (or: hurry up and wait)

January 1, 2009
7:33 AM

That ain’t the way to have fun, son!

So here I am at Spokane International Airport.  I’m typing this on word because they charge you for connecting to the internets.  I think that airports are a conspiracy to suck beleaguered souls of all their money while they don’t notice because they’re too busy being miserable because they’re at the airport.

I also think that I’m going to a funeral.  So I’m sort of sad and not really thrilled about flying anyway.

And there’s the whole “get up at the butt-crack of dawn” aspect of travel.

Since 9/11, travel has become … well…  an exercise in patience, maintaining one’s calm in the midst of armed soldiers, and taking off one’s shoes, and/or clothes in public.

But when you gotta go, you gotta go….

So.  It was Tuesday at 5:30 in the morning when my dad called to give me the news about MomMom’s dying.  We had been waiting for her to go for some time.  She had Alzheimer’s disease and she had just been wasting away for so long, for so many years.  I’m glad she’s finally at rest.

I got out of bed, crying a little.  I posted my rant about what my experience of her funeral would possibly be, about my brother, about the man she married whose children he had.   So I got that off my chest a little bit.

When 9:00AM rolled around, I called my boss and told her the news:  she just said, “Are you coming into work today?”

(Read the following imagined dialogue with dripping sarcasm):  What?  You’re so sorry for my loss?  Yes, thank you very much I did know her and love her for a long time.  Yes, I’m really sad right now, but relieved because she was suffering for so long and now that’s over.  I’m so glad you’re concerned about my well-being.  Thank you for your compassionate… listening.

No.  “Are you coming into work today?”

Grief notwithstanding, that’s kind of a shitty response.  And I suppose I don’t really mean kind of.  Just shitty.

I did eventually get to work.  A fat lot of good it did for me.  It took me about three hours to do something that would normally take about half that time.

I worked until about 1:30 PM, came home, sat in bed, knitted and watched Friday Night Lights.

So.  Wednesday, I did my timesheet (which took forever).  Went over to “the home office” (The newspaper runs out of the editor’s home.  So it’s a “home office.”  Not in the sense that it’s a huge corporation that has offices all over the world, and a home office someplace like New York.  But an office in someone’s home.  Which is odd, I suppose, because the “other office,” my office, is also in a home which has been converted into office space by a university.  So I call my boss’s office “the other home office.”  Random!)

So yesterday I went over to the other home office and stuffed envelopes for a while.  It was kind of boring.  But I did see my co-worker, boss’s kid guy, and I think the whole “I have a big old crush on you, nanners,” is over.  Which is a relief.  (Cause I think I’m getting hit on by a member of the board now.  *sigh*  Too awkward to talk about now.  Maybe later.)

Ummm….  I got my boss to sign my timesheet (my evaluations have gone south, to be sure…  *sigh*) and did the very important work of stuffing envelopes (with my master’s degree).  I suppose the line of that for my resume would be something like, “coordinated advertisement invoices and donation recruitment.”  Yay!  Resume speak.

So yesterday around 1pm I just frazzled out.  The envelopes had been stuffed, and my boss, MS had been trying something new but hadn’t been quite able to get the computer/printer to do what she wanted.  I was just falling over with exhaustion.  I had so much to do yesterday afternoon, and I really needed to get out of there to do those things.

I said to her, “I think I’m going to go.  I really exhausted and I have a lot of things to get done before I fly out tomorrow.”  And she said, “Can you stay another half-hour maybe?”  I relented and said yes.  During that half hour – I slept on their couch.  They keep the house really cold and I shivered through my nap, but that was enough I suppose.

Then my mom called while I was just about to leave and just launched into me about my plans for the airport and when was I leaving etc.  She was so anxious and loud I just was overwhelmed.  Plus – the middle of your bosses living room?  Not the best place to talk to your mom when she’s having an anxiety-filled moment.  The gist of it was she wanted to borrow my car to drive around in the snow while I was gone.  Oh.  Finally, I just said to her, “Mom.  It’s really not a good time for me to talk about this right now.  I’m standing in my boss’s living room and I need to go.  Can we talk about this later?”

She stopped for a minute and said, “Oh.  Yes.  Of course.”

I just started bawling.  Right there, in my boss’s living room.  Cause I can deal with my mom most days, when I’m all centered and calm.  It felt like a tipping point though.  I was already so stressed out with all the stuff I needed to do and her ball of anxious energy …  was just too much.

I took a minute to cry – the boss’s son was right there the whole time, watching me talk to my mom, and then watching me cry, and then listening to me rant a little bit.  He gets points for this:  he didn’t try to “fix it.”  He just listened to me, and was a clam presence, and then he asked me if I was okay.

Still:  falling apart in your boss’s living room?  Priceless.

Then I went over to the Americorps office and the program manager took one look at me and said, “You’re having a hard day, aren’t you?”  So I talked with them a little bit about my gramma and about how my boss was so…  odd about it and insensitive, and that was nice.

I ran errands after that.  I got my eyebrows waxed.  Oh, god, this lady was so nice!  She did my eyebrows, gave me a scalp massage, listened to my sob story about my grandmother, and wow.  For all the anxiety I felt before I went into the shop…  it just melted away and I left really calm.  I talked to her about AmeriCorps and my job and my family…  She also talked about her family, her mom is getting dementia, and it’s hard for her dad…  It really felt like sacred space.  She wouldn’t take a tip.  I said, “No, really…  Thanks so much I wanna give you a tip.”  And she said, “You’re doing good work, it’s okay.  When you get enough money come and see me again…”

Can we get an “…aww…”  After that, I felt a whole lot better, calmer.

I ran errands for the rest of the afternoon, including going to the yarn store (I’ll never go to that place again!  Their stuff is too expensive!)  Lane Bryant, buying a shawl and a cute slip, and some new underwear (white with pink stripes…  or is that TMI?).  Then to Walgreen’s, to buy snacks.  Then to the bank…  then to the mini-mart to buy beer, then home.

Everyone I told my story to told me about some ailment their loved one was having.  Without fail.  Which struck me as odd, because I felt like I had a sign on my head that said, “Hey, look over here!  I’m suffering!  I’m having a really rough time!”  And people – the lady at the mini-mart (gawd she went on forever), the woman who did my brows, the people at Lane Bryant – just kind of launched into their own stories about someone they knew who was sick or dead or about to die.  It felt strange to me.  Maybe I just had some kind of vulnerability or something.


Oh.  I think we’re boarding now…

I think I’m sad but I have the usually “airport/travel energy.”  I get an energy spike which gets me out of bed and into the airport, then a lull.  Then I somehow manage to get through the day despite the fact that I got only about four-five hours of sleep the night before…  DAMN it’s gonna be a long day.

Oh.  I gotta go.  We’re boarding.  Actually, we’ve been boarding for a while, but I’m zone 5.  Last to get on, last to get off.  Sigh.