Life proceeds apace.
Much has been happening in the world at large. I feel like I should be commenting on the last couple of weeks of the SCOTUS term, but writing about such emotionally charged cases as the Hobby Lobby decision (and the equally disturbing and important union case, which people seemed to have not noticed) is beyond my available bandwidth right now. (I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the cell phone case; I thought the decision would come down as it did, but did not expect it to be unanimous. And hurrah for the Stanford Law School Supreme Court clinic!) I have a post that I was preparing for Mother’s Day about the botched Oklahoma execution, his mother’s reaction to it (she supports the death penalty, and thinks her son was justly executed, but was very upset at the manner in which things went down), and how everyone, even felons on death row, is someone’s child. I hope to finish it sometime before next Mother’s Day.
Where I am at, for those interested in keeping score:
The Rocket Scientist and I attended Mom’s funeral in May. It was, of course, an emotional affair, especially given that she died so suddenly. (My doctor was not happy: I was still recovering from pneumonia at the time.) It was nice to see my siblings again, though — we kept saying “We really should do this more often, not only when someone dies.” I went through the week in shock, more or less: it is pretty much a blur.
After I got back, there were other endings and goodbyes to take care of: the Not-So-Little Drummer Boy moved across country at the end of May, and the Red-Headed Menace graduated from high school in early June. While I am happy for the opportunity that the NSLDB is taking advantage of (he’s living with relatives while working at a small radio station, with the hopes that, given enough experience, he will be able to get a paying job at a larger station), I miss him terribly. Yesterday, on Facebook, he attempted to argue a point of grammar with me, and followed it by “I love you, mom.” I defended my original sentence, and replied “I love you, too, son.”
As far as the Red-Headed Menace graduating, it means that I no longer have to deal with the K-12 public school system. (I do want to point out that he won both the track and field team’s award for the most-improved athlete — he lowered his 3200m time to 10:00! — and a scholarship given to kids who have struggled academically before turning their grades around. I am very, very proud of him.) I am sad about this, but on the other hand it means I will never have to face the Common Core curriculum. Those of you with younger children in public schools have my sympathy. Since he will be at home for a little while, it seems like nothing has changed, but on the other hand, everything has changed. A large part of my life and my identity have gone out the window. I was with the public school system for nearly two decades, and it seems odd that that period of my life is over.
I went to work the week after Mom’s funeral. My coworkers were surprised by this, but quite frankly I needed the structure and the camaraderie. It didn’t matter how sad I felt in the morning, by work time I had to put on a happy face to deal with the public. I had to power through.
Since work ended with the primary (at least for now, I have a chance of coming back for the general election in the fall), I have been looking for full-time, permanent work. I love the people I work for, and the people I work with, and the pay for the type of work is good, but the work itself leaves something to be desired and is, in the end, only part-time and temporary. I am not sure that I am even good at the job, which disturbs me. I am used to having jobs I know I do well.
The week after the primary and RM’s graduation, I headed to Florida to help my eldest sister take care of Mom’s affairs. Mom was a lovely person, but she was not very organized: she had not changed the beneficiary on the small insurance policy she had, so Dad was still listed. We had to prove Dad’s death as well as hers. In one sense, it was like opening old wounds. I had a hard time dealing with it, and was very grateful my sister was there with me. (I also got to see my absolutely adorable five-year-old nephew, and my brother and his wife, which was nice.) While I was in Florida, the enormity of Mom’s death, and the overwhelming sense of loss it engenders, collapsed on top of me like a house on fire.
I came home with a lot of pictures and a few personal items. (The Thanksgiving silver is still sitting on top of the china hutch, because I forgot to have it shipped to me. I am going to get down there sometime in the next couple of years so I can retrieve it.) One find was what I thought was my Dad’s battered traveling cribbage board; at any rate, it was the board on which he taught me to play. My sister told me it was actually my grandfather’s: it was the board on which Dad had learned to play, and Granddad had played cribbage on it while in the Pacific during World War II. I am glad to have it: of all my Dad’s possessions, it was the one that I wanted (unlike my sister, who wanted some of his pipes). The metal slider holding the pegs in is gone, and the original wooden pegs have been lost, replaced by plastic ones. I intend to find a metalsmith who can fashion a new slider, and see if I can purchase wooden pegs online.
If anyone local to me plays cribbage, and would like to play a few games with me over coffee, I would be very happy. I have a lot of conflicted memories of my father, but playing cribbage is not one of them.
I spent a lot of time with my sister talking about my childhood and young adulthood, and told her things I had never told anyone in my family. [Warning: sexual assault triggers.] We also talked about how I was losing a home, whereas she was not. She is eleven years older than I am, and only knew Mom’s house (now my brother and his wife’s house) as a place she visited between school terms or, later over holidays. For me, however, it was home, the home I always identified coming from. My sister calls herself a Mississippian, while I always say that I am a Floridian. This is spite of the fact that I have lived in California nearly twenty years longer than I lived in Florida. St. Petersburg was where I grew up, where I came of age, where I have memory and sense of place. Now that Mom is gone, I don’t know when I will ever go back.
I have been struggling. Summers have always been hard for me, psychologically speaking, and coming on the heels of Mom’s death, this one is even harder. I told the Rocket Scientist last night over dinner that I wish Mom had died in October. I am also struggling with a torn muscle near my ribs (I seemed to have incurred it during a bout of coughing when I was down with pneumonia, and I exacerbated it while sorting through Mom’s possessions.) It can spasm or catch at the oddest times, taking away my breath from the pain. I know from past experience with a similar injury that the only cure for this is time, as well as warmth for the pain. This falls under the category of “no fun at all.”
An article in USA Today has me unhappy: it concerns the ways in which mental illness is still stigmatized both by federal health care programs and society at large. I do not regret coming down from the attic, however, no matter the cost: as the article states, only day-to-day experience with people with mental illness will change societal perceptions and prejudices. Sometimes you just gotta take a stand about things. The article was disheartening, however: the percentage of Americans who believe that schizophrenics are a danger to others has actually increased between 1996 and 2006, as well as the percentage unwilling to be friends with mentally ill people. If anything, as a society we are going backward; I blame police procedurals, and the lack of non-psychotic mentally ill characters on televisions shows, and in media. (Do not get me started on movies such as Silver Linings Playbook.) I will probably write about the issue, anyway, because it is important, and close to me, and I have a perspective on it that others may lack.
So that is where I am, these days. I hope to get back to your regularly scheduled programming soon.