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flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you.

Just got back from the memorial service for Albert, saw many faces that I remember the beta version of. There were recitations of poems and a song, and a couple of laptops with a picture slideshow. I talked a little at a podium about what Al had meant to me, listened to others talk about him, too. Last entry there were the stories, but this time there is how Albert made me feel. )

Carolyn spent the night at my place last night, crashed out on the futon. We had port and told crazy stories and caught up. I got more in touch with the good-feelings side of the loss, but that just made the loss sharper today. I'll take the win for feeling my feelings, though.
flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
When I look around, I think this: this is good enough.
And I try to laugh at whatever life brings,
'Cause when I look down I just miss all the good stuff,
And when I look up I just trip over things.
- Ani Difranco

I can't talk about Albert, really bring him to you, without telling you about how when he was happy the pitch and emphasis of his voice would bound all over his sentences like an over-excited Labrador. I can recall for you his face and the timbre of his voice saying, "If I took half the advice I gave, I wouldn't have these problems. )"
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dark and Wrong)
I don't believe that capital punishment is correctly named. Punishment implies that a lesson is being learned, but . . . death. Kinda final. Not so much with the correction of behavior. So when our system is forced to admit that it cannot fix someone, that what they have become is beyond our power to deal with, we should not try to make their death a horrible thing because of our failure in this lose/lose scenario.

That being said, the way we do things currently is barbaric and inexact. Lethal injection is slow, painful, horrible to watch, haphazard to accomplish, and reviled by physicians so strongly that many competent and compassionate professionals resign rather than be involved.

New plan for death row: asphxia by nitrous oxide overdose. Painless, fast, efficient, effective. The victim's families don't get any kind of grisly thrill from watching someone drift blissfully to unconsciousness and then death. And the tone reminds everyone that this, too, is a mercy killing. And that our failure as a people to practice rehabilitation and resocialization is also to blame.

And while we're at it, let's legalize assisted suicide. Let's prioritize preserving the quality of life over preserving the length of it.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Right now I'm drinking coffee with cinnamon and honey. It's what my mom used to bribe me out of bed with on cold mornings, and it is comfort food. I'm doing okay, but even with the SAM-e the anhedonia is still there. I've never dealt with grief before as a sane adult. None of my usual bag of tricks is much good to me for this. I built myself to survive, but I'm realizing I have little experience leading a normal life. My skill set doesn't apply to NOT being a headcase. o_O I am much bemused by this.

I just found out that the pilot episode for the show I have now watched twice (GLEE: its title and what it induces) . . . is the only episode. The show doesn't start 'til this fall. :( It also doesn't star the werewolf/quarterback from Big Wolf on Campus, a delightfully lame kids show I used to watch. The resemblance between the two actors is pretty impressive, though. I had some hope of finally getting back into watching some mainstream television and having things to talk about with regular folk. :T My coworkers will just have to continue hearing about webcomics and neuroscience blogs. Darn. :)

Instead I may have to read up on the Mark Cuban/NBA epic struggle. An enterprising nerd bought the Dallas Mavericks, the basketball franchise. Now the refs are turning a blind eye to fouls so that the Mavs lose. My mom was almost in the middle of a riot at the game last month, and the refs doing the NBA's dirty work had to be disguised and smuggled out. It's geeks vs jocks, the post-collegiate edition. You know whose side I'm on already, don't you?

In other news it has now rained on the Byron Nelson, thus delivering to us the rain god's sign that we are not in for a summer of drought! Texas has it's very own Groundhog Day, full of tradition, mystery, and golf umbrellas. Embrace your uniqueness, Texas! Big is beautiful!
flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
or, Things That Kept Me Sane By The Deathbed:

1. You. You guys cannot even know. Thank you for all that you are to me, and all that you do.

2. Music. My Chemical Romance's Cancer and Another Train by The Poozies.

3. Hospitals with wifi.
"The sitting still is making me tense, and the smell is making me want to run away and scream. Carnations and illness. Every five minutes or so I get up and take the sponge-on-a-stick out of the cup of ice water and dab it inside her mouth until she reflexively bites down on it to wet her mouth. She can't swallow, or wake up, so it's like taking care of a very sick infant. We have to rely on noises and tiny movements to judge what she needs as best we can. She's the helpless one, but we feel powerless, too. Frustration and edginess abound.

I've never spent an extended amount of time with someone who was dying. I feel really weird, and I can't quite put it into words. I don't want her to be dying, but I know she is. So I want her to die faster and not be in pain or embarrassed that people are coming in to see her like this, which she never wanted. And that feels a little traitorous and self-contradictory. Mercy killing is something that I could do, and it would be easier than sitting here waiting. Maybe that's kind of screwed up, that I'm more comfortable with the thought of killing someone I love than I am with the reality of boredom, worry, resignation, and self-restraint. It feels fucking icky.

Being able to talk about it and get your support while it was going on made everything so much less horrific. Being able to get that out right then, and have a record of it, and not forget it or gloss over it later will help the next time something like this happens. And it will. I'm less emotionally close to my dad than to Rhoda, but someday my mom will die. And I'm going to need to know how to deal with that responsibly, because she'd want me to, and because I'm one of the three remaining children of this generation of my family, and neither of the other two know my mother at all. So I had better be prepared.

And I am. I'm okay now, and I know most of what I'll have to do to be an executor of someone's estate, and where to find help for that. I'm dealing with the ambivalent aftereffects of her death, but there's no survivors guilt, and my past issues are apparently well and truly dealt with. So as much as I bitch about personal growth, I guess I'm also glad for it.

Rhoda is off to another kind of existence, everybody got to come see her and say their goodbyes, it was as relatively trouble-free as could be managed within the subset of any event concerning my family. Only two people lost their shit in the actual hospital room, and it turns out that the half of the family who were there for her decline were the ones least capable of dealing with it. The half who got in the next day were better prepared and things quieted down. Other than the smell, it was almost pleasant, being there for the dual momentous/unremarkable end of her existence. I got to sing "The Rose" for her with some friends of the family and give reiki to a dying woman, which feels different. I got to take care of her in a way that she didn't let people do much of. And now I get to hear more stories about her. We owe honesty to the dead, it's a tradition. It's nice.

I need to try to remember a story for her wake that isn't really dirty or shocking to the cousins, but . . . it's Rhoda. She's where I got my gutter-minded sense of humor, and my tendency to be as loud as I feel like. She's basically my dad. And it does feel weird to have lost her, but in a way I've been losing her since last fall when I realized that none of the plans she was taking about included the possibility of getting better. I was so angry that she had given up, but maybe she just knew it was going to beat her and stopped fighting it. There's no way to be sure, and I forgive her anyway. It's not like I'm good at staying angry with people, not when I understand them. That's something I got from her, actually.

How appropriate. :'D
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Days after the news of brain tumors, Rhoda's liver is failing. She could die tomorrow, or in a few days. Mom and I are driving down in the morning. I'll have the laptop with me, but patchy internet access at best.

I'm not letting myself go into the lack of affect thing. I'm going to feel my feelings, because I can. I am strong enough to hurt, to grieve for my aunt and still get all this done. I'm not letting myself break down and cry, yet, either, but I can do that after everything is packed.
flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
Time gets away from me sometimes, you know? I remember the anniversary and his birthday, but it rarely occurs to me how old he would be. My brother would be 31 right now, if he'd lived. He'd fix his own car, probably be married with kids, have put on a little weight the last few years. I would be an aunt to children I rarely see, because I'm pretty sure (better than 9 chances in 10) that he'd be living a few miles away from Dad in West Virginia. Assuming he actually graduated before getting anyone knocked up, his kids would be 11 and 8, with maybe a younger one, about 3, unexpected. He was never that careful about people once he liked them.

In that alternate reality there is a me writing him a letter, because I was just thinking how time gets away from me sometimes, and I hadn't talked to him lately. We miss you, Larry. Every iteration of me that there is wants to be a good sister. Every me there could ever be will think of you sometimes and miss you.

Love you, bro.
flamingsword: None can take the stars who do not reach. (Take The Stars)
If you or someone you know has had a drug or alcohol problem, now or at any time in the past, please take this opportunity to remind them that it is vital to tell their doctors. The aftereffects of overuse of any substance, including prescription medicines, can last the rest of your life. They overtax the heart, liver, kidneys, and the circulatory system of the brain. The damage done to these systems makes even routine medical procedures potentially fatal. When you have a condition that your doctors do not know about, they don't take the extra precautions that would prevent you from dying due to complications that they would otherwise have foreseen. The anaesthesia used in routine knee surgery can kill you if you keep secrets like that from your doctors.

Telling your doctors about your past drug or alcohol abuse keeps you alive.

[ETA: Repost or share this in any way you like.]
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Sunshower)
My cousin Douglas died today. His brother Adam died last year for somewhat similar reasons: past drug use. I'm thinking of doing a PSA about telling your doctors about your previous illegal drug, prescription drug, and alcohol addictions so that no one else dies of kidney failure from anaesthesia during knee surgery.

His wife is about to have the worst Valentine's ever. Their kids are, I believe, 6 and 4. My Aunt and Uncle have aged a lot this last year; greif is harder on parents. I'm not honestly expecting that uncle to last another 2 years considering his previous drinking habits. I respect that particular uncle more than the others. He was the first person to start drinking moderately, when he realized what a jackass he was becoming. He started the trend of responsible behavior, but not soon enough to save his sons from picking up on his habits.

It has been a bad day.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Sunshower)
So, the 25 telling facts about myself thing: it took a while to come up with anything not completely lame. :) So here is the merely claudicated version.

1. When I was 5, my heroes were Albert Einstein and Bugs Bunny. It occurs to me that I haven't changed much. )
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
Sorting through my head again, and I find myself wanting to talk about things that I don't talk about. Most of you have heard the "I've had four orgasms ever and you're all lucky bitches" rant, haven't you? So I'll tell you the part of being dead that I don't talk about because it freaks people out.

I've been dead three times, you've heard that bit. What I omit from that story is how, the time when Larry stood on my shoulders in the pool 'til I passed out underwater, I liked it. )

So if I have an offbeat attitude to funerals, killing people, and death, now you know why. I'll still miss you when you die, but I'll know that despite any grieving I'm doing, you have a pretty good chance of tunnels of light, cold transcendence, the warmth of love, or miraculous dark. I may not have any definite beliefs about reincarnation, but I don't have any reason to need a Heaven either. I love this world as well as I know how, and if I get that after? Then I am content.
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
I'm glad I stayed home from work today. Mom probably wouldn't have given me the news that they found my cousin Adam dead this morning, cause unknown, while I was at work. But she might have, and this restless itching beneath my skin would not be a good thing to fight off while trying to take care of other people. I'm not sad. I'm a bit odd about death that way. But I am worried about the impacts this is going to have on the living, my uncle flying in for a visit home from working in Qatar today will get off a plane to be greeted by hugs and bad news. And A? What she'll do with it is anyone's guess. She was closer to him than most of us.

The world has lost a beautiful former alcoholic, golfer, car-restorer, father of two, husband to a quiet woman with great patience, son of many foibles. I did not have much contact with my cousin, so I have not lost much today, but my family has lost a load-bearing post, and they will have to pull together or risk falling in. I will not miss him, yet he will be missed. So here's a poem for today, about how I see death. Mine or yours, I will be sad only for the things I have lost.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox:

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

-- Mary Oliver
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (*ROTFL*)
Today at work I had my first anaphylaxis. Uh, go me?

This morning I had a Sobe Green Tea, which I've never had before. And never will again. And may avoid guarana forever, 'cause DAMN. I'm not sure that's what it was, but it's the only thing today that I'd not consumed several times over the past few days. The coughing, itchy throat, puffiness, watering eyes and dizzy/stoney/no-blood-pressureness would have really freaked me out if I weren't such a huge med-geek that I've read about the symptoms of allergic shock, what causes them, and when/about what to be worried. So instead of freaking out, I walked out on a client (sorry lady!), lolled in a chair at the front desk (where people could keep an eye on me), called Blue and Douglas to rescue me, and took an antihistamine.

And by lolled I basically mean was drunk as a skunk while my brain was dealing with the lack of oxygen. Dude. I've never felt that drunk when I WAS drunk. Douglas has since told me that, while in any altered state, use of medical trivia and psychic powers to assess whether I'll be okay is not to be relied on, and that if it ever happens again to call an ambulance. It's so cute when boys worry. :)

This week I have seen three things worthy of comment- Supernatural season 1 DVDs have already been returned (thank you Scott) and it was much better than I was expecting (by which I mean that I'm going to buy them for myself). Eragon, as expected, was shiny and pretty and awful, and Slither was gross and AWESOME. Nathan Fillion rocks my socks.

I have a lot of things that need to get handed out, sent off, or returned to their proper owners. Corbi, I have pictures for you on CD that I need to send you. Clint, I have a present from Corbi to pass along to you. Nat's DVD, Douglas' book that Tim has, Blue's book that Kathryn has, a quiz on who wants to go to the Ft. Worth Water Gardens, and I need to call some people and hang out with some others. Call me if you want in on any of that action.

This week, y'all. Let the non-lethal craziness begin!
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Movement)
It's hitting me how used I am to the rituals and realities of death. I'm not even sure how many funerals I've been to. At least five, and probably several more I don't remember. I think the sameness and induced boredom of funerals serves a purpose. It's like hypnosis: it makes you calm and mentally nonresponsive so that you can deal during the burial, and not be a total basketcase even if you want to be.

My friend David L is leaving me his severed head so I can keep it in my freezer and bring it out at parties. It's a bit of work to be remembered as the morbid funny guy, but I respect wanting to die as you lived. He doesn't want to be turned into a caricature of himself. He wants to leave the same impression after death that he does now: that life is short, precious, and you should do what you want to before the chance to do it is gone. I'm very proud of him.

What I want for my own funeral: orchids, daffodils, or whatever smells good and is in season. Bright colors are good, shiny things. Not lilies, and hopefully not chrysanthemums. They smell bad. An evening service followed by a wake, because I'm part Irish, and it's a good idea. No religiosity, even pagan - everybody should be comfortable. I want there to be alcohol and I want to leave some blood or tissue in a freezer so that someone can make me into soup and people can eat of my flesh after the service. Myself and several of my friends read too much Heinlein, and if you get the reference at all, you'll understand how comforting it would be to be something communed with, and celebrated.

As to the will and what limited estate I have . . . Doug gets my jewelry, clothes, the comics, and the bed. Mom can have most of my books, except for the pagan stuff, and that gets divided up and passed on to my coven and whoever else wants them. [livejournal.com profile] hellocobweb gets a few pairs of club pants and my techno CD's and [livejournal.com profile] ghost_life gets all my make-up type stuff. Molly gets my blue flip chair, for sentimental reasons. Yvonne gets my massage table, and Penny gets my oils. [livejournal.com profile] ancestral_tone gets my dry herbs and Isis and Zoe my cat toys. I'm not sure who would want my art supplies, my living plants, and my old artwork. You guys will have to negotiate with Doug. And take care of him. Make him not take a trip off into the unknown, make him live.

In case I die before my mother I want someone to tell her that I lived strong and happy, and that I was raised as prepared for the world as I could have been. That she did a good job, and not to flip out. I've told her before, but she'll need reminding. And you all should be a little wistful, maybe, but mostly you should just miss me occasionally, and look forward to seeing me in our next incarnations, and accept that what time we had was good, and that periods of being together are followed by separation in the natural order of the world. And remember that life is good, and worthwhile, and that I want you to do what you want and live strong and happy, too.


flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

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