Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Today I'm stealing a page from Steph for some Thursday Thoughts (now watch, she won't do that today). Update: she didn't.

I don't mean to complain about the rain when other parts of the country have it so much worse, at both ends of the spectrum. But enough already! Last weekend we had our own little Lake Carmack in our driveway.

And now, a moment about cat litter boxes. We have a closet under our stairs affectionately known as the Cat Closet where the litter box lives. There's a hole cut in the door for easy access. You'll notice I said litter box (singular) and you might be thinking "girl, don't you have three cats? And you only have ONE litter box." Why yes, yes I do.

We used to have multiple litter boxes in the closet but after we added a third cat we were having some litter box issues. Our friends Amy and Ray suggested going to Lowe's/Home Depot/pick-your-building-supply-store and getting a concrete mixing tub. Brilliant -- and cheap! And the cats love it.

On a side note, it never fails that as soon as we've scooped the box, Bella is right there to use it. We call her The Biscuit because she likes a clean bowl (how many of you know that reference?).

Yes, I totally took a picture of my cat using the litter box.

Last night my neighbor and friend Amy came over to help me with Project Mail Sort (to solve the problem I mentioned a couple weeks ago). With beer and wine and pizza in hand we tackled the disaster.

And now it looks like this:

Now I just have to keep up with the incoming mail and keep the piano clean. Thank you so much, Amy!

I know it's not the topic of the week anymore, but I'm going to talk about Caitlyn Jenner. And by "talk about" I mean borrow thoughts from other bloggers. First up, from my ten-years-younger twin, the aforementioned Steph. She wrote this a couple weeks ago:

"Is [Caitlyn Jenner] a hero in my life? No. Do I think she could be a hero to people struggling with a transgender identity issues? Absolutely. I wonder if the people who can't reconcile the idea of more than one type of hero in their minds are just intellectually incapable of doing so. Some people are heroes to many, and some people are heroes to specific groups of people, and more than one type of hero can co-exist in this universe. There are many ways to be heroic, courageous, and brave. One's life does not need to be in danger from outside forces or disease to be any of those things. I count suffragettes among my heroes and I'm pretty sure many people who were never denied the right to vote wouldn't. But if you told me they were not heroes I'd tell you to go fuck yourself because to me, they are. Just because someone is not a hero to you doesn't mean they can't be a hero to someone else. Heroes are personal. It is not for us to decide  who holds the title of hero for someone else. Live and let live."

Then I read this post from a blog that's not on my reading list, but a friend shared it on Facebook and I loved it. The writer is a woman who identifies as (the new buzz phrase) a born-again Christian who says "I choose love. I choose encouragement. I choose edification. I choose support."

To put my own feelings out there, I just don't understand all the negative energy spent by people who don't agree with Caitlyn's decision to live a life that she has suppressed since childhood. There was a petition (which accumulated more than 3,000 signatures) to have Bruce Jenner's 1976 decathlon gold medal stripped. Seriously? How ridiculous.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Two Books, Two Extremes

It's already time for Steph and Jana's monthly book link-up!

Life According to Steph

I only have two books to talk about this month and my feelings on them are completely opposite.

The One & Only by Emily Giffin - Last month I mentioned that I had started this book. By chapter four I was pretty sure I knew where it was headed and I was so creeped out that I didn't finish it. I flipped through to confirm my suspicions. Jana, you were right, and even the football aspect couldn't get me through it.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult - I bought this book when it first came out but didn't start reading it right away. I knew that the loss of a mother was a big part of the story, and I wasn't so sure about the elephant side of things, but I've read a lot of Picoult and have loved most of her books.

Then one of my BFFs, Kim (and since we've been friends since 6th grade I think BFF is totally appropriate), recommended it to me and even said that she thought it would be good for me to read it with what all I've been going through.

You guys. THIS. BOOK.  I can't talk too much about it because I don't want to give away any spoilers. And while it is about loss, it's also about love. And the loss part of it got turned upside down in a way I never saw coming. I cannot recommend this book enough.

There are a couple quotes from "Leaving Time" that will stick with me for a long time, and I want to share them (don't worry, no spoilers).

"I think grief is like a really ugly couch. It never goes away. You can decorate around it; you can slap a doily on top of it; you can push it to the corner of the room -- but eventually, you learn to live with it."

The funny thing about that one is that we have a couch that we're currently looking to replace. It's not necessarily ugly, just old and tired. But still, I understand the sentiment. Grief doesn't go away, but eventually it becomes something that you get used to and maybe barely notice.

"She threw words at me like handfuls of mud, and now that they've dried, I can brush them off."

This one is something I have a hard time with. I like the idea, but the truth is that words can and do hurt and it's not always easy to brush them off.

Now I'm off to find out what other bloggers are reading so I can figure out my next book!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Follow Up Friday

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for all of the good wishes and thoughtful comments after my last post. I haven't yet managed to respond personally to everyone, for two reasons.

One is that I'm completely overwhelmed by the massive amount of support and love I've received, not just in the past few days but over the past year. I just can't even express my gratitude.

The other reason may fall under TMI, but this week I got hit with the worst urinary tract infection I've ever experienced. I was so sick I asked Aaron to leave a customer's house to drive me to the doctor. So the night we were supposed to go out for a celebratory dinner? I was in bed with soup and crackers and cranberry juice. Not cool.

Moving on...

I debated with myself over mentioning this. A random act of kindness is supposed to be selfless and I don't want you to think I'm sharing this to make myself look good.

Last weekend Aaron and I ate dinner at a local restaurant and we noticed a family sitting nearby. There was a mom and dad and two young children, one around three years old, the other maybe eighteen months. As you might imagine, the parents had their hands full, especially the mom, who was trying to eat while the youngest child was dancing on the booth seat immediately next to her. (By the way, the dancing was super cute.) Aaron said "we should buy their dinner," And so we did.

The truth is that a random act of kindness isn't selfless. It makes the giver feel really damn good. It doesn't have to be dinner for four, it can be carrying someone's groceries. Try it, you'll like it!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Feeling All the Feels

...which, by the way, isn't a phrase I use very often, but it's very appropriate right now.

One year ago today I underwent a double mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction, which removed all the cancer from my body. I'm extremely lucky that things worked out the way they did; my cancer was Stage Zero, and I didn't need radiation or chemo or even hormone therapy. But that doesn't mean it was easy. I had four surgeries in nine months and I still have pain at incision sites. And then there's the emotional toll, which I can't quantify. I can't even determine which emotions relate to which major life event. Because while going through cancer-ridding procedures, my mom was taken away with no warning.

My mom's death came three days after one of my surgeries, so healing and rest took a back seat to funeral arrangements and care for my grandmother. Proper grieving wasn't really an option. Then came legalities with both my mom and my grandma. I'm the executor of my mom's estate and now my grandma's power of attorney. I'm dealing with figuring out what to do with my mom's house as well as the house my grandma lived in for decades.

It took a few months, but then the depression hit. We sold my mom's car and on the way to the dealership I had to pull over on the shoulder of a freeway because I was crying so hard. Over a stupid car. A postponed trip to Florida in February has yet to be rescheduled. Mail piles up on the piano until someone comes over, then the piles get moved to the garage. I've messed up things at work that I never would have before. I end up putting out fires in one area of my life only to have another one start burning. Many nights I stay awake until I can't keep my eyes open because I'm afraid that I might go to sleep and not wake up.

On one hand, I don't want to sound like I'm whining or complaining. Plenty of people have worse shit going on in their lives. But I'm also the first one to say to someone else "your shit is important to you; don't discount it." A couple weeks ago, Jana wrote a post called #shareyourugly in which she encouraged bloggers to "discuss your battles" and that we don't always have to show perfection.

I have had a nasty year-plus. I've tried to downplay it but as more than one person has told me lately, a lot of people will go through their whole lives and not have to deal with what I have had in a year.

And for those of you thinking "girl, get some therapy," I intend to do just that.

In the meantime, tonight we celebrate one year cancer-free!