Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fears & Loathings

Almost every person has things they are afraid of. Perhaps they have a phobia about people ending sentences with a preposition.

And there are nouns (persons, places, or things!) they loathe, as they say on forums and message boards, with the passion of a thousand burning suns.

Here are my fears:
  • Cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, many other insects and arachnids
    • When I was about 4 or 5 we lived on Dixon Street in New Orleans. There were two specific incidents I remember:
      • I have a memory of being outside at night and seeing a roach crawl towards me, climb up my leg, travel over my head and down my back and leg. I have to assume this was some sort of nightmare that seemed so real that I came to Ibelieve it really happened.
      • The second incident was real though. My brother and I were playing in the backyard (was there a swingset?) and I felt something on my tummy. I lifted up my shirt, saw a caterpillar and took off screaming into the house, "Get it off me! Get it off me!" My mom stripped off my shirt and got rid of the caterpillar. I had red marks where it bit me. And DON'T tell me they don't bite. They do.
    • Living in California I don't see the huge roaches that proliferate in tropical Louisiana so I am not confronted with the actual creature anymore. I do have nightmares if I actually see one on TV or in a photograph. They had some on display at the San Francisco Zoo when we went years ago. They gave me nightmares too.
    • My bug nightmares usually take the form of me dreaming I am waking up and then feeling as if insects (usually ants) are crawling all over me. I will wake up for real and turn on the light to check. No bugs. Sigh.
    • Crickets/grasshoppers creep me out because they JUMP and you never know where they'll land: on ME presumably. ::shudder::
  • Being caught in a fire
    • I think a lot of house/business fires happened when I was a kid in the pre-sprinkler age. The houses in our town all had brick shells and after a fire you would see the black scorched brick around the windows. There was one down the street from my aunt's house.
    • We had fire drills and bomb scares at school all the time so perhaps I was so constantly on alert it became more than a fear.
    • Then there was a terrible fire in downtown New Orleans in November 1972 in the Rault Building. They showed footage on the news of the women (in a beauty salon on the top floor I think) leaping from the building rather than burn. I watched it before my mom could turn it off (I don't think know if it was live coverage or not, but they certainly didn't warn viewers about disturbing footage in those days). I was only 10 at the time.
    • Two months later in January 1973, there was a sniper who set fires in the New Orleans Howard-Johnson Hotel and he shot firemen as they climbed ladders to help. It was a Sunday and we usually went to my grandparents' every Sunday but for some reason we didn't go that day. (Dad doesn't remember why either.) The thing is, we use to pass by that HJ every Sunday. The following Sunday you could see the scorching of fire on the outside of the building.
      • The coverage was on TV all day long. The sniper was killed late that night but the news people said there must have been accomplices who escaped (there weren't but I never got the memo). My stupid 10-year-old self assumed they escaped into our backyard and I began to hate going to bed. I only felt safe when it rained because I reasoned bad people stayed home when it rained so they couldn't be in our backyard. I still hate going to bed and I still feel safe when it rains at night.
      • I bought a book a few years ago about the sniper (his name was Mark Essex) and it turns out he had suffered terribly before he snapped and started killing people. It was no excuse, of course, but after reading the book I felt unburdened somehow. 
  • Airplanes
    • We live close to a small airport so the sound of planes landing and taking off can be heard quite often. After September 11, 2001, when they grounded all the air traffic, it was so quiet! But once the planes started up again I always seem to tense an itsy bit. The odds of a plane crashing into our house are minimal, of course, but we live in the actual landing zone (it's on the disclosures!). 
    • I haven't flown anywhere since 1999. I am not thrilled about flying anymore. When I was younger, in my 20s, I loved flying but didn't have the money to do it often. Now I have the money but not the will. Weird. This will need to be a fear I confront. Can't drive everywhere I want to go! Like, Massachusetts!
Here are my loathings:
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
  • Certain celebrities rub me the wrong way
    • Kristin Stewart (irritates me just to type her name!),Lea Michelle & Zooey Deschanel are current examples
      • Nope, no good reason, they just irk the living crap out of me. Okay, KStew always looks like she's constipated and hates everyone. That's reason enough. I draw mustaches on her now whenever she's in a picture in Entertainment Weekly. Which is pretty much weekly.
  • People who criticize your choices regarding pregnancy.
    • I cannot tell you how angry I was during my pregnancy. People felt the need to tell me about there horrific delivery stories. They told me I should breastfeed. They called playpens "baby jails". Just SHUT UP people! Whether I breastfeed or not, whether I incarcerate my baby or not, it's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Hmm, my son is actually 18 now, maybe I should get over this.
    • I NEVER tell a pregnant woman what to do or how my birth experience went. Unless she asks. And, really, no one ever has. Hmm, they're probably tired of people telling them what to do too.
  • People who criticize, period.
    • Just keep it to yourselves, people. No one likes a critic. That's why we have BEST BUDDIES. They are the people we go to when we want honest critique. They know us, love us and will not try to destroy you by burying you in criticism.
    • Just because it worked for you child, pet, boss, TV, whatever, doesn't mean it will work for me.
  • Windchimes.
    • 'Nuff said.
  • Non-centered personalized license plates
    • It is remarkably easy to center the words on a license plate. I hate seeing them when they are left-justified for no apparent reason. Or there's room for a space and there isn't one so it all runs together.
  • Spitting
    • Ugh, just gross in every context.
  • Canoeing
    • Before we were married my hubs and I went on a canoe trip down the Russian River with his brother and his girlfriend (they're married too so now they're my in-laws!). A horrible day:
      • I got sunburned where the sunscreen didn't cover.
      • My muscles were so sore after paddling 10 miles that I could barely move that night.
      • My boyfriend was mean as he told me how to paddle: "Which way do we want to go?" "Left." "Which way do we want to paddle?" "Right." "THANK YOU!"
        • It was the "THANK YOU" that made me want to whack him out of the canoe with my oar but I was afraid of capsizing. Which we did anyway so in hindsight I should have whacked him.
    • He did ask me to marry him two weeks later though, from guilt, I'm assuming, for making me suffer through the canoe trip.
  • Dogs
    • I was terrified as a very little girl by a very big dog. Since then I loathe the big dogs and tolerate the smaller ones.
  • I know I have more so I will need to compile and continue later...
What are YOUR fears and loathings?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ch-ch-changes

So. Over a year has passed since my last entry. Oh well, let's move on...Several changes over the last year.

My mom died on May 7, 2011, somewhat suddenly and out of the blue. She was 75 and died about 1/2 hour before Mother's Day began. She had been feeling unwell for a while but with Mom that wasn't unusual. Like her own mother, who had been a registered nurse herself, Mom hated to go to the doctor. She put it off as long as possible. When she finally went to her appointment on Monday, May 2nd we figured the doctor would prescribe an oxygen tank and she would breathe more easily and go on for several more years. But the doctor discovered something called atrial fibrillation and sent her to the emergency room. Mom was admitted to the hospital and given tests and oxygen. But from the first day she went downhill fast. My last real conversation with her was on that Tuesday night. By Wednesday she was mostly sleeping and couldn't really converse anymore. She knew Kevin, Keith and Francine when they arrived on Friday but she couldn't really talk anymore by that time, which was heartbreaking for all of them.

Turns out her carbon dioxide levels were rising fast and this was shutting down her system. Her breathing problem wasn't just that she wasn't getting enough oxygen but that she wasn't exhaling enough carbon dioxide. Once she started getting lots of oxygen she started building up lots of CO2. And that was pretty much it. Mom never wanted a breathing tube so while they might have been able to extend her life with breathing apparatus she woke up enough to fight them when they tried to put the mask on her face. Once we knew there was no coming back for her, we let her go, all of us (Dad, me, Michael, Kevin, Francine and Keith) spending the day in the hospital's special room for terminal cases. We alternated between crying, talking and laughing and Mom slept her way peacefully into the next world. One weird thing to me was that when the end came none of us cried at that moment. It was all so calm. And so sad.

Meanwhile, all the rest of life goes on: you still need to make dinner, do the laundry, keep the family going, etc... But you do it with a different spirit. Nothing is ever the same and yet it is.

My son, a grown-up 18-year-old, is just starting out on his life's journey. That journey hasn't taken him from our house yet, as he attends the local community college and lives at home still. And now he's driving, having received his license last week. I am a nervous Kelly, but all will be well.

My years of active motherhood are over right about the same time I lose my own mother. One of those cosmic coincidences. Now I need to figure out what the next years of my life will be...stayed tuned for further developments on that front.