Rolling hills and verdant valleys, dammit!

The problem with the small, dinky, one horse town we live in is that it’s in a truly beautiful area:

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I recklessly took this picture as I was driving the kids to their swimming lessons yesterday. These hurried, one handed, trying to drive, iphone shots don’t do it justice, and proper photos like The Husband takes, with his professional camera and lenses and filters galore just make it look fake, like it’s too perfect it simply cannot but be photoshopped (even though it’s not). This place is positively magnificent, mountains and hills all around you, never ending fields, grass swaying gently in the breeze, majestic trees, wildflowers of every hue as far as the eye can see. And in the fall… well, autumn is my favorite season, the yellows and oranges, the pops of blood red… it’s dizzying.

It’s like nature is whispering “stay…” in my ear with the wind. Of course we’re staying a few more years, I mean we haven’t even moved into the new house yet (I bet you’d forgotten all about that!) but ever since I went to Houston in March my heart kind of wants to be stateside.

I went to Houston for a myriad of complicated reasons that aren’t really my story to tell right now, suffice it to say that there were absolutely non-tragic, yet still quite stressful family reasons for my going, and I went pretty much from one day to the next (which in mom speak means I only had a week to organize the care of my children for ten days which is essentially only marginally less complicated than a military operation to invade a moderately sized country from three sides). It was my first time in Houston alone since I went for the Boy’s baby shower six and a half years ago, and then I was pregnant so I couldn’t even drink. It felt exactly like coming home from University all those years. I stepped off the plane, completely free and unencumbered (and relatively well rested), and I partied and relaxed for a week (and dealt with some stuff, but I’ve almost forgotten all that).

My mom would wake me at ten (10!!) with a cup of freshly brewed coffee from the best coffeemaker ever invented (the Keurig), and then I would idle the entire day by, eating, shopping, hanging out with friends, going to fabulous restaurants with my Mom and Brother… I went out drinking – and now I got a major craving for a Shiner and fried pickles – and I could drink all the beer I wanted and I could even finish the night off with a jack and coke because I was responsible for no one but myself for the entire night. It was liberating and so much fun!

 

And mostly all it did was make me miss home and want to move back to Houston. Although, I know that those ten days were a break, an anomaly, that if I moved there my life would move along with me, and thank god for that. But still, I love Houston, I miss my family, and I miss my friends. So sometimes I fantasize about moving home. I especially fantasize about that when it’s been snowing for what feels like fourth months straight here.

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And then you get days like this… gorgeous, sunny, crisp, the hills all rolling, the mountains all peaky with a dusting of snow, and you get that “Sound of Music” induced feeling of singing and prancing on the hills and then you start to feel like eh, you could stay here a while longer…. And that’s the point where I start hyperventilating myself into a panic attack because the verdant hills are actually covered in snow and ice four to five months a year.

So this is where I’m at, confused as ever, foot in one shoe on either side of the pond, and craving fried pickles and an ice cold Shiner.

 

Mind over matter

I wrote this post in March. How I keep writing stuff and then not posting it is beyond me. Sooo, I’m posting it now, two months later. I’ll get into my Houston trip next I expect, just  to catch y’all up. 

I’m on a plane again, on my way to Houston, for some reason flying solo always inspires me to write for the blog. I imagine it has a lot to do with finding myself suddenly stuck to a seat for hours on end with no one to tend to and the realization that there are only so many movies one can watch before all one’s brain cells simultaneously go on strike. Although, one of the movies I just watched, Last Vegas, kind of inspired this post. Michael Douglas, talking about his age says something like: My brain cannot comprehend how old this body is… I can’t reference the exact line right now as Air France still hasn’t figured out how to make wi.fi available on its flights (I assume it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re crossing an ocean), and I’ll probably be too lazy to do it once I land, but that was the gist of it. Also, let me just say that I had to take a minute and really think about it when I wrote Michael Douglas because in my head the “old one” is Kirk Douglas (R.I.P.), when did Michael Douglas get so old?

It really struck a chord. I often look in the mirror, surprised at the almost forty year old staring back at me. In my head I’m in my twenties… hell, often I’m just a teenager trying to avoid doing her homework, wondering where all the adults went. No, seriously, where did the adults go?

One of the signs that you’re a grown up, in my opinion, is when you realize that there are no grown ups, everyone’s winging it, just like you, There are no grown ups… frightening. Someone, somewhere, once told me not to treat old people like old people, because they were young just a minute ago, young and falling in love, working, starting their families, living their lives, exploring the world, and their heads hadn’t yet caught up with their bodies. Their heads hadn’t caught up with their bodies. Mine certainly hasn’t yet, and I’m not even forty.

My dad worked till the day he died at 80, I’ve always thought he was superman, but I’m beginning to think he just never realized he was eighty. He never let his body limit him, he lived his life mind over matter, until the very end, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.

There are a lot of things my mind cannot comprehend about life, but I no longer view this necessarily as a limitation.

It’s funny, last night I was reading the kids a book called I love you forever (incidentally, creepiest mother figure ever, sneaking into her kids room, crawling up to the bed on all fours, and picking him up to rock him while he slept… she does this when he’s an adult living in his own house too, drives over in the dead of night with a ladder tied to the car, climbs through the window cat burglar style and rocks her adult son in his sleep… and he doesn’t wake up… seriously I hear psycho when I read it. End of tangent), anyway, the mother obviously gets older in the book and at the end she’s a little old woman (a little old psycho woman) and my daughter turns to me and says “who’s the grandma?” and I explained that the old lady was the mother in the story, but as the boy grew up she got older and when he’s a grown man she’s a grandma, and then I told them that when they are grown ups I’ll be a grandma too. They looked at me wide-eyed and laughed in my face, such was the absurdity of the words coming out of my mouth. They started joking about how my hair would be white, and I would be small and frail… they were teasing me, like that would actually never happen. Because in their little kid heads it’s absurd that I would get old and change. But what’s even absurder (as they would say) is that though I rationally get that I’m going to be old and gray at some point, I don’t really believe it, I can’t wrap my mind around it, I, quite simply cannot comprehend it, just like they can’t.

The good thing is that not being able to wrap my mind around certain things, like the fact that my body is slowly aging, is that there are no limitations to the breadth and scope of what I think I can achieve. Thinking I am young means endless possibilities, means new beginnings, means I don’t have to be tied down to what I’ve achieved up to now. Feeling young is feeling free, I still often have the same excitement at what comes next that I had in my early twenties, without most of the insecurities. Sure, at some point my body will make itself heard, it will limit me in it’s ability to do what I want it to do, but my mind, it’s free to imagine whatever it wants, to believe that anything is possible and that is supremely liberating. I’m sure my mind will never comprehend how old my body gets, but that just means I get to be young forever. And THAT’s not such a bad thing.

Nurses make all the difference and a tangent on America

We’re obviously still in the hospital. We’ve been through a lot of nurses since we’ve been here, day nurses, night nurses, nurses’ assistants… the doctors pretty much stay the same, but the nurses change almost every day. We had a great nurse for two days in a row, Jan. She was a very sweet, mothering type, which promptly sent me over the edge. I’m fine as long as no one is acting concerned about me, but the minute they start asking me how I’m doing I completely lose my shit. There was some crying. Plus, we had an unpleasant visit in the Eye Center, yesterday, that left us a bit deflated. The Husband’s been having problems with his eyes, his vision is blurry, foggy, his eyes feel grainy, and it worsens as the day progresses. Obviously this has all gotten worse since we got here due to lack of sleep, the dry hospital air, and some anxiety. The eye doctor wasn’t a very nice person. Which is fine, because, in my opinion doctors need to be good at being doctors and their personality is secondary to that. Of course, in an ideal world, all doctors would be great at their job and have fantastic bedside manner, but I’m not an idealist. But the husband got very anxious, and a bit depressed, and when that happens it becomes really hard to get him out of his downward spiral. Jan helped with that a lot.

Nurses have a thankless job, in my opinion. They do a lot of cleaning up after patients, of measuring disgusting bodily fluids, of coddling people who are ill, and cranky, and unhappy. They have a lot of paperwork, they have to always be attentive cause a mistake could be fatal, and no one really thanks them for it. When people get better they reference the doctor, oh, so and so doctor was amazing, he saved my life… but what about the nurses? And it’s harder to establish a relationship with them cause their shifts are all over the place. Generally, you see the same doctor or two every day, so it’s easier with them, nurses come and go.

We have another great nurse today, John. The first thing he did this morning at the beginning of his shift was come in and say that he was Italian too, by his great grandfather or something like that. He immediately tried to establish a connection. And I guess it worked cause both the husband and I like him quite a bit. Of course, it made us laugh because he’s about as Italian as my knock off, made in China, Prada, but he’s a great guy, he made a point of trying to make us comfortable.

Also, and I’m off on a tangent here, I love that in America everyone (or rather, many people) have a sense of their roots. I’m Italian, I’m Irish, I’m Chinese, you hear from these people who have been living here for generations, who’ve never set foot in their countries of “origin”, who have none of the original traditions left other than what has evolved within their own families to give them a sense of who they were. This is just so quintessentially American to me. An Italian would look at this guy and be like dude, you’re so not Italian man, you’re the typical American (which, incidentally, is what the husband and I were doing in our bitchy heads this morning), but he still has a sense of belonging to a culture that he only knows second, or rather, third and fourth hand. And I imagine that this connection that he feels to his roots is probably what his great-grandfather would have wanted to preserve when he took that difficult and lonely boat ride across the Atlantic to an unknown place in search of a better and more optimistic future.

So the nurses here, they are great, and I just thought it needed to be said.

How am I feeling, facebook? You really want to know?

I’ve been on Facebook for years now, can’t even really remember how many. I’ve never gone off it, I have no strong feelings about it either way. I don’t feel like it’s invading my privacy, or that it’s covering a broader, hidden, conspiracy to deprive me of my civil rights. I just enjoy seeing what my friends and acquaintances are up to, being nosy about their lives. Plus it’s a fast and effective way to communicate what’s going on with me. I used to like the original third-person prompt for the status update “Bonny is….” it was kind of fun talking about myself impersonally and it made for some hilarious reading what with everyone screwing up their personal pronouns (myself included). Lately though, Facebook has started getting a little too touchy feely for my taste, a little too new agey bullshit…. The prompts now are “How are you feeling, Bonny?”, “How are you doing, Bonny?” “What’s going on…:”.

How am I feeling, Facebook? Do you really want to know? Cause that’s going to make for some pretty disconcerting status updates.

But since you ask, I’m pretty fucking tired, Facebook. The Husband is still in the hospital, we’re getting some more tests done, we’re not really sure what’s wrong with him. My kids, they’re pretty upset. The day before yesterday I left the Husband in the late afternoon, so I could spend some time with the kids, and the Boy had a massive meltdown. “Why is my daddy sick, no one else’s daddy is sick”, that broke my heart. I’m also pretty pissed off at the universe right now, Facebook. And yes, I know, things could be worse, they could be harder, we are pretty lucky, but I’m going to be pissed for just a little while longer ok? I’m going to throw a small, internal, tantrum, and shake my fist at fate, because I am sick and fucking tired of this. I’m tired of having to manage everyone, the kids, my mom, the Husband, his mom… I’m tired of having to be apparently calm and level-headed, of making decisions, of reassuring people, I’m tired of running around from hospital to home, and home to hospital, eating a bite here, taking a quick shower there, dispensing hugs and kisses, playing, entertaining, feeding, hand-holding and coddling, constantly in my practical, comfortable, t-shirt and yoga pants, so I can sleep in my clothes and not look like a complete fucking mess all the time.

 

I want to be able to relax, for just five minutes, I don’t want to worry about the husband, or the kids, or the state of the world economy, for five freaking minutes. That’s my goal this year, five minutes of just absolute peace and contentment.

And also, I need half an hour to wash and dry my hair. How’s that for a status update, Facebook?

Swimming upstream and other things

Sometimes things don’t go as we would have liked. I feel like that is a lesson life is determined to teach me over and over again. This Houston vacation we are on… not so much of a vacation. We arrived day late, I got sick on Christmas day, the Girl got a little sick, I was in bed for a week, the Husband managed the kids. New Year’s it looked like we were all getting better, and then I got sick again, the Husband started feeling unwell, with a completely unrelated problem, I got better (ish), he got sicker, he spent a week in bed, finally I had to take him to the hospital. We are now at MD Anderson Cancer Center, trying to figure out if he has a virus, if he’s feeling ill because of one of the many consequences of the transplant, if we’re going home as planned on Wednesday (if he can even fly)…

The kids, they are being wonderful, my friends here are being amazing at keeping them entertained, my mother is really doing everything she can to help out… but a vacation it is not.

The Husband jokes that now we’ve gotten first hand experience of the American health industry, which in Europe is often viewed with a certain degree of curiosity and awe, but that’s fodder for another post. Personally, I would’ve done without this insight, but at least he’s staying positive.

I, on the other hand, am a little deflated, I always have such high hopes for my time at home. But, I don’t want to be a total sourpuss, not at the beginning of a new year. There are lessons to be learned in this experience. We can’t control everything or anything really, we can’t count on things going the way we want. I’m not being negative, I’m just trying to keep things in perspective. Our expectations often get the best of us, our ideals, our wishes, wishes that we invest so much in that we start thinking of them as facts, as law, but things don’t always go as we would like and there is no point trying to swim upstream sometimes. The biggest lesson I need to learn this year, I think, is to relax and go with the flow, which for a neurotic control freak is a very hard lesson indeed. But, stranger things have happened, so, I assume, there’s hope for me yet.

For now, send us happy, positive, upbeat thoughts, if you can, and soon enough we’ll all be heading home. Wherever the hell that is!