last rites last week

Friday was an awkward and sad day. My boss' mom (E.) died. She actually died at my workplace, which is actually not as weird as it sounds. I work here, at Harborview Medical Center, and E. had been admitted the day before. My boss (M.) had left earlier that week to go on an annual 2 week vacation with her family. "Hawaii has never seemed so far away," she said to me on the phone that day. M. was stuck at the airport trying to book an emergency flight back home mere days before Christmas so she could see E. before she died. She didn't make it.

In the meantime, M. asks me to call Father Mark (the hospital's resident catholic chaplain) to give communion to her mom. She also asks me to go up to the unit and sit with A. and E. for awhile. To paint a broad stroke, in the realm of family dynamics, M. is the pragmatic one and A. (her younger sister) is the emotional one. A. lives in Europe, but was back to spend the holidays with E., and give M. a bit of a breather from caretaking. A. is not great with distress or trauma. I mean - who is, right? But I mean that sometimes she can't hold it together and needs someone to cry on. So M. asks me to go up and just be with them. In case they need anything. And also maybe to have a witness represent that M. is doing her goddamnedest to get home.

I know E. well enough that she recognizes me and we have had some lovely conversations. And I've met A. a few times over the years. So I go up, and not only does E. not recognize me, but she isn't recognizing much of anybody. Her body is failing, and all her focus is on a discomfort that obviously borders on agony. It hurt my heart. Except when A. spoke; then E. would calm for just a moment as if briefly soothed. Meaning like 2 seconds briefly, but still. I hugged A., I went and got her tissues, I told her M. was coming, I hugged her again and held her for a moment. Father Mark came and I went and got water for the communion. And I took communion with them all as Father Mark gave E. the last rites. We all took it, even the nurses and the medical techs. It was not a time for differences of religion; it was a time for the makeshift community in that room to come together for this lovely dying woman and her daughter. Communion.

I knew when I left the room and went back to my office that, even though M. was in the air, she wouldn't make it back in time. And E. died a few hours later. Two days before Christmas. I found out later that M. did get to speak with E. on the phone before she passed on. It made me feel a little better.

But I know my boss, and I know that even though she has been amazing over the last few years of her mom's declining health, even though she has been almost the sole caretaker (with some amazing support from her husband & daughters), even though this particular rapid failing of her mom's health was completely unexpected ... I know that it will be awhile before she forgives herself for not being here. It's not fair. And that breaks my heart.

Ahhhh, the teenaged me ...

Holy crap. This guy just walked into my office, and he looked almost exactly like this guy I used to date in high school and college. It freaked me out. My heart lurched, my face flushed, my pulse started racing, my knees got shaky. I think I started to sweat. Fuck. What is that about? And this kid is the same age as and looked like M. back then. So while my logical brain is processing the fact that it is IMPOSSIBLE that M. has actually travelled through time to visit me, my body has this amazing visceral reaction. It took about a minute of slow breathing to get back control of my freaked-out physiology. And in that time, I could not stop staring at him. Poor kid; I'm like this creepy old (older) woman to him. Thank the good lord that I did not blurt out anything wildly stupid in my senile confusion. "Hey M.! Wanna go see Pink Floyd and fuck on the hood my car? Uh, ahem. I mean ... ummm. Look, they have corn chowder in the cafeteria today! See ya!"

It's not even like it's an unfinished chapter of my life, or that I still pine for him, or any of that romantic shit. It's sheer embarrassment for the know-it-all-know-nothing child I was back then. Dude, seriously - ouch. I cringe at the mere whiff of a thought of the ridiculous yearnings I had back then, and the bad choices they led to. I guess that's what being a teenager is, for the most part, right? But lord on a board, people. Thank god that's over, ya know?


Now THAT'S refreshing!

I went walking with a pal today (in Lincoln Park). It was a great walk; I'd never been there before, which I find odd. But anyway, she's a gal I've known for about 10 years, and we know each other through the theatre scene here in Seattle. It's where most (but not all) of my friends come from. It makes sense, since I spend 90% of my non-day-job, non-sleeping hours involved in some kind of theatrical activity.

But you know what's so freakin' mind-blowing about this particular encounter? We didn't talk about theatre the whole time we hung out. !!!!!!!! If you are one of the folks who has any idea how rare that actually is, you will know that it's a fuckin red letter day, my friends! An experience to be treasured and celebrated marked with a blog entry.

So, what did we talk about? The house she's looking to buy; the diet I'm looking to stick to; the kitten I want to get; the boyfriend who's a dreamboat; the new naturopath she's seeing. I felt like a goddamned regular person, and that is a gift that will keep me going for weeks.


Honesty: best policy or lonely word?

You’ve just seen a show that your friend is in (let’s call him/her ‘Max’). You’ve stayed after to say hello, and Max asks you, “Hey, whadja think?”* You:
A.) tell Max exactly what you thought (whether or not you liked it); or
B.) say, “Nice work!” (whether or not you liked it).

HINT: I’m telling you right now that there is only one right answer to this question.

Alright, I’ll give you another hint – the answer is B, people, OPTION B!!! Option A is not only wrong, but it is so wrong in so many ways. Dude, seriously … really uncool. (Of course, this only becomes a problem if one did not like the show. But who are we kidding … the people who answered “A” never like anything.)

Also (heads up)! You may not cheat and say something like, “Max, you were great! But the show sucks ass.” Not allowed. No good. Lord-a-mercy, TRUST ME! It doesn’t make Max feel any better that s/he was the only good part in a clump of cowboogers. An expense of spirit in a waste of shame … that way, madness lies.

So you hated it. SO WHAT? So the hell what?! Here’s the thing. It’s Max, your friend, right? Ya know? Let’s approach it with a little love, huh? We’ve all had to entire runs of crap-ass shows, and the difference between major depression and skin-of-the-teeth salvation might be the love of a friend who cares enough not to tell the truth until at least 2 weeks after the closing cast party.

Can’t abide dishonesty? Think honesty is more important than kindness? That your truth is more important than your friends’ feelings? That’s sad and also I smite you, you egoful prig! Get a job as a reviewer for The Stranger.

*NOTE TO ‘MAX’: Never, ever ask this question. Seriously. They’ll tell you.


Ummm. Hi.

It's me.

Hopefully there will be less of me in 6 weeks. Let's see, I weigh ... wait a sec. Well, I don't really want to tell you, do I? But holy key-riced! I didn't create this blog to start lying right immediately. Okay. I'm 5'6. I weigh 161 lbs, and wear a size 12. And that AFTER exercising today. Not too bad. But not great either.

Lord knows it's not that I think I'm fat. I'm fine. I look good (and my awesomely delightful yet impishly sexy attitude gets me the rest of the way). But I want to be finer. And not to look finer (although that's a nice side benefit, innit?), but to feel finer. Finer 'n' frog hair, as they say back home. I want to climb the stairs without feeling out of breath. I want to be able to touch my toes easily. I want to be able to hike that trail without wanting to cry because I know I'm holding everyone back. I want to be ATHLETE-GIRL. I always did. Well, I may be breathless, but momma dint raise no fools. I am never going to be "athlete girl". It's ludicrous; I'm way too lazy (although I like to call it "casual").

The reason I can't lose weight (I've been kinda trying) is the same reason I can't quit smoking. Because I'm not that fat, and I don't smoke that much. The justification is too easy to come by. If I was forced to go cold turkey -ha ha- (by which I mean "If I was forced into having some actual balls...") maybe it would be easier. Then I'd know it was gonna be really friggin' hard, and I'd steel myself for it. Currently, I fool myself into thinking that of course it's hard for fat people, but it won't be that hard for me. So then I start my work out, and I'm all like, "What? Fuck this noise, it's fucking hard! I don't look that bad." Yeah, go eat a croissant, ya whiner.

So I've got it pretty good, right? But that doesn't make it easy. And self-knowledge does not bring self-actualization. That takes balls.