Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hints Like Anvils

Remember when, in yesterday's post, I told you that seeing Alan Doyle in concert was almost enough to make me want to go to Newfoundland?

I'm going to Newfoundland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nooooooooooo, it's not because of Alan Doyle's fabu concert. It's not even because of Great Big Sea's incredible music. It's because pal Betsy and I made a choice between Dublin, London, Krakow and Newfoundland. It's because neither of us have been there. It's because, if the pictures are even half right, that place is freaking gorgeous.  Look!

Don't worry, I'll take pictures.  They'll be hideous, as I am the world's worst photographer, but I'll take them.  Since Roommate can't make this trip, I'll have to.  Dammit.

Oh!  And btw!  Milestone moment, dearest.  This is my 300th post.  I know!  Can you believe it??  Three hundred posts over two years.  And all of it about pretty much nothing.

That's gotta be some kind of record.

Boy On Bridge

Dear Invisible Friend,

You've been so patient with me.  So kind. So tolerant.  I'd like to tell you that these virtues will be rewarded by my appreciation and personal growth, by thoughtful and thought-provoking blogs, by a freaking change of subject now and then.  I'd like to tell you that, but you know how poorly I lie.

So here's what happened. 

Roommate and I got back from vacation in San Francisco [yes, we'll talk about that later] and the reminder email about Alan Doyle's solo album was there, staring at me from my inbox.  Alan Doyle, dearest, is the lead singer of Great Big Sea.  Which, of course, you knew.  Great Big Sea is my favorite band.  Which, of course, you also knew.  And Alan Doyle's solo tour started on May 22nd in Seattle.

You might not have known that.  Should I have mentioned it earlier?

Anyway.  It was only to be my second day back at work from vacation, so I hesitated to ask my coworkers to adjust their schedules to accommodate me.  Then I remembered.  I'm not really that nice.  So I asked and coworker Tonya covered part of my shift so I could attend.  I know!  Isn't she sweet?  Everyone!  Do a head tilt and awww!

Okay, that's enough.

This meant Roommate and I could race home from work, let out the dogs, change clothes and make it to the Tractor Tavern for Alan's concert.  No, no,  It's not nearly as classy as it sounds.  The Tractor Tavern is truly a dive of the finest/filthiest sort, with plenty of liquor and no food on the menu.  There were all of three tables in the place and the decor was...I'll use the word "inspired."  On the other hand, the employees had no problem with food being carried in from other establishments.

I carried in food.  A classic cheeseburger for Roommate, the Afterschool Special for me.  That's a burger with peanut butter and bacon on it.  It was AWESOME.  Just saying.

Roommate had snagged one of the three tables, which we later shared with some very nice people, and we scarfed burgers before the show began.  And oh, what a show it was.  Great music, wonderful singing, tons of fun.  And there were a few differences from a GBS concert. 

So glad you asked!  About halfway through the show, Alan let the other band members take a break while he played requests sent to him via Twitter.  Now, I'm not on Twitter, but it does seem amusing.  Dangerous, in the way of Facebook danger, but entertaining.  As Alan held up his phone, he shared that this being the first concert in his solo tour, there were still a few bugs in the system to be resolved.  The Twitter request thing was one of those bugs.

Evidently, Twitter names can be a bit creative.  I can only imagine Alan's consternation when he had to call out the request made by "@OilyBastard." 

Live and learn.

It was a great show.  It's a great CD. 

It's almost enough to make me want to go to Newfoundland.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hockey Happenings

Despite the fact that much of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs have been ruined for me, it with no small amount of excitement that I await tomorrow night.

Opening night, Stanley Cup Finals.  The New Jersey Devils versus…

…wait for it…

The Los Angeles Kings.

I know.  I know!!!  The Kings???!!!  The EIGHTH-SEEDED Kings????!!!!!  They barely made it into the playoffs!  Heck, they barely made it through the season.  And not to say that I don’t like and/or admire some of the players, not to say that Jonathan Quick isn’t fulfilling his potential and living up to his name, not to say that Dustin Penner doesn’t make me feel like a dirty old woman.  The Kings are a perfectly fine team.  But between you and me?

I think Darryl Sutter sold his soul to Satan to pull this off.  Yeah. 

Oh!  And they’re playing the Devils!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Now, come on.  It was a little funny.
Fine.  Don’t be amused by me.  Just pass the popcorn and watch the game.

[It was a little funny.]

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Darling one, please forgive me.  I know, I know. Six freakin' weeks.  I shall explain all.

First, let me tell you about my friend Karen.  Things have been rough on Karen for a few years.  Well, forever, really.  Her father killed himself when she was a child and she, herself, suffered from bipolar disorder.  She was fired from a job in the same place I work [different department; she actually was treated with respect and was paid very well] and had had trouble getting back on the horse, so to speak.  Roommate and I, after helping her move out of the second apartment from which she was evicted over a year ago, were prepared to house her and her young daughter for a short period of time, until she found another place.  Then Karen did what she normally did.  She created drama, poured gasoline over the bridge and tossed a match.

Needless to say, she didn't move in with us.

When things didn't work out with living/burning the bridge with her sister, brother-in-law, mother and nephew after that, she came to us again, asking to live in our house.  She did what she usually did, she played the kid card.  I love Karen's daughter, but I recognized the foolishness of allowing them into our home and therefore, I was willing to be the Bad Guy.  This was made easier by the fact that Roommate's mother needed to rent out a room in her condo and Karen and daughter definitely had a place to go.  But I did say no.

[NB:  This was not easy for me.  My cousin Dana calls it the Hungarian speech impediment, the inability to say no.  She's not wrong.]

So Karen and daughter moved in with Roommate's mom.  And eventually, Roommate's mom moved in with her then Significant Other, now husband.  And drama continued to abound.

Karen wasn't working full time at her temp jobs and money was always an issue.  Roommate and I told her at one point if she would just cover the rent, we'd help with everything else we could.  We started coupon shopping with Karen/daughter in mind and Karen would grocery shop in our basement.  We'd call or text on our way to the store, to see if they needed milk or bread.  Or anything.  About two months ago, I paid to have Karen's truck repaired and was gearing up for tabs and registration.  I'd given her thousands of dollars for bankruptcy legal fees. 

Now, that part sounds like I'm complaining.  I'm not.   I told her then and I'll tell you now, if I can share money, I will.  It's money; I can always make more.  If I need it back, I can't and don't share it.  If it comes back, terrific.  Otherwise...whatever.

After months of spiraling and dark days aplenty, things started to look up.  April 18th, Karen sent me a text message to let me know that she had been offered a full-time position in her field.  It would still be rough for the next few months, but she had plans to sit down with us and her sister, to work on a budget, to handle the beast of financial responsibility.  I expressed joy with her and felt hope.  The next day, Karen sent Roommate and me another text each, thanking us for being there for her. 

It was sweet.  It was also typical Karen; like Tennyson's little girl, when she was good, she was very, very good.

A couple hours later, I was talking to my landlord about something or the other and I heard a beep on my phone.  I glanced at the display and saw Karen's daughter's name, but it disappeared.  Pocket dial, I thought.  Not unusual, it happens.  So I continued my conversation with my landlord, who is one of the few people  who can out talk me---I know!----and heard the beep again.  Hmm, I thought.  That's weird.  But no message was left and I was at work, so I finally ended my call with my landlord and did my job for a few minutes.  When I peeked at my phone again, there was another missed call and a message, this time from Karen's mother, who was racing through traffic, driven by Karen's sister, from their town, an hour and a half away.

Oh, shit.

Evidently, Karen's daughter had come home from school, expecting not to see her mother until that evening.  She had an afternoon shift and as a 13-year-old, KD is old enough to be home alone for a few hours.  Instead, she spotted Karen's truck in the parking space and went immediately into her mother's bedroom to check on her.  What she saw was what appeared to be seizure-like activity in her mom; arms and legs jerking, spittle running from her mouth.  KD called 911, gave information as calmly as anyone could, then called me and her grandmother. 

When I finally got the message, ten [endless] minutes later, I called Roommate and told her the situation and within a very short amount of time, we were racing to the condo.  I found out later that when the paramedics came in to work on and transport Karen, KD was trapped in the room by all of the equipment and had to see all of it.  All of it.
Roommate and I arrived, had a few questions answered by the paramedics who stayed behind with KD until we could get there, thanked them, albeit not nearly enough, for their kindness and hustled KD off to the hospital. 

At this point, all I could think was medication-related seizure.  Although Karen had attempted to take her life in the past, there was no reason to do so now.  She had a job in a place she loved!  She had reconnected with a man she really cared about!  She was trying to get into therapy for people without insurance until her insurance kicked in!

But Karen had overdosed on her bipolar medication.

She was placed on a ventilator for 72 hours and the plan was, reassessment after that..  Roommate and I went back and forth between our house, the condo and the hospital for the weekend.  We stood next to the bed and prayed that Karen's mom would realized that there was nothing left of Karen, that the "seizures" that first day were really just evidence of her brain dying.  That the only things keeping her alive were the machines.  That Karen was gone.  And then, in the waiting room, Karen's mom asked us if we thought Karen would come out of her coma.

And we told her.

On Sunday night, we went home after a day in the hospital.  I'd spent a fair part of the weekend contacting her coworkers and telling them what had happened, keeping them up on developments.  I also managed to track down Karen's boyfriend.  [Btw, dearest, if you ever have the chance to tell a guy you've never met that the woman with whom he spent last weekend had overdosed and it wasn't looking good, JUST SAY NO.]  We'd gone home and sat numbly in front of the television as my Canucks lost their chance at winning the Stanley Cup to the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings.  Two hours later, Karen's sister called. 

After leaving the hospital for the night and driving an hour and a half home, they were on their way back, as Karen's body had taken a turn for the worse.  We met at the hospital and Karen's mother talked to Karen's sister, to Roommate and to me.  She wanted to be sure that we were all on the same page, as Karen's family and the family we'd become for Karen.  We agreed with her thinking, with her decision.  And then Karen's mom told the hospital staff to take Karen off the machines.

It was very quick.  I stood in the ICU room at the very end, after the other family left.  I don't know why, but I stayed until the last bit of life eased away from what was left of my friend.

In the weeks that followed, we helped empty the condo, sold Karen's belongings and raised money for the family.  A memorial was scheduled in the central part of the state, specially organized so Roommate and I could attend after our trip to San Francisco, but after driving three hours to be there, we found out that Karen's mom had given us the wrong date. Unfortunately, we had obligations and were unable to return the following day.  We didn't get to attend the service.

To add insult to serious injury, KD's father is now insisting that KD should live with him.  Despite the fact that he hadn't been part of her life for the past year or so, due to conflict with Karen, despite the fact that he signed away visitation, despite the fact that his current wife dislikes KD and doesn't treat her kindly.

I don't know how any of this will turn out.  I don't know if KD, who has been remarkably resilient through this entire nightmare, will...gah.  Will what? What do I expect?  That she'll be okay?  Happy?  Emotionally intact?

Why don't I ask for the moon?

I don't know why Karen made the choice to kill herself.  I don't know why she did it in a way that forced her daughter to find her.  I don't know why she only wrote a note to KD telling her that she loved her.  I will never know.

I do know that on the day we remember the dead, I remember Karen.  And despite my anger and sadness and frustration, I hope she's at peace.  I hope her fight is fought.  I hope we know some of that peace here, we, the people she left behind.