November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve, 1888

Happy Founder's Day, Tri Delta! This year, I went to two different Founder's Day dinners, and I have to say: I miss my old Nu Chapter. I mean, the Maryland active chapter invited everyone in the area and did the whole ceremony and it was lovely, and I really do enjoy meeting all the old alumnae. But there's something to your own chapter, your own traditions, your own home.

The DC alumnae, as I've mentioned, are all much younger, and had a much less formal affair. I've enjoyed getting to know them as well, as they are, in general, in my age range and have a similar life situation or have been in this life situation recently. It was also nice, but also not what I am used to.

In other news, Bailey and I had "the talk," as in, at what point do we give up on the dream? At what point do we say, "We're hemorrhaging money and wasting our time"? At what point do we decide that we won't find jobs before we run out of money? So we set a date to move out if we need to do so. I really hope we don't, I am terrified that moving out makes me a failure. Everyone continues to tell me that I am not a failure, that it's not my fault the economy sucks, and so on and so on, but... like, you know. That doesn't pay the bills. It's even hard to find a waitressing job in this town.

I still love the city though. It pretends to be southern, when, in fact, I would say it is quintessentially east coast. My Bostonian office mate tends to disagree and says people in D.C. are "laid-back," but she clearly has no idea. I'm so happy to be back in Kentucky. God, I miss this place. People are so helpful! And not crabby! And not pushy-shovey-in a rush! Gosh. Fantastic. But D.C. is great, too. Just not the same.

Also, yesterday, mom put my adorable 2 year old neice on the phone with me. Mom said things like, "Kyleigh, say 'I love you Aunt Chris!'" And there was repeating of that, among other things. Like "Come HOME, Aunt Chris!" Only, when Kyleigh says it, it comes out like "Ankis." Which is good enough for me. I'm stealing that baby, I swear. It's hard to be away from her and my other two nieces and to know that mom has them over regularly. I feel like I'm missing out on a lot here.

It's going to be weird this year, empty, almost. I lost two grandparents this year. Not that I ever saw Honey on a holiday, but still. Just a break from the way that I think about my family right around the same time everyone spends thinking about their families. And for the first time in my life, I drove all day Wednesday instead of being in place when and where I wanted. It was so convenient, even at its most inconvenient. My holiday routine was a well-oiled machine. This is a new holiday in a lot of ways, a lot of heartbreaking ways.

Mom and I went through some old Facebook photos and saw one that Kate tagged last Thanksgiving of all of us with Granddaddy sitting at the table, him facing out, with all of the rest of us actively engaged in conversation. It really was his time. He just couldn't do the things that he wanted to do, used to be capable of doing, depended on doing. He was frustrated with his body, and his body was not able to respond. It was his time. We also saw pictures of Kate's wedding, which he did not attend and Grandma did, and it really IS her time. Not for the same thing, but you get the point. Woman's in her prime.

This post has turned a lot into my growing pains. I feel I have a lot of those lately. But I have a lot to be grateful for.

1. The family, obviously. I feel this is a cop-out, so I'll break it down and make myself feel better. It's long, so maybe just skip to your section, you blog-skimmer, you.

a. Parents/Step-parent-I've been blessed, really, I don't know why, but somehow I got the perfect set of parents. I think Kate got it right when she said once, "if I had different parents, I would have ended up really messed up." Or something like that. What I'm saying is, genes only go so far, and we have great ones, but Tim just refilled the oil in my car and my dad understands my life situation in a way that makes me feel better about not having to explain, and my mother, well, my mother and I are the same person and I am glad of that because WHAT would I do if she didn't get me? It takes a lot to get me, you know?

b. All four of my grandparents. This is going to get emotional if I go on too long, but I've got a man as stubborn as an ox and his dedicated wife that could move a mountain if she put her mind to it, no lie, on one side, and a hilarious man and a woman that encouraged me in a lot of ways to do what I wanted, but to do it well on the other. As Kate said, "Chris, as I see it, we're nearly indestructible." I am sad to say that the number was cut in half this year, but grateful to have gotten to know all four in my lifetime and to have developed real relationships with them.

c. Siblings, duh. Kate has already come up like a zillion times in this entry, but like. You know? She reads this, so that's awkward. But she was there for everything, literally, and she and her husband, Thomas, who is also incredible, were lobbying me to come live with them in Chicago, and not a lot of siblings would allow that, let alone want that, let alone lobby for it. I lost my chance, but it still meant a lot to me that they were willing to offer themselves up in that way. And they got married this year, and they're so perfect and so perfectly wonderful. Kit is the sweetest little girl I know, I am constantly impressed with her. I feel like every time I see her she tells me something about herself off-handedly that is unexpected and amazing. And Eric, who I think is smarter than me, which maybe I should be less thankful for and more freaked out by? I don't know, but it's kind of cool. He's a really cool kid, has his ducks in a row, is confident. He has girls following him around like impish puppies. I was more impish puppy than Pied Piper myself at thirteen, so holler for old Eric. Not that I think Eric is a rat drowner OR a kidnapper. Even at thirteen.

d. Step-Siblings. I got two sisters and three nieces out of my mother's merger with Tim, and I feel like I couldn't possibly be luckier. I am stealing that baby, I tell you. They're both sweet and offer all kinds of opinions and advice about my plans and the boys I bring home and everything else, whether I ask for it or not (that last part goes for Kate, too).
d. Cousinsssss! At the funeral, Steve and I exchanged eulogies, and Steve was the first person to see it. How do you eulogize someone you've known your whole life? All I could think after was "I FORGOT TO PUT IN THE STORIES ABOUT HIM GRILLING OUT AND OMG GRANDADDY ROY STYLE BAKED POTATOES." But he was really excited about what I wrote. When I sat down, he held my hand and said, "See? I told you it was perfect." He's just a doll. And Anne, I've gotten to know her better since we live in the same city and everything. She cooks for me, and told me that she knew Jon wasn't right for me from the moment we met. And the robot jokes are hilarious. And EA and I are new blog/g-chat buddies, so despite being across the country, we're closer now than I think we've ever been, and I'm going out with her and Emily on Friday, which is also an opportunity to say that I think Emily may be the nicest most adorable person I've ever met, and also the most perfect candidate for a nurse I've ever met. And Mary L, who is brilliant (and knows it, but she's 17 and brilliant, I think I knew it then, too). And Alex, who is finally following in PROUD FAMILY TRADITION and becoming a Wildcat. And is also funny and has always been good looking, which is good because he's got to carry that family name down as the only male cousin. No pressure. I remember reading to him in the sun room, and now he's reading TEXTBOOKS. IN COLLEGE. God.

e. Aunts and Uncles. I got so many of those, I can't tell you. But I guess I gotta try, it's THANKSgiving! But Aunt Jane is the reason why I was able to go to BOTH funerals this fall, and literally would have been unable to attend Honey's at all if it weren't for her, and she's great. She's kooky as all hell, but in a good way, and her heart is in the right place. I feel like that sounds like, "oh we hate her but she has good intentions," which is NOT what I mean. She's fantastic and a sweetheart and her kookiness is just what makes Jane Jane. And Uncle Chunk, who invites me to dinner anytime he hears I might be in Kentucky, and is also part of the funeral-plane-ticket association (a not for profit founded in 2009), and he's sweet and GOD I love that man's accent, and I can hear it especially when he says 'Chrissy-Bug,' which only those two can do. Aunt Vickie & Uncle Jim are the couple I hope to be when I'm old and married off (no longer the spinster), seeing the world and being awesome in general. Denise, who runs the whole family, and the whole family would be run into the ground if it weren't for her. And Tom, who basically gives his life for my grandparents, which I know he doesn't do for me, but seriously I am eternally grateful that someone was there for Danda when he needed help, both with himself and with his wife. Ben, who is BAAAAAAAAACK! And too much fun. He's funny and thoughtful and a great father.

...I think I may just have to be thankful for my family for now. That went on for, like, ever. And it feels like it's midnight and I've just looked up and it is totally not socially acceptable to go to bed yet. Ughhhh. There's always next year to count my blessings, yeah? No, but seriously, I'm going to try to gather some more thoughts together tomorrow.

November 19, 2009

June 20th, 1953

Since I mentioned the anniversary in the last post, I thought I'd show you how lovely they were on that date.

Life Advice From Granddaddy Roy

So my grandfather died. This is delayed a great deal, but the sentiment is the same.

My grandmother was married to him for 56 years, an eternity, and it's clear that she doesn't really know what to do with herself. I left yesterday morning, and she insisted on making me breakfast. She asked what I wanted to drink and when I said, "oh, don't worry, I've got it." She goes "NOW YOU LET ME BE BUSY." So I let her pour me a glass of OJ to go along with the bacon and eggs she also insisted on making. As she was making breakfast, she misted up a bit and said, "now this is when I start to miss Roy." Roy E., as she called him.

Later, I asked her if I should strip the bed I slept in or make it, and she said I should leave it. So there were comforters and pillows all over the place and I feel a little guilty, but on the other hand, what is she going to do? She dropped me off at the airport (something she wouldn't have been able to do before, since she's had to call someone to keep an eye on granddad in order to leave the house for quite some time) and it was clear that she felt pretty good about being able to do that. Then again, I overheard her at the visitation saying "You know, I'll be able to leave the house now. Of course, I'd rather have Roy in the house than be able to leave it."

The woman is a force of nature, and the only ever time I'd seen her cry was on their 50th wedding anniversary, when she said "Fifty greatest years of my life." (Of course, she hadn't lived 50 years without him, but it was touching all the same.) She plans to go to England for her 80th birthday. She has all her original parts. She makes a mean pie (though with the wrong flour it gets all messed up and she gets really upset). And you know what? She'll be okay, eventually, and she'll get to England and eventually get used to the empty house. She deserves to do whatever the hell she wants for the rest of her life.

As for granddad, well. It's hard to know that he ended the way that he did. Part of me wishes I had had the chance to see him one last time, to say goodbye, but part of me is glad that I only saw him toward the beginning of his steep and (really, thankfully) quick descent. He was stubborn as a mule and sharp as a tack and I think he would have hated knowing what was happening to him. That it only lasted a few weeks at the worst of it was thankful, if heart-wrenching.

As for me, losing two grandparents in four months is not how I imagined the fall season going. I think I sort of thought that they were invincible. In a "I know everyone dies eventually" kind of way, I never really thought they would die.

Anyway, here is the eulogy that I gave at the funeral (something grandma insisted on, and how do you say no?):

Life advice from Grandaddy: Keep your chin over the table. Quit bangin' on that piano. Find a hollowed out oak.

He was stern, yes,believed everything had a way, and wanted all of us to find our way, to be the best we could be, and also he wanted us to not get grandma's jam on the carpet. We didn't, around granddaddy, because he inspired us in a lot of ways to be better than we were, to sit up, to be respectful.

But he was also a loving man. He was funny, goofy, told stories. He didn't want us bangin' on that piano, no, but he did want us to play it--he got a lot of joy out of hearing the music of Steve and Jim, one of his favorite things in the world. Like I said, he inspired all of us to be better at whatever it was that we were doing, whether it be attempting to play piano or acting in school plays--granddad came to my 5th grade theater debut--or studying in school. "Are you getting all A's?" He also took me with him to the golf course a few times, his favorite place on earth, let me drive that golf cart he loved, and taught me to putt. He wanted us to be the best at everything, and I think that's when I first discovered I'm really good at watching golf.

One of my favorite things granddad did was come in and tell me bedtime stories, and I used to pretend to not be able to fall asleep until I heard one. They were all the same, but it was something about his voice when he talked about the cold and the snow that inspired the little boy and the little girl to stop worrying and hide out in an old, hollowed out oak until morning. I loved it, and the same man that fought in World War II and won a Distinguished Flying Cross and golfed three days a week with his buddies and told me to keep my chin over the table loved telling me those stories.

He was a great man, and a great grandfather. I love him and I miss him.

Roy E., the man that caused my grandmother to swoon:

Granddaddy Roy, the man I knew:

November 08, 2009

So remember my happiness entry?

Everything I said in it was true.

Which makes this whole "I'm miserable" thing that much worse.

I broke up with Jon. Yes, he's the type of guy that blahblahblah all that stuff I said before was true, and I'm sure it will serve to make someone else happy, but he's just not the type of guy that would make me happy. So I'm single, I'm happy to have made the decision I did, and I'm trying to enjoy being 22. I think I have a date Friday? I'm unsure. The point is, Jon just wasn't right. And I feel like I noticed that before he did, but I think he'll notice it eventually, if he hasn't already.

I still love this city, and I still think of it as kind of magical, but I am concerned about rent. About groceries. About everything. I'm not sure I can get on my feet in a city where everything costs this much. I'm putting a lot more on my credit card than I ever have, and it makes me squeamish. And my college loan payments haven't started. I don't know how I am going to be able to do it.

And the internship has gotten worse. I hate it. I still like the idea of what I'm doing, and everyone says that's a good thing, except that it's not when the economy sucks bad enough to where you can't really be choosy. So it might be more advantageous to feel still at a loss as to what it is that I want to do so I could justify applying to every vacancy on a website that doesn't work, as admitted by the government itself. That said, if I could work anywhere on earth, my number one requirement would be that it NOT be where I currently am. They have made it very clear that I will not be returning, and have already extended an offer to one of the other interns to return. They clearly think I'm incompetent, which is so frustrating because I feel like I'm working my ass off for them. And they don't seem to think that I am intelligent at all, and one woman implied that I was a liar the other day. And I just feel so much like they don't know me at all. And they don't care to. And it just sucks.

I wrote that if I fall on my face, I have options. Which is true, except that I feel like I'm failing. And that's the worst feeling ever.

Anyway, I need to stop complaining. And start the process of getting ready for the week at this terrible terrible company I call mine at present.

I'm trying not to complain. As you can see, it's working wonders. Eff.