Wednesday, May 31, 2006

HA HA!!!

Life has a sense of humor. Just as we are finally, although begrudgingly, accepting that we will be in our current house for another 4-5 years, as we are making plans to pay big money to fix the roof, life happens. That house we were looking at, the one that went off the market a few weeks ago? It's back. No change in price, but it's back up.

Damn. The rational side of me says to stick to my guns and just stay with our plan to be in this house. The other side of me really really wants to take a chance on the colonial.

Life sure has a sense of humor. Just God's way of making sure I've always got something to obsess about, I guess!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Done with drama

I am ready to move on from last week's "drama" theme, but I am way hopped up on allergy meds, so I can't promise a coherent theme for this week. Stream of consciousness it is!

I know that most people had a three day weekend for Memorial Day. Thing is, now that I am working with cell culture in the lab instead of animals, there's no such thing as a long weekend. These cell plates need to be changed frequently, so I have to come in at least once over a weekend. And if the plates happen to be ready for an experiment over a weekend instead of on a weekday, I've got to be there for that too. Joy.

So, instead of going to picnics or doing something fun, I went to work. And, even though I put in my hours, I still don't think I am going to get anything useful from it. You see, my cells are infected with bacteria. It sucks. Usually, when an infection happens, you throw the cells out and get new ones from the deep freeze. I've never had an infection before, but this is what I am told. Problem with my cells is that they are clones I've spent two months isolating. There aren't any in the deep freeze, and if I throw them out, I have to start all over. So, I am changing media constantly and trying to use different antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Except the bacteria seem to be resistant to everything. And the infection keeps getting worse.

It's not looking good for them. I'm sure Dr. B will not be happy--I told him last week it was looking bad, but I know when he sees for himself, he'll be not pleased.

Plus, it looks like we are going to schedule that interim committee meeting for July, and I won't be able to have new clones by then. And no other aspect of the project is working at the moment. Not so good.

Despite that, I'm in a pretty good mood. Maybe it's the meds. Who knows? Lab is sucking, our first estimate for a roof was around 6 grand (and that was AFTER the 30% off deal they had), my allergies are killing me, and the house we liked sold.

Oh well! That's life I guess. I'm working to not get so caught up in things. I can only take care of today. I don't know what is going to happen with lab, and the roof needs to be fixed no matter what it costs (although we have three more estimates scheduled, so hopefully they'll be better), allergies will go away eventually, and we already have a house, so we'll be fine.

Really, if you don't laugh, you'll cry. And there's a lot to laugh about. Take the wedding we were at this weekend. It was really nice and very small (less than 100 people). The actual wedding was at a historic house in Akron, and the reception was at a really nice restaurant called Tangiers. Well, we got to the reception and found out Tim's cousin was the DJ. Small world! This would usually be fine, except this guy is the king of talkers. We draw straws at family functions to see who has to talk to him. I'm not kidding. He's nice enough, but he always talks about the same things, and you can't get away.

Poor Tim. He couldn't get away from his cousin the whole night. Now, if someone was paying me several hundred dollars to do a job, I'd do it. Tim's cousin just put things on a loop and came to harass Tim. I felt so bad--this wedding was actually his group of friends, and he got to spend very little time with them.

And then of course, after dinner came the dancing. We got called out by name for the chicken dance. Ok, it's a small wedding--I understand that there may be only four or five people on the dance floor. If I'm not already out there, it's because I DON'T WANT TO BE! We did that dance, and three or four more times he called us out by name, but by the end of the night, we just couldn't take him any more. We left early, about 11, just because things were dwindling and we didn't want to be cornered by him.

I think it's hilarious now, but poor Tim! Three times he said, "If you love me, you'll kill me." He just couldn't shake his cousin. I knew one girl from high school, so I talked to her the whole night, but I was hungry (the only things that I ate were white rice, steamed broccoli, and red potatoes. I am not a picky eater, but bloody meat and salmon are on the non-eating list) and I hadn't taken my allergy stuff, so when Tim was ready to go, I didn't feel bad about leaving. I wish he would've gotten more time with his friends, but such is life.

And then late Sunday night we decided to go to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It's about 20 minutes from where we live, and it's a nice change of pace. There's a towpath that goes right alongside the Erie canal. We didn't make it out there till about 7:45 PM, and I figured that it'd be too late to take pictures. Silly me. We had walked not five minutes and saw a beaver swimming in the canal not ten feet from us. Five more minutes down the trail and there was a huge white tail deer buck just hanging out ten feet away on the other side. After an hour and fifteen minutes of walking, we'd seen the beaver, three deer, a bunch of red winged blackbirds, a great blue heron, and a bunch of other wildlife. And of course, I left the camera at home. Funny how that always happens!

Not much else going on. I'm going to try and salvage my cells today, and then I've got a roof estimate tonight. Life is so exciting!

Friday, May 26, 2006

House drama, an addendum

Isn't it funny? Just when you think you have life all figured out, it throws you a curveball. Or, in our case, just when we've finally figured out the pros and cons of moving vs. staying, things change.

Last night we got a few big thunderstorms. There was a lot of lightning but not much wind, and the rain was only average compared to the solid two weeks of rain we had not long ago. So, noisy but not bad. Tim was down in the laundry room cleaning up when he saw a puddle. This puddle went to the sanitation pipe (the pipe that takes all the waste from the toilets and sinks). This pipe happens to connect right to the upstairs bathroom fixtures, which were redone in early December.

Crap, I thought. There must be a bad seal to the toilet or something. This wasn't just a little leak--even though it was dripping down the outside of the pipe, it was forceful enough to get the wall behind the pipe wet, and you could watch the water dripping down in little rivers. We talked about who we should call: Dan, the guy who did the bathroom, a real plumber, or Tim's dad. We decided on Dad, but not until after we did a little investigating.

We checked out the bathroom upstairs. There was no visible water, and flushing the toilet didn't change the amount of water that was leaking.

Tim and I had the same thought: check the crawlspace. I guess the sanitation pipe has to vent off the yucky gases through the roof. Sure enough, there was water on the outside of the pipe in the crawlspace. Tim looked at the connection to the roof, and there it was: big leak. This pipe travels from the crawlspace, through the wall behind the upstairs shower, and down into the utility room. All three levels had water.

So, it looks like we'll be getting a new roof. This one is old, and we figured it'd need to be redone, but we were hoping not for another few years. Not so much.

We'll be shelling out several thousand dollars (at least, I hope it's only several thousand. Tim's guess is about 4k, but we'll know when we get the estimates). As Tim put it, "So much for Christmas." Actually, we don't even buy gifts for Christmas, so it's more like, "So much for any discretionary spending over the next year." We're still paying off the bathroom from last year. That should be done in January 2007, but we'll have to have double payments for the roof plus the bathroom for a long time.

It'll be tough, but as long as nothing else breaks (AKA Tim's truck with 150k miles), we should be ok. That's what a home equity line is for, I suppose.

It was just too funny. We were talking about house stuff earlier last night, and now there is no way we could move. We'd never get the money back that we put into this house, at least not for a few more years. So, God's given us one more reason to stay put, I suppose. Funny how life works?

On another note, I think I figured out what has been killing me, allergy-wise: mold. When we were up in the crawlspace, there was moldy wooden sheeting all around, and within five minutes, my throat was all tight and my eyes were killing me. It's still terrible. I've taken multiple benadryl, but my throat is so tight I can barely speak. Good times.

Life is going well otherwise. We have a wedding to go to tomorrow, and a BBQ/bonfire on Monday that my friend is throwing, but at least Sunday looks wide open. We're going to try and find something (free) to do, like hiking or the like. That'll be a nice break, even if I do have to come into work Sunday morning.

I think I'm off the drama topic for a while, so maybe next week I'll have new (non)exciting stuff to ramble about. Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Crazy Talk part 3: House Drama

Sorry, I've been a little behind this week. That's what allergies and benadryl will do for you, I guess!

Continuing the saga: House drama

We happened across a few house listings back towards the beginning of this year. It was the same time Tim started his new job, and these houses happened to be about four miles from his new place. To give you a mental picture, we live in a southwest suburb. We did this because my school is on the east side of Cleveland, and his first job was far, far west side of the county.

Halfway between was downtown Cleveland. Unlike other cities, no one really lives downtown, so we went a bit south. We found Parma, which is safe (11th safest city in US, according to some national magazine) and relatively cheap. And it's only about 20 miles from my school. Problem is, we didn't take proximity to highways into account, so I spend most of my time on crowded surface roads with tons of lights and 25 mph speed limits. Thus, the hour plus commute.

Tim's new job is more in the middle of the county now, so we actually live much farther west than either of our jobs. This new neighborhood we found is central and right off the highway, so even though it's less than ten miles closer for me, it cuts my commute in half. That's the background. If you want to know more, you can check out past blogs on my Xanga. The first post is here, there are a bunch of posts in the middle, and then the last post is here.

Basically, we narrowed it down to one house. It had gone up FSBO (for sale by owner) July 2005 for 240k. They got a realtor in August who listed it at 230k, and then sometime late fall they lowered it to 220k. That's where it was in late January when we saw it. Then, about a week later, it lowered to 210k. At that point, we decided to go through it. We found out they had lowered the price AFTER getting a contingent offer (that means the buyers required that they sell their house first. If they don't sell, they don't have to buy). That was a little strange, but we thought it over for a few weeks and made an offer.

We started out really low, figuring they'd counter, but they didn't. Even after we raised our offer about 16k, they still didn't negotiate, so we walked away. It was a strange thing--we didn't have our own realtor, and the other buyers were working with an agent our of the seller's realtor's office. Strange stuff.

Anyway, we walked away the first week of March. The house had continued to be on the market, and we knew that the four month contingency was up early June. We figured if it was still there, we'd get our own realtor and try again.

Well, last Thursday the listing came down. We didn't know what was going on, since that had happened several times before. Always within a few days it was re-listed. On Sunday we were at a park near the neighborhood, so we drove past the house. The for sale sign was still up, without a "sold" or "sale pending" on it. So, we thought maybe it'd go back up.

It's Wednesday, and it isn't back up, so I think it really sold.

I have mixed emotions about that. The biggest is relief that it sold. Don't get me wrong, I loved this house. I would've loved to move. However, there was so much we wanted to do to our house before we sold it that I was a bit overwhelmed. We could've done it, but now we don't have to. The biggest relief is knowing we don't have to decide. If it was still there, we'd have to decide if we wanted to take a risk. I mean, it's not much of a risk, really. There's no real estate bubble here like there is in big cities. If you get a 3% appreciation a year, it's been a good year. So we know we'd gain equity.

It's more about change. Yes, this new house would make our commutes easier. Yes, it's much nicer than what we have now. But it's more house than we need. Really, our little house now is more than we need for two people. If we had kids, or were going to have kids soon, that'd be different. Or if we knew we were going to stay in Cleveland for residency--this house is nice enough that we could have maybe two kids in it and not need to move. But, for where we are at--not knowing about residency, being comfortable in our current house--it's easier to stay put.

That doesn't mean it's the better decision. It's just the easier decision. And now, if this house is really gone, then there's no decision necessary.

I know I haven't mentioned much about the house stuff since we walked away in March, but it's something we've discussed almost every day. It's made us re-examine everything. Here's the messed up logic I have: I can't decide on things like moving until I know what's going on with the bigger things. Therefore, I am frozen in indecision. Here's an example about the house stuff:

Top, working down:
Do I want to primarily practice or do research?
What environment do I want to work in? (academic center vs. private practice vs. industry)
How competitive of a residency do I need to do/do I need a fellowship?
How far away do we need/want to move?
Do we move for residency, do we wait for a fellowship, or do we stay here?
If we want to move, do we wait to have kids?
If we move and don’t have kids, do we need a bigger house now?
If we move, don’t have kids, and don’t need a bigger house, is it worth thinking about moving?
Depending on the move situation, how much work should we do on the house?
If we are here four years more, should we do things like the roof now?
But if we move now, should we not put a lot of work into the house?

Welcome to my life. A rational person would say, "If you can afford it, just move. You'll be there at least four years no matter what, and you will at least break even." No problem, right? Well, I can't be rational about that stuff. Part of me is itching to move--I moved around a bit as a kid, so four years seems like about the time to try a new place. But the super-non-risk-taking part of me wants to stay.

Anyway, the house appears to be gone, so this part of my drama is gone now too. We had agreed a long time ago that this four year junction was really our only chance to move, since common wisdom says it takes four years to break even on a house (so it'd be four years in our current house and at least four years from now till residency). We decided if we didn't see something we liked by August or so, we'd stay put. And we haven't seen anything else in our price range. So, staying put it is.

If this house does go back up on the market, we're back to the indecision. But it's been long enough that I don't think it will. In any case, it gave us a lot to think about. And I'll take less drama any time.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Crazy talk pt 2: Family drama

Amy got home yesterday from the Florida Keys. She's home for her graduation this Saturday (she was done in December but is coming back to walk. Hence why she has been away teaching for a semester). She's only back till mid-day Sunday, then back to the Keys for two weeks, and then she's home for good. Well, maybe not for good--she's definitely the traveler of the family, and she'd like to end up teaching in another state--but she's home for the summer at least.

We went down to my parents last night to have dinner with her and the fam. She went through her sweet photo album. I have never seen sunsets like the ones she takes in the Keys--she could totally sell them as postcards. Then we started talking about the happenings around the extended fam, and there's building drama, as usual. I guess things are starting to get touchy with all of the estate stuff my dad and his sibs are dealing with, and it doesn't look like things will get better there. Add the usual drama, and I think we are all a little burnt out right now.

We were talking about how, even though our immediate family has had some of the toughest stuff to deal with, we're all good at handling it because we haven't been afraid to seek help. We've been in therapy since I was a kid, first just my parents, then as a family, and I think all of us but the youngest two have had extensive individual therapy for our own different issues. So, in our little nuclear family, we handle things maturely. We're open (like when I sent my mom the post I wrote a month ago--no secrets), when we have an issue, we deal directly with the person we are upset with, the angry fights and the control by guilt have diminished considerably, and generally, we just try to keep open lines of communication. It's working really well for us, and it's helped us stay close through the hard times.

Problem is, our extended family hasn't had the same years of training we have (never thought being in therapy forever would be a good thing, did you?). So, there's a lot of guilt, a lot of snippyness, a TON of talking behind backs, much choosing of sides, and just general pettiness. We're all good at putting on the happy faces, but we know what goes on. Thing is, my grandparents were always there to keep people honest. Now that there is no referee on my dad's side, I see things disintegrating. I hope they can solve their issues, but I don't know how things will end up.

My fam and I were discussing this, and we said that EVERYONE should get a little therapy now and then. We joked that if I became a psychiatrist, I'd never have to have clients that I'm not related to. I mean, my mom is one of nine, my dad is one of eight, and most of them are married with kids. Statistically, I think that means you'll see just about everything. Heck, if both sides of the family show up at something, we've got 93 people. Seriously. I counted. So, if something has a one or two percent prevalence, that means we probably have it. We're our own cohort.

I just wish people could get some help on interpersonal skills. I mean, come on! Some of my aunts and uncles are pushing 60--let's all be adults, ok? I know there's no good way to tell someone they need to see a shrink, but we all agreed that it would do SO much good.

As we get older, it's just getting harder and harder to see past the politics. As kids, we were shielded from it. We played with our cousins and just had a good time. Even now, we kids all hang out (we have GREAT cousin BBQs on the Roth side. I learned so much dirt last year--I had no idea). And us kids talk to the aunts and uncles with no problem. Unfortunately, we also see the strain between the aunts/uncles and each other: so-and-so hates this person, this family isn't speaking to this other one, so-and-so never got over such-and-such an event from childhood, etc. The strain is starting to speak for itself.

I guess it's sort of a natural progression though. At least in my family, my parents don't really keep in touch with their cousins, although they were all close when they were kids. Part of it is the enormity of the family, and part of it is just moving on. I mean, my dad's cousin Kirk stayed with us during the time of my grandma's funeral, and he and my dad got to catch up. I guess they were really really close when they were younger, and life just drifted them apart.

I don't like the idea of drifting apart, but I see it happening already. My mom's older sister had three boys, all of whom are married with kids. We see them periodically, but they are their own unit now (and understandably so). It doesn't mean I love them less--it's just life. On my dad's side, it is sorted into who lives where. The two families in Uniontown are really close, my family and my uncle's family live in Medina and are close, etc. It's not that we grouped that way on purpose, but the proximity naturally sorted people out.

I think that's why I try so hard to stay involved with my immediate family. I don't want to get so involved in my own life that I start to fall outside the loop. I mean, some of it I don't hear about--day to day happenings at school, etc--just because I don't live at home anymore. That's to be expected. I am talking about the big stuff. I have to remember to make an effort.

I think that's where the natural progression comes in. Once you don't live at home anymore, you have to work to stay in touch with your immediate family. That takes a lot of time and effort, and it doesn't leave as much time for the extended family. When you lived at home, you only had one group to catch up with on holidays; once you move, you have two circles of people to connect with. Plus, once you are married, it's like you doubled the number of people to keep up with. It all conspires to slowly narrow your circle of family.

I am trying really hard to stay connected to all of my family, but I know that my circle is narrowing faster than I am trying to keep it expanded. We'll be married four years this year, and over those years, I can already see the change. We used to hit all three sides of the family (Tim really only has one) at every holiday. Thanksgiving, for example, was Parma to Manchester to Uniontown to Amherst. It's almost 200 miles of driving. But, we did it. We'd come home exhausted, and we'd never get to spend more than an hour or two at each place, but we did it. We've slowly learned that it's better to do one family per holiday. It works really well over Christmas: Tim's family Christmas eve, Mom's side Christmas day, Dad's side New Year's Day. We don't drive like crazy and we have enough time at each place to really talk to people. We haven't worked out the other holidays yet, but I think we're getting there.

I definitely don't have the answer to the family stuff yet. Part of me really misses keeping in touch, but part of me (the part that feels guilty) likes that drama diminishes as the family circle gets smaller. I think once my siblings and I start having kids things will naturally change. We'll probably turn into our own circle and become more of a Venn diagram (how nerdy is that?) than a smaller circle in a bigger circle. We'll still overlap, but we'll be our own group. I think it'll be quite a transition, but it's still several years away. Until then, I think the extended family drama will continue. That is, unless we can convince them to take part in some massive group therapy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Look! I'm Learnding!

As I said a few days ago, my time off from blogging really gave me a chance to journal privately and try to sort out what's really going on in my life. I came away with several observations, and I'll throw a different one out every day or so. I'm not saying I've come up with answers yet; this is just where I am.

My first learning experience: I've figured out that I am looking for any way to stay in my PhD, rather than looking for a reason to leave it.

Reasons:

1. I hate change. Quitting my PhD and going back to med school would be a huge change, altering my habits, my way of life, and my general life plan. Having said that, I still think I want to do primarily medicine, and speeding that process up by a few years does sound appealing.

2. Although I want to do primarily medicine, I still have a "thing" for science. Going to interesting seminars and having good dialogues with other scientists really helps me realize that I like the idea of research, although in a secondary role to practicing. At least, that's what I think today.

3. I am a stubborn, stubborn person, and I am fiercely perfectionistic. I hate admitting defeat, and I took this on, so I'll finish it. (This is not really part of my decision, just a glimpse of my personality).

4. Most of all: I've been paying attention to my body language and moods, and I am more interested in my PhD that I had led myself to believe. Here's an example: I was all depressed about my project yesterday morning. Then I talked to George about it, and he wants to have that three month committee meeting we talked about. I'm fine with that--in fact, I encouraged it. I was all nervous about telling Dr. B. When I finally got a chance to chat with him, he mentioned that maybe there's some potential for my project in a different vein--a more clinical one. My heart skipped a beat and I got all excited. That's when I realized I hadn't given up yet.

I think I am frustrated because I feel like I've wasted almost two years in my PhD. What I have to remember is that one of those--the one I spent with Frank--was beyond my control. I worked hard, I was finally getting data. HE was the one that left. So, I can't really count that year.

This last eight months in the new lab has been frustrating. I feel like I haven't moved at all, but I talk to my boss, my committee, and the postdocs in the lab, and they are really positive about my progress. I guess that's part of being a fledgling scientist. I feel like data and papers are the only way to prove you are making progress; they see the baby steps I've made, the slow advancement in fine tuning my experiments, and they are hopeful.

Parts of it are my insanely high expectations of myself. I thought I'd be one of those people who got done with their PhD portion in three years, making my entire stint in med school only seven years and putting me into residency by the time I'm 29. What I failed to see is that the few people who end up finishing in that time aren't always exceptional students. Sure, there are those (and there's one in my class) that are exceptional and work 100-110 hours a week because they want to be done. But most that finish in three years get lucky and fall into a really good project. For them, that year or two of setup and toil is already done. They just show up and things take off. Or, there's the third group (like Bill's lab) where the grad student doesn't need to work much. The techs do the animal studies, the undergrad students do all the repetitious pipetting assays, and the grad student only has to crunch the numbers and write the paper.

In my case: 1. 60-70 hours a week is enough for me, 2. I'm not in a good project, and there is still much toiling to be done, and 3. There are no techs, so I'm on my own. I am happy to have a committee meeting soon, because I don't want to be stuck in the same place a year from now, but I think I want to stick it out in the long term. I am still occasionally tempted to go back to med school (partly for good reasons, partly for bad reasons), but I really feel like staying here is the right path, at least for now.

Now, that doesn't mean I suddenly love lab more than I did. I still dread coming in when my experiments aren't working, or when I have nothing to do until my cells are ready. Those are still very tough times for me. But I have to remember that I have people like my boss and my committee who really are looking out for me and want to see me succeed. They've been doing this a lot longer than I have. If they have hope, then I can have hope too.

I am hoping that realizing this helps me get through the bad days in the lab. I'm trying to re-focus on what I talked about in "crazy talk" last year: I need to get over all of my "shoulds" and my crazy expectations for myself. Sometimes it's ok to just be average. No one else is expecting the world of me, so I need to stop expecting it of myself. Of course, I don't want to turn into a slacker either. I'm not really worried about that though--I'm so OCD and anal about my work that there's no way I could fall all the way back to slacker. It's taken me two years to try to embrace average!

I am working on getting back to the state of calm I was in during "crazy talk" (note: I'm not crazy. That's just what Tim started calling my weekly sessions with the psych grad student. The name stuck.) A lot of what we focused on is less of the people pleasing, less of the insane standards, less of always listening to my "shoulds" (I should be doing this, I shouldn't be doing that, etc). I think getting back to that state is what will get me out of this drama rut I am in. Already the work drama has calmed down since I started this.

The work drama is the easiest one to fix, I think, because it only involves me and my attitude about lab. The work isn't actually going to change. The next steps will be much tougher. Life drama and family drama do involve other people, so getting both myself and other people to come to an understanding about life stress will no doubt be stressful in itself. But, as Tim put it, I am an adult now, and I have a right to stand up for my own sanity.

So, that's where I am at today. Hey, baby steps, right? At least I am learning from my mistakes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Using protection

I have a crazy good post I wrote this afternoon. Crazy good. But, since the post about my mom, I've been hesitant to post anything that could remotely, possibly, even slightly come back to bite me in the rear. I know that isn't the spirit of good posting, but I just don't have it in me to deal with the fallout.

Don't get me wrong, most of the responses I got about my mom were great, and those wonderfully supportive sentiments continued a few weeks later when my grandma died. I know I should just bite the bullet, but I can't.

Since I can't protect posts (protecting is controlling exactly who gets to read a post) on blogspot, I've half-debated going back to my Xanga blog, but I like the blogspot format so much better. I might still post this thing, but probably not.

Sorry for all the buildup. It's like telling someone you have a really good secret, and then you don't tell them what it is. Besides, this is really probably only amusing for my siblings and those currently involved in my day to day existence. For everyone else, I am sure you'd say, "What's the big deal?"

It's my people-pleasing nature. I think I may just have to take a pass on this one. But I promise, I am going to write a real entry sometime tomorrow or the next day, depending on lab crap. I think tomorrow will be a late one in the lab, so maybe I'll post a late-night, exhausted, tired-of-work, cranky-pants post. Won't that be fun?

Monday, May 15, 2006

So THAT'S what no drama feels like....

I'm back again, although just for a minute. Life is going crazy right now, so I'll detail more when I have time. Here are the highlights:

-The camp was wonderful. Just what we needed. We didn't do anything spectacular, but when I got home, I felt like a new person.
-Unfortunately, all it took for me to remember why I left was to check my email. Work drama, life drama, family drama...the stress is starting to make sense.
-I am meeting with my MSTP advisor tomorrow to talk about lab progress. I've been in the lab eight months and made almost no progress. I threw out all of my plates from my last transfection, since we got no colonies. Almost a month wasted there. We'll see how things go tomorrow.
-Tim and I had a long talk about life last night. We're definitely on the same page as to how to reduce drama in our lives. It's not going to be easy to change our patterns, but I think it's something our sanity demands.

That's the summary, I'll try to flesh things out a little better when I have more time.

Only six weeks until vacation. I hope I can last that long.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm back--Sort of

Hey there. Has a week passed by already? I think I've lost all track of time. My sleep has been pretty crappy the last two weeks, and that has lead me to be a bit of a zombie. It's probably better that I took this time off from posting. I am sure much of what I would've written would be gibberish. Then again, I think much of what I am currently writing will sound like gibberish.

I've been really surprised at how deeply this loss has affected me. Part of it is the sudden-ness, the lack of answers, and the total shock that I am slowly coming to terms with. Most of it, though, is just how much I miss her--even when she was still alive, I missed spending time with her--and how I regret not having more time with her now. She really was one of my most important role models for how to be a good person. She was always giving, totally loving, and no matter what was going on with her, she always had time to stop and talk about your life. I can't tell you how many times we just popped over for dinner when I was little, and no matter what she was making, she'd always find a way to feed all of us unexpected guests.

I think about her a lot. Unfortunately for me, I think of her a lot more now that she's gone than I did when she was alive. I just figured she'd be around for a while. There seemed to be so many other things that needed to be handled right now--I figured when things settled down, then I'd have time to catch up. Well, this is life. Things never settle down.

I've caught myself getting emotional in the weirdest places and times. I was in church by myself the Sunday after she died, and I almost lost it in the pew. It wasn't that the homily particularly applied to her, or me. It was that I remembered how involved she was in her church (she lived across the street from it for decades), and I thought about how she wouldn't be there anymore.

Just this morning, I was reading some papers, and I glanced at my computer. I have a widget on my desktop that cycles through all of my digital photos randomly, and there was one of my grandma and grandpa at Christmas 2004. They both looked so healthy and happy, and all of their family was around them. It's a total shock that not even a year and a half later, they are both gone. I almost lost it at my desk when I saw that picture.

I'm not an emotional girl. I'm the strong one, the one who carries everyone else when they have problems. Not to sound callous (I'm sure it will anyway), but I didn't expect the death of my grandma to affect me so much. I mean, people get older and pass away. Plus, I haven't been doing a great job of keeping in touch with my extended family (heck, I barely keep tabs on my immediate family), so I thought that losing her would be tough for a short time, and then I'd move on.

I am moving on, but it's a lot slower than it was for either of my grandfather's deaths. My first grandpa died when I was 14, so although it was hard, I don't think you process things well at that age. I didn't, anyway. As I said before, my other grandpa died after a long battle with Alzheimer's, so we mourned him while he was still alive. This death is going to take me a while, I think. But, the positives--all of the good memories, the desire to make her proud--will make the process easier, I am sure.

Again, thanks for all of the support. Even if this is a cyber-world, it's nice to feel that compassion from others. It really helps a lot.

On another note, life has been moving along without me. I have been insanely busy at work trying to get caught up, but nothing has been working. Same old thing, different day. Tim's parents were kind enough to shuffle their schedules around, and so this weekend we are taking the trip to their camp in PA that we were supposed to take the weekend my grandma died. I think that'll be really good for me. It's beautiful, peaceful, and refreshing to be up there. It'll be just what I need.

I've done a lot of reflecting in my off-line journal, so I am sure some of that will make its way onto my blog in the near future. I've already typed 92 pages, single spaced, in my journal, just since the beginning of 2006. And you thought I rambled on this blog....

I apologize for the gibberish. I'll try harder to make more sense in future posts. I just wanted to drop a line and say hey, and I'll get back into the swing of things in the near future.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Time off

I think this thing with my grandma has really inspired me to take some personal time and reflect on my life. I've had a lot of thoughts and feelings these past few days that I didn't really think would come up. Some of them have been positive, like seeing my sister after four months and realizing how much I like it when our family is all together. Some of it has been negative, like the few family members who can't see outside of themselves enough to be sympathetic to what is going on (and my sibs know EXACTLY which people I am talking about. We now call one of them 'Uncle A-hole' and will never be able to refer to him as anything else.)

Overall, it's been a hard time. The sudden-ness of it all is really tough. It was hard with my grandpa, but he was sick long enough for all of us to come to peace about it. Plus, he had suffered so long with Alzheimer's that there was a bit of relief when he passed. We all felt guilty for feeling that way, but it was understandable.

For my grandma, it's a lot different. I think we are still mostly in shock. And hearing that her surgery went fine--she died while coming out of anesthesia in the recovery room--makes it a bit harder. They did an autopsy, which makes thing even stranger, so we'll see what happens. But the swiftness, the uncertainty of exactly how she died--it's that much harder to have closure.

So, I decided to take some time off from blogging in order to do some deep soul searching. I'd do it through my blog, but I've learned that being open and vulnerable on the internet isn't such a good idea. I'll let you know how things turn out, but for at least the next week, things will be silent on this web site.