A Post, As Promised, and Hopefully Somewhat Interesting

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate--and for everyone, happy new week!

I've set the timer for 30 minutes so let's see what kind of thoughts and events I can get down on the page/screen. . .

Thinking about what you already know (previous posts); trying to imagine what questions you might have about what I've been doing for the past few months.

But mainly, I know what you want: stories.  Here is a good one.

A couple days after The Cat passed away, I ran out of hairspray and was picking some up after school at an ULTA store when the cashier asked me if I was interested in a free Clarisonic class on Sunday.  Well, I had one and I really liked it, I had nothing planned Sunday morning (which worried me a little), so I said why not.  I went to Mass on the earlier side and picked up a bagel and coffee on the way.  Right before I went in, Chef called and asked if I wanted to go to brunch.  He had thrown out the idea to go to the Manayunk section of Philly and said he'd call me back with details once he'd gotten a reservation.  
By the time I got out of the class (with freebies like new brush heads and travel bags), he'd left me a message saying, "I got hold of my best friend and he said come to brunch at his place!" 

This is where his best friend works.  WOW.  It was a scramble to get down there at the appointed time, but we found it, found parking, and took the elevator all the way up. . . where we ate the most delicious brunch ever (pecan smoked bacon? heavenly) and I finally tried sushi for the first time.  Sushi isn't bad but I don't think I'd choose it on my own.  We enjoyed the view--O.K., Chef isn't crazy about heights but I loved it--and had an exclusive tour of the kitchen.  We were treated like VIPs and I loved every minute of it.  Plus I met his best friend who is just a genuinely good guy.  

I still cried in Chef's arms about The Cat when we got back to my place, but even that contributed to a balanced day when it came down to it.

Additionally, I totally would have a wedding reception there if I could afford it.

This isn't so much a story as much as a summary of the Easter Sunday Hilarity that happens when you have two families and two places to be.

Chef has been working every day for the past month. No days off.  He started a new job that is sort of a transitional position as the completely new position won't begin until the restaurant's new location opens in a couple months.  So other than last Thursday's night at the movies (attended with two other guy friends of his and it was Batman vs. Superman anyway so while he loved it I maintain Wonder Woman is still the best) we have had no time together.  No dates.  In a month.  I've had dinner at his "new" work a couple of times just so we can see each other.  And late-night phone calls sometimes have been only a few minutes because we're both exhausted.

Yesterday: Easter Sunday Mass at 9:30, then brunch at his godmother's with an egg hunt for his little cousins & niece, quick stop at my place for me to change out of my dress & heels (my aching feet!!!) and bake the Brie en Croute he made to take to my parents'.  We got there just as the egg hunt was wrapping up (which Mom said my nephews did in under ten minutes).  

At the end of the night, after everyone else had hit the road, we helped finish off the cleaning up--I felt bad I couldn't have been there earlier to help set up but there was zero time.

So my mom asked me to wrap up the leftover pie and take it out to the fridge in the garage.  Chef follows along.

And while we're taking a couple of minutes to smooch in the dark of the garage, my dad locks the back door and we have to knock to get back in.

I don't think Dad suspected anything.

(And my mom will kindly pretend she never read this.  Hi, Mom!  Dinner was great.  That's all you need to know.)

 For most of 1988, I was twelve and Chef was nine. 
And we were riding the school bus together every day,
oblivious to the future.  Hee.



Update Coming Soon!

It's the start of Holy Week and it actually looks as if I will have some time off at Easter (unlike years before).  I will have time at last to catch up all of my (remaining) readers on what has been happening.

All you need to know for now is. . .

  • I still miss The Cat, very much (and no, there's no replacement)
  • I still am dating Chef (Saturday marks one year and three months since our first date!)
  • My work is still challenging as ever (surprise).

Catch you up on more soon!


Missing My Little Furry Friend

On the night of the 10th, I said goodbye to my dear sweet Cat.  She had taken to lying behind the armchair in the living room the week before, and as she came out from there less and less, all signs pointed to the end stages of her kidney failure.  I kind of knew the Saturday before, and we had a heart-to-heart. . . her behind the armchair, me with my head wedged between the chair and the wall.  The day before she passed, she surprised me by coming into the bedroom and sleeping on my feet.  But I had a feeling that was her way of telling me that was the last time.

The vet and the technicians were very compassionate and kind--I mean, I called as they were supposed to be closing and they said bring her anyway--and when we got to the office, I took a couple of minutes in the car to explain to The Cat why I'd taken her there, that it was going to be O.K., and that I was really sure I'd see her again.  My mom was waiting inside which was really kind of her.  (Chef was stuck at work.  He said he didn't even need to listen to the voicemail I left him, because I never call him while he's working, only text.  He called me later and cried with me.)

I walked into the office with The Cat and came out with an empty carrier, an envelope with a little clipping of her pretty fur, my receipt (sticker shock), and a copy of the Rainbow Bridge story (sob).  My mom said to come over for a cup of tea, and after that I went home for a drink and to put in for a day off from work.  Because I knew I wasn't going to sleep well after that.

Honestly, I'm still not sleeping great.  It feels like being in a fog most of the day.  I cry at least twice a day (privately).  I keep catching myself thinking about doing something I would do for her, or even catch myself doing something I normally did for her that I don't need to do anymore.  I also sometimes catch myself operating as if she's still here in the apartment.  

The big, empty apartment I don't really want to go home to just about every night.

My sister sent flowers, people offered condolences on Twitter and Facebook--it took me some time to even get on there and say that it happened--and I got some cards from friends and family.  It's a kindness I'm almost embarrassed about, because she was a cat. . . but at the same time, she was my constant companion for over eighteen years.  We had a routine.  We had a friendship.  A huge friendship I don't know I'll ever find again.

But I did tell her, during that heart-to-heart, that it was O.K. to go.  I didn't want her to feel bad anymore. And even more than that, I reassured her that I wasn't going to be alone.  There had been times in the past that she really was just about all I had, the only one who cared if I was around or not.  (And certainly not just because I was the only one who could open the fridge.)

My friend the marriage counselor said that it's all normal, that when you lose a loved one, you have what's like a big hole in your heart.  There's no way to fix it; you just have to go on and eventually it does get smaller.  The hole doesn't ever close up completely, but a lot of it gets filled up with love from others and the happiness from new experiences.

Just right now--I miss her incredibly.  Napping on my lap (and purring like a motorboat). Eating half my dinner if it was chicken.  Settling down on the other side of the bed as I fell asleep.  I miss talking to her, singing to her, petting her soft fur.  

I definitely miss her "singing" to me.

This past week, I had to go back to the vet to pick up her ashes.  (Mom and Dad said there's a spot in their yard where I can bury the ashes.  I just have to get there sometime when it's actually light out.)  I opened the shipping box when I got to my parents' and the ashes are in a nice cherry-wood box and a brass plate engraved with her name is on the lid. 

I never used her name in the blog, because it's a very distinctive name and I did find at one point people were searching for my blog using her name as part of the search terms.  But, if you're curious, she was named (somewhat) after
  this song.  I think you can pick it out.  But please don't mention it in the comments or I'll have to delete it (sorry). . . Did you get it?  Now you understand about the singing, huh?

Needless to say, it's been a rough couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to having a few days off for Thanksgiving.  (Naturally, I'm working at the public library this weekend! Just like last year!)  But in spite of how sad I am and how much I miss her, I think I still can take a moment on Thursday and be grateful for having such a special feline friend and all the great times I had with her.

I'll never forget you, little girl.



Just Barely Stopping to Blog

School is rolling along, very different with fewer students--and yet, more students crammed into some sections to accommodate the schedule.  It's a crazy thing.

Speaking of crazy, we're just about hitting crazy time with Younger Sister's wedding, so head over my other blog for an update if you're interested.

I will be back with a birthday post as soon as I can.  (And probably dependent on whether it's good or bad.)



Back in School

Sad that summer is unofficially over, but a lot (good and bad) did happen.  I'm more upset about the things that did not happen, like the total inside-out cleaning of my apartment, but I'll work on that this weekend.  Chef is at the shore for the "bachelor weekend" for his cousin whose wedding we will attend in a few weeks.  

And no, I'm not worried he's doing anything bad.  In fact, I'm feeling a little bummed for him because he's sort of "babysitting" his relatives while they're drinking--he doesn't drink, for medical reasons mostly.  It's not fun being the only sober one in the room, I know that much.  And frankly I think these guys (most of them a few years his senior--and mine) are too old for that kind of "partying."  It bothers me no one's trying to make sure everyone has a good time.  Kind of rude.

I struggled with bad anxiety before the first in-service on Wednesday, and having bad PMS did not help the situation.  In a few months I expect the PMS will lessen as the result of the progesterone treatments, but we'll see.  The most anxious thing was the class schedule was up in the air for days--and was looking as if I might have to go teach kindergarten library classes at another school to help out, ridiculous because we're still the biggest elementary--but today it all got ironed out and it appears I actually have a tiny bit more breathing room in my schedule.  That's an answer to prayers right there.

Will I be ready for classes to start Tuesday? Probably not.  I was out all day at meetings today, and I have an off-site meeting Monday morning.  So Monday afternoon is it--and remember, I just got my schedule (after already having planned out three weeks of lessons which I now have to "fix").  My assistant was in yesterday and half of today, and won't be in Monday.  

On top of that, they re-drew the school boundaries so I've "lost" some students (mostly good ones, a couple of pests) and have some new ones.  The proportion of students in poverty and/or not speaking English as a first language has risen.  But I'm kind of excited about the challenge and I hope that encouraging them to embrace literacy will open doors for them here and in the future.

When I was putting away some extra packs of scratch paper under the Circ desk, I found an old dusty mug.  Inside it was a weird piece of plastic, a crusted-on, disintegrated rubber band, and a penny.

The penny's year was my birth year.

I try not to look for signs, but I really think it was a somewhat-needed confirmation that I'm in the right place.




For me, and for the car.

Me: Eight blood tests later, my GYN called me with the results.  "You definitely have low progesterone," she told me. "Very low, actually."  (Interesting article here but just so you're not startled, there's a big ol' medical photo in the middle of it.)

Kind of a bummer and a relief at the same time, you know?  I didn't want something to be wrong with me, but really I knew something was and at least now that it's been identified we can move on to treatment.

I'm starting off with the doc's recommended progesterone supplement, taken in the latter half of my cycle.  It's being compounded at a pharmacy downtown and will be sent to me.  I also decided to go back to acupuncture because I think it will be complimentary, and the practicioners specialize in women's health.  I'm going Tuesday.  Basically, I just want to talk to somone and see what I can do to get myself back on track.  

The sooner the better--school's starting again soon, the wedding's not far behind, and just generally I can't wait to start feeling good. Really good.

The car: $400 later there are new brakes and an oil change.  My parents picked up the car for me as I'd been called in to the public library for coverage (horrible reason, I can't even go into it, just keep praying for the co-worker's family).  Dad gave me the receipt and under "Recommendations" it said "Left side cam seal, leaking oil."

Fantastic.  Things are just never-ending with this car.

The other reason the bill was so high was that I had the headlights sanded.  13-plus years of being outside had clouded up the headlights to the point that my mechanic said the visibility was starting to be compromised.  I believe it because I swear I've been cut off so many times in the past year I was starting to wonder if I was invisible.  Supposed to cost me 60 but I saw it was 80 on the receipt (grrr) but OH MY GOSH they are bright and shiny.

After I gave my mom back her car and took mine home, I parked in my usual area in the lot behind my building.  There were two boys on bikes, just tooling around (in the dark, I grumbled to myself, grateful I was able to see them with the brighter headlights).  As I crossed the lot to go up the steps to the building door, one of the kids buzzed by and then circled back.

"Nice car!  Is it, uh, used?"

"No, honey, it's pretty old," I replied without missing a beat.

Fending off the advances of what was starting to sound like Korean Eddie Haskell Notices a Lady Because She's Wearing a Skirt.

You might want to try working on your smoothness, kid.




Long Days and Nights

So after much debate, I wound up not going to NJ for the funeral mass.  My parents left at 6:00 AM and made good time.  I, on the other hand, went to a local parish's daily mass (so I could at least feel I did something) and then on to my blood test appointment--at which the technician (the same one who asked me last Tuesday "Weren't you just here yesterday?" "YES I WAS DAMMIT AND I AM HERE TODAY, THURSDAY, SATURDAY AND NEXT MONDAY") joined me in celebrating my final test.  Really hoping my doc will get in touch with me soon about all the results.

In a way, it worked out because I was home for FedEx to bring me my replacement credit card and I had time to be on hold for nearly a half-hour to sign up for the free credit monitoring offered by the hotel whose system had allowed my card to be stolen.  Of course, I fell asleep while on hold but I blame The Cat for curling up on my lap and purring so darn soothingly.

Once I was all signed up, I took some laundry over to my parents' and fed/checked on the orange cat, aka Calamity Jane.  She's been out of sorts, not eating much, and didn't really roll in my laundry as usual but at least gave it the once-over.  But then she was very pleased when an hour after my arrival Younger Sister (her true rescuer from all those years ago) walked in the front door.  It was kind of nice that we had the house to ourselves and got to catch up a bit.  (My future BIL was at home recovering from an unfortunately-timed minor surgery.)  And then not long after, we both got a text from Older Brother saying he was able to find a flight out of Cape Cod (he & my SIL had extended their visit with the in-laws another week so of course he was doing a whirlwind solo appearance--not one word of sympathy or condolences from anyone up there, interestingly).

Yesterday was the burial down here in Philly.  I had a dress I'd just gotten on sale which worked out well but I needed a sweater to cover my lily-white upper arms.  In spite of the fact that it was already getting hot outside at 10AM.  While I was debating, The Cat was still doing her "I need attention!" shtick and I was on the verge of losing it because all I wanted was to get out the door to pick up Chef on time on the way to the cemetery.  So at the last minute, I threw down the black acrylic shrug and picked up my lilac cotton cardigan.

Didn't Chef walk out his door in a purple button-down?  (My favorite on him BTW but he didn't know that until I told him in the car.)  So naturally we got compliments from the family on our unintentional fashion coordination later.

And I can't even put into words how grateful I was that he was there for me.

Not to mention many of my mom's friends as well, people who have known me since I was a little kid.  It was truly touching.  I "teared up" on and off, but really I did most of my crying two months ago when I found out Pop-Pop wasn't doing well.  I cried a little more this morning because (A) it was 6AM and I couldn't sleep--I've been sleeping poorly the past few days thanks to a number of factors--and (B) sometimes the worst part of losing a loved one is how it makes you think of other loved ones you lost and miss very much.  The last time I buried a grandparent was over 25 years ago, my other Pop-Pop [corrected because I originally said my Mom-Mom, who died 2 years before him (buried a lot of people during high school). I miss her and still talk to her sometimes.] 

There was a luncheon at the catering hall down the road--I wasn't really hungry but more thirsty between the heat and the semi-crying--so Chef kept me stocked with Coke, and we all pooled our leftover chicken to take home (The Cat will get some today if she behaves).  My Maiden Aunt wanted to take photos, a little weird but all the siblings were together, so I helped out and took shots with one of my other aunts' cell phone. Somehow my uncle got it in his head that Chef should be in the one shot with the "outlaws" as we affectionally call the S.O.'s of our kin (wrong generation, Uncle B) but I guess that means they all like Chef an awful lot.  

I like him a lot, too.  (Truly, I love him.)  And bless his heart, he had to go in to work after that.  If I think too long about how wonderful he's been during all this--and how much I miss him because starting his new job demands so much of his time--I'll start crying.

I probably have at least one more "good cry" left to do and I'm guessing it'll be tomorrow morning when I meet up with a close friend.

And then maybe I can move on to working on the upcoming bridal shower.

One thing Younger Sister did to take advantage of being here for a visit was talk about the music for the reception so that was kind of fun to sit around talking about at our parents' with Uncle B and his girlfriend, the bandleader. (That'll be up on the wedding blog pretty soon.)

Yeah, it was a long day.