Either big happenings tend to converge at once or big happenings all converge at once.
The holidays were not particularly joyful this year, instead they felt relentlessly pointed. Pointed like a brand new ice-pick.
But somehow the bad is always coupled with the good, which causes a confusing interaction emotionally.
I could say everything started on October 6th, when my father’s heart consumed the last of its beats. Or was it October 5th when my father’s sister closed her eyes for the last time… from cancer. But for me it all started a couple of decades ago when my mother and father conceived me. I don’t remember this of course, but somehow everything seems to feel shiny, exciting and new, but also rusty and unstable. It must be the yin and yang of life and death.
Thanksgiving was a fiasco. For years I’ve been preparing it myself, then this year we were invited to Mark’s brother’s home for the holiday. I had a bit of a control issue, wanting to cook, but also being a guest in another person’s home. You see, I have traditions. They make me feel like I’m home with my family even when they’re states away… or somewhere in heaven.
Of course, Thanksgiving never happened this year. Two days before-hand Mark’s father became extremely ill. We spent the entire Thanksgiving holiday (around 6 dyas) sitting in the LA VA keeping him company and starving. You see, he was in for gastrointestinal issues. He couldn’t eat or drink for 9 days. So it would have been rude of us to eat in front of him, or to have Thanksgiving dinner (which we cancelled). The day after Thanksgiving the doctors told us he had colon cancer and they opted to do the surgery the next day rather than wait for lab results to return. When the surgeons are in a hurry to bypass procedure, you realize how severe the situation is. Luckily, the surgery went well, and Rae is currently undergoing chemotherapy for stage 3C colon cancer. He has a 40% chance of complete recovery (surviving more than 5 years). We are all very optimistic, and happy that he was able to get out on the golf course last week.
Oh, my birthday happened somewhere in that VA hospital week, but it was hardly worthy of celebration in light of the circumstances.
I stayed in LA for Christmas. This was assured to be better than Thanksgiving, and it was. At least, nobody else in my family was diagnosed with cancer or any other life threatening disease. Although, Mark did bring two truckloads of “my stuff” down to me that week. Some of this stuff has been in storage for more than 6 years. It’s completely cluttered my apartment, and I’ve only gone through a few boxes, found a few forgotten memories and a found few items for goodwill.
Christmas night Mark and I drove through Simi Valley after leaving his brother’s home. We looked at Christmas lights in some of the foothills. There were many lovely displays, and many that were mediocre as well, but all were entertaining and cheerful.
It wasn’t until we left Simi Valley that my car overheated. It took us 2 hours to drive 5 miles. We would drive two blocks, then stop to let it cool down for about 5 minutes. What a way to spend Christmas night eh?
And here comes the good news…
I was sick and tired of repairing my car. I did that math and realized it was costing me $500/month. Rather than perform more repairs, I went car shopping. It only took one day of looking at “new-used” cars to convince me I needed something new. And I got a stellar deal at my local Honda dealer. Thank you for the 5 weeks I spent in China a few years ago. 5 weeks on your own in that country will teach you how to negotiate. It’s not just what you say, it’s your body language and facial expressions.
So now I’m driving a brand new Honda Civic Hybrid. I love it. Gas mileage is great and the handling is pretty good. It’s not *easy* going from a BMW to a hybrid. There’s definitely a difference in pick-up, but I’m happy to take the reduction in gas and maintenance costs.
So, all in all it’s been pretty good.
This past Wednesday I made a nice dinner. I’ve recently signed up for a CSA. It’s part of my new year’s resolution-I’ll eat more fruit and veggies, and more variety. I eat a lot of veggies, but I tend to eat the same ones day in and out. It’s really the only reason I signed up for the CSA. It’s only $30/week (about what I spend on fruit/veggies anyway), but they deliver it, it’s organic, and I get whatever they give me. This forces me to try new foods and eat things I haven’t eaten before. It also gives me the opportunity to spend more time in my kitchen. I’ve always loved cooking. Now it’s a way for me to de-stress from work. I work all the time these days. I work online for Roger, I am running his eBay store (7 days/week), and I write freelance articles for two different companies. As much as I love my computer and my online community, the device has began to feel more like work and less like play. So the kitchen is a great place for me to get away and become more healthy.
To be honest, I’ve made nice dinners all week. Attractive as well as tasty. Wednesday I made leek risotto and something else I don’t recall. Mark and I shared a bottle of Sophia Champagne (Coppola of course). And I had a good solid breakdown while cooking and singing out loud to James Taylor’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend’. Sometimes I realize that Dad’s gone. He’s really gone. And even though I have that voicemail saved, where he tells me he loved me, it feels weird to listen to it. I’ve got to figure out how to save that before AT&T decides to automatically delete old voicemails. Anyway… that was 3 months since he’d passed, and the first time I *felt* his presence for a long time.
And I am reminded of death while consuming live organic fresh things. This weeks CSA included: bartlett pears, fuji apples, minneola tangerines, a sweet onion, leeks, red chard, red leaf lettuce, cauliflower, radicchio, and carrots.
Mmmmmm… did I mention it’s organic?