C, Melissa, and I just returned from a Thanksgiving Day/week visit to see his father, sisters, and other relatives in St. Louis, MO. I like St. Louis, MO for a few reasons:
1a) Midwestern people, or at least those residing in the Kirkwood-ish area of St. Louis, do not seem to be in total control of their cars. At least 3 times I or Melissa were almost run down in a store parking lot; C claims he was able to escape this potential fate because he's just naturally more "specialer" than us and people not in control of their cars manage to steer clear of him in a magical way.
1b) In spite of this (or maybe because of it), Midwestern people are decent, down to earth, friendly folks. Here in the metro Atlanta area, I sometimes feel like I'm more of New Yorker than a Southerner. People cut you off in traffic, stand in front of you in the steak section of the supermarket utterly oblivious to the fact other people actually exist in the world around them and may need to gain access to your area of the steak section so freaking move OKAY??, and just generally get in the way and don't seem one bit apologetic about it. Just like pre-schoolers in Toys R Us.
However, whenever I am in the Midwest--be it Oklahoma or Illinois or Missouri (really the only 3 Midwestern places I've been that I have any real knowledge about, so I don't know...maybe this opinion just reflects those Midwestern locations and the rest of the people in the Midwest are complete nincompoops) (no! no, they are not--I am kidding: I know wonderful people from Kansas and Iowa, and they are lovely). Where was I? Oh yes, Midwestern people are lovely and polite. They say "Excuse me," and "I'm sorry," when they have to pass in front of you in a store or realize they're in the way...and they often realize they are in the way, because they are not under the impression they're the only ones on planet Earth. Midwestern people are lovely, friendly, sweet, and just NICE.
2) We stay at a Marriott-run hotel when we go, the same one each time. It is near the airport, and very nice. We found it several years ago when we needed to stay in a hotel because C's dad's house had too many people in it...he sent us to a Super 8 motel nearby, which was just fine...there is absolutely nothing wrong with hotels that are clean and useful for their purposes: sleeping and showering. ....Unless there is a night of shooting/homicide in their parking lot. That's when we decided maybe not all Midwesterners are lovely, and we needed a place that was slightly more secure. So we went down the road a little and found a hotel pilots and airline attendants like to stay at, which is this place.
They just remodeled their lobby and so now when you walk in, you feel like you're walking into a really swank hotel any D-list celebrity would stay in (we won't discuss the conditions of the rooms' tubs and the fact that rich people no longer need cord phones in bathrooms to make important business calls...do important business people often make important business phone calls while sitting on the toilet? I wonder). So you feel very swank and important until night falls and you look outside your room's window and see the Hustler Hollywood Emporium across the street, all lit up like a sleazy all-year-round Christmas tree. It really puts vanity into perspective, and I love that.
3) St. Louis just feels less ostentatious than Atlanta and, I suspect, it's easier to maneuver. The Monday before we left, Anne Lamotte came to town to give a free book reading/talk about her new book. I love Anne Lamotte, and fervently wish we at least lived in the same town and went to the same church. She is funny and honest and really real. However, I had schoolwork to do so I wouldn't have to think about it when we got back, and I had to make a decision--drive 40 miles in freaky Atlanta traffic to hear one of my writing heroes speak? Or do some lesson plans and pull some other school stuff together? My priorities won this time, but only because of freaky Atlanta traffic. I'm sure if I lived in St. Louis this would not have been an issue.
So, anyway. St. Louis is nice. And it also kept me off the internet (mostly) for several days. What a nice break--do you ever think the internet, facebook, pinterest, etc. are time suckers eating our brains? Honestly, they're starting to make just quietly watching TV (TV, the 20th century time sucker/brain eater) feel like completing a Harvard course in the History of Medieval Law.
What I discovered while not consumed with mindless, brain eating internet tom foolery: I can finish reading a 400+ page book AND still be a semi-competent mother, wrote at least once in my journal (and I NEVER write in that thing--years of dust fell off it when I opened it and it gave a delighted yet shocked squeal of delight when it realized it was getting written in), and Melissa had my fullest attention ever--she was no less hyper, but far more entertaining than usual. My patience (which is never very big) grew in gigantic proportions, in mere days.
Which is why I've concluded the internet is eating my brain (yet here I am, writing on a blog....I know. But I'm writing! And writing is something I have let fallen on the wayside for far too long, so any writing--even rambling, incoherent blog writing--is healthy).
I've decided I need to get myself a schedule. I am a person who needs lists--otherwise, I can't remember who or what I am. And my child, I can tell, will also be a person who needs lists and schedules...we are both easily distracted people who prefer mindless, wasted activities to productive, creative ones. So schedule and lists it is.
On a sad note, Tasha died before we got her to the vet to put her to sleep. Several important things about this, that my soul did take note of:
*I asked God to take that decision off my plate. Because God isn't on my schedule, and doesn't act as fast as I think God should, I assumed God wasn't listening to me at all (never, ever assume God isn't listening) and so I said fine, that's how You want it? I'll go ahead and make the damn decision. I went ahead with my decision.
*I began talking to Tasha about my decision, that I was reluctant to help her move on but that she was incredibly sick and old and there was little we could do to help her get better, but that it was okay for her to let go herself. I told her I didn't think whatever is waiting for us after this is scary at all, and that she would be young and happy again, but that we would miss her so much over here on this side of the veil.
*Tasha began letting go. I noticed in small ways, but assumed (because God never listens to me) that we'd still take her to the vet on Saturday as planned.
*Melissa got sick on a Wednesday, and I stayed home on a Thursday to take care of her. Tasha started going rapidly downhill that night--so much so that I woke up C to ask if we should go ahead and take her to the vet the next morning, though I really didn't think she'd even make it through the night.
*The next day, instead of just taking care of sick Melissa, I helped sick Tasha die.
*Tasha died at 10:15 am on Thursday, November 15, 2012.
I think events like these are spiritual mile markers; events the Universe puts us through to shake us up and make us see what matters. God did take the decision making off my plate. But God also let me see why we should always be careful about what we ask for--watching Tasha go through her dying process was terrible, for her and for me. However, she has gone onto be part of God's peace, and I am left with wrenching memories of watching her die and incredible guilt that I didn't help her go over sooner so she didn't have to go through that...I won't do that again with another aging animal. Lesson learned, the hard way (as I usually like to learn all my hardest lessons, which I suppose God is already quite aware about me). But God also made sure I was there to be with her when she died, and I am thankful to him for that. And she did die at home, with someone petting her head telling her it was okay to go, just let go, until she finally did. I just wish it had been much more quietly, in her sleep (I think that's what I was thinking/hoping it would be...it was the opposite).
I miss her deeply--people who don't get attached to animals will not understand this. If I were a witch (and I am not, no matter how many times Melissa insists that I am), Tasha would have been my familiar, and my most important, best spells would all be broken now. There are signs of her everywhere still in our house--I'll find pieces of fur every now and then, and the Friday after she died I found one of her whiskers by her favorite window spot. It's always sad to come home and know she won't come downstairs to lay on the sofa next to me, or on a chair. But I think some part of her is still here; I feel her presence everywhere. I hope she understands, in whatever form she's in now. I talk to her every day, just in case she's still here.
I've started reading a book called PROOF OF HEAVEN by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who once thought the brain was solely responsible for Near Death Experiences of people claiming to have been to Heaven when they died. He claims he has evidence that dying is not necessarily a brain thing, and this also makes me want to raise my fist in a victory salute (remember in my last blog entry, how I was all: "Curses on YOU, party pooper brain scientists!"? Dr. Eben Alexander is officially off my Party Pooper Brain Scientist list). It's a comforting book...if you're a party pooper brain scientist, I'm sure you'll find a lot in it to do your party pooper arguing about. Party poopers usually do; it's why they're on my party pooper/not invited list. And if you're very fundamentally Christian, you may not like reading Dr. Alexander insisting on referring to God as "Om" and you might feel slighted because Dr. Alexander never ran into Jesus or Paul or anyone while he was over there. But I think there's still a lot of common ground people of different faiths can high five about, and when we do, we can all stare at the party poopers with looks of giant disapproval. Highly recommended, for both soul peace and world peace against all party pooping.
I'm going to abruptly end this blog post there and go make up a schedule for myself. Winter is knocking and I am at my laziest, least focused during Winter.