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SarahAnnAlien's Journal: Chicken and Shoelaces, Love and Death

Journal by SarahAnnAlien

The hotel supposedly has wireless internet access, but in practice, it only works with the screen of my iBook pressed flat against the window, held chest-high. It's rather hard to type that way. And the signal is so weak, it really is a little like trying to communicate with the Voyager space probe.

If I had a 10baseT cable, I could plug into the wired network jack instead. "Gee, Sarah, do you have a 10baseT cable with you?" Do I? What do you think, hmm?

It's very cold by the window. The air conditioner is right below the window. It's very hot outside, so the air conditioner is very nice... unless you're standing above it while cold air blows up your jammies...

I'd probably get a better signal in my car, but I'm not going to go surf the internet in my car in my jammies in the middle of the night! And I don't care enough to bother; I managed to send the important email, and the rest of it can wait until tomorrow.

Dad's house has wireless too, and the signal strength should be something more like normal. That is, if I can get on the network; I think they replaced their wireless router and I don't know what the new setup is. I hope they remember the password. I hope it has a password!

Sigh. It's been a long day.

* * * * *

I guess it was just about 48 hours ago that I was laying in bed and realized that the shoelaces were probably in the refrigerator.

I got out of bed to check... yep, there they were, right on top of the chicken.

I decided that as long as I was up, I should probably also put the chicken in the freezer, since, after all, Grandma was probably going to die.

Because, of course, if Grandma died, I probably wouldn't have time to cook the chicken right away... so I put it in the freezer.

The shoelaces are a bit harder to explain.

We're still fighting with my insurance company about covering my surgery several months ago. This has made me, intermittently, both blue and cross, so at least they believe in truth in advertising! Too bad they don't believe in returning my phone calls.

So, back on Tuesday, when I was at work and got an email from a whole different insurance company about a whole bunch of money they should be reimbursing me for, I was, understandably, just a teensy weensy bit bummed to read that they had denied 90% of my claim.

Ok, I was mad. By which I mean, of course, borderline psychotic. It didn't help that I was feeling miserable and that my nose had been running all day, and that Grandma was dying, and that the other insurance company stopped returning my calls two months ago, and that I *really* needed the money from both. I had just been pushed a tiny bit too far, and that was really the last straw. I decided to go home, which worked out, because I had already been feeling sick all day and asked to go home early. Only now, I was both sick, and pissed off at the world, and sobbing intermittently.

I stomped off to my car.

As I was getting into my car, a very nice girl was walking by on the sidewalk. She stopped for a moment, then turned to me, and asked, very sweetly, "Excuse me, could I ask you a question?"

My reply? "NO!!!!!" I screamed it in my loudest and deepest voice. The poor girl. It's so hard to find strangers again, to apologize to them. I guess it's probably easier just to be nice. Sigh.

So anyway, I threw my stuff in the car, and headed for the grocery store. To buy kleenex.

Did I mention my nose had been running? And the crying wasn't helping. Crying for a whole three-day weekend hadn't helped either.

Upon arriving at the grocery store, I decided to sit in my car and sob for ten or fifteen minutes.

* * * * *

Ok... c'mon Sarah, get a grip, we need to go shopping.

Oh, wait, don't forget to pick up the package. The grocery store has a mailbox place. I get packages there. It's my new surge suppressors. Hopefully they'll help me stop blowing through cheap DVD players.

The woman at the mailbox place is always nice to me. She notices I don't look well, and asks. I don't scream at her, but instead say something noncommittal, and try to force a smile. She seems concerned. But how would I explain, anyway?

Ok... cart... ok... get out of my way, out of my way, why is everyone in my way?!?!?! I probably shouldn't be shopping right now. Oh well.

Ok, kleenex aisle... fling boxes of kleenex into the cart. Later, it turns out to be six boxes. Oh, and do I need toilet paper? What kind of toilet paper do I buy? Do I care? Why are there so many kinds of toilet paper?!?!? I can't put up with this kind of crap... Grr... fling! Ok, we've got toilet paper.

Do I need anything else? Do you think I care, I don't care, why am I even at this stupid store... chicken. I'll get chicken. Oh, I vaguely remember liking this kind. Fling! And more chicken. Fling! And beef. Fling!

Dammit, my shoelace is untied again, for the ten-thousandth time since I got these stupid shoes. They just never stay tied. And they're too long. And they're frayed now too. Ok, they have shoelaces here, don't they? The cart and I storm off to find shoelaces.

Hmm, do I want 36 inch, 48-inch, 56-inch, or 72-inch? How the hell am I supposed to know? Don't get technical with me today, damn shoelaces! Why does the world hate me?

I decided to get the 36 and the 48's. After all, the ones I have are too long, so I think that means the odds are in my favor if I choose the lowest pair... isn't that right?

I am *not* in the mood for probability exercises right now, thank you very much! Aaargh! Fling, fling. Ok, there are shoelaces. They are fine.

I storm off to pay for the groceries. The cashier doesn't try to make small talk, thank goodness. I storm out of the store much as I stormed in.

* * * * *

As I drove home, I tried to work out whether there was a difference between "road rage" and regular rage while you just happen to be driving. And whether cars should have, in addition to hazard lights, another special set of warning lights that mean "please just don't f**k with me today, ok?"

I managed to get all the groceries from my car to my apartment in just one trip, by using the foldaway cart I keep stashed in the trunk for just such occasions. Unfortunately, I also managed to break the cart, apparently, since usually it doesn't shed little plastic bits on the sidewalk from the car to the apartment. Unfolding it with extreme prejudice may have been a suboptimal choice. Whatever.

Once I got the groceries and the remains of the cart up the stairs and into my apartment, I was home and safe, and ready to transition from "blind rage" to "sobbing uncontrollably".

I think this was right around the time that the shoelaces ended up in the refrigerator, but I can't really be sure. I wasn't really paying attention.

After an hour or so, I did manage to calm down a bit.

Once a bit calmer, I decided to re-read the email from the reimbursement company, so I fired up Apple Mail to download the message and read it in all it's annoying html-ified glory. Denied, denied, denied, hey wait, that doesn't add up to... oh wait, this column is... oh.

In my own defense, the first time I read the message, I read it using the unix "mailx" program from the command line, for reasons too obscure to be worth elaborating. Mailx predates html by a decade or two, and without an html interpreter, it was rather hard to read the table of numbers in the message...

As it turns out, they *accepted* 90% of my claim. I should get the check by next week.

Sigh.

I spent the rest of the day resting.

* * * * *

Now, the interesting question is, why was I so upset?

Well, hormones probably played a part. With me, they usually do. And we still haven't found a good, stable hormone regimen for me since the surgery. We're still tinkering. Sometimes I'm fine, and sometimes I'm a little nuts.

And part of it was probably from getting called "Sir" last week at a particular large, well known, and evil retail store. Which was probably related to the hormones too, but also poked at my frustration at not making any recent progress with certain aspects of my transition.

All of which had rolled into one big sloppy and emotionally unmanageable nightmare, which left me crying during most of the labor day weekend, interrupted only by some visits with concerned friends, and an hour or so of working in the garden, where "working" means "throwing away eight giant trash bags of dead plants from my failed garden".

Which then collided with my struggles to deal with people who knew my former self and somehow assume that I'm more or less the same person, which is seldom true, and always frustrating.

And that all crashed into my struggle to redefine my relationship with my Dad, who, after all, raised my former self, and has a more difficult challenge than anyone else in terms of unlearning about the old me and learning about the new me.

The whole mess sent me over the edge, to the point where I really had to say something to Dad.

So I wrote him a long, rambling email... after eight pages, I started over again and wrote him a shorter rambling email: Why haven't you helped me? Why have you abandoned me?!?!?!

Now, for those of you who don't have the good fortune to know my Dad, he is, quite simply, one of the nicest most giving people ever. So I was being more than a tiny bit unfair. But I was hurting, crying, and not thinking too clearly.

After the rambling email to Dad, I went out to tear down the dead garden. Once I finished with that, I needed a shower, as dragging eight bags of dirt, dead plants, and excess planter boxes to the dumpster in 100 degree weather is hot, dirty work. Then I sat down to check my email. There was a message from Dad.

Grandma's in the hospital... she's not expected to survive much longer... we're staying with her at the hospital, I'm just home for lunch... and he was generally puzzled as to why I was so freaked out. And probably hurt by some of the things I said.

And that's how I found out, on Labor Day, that Grandma was dying... by hurting my Dad's feelings.

Worst. Three day weekend. Ever.

* * * * *

Looking back on the whole situation, it makes more sense that the beginning of this week was rather a disaster, doesn't it? And that one misread email was more than I could handle.

On Tuesday night I got an email from Dad saying that the nursing home didn't have a bed for Grandma, so they were moving her to his house, and would arrange for hospice care, and if I wanted to see her one last time, I should probably come this weekend. I thought about it for a second and decided to come sooner, and my boss gave me time off, so I scrambled to get my act together and headed to his house, a four hour drive.

I've seen Grandma. Yes, she's dying. Dad spent a couple hours harassing the UPS people until they found the package from the compounding pharmacy, so now Grandma has morphine. She seems comfortable, but she's no longer very communicative.

I'm not sad... well, just a little. But not grief-stricken. This is just her time.

Since Grandma is in the "spare" bedroom, there's nowhere for me to stay... so Dad got me a hotel room.

The wireless internet doesn't work very well here.

But the new shoelaces are just *great*!

And Dad and I have talked. He still loves me. Which I knew all along. I just needed a hug and a little reassurance.

And Grandma is passing away quietly and comfortably, with her family taking care of her. Just as she had wanted.

Life is, oddly enough... good.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner

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