A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. -Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

masochism, or just plain nuts?

Hello, poor neglected blog. I've... been a little busy.

Make that a lot busy.

Make that ZOMG what was I thinking? busy.

 Yeah, nothing quite like a heapin' helpin' of WTF was I thinking, piling on this madness while dealing with, you know, the soul-crushing grief (yes, still-- and don't judge unless you've also experienced something like my 2011), the unending insanity I can't talk about in the professional realm, and have I mentioned the striking developments in my personal life? Yeah, there's a pretty big (read: taller than me!) one of those.

 But I digress. In addition to the great big ol' bag of WTFery that is my life at the present, I decided to host a 30th birthday party for my brother. At PNC Park. Yes Virginia, I'm all too painfully aware that it should have been (past participle) his 30th birthday, but you know what? Part of me wants to remind people, other people outside of my parents and myself, that my brother lived and mattered. And part of me is pissed and annoyed by how easily everyone outside of a very, very select few seem to remember that having someone so traumatically and abruptly removed from our lives pretty much alters the fundamental fabric of our existence. So, in a way, I think I'm doing this a great big F-you, my brother effing matters kind of thing.

And, you know, using this as the official kick-off to my grand tour of all 30 MLB stadiums. Should that be stadia? I'm not quite up on my Latin-by-way-of-ancient Greek. I'm hoping to hit somewhere between 5-7 this year-- we shall see... especially if I'm doing PurpleSwim again (just 5 months and change left to prepare!!!), and my BRIGHT BLAZE ORANGE swim cap perfect for open water practice just arrived in the mail today.


 Am I a glutton for punishment or what?  What is wrong with me?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A (wo)man said to the universe:

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!"
 “However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
 A sense of obligation.”

(apologies to Stephen Crane)

2012 is here (though perhaps not for too long, if the doomsayers are correct and you never know-- a broken clock is right twice a day).  I'm unspeakably relieved that 2011 is done, without any more damage wrought.  It did bring me a few presents, like divorcing parents plying their child with therapy and gifts once they realize the impact of their actions.  Which is not to say that I don't appreciate these bits of goodness-- mixed bags of success in unlikely places, unexpected love, rare moments of light that shine all the brighter against the darkness of the rest of the year.  But the darkness, the pall that has hung over my life for almost a year is still quite undeniably there.  I think I overestimated my own resiliency, especially with how difficult the holidays were.  Trust me, little can completely sap that holiday spirit like accidentally ordering Christmas presents for your deceased little brother.  Nor can I really enjoy the Steelers this season, lacking my brother (the king of Steelers criticism) and his non-stop bitching.  And so on.  Every little thing leads to a train of thought that leads back to the massive amount of grief that I'm apparently still processing.  In ultra slow motion.

So, to sum up?  It's still one day at a time.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I done did it.  And I raised $421 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  And I'm all swum out.. for now.  My shoulders and triceps have felt like they're made of lead-- not sore per se, but heavy.

I didn't do great.  I did downright awful.  But I guess everyone's got to start somewhere.

I'm sure I'll forget enough (the suffocating panic that set in through the first quarter mile, the poor performance, the extreme self-consciousness walking around in a suit among actual athletes) soon enough that I'll start pumping myself up for the next one.  Much like getting that diploma blotted out all of the stress and hardship of grad school and how I've toyed with the idea of going back ever since.

I confess.... I was back in the pool tonight.

Got to start working for next year, after all.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I'm about to leave for the pool for my last practice before tomorrow's big swim.  Just a short, kick-heavy practice.  My triceps were a little sore yesterday from Thursday's work, and then my contact started hurting on the one night I forgot my glasses and I had to cut everything short.  Bleh.  Not that it matters, because my practice has gotten so screwed up these past two weeks.

I can't say enough how I'm really tired of deaths/ funerals/ and all of that stuff.  But when I was telling my boss that, she told me that one of my coworkers is in hospice... so I guess there's going to be another one to get through before the year is over.  Joke's on me.

I've been seriously considering pulling out of the swim.  It was always going to be a stretch, and then this?  It's been terrible.  NOTHING has gone right.  Everything from a rash aggravated by chafing to a funeral to staying very late at work on a semi-regular basis has reduced time available to swim.  I am a textbook case of How Not to Prepare for Your First Open Water Event.

But my coworkers kicked in a combined $71, which put me over $300 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  And a few of them were so sweet and encouraging... well.  I was always going to be slow and make a fool out of myself anyway, right?  So here we go.  I just hope I don't drown or die from a rabid jellyfish attack.  As I said, I wouldn't even attend my own.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Here we go again.

I'm so over 2011.  Can we move on to 2012 yet?  The universe clearly wasn't done having fun at my expense this year, and now I've lost both grandmothers and my brother in the space of four months.  Of course, my training for my big swim is wrecked with just one week to go.  I'm physically and mentally exhausted.  It's not just this latest loss, that of my other grandmother.  It's the cumulative effects of so much in such a short time.  It's hard to muster up any enthusiasm for or interest in anything, let alone my first open water swim.  I'm lugubrious, despondent, disconsolate, with a side of melancholy.  Instead of excitement about Purple Swim, I feel nervous and insufficiently prepared.  I hate to admit this, but I'm struggling with maintaining interest in the now happening NFL season.  Nothing seems to matter all that much anymore.

I'm so very, very tired of death and funerals.  I would like the rest of the year off from death and funerals.  In fact, don't have one for me if I should drown or die from a rabid jellyfish attack.  I won't attend.

But now that I'm becoming something of an experienced mourner, allow me to make a few suggestions as to how to/ how not to treat the bereaved:

1. Do not comment on appearances, including attire, for the bereaved or the deceased.  The bereaved may have had to travel at the last minute and may not have had time or the presence of mind to pack appropriately.  Even if they didn't travel as great a distance, the enormity of the loss may make dressing and grooming challenging.  And even if you think they look "good," they probably couldn't care less.  Yes, my hair's back to long and blond-- do you think I particularly care if anyone likes it, when we're in front of a casket?  Noooooo.  And do not comment on the deceased's appearance at all, with the possible exception of how peaceful they may look.  So many people fed me crap about my brother looking good-- which was total bull because it was obvious he was swollen and beaten up, with heavy makeup necessary, and lying about it just drew more attention to the obvious.

2. Do not discuss politics or religion.  I'm more intimately aware than the average bear about what's going on in politics, but I don't really want to hear a political debate in front of a casket.  And do not offer platitudes about how "God has a plan" or that the deceased is an angel/ is with the angels or similar such sentiments unless you are absolutely certain that the bereaved would find such sentiments comforting.  For example, I consider myself a marginal verging on lapsed, extremely liberal eastern rite Catholic and I find none of those sentiments comforting in the least.  I also have 13 years of Catholic education, and I will smack down your misinterpretation of doctrine regarding angels if you annoy me enough.

3. Do not tell the bereaved what they need to do unless they actually need to do it.  Yes, get them something to eat/ drink, to sit down or to sleep.  But don't tell them to call-- you call them.  Don't tell them to email-- you email them.  Don't tell them to visit-- you call or email and invite them.  Why?  Because the phone works both ways, email works both ways, and you're an insensitive berk if you don't realize that lots of people say nice things they don't mean and make promises they don't intend to ever keep, so how should the bereaved know which is sincere and which isn't?

3.a. As a corollary to 3, do not lecture the bereaved for not doing something that you think is important unless a) it actually is important and b) you're not a huge hypocrite about it.  And even then, don't lecture.  You're probably not a professor, and even if you are?  It's not class time.  I may also be a little irritated that my grandfather lectured me about not calling when he's never inquired after my or my parents' well-being after losing my brother and only offered the scantest words at the time.  It was only for the sake of keeping peace that I didn't snap back that I only returned all of his calls while I've been wrestling with the crippling depression that came with losing my brother.  Oh wait, that's right.  No calls to return.  I can count the calls from anyone outside my parents and closer friends on one hand.

4. Do not make promises you won't actually keep.  It makes it difficult for the bereaved to figure out who they can really trust and rely on when the shock wears off and the actual, long-lasting mourning begins.

Finally, a "do":

5. Do shut up and just be there.  Talk is cheap, unless it's at 2am and you're willing to talk to someone suffering through grief-wracked insomnia.  Hugs, alcohol, and ice cream are even better.