9 years gone, 9 years too long…

When my grandfather died, we all put our own mementos in his casket: sentimental photographs, print-out copies of lyrics to songs, and dirt from the fields he spent decades upon decades tilling, planting, and harvesting. Each was a remembrance, a memory, a hope that maybe these things could help him cross to the other side and us let him. It was our pithy way of feeling like we might have some control over the situation.

After the funeral, the burial, the melancholy luncheon that allows everyone to feel temporarily normal–as if we were at a family birthday instead of a funeral reception–and so painfully punctuates the reason why we are gathering in the first place (Who would sit at the head of the table? Who will say grace), we were back at my parents house, changing back into our ordinary clothes, pretending to not feel hollow.

I walked upstairs to my childhood room that already felt unfamiliar after only 1 year at college, and passed my dad, undoing his tie in his room.

“Hey kiddo.”

“Hey dad.”

We talked awkwardly, professionally, about details of the day’s events: who was there, the name of the woman in the choir who sang amazing grace, the quality of the meatballs served afterward.

“What did you put in Pop Pop’s coffin?” he finally asked.

I mentioned the lyrics (“I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” and “In My Life”) and the letter (I honestly can’t remember a single word I wrote), then listed the things my sibling and cousins had included.

“What about you dad? Did you put anything in there?”

“I put my father in there… And that was the hardest part.”

06.28.02: Miss you, Pop Pop

Father knows best

I was probably 9 or 10 years old? I was already working on the farm full-time in the summer, and my cousins and I were making boxes (this process involves this big, stapler machine–at least for the ones that hold the heavier produce). Anyway, as we were working, we noticed this little baby bird had hopped over under the packing shed. This thing was little–barely could open its eyes–and we were worried that it would get hit by one of the forklifts. So, we found a small box, filled it with those cloth-like paper towels that come in a box (rag-in-a-box, I think it’s called?), and then maneuvered the baby bird into the little refuge we created for it. Continue reading

the only complaint is that it’s not 30 hours longer…and not permenantly streaming in my brain.

My friend Vince introduced me to this one a couple months ago. I liked it when I heard it, but I got distracted by work and life and after listening to it a couple times that first day, I saved it on a play list and a filed it away. But the song found its way back to me, a lyric or 2 swirling around my head at various times and its melody haunting  me. I finally replayed it a few weeks ago and have not been able to stop since. I need to put together a new summer mix soon, and this will definitely be on there.

Anyone out there have any new tunes they’re obsessing over?


I got a brand new pair of rollerskates; you’ve got a brand new key….

So, while people have been flocking to the shore on their Saturdays, trying to soak up some beach and sun, I’ve been throwing on knee pads and wrist guards and borrowed skates and looping around in infinite circles at the skating rink where I grew up taking lessons and attending birthday parties.

I decided about a month ago I would try out for roller derby, much to the chagrin of most of my family and befuddlement of many friends. Continue reading

Really, Sallie Mae?

One of the blessings that has come from our whole apartment-we-were-moving-into-didn’t-have-a-certificate-of-occupancy-and-we-didn’t-find-out-until-we-had-moved-out-of-our-other-apartment-so-now-we’re-living-at-my-parents’-for-the-summer debacle is an increased cash flow, which means D and I can take this time to get our fiances in order and pay off our debt. My first order of business in doing this was paying off the remainder of my student loan, so I can officially say the degree that I earned is mine, and no longer partially owned by Sallie Mae.

I paid off the balance in May and excitedly waited for the “Congratulations–we no longer own your soul!” e-mail, but it never came. I finally logged back into my account to admire the zero balance and found that even though my payment had been processed before the actual due date for the loan, I was still charged interest on the balance. The amount? 2 cents.

I was slightly annoyed by this, slightly amused, and debated how to handle the remaining balance. Should I just go ahead and pay it online? Send them 2 pennies in the mail? Write a 2-cent check and mail it along with a snarky little letter? Or maybe not pay it at all and see what would actually happen… (I imagined one day I’d end up being featured on the yahoo main page for “weird but true” news stories: “Woman’s 2-cent student loan balance accrues to $10,000 after not being paid for 40 years”).

I finally decided to just bite the bullet and pay the pithy amount, and hope my opportunity for 15-minutes of internet fame would come elsewhere (and hopefully not come by way of arrest/public “wardrobe malfunction”).

However, I realized paying this amount would not be as easy as I expected… Continue reading

the drugs don’t work/they just make you worse/but I know I’ll see your face again…

In my profession, I have worked directly/indirectly with pharmaceutical companies for about 4 years. This has been a bit of a moral struggle for me, between the animal testing and my feelings about profiting off other people’s pain. I try to remain positive about it–to think that there is a “greater good” to this industry–that these corporations are trying to legitimately help people and aren’t just a larger network of charlatans, peddling snake oil and potions to will cure everything and nothing.

But last night I inexplicably became awash with rage as I watched my mother diligently take her handful of pills one by one as we sat at the kitchen table. This has become as routine as eating or sleeping, going to the bathroom, or putting on her shoes. In fact, the other night when I was helping her get ready for bed, she instinctively held out her hand after we finished brushing her teeth, anticipating that I would hand her meds and glass of water. I think about long she’s been taking these medications and how much her condition has worsened in the past year, and beyond that, the past 5 years since her official diagnosis, and I wonder how much good any of it’s actually doing her.

I know there is no cure–I know all the treatments are essentially a crap shoot, and frankly the only thing we can do at this point is cling to the hope these pills bring–not hope for a cure, at least not for my mother, but a hope that it will keep what we have left of her with us a little longer. Beyond that, I have to let go of my cynicism and conspiracies enough to believe that the companies making/manufacturing/selling these drugs have my mother’s–and their other patients’–best intentions in mind.