The piece I chose to respond to this week is called “An Image of My Father” by Charles B. Snoad. It was published on April 1, 2012 in Hippocampus magazine (http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/2012/04/an-image-of-my-father-by-charles-b-snoad/). Snoad talks about dealing with bouts of severe depression he experienced as a young adult. They occurred when he became concerned about what he wanted to do with his life, and where he wanted to go. In the midst of an outbreak, Snoad found out that his father also suffered from “a schizophrenic break from reality” when he was trying to answer the same question for himself. One particularly powerful part was when he quotes his dad who said “’There’s so much you’re missing,’ he said. ‘Why do you ignore the good in life?’” This just resonated with me a lot because it is so unbelievably easy to do; ignoring the good in life. You don’t even realize you’re doing it, at least I don’t, until something happens that brings it to your attention. I try to remind myself that no matter how bad my life seems to be at any given moment; there is ALWAYS someone, somewhere who has it way worse than I do. But it is so easy to get wrapped up in my own bullshit that I become impervious to the needs of others, to the point where it is shameful. All I can do is realize how badly I have been mistaken, and work to correct the weakness in myself. Getting back to Snoad, I’m not entirely sure, but I think his dad is dead now. He never actually says so, but he says a few things that make it sound like his dad is no longer living. Overall I really enjoyed this piece.
I know you wouldn’t know it by looking at my posts, but I am a huge poetry fan. I love reading it, I love writing it, I love it. As some of you may know (if you’re in my class and read my 4th workshop essay), I had a dog named Marley growing up and I had to have her put down when I was a freshman in college in the fall of 2007. One year, for Christmas I think, my mom gave me a picture frame with a poem and a picture of Marley just before her death. To this day, I can’t read that fucking poem without crying. Even though it’s not the greatest poem ever written, it just hits home. Eventually, I’m going to write a similar poem, but I think mine will be better. I wanted to share the one my mom gave me with the rest of the world because a lot of people in my class seemed to be able to relate to the pain of losing a family pet. So here it goes:
The Last Battle
If it should be that I grow frail and weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this, the last battle, can’t be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree,
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you,
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close, we two, these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
You know how you and the other members of your family have a sort of unspoken agreement that everyone acknowledges, to see which branch of the family tree will reach the farthest? Well maybe it’s just my family; hell, maybe it’s just me, but either way I’m the second-oldest of my grandparent’s grandchildren, and I’ll be the second one to graduate from college. However, the one graduating before me is my younger cousin—the third oldest of the grandchildren. Now it’s hard not to be bitter, especially considering that I am just one semester away from graduation (not including the hours I’m taking this summer). I am unspeakably proud of my cousin, whose name is Ally by the way. I still wish I could have been first, simply because I never get to be first at anything. I have my older sister to thank for that, but she never went to college, so I really could have been first, but I ended up having to take a year off while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan because I was such a damn wreck without him. I did try to take classes the fall after he left, but I had to get a medical withdrawal because I would have failed out and lost my scholarship money. It is for that reason alone that I am not the first of my grandparent’s grandchildren to graduate, and I’m kicking myself for it now. Especially since my mom and her kids (myself included) have always been the rejects so to speak. don’t get me wrong, my family is wonderful and I love everyone in it, but if you compare my immediate family to the ones of my grandparent’s other two children who are still living to what is considered “good” or “acceptable” overall, we’d cone in dead last. My mom is the only one of her siblings who was never married, yet she has the most children and we all have different dads. Not to speak down about my mom, she is my hero, but I know a lot of people probably disagree with a lot of the choices she has made. My sister is pregnant with her fourth child and she is still legally married, but she is also engaged to the father of her third and fourth children (childs?). My little brother doesn’t know how to behave in any situation public or private. He repulses and repels anyone he meets. I will be utterly amazed if he gets into a college or university, let alone completes a degree of any kind. I have always been the smart one I guess you could say. With the exception of a few awkward years during my adolescence when I was first diagnosed with ADHD, and my medication dosage was being figured out, I have always done well with academics. Reason being that at an early age, my mother made it clear to me that if I didn’t do well in school and earn some kind of scholarship, we’d have no way of funding my education. My scholastic career is marked with certificates of achievement, president’s list memberships, honors and T.A.G. classes, and standardized test scores that are off the charts. I don’t mean to brag, I’m just trying to stress how important school has always been to me: it is my way out, my only way out. I don’t want to live in government housing and depend on of food stamps to feed myself and my children. But I digress. What I’m trying to get at here is that I think I give my mom and the rest of my family plenty of reasons to be proud of me, and deep down I know that they are, but they don’t always show it as much as I wish they would. Especially when it’s all starting to wear me down and I’m doubting if I’m capable of doing all that my professors ask of me. When I was younger (until last July) I was a smoker, so that was all I’d ever hear about: “when are you gonna quit smoking?” When I wasn’t being nagged about that, it would be the tattoos and the piercings or just my style in general (including my haircut). I’ll never forget the time my grandma looked me strait in the face and almost began to cry as she asked me why I don’t love myself! She based her decision that I don’t love myself on the fact that I like having my face pierced. We just have irreconcilable opinions of beauty. Now that I’m a bit older and married, many of my piercings have been allowed to close up, and my hair has grown out, and I even quit smoking. But now I’m getting fat (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts). I have yet to go on a single run, despite having an overflowing motivation meter. Every time I see a part of my body exposed, I am repulsed. I can’t stand it. Every time I try to put on a pair of shorts or something that I haven’t worn in a while only to find that I am no longer able to get it up over my fat ass, let alone fastened. I cannot tell you how much I hate my body this way. I cringe at the thought of running into an old friend whom I haven’t seen in a while, because I know that as they walk away they will be thinking wow, she sure got fat! I can’t take it anymore. My biggest hope is that I will be able to whip my ass into shape this summer during term A of summer classes because I won’t be working, and I’ll only have two classes. I should have more free time and more energy and I just pray that I’ll see enough of a result by the end of A term that I am encouraged to continue exercising. Hopefully, by the time I graduate in December, I’ll be in the best shape of my life!
Getting married and entertaining dreams of one day having children and starting a family of my own is really fucking scary when you come from a family so royally fucked up as mine. Nothing I do seems right, even when I’m attempting to air my grievances and possibly come up with solutions. Despite my best efforts, I can see my…“home life” has started effecting my performance in school. That really sucks since I was on track to get a 4.0 this semester. I continue to do everything I possibly can, but with each piece of bad news from the home front, it gets harder and harder to concern myself with school. My family is pretty much coming apart at the seams. And there is nothing I can do about it. It’s basically killing me. And there is nothing I can do about it. I rarely go home to visit my family, and this is why, but it’s not really fair because my grandfather is not doing so well, so I want to come see him as often as possible, but all the drama is so damn trying. How did shit get this bad? Things seemed to be doing alright for a while, but now they are far from it. How can you fix something that is so completely broken, when you don’t have all the pieces?
So this week was a shitty one, I must say, with a couple of exceptions. On Sunday I spoke to my grandpa (who has always been more like my dad) to wish him a happy Easter and all. During this conversation I learned that he has no idea what month it is when he told me that his birthday was on Friday, but it’s actually a couple of months away. He was diagnosed with Dementia a few years back, but it’s been getting a lot worse lately, he’s having more “bad days” and they’re worse and more often than ever before. I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll live long enough to see me graduate in December. Then, I got a phone call around ten o’clock Monday night from my aunt Maria telling me that my mother had to go to the hospital in an ambulance because she was having chest pains. She ended up spending the night in the hospital and having a procedure done on Tuesday so the doctors could have a look at her heart. My grandma called me that afternoon informing me that my mom has a 40% blockage in one of the chambers of her heart and she has coronary heart disease. If it doesn’t improve, she’ll have to have surgery on her heart. Those two alone were enough to ruin my week, but it doesn’t stop there. I left work early on Monday so I could try to perfect this paper I had to turn in that day at 5pm. I worked on it a little and took it to the writing center and submitted it to Georgia view at exactly 5pm. On Thursday I saw an e-mail from my professor telling me she didn’t get the paper. Also Thursday morning, I noticed a strange smell in my apartment as soon as I woke up. I thought I did something silly like programmed the coffee maker without putting the pot in place to catch the coffee, but it turned out to be my refrigerator. It was on the verge of burning the whole place down due to some wiring or something. As a result, I had to miss class for the first time all semester to wait on the maintenance man to come fix the damn thing. I was really bummed because I didn’t want to end my perfect attendance streak, but I didn’t have much of a choice. I’m just glad to be alive quite frankly. Plus, my mom’s uncle had a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest twice. He had chest pains and so his wife took him to the emergency room, and he had the heart attack right there. If it had been any sooner he’d probably be dead.
On the other hand, I finally made a trip to Atlanta to visit my mom and my grandpa, and I’ve had to delay this trip a couple of times due to homework and other things going on in my life. Also, I got promoted to Student Coordinator at the GSU Starbucks on Wednesday so I’m really excited about that (even though the pay raise won’t take effect until August!). And, everything turned out okay with that essay I mentioned earlier, thank God. Also, I went over to the Twins house and had dinner with them on Thursday with my husband and we had a wonderful time. We laughed a lot, and I certainly needed that after such a rough week.
I just can’t believe what a difficult week I have had. It seemed like the blows just kept on coming, and I didn’t know how to deal with it all. I’m not prepared to have so much bad stuff happen in such a short period of time, and I certainly hope that nothing like this ever happens again, but I know better than to believe that it won’t.
A friend of mine (you know who you are) recently lost her job and now finds an abundance of idle time on her hands. This got me thinking about my day-to-day life and my levels of free time. I always knew that my time was precious, but it is alarming how rare it is for me to have a chance to stop and catch my breath. Any time I think I have arrived at a resting point, I generally find out sooner or later that I was wrong and some assignment or project is on the verge of tardiness, which is simply unacceptable. I am perpetually exhausted, yet I am the fattest I have ever been. This is problematic when trying to begin a fitness routine, especially when the urge to sleep/rest is far more compelling than that little voice (usually my husband’s) telling me to run/exercise. However, I must get in the habit of exercising regularly—for several reasons but primarily for the sake of vanity. You see, I don’t feel sexy (because I don’t look sexy), and when a woman doesn’t feel sexy…she doesn’t want to…partake in sexy time, if you know what I mean. Let’s just say I don’t like the way I look when I’m dressed, so being nude isn’t my favorite thing either (unfortunately for my hubby). In fact, I recently realized that my thighs touch—a discovery I found rather traumatizing. This is another first for me, and I don’t like it. The worst part is that they just barely touch so when I’m walking around in shorts I get the sensation of a stray hair tickling my inner thigh—only to reach down to wipe it away and remember that it’s not a hair—it’s my big, thighs! Now let me get one thing straight, I’m not too worried about being as chubby as I am right now. It is reparable. It’ll just be a pain in the ass. I’m really not looking forward to trying to find time in my shitty schedule to do what feels like punishing myself. Especially after working a 9 hour shift! But it must be done. It’s getting hotter and hotter and I don’t know how much longer I can go around in paints all day. And I refuse to be one of those women whose butt appears to be eating her shorts, which inadequately cover…parts of her body that need to be covered. SO, wish me luck because I’ll definitely need it. Especially when it comes time for me to monitor my diet (why God, are fatty, unhealthy foods so delicious?). Sigh, this is going to blow.
For those of you who don’t know, Repticon is a convention for reptile enthusiasts. My husband and I (mostly my husband) love reptiles and we have a modest collection that grew this weekend due to our attendance at Repticon. He wanted to go to one a few weeks ago but I wouldn’t let him because the very same day he told me he wanted to go, was the day he decided would be good to tell me that one of our snakes—my snake, Lefty—had been loose for a week. I told him we could go if he caught Lefty first, but we still haven’t found him. I’m really upset about this because Lefty (a lavender albino California king snake) was the first birthday present Troy ever got for me. I’ve had him for over three years and in that time I have grown quite attached. I have watched him grow and learned his personality and I’d spend hours holding him as I read or did homework. Since Troy forgot to lock the lid of his tank in place which is why Lefty got out, it is easy for me to blame Troy, but he just forgot, he’s only human. But it doesn’t make it suck any less that it was an accident. Now it has been over a month and I am convinced that he is either dead or found his way out of the apartment (which also means he’s dead because he’s albino and not suited to living in the wild) and either way I’m not going to see or hold him ever again. I put so much time and attention into him and just like that he is gone forever.
In an attempt to ease my pain, we got a new albino cali king for me at Repticon yesterday, but this one is a female. Part of me is hoping Lefty will pick up on her sent and come back, but like I said earlier, he is more than likely dead. This new girl is a lot smaller than Lefty was when I got him, she was born in December. She isn’t used to being held either so she musks every time I pick her up. Plus I can’t think of a good name for her, and every time I hold her I miss the hell out of Lefty. We also got another ball python yesterday; a male lesser platinum. His name is Steve and he is a beautiful little snake. I wanted to take a picture to post, but Troy says he needs to settle in and get used to his new home for a little while before we go picking him up all the time. Not to mention he needs to be fed and we prefer not to get bitten whenever possible. Believe it or not, coming out of Repticon with just two new pets was really difficult. We almost got a Kenyan Sand Boa and a Black Mexican King Snake too lol, but I was able to step back and keep control of our impulses thank goodness! I’ll keep you updated on the size of both of our new family members and the progress on their behavior.
The essay I chose to respond to today is called “The General and Me” by Sue Ellis. It is from the current issue of Prick of the Spindle (http://www.prickofthespindle.com/nonfiction/6.1/ellis/ellis.htm). Ellis tells a brief story about her experiences delivering the mail to an old man who lived alone in an old cottage. The General was an alcoholic and drank rubbing alcohol after asking Ellis to buy it for him (but he told her it was for something else). She found him the next day, temporarily paralyzed, when she delivered a letter to him. Ellis says that she stopped delivering mail a few months later and she never saw him again.
This is really a sad story, especially if you consider that the General (I assume) is a military veteran, and he ends up alone and miserable to the point that he drinks rubbing alcohol. His sister seems to be the only one who cares about him. This is a very brief story, but it resonates deeply.