I hate not having the right words. It feels like a personal failing as a writer. Like why did I go into debt with that MFA if shit goes down and I can only stand there thinking “Oh fuck.” But that’s where the last couple of months have left me.
It started with Professor Furious working on a fairly demanding show. In addition to being in charge of the build, he was doing the set and lighting design. Nothing terribly unsual around here, really. I’m used to it at this point. I miss him when shows go into tech, but I know that it will eventually close and things reset. My parents were beginning their move to Small Town from Hawaii, anyway, and so I made plans to drive back home with Mini and my mom for spring break. Professor would be in the midst of the worst of the crunch, and I generally make it a policy to straight up get us out of his hair come tech week if I can. But then my aunt Noemi, who is essentially my second mother, took a fall and went into the hospital. So I pulled Mini out of school the week before spring break, and we rushed home as soon as we could. Here’s the thing, Noemi has always been the active one. I don’t necessarily mean like hiking and sporty stuff, but fiercely independent and lived for her work and her nieces and nephews. Maybe not the active one, the feisty one. She was 75 and demanding her laptop so she could work from her hospital bed.
WordPress tells me I started this two months ago. I don’t want to go into the whole hospital and then hospice thing. I don’t want to tell the whole story, but I don’t know how not to tell the whole story. But it was hard, and it was terrible. Dad finally flew in the Friday of Spring Break. I think Mini and I drove back on Sunday. A nine hour drive, just me and the six year old. We got stuck in traffic on I10 for an hour, though, so more like ten, thanks to a pretty terrible looking accident. And as we got closer to home, in the dark, in the nearly middle of nowhere, I saw flashing lights ahead, and assumed the troopers had nailed someone speeding to or from Spring Break. But no, it was a really fancy looking rv that had burned out on the side of the road. There were no more flames, just a charred frame on the back three-quarters only illuminated by the still flashing lights of the cruisers and fire trucks and road flares.
We got home and I realized our eight year old cat, Bentley, didn’t look great and smelled terrible. I thought it was his teeth bothering him. Professor Furious was only home to sleep, usually at midnight or later, thanks to the show, so he hadn’t noticed. We talked about the possibility of needing to pull some of his teeth and how much that would cost and how we’d do it anyway because we loved him.
Mom and Dad came a day or two later. We talked about Mimi and I said I didn’t think it would be a week. I think it was Wednesday that we got the call that it wouldn’t be long, about ten thirty or eleven at night. So we decided to just go. I hadn’t even unpacked yet, so I threw in clean underwear and I thought funeral clothes, but apparently I grabbed them and put them down again somewhere, because they were nowhere to be found when we got to my brother’s house. I still don’t know where they are. We drove and drove, it was so late and we were exahusted. I told the Professor what was happening via text message, because he was at work and it was midnight and we couldn’t wait for him any longer. And the call came a while later, after I had switched off driving duties with my mom. The sun finally came up, and my dad could drive, and before we were even home, in the town that will always be home, the calls and texts from my cousins began. The usual funeral planning things.
It all went moderately terribly, since my family is the worst at communication and the best at passive aggression. And we came back to Small Town before the rosary, before the funeral. And I picked up Bentley, my living stuffed animal, who usually clocked in at about 18 pounds and it was like lifting air. He’d lost two-thirds of his body weight, and the next day the vet told me he was in severe kidney failure. His numbers were all double or triple the acceptable limits. He stayed for a few days, as they pushed fluids and hoped to flush his system. Finally we brought him home, and he held on for a week, though I didn’t see him eat that entire time. And finally we called the vet and she came and we said good bye to him here at home.
A week or so later, we found out that one of our World of Warcraft guildmates, who we’d known for ten years, had passed away. A heart attack at 46. I still expect to hear his voice on Vent or see him in guild chat. It’s easy to stay in the denial phases when you can just tell yourself he works weird hours and just hasn’t been on at the same time you are.
A couple of weeks later, at the Earth Day celebration, we saw some dogs from the shelter and decided to adopt a sweet girl who’d been at the shelter for almost two years. Our dog Dyson needed a friend. He was a Catahoula-Pit Bull mix, we think. He had that big dumb love baby head and weighed close to sixty pounds but wanted to be a lapdog, and he loved other dogs. You may have noticed the use of the past tense. Galaxy got along great with Dyson, ignored the cats, and basically needed to be within a foot of me at all times. I was her person and she was going to protect me. From everyone. Finally, after a week of her nipping at Mini -catching her on the face once, though she didnt’ even break the skin- and barking at the Professor every time he came in the room, we decided we couldn’t keep her. She was sweet and loving and loyal, but only to me. That evening Dyson managed to get the back gate open. I called and called, and there was a storm rolling in and he was scared of them so I thought of course he’d come home. Galaxy came running as soon as I stepped outside, but he didn’t. And finally we gave up and left the back gate open, but I had a feeling. Sure enough, the next morning Animal Control -run by a group of the sweetest girls you will ever meet- called. He’d been hit, and they’d picked him up about twenty minutes before I noticed the gate was open. It was right behind our house. I went to bed and didn’t leave until it was time to pick up his ashes the next day. I basically traded Galaxy for Dyson’s collar and ashes. (She’s got a potential foster home, though. I talked to them about her, and they seemed like they weren’t deterred by anything I said. I hope she makes it.)
Loss loss loss… And I haven’t been able to begin to talk about it until now. Even so, I’ve cried a good bit while writing this. But I had to. There have been other things I’ve wanted to post about: the garden we slapped together on a whim because the hardware store had a huge plant sale, finding a solution for the clothes that aren’t quite dirty but it feels weird to put away and so they live sort of on the floor next to the hampers, my new job, etc.. But I felt like I couldn’t until I said all of this. Now that I’ve said it, I can try and move on. Well, now that I’ve said it, started going to therapy, and gotten a booster perscription of anti-depressants and refilled my anti-anxiety meds. (Did I mention that perscription ran out, totally out no more refills, have to find time to go in to the doctor’s office, right before all of this happened?) Oh and a couple of weeks ago, we got these two:
Makenzie and Brave Sir Robin. So expect ridiculous kitten pictures and stories.
Derby family is a phrase you hear a lot in the derby world. And it’s true. We’re this big crazy family. And it goes beyond your league. Your team, you league, that’s your immediate family. But head out into the world and meet someone from another league? They’re like a second cousin you’ve never met. It’s pretty awesome.
We hosted a clinic last Sunday. It was a very least minute affair. We weren’t sure if anoyone other than our league would turn up. We weren’t sure our league would turn up. But we had girls, and guys, from all over. Some were from River City Dames of Anarchy, who we bouted with last month. (For our first ever bout! We lost! But only by 39 or so. It was awesome! I was an NSO. This needs its own post.) Where was I? Oh yeah. So these ladies came up, a nearly 3 hour drive, at the last minute, because we said we were doing a cool thing (that started at 8 am btw) and wanted them to be there. And it was honestly good to see them. I didn’t get to chat with them as much as I wanted, but I’m glad they made it. And of course our next league over was there. We’re bouting with them on the 30th for our first ever home bout, and it’s going to be awesome. we’ve skated alongside them in a scrimmage, and last week when their practice space was unavailable, and then at the clinic. And it’s never been “omg we’re fraternizing with the enemy.” More like, omg we get to see you guys! I’m looking forward to our bout on the 30th for all kinds of reasons, but part of it is the after party and hanging out with these derby cousins of ours.
Of course, I realize this is a bit Pollyanna of me. there are leagues who share a city and don’t particularly care for each other. There are teams within leagues that don’t get along. Leagues come and go, because derby is hard. Not the skating part. The skating part is probably the easiest bit of it. Wrangling a bunch of amazing, and headstrong women? Organizing league (or even committee) meetings that work best for the largest number of people? Fundraising events, tracking down sponsors, making sure we’re by the book where it counts… that’s all hard. It’s what I call the dark side of derby. The paperwork. Figuring out how to pay taxes. Applying for our non-profit status. I can barely skate and I’d rather do ridiculous endurance drills than deal with the IRS. It’s hard and it’s stressful.
So what’s the point of this? I’m not taking my anti-anxiety/anti-depressant med. And I’m fine. I’m better than I was when I did nothing but stay at home with Mini Furious all day. I’ve got this amazing crazy family who makes my life so much better than it’s been the last couple of years. I’ve got a support system. I’ve still got therapy appointments on the books through early May, but I’m doing so much better. At the end of night, after the anti-Valentine’s dance we held, the guests were mostly gone, and it was just us and I looked around, and people were playing cards, and talking in little groups and laughing, and it was one of those movie perfect moments. After so much time counting the minutes until we could move away from Minnesota, now I’m a bit sad at the thought of leaving. We can’t stay, there aren’t any jobs for us here, and I’m not sure I could take another Minnesota winter. (At least my lungs can’t. I’m relying on my inhaler in a way I never have before. Hell this is the first time in my life I’ve had a like permanent, always with me inhaler.) But when we find out where we’re moving to, I will be finding the local derby team. It won’t be quite the same as my close knit bunch of rookies, but it will still be derby. And that’s a pretty good start.