Family Camp

Like any other family road trip, this had to start with an invasive procedure because SOB needed to make sure that I was healthy enough to drive 8 hours to Cape Cod for family orientation weekend at camp.  (SOS is going this summer; I am not, although in my mind, I am at Wingate, 1972-81.)

Of course, SOB had to take a picture of the ENT doctor’s putting the scope up my nose and down my throat.  The doctor waited about a second after he injected a numbing agent to start the scope.  Needless to say, I felt everything.

photo

After the scope, SOB declared me fit for travel.

“I feel so much better now that we had this procedure done.”

“Who ‘we’, [SOB]? I was the one with that camera up my nose and down my throat!!”

“Details,” concluded SOB in a most satisfied manner.

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It was an epic schlep to cold and rainy Yarmouth.  I forgot that camp is outdoors.  Even when we were in the bunks, we were not that much removed from nature and all those creepy, crawly things.  And, certainly, not the cold and wet weather.

SIDEBAR:  I was (must have been) far more rugged as a child.  Now, I merely whimper in the drizzle.

There was no heat in the bunk where we stayed.  ACTUALLY, the camp owners FORGOT to tell us about the heat, so we just froze unnecessarily.  Well, at least SOS was comfy in his super-duper-good-for-the-tundra sleeping bag.  POB and I were not so fortunate. Will (you know who you are), I am deducting from camp tuition any co-pays on any cold meds POB and I need to purchase this week.  And we are expensive patients.  Just sayin’.

I tried to give SOS a wide berth so he could feel independent and get to know the camp and its lay-out on his own.  But, there were some activities that I had to watch.  It was Mom who made me watch when my little baby was in harm’s way with only one life preserver (not discernible in the photo).  photo

Mom wanted me to feel her anxiety, and more importantly, continue her tradition of writing psychotic letters about real and imagined horrors of sleep-away camp.  To channel Mom, I need a mental (and actual) picture on which to concentrate all my anxiety while he spends SEVEN weeks away from his loving (read:  over-protective) mother, doing any number of life-ending activities.

And I didn’t even show the picture of archery WITH REAL ARROWS.

SIDEBAR:  Ok, Will (you know who you are), I am deducting sedatives from the camp tuition.

SECOND SIDEBAR:  Pearl (you know who you are), you are so lucky that Mom didn’t do the same.  Just sayin’.

Put one of those arrows in my heart and get it over.  Mom, if you are listening from Heaven, WALK AWAY FROM THE PHONE.  No grandchild of yours is playing with bows and arrows.  Did I mention that each arrow is doused with curare?  OOOOOooops, but Heaven is not listening, thank G-d.

Because of the rain, campfire was indoors.  (no, Mom, they have sense enough not to start a REAL fire indoors.)  The current owners invited those of us who had been campers in decades past to light the fire (figuratively).  It was moving.

It was also a passing of the torch from one generation to another.

The place had echos of the camp of my youth, but it is a different camp.  A camp that SOB, BOB, and POB can share with SOS, but different enough that it will be his special experience alone.  And that, for all my nostalgia, is what matters.

SOS had a great time, in the rain.  Which means, he will have an extraordinary time in the sunshine this summer.

The question is: will I survive his summer away?

 

 

 

Seinfeld and the Gang — Part 3: The Love Hangover

Every generation has its sci-fi flick about hell having no fury like an artificially intelligent computer scorned.

And, because I am partial to women, my own personal horror flick would probably have a robot/computer who looks like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (www.imdb.com/title/tt0093010/).

NOTE TO ALL:  I really do not spend much time thinking about this.  Really.  No, really!!

All I can say is welcome to our new family relationship with mini storage.  On Saturday, both my cousin and I engaged (grudgingly) in the ceremonial coma-signing of more paper than anyone could imagine for less than 100 square feet of real estate (even in New York).  On Tuesday (today), we were both sent TWO questionnaires about the quality of service and attention and our overall experience when renting the storage space.  I guess the computer really wants to feel the love.  Whoa.

SIBEBAR:  Maybe, my cousin, who is straight, would agree on my choice of Glenn Close.  Note to self: ask cousin about his ideal pyscho stalker.  P.S.: try not to freak him out by the question.

We exchanged ooked-out emails about the incredible attention paid to our mere rental, albeit on the NEW 9th floor of the facility.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking about the movie adaptation:  trapped with the devil on a non-existent floor of an apartment building . . . maybe a twist on Rosemary’s Baby?  Paging Mia Farrow (even if you looked like a pre-adolescent boy in that movie and really DID marry Woody Allen).

I told my cousin that maybe he should have thought to send flowers and candy, because they know where we live.  He did not respond to that email.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking that I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will freak him out.  I already have.

But, hey, I am still not as scary as a computer in need of love and affection.

 

Seinfeld Gang and me, Part II

Picking up from the prior blog entry:

SOB and I park the car and go to AROB’s house.  POB meets us there.  Our cousin and his wife are already packing things up.  This is a hoarder’s home.  Don’t look too closely.  POB had to leave in short order.

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We box up anything and everything of value — sentimental or otherwise.  We load into the BIG F’ING rental car and we all drive down to the storage place.

SIDEBAR:  Did we ever determine whether I needed a trucker’s license and a tattoo?

I had two emails from Alan Dumpit, my reservation number and the memories of two inane conversations to poison my mood as soon as the guy behind the counter welcomed us, and wanted to understand our storage needs.

“I told this all to Alan Dumpit!”

“Why are you not smiling at me?  This is all good.  Alan isn’t here and I want to welcome you and make sure you are getting what you want.”

“I want a storage room big enough to store a one bedroom apartment equivalent of stuff.”  [Of course, if we were talking about all the stuff crammed into that apartment, then I would need a McMansion sized locker.]

“Who is renting the storage space?”

OMG.  SOB doesn’t understand why I am foaming at the mouth.  She doesn’t know the whole back story.  [Until she read it last night in the last blog entry.]

“I am, but it will be under my cousin’s name.”

“So, I should be talking to your cousin,” and, as he turns, I realize my poor cousin is a sitting duck, “Let’s discuss what your needs are . . . .”

After I watch my cousin endure the “creation of the storage relationship” phase for 30 minutes, I take pity and I interpose my credit card between the men and offer to move on to the paying ceremony.

photo(3)

Oh no no no no.  We had not begun the ceremonial paper signing phase of the new relationship.  That required two storage consultants to get the papers and involved initialing obscure provisions everywhere in the documents.  My cousin and I were not exactly robo-signing; I think we were more probably coma-signing. I was waiting for incense, holy water and Aaron’s priestly blessing.

And, of course it was a very, very special day because, we were told, it was the grand opening of the 9th floor of the building.  Still, no discount; instead, overpoweringly toxic paint smells and near-deafening drilling noise.

Finally, we were all initiated into the storage community, complete with the ceremonial handing over of the dead bolt.  I was, in fact, a little disappointed about the absence of incense, holy water and Aaron’s priestly blessing (especially since the latter is in this week’s Torah portion).

We ran to claim the dollies to haul the stuff. Or, rather, we ran FROM the storage consultants.  We unloaded the behemoth of a car and did a quite respectful send-up to Four Stooges and The Marx Brothers, as we dropped boxes, scraped the newly painted walls and drew a little blood from each of us.  The race to the elevators from different aisles was kind of fun, too.

Finally, the FAB FOUR put Aunt R’s valuables and effects in a safe (if toxic) place and closed that dead bolt, baby.  (SOB, photographer.)photo(2)Relief and laughter broke out as we got back into the BIG CAR, and I asked, “any other justice need dispensing? We have the car until tomorrow!”

To review:

  1. AROB was buried by two cornerstones of family (her chosen family and her family of origin) in a plot that will have her headstone.  CHECK
  2. ULOB’s rights, etc., are resolved.  CHECK
  3. AROB’s sister is being looked after and my cousin and his wife are rehabilitating the souls of a generation who neglected her.  CHECK
  4. Apartment to be given back to Landlord.  HALF CHECK  (some things need to happen still)
  5. My cousin needs his well-deserved, if surprising, inheritance.  OPEN

SOB and I will be there to help with the last points.

SIDEBAR:  But first, after this day, we needed some wine and hors d’oeuvres.

We will be there to help because our cousin and his wife are good and kind people who are generous with their time and concern.   And by helping AROB’s sister, they (who are not Jewish) are doing charity in AROB’s name as is Jewish custom.

And I think for SOB and me, through this excruciating process, we have accepted that AROB had flaws that recalibrate our views of her present but don’t tarnish our visions of her as a hero of our youth.  I know I have gone from harshly judgmental to willing to allow that there may facts I will never know that may be kinder to AROB’s choices.

This week, we will tackle Item 4.

Stay tuned.

 

The Seinfeld Gang and me, PART 1

SOB and I believe in sharing every heart-wrenching or morbidly humorous moment (sometimes all in one) of taking care of our elders.  If one of us has to handle an elder matter alone, it is recounted with every excruciating detail, so that the other commits the event to the collective memory.  Invariably, at some point in every vignette, SOB turns to me and says, “this was on Seinfeld.”

SIDEBAR:  I was never a fan of Seinfeld.  Now I know why.  I live it.

So, join us, won’t you on our excruciating journey on Saturday.  But first we need to start with a little back story.

BACK BACK STORY: Aunt R. is buried.  Her undead sister has been found, and our newly-found cousin and his wife, by their sheer gentle souls, have gotten the sister to speak after decades of silence.

The apartment is still a hoarder disaster.  The landlord is starting eviction proceedings. My ersatz cousin needs SOB and me to pull him out of the abyss, because it is dragging him down, and he is overwhelmed.

“[Cousin], on Saturday, we are taking the valuables to storage in the name of the estate and then you can give up the apartment.  SOB and I will cover the costs.”

“I can’t let you do that.  I can’t let you pay for the lawyers —-“

“[Cousin], [SOB] and I are committed to put all of AROB’s affairs in order.  You enabled us to bury her with dignity, you have looked out for ULOB’s interests, and you have rehabilitated the souls of that entire generation by visiting [undead sister] because, at long last, someone claimed her as family.  So, let me get the storage.  Really, this is easy.”

MORE RECENT BACK STORY:  I go online and reserve mini-storage locker big enough for the valuables. I receive a confirming email from “Alan Dumpit”.  You cannot make up his name.  Then Alan calls me to discuss storage conceptually and what I was hoping to gain from my storage experience.  No joke.  Because there can be no joking with a “storage consultant” named Dumpit.  It wouldn’t even be funny if his name were Storeit.  We went over everything I did on the website.  I thought that is why I chose the impersonal route of using a computer so that I could keep this a non-relationship.  No strings. I never wanted anonymity so much as in that conversation with Mr. Dumpit.

Then, he offered me something and, I hesitated, thinking this would cost something, but I realized that if I could throw a few more dollars at this conversation to end it, it was soooo worth it.

So, I get a second email confirmation from Al the Dumpster (we are close now).  Friday, I get a call from A the D just to make sure I was coming, as if maybe he would be waiting with flowers.  I expect this stuff from people at funeral homes, but mini-storage?

I was freaked out, but AROB’s apartment freaks me out more (you will see) so I resolved to have sedatives at hand on Saturday.

THE BIG DAY ARRIVES. (subtitled: SOB and Blogger dispense some justice, resolve some issues, all without delaying cocktail hour)

SOB and I meet at the Hertz Rent-a-Car near our apartments.  I have reserved a big SUV to haul the stuff to storage.

“I am sorry, we have no cars.  We were all out of cars by 9am.  That train wreck [MetroNorth tragedy] really messed up our inventory!  It’ll be 20 minutes.  Will a compact do?”

Waitwaitwaitwait.  I reserved a car.  A BIG car.  I am a Gold member (obviously a waste of money).  My reservation was backed by a credit card.  And my “customer service representative” gave away my car.  No apologies.  Nothing.

“Um, actually, I need a big car.  That is why I reserved an SUV.  Why did you give away my car?”

“I can’t really answer that, but allow me to provide you with excellent customer service in getting you another car.”

So many thoughts, some criminal, were playing bumper cars in my head.  I was speechless. I hear Quay (my alleged customer service representative) on the phone to another Hertz outlet, saying:

“The customer would like a big car.  Do you have one at your location?  Yes, she would like an upgrade.”

WAITWAITWAITWAIT.  Noooo, I don’t want an upgrade.  I want the car I reserved magically to appear before my eyes.

“We have a car for you at 40th Street and Second Avenue.  There will be a $75 upgrade fee.  But we will pay for your cab [later, I learned that doesn’t include the tip] to that location.”

“I don’t want to pay for an upgrade.  I have a reservation —–”

She interrupts, “Shall I add that amount to your bill and reserve the car for you?”

I had an epiphany.  Hertz employs genetically engineered pod people to act like flight attendants in economy class.  I snap.  But SOB takes control of the situation and calms me down (threatening in-patient treatment at the psychiatric ward of a local hospital) and redirects the conversation to a more fruitful, if more costly, conclusion.

We did get a BIG F’ING CAR.  We city dwellers do not drive these behemoths.  I wasn’t sure whether I needed a trucker’s license and a tattoo.  If I were in a highway rest stop, would I go in the car lot or the truck lot?

 

photo(7)SOB and me.  I’m driving wild and crazy and she is riding shot gun.  We drive past where HOSOB is having lunch with Dad.   I cross several lanes of traffic so SOB could take a picture of them through the window of the coffee shop and send it to everyone’s smart phones.  We are the law.  The city was never sooooo dangerous.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Tired of coughing

I have been coughing for 4 weeks (although not contagious for three of those weeks).

But the sleepless nights with incessant spasms of hacking cough have taken a toil on my health and sanity.  (And the couch isn’t so comfortable.)  I am sick and tired of being sick and tired and my malady is really just a supersized stubbed toe.  So, it is hard to take up anyone’s time with it.

SOB insisted that I see Dr. Mary and accompanied me to the visit.  Dr. Mary listened and said, “It sounds like pertussis [whooping cough], but if it were pertussis, you would have infected half of the city by now.”

Reassuring.

SIDEBAR:  Why do people call it whooping cough?  It sounds so deceivingly innocuous.  Reminds me of when I was a kid and everyone was talking very heatedly about Youths in Asia and Men in Jitus.  Why were the Youths in Asia being killed and the Men in Jitus having very serious brain stem problems?  Only later did I have that Eureka moment:  euthanasia and meningitis.

From a breath test, she was able to determine that this is one big allergic response. But to what is still an unknown.  She set me up for blood tests and xrays, etc.

To relax my lungs, she put me on steroids [Just call me Blogroid] and said, “this will make you puffy and really hungry, so you might gain weight.”  Wow, really? How come when men take performance enhancement steroids, this doesn’t happen.  This is totally a bummer and gender bias to boot.

But that is not all, “You must rest your vocal chords.  They are very strained.  You cannot speak [or cough] unless necessary.”

But Dr. Mary, I am a lawyer — as in “have mouth, will speak”.

I cannot even imagine the glee with which so many people will receive this news.  Already, The COB is doing a little jig in the office.

But I can kick box.  So, be afraid.

Mother’s Day Weekend

Dear Mom:

I miss you and, just between us, Mother’s Day is really all about you.

But CLSFOB (camp/law school FOB) helped me reach an epiphany.  We were talking before the weekend (she, too, is a mom) and she wished me a happy Mother’s Day.

I, of course, responded:

“It is about my mom and she is gone.”

“Wow, so [SOS] doesn’t celebrate you or anything?  It is just a sad day?”

“Well, I didn’t mean it that way…”

SIDEBAR:  Ok, yes, yes, I did.

“But he should be able to celebrate!! Does he feel the heaviness?”

SIDEBAR: OK, CLSFOB, I get it.  Sheeeesh.  I should introduce you to SNOBFOB. 

“Move on, Counselor, you’ve made your point.”

I was getting testy because CLSFOB hit a chord.  But she was right.  

So, this weekend, I have tried to be more open to taking my position as MOM on Mother’s Day. And it feels good.  Ok, not so good, but better than I thought.  But I am not going to say that CLSFOB is right again.  Nope.  Not gonna do that.

To tell you the truth, I feel a little like a mom with Dad.  And I think SOB does, too.

I had the “Dad call” this weekend.  SOB was in the ICU and saving lives (just not ours).  So, I had lunch with Dad on Saturday and we all went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today.

I chronicle the days so BOB and SOB feel like they were there.  The emails are entitled “This Day in Dad”:

“Dear [SOB] and [BOB]:

I had lunch with Dad today. Dad tried to hide those scam solicitations [that target the elderly] from me when I picked him up. But I commenced a search and rescue mission with critical help from [home aide]. I rescued Dad from an entire shopping bag’s worth of scams and shams. In the midst of the junk, there were important papers. Aaargh.

We may need new night people. They do nothing apparently and Dad cleans up after them. They don’t help him with personal hygiene. That’s a big part of the job.  But, I don’t know if I can deal with trying out new people.  I am tired just thinking about that process.

Worked up an appetite by the time we got to the Coffee Shop of the Undead. I ordered a large Greek salad and a hamburger deluxe and the waiter asked if we expecting another person. I replied that I am quite hungry and quite capable of finishing both before my companions finished their meals. I didn’t disappoint.

Dad wondered why Sam wasn’t at the coffee shop.  I had a moment:  was Sam no longer UNdead?  But, phew, it turns out that he is still alive, but failing unfortunately.

We had a perfectly lovely lunch. After I left, he handed [home aide] a sweepstakes envelope with a check in it to mail. He didn’t want me to see it. So he is not as clueless as everyone thinks. She called me and I told her not to mail it.

Then, because I am a glutton for punishment, I went to ULOB’s bank branch to get more information for AROB’s nephew so he can have a proper paper trail of what was transferred to ULOB when AROB died.  I get why he is stressed out but I really want to introduce him to some “chill” meds.  Now I feel bad thinking that because it turns out he was spending the day with AROB’s newly discovered UNdead sister in the psychiatric facility.  He is a good and kind man. I am not as good and kind.

End of Report.

Love, [Blogger]”

Of course, these emails engender discussion:  BOB wants me to take away his checks (I did that once before and he just went to the bank and got more) because he can’t discern good charities from bad ones and he likes to enter sweepstakes. BOB worries that Dad is well intentioned but vulnerable and impaired.  SOB observes (correctly) that he likes to feel generous with charities but maybe he will accept some oversight (not so confident about this part of the assessment).  I think that he really needs to conserve resources but I cannot take away his checks but I don’t want him to think he is running out of money.  Too emasculating.  With no more emails flying, the debated ends.  Because I have the final say (for now), I render a reasoned decision (for now).

Decision for the day (mine):  We continue to run a loose ship, with BOB dissenting.  I have no extra time to be the enforcer.  It will not be perfect.  It just has to work.  Most of the time.  We will review the status quo weekly and re-calibrate as necessary. Signed, [Blogger], President of Dad, Inc.

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Today, we had a great time at the Met.  SOS walked a lot with Dad.  They are quite bonded.  I can imagine how happy you would be seeing them together.

After the Met, we went to a coffee shop that just doesn’t cater to the Undead.  What a nice change in scenery, but the turn-over in big tables was not as fast.  At this coffee shop, the patrons probably buy green bananas.

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So, after almost 11 years, this was my first Mother’s Day where I accept wearing that mantle.  I will never forget you on Mother’s Day or on any other day, ever.  It is just that being mom to SOS and in loco parentis to Dad may entitle me to an honorable mention today and a little celebration.  Then, again, SOS didn’t make cards, so I tortured him and now I am not such a good mom.

I love you,

Blogger

Hobbies and Diversions

SOS is taking trumpet lessons now.  Louis Armstrong is his hero.  SOS blows out sounds that only his moms could think were dulcet tones.

Although he doesn’t read my blog (thank G-d), he wanted me to take a picture of his trumpet and post it here.  I told him that when he is older, I will post a picture of him wearing awesomely cool sunglasses and playing the trumpet.  He really liked that idea.

I was telling a friend about SOS’s new avocation.  She said, “THAT’S what you need!  You have too many things going on in your life.  A hobby will relieve the stress.  Either that or yoga.  Because you look like hell.”

Sidebar:  Friends try not to let friends look like hell.  I guess. Also, if I have too many things to do, how is adding another thing going to help?

I recounted this story to another friend.  She thought for a moment.  She got serious.

“I have two comments.  One, you really don’t look that bad given all the things that you are balancing and how sick you have been and —

Sidebar:  Damning with faint praise.

two, some people can do yoga or play an instrument or collect stamps.  You and I?  We are stress collectors.  That’s what we do.”

Finally, an avocation, with a built-in diagnosis and guilt relief.  For a middle-aged New York Jewish woman with Woody Allen-like angst, it is a cultural trifecta.

And I am already doing it.  Phew, what a time saver.

Too bad it doesn’t come with a prescription for the migraines and illnesses that never seem really to go away.  Paging Dr. SOB.