We’re limping to the end of the school year and the soccer season.  Honestly, how is it that the school year is still going? It feels like Nico has been in fourth grade for 65469898 months.

Since he has been old enough to entertain himself (more or less), I stopped stressing about summers and days off.  When Nico was little, it could be stressful trying to figure out what to do with him when he was out of school and I still had to work.  Particularly during those times when I switched jobs and didn’t have any PTO or that one spring break when the guy I was working for was a real son of a bitch and didn’t “get” childcare issues.  I said what I said.

For about the last 2 years though, I crave summer.  During the school year, we have to get Nico up for school between 615-630.  It was 6am when we lived in North Park.  Then it went to 615 when we moved to Rogers Park.  Back in March, we chopped the routine down further, so that we can get him up at 630 and still *mostly* make it to school on time (which starts at 730).

But because I don’t want Nico to be a surly bastard at school, it means we have to get him in bed by 930.  I mean, I would prefer that he is in bed at 900.  But sometimes a lot of times, we will settle in on the couch to watch a Cubs game and he’ll fall asleep there. Even so… right now we have three sports going on: judo on Mondays, soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays, baseball on Wednesdays and Fridays, Me playing soccer on Wednesday night, Dave playing soccer on Friday night.  Not to mention the myriad of baseball and soccer games that happen on the weekend.  Most nights that we have some type of practice, we’re getting home at 8pm.  Which means that we are whipping through the night, getting dinner, showers, homework done, etc.

But that is only because we have to have a dropdead time of 9-930 for bed.  When Nico doesn’t have school the next day, nights are luxurious.  We take our time with dinner… I don’t have to crack the whip at Nico and Dave.  We can listen to music and read and go to bed when we are ready.  Sometimes, if Dave is still working and Nico isn’t ready to sleep… I’ll go to bed when I am tired. Or early if I want to catch the gym in the morning.

In my opinion, we don’t talk enough about how much of a beat down the school year is for parents.

In any case, this is the first year that we haven’t signed Nico up for park district summer camp.  The first two years, he was really into it.  But he’s nine now.  And has a play station, ipad, ipod touch.  And wifi.  And a dad that works from home.  So, we have had progressively more resistance to going to summer camp… which I don’t really blame him for.  I would be the same, particularly since some of most relaxing times involve laying on the couch reading stuff on my phone.

We have some plans though… Nico would like to do a lot more crafting this summer.  Which is absolutely fine with me.  We need to overhaul his room and I want to get a crafting nook/work space in his room that I can just stock with stuff from my craft closet.  And stuff he wants to learn to do.  Also, despite the fact that I seem like I am on him all the time to stop being a dickhead about stuff, he is actually fairly mature.  I would be proud to pop into any pottery studio or any place that is doing craft stuff with him and I think he’d be all in.

Some of the things we’d like to do this summer:

  1. Do some of the crafts on 5 minute crafts (Nico and Jessi).
  2. Learn to paint with water colors (Nico and Jessi).
  3. Practice french (Nico).
  4. Piano or guitar lessons (Nico).
  5. Get a planner set up for next year with quotes, pics, etc (Nico).
  6. Learn to use a camping stove (Jessi).
  7. Lake Michigan Circle Tour (Jessi, Dave, and Nico).
  8. Craft nook for Nico’s room (Nico and Jessi).
  9. Purge craft closet (Jessi).
  10. Lego robotics lessons (Jessi and Nico).

I think this has the makings of a fun summer!

Smug A What?

Do you wanna feel better than others for a minute?  Do you want to be smug for just half a second?

There is a thing I have been doing… mostly it started just to mess with Facebook and Instagram’s logarithm.  I should start by saying, I am not even all that mad at the idea of logarithms.  I mean, if you’re going to put ads in my feeds, I would rather see adds for books, notebooks, pens, food, bags, snacks, and crafts and NOT dick pills, HRT, and ANY MLM. Truthfully, January was blissful in my feed because it was all bags all the time.  Kickstarters for new bags, newly designed and produced bags, bags *clearly* made in China, ads for accounts that review bags.  It was great.  That is some logarithm shit I can get on board with.

So, a few months ago, something in my profile on Facebook pulled in an ad for a newly published romance/erotica book.  Which is interesting, because it is the genre of books I find least interesting and because I don’t have all that much time to devote to reading, and don’t read for pleasure all that often.  At all.  And, because of the sections I walk through at any given book store or library, they are the books I am least likely to pick up/acquire, and read willy-nilly.  And you can bet your ass that I am not blowing an Audible credit on a romance/erotica.  No.  Just no.

My initial intrigue at what part of my profile flagged the logarithm set to display this romance/erotica book in my feed was soon replaced by three things:

  1. Interest in the “genres” of these novels.
  2. What clicking on any of these ads would do to future logarithms.
  3. The comments.  The comments are always entertaining, but also make me sad for humanity.

First, these genres are ridiculous. So, when you go to Amazon to see the listings for these books, there are tags to let the reader know generally what the content is: standalone or series, cliff hanger, hotwives, first time, billionaire, baby, bad boy, boss, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, etc.  Which is unreal because that’s giving away a big part of the plot, don’t you think? So, you go to a listing for a book and in the about section and comments, etc, a big part of the book is told to the reader up front. For me, it removes any premise that these books are written for literary enjoyment.  That is not their purpose.

Also, it is funny to me, because the success of the billionaire, baby, and boss genre tells me a lot about what these writers think women want to read about.  If that is in fact what these authors write.  I mean, we’ve already established that they are not writing the great american novel. To read these descriptions, you would think that most women want some billionaire boss bad boy, with him they have a happily ever after.

I clicked a post with a book about a billionaire boss… because it is funny as fuck and unrealistic.  Sure, some 30 year old nitwit with a body also happens to be a boss, who “needs” a “personal assistant”.  Its hilarious because actual 30 year old billionaires look like the biggest nerds on the planet:


I look at each of these guys and think: they probably know their way around some html code or bitcoin.  There is nothing about the looks of any of these dudes that make me think: oh yeah, probably good in bed.  I don’t mean to be a hater, like, I recognize that when its all said and done, Elon Musk is probably going to have the biggest impact on climate change of any person on the planet.  And I am glad to exist during the same era as him.  Again, just not realistic.  Completely fantasy at this point.

Second, clicking on one of these ads ensures that more will come up in your feed.  Obviously, that is how logarithms work.  A few “books” I have followed to Amazon’s page  have only guaranteed that more like that have come up.

Last, let’s talk about the comments and the real reasons why I feel like a genius.

I am also going to start from the premise that most, if not all comments on a romance book’s ad on Facebook are fake.  Because… well… Its an ad… and if there are farms of computers in Russia and Moldova commenting on political articles to win Trump elections, I have no doubts that there is a market for commenting on other shit.  So, obviously, skeptical.  But, even if we assume that some of them are real, I have some real questions about people who comment on an ad for a self-published erotica on Facebook.  Because the comments are never: “Meh. This was kind of a waste of time and money… but it beat reading the newspaper.” The comments that I see are: “This book is the BEST! Absolutely love Lainey and Brayden together! New favorite couple!”  or “Caiden sounds so fucking hot!”

So I read one of these “books” and it was a nightmare.  Start to finish.  Little character development, completely implausible dialogue.  And not funny.  Not even like breathe loud once through your nose funny.  Basically, I think the book had 6-8 sex scenes… and it was just terrible dialogue and shitty character development stringing from one scene to the next.  It was fucking awful.

And so how do I feel smart?  First, I am smarter than any real person who comments that they love one of these books on a social ad.  Full stop.  Again, assuming that most of the comments are fake, I am, at the very least, smarter than the fraction of real people who comment that the books are amazing.  The best!  The best series!!!  AND I am smart because the majority of the books I read are about real shit. Or they are actual literature… about boring shit (looking at you Finkler Question).  And not completely unrealistic trash being sold on Amazon for $0.99.

That also makes me better than a lot of people.


The Things We Forget

Mother’s Day is weird this year.

Mom’s birthday is May 11 and usually it falls within a couple of days of Mother’s Day.  My mom was an extraordinary gift giver.  For me,  it was always a struggle to get on her level for Mothers Day and her birthday, which we always treated as separate days.   She understood the struggle of people who have birthdays on or near holidays… of course, my birthday is on National Boss Day… I guess I know the struggle as well?

It just caught me off guard last month- I came across an ad for Menards or something that was like, “Make Mother’s Day Special.”  I was like, “Wow.  There is that, too.”

Growing up, I did a lot of the cooking.  It started when I was in about 5th grade, Mom got really sick over Thanksgiving and I made Thanksgiving dinner.  Up to that point, I made the occasional hot dogs  or macaroni and cheese or ramen.   But after, we realized I could more or less follow directions for cooking meals, I took over a majority of the cooking.

It made sense, because in 6th grade, I would come home from school and “get dinner started”… and once you’re trusted to boil pasta water, it’s not that big of a step to make hamburgers.  And no one every bled out from cutting themselves while making a salad.

I learned at an early age how to get food to the table at the appropriate temperature, at the same time.  Seriously, my mom would flip shit if I brought out fries 10 minutes before burgers were ready. Or a pan of baked ziti getting cold on the table while you’re still waiting for salad to come out.  I learned that you cannot use flour or granulated sugar to thicken up buttercream frosting that you carelessly made too thin.  That first year I made Thanksgiving dinner, mom talked me through the whole thing, including dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  I cooked the turkey breast down because I didn’t know any better.  When I got the meal to the table, the turkey did not look like what you see in magazines, and I assumed I had messed something up.  Mom was like, “breast down is how Martha Stewart cooks her turkey”.  And it keeps the white meat from drying out.  Ever since, I’m like, “Martha Stewart can get on my level!” And I cook the damn thing breast down.

Growing up, we had a weekend routine that I continue to be in awe of.  We’d get up Saturday morning and do JJ’s soccer games/tournaments, and wrestling meets.  If Nicole and I were reffing, we did that. Often, mom would work in the concession stand or field marshal at tournaments or do whatever portion of the seemingly endless work of volunteers in youth sports organizations.  Then we’d hit the library for books.  We never had a limit- we’d each leave with a stack of books that would reach our chins.  Then the video store, back when that was a thing.  Usually we’d get 2-3 movies… some new releases, some that we had seen before.  Usually there was something for all of us to watch as a family and then something that was Rated R, which mom and dad would watch after we went to bed.  Then groceries and the feed store, then home.

After unloading the horse feed and groceries, we usually have 1-2 hours to immerse ourselves in reading.  Mom would turn on college football or PBS, while she sewed or crocheted, or quilted.  And then we had pizza. Chef Boyardee makes a pizza mix, that comes with the dough mix, sauce, and Parmesan cheese for two pizzas.  Throw some mozzeralla on top, and it was not a half bad pizza.  Once JJ got a little older though, two pizzas made as prescribed didn’t go real far in a family of five.  So, we’d get another pizza dough or use flour to thicken up the crusts.

Around the time I was in 5th grade, I was making the pizza myself.  And I got good at it.  I figured out how to make it, so that it was filling and delicious.  Pizza plus nachos made with doritos, bean dip, taco sauce, and cheddar cheese.  That is Saturday to me.

When Mom was in hospice, she explained the origin of that family tradition.  Her father had died when she was kid (11-12 years old).  Her mom was trying to raise four kids and keep a roof over their heads.  She made pizza for the family because it was cheap and it was good, and it was one thing just didn’t suck.  It was something they could look forward to for the week.  And back then, soda was just becoming a thing. They’d have glass bottles of soda and pizza, and for that night, things were okay.

The thing is, I forgot the recipe.

There was a time when I knew that recipe better than I knew the star-spangled banner.  I’ve made it a couple of times since she died, and its just not right.  Its actually kinda terrible.

I have two thoughts  on the matter- one is to let it go.  Before she died, I didn’t make pizza from scratch because it is a little bit of a beat down.  Especially when you get get a Hot and Ready at Little Ceasar’s for $5.  Or a decent frozen pizza from Aldi for $4.

But, then there is the other part of  it… that I ought to re-develop the recipe, so I can pass it down to Nico.  But he has such trash taste in food… I can’t imagine he would like it.  And that would be disappointing.

Growing Stuff

We had planned to move back to the northwest side…

There have been 4 high profile murders in Rogers Park in the last year or so… a couple of bystanders caught in drive-bys… one at the CTA stop just south of where we are.  Another across the street from the Jewel we went to a lot.

Then, Rogers Park, had the makings of a serial killer.  Back in the late summer/early fall two people were murdered, in separate incidents, execution style in East Rogers park (where we live).

But there are other annoyances to living where we do.  There is a neighborhood bar katty-corner across the street.  Which I thought would be cool… but its not cool when the same drunk lady is outside yelling her face off at 2am.  And parking.  Oh, the parking is the definition of a cluster f*ck.

So, the plan  was to move when our lease was up (April 30).  We *wrongly* assumed that we would be able to go month to month at our current place, not really checking to see that that would be an option.  But it wasn’t and our leasing company would extend the lease by only one month.  For a fee.

We looked at some places… but honestly, Dave and I weren’t sure we’d be able to actually move in order to not be homeless.  Honestly, it scared the hell out of me, the prospect of giving our place up and having to find a new place and move in 10 days.  I’m not going to lie.  Also, April has been completely bonkers for us, with me playing three times a week, Nico’s baseball and soccer schedule picking up.  Judo.  And work.  It just was not going to happen.

So, we’re still in East Rogers Park for another year.

Its actually okay, because I was getting ready to burn the Chicago rental market to the ground.  Truthfully, I hate it.   I absolutely hate it.  We can have a conversation about what should be “required” for a rental space… after months of looking, I just got this unbearable smugness from listings I was seeing.  A third-floor walk-up 3/1 with 900 square feet, no dishwasher and no laundry?  For $1300 a month? In a transit desert? F*ck you.

I don’t know anything about the rental market here, but I know some property developers/leasing companies that have a hell of a lot of nerve with the shit they pull.  I get the sense that so many of these companies are just blinded by the market that they have no sense of decency.  I don’t understand how it isn’t immoral to rent properties that don’t have laundry facilities.

Honestly, at this point, I welcome the revolution.

The good news is that it only took Dave one month of looking at rentals to understand the sociological  implications of vast inequality.  I mean, he’s not throwing Molatov Cocktails… yet…but he gets it.

I guess that one of the upsides to not moving back to the Northwest side means that I can get my garden hopping this year.  Last year, I was supposed to get some new soil amendments o I didn’t start my garden till after.  By then, it was too late.  But, I am on it this year.  I plan to get the lettuce box going again this year, which was great for salads two years  ago.  I am also not kidding myself about the tomato situation.  I’m doing 2-3 plants, tops and they are going in my garden plot, along with Kale.  My strawberry plants failed spectacularly in their strawberry bucket.  But I am not sure what I am going to do there.

My succulents have been doing well.  I had read (on the internet) that succulents don’t like water and to not water them.  Ever.  I had 10 plants in my office window last year this time, and I managed to kill all but 3 of them, just by not watering them.  Well, I read a book on taking care of succulents.  Turns out that they actually like to be watered.  So  they don’t die.

I know what you’re thinking: Could JBR be any more basic?  Of course I would be into succulents.  They are having a moment right now.  You know ya girl: she basic AF.





JJ and Elena Sitting in a tree…

My brother got married.

THAT is a weird sentence to write.  Only because he was so anti for so long, it was like, “Yeah, we get it, you don’t want to get married.”  But he did.  He found a sweet girl that puts up with his shit.

It is funny to type that.  Because he’s actually a nice person to live with… he’s super considerate and pulls his weight with stuff. At least he did on the few occasions that he has lived with us.  Of course, maybe he knows I would put the hammer on him if tried NOT pulling his weight.  It’s hard to say really.   



In any case, they decided to get married.  She is from Germany/Italy, and her family couldn’t make it.  And JJ is anti, as we’ve discussed, so it was small.  Just us and our Washington Aunt Judy.  Plus one of JJ’s friends.

JJ works in marine carpentry; right now he is working on the Swiftsure, the oldest remaining lightship.  Which is really cool.  I got to tour the old boat when I got to town.  Really kind of annoyed I couldn’t get a t-shirt or a coffee cup or something.  Can you imagine it on swag?  It would be brilliant!


The next day, we headed to Pike’s Place for flowers and to walk around.  I haven’t been in over 20 years, so it was cool to see it.  Still still still love buckets of flowers.  Honestly, I could live my whole life and never get tired of buckets of daffodils, lillies and tulips.


Nicole and I were also on the prowl for gifts for our kids.  I hit the jackpot with a complete set of baseball cards from 1989.  Nico was all in on that, you can bet.


JJ’s soon to be mother in law treated us to a fancy dinner the night before at a place on the lake.  Like an idiot, I didn’t bring any other jackets with me to Seattle.  I had my black adidas travel jacket, but that was it.  And it rained a lot… so… I ended up buying a windbreaker from target to keep the rain off of me.  But it meant that I went to dinner looking like a hick that doesn’t know how to dress for fancy restaurants.


I have decided that my sister is the Barney Stinson of us kids.  She photographs well and always looks like a million bucks.  For traveling, she throws on Adidas trainers and a FSU hat over loose wavy hair and looks like an influencer on instagram.  I wear a hat on a plane and people assume I am a man with poor manners. Also, I don’t know if my face is just permanently swollen, but you can pretty much never see my eyes (FAT… its fat, I just have a fat face?). Also, I have come to realize that my face isn’t very symmetrical.  Due to my broken nose and my partially ground down teeth (from grinding my teeth when I sleep).  What is kind of remarkable is that I don’t even see how messed up my face is anymore.  That is what my eyes have done.  They have automatically applied a Facetune edit so I don’t notice on a daily basis on not symmetrical my face is.  So, at least I have that going for me.  SUUUUUUUCK.

The ceremony was a small justice of the peace deal on Sunday morning, which is something I can’t recommend enough.  I didn’t realize it, but the court house was basically closed.  They let us in for the ceremony, but no one else was there.  So it was nice to be able to get pictures without random people being in the way.

After the ceremony we headed to fisherman’s terminal for some pictures.  As he has done for 35 years of his life, JJ was intent on ruining a lot of them, with his face and his general “JJ-ness”.  LOL Elena, joke’s on you, he is yours now!

While at Fisherman’s terminal, we had brunch at Chinook’s, which was fantastic.  It was the best meal I had there.


After brunch, we scooted to a light house for a few more pictures before JJ whisked Elena off for a surprise honeymoon.  He actually got in touch with her boss to get her a couple of days off so that they could go, which I thought was really cool.

When they split for that, Nicole and Aunt Judy and I went to the Chihuly exhibit, which is at the base of the Seattle Space Needle.  It was pretty cool.  I wasn’t REALLY interested in hitting the exhibit, but we had like 10 hours still my flight and 6 for Nicole’s so, we were like, “Sure”. I was blown away by the intricacies of the work.  So, I was glad we went.


Taking Stock: February 2019

Making: I am in the mood to make a mess of bath bombs.  A mess of them.
Cooking: Thinking about Ina Garten’s engagement roast chicken.  Only because I think winter calls for Roasted chicken.
Drinking: I discovered a new type of green tea that also has chai and vanilla in it.  It is not bad.  Actually quite enjoyable.
Reading: So many books.  So far, I have a physical copy of a productivity book going.  Along with that, I have also started to listen to The Prince of Tides, which I don’t love.  Mostly because I am not a fan of the guy who is reading it.  Also, after like 4 months, I finally got a copy of The Chemist audiobook.  I was intrigued by the premise, even if I am slightly underwhelmed by the author. Also listening to The Finkler Question, but I hate it.  It seems like I have been listening to it forever… but here I am, still with 2938473984 hours left to listen.  It is a Booker Man Winner and is just not my speed.  My mother would roll her eyes at me continuing to read a book I hate because it is a Booker prize book.  But I am who I am.
Next read: I don’t know.  So many.  When I finished China Rich Girlfriend last week, GoodReads told me that I was ahead of schedule on my goal to read 52 books this year.  In an effort to read more physical books, I have a stack just waiting for me.  But then my holds for audiobooks come through.  The next book I am going to start though, I think is “Deskbound”.  It is about how bad sitting is.  And strategies to stand up more.
Wanting: To try all the travel friendly backpacks out there. So I clicked on a couple of ads in Instagram featuring the perfect do it all bags. And I keep getting more in my feed. It’s not bad. I just wish that I could buy every one and have them all match up against each other in a fight to the death.
Deciding: I decided to read the works on the Lemonade Syllabus.  Basically it is a syllabus of essential work to understand and ponder the themes of Beyonce’s Lemonade album. So, a lot of works by black feminists.  It is a lot of works (200).  But no one says I have to do it all TODAY.  This is mostly because I have inner monologue/conversations with myself about inter-sectional feminism that just aren’t very productive at this stage.
Enjoying: Despite completing a cider challenge last year (wherein I focused on drinking ciders), I am still choosing interesting ciders when I get the chance.  This past Friday, the craft brew place across the street had Made Marion by 2Towns Cider House  and I gave it a go.  Easily my new favorite cider.

Waiting: For Game of Thrones.  I think its going to be bad, I’m going to experience a lot of hurt over who is going to die.  But I am ready.
Wearing: A chunky cardigan that used to be my mom’s, mostly to bed. It doesn’t smell like her. But it reminds me of her.
Following: Handwriting and calligraphy accounts on Instagram.  So mesmerizing.
Noticing: The continued development of my traps and shoulders.  I attribute it to benching and shoulder pressing regularly.  Yeah, that is like cool, but could my triceps, biceps, and abs stop being so absolutely worthless?
Sorting: My books.  I am completely out of control.  I can’t stop buying them.  And I can’t stop requesting holds from the library.  Just how much time do you think you have m’am?
Coveting: An actual vacation.  On a beach.  With the sea and the sun.  This is how you can tell that we are currently in the season of the Long Winter.
Disliking: A book I am reading right now. It is about productivity.  The author contends that people tend to over estimate how much they actually work and that if you are willing to be flexible with how you arrange it, it is possible to get a lot of work done and spend a lot of time with your family.  She lost me when she mentioned having to make a decision between buckling down for work or drifting around the house aimlessly cleaning and such before the nanny came.  Now everytime I pick up the book, I have to say as I open it, “This bitch…”
Feeling: Not tired. Sometimes it is the case that I have a hard time sleeping on Sunday nights.  Generally, this is not the case throughout the week. But it seems like a combination of adderall+preworkout for my games on Sunday sometimes produces this result.  Like tonight, I was in bed at 915, because I wanted to get up at 445.  I wokeup at 1230 and couldn’t go back to sleep.  So I just got up and am awake now.  I guess I’ll just go to the gym?
Snacking:on Sumo oranges, because it is sumo season, mother fuckers.

Hard Words

My mom died.

It’s weird to type that.  Even though I knew at some point that it would happen, I really didn’t think that I would ever type that specific sentence.  My mom died.

I think I am handling it well.  Or maybe I’m not. I haven’t started doing drugs.  I haven’t started drinking more than I used to.  I have been able to get out of bed to go to work. I haven’t started to engage in risky behaviors and I don’t think I am “flying off the handle” any more or any less than I did when she was alive.

I have played soccer games and gone to the gym.  I have moved offices at work and donated books to the little free library in my neighborhood.  I have watched my kid play soccer.  I have taken naps.

I’m just a little sad.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am not a kid. Technically, I am not an orphan, so this shouldn’t be traumatic for me.  I mean, most of us are going to lose our parents.  Most of us will bury our parents, with our children and partners by our side (or not).  When parents die, mostly, we are grownups, capable of handling such an earth shattering event, dealing with it, and continue to put one foot in front of the other.


“Ship in turbulent sea” by Franz Müller-Gossen

There is a lot about her death that I just flat out object to; things that I don’t feel were right or that I felt powerless to stop or effect.  I am only two weeks into this situation and I can promise you that I have an opinion about some stuff.  Feel free to hit me up for advice when the time comes.

But there are also some things that were good about it, if there really is such a thing as a “good” death.

She was a hard person to love. While she loved us kids fiercely and ferociously, she was from a different era, when spoiling your children was to ruin them, for certain.  She was harsh in the sense that she saw the floundering and failings of children as reflective of their parents.  In her book, there was very little that a person could do in life to make up for raising a terrible kid.  I think she honestly thought that she would be judged by how we turned out.  She wanted us to be capable of hard work, of discipline, and sacrifice.  The result was that while each of us kids has our different emotional baggage, we definitely did walk around like we were better than everyone else.

Spoiler Alert: We were.  We were smarter, better students, better athletes, harder working, and generally more agreeable to be around than all of our peers.  That is a fact.  Sorry haters.

However, there wasn’t a lot about our childhoods that was easy- there weren’t a lot of hugs and hearts and flowers in our house.  Some days it was easy to think that she didn’t love us. I remember days being dropped off at school in the morning and being so upset and angry and anxious that I was glad I was late so that I could calm the fuck down before walking into class.  And while we did walk around with an air of superiority (despite all available evidence to the contrary), she inflicted onto each us our anxieties.

But here is where the sword cuts both ways; while she is directly responsible for most of the emotional baggage that her kids carried with them as young adults (and maybe some of it that we carry to this day), she also gave us the things that we needed to leave.  Each of us was absolutely unafraid to go out into the world, to leave the nest, and have 100% confidence that before we hit the ground, we’d figure out how to fly. We knew how to work, to plan, to sacrifice, and to be disciplined.  We were fearless, each of us in our quest to make something of ourselves and to go out in the world away from SW Florida and do something. And while each of us are figuring out what this is, we haven’t let fear of leaving and the unknown stop any of us.

My mother was 20 when her mother died.  She’d already lost her father when she was a kid, so when my grandmother died, mom and her brothers were orphaned.  In addition to her older brother, there were also two younger brothers, one of whom was still  in high school.  But when her mother died, some of my mom’s dreams died, I think.  She’d set aside some of her goals and plans to work and keep her family together. Two years later, she’d be married and two years after that, she’d give birth (to me).  She seemed hell-bent on ensuring that we were comfortable outside of our comfort zone, so we wouldn’t be afraid to leave.

My grandmother’s death, was not a surprise, as she was ill for 6 months and spent the last month in hospital.  And while she would never have said it outright, I think Mom resented those last six months, having to keep the house together and being forced to be responsible for everyone else.  On many occasions, she made it clear that she didn’t want a long drawn out death.  She didn’t want to “ruin” multiple years of holidays with her impending death.  And in many ways, she died like she lived: quietly and without a lot of fuss.  In fact, if you told me that she invented the Irish Goodbye, I wouldn’t doubt it.  Not for one second.

Her death, while horrible and absolutely not in line with what I would have chosen for her, wasn’t really that bad.  It was quick- she was in hospice for less than a week.  Her brothers, my sister, brother and I all got to spend time with her in her final days- Nicole and I were there for the first few days, then Nicole and JJ traded.  We filled the room with talk about the old days and outrageous tales of when she and her brothers were younger.  Her room was quiet and dark and us kids kept the music going; Springsteen, Goo Good Dolls, Garth Brooks, and Counting Crows.

And it wasn’t a surprise when it happened. She just slipped away.

Even if the nurses hadn’t said so, I had a sense that it was close.  She had gone from being in a sort of agitated anxious state the first night, talking and responding to us to less agitation, less angst, smaller responses. Less.  She was still.

The last night, her brothers headed back to their hotel (after our dinner of pizza and Coke in the room).  Mom, while she wasn’t engaging, I think sensed we were there.  My dad headed back to the house.  JJ and I were settling in for the night (they let us stay with her in hospice).  A couple of our favorite nurses were like, “it won’t be long.”  I think Mom settled when the room quieted down and decided it was time.

I have seen things about death and how much of an honor it is for someone to let you be in their presence when they die.  Some argue that a soul will hang on as long as necessary for the right time to depart.

Now, I don’t know about that.

But, when she passed, it was the way she would have chosen, slipping away quietly, without a lot of fuss.  Just JJ and I were there, listening to Springsteen’s Broadway Album.

Obviously, I’m still processing this.  But I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to be there with her in the end.  The one thing that I wanted when she got sick back in November was that she wouldn’t die alone.  And she didn’t.  In my book, that was good.