Ghosts Appear, then Fade Away

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Sometime in the last year, we found this video on YouTube of Choir!Choir!Choir! performing Men At Work’s song “Overkill” accompanied by Colin Hay (the singer from Men at Work).

(There is also a video of Choir!Choir!Choir! performing Never Gonna Give You Up with Rick Astley and if these videos do not make you want to move to Canada to join C!C!C! then, how can we be friends?)

Anyway. Overkill makes me cry. Gene says it’s about nuclear war (the idea of being able to bomb the Earth to kill everything 100x is overkill) but he’s wrong. The refrain of “Ghosts appear, then fade away” absolutely kills me every time (maybe it Overkills me, I don’t know).

We all have ghosts, right? Maybe not in the haunted house sense, but in the sense of the ghost is something you wanted, someone you miss. It’s dreaming of seeing that person and waking up to the pleasant sensation of remembering seeing them, even though it was a dream.

I’d love to be the bigger person and say that the person for me is The Boy (who is now The Man, 26 years old) but I don’t need to be dreaming to see him as a ghost. He’s the ghost of my waking dreams, the fork in the road, the turning point where I can point and say “If we’d only done this and that differently, where would I be?”

So, sorry. The ghost is the (lack of) a (human) child. For years after Plan B was scuttled, I still dreamed a few times a year about being pregnant. Even after we moved to TX (so a full decade later). And the dream was always lovely and I woke up so happy. And then remembered, oh right, that didn’t happen.

(And it won’t. I’m 43 years old and my eggs were dicey at 33 and downright ruinous now).


2020 Year in Review (or, what a clusterfuck)

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1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?

Survived a pandemic?

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t remember if I made resolutions, but I probably didn’t keep them. My 2021 resolution is to Do Better and get the vaccine the minute I’m allowed to.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my dad’s dad, my last remaining grandparent died in February. There wasn’t a funeral, but I wish I’d made the trip up to Indiana to see my family. (In 2020 we also lost our Sadie Pot Pie but it feels rude to mention it at length)

5. What countries did you visit?
LOL. None. Fucking COVID.

7. What date from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 9, the day that the election was finally called.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Voting. Staying as outwardly positive as I could when Sadie died and Gene lost his job all on the same day. (That part was easy. I was still mourning Sadie the entire time Gene was out of work. I don’t care if that was misplaced sadness)

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not being demanding enough.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really. I was diagnosed late last year with fatty liver disease, which is a sight better than the original diagnosis (Hepatitis C).

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought a custom portrait of Scooby, Betty and Sadie. Well, I requested it. I have neither paid for nor received it but I am extremely excited about it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine, dammit.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Republicans. All of them. And if you’re a Republican and reading this, Fuck You!

14. Where did most of your money go?

Uber Eats.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Any day I was permitted to go into the office.

16. What song will always remind you of 2020?

Harry Styles’s Fine Line. I listened to it so many times while I was working, while I was relaxing, while I was trying to convince myself that it was bedtime. It has a recurring lyric “We’ll be all right” that I found extremely soothing.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

I’m sadder. In 2021, we’re moving again, away from the little friend-family group that we’ve built up here. We lost our Sadie Pot Pie.

18. Thinner or fatter?

Fatty fatty bo-ba-latty

19. Richer or poorer?

Same.

20. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I WISH I HAD BEEN ABLE TO LEAVE THE FUCKING HOUSE TO GO TO MY FUCKING JOB AND I WISH I’D BEEN ABLE TO GO TO INDIANA TO SEE MY FAMILY.

21. What do you wish you’d done less of?

SITTING IN MY GODDAMNED HOUSE

22. How will you be spending Christmas?

Xmas 2020: at home, just Gene and I and the dogs.

23. Did you fall in love in 2020?

Just with Soda Bear.

24. Any one night stands?

No, but we bought a new sofa! It has power foot rests and is marvelous.

25. What was your favorite TV program?

Ted Lasso.

26. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No one new

27. What was the best book you read?

Oona Out of Order (a trippy time traveling book). The Idea of You (a book about a 40 year old fucking the 20 year old cutest, most erudite member of a British boy band).

28. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Harry Styles. His voice mostly never fails to calm me down when shit’s getting crazy.

29. What did you want and get?

My new refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher.

30. What did you want and not get?

To see my family.

31. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw shockingly few movies this year, so I would say the Bill & Ted’s movie.

32. What did you do on your birthday?

We had a nice dinner in. My plan for my birthday (March 22) was to get a massage and go to the Melting Pot and both were fucked up due to COVID.

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If I could have seen my family.

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?

Hey, I change my yoga capris every other day!

35. What kept you sane?

Harry Styles. I just got home from buying a copy of his issue of Vogue.

36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

See above. And also Don Henley, obviously. Some things never change.

37. What political issue stirred you the most?

The loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the despicable way her seat on the Supreme Court was filled so quickly. For a month or two before the election, I had to ban political YouTube videos because they were too upsetting to me. (And even now, I usually scroll Twitter while they’re on and if I happen to have a finger extended to use for scrolling?)

38. Who did you miss?

I miss Sadie Pot Pie. I miss my family. I miss my best friend. I miss my teammates.

39. Who was the best new person you met?

One of the temporary helpers we have during our data conversion is mostly lovely.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020:

If your grandpa dies and your entire family is at your parents’ house and you’re thinking “Hmm, I could get to Indiana for not a horrifying amount of money. Should I go?”, you must absolutely go in case a worldwide pandemic breaks out, forcing you to stay home for months.

41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Put a price on emotion, I’m looking for something to buy/You’ve got my devotion but man I can hate you sometimes (Fine Line, by Harry Styles)

42. (New Question for 2020) Hey Elaine, are you going through a midlife crisis, what with all of this pop music performed by a 26 year old?

Yes, I think so.


A very long 28 days

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So, about 30 days ago, I had my annual appointment with the gynecologist. For various reasons, we decided to have some blood work done to see if I had anything interesting.

Imagine my surprise when their office called back to say “Hey, you probably have hepatitis C!” So, the cure for probable hepatitis C is to go see a gastroenterologist and explain that you have never done anything interesting in your whole goddamned life, so how did this happen?

(Seriously. No sharing needles. No tattoos. No blood transfusions).

(Hep C, btw, is spread via blood)

Dr. Gastro says to get an ultrasound and do some repeat bloodwork! And whaddya know, they have a lab upstairs to take more of my blood. And give me a bruise on my arm the size of a half dollar. Return appointment 2 weeks later. Ultrasound 1 day prior to return appointment (which is such a rich clusterfuck that they had better pray I don’t get the random email survey because I will light them the fuck up).

Anyway. Blood work is negative for hepatitis C. (And all the other hepatitis variants).

Seriously. I have spent the last 28 days worried about this and spending a fortune to figure it out. Thank you, insurance!


A Post-Scooby Universe

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I absolutely can’t believe I haven’t written about this.

(I’m so sorry, Bertie)

We lost Scooby in January.

He was fine. And then he wasn’t. And then he was gone.

One Thursday in January, I was doing my pre-workday nap (I do this Monday through Thursday if Gene is not working from home) after hauling the boy dogs into bed. (Sadie jumps up on her own). A little snooze, a little snuggle, a little Netflix.

Eventually, work time approached and I got out of bed. Scooby also jumped out of bed like always. We all decamped for the home office. A couple hours pass and it’s Puppy Dog Lunch Time. Sadie runs in, Bourbon runs in.

Finally, I notice that my boy hasn’t joined them. He’s still chilling out on the dog bed under my desk and hasn’t moved in hours. Immediately I lay down with him, one arm around him gently (the dog hated cuddling any way but the way he wanted).

The rest of the day, I do a little work and then get down to hang with him. I told him stories – “I remember the day we adopted you, the way the rescue lady reminded us that you were a beagle MIX, the time we saw someone else take you for a tryout walk but return you. Why would anyone return you?”. I sang to him (yes, endless rounds of “Scooby Dooooby Doo” Frank Sinatra style). I reminded him of my mantra for him “Everything you do is just fine”. This didn’t mean he was above being in trouble, it just meant that I would understand if he had to Go.

At some point I told Gene what was going on. A dog not eating is serious business. The next day, we took him to the vet. She did some scans, saw something on his spleen (?) that she didn’t like. She was quite convinced that it was Very Serious.

That afternoon, we came back to say goodbye. I’m ‘yadda-yadda’ing some of this.

I am an atheist. I do not believe in God. When I die, I am not going anywhere. But I absolutely believe in the concept of Dog Heaven, the Rainbow Bridge. When one of the dog Twitter accounts posts that their beloved pooch has gone OTRB (Over the Rainbow Bridge) I want to tell him that Scooby (and Betty, obviously) will be their friends.

Because now Betty and Scooby are playing together again.


2018 Year in Review

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1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

I rode on a tank!

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My 2018 resolution was to Do Better. I don’t know. 2019’s resolution is again, Do Better.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nope, too old!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Fortunately, no. My mother had surprise surgery a month ago, but she’s doing much better.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. 2019 may bring us to Asia, but that’s up in the air.

7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I’m sure I achieved something, but I’ll be damned if I know what it was.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I make so many promises at work that I can’t keep.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I strained my back, but beyond that I’ve been very healthy this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine, dammit.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The president.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Doctors. That “in sickness and in health” thing is no joke.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

After we maxed out Gene’s out of pocket costs for insurance, I spent a lot of time dreaming up new things to get for free. (New CPAP, refills of every prescription, etc).

16. What song will always remind you of 2018?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

IDK, but I feel more anxious. Y’all, I think I need to get out of Big Payroll.

18. Thinner or fatter?

Fat, fat, fat. I am now a land whale who doesn’t even walk to the mailbox daily.

19. Richer or poorer?

We’re doing OK.

20. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Visiting my family.

21. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Sitting in hospital waiting rooms for Gene’s medical adventures.

22. How will you be spending Christmas?

Xmas 2018: at home, just Gene and I and the dogs. We went out for a long, loud dinner with 11 other people so that was fun.

23. Did you fall in love in 2018?

No, but I am always reminded about how happy Gene makes me and how much I love him.

24. Any one night stands?

I can’t even choose a quilt, definitely no nightstands!

25. What was your favorite TV program?

Bojack Horseman, Grace & Frankie, Catastrophe

26. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No one new

27. What was the best book you read?

I just went through my history list on Overdrive (I get 95% of my ebooks through the Cheesecake City* Public Library) and it turns out I’ve borrowed approximately 50 books but have read approximately 6. So, let’s go with either the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy (if re-reads count) or You by Caroline Kepnes.

28. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I discovered where all our music is! It’s on Amazon Music! YAY!

29. What did you want and get?

30. What did you want and not get?

A vacation.

31. What was your favorite film of this year?

Crazy Rich Asians

32. What did you do on your birthday?

We went to a small town an hour away and explored. Finally, I had a good birthday.

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

Clean pants every other day, shower every other day, clean t-shirt daily. I think hobos have more pride of appearance than I do.

35. What kept you sane?

Denise and my parents

36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Don Henley yesterday, Don Henley today, Don Henley forever!

37. What political issue stirred you the most?

How much I dislike the president

38. Who did you miss?

I miss my family.

39. Who was the best new person you met?

Did I meet anyone new in 2018?

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018:

Get it together, keep it together

41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:


My Dog’s Asshole, and the other dog IS an asshole

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Hey, if your dog’s butthole looks a little misshapen, like he/she has a zit next to said butthole, take that poor beast to the vet right away. Don’t put it off because the groomer didn’t mention anything. Don’t put it off because your husband thinks you’re weird to check out your dog’s ass. And if the vet recommends surgery to remove said butt zit? Don’t put it off because (sigh) we just paid off that credit card! And don’t get me started on the bullshit you chose to buy instead of fixing your poor dog’s asshole.


Because, what will happen is, the dog will come back inside from the backyard and you will notice she’s panting and it will dawn on you that hey, dogs do that when they are in pain and HEY look, blood everywhere! And then you get to spend the weekend changing your dog’s diapers! And then emergency surgery 5 days before you’re supposed to go on vacation! Followed up by two damn weeks wrestling your conehead dog into and out of the house.

TLDR: when it comes to your dog’s asshole, if you see something, say something.


An Attitude of Flattitude

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Hello. Happy Thanksgiving, nearly. Here are the things I am NOT grateful for this year:

  1. Not making it to Indiana. Again.
  2. Having to cancel 2 vacations this year (New Orleans and Miami) due to health and scheduling problems.
  3. Year end is nearly here. This is my 19th year end. I am truly afraid that I can’t do this anymore, but what else can I do?

I feel trapped, unmotivated, frustrated, scared. I don’t know how to change anything.


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1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

Turned 40, Tweeted (a fair bit), Got Laid off, Filed for unemployment, Got a new job, quit that job, Got a new new job

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t remember if I made resolutions, but I probably didn’t keep them. My 2018 is to Do Better.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister in law had my awesome nephew A. With any luck I will meet him someday!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

One of my sorority sisters passed away. We weren’t close (I don’t think I saw her since midway through my college career), but we were Facebook friends and her death shocked me. She left behind a 20 year old son, whose father died not even a year prior. I just don’t understand how that is at all fair. What 20 year old in 2017 should have to bury both of his parents?

5. What countries did you visit?
Belgium and France

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 24 (?), the day that Big Payroll laid me off (?), January 26, the day I got my New Job, August 14, the day I quit my New Job (first) and accepted my New New Job when I went back to Big Payroll

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Losing a job, gaining a job, quitting that job after getting recruited out of nowhere. It all feels a little magical even if it also feels undeserved. (If I got the job I thought I deserved, I’d be unemployed).

9. What was your biggest failure?

Taking the New Job and not holding out for something greater. I think my heart was in the right place (I didn’t want to be unemployed for long)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing that even needs to be thought about. My neck hurt a tiny bit after my car accident, but it was temporary.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought a really cute pair of rose quartz earrings. Ooh, and the VW Golf. I don’t get to drive it much but even if I walk past it I greet it enthusiastically, “Hi Baby!”

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine, dammit.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My former colleague, the Payroll Troll. #1 reason when my old team-lead texted me “Do you want a job?” I immediately said “YES PLEASE”. I kind of wish I’d had an exit interview so they could ask why I was leaving and I could say that her shitty attitude sucked the joy out of my life for 8.5 hours a day, bookended by a an hour long commute each way only to be criticized all day. Ugh.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Gas (I guess a 2 hour commute adds up even in my Golf!)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going to LA for work.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?

 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Happier

18. Thinner or fatter?

Fat, fat, fat. I am now a land whale who doesn’t even walk to the mailbox daily.

19. Richer or poorer?

We’re doing OK.

20. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I’d spent a tiny bit more time unemployed and I wish I’d visited Indiana and Arkansas.

21. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I’d spent less time driving.

22. How will you be spending Christmas?

Xmas 2017: at home, just Gene and I and the dogs.

23. Did you fall in love in 2017?

No, but I am always reminded about how happy Gene makes me and how much I love him.

24. Any one night stands?

Dude, I can’t afford any furniture!

25. What was your favorite TV program?

Catastrophe. Bojack Motherfucking Horseman. The Crown.

26. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No one new

27. What was the best book you read?

I finally read/listened to Pride and Prejudice. It was really lovely.

28. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My greatest musical discovery in 2017 was the full album option on YouTube. It’s so nice to listen to music I love while I work without trying to figure out exactly what app or whatever all of our music is squirreled away on.

29. What did you want and get?

A car I can drive whenever I please. It’s not just your car it’s your freedom, yo.

30. What did you want and not get?

A fucking Belgian waffle in fucking Belgium.

31. What was your favorite film of this year?

I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s mostly because I want to adopt Baby Groot.

32. What did you do on your birthday?

OMG my birthday sucked! I worked all day at the new job because I couldn’t take the day off. It was a very lonely day.

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If the voters of America hadn’t done that bad, bad thing in November 2016. Please note that I’m not necessarily wishing for Clinton presidency, round 3, I just wanted a better option than the guy in office. And I didn’t vote for either of them, but I am most likely NOT making that mistake again!

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

January-August: decently put together (although not dressed as a Clown Hooker like one of my bosses, who dared to criticize my choice in footwear, what is wrong with you lady?). August-December: ::sniff, sniff:: yeah, these 3 day old sweat pants can make it another day.

35. What kept you sane?

Slacking off, in tiny increments.

36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

37. What political issue stirred you the most?

I have obviously reached a “Bitch Eating Crackers” level of frustration with all of them. I was glad to see Doug Jones win office in Alabama. Could this undo the horrors that have been visited upon us?

38. Who did you miss?

I miss the Boo.

39. Who was the best new person you met?

So far, I like my coworkers at the New New Job (Big Payroll II: Electric Payaloo).

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017:

Believe in yourself.

41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I was looking for a job and then I found a job,

But heaven knows I’m miserable now

(The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now)

(PS: I’m actually not miserable now, Morrissey! But if you’d asked me in early August, that would have been my answer!)


Bourbon, Prince of Barksylvania

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I learned something new today about Bourbon (the dog, not the booze) today: he is an avid fan of the British Royal Family. While I watched a documentary about the late Princess Diana, he was riveted by the screen. (Don’t tell me that dogs don’t understand TV and that this is proof I need to get out of the house sometime tomorrow. I know). Okay fine, he actually did this before when I watched a documentary about Queen Elizabeth, but I thought it was because of the Corgis.

I just need to believe that he’s more than the dog who barks at the neighbor girl and shreds dirty laundry in the yard and embarrassed me at the vet’s office, that he can be a sleepy snuggler, the doggy I like to snug in the morning (Sadie’s too big, Scooby’s just too many sharp elbows). That he can be the true legacy of his big sister Betty.

(And that I wasn’t wrong taking a chance on a two time loser from the shelter)


So, that happened

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Much as predicted, we have a new furry member of the family. Literally, the same day I wrote the last post, we went to a small town near us to a non-no-kill shelter and adopted our new dog, Bourby. It hasn’t been the turnkey experience that I was hoping for, but so far things are moving along. I don’t think he’s bonded with Scooby or Sadie yet, but they all seem to get along okay. These things take time I guess.