The Plight of a ‘Spoiled Millenial’

This is for my peers, who like me, are tired of hearing how awful our generation is.

Do you remember when we were kids and the important adults in our lives told us things like You can be anything you want to be, Dream big, You’re smart enough to change the world someday, or my favorite, The world would be a better place if more people had your heart. I know you heard something like that from someone in your life. So did I. All of those, in fact.

Well here we all are, adults, the age at which they said we would be living out those big dreams of ours and changing the world, but they don’t say those kind things anymore. No, now that we are trying to change the world as we were told, we’re just a stupid generation of spoiled and entitled brats. We’re weak minded, bleeding-heart liberals. Hmm… What happened?
They tell me we were left with nothing to fight for; we’re spoiled. Generations before us fought for everything we could ever need and they won, so we were handed life on a silver platter and that is what is wrong with us. I used to buy into this bullshit when I was young and inexperienced, but now I know better. (Apparently that’s where I went wrong and became a stupid, weak minded, bleeding-heart liberal. Oops!)

The part that boggles my mind is that some of the people who spew these insults about our generation are from the generations that fought against segregation and/or for women’s rights, people that we read about in our history books and looked up to. As radical as those ideas were at the time, I’m sure they were told the same, if not worse, but time showed us they were on the right side of history and I believe time will show we are too, because yes folks, we do have a fight.

Our generation has found its calling. Truthfully, we have found several, but they all fall under one category. We are the generation of tolerance and acceptance. This basically means that we believe in all the things other generations said they believed in, but many really only meant they believed it for themselves and people like them. Let me explain.

We believe in gender equality even when that means you get to choose your own gender, though I argue it is not a choice. It’s innate. It may be a foreign concept to you just as it is to me, but that is because we were born with the luxury of being who we feel we are, inside and out. I thank God that I don’t understand what it’s like to feel like a man in a woman’s body or a woman in a man’s body. Transgendered people go through life everyday feeling uncomfortable and unable to be themselves. That sounds like slow torture to me. I don’t need to know that feeling to know that it isn’t up to me to decide for others who they are. It’s not up to you, either.

We believe in marriage equality. This one is really simple, folks. I mean REALLY simple. The United States has a policy, separation of church and state. You’ve heard of this one. This means keep your church definition of marriage out of the state’s definition. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that LGBT people cannot get married. In fact, the law now says they can. Let it go! (Reminder, we’re the generation of tolerance and acceptance so we accept that you don’t like it as long as you tolerate it and just, I don’t know, look away?)

In fact, this is a good spot for a general notice. WE ARE NOT ASKING YOU TO LIKE EVERYTHING! We just ask that you tolerate it and admit that you not liking it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t like mustard, but I’m not asking the FDA to ban it!

We believe in actual racial equality. 151 years ago, the fight to end slavery succeeded. 62 years ago, the fight to end segregation succeeded. (Don’t ask me why it took so long. That’s just another on the long list of things I don’t understand.) Here we are half way through 2016 and through nearly 8 years of a black presidency, yet still dealing with racial inequalities. If you think otherwise, you live in a ridiculous bubble and you should find your way out before you suffocate. Before I get attacked by white people whose only argument is that we experience racism too, let me say that I do not believe in any way that only whites are racist, but I do believe we are the worst offenders in this country, and regardless, that’s not an excuse. Ever. Maybe, just maybe, if we hadn’t brought the concept with us when this country was founded, we wouldn’t experience the racial hatred we receive in return.

We believe in religious freedom. I thought all generations of this country believed in religious freedom as it was a driving factor in our inception as a nation, but apparently not. I mean, we still have antisemitism (hello, Mel Gibson!), many don’t even know that Wicca is a religion, and have you seen how Muslims in this country are treated? AMERICAN Muslims!? (Because yes, there are American Muslims. In fact, there are Muslims in all parts of the world, not just the middle east.) I don’t envy them, either, or the brown Hindus and Buddhists because you know, they’re brown and have an accent so they must be Muslim and that’s bad. Besides, we don’t even know what a Hindu or a Buddhist is, except one of them doesn’t eat hamburger. Right? Yeah, that’s it. #Sarcasm.

Allow me to remind you that white, Christian-born, American men have shot up schools, churches, and movie theaters right here on our own soil in recent years and there’s no massive movement calling for the heads of white Christian men for being terrorists. (Yes, those were acts of domestic terrorism. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. 18 U.S. Code § 2331 – Definitions.) Why do we not have a movement for their heads? Because we know with every fiber of our being that a few poor examples do not represent all of Christianity. Why can’t we recognize that for others?

Regardless of whatever religion you do or don’t believe, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the world was created as one. We are all God’s children or children of the world. Our borders are only man-made. Somehow those man-made borders give us the right to judge people on the other side just for being born there? I don’t think so.

We are the generation that believes your actions tell us what kind of person you are, not your gender, who you love, what color you are, or what God you do or don’t pray to and we are the generation that will fight to make sure you can be who you are, love who you love, and worship whoever you want to worship.

Are we perfect? Ha! NO! I’d say we’ve got a LONG way to go, especially when it comes to classism, but we are progress. Do I speak for all of us? Of course not! The fact remains that once upon a time, you told us we were going to change the world and now that we’re trying, you want us to stop. You’re angry with us for having different opinions, but guess what. That’s the democracy you raised us in, baby, and we’re not stopping!

I love this country, I really do. Do I think it’s the greatest country on Earth? I don’t know. I’ve never been to another one. Maybe. Either way, we’ve got a LOT of work to do and a lot of issues to deal with. I’m proud to be part of a generation willing to recognize those issues, admit our faults to the world, which by the way, is watching, and stand up for our beliefs. You should be proud. If we’re not a direct product of your loins, we’re certainly a product of the world you shaped that made us this way.

“Stupid, weak minded, bleeding-heart liberals?” Nah.

Strong, intelligent, compassionate human beings.

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The soundtrack for this post:

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The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska – Review

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(Click to buy on Amazon!)

The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska –  Eileen Curtright

Rebecca Meer, single mom and fertility clinic microbiologist is torn between giving into her less than wholesome urges and maintaining appearances, which is hard to do when constantly running into her unwelcome ex. 

I give this one a 4/5 and thank whatever forces of nature made me change my mind as I nearly skipped this one.  As I read the official plot synopsis (…We see just how far a stressed-out single parent will go to be the “perfect” mother.), I feared this would be one of those books that makes you feel like you’re not a real woman if you’re not a mother, you know the ones. Anyway, this was anything but. To be honest, I don’t feel like the official synopsis does anything for the book. I was delighted to find that in addition to motherhood, the protagonist had a life somewhat all over the place, giving readers more to potentially relate to.

Rebecca (Becky) may not be the sort of woman everyone is dying to befriend. This wine-drinking scientist with a tendency to be rash often finds herself in stupid situations that will make you want to slap her and tell her to use her brain. (You would think a scientist would be smarter.) Regardless, you can’t help but root for her.

Whether she was taking on authority or trying to come up with the perfect story for a quick exit, I was quickly turning the page hoping  for her success. In the end, most of those annoying moments that make you full-on eyeroll and wonder what she could possibly be thinking are the very same things that make her human, the things that remind of that one girl friend, the one that worries you.

This was a breeze of a read. It was smart, witty, and a solid depiction of modern, small-town life.

Follow Eileen Curtright on Twitter.

“See ya later”

Bare with me folks, this is going to be a long one. It’s not pretty, it’s not elegant, it’s not even edited. I’ve delayed this post because I didn’t have it in me to go where I need to go for this one. The only way I can get this out is to just do it. It has to be raw. I would skip it altogether if it hadn’t been for certain connections.

Through this blog, I’ve been contacted by others who’s lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s/Alzheimer’s type dementia, whether through a comment or a private email. Because of those connections and previous posts, I feel like I have to post this update before I can move on to another subject so for the few of you who don’t know, here goes.

Grandpa has passed.

To be fair, the grandpa I have always known has really been gone for a long time, but that didn’t stop me from holding onto what was left for dear life. He was having many more bad days than good and more often than not, he didn’t even wake up for visits anymore, but there were still moments, good moments in the last year when his face would light up when he saw me in between dozing, and the best moments when he knew who I was from 50 feet away and be thrilled to see me. Those moments were worth holding on for, however fleeting.

I’m going to tell you how this all came to be over the last 15 days. The day of my previously mentioned shuttle incident, my mom told me that grandpa’s nursing staff was using the word “dying.” (They’ve always been very careful not to use that word, so we took notice)

They had our attention and it was scary, but we didn’t rush to any immediate reactions. This was the 5th time the family had been called in for him over the years. Each time, he always made fools of us by pepping right up the next day. I would always think Well, he is older now and his condition is worse. This might really be it, but it never was so when I got this call, we agreed that I would try and wait until Friday to go back to Muncie since they didn’t give us a timeline. If anything changed, mom would call. (I had an emergency bag packed, but I was hoping for more time. This was Monday, January 25, 2016.)

The next day, mom called me at work saying that the nursing home had told her to come out there. Grandpa had a fever. She wasn’t sure what it meant in the grand scheme of things and they didn’t say much else so I told her to go check it out and call me back. When the phone rang a few minutes later, my heart sank. I knew when I saw her contact ID on the phone that it was time to go. (It was.)

Sobbing, I headed for the door hoping to God it wasn’t the same shuttle driver from the day before. It wasn’t. When I got to m car, I went to get gas and then to my house to get my things. My dad called during this bit of time telling me that he and my brother were coming to get me. (Mom and dad didn’t want me to drive so they were coming to get me and my brother would drive m car back.) I argued, but they weren’t having it so I packed some more things for what was clearly going to be a longer trip.

I wasn’t really thinking straight. You’d have thought I never packed a bag in my life the way I just grabbed every black and grey item I had and tossed it on a pile with my 15 pairs of underwear and 2 pairs of socks. (Really.) As I did this, I couldn’t help but to remember when my grandma Mimi passed. She had been in the hospital for a while and I had been there everyday. I can’t remember how many days or weeks it was, but I wasn’t leaving her, that is of course until I finally did. I went with my dad to the Indianapolis airport to pick up her son who was flying in from Oklahoma. Before we made it to the airport, she passed. I have carried guilt over not being there ever since because I knew it was going to happen. I’m not exaggerating. Every part of me knew she wasn’t going to make it many hours longer, but I had to get out of that hospital so I left. I haven’t yet forgiven myself. It’s been 11 years and 4 months. I couldn’t live with that again so I had to do everything I could to get to grandpa before it was too late.

I threw my stuff in the car and called my dad. I told him I wasn’t waiting for him, which was a good thing since they hadn’t even left Muncie and I live two and a half hours away. I texted Jason to let him know I was leaving and I was gone. I drove 85 most of the way and made it in record time. I went straight to the nursing home.

Time felt eternal in the room, but looking back on it, I don’t think I was even there for a half an hour before he passed. Five minutes after I got there, my aunt came and said her goodbyes. Just minutes after she left, my cousin walked in and a very short while later, he was gone. I believe he held on for that goodbye, one final thing he could do for me…something else I can never repay him for.

People always say their whole world changes when someone dies. Most of the time, that isn’t entirely true, they’re just a wreck of emotions in the moment. I say this not to diminish anyone else’s loss; I too have said it, but felt much lighter soon after. I’m still an emotional mess, but I can honestly say that my world has forever changed and there’s nothing cliche about it. All this time, something about having him here felt like still having a piece of my grandma too; they were parts of a set. With his loss, I feel like I’ve just lost them both. Truly, I know that I am lucky to have had my great-grandparents for so long, but maybe it just makes them that much harder to lose?

Everyone loves their grandparents, they’re the people who are supposed to spoil you and say yes when mom and dad say no. That’s the stereotype anyway, but they were so much more than that for me. For 27 years, they weren’t just grandma and grandpa, they were my second mom and dad, and my parents know this.  They were my foundation and my mental/emotional support system. It sounds stupid and selfish to say that I believe I was closer to my great-grandparents than anyone else has ever been with their own, but of course I feel that way. Doesn’t everyone? Our own relationships are all we know so of course we feel that way. So yes, that’s how I feel and I don’t believe there’s a person in the world who understands it.

For the last fifteen days, I’ve had to fight off the nightmares, remind myself how to function, and just figure out how to exist with a piece of me missing from the world. My friends and family are checking on me and Jason is incredibly supportive. I appreciate it beyond their understanding, but this one isn’t going anywhere. I used to think being his caregiver was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through, but my God, this has trumped that by a mile. I’ve been gutted.

Grandpa is so much better off now. I know this with every part of me. He no longer had any quality of life and he didn’t deserve the hell that he was put through over the last few years. Now he is finally whole again and with grandma, and with all of us left here. He’s once again the brilliant and stubborn man he always was, but knowing that doesn’t make it better. We humans can be a really selfish species when it comes to loss and as much as I’m glad to see his suffering end, I miss him.

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Always together & always with me.

When I left the nursing home after he passed, I got in my car and the first thing I heard on the radio was Brantley Gilbert’s “Hell of an Amen.” It’s fitting. Earl Ray Flowers lived a full life in his 97 years on this earth. In the end, it was a hell of an amen.

I love you, grandpa. I’ll see ya later.

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Think Before You Speak

In the back of my mind, I spent the day searching for what would be my next blog post. To my disappointment, that topic punched me in the gut on my way home this evening. Let me tell you about my day.

First, I should set the scene. I work in a small city, but for a major corporation with about 2,000 employees at my particular location (there are many). A company that big in a town this size, perhaps in any town, leads to parking problems, hence I ride a company-provided shuttle from a rented parking lot to the office, 3 miles away. I’ve been doing this for 11 months. It’s routine and I’m fairly familiar with each driver.

Today was a regular day on the job. I made some progress, worked on a couple of documents, and even handed in a final draft of one to my editor so I was feeling pretty good about my day when I headed home. As I’m standing outside of the main entrance, I’m talking to my mother on the phone when the shuttle I’ve been waiting on pulls up.

My first thought was oh no, not this guy. The driver is truly the only driver on the afternoon shift that I dislike. This man has no sense of social etiquette, professionalism, or personal boundaries in conversation, but his voice has a polite tone so people are often fooled by him. He gives me the creeps. (Other drivers have told me I’m not alone.)

Oh well, I thought to myself. I’ve just gotten off of work. I’m more than ready to go home–you know the feeling–I’m ready for a dinner date with my mister and it’s January, I’m not going to stand outside and wait 10 to 15 minutes for another shuttle when I could already be at my car if I just take this one. (Side note: Mister is what I call my boyfriend. Boyfriend just sounds juvenile for a man pushing 40.)

Anyway, I suck it up, say my best friendly hello, and take the first seat. I’m right behind the driver. (I always take this seat when I’m first in so I can be the first out.) The driver attempts to strike up a conversation even though he sees that I’m on the phone, so I try to respond, but also point out that I can’t really chat with him at the moment.  He gets out and walks around, I’m assuming to stretch his legs. Eventually, 10 or so more passengers climb in, he comes back and radios to the other drivers that we’re heading out so they can head in.

I’m still on the phone with my mom getting an update on grandpa, who may have just taken a turn for the worse. This is a call that I’ve been dreading for years. As she is telling me this news, I hear something that infuriates me to my core. At this moment, I imagine myself with blood streaming from my eyes and ears as my blood pressure has rocketed through the roof and headed straight to Mars!

The extremely loud driver had just made a joke over his walkie-phone to another driver (we’ll call him Ted) about Ted’s senility and whether or not dementia had finally set in. This idiot goes on, but at this point, I can’t hear anything he’s saying. I’m fully enraged and ready to pounce. For a split second, I thought I was going to lunge at the man. I pictured it vividly and if there hadn’t been other passengers, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have.

Let me point out that as I’m on the phone, I’m crying. I’m trying to hide it so that at least not EVERYONE on the shuttle knows it, but I already had confirmation that the man in the seat two feet away is aware and I’m certain the driver is too, along with anyone else in the front half of the bus.

I have never in my life held back as much as I did in that moment. Maybe I shouldn’t have, maybe I should’ve embarrassed this man in front of every passenger riding with us. Maybe I should’ve screamed and cursed, maybe I should’ve thrown something, maybe I should’ve politely explained to him why he is an utter imbecile with no sense of his surroundings, but I didn’t. After all, I do need to keep my job. Instead I dug my finger tips into my seat, bit my bottom lip, and loudly told my mother who asked what he had said that I would repeat the inconsiderate, moronic remark when I was in a more appropriate setting.

That’s my long-winded way of getting to my topic, which is: Some things are NOT funny. I love comedy and I’m a fan of comedians who say everything is fair game, sometimes I even agree with them, but the shuttle ride from work is NOT a damn comedy club! I didn’t walk into a show knowing nothing was off limits and I could be offended, all I did was head home from work.

BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

That last one doesn’t just go for writing. Know your audience. If you’re in even a semi-professional setting where you don’t know everyone, it’s probably best to not make such jokes or comments. You never know what someone is going through at any given time and regardless, dementia is not funny. Alzheimer’s is not funny. Does watching someone you love, someone you’ve idolized since birth, forget who you are and wither away into nothingness sound funny to you? No, it doesn’t. Do you know why? BECAUSE DEMENTIA IS NOT A DAMN JOKE!

This disease has become the biggest curse of my life; it has become my biggest fear and my greatest cause. If you’re still with me, sharing my day, first of all, Thank you! Second, please, PLEASE think before you speak. Please know that this is a disease that destroys families. There’s nothing funny about AIDS or cancer, and there’s nothing funny about dementia. If you’ve been touched by this disease, I would love to hear your story too.

I’m Back

I never quite felt like blogging was my world, so imagine my surprise when I realized that I missed it. It’s been two years since my last dip in the blog-pool, but here I am, swirling my toes in the water. The trouble is, I still can’t narrow my focus. I have too many interests and too many opinions to blog about just one topic so I’ve decided to continue blogging about what’s on my mind in the hopes of finding many circles and continuing many conversations. My problem? After two years, where do you start?

I asked twitter what to discuss in the first blog of my grand return. My boyfriend jokingly responded with “how amazing life is with your amazing boyfriend.” While that was a joke, I do feel that I should briefly address where I am now (and he does play a major role).

My last post was written during a time of my deepest depression. In truth, all of my posts were written with a slate-grey cloud hovering overhead, however the last one was brought to you during my spiral into rock bottom. The guilt I carried with me the last time I shared my personal life with you was so heavy that I hated myself, but today, my mental state is the best it has ever been, and dare I say, I’m actually happy. In the last 2 years, I have learned to accept myself as-is, curbed my depression, and allowed myself the freedom to step away from being a caregiver. Combined, those things have allowed me to meet a great man, move away from the things that were holding me back, and start a new career.

Last we spoke, grandpa was in the hospital and I felt that it was every bit my fault. Today, grandpa is alive and well at age 97, living in a very nice nursing home and getting the qualified care that he deserves. I am living with my amazing boyfriend 135 miles away and feeling completely at home. There was some guilt when I first moved, but I’ve overcome that now and I still visit, get updates, and video chat. I am living my life in the way I was meant to and I absolutely believe that grandpa would be proud. (I know it sounds like I’m referring to him here as if he is no longer with us, but he isn’t aware enough to understand or retain new information that we tell him.)

Two years ago, I would have never imagined that upon leaving Ball State, I would temp at an international publishing house, then leave Indiana and become a long-term temp for one of Forbes top 5 most desirable companies, but that is where this path has brought me. As it turns out, that “useless” creative writing degree isn’t so useless. I now work as a technical writer, I enjoy my job, and I’ve discovered through it that I am capable of learning things I thought to be outside my wheelhouse. That in and of itself is a constant blessing, but it also pays the bills.

So here I am, in a new state, with a new mindset, on a new career path, living with my self-proclaimed amazing boyfriend (he kind of is), and ready to get back to the thing that got me through those dark years. It is time to renew my devotion to writing and learn with, and from all of you. Nothing is off limits, so tell me, what’s next?

It’s Time for Another Edition of Grandpa Guilt

Let’s start with a quick recap of recent events, shall we? …. and let us all remember that quick can be a relative term.

I relinquished my full time caregiver status over Grandpa and moved into an apartment with a friend. I’d still swing by on my days off from my new job. We’d chat for a few minutes and he’d just doze off, but he’d wake up every few minutes to see if I was still there. Some nights, I’d stop on my way home from work at 1:00AM just to make sure he was sleeping well and breathing normally. It’s been a little over a month and everything seemed great, until two nights ago.

After the last day of my temp job, I stopped at my parents on the way home. (We were supposed to make plans to go to the James Dean festival in Fairmount, IN.) Before I could open my car door, my dad was knocking on my window telling me to go to Grandpa’s; Grandpa thought he was dying.

I then peeled out of the driveway and drove my Buick Rendezvous across town to his house at unreasonably high speeds as if I were Dale Earnhardt, reincarnated. I was actually hoping to be pulled over because I was going to ask for a police escort, if not a ride-lights blazing. –The police must’ve been busy chasing down donuts because there were none to be found.–When I pulled in, my mom and aunt were on the porch, smoking, and they gave me the run down. I knew from their account of things that he was just having one of his episodes, as he does after not sleeping for days, which explains his weakness.

For me, this was nothing out of the ordinary. For them, it was as if the world ended. He was crying and talking about how the ARMY doctor told him he didn’t pass his physical and was going to die within 24 hours. The only thing odd about this story to me was that he said ARMY. Grandpa was a NAVY man in his day, you know, back in the ancient times. I convinced my mom and two aunts that all was well, but I’d stay with him and keep him calm. He was up and down, talking to the invisibles until just after 3:00AM before finally crashing. I stayed until 6:30 AM to make sure that he was going to stay in bed so that both he and his daughter, who also lives there, could rest. By the time I was finished with errands and back at my apartment asleep, it was 10 in the morning. At 11:15, I woke up to the 6th call from my relatives telling me that Grandpa was shaking violently and uncontrollably, his blood sugar was only 40, he was vomiting, and couldn’t get warm. They’d called an ambulance.

—That’s the back story. I did say quick was relative, didn’t I?

I was at the ER as fast as I could fly. Conditions like congestive heart failure, fluid on the lungs, high white cell count, and pneumonia were being kicked around the room like a hacky sack in a high school parking lot. Congestive heart failure was a shock. While it’s true that Grandpa is 95 and his mental health is in shambles, his physical health has always been ship-shape, other than being a big wobbly from time to time. He’s never had any heart trouble and he gets a thorough check-up from his family doctor every couple of months.

Fluid on the lungs was far less surprising because within three hours, he’d developed what the family called “death gurgles.” He sounded like he was drowning with every breath. Before they could tell us what was wrong, they let us know that they would be admitting him. This hospital has never been known for its speed, but they got him upstairs in a nice, private room quicker than they’d ever done before. Once he was up here, his condition worsened. He went from being incoherent and barely responsive to not responsive at all. We couldn’t wake him no matter how much we shook our how loud we shouted. They eventually said to call in the family and prepare for the worst, so we did.

I had been forced to go home for an attempt at a short nap before that announcement was made, but after an hour, I awoke to my grandma and brother beating on my window. (We’ve discovered that it’s nearly impossible to rouse me after sleeping only an hour.) I drove back to the hospital and sat with him for a couple more hours. It was a morbid and terrifying sight. I knew what was happening, and I understood that it has been coming for quite some time, but saying goodbye is still difficult, as is watching your mother finally realize the reality of the situation–that may actually be the hardest part.

I didn’t want to leave, but no one wanted his daughter to be alone, so I was sent out to stay with her for the second night. Since I’ve moved everything to my apartment, my options were a recliner or the couch. I went with the scratchy, uncomfortable couch over the old, smelly recliner. As tired as I was, there was no way I could sleep. The couch could’ve been a pile of feather-filled clouds with Jon Bon Jovi sitting on it and I wouldn’t have been able to relax. My mind was all over the place;  I couldn’t shake being back in that house and walking in his room to check on him out of habit every ten minutes. As I laid on the couch, I couldn’t help remember the way I used to fall asleep on it next to his recliner when I was young. I’d always stay with him and my grandma, and every Monday and Thursday night, they would watch wrastlin as they called it. When I was young, I hated it, but it was the only TV in the house and there was no way around it so I would try to watch it with them, but I’d always fall asleep. Grandpa would toss a blanket over me without ever having to get up from his chair and once his “program” was over, he’d tuck me in to keep me from rolling off the couch and go to bed. I’d never know I’d even gone to sleep until he would wake me up in the morning with the promise of fresh biscuits and gravy, sausage, and coffee. He had been giving me just a touch of black coffee to drink with him and grandma since I was four; it made me feel grown up and special. I hated it, but I asked for it every morning.

These memories made me so happy for a fleeting moment, but then the guilt came flooding over me. I had lived with him for six years and been responsible for him for three and a half. In all that time, he’d never been sick. I made sure his diabetes was under control; I made sure he was at all of his doctor’s appointments and that he had all of his medications. I kept him in the house when he was off the rails and thought he was going to hitch up the donkeys and go in to town to the general store or when he thought he was heading off to work. We made one trip to the hospital in that time, but it was to make sure he wasn’t concussed after falling out of bed and hitting his head. After that, we put him in a hospital bed with rails on it and he was fine again. Now, not even two months after I’ve flown the nest, he’s in the hospital with the worst case of pneumonia he could possibly have, on the strongest antibiotic they can give him, and it’s looking like the end. How could I have left him in the incapable hands of strangers? Maybe if I’d stayed, he wouldn’t be sick. He wouldn’t have gotten too cold and he wouldn’t have been given so much sugar. Maybe if I hadn’t abandoned him, as he had never done to me, he wouldn’t be in the hospital dying of pneumonia. The rational part of me knows that his time is coming to an end, but maybe if I’d stayed, he could’ve gone peacefully at home rather than suffering at a hospital. Maybe this is my fault.

It was these thoughts that drove me to prayer, something I don’t do often or lightly. It was these thoughts that kept me up all night and left me with eyes too swollen to drive here this morning. Imagine my shock when I finally made it to his room at 11:30AM and found him awake, alert, and grubbing on barely edible hospital food. Imagine my suprise when he said rather clearly, “Well, hello there,” the way he always does when I pop in. This doesn’t mean that he’s out of the woods and on his way home, but it’s enough to let me breathe easy for a little bit.

For the last week, I’ve been contemplating whether or not to apply for a full time position at the place I just temped, or to relieve some of the incompetent CNAs at his house and work there. Everyone has been telling me for quite some time that I need to live my life and go on about my business, and I had been leaning toward applying, but last night was a wakeup call for me. If I feel this guilty now, there’s no way I can’t go back there if he makes it out of here. I’m not moving back in, but I can’t work an hour away 5 days a week with him in this condition and as much as I wanted to get away and “grow up,” I know now that I’m going to be “stuck” here for a while longer. I’ve spent too much time ranting about my terrible relatives who can’t take the time out of their day to visit him to become one of them. I can’t explain it, and it doesn’t make any sense, but I feel like he’s mine. He and I have always been close, but after moving in and becoming his caregiver, I feel like we’re closest. It doesn’t matter that my mom, my aunts, and my great-aunt has had more time with him. It doesn’t matter that he’s mostly unaware of the extent of my presence. Somehow, he’s become mine and I have to be around, even if he doesn’t know it.

The State of Pop Music

Be honest, who read the title and thought, “Hell no!”

That’s what I would think. Pop music is a genre that has long since gone down the tubes. It’s all over-dubbed, over-synthesized, and all you need, to be frank, is a nice rack. Boom! You’re a mega-superstar. Even those who have talent waste it. Mariah Carey can sing, excuse me, “That girl can saang!” But she doesn’t. Lady Gaga? Same thing. For her, it’s more about the gimmick than the music. –If you need proof, feel free to watch her here as Stefani Germanotta, before she was Gaga. She was a regular girl, in regular clothes, with a great voice, but that wasn’t enough. Even when she got signed and started going by Gaga, she couldn’t make it big so she sold her musical soul to the devil and made it more about the theatrics than the music.

I’m not dumb, I know people like a show. I like a show, too. I don’t mind when theatrics are abundant in a performance, but when it gets in the way of the music, when it becomes the main focus of the artist, it’s too much.

What I’m saying is that video really did kill the radio star. Did anyone happen to catch the 2013 VMA’s over the weekend? I haven’t watched in a few years, but the thirteen-year-old *Nsync‘er that still lives somewhere deep inside of me was just a little bit excited about watching the Justin Timberlake/Nsync performance, so I tuned in. Aside from him and Bruno Mars, I witnessed a live train wreck and wasted a few hours of my life that I will never get back.

Then sometimes, an artist or two will come along and re-instill your belief in something.

Examples:

Adele
Bruno Mars
P!nk
Fun.
Kelly Clarkson

Maybe you don’t like these artists, and that’s fine, but there’s no denying they actually have talent, they use it, and they give a damn about what they put out there. Mainstream radio needs a lot more of this and lot less of this:

Kids, let it be known that this image depicts a disaster, not a deity.
Kids, let it be known that this image depicts a disaster, not a deity.

“This Growing Up Is Getting Old”

**Thanks to Jason Michael Carroll for the title idea**

After six years of living with my great-grandpa and three and a half of being his full time caregiver, I have finally moved out. I thought it would feel like a much bigger release than it does. Do not misunderstand me; on one hand, it feels great, but on the other, I feel terribly guilty. I was absolutely elated when my best friend and I first found our apartment, but while packing, I broke down in tears. These weren’t, “I’m so scared, what if I am making a mistake and fall flat on my face out there in the real world” tears. These were guilty, “I feel like I’m abandoning someone who has always been there for me” tears. Fortunately, I have great friends who have been there throughout this ordeal reminding me that the grandpa I remember and love would not want me to be tied down to him 24/7 instead of living my life, and they’re right.

My grandpa was always a proponent of my getting an education and doing something with my life. That’s what I’m going to do. It hasn’t yet been a full week, but I’m completely moved–my room is still partially in boxes, but I’m out–and as I sit here typing this, I’m at my new job. (And yes, I am allowed to be doing this on the clock. It’s fantastic.)

Although my new job is in Indianapolis, I’m still living in Muncie. I couldn’t bring myself to go too far away and I’m still popping in and checking on him, but I can’t bare the burden of his well-being on my own anymore and I’m happy to say that I don’t have to. We have hired professionals to assist with his care so that he can stay at home, as he wished, and I can not stay at home, as I wished.

I’m nearing 25 so for most people my age, moving wouldn’t be as big of a deal, but this is my first real move. (Moving from my parents to my grandpa’s doesn’t really count in my mind.) I haven’t had a “real job” since I left the grocery store to take care of my grandpa. To be working again and on my own, sort of, feels daunting in someways, but perhaps not as much as it should. My current job is only temporary so if I don’t find a permanent job at the end of this assignment, I could be in real trouble. For some reason, I’m not worried. Instead, I’m worried about grandpa forgetting me faster now that I’m not around all day, everyday. Yesterday when my mom went to visit him, he asked her who she was. Just to hear that on the phone was heartbreaking. He’s done the same to me a few times, but each time was in the middle of an “episode” and easier to take. Yesterday, he was as normal as normal can be for him. I don’t know what I’ll do when the day comes that I walk in on a “normal” day and get the same greeting.

Many people are have been doubting my decisions, but they were decisions I had to make. It was time to “grow up.” With that said, I’m terribly sad by the fact that I’m almost 25 and I feel 55. I missed what were supposed to be the best years of my life. I missed the college experience I thought we all got to have. I missed the opportunity to be young and dumb. So while people are telling me it was time to grow up, in some respects, I grew up a very long time ago and now I’m already sick of it.

I suppose there’s not much of a point to this post. To be honest, I guess I’m looking a pat on the back, tell me it’s okay to do what I’m doing, and that the ages of 18-24 don’t have to be the best years of your life. I certainly hope they weren’t.

At Midwest Writers Workshop – #mww13

The Midwest Writers Workshop is a national writer’s conference that happens annually in Muncie, IN. It may be a surprising location, but this year’s conference sold out. In other words, we midwestern writers do exist. MWW offers various writing sessions with published authors and professionals, agent pitches, etc. For more detailed information about the conference visit their website here.

My role at the conference is small. It’s of little importance in the larger scheme of things, but it is of great importance to me and I would assume to my fellow interns.
The story:

Cathy Day, author, Ball State Professor, and MWW committee member acquired a grant that allowed 11 Ball State students to work as either Agent Assistants, or Social Media Tutors. I’m a tutor; my job is to meet with workshop attendees who want to learn to use social media, wordpress, facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram, google +, etc., and build websites to promote their work. As part of our internship, which is a paid one, we  get to attend two sessions of our choosing.

(Yesterday, I attended sessions with Hank Nuwer and Matthew Clemens. While sitting in these “classes,” I realized that somehow, this is what I want to do with my life, or at least it’s very close.)

Working with the attendees was a great learning experience. In teaching them, we interns gained confidence in our own abilities and learned to better use the same formats for ourselves. But that wasn’t the best part. As a Midwesterner, it is rare to find local folks who are into the same things as I am, but here, I found a couple hundred! The sense of community at this conference is incredible. I believe I can speak for all the interns when I say that we seemed to grow closer as a group, or at least more comfortable around each other, and we all walked away with new connections. If nothing else, that was worth attending the workshop.

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UPDATE:
I left the conference completely exhausted, but also completely satisfied. Having only just graduated from Ball State’s writing program, I was already missing the community of writers and like-minded people. Being at the conference showed me that the community I left still existed in the world and it showed me how to find it. I left MWW with a few new friends who still communicate with me via twitter and a strong desire to go back next year.  Looking back on the days leading up to MWW, I can see that I was underestimating what ended up being an invaluable experience.