Thursday, June 28, 2007

Be it ever so humble...

2.oo p.m. Sun City, AZ 6/26
Ah, the Bat Cave. There's no place like home, even though I've been up for 27 hours (with catnaps on planes), Henry just chewed the back of one of my favorite flip-flops, I got eaten alive in the dog run by little flies & I'm retaining so much water that the skin on my shins feel as taut as a drum & there are creases in my ankles as though I've been wearing too-tight Mary Janes.

It's warm & humid out today but a shower has solved the worst of it & a diuretic will help drain my drums. Red wine & airplane travel do this to me. I'm sore from sugar & slipping on Henry's stoop a week ago & landing on my butt with the small of my back jammed against the step behind me. But the dogs are exhausted from an hour of fetch in the swelter & I'm sitting in my robe thanking God it's not 120 degrees in shadeless shameless sunshine.

I did not do this trip abstinently or even with much dignity. One night, in fact, I levitated into a dozen cookies & the next day my mother chirped, "Oh! We have some cookies, don't we? I think I'll have a cookie." No, I was forced to say. They're gone. "But we just got them yes- -- oh. OK."

She knows.

I knew only that the package wasn't there with a dim recollection of eating a couple at 3 a.m. But the package was in my room, empty. Scary.

Do I regret this? Of course. It's embarrassing, it's not keeping my pact with God, my sponsor, my program, you.

But I studied my compulsion to really go at it in my parents' house. I'm increasingly imprisoned there -- too hot to get out much, a new car that's confusing to drive, my mother on oxygen with extremely limited energy. The squirming of being expected to...something. Tell them things that are too complicated, or simply to talk when I don't really talk very much. The boredom of the frequent naps they lapse into, Dr. Phil & Wheel of Fortune. The need I have to get away with something, to get something of my own when I'm with them.

I told a friend this morning that I sometimes long to be able to tell my mom the stuff I would have five or ten or fifteen years ago. How I operate out of depression. The little romantic heartbreaks I've had lately. I can't. Her world & her life are slowly but inexorably imploding & her job now is to breathe, sleep, take pills, conserve her small energy to pull through another day, most especially for the sake of my blind father. It's my turn, now, to listen to her frustrations, prognoses, aches & attacks. To lay my deeper feelings on her would be another worry to nag her into living under the cloud of worry that my father's needs already thicken her lungs.

So I talk about the dogs. I tell them the simplest things about my book. I showed her my pictures on flckr. I ask for news of the rest of the family & old friends. I answer her questions & describe what I'd like to do by learning decoupage, how much I like taking photos. I bought her Memoirs of a Geisha because she said she didn't know what was the must-read that she'd like. (Personally I found Middlesex to be pretty boring despite my mother's adoration of Oprah.) I ask about the past.

Mostly I slept, great droughts of sleep that took up hours. I'd wake to read the chubby chick lit I'd taken along -- Little Earthquakes, Eating Heaven, I'm the One that I Want, Size Fourteen Is Not Fat Either. I helped my father get a couple of Marine Corps ribbons he's missing & ordered some extracts to make more syrups after I helped him make fake maple syrup (as a science experiment: it's neither cheaper nor better than Mrs. Butterworth's). I wrote out instructions for using the DVD player & tried to figure out how he could record on his four-track tapes for the blind. I read him his Musical Heritage catalogue & wrote out the order, read every single kitchen gadget at Target to him & described each toaster oven to him. I left them with a cake & peanut butter cookies that I had not eaten most of.

I was pleasant company except when my mother drove (yyyyoooowwww!) & when they bickered because my dad kept changing his mind about dinner. I don't know if I would have been more "present" without food or nicer. I'm grateful it was only six days away from my humble home, two of which were spent travelling. I'm not grateful for the thunder storms that kept us an additional five hours in Houston but it was wonderful to see Daisy this morning, who leapt into my lap & then gave me a long & reasoned lecture on my crimes. I went out for French toast before picking her up & that was nice, too.

Too nice, in fact, to use as a reason to go out & do any more damage.

The humans of the Italian greyhounds I was supposed to stay with cancelled -- a loss of several hundred dollars but a gain on the foothold of sanity for me. I'm very tired now: do I risk a two-hour nap? Am I capable of doing anything else?

It's good to be home with you again -- I missed you.


Anonymous said...

Welcome home...glad you made it back. I understand how boredom can be tricky to manage without food, but, you're home now and hopefully you'll be back on track in no time. It sounds like you were very much present for your parent's needs.

I cringed when I read the part about your mom asking for the cookies. I've been there. Since I last commented, I've had some big realizations and am actually dieting...we shall see.

I loved seeing there was a new post this morning!

Unknown said...

We missed you too -- I am so glad to have an update of how you've been and to know you're back home and happy to be there. After the heat wave we've had here, I don't know how anyone could live in the desert or want to. I hope that you and Daisy settled down for a nice nap.

Anne M. said...

We missed you too, dear friend. Visiting aged p's always brings up stuff within me as well as being a shock to see how much more fragile and limited they are than the last visit. I suspect your visit held similar things.

I've been there with you and Laura on the cookies. There's a good bit of old behaviors kicking in, as well as my normal stress of being out of routines and safety nets - and in proximity of Things I Shouldn't Eat.

I know Miss Daisy was thrilled to see her mama, lectures or not, and am so glad you're home safe. A nap sounds like a perfect plan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Frances, glad u are back. I am working through the Beck diet solution. I have so much fear built around food it is crazy. I feel for you so, having to visit your parents and all, a lot of my food fear revolves around mine...well mostly my mother. She is not allowed to ask me if I have lost weight anymore. I have not told her this yet though. I am waiting for the next time she brings it up. I figured out just a few days ago that eating a meal is not fun for me.Using this cognitive approach I must sit down and be mindful of every bite. I resent it! I feel naked, alone, and angry with every bite I take. I feel like this whole thing is taking the pleasure out of food. I make a meal( a planned out meal) I set the table, I stare at the wall, I chew, swallow, I pay attention to every excrutiating mouthful. Quite frankly this is painful to me but the fact that it is so uncomfortable tells me that I must need to do it. So ironic because I always thought I loved to eat, but maybe what I really loved was the escape it gave me. Funny that it can be all about the eating and nothing about food at the same time.

Lori G. said...

I'm so glad you're back! It's hard to visit the parents and for me, any extended visit (say more than 8 hours), I revert to the fat teenager being good in front of them and sneaking out with the potato chips at night.

As imprisoned as you felt (and believe me, my parents have only loosened up in the past few years slightly), you provided a reprieve for your parents. I'm sure they get bored being at home and you came, fixed some things for them, arranged stuff for them. You helped them and provided another voice. And although you may not always know it, they were grateful to see their daughter again and hear what's going on in her life, even if it's not what you wanted to say.

You came back and you've done a lot that's the opposite of Phoenix; you've been out with friends, worked, wrote and got back in the game. I'm so proud of you for that. Welcome home!

Bea said...

Welcome home. Nice blog change. Not so dark. Much easier to read. The whole aging of loved ones is so scary. All that was nornal is going and gone. I notice changes monthly with Mary and she is in good health. I hate it.

Traveling and visiting and eating. A nightmare. Why is there so much salt in every damn thing we don't cook ourselves? We are a nation of aging baby boomers. None of us need all that salt. We should all rise up and protest. "STOP THE SODIUM NOW!" Glad you are home.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you navigated the trip, and your time with your parents, very successfully! Not perfectly, but pretty damn good in this anonymous reader's opinion.

Caring for/dealing with elderly parents is, in my opinion, the life passage least talked about in our society. Have you thought about writing about this? Perhaps editing an anthology of writing on the topic? I think it would be a big help, and you have the "platform" to make the project happen.

I like the new picture of you. The coral-colored sweater is adorable, and it's a great color for you.

As always, good wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Frances? This is the anonymous commenter from minutes ago (and from a few other entries). I don't know if you're in the mood to meet any new people, even briefly, but I'm going to be in New York for a few days next month and would be delighted and honored if you'd care to have company on one of your dog walks, or for a simple stroll with Daisy.

I'd love to have a few moments to tell you how much your first book meant to me, if nothing else. If that does seem even remotely appealing, you can email me at juliacentric /at/ gmail {dot} com, and I can introduce myself properly.

Good wishes continue, no matter what.

Laura N said...

Welcome back and it does sound like you did some good work for your parents. You do look so pretty in your picture from May.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Frances. xoxo