xlovebecomesher: (Far Apart)
2017-03-28 01:07 am
Entry tags:

LJ Idol Season 10: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here

I fought dementia for my mother's life.

At times, I thought I conquered the dementia. Those were the days where my mom had her memories, she would laugh and joke and we'd sit and reminisce. We'd talk about the good old days about going to lunch and shoppings on the weekends with Bubby and long games of Rummy. We'd laugh about the long drives through Potomac with Aba as he looked for work and he'd shout Yemina (right) or Smolah (left) to tell Mommy where to turn as they'd argue in Hebrew about money and other mundane things. We'd talk about romance novels and television shows and what's going on in the world or just hold hands and sing random songs and prayers in Hebrew just because we could. Those are the days that I still smile about.

Dementia fought back viciously. Dementia made her into an anxious and meek shell of a person; unlike the lively and bold woman who taught me to stand up for myself.  Dementia took her ability to remember where her favorite earrings were, how many times she had called me, how many Klondike bars she ate . Dementia stole her ability to remember to shower and change her clothes, to know what season it was, and even how to do basic subtraction. Those were the days I'd come, crawl under the covers and bawl until I fell asleep.

I didn't give up; I couldn't. I wasn't going to abandon my mother, my mommy, my best friend. So I fought on.

When she was just diagnosed, I fought for her to still have her own apartment so that she could have some modicum of independence. Maybe it was foolishness but I thought giving her some independence back would help after the battles she fought living with her sister and then living with roommates. For a year, she was thrilled to have her own place again. She hated living by herself but she went to daycare everyday and she took the bus that came every morning by herself to her daycare and the same bus home.

She didn't know that I was making sure that her rent was paid, buying her her clothes, paying for her daycare, fighting with the resident manager who wanted to evict her after a month of her living there because of how much she annoyed the front desk person waiting for her bus (I won).  I applied and reapplied for Medicaid consistantly getting rejected because she made just a little over with her social security. I did everything I could for her and to be with her while trying to work, attend grad school, and adjusting to being newly married. There were days I could have done better, I know. Days I should have had more patience, days I could have tried harder. I did the best I could single-handedly and I thought we were slowly climbing this uphill battle and we'd be victorious.

When the resident manager finally won nine months later in his desire to evict her (in his defense, she couldn't remember anymore where she lived and kept trying to break into the wrong apartment), I looked into new homes for her. One place scoffed at me when I said I could only afford $1100 a month; she asked me if I truly cared about my mother if we could only afford that much. Another wanted a minimum of $10K a month. I researched until I found a nursing home that I liked; one that my grandmother had been in and one that we could afford. All I needed was Medicaid and a coding.

My research didn't matter because dementia won. My mom had a breakdown one morning while still at her apartment and had to be hospitalized. She told the bus driver who she adored that if she didn't turn the bus around, she was going to get her gun and shoot everyone. Now mind you, my mom has never shot a gun, never held a gun in her life. But dementia didn't know that.I got a phone call that day from the county social worker telling me that the police were there and that it would be in our best interest to send her to the hospital to find out what was going on. I left work and drove to hospital to see her only to find my mommy heavily sedated in the psych ward. It might be one of the worst days of my life; I can still picture her lying in that bed barely able to speak. The hospital wouldn't let her return home and set out to find a nursing home that would be able to fit her new medical needs along with her new personality of fighting with anyone who came into her room whether verbally or physically. In one of her fits, she told me that I loved a rock more than her because I couldn't take her home with me. As soon as I left that day, I broke down sobbing. But on the plus side, the hospital applied for me Medicaid and the coding she needed. Even though at the end I didn't get the nursing home I wanted for her, they found me one close by that would take her and the little we could pay. I took that as a win.

I figured now with her in a nursing home with doctors making sure she'd take her medications, we'd get back to normal and I'd have my mom, my best friend, my confidante back. But I also snarked morosely in a fit of despair to my husband that for some reason people don't tend to live very long in nursing homes; statistically I had read, people live for about 3 months after being put into a nursing home.

Dementia must have overheard that comment and decided to prove that comment right.

Two months later, I found my mom nonresponsive in a wheelchair staring at the ceiling. We rushed her to the hospital where they found nothing wrong with her beyond rigidity; she started speaking again like nothing was wrong. That day in the hospital, I crawled into bed with her and we sat and cuddled and even napped together. She was lucid enough to realize that I've gone through hell and back with her and thanked me and told me how she loved me; I was floored that she was able to realize everything I've done for her. I told her how much I loved her and how we'd get through this.

My mom was rushed back to the hospital a week later rigid and nonresponsive. For a month, they ran test after test on her but nothing was found that was causing this. Eventually, the doctors simply stated it was end stage dementia and began preparing me for the worst. I wasn't giving up; I agreed to all the tests, had her transferred to a different hospital, agreed to the feeding tube that would sustain my mom's life. I did everything I could.

Dementia at this point had now taken everything from her even down to the ability to move, speak, or even eat. And still I fought.

I didn't lose hope until one hot day in July, I walked into what should have been just a regular meeting with the hospice nurse for updates. I was met with the nurse, the hospice Rabbi, and the hospice social worker. Immediately I knew this was more than just an update meeting.

It was the end for her; the sores were becoming too much, she was at high risk for sepsis. The question was bluntly asked: did I want a peaceful death or a painful death?

I called my husband and told him to come over from work and then I just lost it.

Everyone sat and consoled me; it was my choice to keep the hope alive or to let go. No matter which way I chose; everyone told me they'd understand and respect my decision but it was all on me.

In the end, to what might sound like giving up; I chose peaceful. I couldn't let my mom suffer anymore than she already had. My mommy had been through hell and back and it would have been selfish to keep her alive to suffer just so I could hold her hand. That day along with the day my mother passed away are the two worst days of my life.

Since then I've wondered, should I have let go earlier? Made different decisions? Chose different paths? The endless possibilities of what could have been lay out in front of me and that's something I will have to live with for the rest of my life. But a wise woman told me, any decision you have made is the right decision as there is no way you could know then what would have played out. So I take comfort in the fact that I fought dementia head on rather than cowering.  I didn't lose hope and fought for my mom for as long as I could. For that, I think my mom would have been proud of me. 
xlovebecomesher: (Hey Girl)
2017-03-18 10:06 pm
Entry tags:

LJ Idol Season 10: Salty

He pulled me aside during recess, behind the gigantic tree stump we used to love to sit on at recess. "You wanted to know this, right?"

I nodded in anticipation. Sam was the new kid in fourth grade. Rumor had it that he was Jimmy's foster brother, him and Jimmy didn't get along (but no one got along with Jimmy), and he was only staying for a short while at our school. I knew being a foster child meant you lived with parents that were not your own but I didn't pretend to understand what it meant to be a foster child. I just knew that he was the coolest person I had ever met. He knew things, seen things about the world, that I couldn't even begin to imagine.

"You're sure? I don't want to get you in trouble."

"I won't get in trouble!" I was too much of a goody-two-shoes to get in trouble but I needed to know.

"Okay," he nodded. "So, you know there's words that adults tell us that we can't use." He paused for effect. "So you can't just go around and say these words just to say them."

"What are they?" I asked impatiently at this point; there was only a few minutes left of recess and even less stolen time with Sam before one of our friends came running to find out what we were doing.

"My favorite,"  he paused again with a smile. "My favorte word is 'fuck.' You can say it just to say the word angrily or you can say 'fuck you' when you're angry at someone."

"Fuck," I repeated. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."

"Don't forget the 'fuck you'," he reminded helpfully.

"Fuck you," I smiled. "What does this mean?"

"I'm not exactly sure. I think it has to do something with sex?" We both shuddered as only kids can do when talking about sex.

"What else do you know?" The clock was ticking; I knew the recess monitor was going to blow the whistle soon.

"I know a lot," Sam bragged. "But I think we have time for another word. Do you know the word,'bitch'?"

I shook my head."Bitch," he leaned in to whisper all of a sudden, "means a female dog."

"What's so bad about a female dog? I love dogs!"

"Well, that's what it means but that's not how it's used. It's a mean word people use to call women when they're angry."

"So saying that women are like dogs?" I asked confusedly.

"Yup," he popped the 'p' on the word. "Sometimes people will say 'son of a bitch' which is weird and I don't get that. I didn't make up this word and I don't like it but I hear my foster dad call my foster mom that and she really is a bitch. So use it only for people who really deserve it. Or don't use it all; it's probably better not to use it."

The whistle blew as I processed all this new information.

"Same time tomorrow?" he asked me as we brush the dirt off and start walking toward the monitor to get in line.

"There's more words?" I asked in shock.

"Tons!" He smiled brightly. "I'll tell you tomorrow about my other favorite words!"

I walked back into class that day, feeling a little more adult, and looking forward to learning new, forbidden words and looking forward to the day that I was old enough to use them.

------------------------------------------------------

Note: This conversation is based on a true story of how I learned how to curse. Sam was a good friend of mine for the couple of months he was at our school. He was a foster child who was in a shitty home life situation and his foster brother was the 4th grade bully. We used to meet and he would teach me words so that I would have comebacks when needed. He disappeared one day without warning; presumably to a different foster home and I missed him for a long time after that. To this day, I still wonder what came of him and how he is doing.
xlovebecomesher: (Bats)
2017-03-09 10:31 pm
Entry tags:

LJ Idol Season 10: Blue Hour

"Stay," he whispers to her as she crawls out of bed to get ready for the morning. She searches for her clothes in the darkness; only the dim light of twilight coming through the window to guide her movements. "We still have a couple of hours yet."

"You know I can't," she whispers back as she tries discreetly to pull up her jeans without jumping. They have this conversation every time and the conversation is always the same: he asks her to stay, she tells him she can't, and the next night they're back in each others arms forgetting about the outside world.

"Why?" He pulls himself up into a sitting position, brushing his sleep-touseled hair out of his eyes. He wants more; he wants her. Not just for stolen moments but forever.

"You know why," she fumbles with her bra hook.

"The children," they both murmer at the same time. He makes his way over to where she's sitting by the window searching for her socks.

"You know I would take care of you and the children. I love you and I love them. I will protect you now and always. You have nothing to be afraid of." Leave him and be with me, he thought, the words left unspoken.

"I know you would." She grabs her shirt, throwing it over her head before combing her fingers through her hair. He watches those fingers, wishing it was him touching her, but always at this hour she is so far away from him.

"It's me or him." The words sound harsh in the quiet morning. He wishes he could take them back; he doesn't mean them. Yet as the words are out, he finds himself holding his breath. She's been promising him that she'll leave. They'll take the children and they'll run away and explore the world. Every time he pushes, she has an excuse of why she can't: the children are too young, she doesn't want to hurt him, what would her friends and family think? He realizes he has finally reached his breaking point.

"Don't say that," she pleads.

"What are you so scared of?" he asks her.

She's quiet for a moment. "You know, if we never get together then you can't leave me like I want to leave him so desperately. Why can't we keep going like this? You know I love you. Why isn't that enough?"

"You're scared." He never thought that she would be scared.  She doesn't say a word. "I don't believe it." They're both quiet, watching each other warily. He needs to draw a line. He can't take this anymore.

"It's me or him," he repeats again. He surprises himself that he's not backing down.  "I can't go on doing this. I need you too much. I love you too much." He pulls her over to him and wraps his arms around her. "You know you don't love him anymore." She shakes her head silently agreeing with him. "He ignores you, ignores the children. He works all the time and when he's not, you know he's with his secretary. You can lie to everyone else that he's not with her, pretend that you're happy, but don't lie to me. He's not taking care of you. You know I'll never leave you. Let me love you and be there for you.  Let's see the world like we said. Vancouver? Gibralter? Seychelles? Fiji? Say the word and we're gone. I love you with all that I am and with all that I'll be. He'll never love you or your children like I will." Pick me, he begs soundlessly. She has to choose him; he wasn't sure what he was going to do without her.

She feels the tears begin to fall but she doesn't wipe them away; she knows her choice as painful as it is. Her duty. Leaning over, she kisses him once on each cheek before softly kissing his lips and standing up. She grabs her purse and begins walking to the door. "I love you too. Always."  She walks out, climbing slowly down the stairs before making her way out to her car.

"Fuck!" he screams in the silent room, punching the wall. He somehow misses and he hears the window shattering, the sound echoing hollowly in his ear. She didn't choose him. In whatever scenario he plays out in his head of his future, it's always her besides him. Never this.

He stumbled to his bed, mindful of the broken glass and bleeding hand. He should go take care of his hand, a rational part of him thinks, but nothing seems to matter at the moment. He's broken inside just like his window; what difference does his hand make?

The only thing that matters as the sunlight begins pouring into the room, the thought repeating endlessly in his mind: she didn't choose him.

And as he lies in bed facing the new day, he asks himself: who was he without her?

He's not sure if he'll like the answer.

xlovebecomesher: (Garfield)
2017-03-02 07:55 pm
Entry tags:

LJ Idol Season 10: Take a hike!

True confession: I'm petrified of climbing ladders or climbing anything that is high up. Actually it's not so much the climb up as much as it's the climb down. Some would say I'm catlike in this aspect. However, this is more due to the fact that I've acquired this fear from my father who has a fear of climbing ladders. I don't even like climbing up and down stairs if I don't have to. I can't avoid stairs but I'm always aware of where the railing is. My husband is amazing in making sure to hold my hand everytime we have to go up and down stairs.

So climbing the Masada on my Birthright Trip to Israel back in 2006 at 4 AM was not my idea of fun.

But it wasn't my choice, no one asked me what I wanted to do. I would have a) told you I wanted to go back to sleep and b) take the lift both up and down.

However, when you're on a group trip...and a free group trip at that...you don't get much of a say.

So I hiked.

I had a blast once I was up. I enjoyed hearing the story of the Masada, I even had my Bat-Mitzvah up on the Masada because I never had my Bat-Mitzvah when I was 13.



First pic: with a group of friends on top of the Masada. I'm all the way on the left.
Second pic: reciting prayers for my Bat Mitzvah - I'm the one on the left.

But what goes up, must come down.

And that included me off the Masada...climbing down stairs.

The first few moments were okay...if I went slowly and it helped that my friends at first walked with me. But no one wants to walk with someone going slow; someone who mentally is starting to have a panic attack over this hike. No one can understand why someone has a fear of climbing down stairs; it's irrational. I got left behind.

Luckily as I was about to burst into tears, one of the tour guides from our group came over. He saw that I was visibly upset and I explained to him as much as I could my fear. As I shook in fear and panic, crying, he took my hand and he held it the rest of the way down and walked as slowly as I needed to go. It took extra time out of the day's trip but I'll never forget his kindness that day.

Because it took me so long with my anxiety and panic, I ended up being the last one on the bus holding everyone up. Everyone probably waited for me for at least a good 20 minutes if not more.


Throughout the trip, one of the girls on the bus for whatever reason decided to bully me. She took every chance she had to be nasty to me; making fun of me. I ignored as much as I could; I didn't engage with her. I wasn't going to fight.

Until that day.

After I got on the bus, still visibily shaken with a red, tear stained face, right way, there were jeers from her and friends. "Look at the baby crying. She can't even climb down stairs without needing someone to hold her hand." The laughing and pointing was probably one of the most embarrassing moments in my life.

In that moment, I'm not proud and yet I'm proud for standing up for myself. When she laughed at my tears and I walked by her to my seat; I snapped and punched her in the face. Not hard; I'm no fighter. But enough to shut her and her friends up. No one wanted to go near the crazy, anxious person who just punched someone in the face!

We ended up having fighting words that night in a lobby in a Jerusalem hotel. She was livid and I was tired of being bullied. My friends had to hold me back. But I fought and I stood up for myself. No one was putting Hillary in a corner!

I may not have conquer my fear of climbing that day (still haven't); but I learned how to truly stand up for myself that night and to show that despite my fears, I'm not someone to be messed with. Somehow I think that was the most important lesson I gained that trip.

xlovebecomesher: (Sweet Zombie Jesus)
2017-02-20 12:03 pm
Entry tags:

LJ Idol Season 10: Trolley Problem

The red button glared at her. "Just push me," it whispered in her mind menacingly. "You'll be the hero if you do."

Ann wanted to push the button. She really did. The power was in her hands; she was the only one who knew about the red button that would stop the trolley. No one knew she was there. The adrenaline was pumping through her. She could picture it now.

Local woman saves 5 people from runaway trolley; no one dead, the headlines would read. Ann would be celebrated. The mayor would have a dinner in her honor, and she'd be given the keys to the city. She'd make headline news across the world. She'd finally make an appearance like she dreamed of on late night shows and talk shows. Heads of different countries would call her up and ask her how did she manage to save even the one person to the side thus making the trolley problem null and void. There would be movies made about her, TV crime shows would have episodes about this event starring her. She'd have the finest dresses, attend all the awards shows, even finally find true love. All she had to do was push the button and make herself known to the public.

Ann heard the runaway trolley come closer. She heard the screams, the pleas; one louder than the others. She knew that voice anywhere. She had no idea how he managed to get tied to the train tracks with the other four victims but she didn't care. He deserved it. After the years of pain and abuse, the hitting, the accusations, the lies, she had finally gained the strength to leave him. Not that it was working well; he stalked her every chance he had - harrassing her at work, leaving threatening notes, calling and breathing in her ear. Finally today of all days, Ann had worked up the courage to go to the police station and file a restraining order when she stumbled across the red button that everyone was frantically looking for.

The sirens were getting closer; she had to make a decision before she was found. It would look bad if she was found standing by the lever and she didn't do anything. Headlines would then read: Local woman arrested for not saving 5 people from runaway trolley. All she had to do was push the button!

The red button whispered again, this time pleadingly, "don't let the others die just because of your ex-husband. Do they deserve it? Push me."

Ann shook her head. No, they didn't, but her ex-husband certainly did. She wouldn't shed a tear if he was gone.

The sounds of the police searching for the button were getting closer as were the sounds of the runaway trolley. It was a matter of seconds at this point.

Decision made, she quickly walked away before anyone saw her. It was out of her hands at this point. Whatever happened, happened.

Ann prayed that the police would find the button in time.

But if not, at least she would be safe. Always.

....

This week's entry is based on the The Trolley Problem:

The Trolley Problem is an ethical dilemma. A runaway trolley is barrelling down the tracks. 5 people are tied to the train tracks unable to move and the trolley is heading straight for them. You are a little ways away next to the lever. You now have two choices:

1. Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
What do you do?

Looking around for inspiration trying to understand the Trolley Problem better, I came across this writing prompt: You are the conductor from the trolley problem memes, you have the power to stop the train in time but do not. Nobody knows you're part of the equation, you satisfy your blood-lust and get away with it every time.

And thus this story!

Ann is a character from a season 9 story I wrote. She seemed like the type of person who'd walk away as long as she wasn't caught.
xlovebecomesher: (Love Penguins)
2017-01-30 09:54 pm

LJ Idol Season 10: Where I'm From

I come from love.
I come from two people who would have given me the world if it was in their power to be able to do so.
I come from two parents who made sure to tell me every day and every night "I love you" and showered me with affection.
I come from being accepted for who I am by my parents.
I come from two parents who supported me no matter what I did and taught me right from wrong, good from bad.
I am loved.

I come from survivors; my grandparents were all Holocaust survivors.
I come from genetically speaking being 98% Ashkenazi Jewish; of having grandparents and parents born and raised in Poland and the Ukraine.
I come from a love of Judaism, G-d, and a love of Israel, the country my parents grew up in; no matter where I go, I stand with Israel.
I come from my parents making sure I not only spoke English but to also be fluent in Hebrew, the language of their heart, their people.
I come from immigrants who wanted to make sure their children had better lives than they had.
I come from generations of people who fought for what they believed in and won.
"Never Forget."

I come from being a first generation American; born in Washington D.C. and raised in Maryland.
I come from hating my home state as a child to being a die-hard Marylander.
I come from a sense of wanderlust and a love for home.
I come from a land where we scream the words "O" and "Red" when singing the Star Spangled Banner; a land of history, Old Bay, and Crabs.
I come from being proud of being Jewish, Polish, Israeli, American.
I am all the parts that make up a whole; that make up who I am.

xlovebecomesher: (Lost My Heart)
2017-01-15 05:19 pm

LJ Idol Season 10: Fear is the heart of love.

He fell in love with her in the 5th grade. Oh he'd deny it of course when the kids made fun of him. He wasn't going to allow himself to be vulnerable. Plus she announced to the whole class that she was in love with Noah, another boy in their class. There was no way he was going to tell her how he felt. Instead, he began to ignore her...and in a class of 7 students, it was a hard feat to accomplish. But every night he'd go home and dream of her.

In the 6th grade, they slowly became best friends. He wasn't sure how it started but one day he realized that the only reason he looked forward to going to school was to see her smiling face and to hear her stories. At home, his stepfather and his brothers made fun of him nonstop for not being able to read. Didn't they understand that no matter how he tried, he couldn't make sense of letters? His mom ignored his brothers and stepfather and him in turn. He had no one until her that just "got" him. She even understood how hard it was for him to read because she had her own problems with reading and spelling. He slowly realized that she was the sun to his darkness.

Then one day she came up to him and told him that she was in love with him and informed him that they were going to be together. He laughed but agreed. What choice did he have? For the few weeks they "dated" (which if he was honest, dating was only phone calls after school and sitting together at lunch as they lived too far apart), he never felt happier than when he got to spend time with her.

Until his world collapsed.

Nick came to school one day and offered to bring her a ring from home if she would date him instead. She debated it and got him to agree to bring a bracelet too.

She came to him during lunch and told hold him "unless you have something to buy me, we're breaking up." He had nothing. So they broke up.

He mourned. As much as one 6th grader can. He ignored everyone for a while, drew a flip book for a writing prompt to express his mood, watched his grades dropped and couldn't even bring himself to care. She tried talking to him but he wanted nothing to do with her; watching her with Nick was too painful. It was easier to go back to ignoring her as he used to do; you can't get hurt that way.

And then one day, she came to him crying. Nick was dating the new girl in the class and rubbing it in everyone's face. She cried during recess and he awkwardly held her; 6th grade or not, he couldn't deal with a girl crying. She asked him for another chance; she regretted breaking up with him. She swore up and down that she would never leave him again. He told her he would think about it and get back to her.

He thought about it...and thought about it.

On one hand, he wanted to forgive her. He wanted to be with her, he loved her. Sometimes he could see himself one day when they were older getting married; he'd be a mechanic like he wanted and own his own shop and she'd be a pop star actress like she dreamed about and they'd live happily ever after.

Then he thought about the devastation; the tears he hid, the bad grades that had his brothers making fun of him nonstop, the beating he took from his stepfather when report cards came out, his mom's snarky comment that he was just going to turn out like his biological father - rotting in jail. He thought about how alone he felt, the darkness. As much as he needed her in his life, he couldn't bring himself to trust her again. What if she dumped him again?

So despite everything inside that wanted to say yes, he forced himself the next day at recess to tell her "no, not interested." He walked away calmly and joined his friends in a game of tag. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her curl up in a ball by herself next to the pond. He wanted to go over to her and tell her he changed his mind; then he was tagged and the moment had passed.

No matter how desperately he wanted to be able to do so, there was no going back.

This was written for LJ Idol Season 10: Fear is the Heart of Love. This is based on a real story that has been playing out in the 6th grade classroom at my school since September (and both the boy and girl mentioned were students of mine when they were in 5th grade). When my coworker showed me this flipbook the student had made after getting broken up with, I thought it would make for a great story if only I had a good prompt! The joys of being a teacher is that sometimes you get caught up in the drama that is your students!


This is the flip book he drew - story goes from top of this pic to the bottom!
xlovebecomesher: (Washington Capitals)
2017-01-06 07:35 pm

LJ Idol Season 10: “I don't skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be."

"Canadians suck!" My friend Lelia screamed as Bryan McCabe sat down in the penalty box. It was my first ever live hockey game - the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Washington Capitals.  We had front row seats at the Verizon Center behind the penalty box courtesy of her father attempting to buy her love once again.

Bryan McCabe turned around and glared, and to our surprise, stuck his tongue out at us before turning back to focus on the ice.

We lost that night 3-2 but I was in love.

...

"I'm going watch every game this upcoming season!"

"There's 82 games in a season," my boyfriend pointed out pragmatically. He is a diehard Flyers fan and he had never watched all 82 games. "How are you going to do so?"

"I'll find a way," I swore. Nothing was coming between me and my newfound love for hockey and the Capitals!

"Good luck," his gaze conveying his disbelief. I bet he thought I'd get bored quickly. Everyone knows that sports aren't my thing beyond passively watching Redskins football games.

While I don't think I watched all 82 games that following season, I came pretty damn close. The ones I didn't watch, I read all the recaps. I read hockey news like it was my job.

I still do.

...
I took my students a few years ago to a Capitals practice to understand teamwork.  That's where I fell in love not just with the team but with the players as well.

I'm a special education teacher: my students all have learning disabilities of some sort. One of my students has traumatic brain injury; he is the friendliest person you will ever meet despite his hardship but he has a hard time with the concept of personal space. My students waited patiently for autographs afterwards; well as patiently as elementary students can get. I happened to walk into the shop to get a drink and ran into David Steckel who was playing for the Capitals for the time. Instantly, I introduced myself and I blabbered on and on about how my students were outside and that they were special needs students and it would mean the world if he would take a picture with them. He smiled and asked me to lead me to them and then stood patiently as my students crowded him, hugged him, and asked him a million and one questions as only a child can do and took multiple pictures with us. He may not remember that moment but I will always. Not lomg after, Mike Green came out for autographs.  My little boy with traumatic brain injury wrapped himself around his legs.  Most people would freak out but not Mike! He just smiled, gave him a hug (along with the rest of my students) and posed for pictures with them. I lost my heart to hockey even more.
...

Some people follow celebrity stories; I personally love good hockey drama. I can't tell you much about stats, when a play is offisides, or when icing occurs, but I love the drama behind the scenes (see: Dry Island and Philadelphia Flyers, John Scott and the All Star Game, anything Sean Avery), the trades, the personalities. My friends and even my now husband (the one who doubted my 82 game watching skills) have learned (especially on free agent frenzy day and trade deadline day) have learned that if there is hockey news, I am the first to know it. I take pride in this considering that I knew nothing of hockey beyond its existance eight years ago.
...

I will admit I haven't watched much this season; life has gotten the better of me. But at the end of the day, one defining piece that has become a part who I am is my love affair for all things hockey and the Washington Capitals and I wouldn't have it any other way.
xlovebecomesher: (Song)
2016-12-14 06:46 pm

LJ Idol Season 10: Brushback Pitch

Dementia snuck in quietly.

It started off with not remembering how use her Gmail account to send out resumes. I spent hours upon hours reteaching her how to send attachments until I took over emailing for her. I would come home from work and job search for her for hours, writing cover letters, sending emails.

She told everyone she spent her days job searching. When I'd question her because I knew I was the one doing the emails, she'd tell me 'What do you know what I do when you're not home?"

I stopped arguing with her and let her take credit for my job searching. Maybe she was job searching after all, what do I know?
....

"How do you play this again? Why do the rules keep changing?" She threw her Uno cards down in frustration and walked away.

I shrugged my shoulders. Maybe she wasn't in the mood to play games, I rationalized. It was late. I don't always think straight when I'm exhausted. I brushed it off. We'll play another day. I didn't give it another thought.
....

She forgot that I was in a car accident.

I had been rear-ended on my way home from work the previous Friday. I was okay but the person who hit me busted my fuel tank. I realized this as I bought gas before I got into the accident. By the time I got home, after driving my poor car home, I had no gas in my tank. We talked about this all weekend and speculated about what exactly was wrong with my car and made bets on how much damage did this person cause to my car (The answer was $1600 worth of damage).

She stared at me as I reminded her of the events of that day in confusion. Finally, she shook her head and told me that she remembered. How could she forget? She laughed uneasily.

I immediatly Googled tests for dementia; she passed the tests I found with flying colors. She laughed at me and told me nothing was wrong. I tried pushing it out of my mind. Nothing was wrong, she said. People forget things all the time, I reminded myself. I tried to shake it off.

But the uneasiness never left me.

....

"Hillary, she hasn't showered in weeks. She's not changing her sheets. I can't tell you the last time she did her laundry."

"What are you talking about?" My mother was known for her cleanliness; this had to be a lie.

"I'm not making this up. I swear to you. She says she has and argues with me when I tell her to shower or to do her laundry. She tells me 'What do you know what I do when you're not home?""

"I'll talk to her."

I sit with her and I make a list of things that she needs to do. Shower, laundry, make food. She nods and holds on to the list for dear life.
...

She called me one night.

"Hillary, I don't know where I am. Come get me."

"What do you mean you don't know where you are?"

"I went to get my nails done and out to dinner with Berta but I don't remember how to get home."

"Where are you now?" I begin to yell and panic.

Pause. I begin to hyperventilate imagining the worst.

"There's a church next to me, I think. It's a green church."

I think frantically. Where is there a green church around here? I dig for my keys ready to run out; to where I'm not sure, but I have to rescue her.

Finally she says, "The sign says St. Elizabeth's."

I figured out where she was and raced to go save her; hoping nothing happened to her. Luckily she had pulled into the parking lot and waited for me. I almost fall to my knees in thanks when I see her standing next to her beloved car.
...

I began taking her to the doctor for tests. She can't remember how to use the coffee machine or the remote control; let alone, showering, changing clothes, doing laundry. She panicked when she was left alone.

"Ma'am, are you a smoker?" The doctor asks her.

"No! I have never smoked a day in my life!" She answers belligerantly.

"Mommy, you smoked every day for over 30 years."

She glares at me and begins to shout. "What do you know? I know myself and I know I don't smoke. Why do you want to make me look bad?"

I slunk as low as I could in my chair. I wondered to myself am I crazy or is she crazy? I prayed that the tests would find something that would bring my mother back to who she was.
...

The doctor refers us to a neuropsychologist for a battery of tests.

The neuropsychologist administers the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. She asks my mother to draw a clock. "This is easy," I think to myself as my mother says the same words out loud. As I watched her draw the clock, I froze in my chair unable to believe what I was watching. She drew a circle just fine but her numbers were on top of each other to the top left of the circle. The neuropsychologist then asked my mother to count back from 100 by sevens. My mother is a bookkeeper; this should be a breeze I thought. She got stuck on 93.

At that moment, I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think straight. What does this mean?

I later learned that not being able to draw a clock is an indicator of dementia.

....

His words were like a gunshot. "Ma'am, I'm sorry to tell you that you have Alzheimer's dementia."

I almost fall out of my chair.

"What does this mean for me?" she asks. Luckily, one of us had the right mind to ask that question at that moment.

The doctor explains about dementia, things that can be done to slow down the progression, medications that can be taken. My mind is fixated on the word dementia. I numbly take the phamphlets given to us, the medication samples, and we walk out holding hands back to the car.

"Mommy, I promise you that you will be the prettiest dementia patient. We're going to get through this. We're going to fight this dementia together." We smile at each other and walk quietly for a few moments as we process what the doctor said.

"Hillary?" She stops walking and I stop in my tracks. She looks lost.

"Yes, Mommy?"

"Who has dementia?"

I try to figure if she's joking or serious. "You do," I tell her gently.

"Why would the doctor say I have dementia? I don't have dementia."

....

This was written for LJ Idol: Week 3 - Brushback Pitch. A Brushback Pitch is a baseball term that refers to a pitch aimed close to the body so that the batter must step back to avoid it.

xlovebecomesher: (Lost My Heart)
2016-12-03 05:53 pm

LJ Idol Season 10 Week 2: That One Friend

Have you ever had that instant connection with someone where you realize that your soul has found a missing piece of itself? That moment where you know that this person is irrevocably going to change your life in some way? That moment that if you don't follow through on that connection, you know that somehow, your life will sadder for they were not in your life?

Sometimes you don't even remember those specific moments long after they have passed. You look at each other and you ask each other "How exactly did we meet again?"

That would be my elementary school friend, Sara. I don't remember how we met beyond that it was in 5th grade. I assume it had to be math class as we were not in the same homeroom. Beyond that, I could not tell you what our first meeting with like.  But to my mother's dismay, we became best friends and were such for years. I say dismay, because she was that friend who thought it was a good plan to light paper towels on fire and throw them off our 11th floor balcony just to see if "what goes up, must come down." She was also the friend who thought it was a great idea to grafitti the walls of my building by writing mean things about our classmates. Despite my mother's lack of love for her, I loved her anyways because she made me laugh and brought out that mischevious side of me.

Other times, they are moments that stick out forever in your mind.

Like the time in 5th grade, I was the new girl in school and I couldn't figure out how to make friends as everyone else had already paired off. I asked the recess monitor who did she recommend for me to try and be friends with? My mom always taught me if I didn't know something, I should ask and I thought that was a good question to ask. The recess monitor pointed me to a girl standing by herself at the monkey bars in her sparkly tennis shoes. I thought about it for a moment but I decided to follow through - what's the worse she was going to say? I walked over to her and asked her if she wanted to play. From that day on, we became inseperable for years; some joked we were soulmates. I couldn't argue with that. I would have missed knowing her had I not asked; my story would not have been the same today.

Or in 7th grade, when I made friends with a girl who lived in the building behind mine. We decided we would start walking home from school together so that neither one of us had to walk home alone. The second day that we decided to walk home together, she asked me if I would be willing to wait for the new girl she had just met in one of her classes who just moved to our neighborhood. I told her of course. No one should have to walk home alone. We waited for the new girl to meet us in front of the school and when she joined us and we began walking home, I knew at that moment that this new girl would be my best friend. Almost 20 years later, she is still my best friend and has a piece of my soul.

Or the time, at a bar-mitzvah, when I was 12 years old, I tried to spill salad into my fourth grade enemy's lap because he called me a name. I called him a name in turn; if I'm not mistaking my inappropriate retort was calling him a slut. I had just learned that word not long before this bar-mitzvah. The boy sitting next to my fourth grade enemy, sitting uncomfortable in a tan suit and black shirt, remarked drolly, that you can't call boys sluts. I snarkily responded "well if I can't call him that, what can I call him?" He laughed and gave me some names to use.  I didn't know it then (if I had, maybe I would have run far away) but this boy would become one of my best friends, my confidante, and the shadow of my love life for years to come.

And then there's moments, that seem so innocent at the time, that change the course of your life.

In college, I forgot to pick up a package from the front desk of my dorm for a week. It was something I needed for my internship but I kept forgetting to get it from the front desk. That Saturday night, I saw the slip on my desk reminding me to pick up the package. I finally made my way downstairs to pick up the package and struck up a conversation with the guy sitting behind the desk the one I had been eyeing in my psychology class. What should have been a basic, easily forgotten conversation, led to one of the best friendships and the love of my life...as I married the guy sitting behind the desk.

Because I realized that summer after I met him, as we got into a fight, and I cried on his best friend's shoulder in the basement while he fumed upstairs....that if he were to stop talking to me that night, I would miss him for the rest of my life. I knew at that moment that I would fight for us; for our friendship, for our love. I'm glad I did.

....

I think about these moments that brought these people into my life and all of the moments since; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  While some of them are not in my life anymore, my best friends have played an important part of shaping who I was, who I am, and who I'm going to be.

And for that, I can only be grateful for having them as a friend and playing a part in my life in some way.

Because without them (even those who I'm not friends with anymore)? Without that friendship? Without that love? Without the stories to tell, adventures that were had, the laughs, the conversations, the time that was spent?

I'm not sure who I would be without them.

___________________________________________________________________________________
This was written for LJ Idol Season 10, Week 2: That One Friend. I was originally only going to write about Sara who really was that one friend that my mother had no idea how to handle or relate to (in contrast to everyone else where my mother saw them as one of her children). But my other friends past and current/loves/crushes wanted to make an appearance. Apparently, they want to think that they're that one friend too! So I chose my best friends past and present - that one friend that was always there by my side when I needed them.
xlovebecomesher: (Brain)
2016-11-23 01:21 pm

LJ Idol Season 10: I need the struggle to feel alive

"You look like you're here. You're talking to me, you're laughing in the right places, it feels like a normal conversation. But it's not. I can tell something is wrong." He watched her carefully, waiting for her to come back to him. She was one of his closest friends; they told each other everything but he always felt that she kept a piece of herself back from everyone and he never understood why.

She shook her head discreetly, attempting to shake the thoughts away. The thoughts never went away though despite the numerous head shakes and mental compulsions. "How did you know?"

"How did I know what?"

"That's something is wrong? No one ever notices when something is wrong with me."

"You space out. You look like you're a million miles away in your own head trying to solve some complicated math problem. This is not the first time you've looked that way; I've noticed this not just when you talk to me but when you talk to other people too. Talk to me. What is going on in that mind of yours?"

"I'm okay," she attempted to reassure him before changing the subject. She stood up and grabbed her jacket. "Hey, do you want to go get dinner? I'm hungry and you know how I get when I'm hungry! I'm in the mood also for ice cream for dessert. Doesn't that sound delicious right now? You ready to go?"

He sat in his spot on the couch refusing to move. "You're not okay."

She froze.

"Talk to me. I'm here for you; you know that right? Tell me what's going on. I want to help you."

"You won't understand. Hell, I don't even understand it."

He pulled her to sit down on the couch next to him and put his arms around her. "Tell me. Whatever it is, I'm here for you. Even if I don't understand, I'm here."

"What if I told you my thoughts scare me? Will you still be here then?"

"What do you mean?"

Something inside her burst at that moment. "What if I told you my thoughts play on repeat like a broken record? I can't let go of a thought and it just plays and plays until I want to scream on top of my lungs." She paused, catching her breath, collecting her thoughts.

He waited quietly for her to continue, stroking a strand of her hair. When she didn't continue, he prompted her with: "what kind of thoughts?"

"My thoughts start off with a question: 'What if I drove my car into a person?' or 'What if I was capable of hurting a child?'  Scenarios like that play out in my head on repeat. Some are darker thoughts than others. Then I think how could I be normal if I have those kinds of thoughts? I can't be normal. What if I told you I know that I'm not capable of doing any of those things but yet I keep having these thoughts so maybe I am? And then I have to find mental things to do to calm me down.  Do you know how alone I feel because everyone else can manage their thoughts but here I am and I can't stop my crazy thoughts? What if I told you that I have these thoughts while I'm doing my every day normal routine. All day, every day I struggle with my thoughts and I don't know how to stop my thoughts no matter what I do. Are you here for me then?" She turned her head away from him ashamed of what she just said, ashamed of herself.

"I'm here for you even then. I wish you had told me earlier that you were going through this."

"You would have thought I was crazy; you probably think I am crazy. I think I'm crazy. You're probably thinking you need to call a psych ward or something," she burst into tears, struggling to get out of his hold.

"No!" He held onto her refusing to let go."You're not crazy." She gave him an incredulous look through her tears. You're not," he repeated insistantly. "I'm far from a psychology major but you're not crazy. My cousin struggles with repetitive thoughts and anxiety which reminds me of what you're dealing with. You are not crazy and you are not alone. I am here for you."

"You are?"

"I am. Always. If you decide you want to talk to someone professionally, I will help you find someone. If you need someone just to talk to; you always have me. You don't have to struggle alone."

She sniffled. "Really? I haven't even told you half of my thoughts."

"I don't care. You're not crazy. You're you and I'm here for you."

"You don't want to lock me away?"

He laughed. "If I did that, who's going to make sure my hair looks good? Who's going to play wingwoman for me? Who would I get dinner and ice cream with?"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For telling me I'm not alone. I needed to hear that more than anything."

.....

This was written for LJ Idol: I need the struggle to feel alive. This is a fictionalized conversation between a good friend of mine and myself based on an actual conversation we had years ago. I have OCD and anxiety. My OCD manifests itself in obsessive, intrusive thoughts that to this day I've never truly shared to the full extent beyond my therapist, my husband, my mom, and my best friend.  For a long time, I simply thought I was crazy and I was so afraid to share my thoughts with anyone in fear that I was crazy. My friend was the first one to ever point out that I had a tell-tale sign when I was in the middle of an obsessive thought but it wouldn't be for another couple of years before I realized that my thoughts were due to OCD and could get help.

Megan Fox has one of the best quotes I've read that describes what it's like living with OCD and repetitive thoughts which I've incorporated into this prompt. "People can’t imagine what the struggle is really like, when you can’t let go of a thought or a word. All day and everyday. And I can engage in a conversation with someone and seem like I’m present, and the whole time I’m in my own head, thinking about something else, worrying about something else.”
xlovebecomesher: (Far Apart)
2016-11-10 07:22 pm

LJ Idol Season 10: Introduction

My coworker and good friend, Theresa, expressed to me today that she doesn't understand why her daughter and her don't get along.  Her daughter, from what I understand, has put her through hell and back since she was a teenager and now at 31, they have a rocky relationship. She asked me despite me being the same age as her daughter, where did she go wrong as a mom? I couldn't begin to answer for several reasons:

a) I think Theresa is an amazing woman and her daughter should be thankful she has such a wonderful mom (or at the very least, the envious person in me who misses my mom dearly, she should be grateful that her mom is alive).
b) I have no idea what her daughter has gone through to make her so cold towards her mom and I've only met her daughter in passing once so it's not something I can ask.
and
c) I can't relate because my own relationship with my mom was the complete opposite to the point now that my mother has been gone for 3 months, at 31 years old, I'm working on learning who I am without her.

My mom and I were inseperable. My mom raised me pretty much single-handedly from the time I was 5 with minimal help from my dad. I knew I was my mom's world; my mom was my world. Her friends knew wherever she went, I went too. From sitting at my mom's friends' houses late at night reading, coloring, playing my hand-held Little Mermaid game, or if we were at one of my mom's friends who had children my age, I'd be running around playing with them, to late night dinners at restaurants, or weekend trips to Atlantic City, my mom took me everywhere.

If my mom didn't take me somewhere, the nights she wanted to go out with just her friends and I'd have sleepovers with my Bubby, there was always phone calls. Even in the days before cellphones, my mom would always make sure she knew where a payphone was to call me and check in with me. She knew I would worry and sit by the phone if I didn't hear from her when she said she'd call. I remember being six years old and huddling in my grandmother's old brown recliner waiting for the phone to ring. Her friends would laugh at her - "Luba, you know she's at your mother's house, why are you so worried? Why are you calling?" She didn't care; she called no matter what.

The two of us would spend weekends going to lunch with my grandmother, shopping, getting our nails done, spending time together (we played a lot of card games and board games especially Trouble), doing things with friends, watching TV, reading (my mom is the reason I am a romance novel addict). This stayed the same throughout my life.

I don't think I ever truly was rebellious. Did I do stupid things? Sure. What child/teenager doesn't? What child doesn't frustrate their parent?

One time my friend came over and we came up with the bright idea of lighting paper towels and throwing it off my 11th floor balcony just to see what happens. Let's not talk the number of times I've thrown ice cubes off the balcony just to see what happens or pushed all the buttons on the elevator (and I lived in a 14 story building) for the hell of it (I have some funny stories of that). I'd like to forget my one and only foray into vandalism where the same friend of paper towel fame came over and we wrote all over the walls in the stairwell of my apartment building.

My mother was frustrated with me in my lack of understanding of math (I didn't understand percentages until I was an adult) and she would have to call her friend to tutor me because I would drive her to tears when she'd help me with math homework. It would drive her nuts how messy I was with my things all over my room and how many times I've lost things throughout the year. I'm still in mourning for the Dick Tracy umbrella I lost when I was 6!

Rebellious though - not so much. I didn't drink, do drugs, smoke, have sex, party. Things teenagers do to rebel.

The worst I did was skip 5th period every now and then so I could go to other lunch period and hang out with friends that I didn't see during my lunch period. I didn't even dye my hair crazy colors or go all out with piercings (as much as I thought about how cool it would be)!

Which is strange when I could have easily become rebellious. My parents were seperated, my dad was in and out of jail. My aunt even assumed that I would just simply turn out like my dad.

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch out for her" She informed my mother haughtily.

Don't get me wrong, my mom and I fought. We weren't perfect. We yelled, we screamed. My mom could yell like no other. She would scream at me and I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. Little things could set her off like misplacing her things (we've fought numerous times over how many times I have not put her tweezers back where they belonged). She would then turn to the silent treatment to the point where I would write her letters apologizing for everything and anything, begging her to speak to me again. I think I still have some of those letters.

At the end of the day though, I knew my mom was there for me, loved me, and would give me the world if she could. I would never have let down my mom. Not if I could help it. My mom was my best friend and as she told me despite having her closest friends, I was hers.

In college, I moved to Baltimore, 45 minutes away from home. I loved the freedom that living on campus gave me, the friends I met (including my now husband), the adventures I had. Despite the distance, my mom and I would talk on the phone several times a day even if was just to say "hi, I love you" or "Lilah tov (good night)." I would go home every other weekend or my mom would drive up to Baltimore with her friends just to take me out to lunch or dinner. My friends all knew about my relationship with my mom (some even thought of her as a second mom) and they would tell me they wish they could have the same with their moms. I never understood why they couldn't.

At 28, I found myself suddenly in the role of caregiver for her. My mom, who was always sharp, witty, and could calculate her checkbook to the penny, was losing her memory. She was diagnosed with dementia and five minutes after leaving the doctor's office, forgot completely about the diagnosis. I had to find her a place to live (which ended up in multiple moves), daycare, buying her clothes, food,  transporting her everywhere, making sure she didn't wander off (though luckily she was always easy to find). I lost my identity as being her daughter as I found myself thrust into a situation I had no idea how to handle with very little help.

At 30, I lost my best friend, my mom, the best person I knew. Her dementia had gotten to the point where for the last 8 months of her life she couldn't speak or move and was on a feeding tube. My mom lost her battle with what was officially Parkinson's August 6, 2016.

Since that day, I'm relearning who I am.

So much of my life has been tied into being a daughter and that is big part of how I have defined myself.

And I still define myself as such.

But I'm learning to understand who I am without my mother and my father deported back to Israel. Who am I beyond a daughter?

I'm a wife to one amazing doofus who loves me and my quirks, a cat mom, a special education teacher to 7 hysterical 3-5th graders who sometimes make me want to pull out my hair but I do adore them, a damn good friend (as one of my friends pointed out to me last week), educated, Jewish and proud of it, bilingual (though I find my Hebrew slipping at times without my mom to correct me), a writer (and my mom would be proud of me saying that since she always wanted me to be a writer and supported my fan fiction writing) and something I don't know if I would have ever described myself as but people have been describing me in the past three months but I've learned that I'm a strong person just like my mom raised me to be.

As I reread the above, I know my mom was proud of me and loved me, my mom would love the woman I am, and I know my mom would be proud of the woman that I'm slowly relearning the definition of as I learn to understand the world around me without her physically by my side.
xlovebecomesher: (Calvin)
2016-11-02 05:21 pm
Entry tags:

Count Me In!

I've been going back and forth debating if I should do this or not but I had so much fun last season writing and I know I would be sad if I did not do this! Thus this is my entry signing me up to participate in LJ Idol Season 10!

Mommy always said I should be a writer so my writing this season is in memory of her because she would love that I'm writing!