Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Substantive Posting is forthcoming, I promise.

But for right now, here are only a few more quick snapshots of what is going on with me.

My oldest brother's 48th birthday was on Monday. I called him, but he didn't answer. I left a message of good will an hope he got it.

This past weekend was a busy one. On Friday, I had my endorsement interview. Endorsement is a big step in the candidacy process in the ELCA. A person is an applicant to candidacy at the beginning. That process involves psychological testing, background check, essay writing, and an entrance interview. Once successfully completed, a person becomes an official candidate and enters seminary. After that first year, a person does some reflection on their call and on their theology and write an endorsement essay. This essay is sent to synod people and an endorsement interview is scheduled. The E.I. is largely undertaken in order for the "powers that be" to see if they believe a candidate is ready for internship. They generally tell the candidate places they have seen growth, as well as some places for continued intentionality. Pretty much everyone freaks out about the E.I. in some manner or another. I think I did pretty well with it, although I was a little nervous. However, the interview was conducted with two candidacy people, my advisor, and me, and was more like a conversation than a grilling. When they sent me out to talk about me, I wasn't too nervous, but it took a bit longer than I thought it should have. When they called me back in, it was to apologize because they had started having regular old conversation, and needed to reel it back in. They are recommending me for endorsement to the entire panel that will meet on January 3rd. I'm excited. They spoke of many good things about me, and also challenged me to grow in a few particular places. They also made a few suggestions to me for the future regarding my spiritual development and the need to find honest and trustworthy people with whom to discuss my feelings regarding my mother, especially when she dies. But, none of the growing edges they discussed with me were really a surprise.

So, Friday night, after my E.I., we had a wee bit of a party, but I could only stay about an hour or so. I needed to go to Illinois because I was going wedding dress shopping with my sisters on Saturday, and was leading worship at a church about 15 miles from my home church on Sunday. I stayed at the party long enough to stomp all my friends at the game, "Apples to Apples!" (THE FUNNEST GAME ON THE PLANET!) and to have some good conversation. One of my friends said that they came out with a biblical version of Apples to Apples. I interjected, "Yeah. It's called, 'Apples to SIIINNNN!!!!'" Got good laughs.

I drove home on Friday night. It was an uneventful trip; one I've done many, many times. I got "home," and went pretty much directly to bed. I was tired.

On Saturday morning, Howard and Sunscreen (who is walking like no other these days!) came into my room while I was still lying in bed. Howard said, "HI TRISHY!" and Suncreen was going, "TRISHY! TRISHY!" It was TOO cute. They got up on my bed and gave me hugs and kisses. It is one of the best ways to be woken up. They're my boys. Sis said that she had been telling Howard all week that Aunt Trishy was coming home, but hadn't said anything that morning. As soon as she brought them down, Howard said, "Trishy? Trishy?" And then came to my room! I love my nephews something fierce!

YS came over, and my two sisters and I shared breakfast with the boys, and then the three of us left to go WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING! Sis and YS had four places in mind for me. One was David's Bridal, and we had an appointment. I only saw three dresses in their catalog I liked, and the consultant brought them to me. I was a little nervous, and so had a little trouble breathing while putting them on. Lol. I kinda liked one, but thought I'd continue looking at the other places, too.

So, the second place we went was probably my LEAST favorite. It was a small boutique with hideous wallpaper and carpeting (not that that REALLY matters, but still...). We had to sign up at the front desk to be put on the list to get a dressing room. We found a few dresses (actually I should say that Sis and YS found a few dresses. I didn't actually do any of the looking) and the proprietor said, "I have a room, but it's very small." We said that would be fine, and she showed it to us. It wasn't that small at all. Sis, YS, and I went in, and they were helping me. Then, a knock came at the door. I said, "Uh... Hold on a minute." And the knocking kept coming at intervals until finally she just CAME IN! The proprietor thought I NEEDED HER HELP! EXCUSE FRICKING ME, LADY! THAT'S WHY BROUGHT SISTERS! SO STRANGERS WOULDN'T BE SEEING THE GOODS! lol. My body language and tone of voice should have clued her in, but it didn't. After that, I was like, forget this place. Let's go! So we left.

The third place we went was lots better. The consultant told us about the dresses, but not overly so. She let us go to looking (and again, by "us," I mean Sis and YS), and then when we found several, she took us back the dressing rooms. She said, "Do you want my help?" I said, "No, thank you." She said, "That's what they're for, right!?" And it was well understood and all was happy. She said she would wait outside the dressing room to answer any questions we had. I tried on three dresses, with no luck. Sis told me that when she tried on her dress, it screamed, "BUY ME!" I wasn't expecting that for me, because I'm not the kind of person that fashionable things scream at. But, the fourth dress I tried on there spoke quite loudly to me. It is simple, yet elegant, and for a dress, makes me feel relatively comfortable. So, I asked the woman to hold it for me, because we had one more place to go. She said no problem, gave me her card, and said she'd appreciate hearing from us when we decided.

The fourth place... Nothing spectacular. I think I tried on two dresses or so there. Neither of them even whispered at me, really. So, we went back to place number three and I said, "You are the winner!" And the consultant said, "Yay! Not because you chose us, but because now you have your dress!" And she was quite a delight to deal with, and she didn't breach every single boundary issue I have with people and my physical person. So, I bought the dress, and am happy that that part is done. I simply need to have it cleaned (it was the last of its kind and was on the sale rack-score~!-so it had makeup from other women on it), and I need to have it altered just a little in the straps. I'm pumped. But, I can't tell you more about it, because my beloved reads this blog (sorry, my love!) and it's "supposed" to be a surprise. And I kind of want it to be. So that is the story on that.

Sunday, I led worship at the church. It went pretty well. I preached REALLY short, but I felt it wrapped up nicely. I didn't feel the need to just go on and on. I got some positive feedback, and then went to the adult sunday school between church services. It was weird because I pretty much led that, too, which I was not at all comfortable with. I used to work on Sunday mornings and couldn't do Bible Studies, so this was pretty much my first one. Lol. But, I think they were satisfied with my input. I don't know. I then led the second service, which I liked better because it felt more like "church" to me. All in all though, things went well.

I then went to visit Ma at the home. She knew me, so that was nice. She can't speak in coherent sentences, so that's not so nice. And I told her I'm engaged and she doesn't understand the concept. I could say more, but I'm not going to.

So, then I went "home" again, saw my boys for a while, and then came back home to the castle. Classes are going fine, for the most part, although I'm not a big fan of Hebrew Language or Educational Ministry. But those are my own issues. I'm working on them. And with that, I'm off to my "FIELD WORK" for Ed. Min. Yeehaw. Have a great day, and I am thinking about a post about knowing and being known. Be prepared.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A few quick updates

This Monday and Tuesday, we have Reading and Research (R&R) days at the seminary. It's a time to catch up on work, ideally. I did a little bit of homework yesterday, but I really need to get cracking.

The weather is changing, and with it, the leaves and the amount of sunlight hours. I love looking out the windows in the dorm hallway on my floor and seeing the trees in various color stages. Many trees are still green, but there are a few near ones that are almost bare already.

I read a book yesterday called, "When Love Gets Tough, The Nursing Home Decision," by Doug Manning. It's 90 pages of interesting material. The book didn't really apply so much to my family and our situation, but it was decent to read for future reference. My main beef with the book was language and how the author talked about "his" decision to put his mother in law in a home, and did not talk about his wife's input or anything of that nature. If you can get past this subtle "theology of ownership," it has much valuable information. What I liked the most about the book was that he emphasized and re-emphasized that there will be guilt, but that guilt is a normal reaction. He doesn't deny the difficulty of the situation. Another valuable part of the book was when he said that we should not argue with our loved ones about how they feel because it causes them to defend their position, and thus feel the need to stick to their guns until, basically, they are dead. And lastly, about the book, my favorite line in the whole thing said, "I would rather light one candle than curse the darkness." I don't know exactly why I like that so much, but I do.

Let's see, let's see... On the wedding planning front... I think we've basically been taking a bit of a break from it. We have the church, pastors, reception hall, photographer, hotel rooms blocked for guests, and honeymoon including air plans and insurance pretty much set. I am going wedding dress shopping next Saturday with my sisters. They are also finding catering information for us. I need to get cracking on finding a DJ and a florist. The Knot (.com) keeps telling me that I am behind, but there are plans in the making for most of the stuff we are behind in. I'm not too worried.

And lastly, I have been reading some articles and what not online lately about grief and the like. Here are a couple of the blogs/grief articles I have found that can be useful for people who are going through all sorts of grief, and not just the grief of having a loved one with dementia:
An Article On Anticipatory Grief

The Grief Blog

Grief & Bereavement from the Alzheimer's Association

There we have it. A few quick updates on what I've been doing. I hope you all are enjoying the change of the seasons, and that things are going well. Shout out to ya later.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

It was the Salmon Mousse!

Alright, so obviously I'm feeling a bit better. It always helps to write down my thoughts and what not. I get them out, and then I can think about them more and feel better, which I do.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you all a story about what happened on Wednesday/Thursday for me.

A good friend, whom I shall call "Earsy" for the purpose of this story txted me on Wednesday night. She has been to the doctor, emergency department, and acute care about six times in the past two weeks for ear pain/infections. So, she texted me and asked if I would go with her to the Emergency Department. I said yes, because ear infections suck, and I wouldn't want to have to keep going alone if I was having recurring problems like that. Being alone in that sort of situation is not fun. So, I drove her to the hospital around 10:30 on Wednesday night. I waited in the waiting room while they took her information and took her back to an examining room. I was reading for Hebrew Content, so I was not too bored. Anyway, after a few minutes, one of the ladies from the front desk came out and asked if I was with "Earsy." I said yes, and she said, "She would like you to go back there with her." So, the woman took me back and I sat on the chair by her. She was laying on one of those rolling beds and had an IV hooked up and what not. Earsy said that they were going to take her down for a CT scan to make sure she didn't have something more serious wrong with her. So, we were just waiting patiently because they had a heart attack come in and an ear infection takes the back seat in relation to a heart attack. Anyway, so Earsy and I were just talking and what not, and a nurse came in and gave her a shot of painkiller because she was in some serious pain, and she could not see out of one of her eyes. Needless to say, Earsy got a little dopey. While we were waiting, we had a word of prayer, and then talked some more.

Eventually, a young lady came and wheeled Earsy down to CT to get her scan done. I waited with her stuff because they said I should not go. So, whatev. Anyway, they brought her back up about ten minutes later, and we talked some more. Around 1:30 a.m. the doctor came in and said that it wasn't as serious as they thought it could have been, and so she could go home. The doctor gave her some instructions, and then the nurse came in with the paper of instructions and papers to sign and what not, and we were set to be able to go.

Earsy was still a bit woozy from the pain medicine they had given her, so she clamped onto my arm, and I walked with her out to the car. I leaned her against a pillar and drove to come get her. When we got back to Seminary, she clamped onto my arm again, and we walked to the elevator and came up to our floor (3). So, I helped her into her room, and she laid down without even changing her clothes (not that I blame her). I told her I would come get her in the morning so she could come to my section of Hebrew because she didn't think she'd be able to make it to her earlier section. On my way out, I turned off her main room light, turned on her bathroom light, and walked down the hall to my room and immediately got ready for bed. I set my alarm for class in the morning and went to sleep. By that time, it was 2:30.

Six hours later, I was woken up by the eardrum-piercing shriek of the fire alarm and the blinding flash they make. I don't even remember getting out of bed, I got up so fast. I put on my glasses and my zip up black sweatshirt, my slip on brown shoes, put my phone in my pocket, and walked out my door. I remembered Earsy and that oftentimes she cannot hear the fire alarm (she has hearing aids and what not), and that she had asked me before to make sure she was up when the alarm goes off. So, I was going to just walk into her room and get her for the sake of time, but it was locked. She must've gotten up in the night and locked the door. So, I started pounding on her door, and she answered by opening the door a little bit. I said, "I don't know what is going on right now, but we need to go outside." She said, "Okay, give me a second. I need to put some shoes on." So, I turned around and saw one of my neighbors coming out of his room while putting on his shirt, and a neighbor down the hall come out of her room in her pajamas. All the while, I was just standing there at Earsy's door, waiting for her. So, Earsy came out of her room and we all went down the stairs the first floor to get out. On our way, I noticed the room by the door to get outside was propped open and there was smoke coming out of it, as well as a burnt smell. So, our residence hall manager was making sure we were coming outside. Earsy, as well as most of my neighbors and I were standing outside the residence hall at 8:30 in our pajamas. I was thinking, "What time is it? I'm going to be late for church!" I was so out of it. I thought it was Sunday! And about five minutes later I realized that it was Thursday and that I had classes still! So then, I noticed that I was still in my pajamas. And not just ANY pajamas, but my yellow Spongebob Squarepants pants. Everyone else pretty much had plaid pajama pants or they were dressed (good thing Earsy went to bed dressed when I brought her back). So I said, "I win the dorkiest pajama contest!"

So, by this time, the first responder cops showed up and I could hear the firetrucks coming from down the street. The RH manager told us we should go to the Refectory (cafeteria) to stay warm and to get out of the way of the firemen who would need to go in, check to make sure there was no fire, turn off the alarm, and get the scoop on what really happened (one of the international students microwaved a breadstick or roll for way too long and it started smoking). Anyway, so we went to the refectory and I was just hoping and praying that Dr. Printimating wouldn't come through and see us all (namely, ME!) in our pajamas. And what happened two minutes later? Dr. Printimidating came through. Haha. Not that it REALLY matters, but I'm not a fan of random people seeing me in my pajamas. Especially not people who I respect and who intimidate me. Oh well.

The funniest thing about this whole experience to me was that when the fire alarm started going off, I had the presence of mind to remember Earsy. Usually I forget about her because she's a big girl and can take care of herself, but that day, I pounded on her door, which turned out to be a good thing. She had woken up, but could not figure out what the sound was. She thought it was her alarm or that her ears were REALLY messed up. Granted, the building wasn't really on fire either, but whatever. Also, the funny part is that we were standing on either side of her door, practically having a conversation through the shrill shriek of the alarm, while all of our neighbors started filing out. And the funniest part yet, for me, anyway, was when I said, "I don't know what is going on right now, but we need to go outside."

I was really out of it. Haha. But anyway, we were able to go back to our rooms within fifteen minutes or so, and I went back to bed for an hour. Then, to the classes for the day. Fun times.

And the title of this post? I just watched "The Meaning of Life" for the first time ever, and I laughed SO hard I was screaming. I thought Earsy and I were both so out of it that we could say that the culprit was the Salmon Mousse. I vote yes.

Have a fantastic Saturday.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Smiling is an important daily activity.

Well, friends, I'm going to be honest here and say that I've not been feeling the best the last couple of days. The weird thing is, I have SO much for which to be thankful; the love of a good man, two sisters whom I love, three beautiful nephews, a brother and his wife I'm fairly close with, an awesome array of friends, a God who loves me unconditionally, and the opportunity for education. So, with all this, I just feel like a big whiner for saying that I'm having a rough go at it right now. But that's the truth.

I guess I'm just kind of sad about the way things are with my mom and how that affects her, me, and the whole rest of my family. And lately I've also been thinking about my dad and how I miss him. I'm a bit sad that at our wedding, J isn't going to get to do a Mother-Son dance and that I don't get to have my dad walk me down the aisle or to dance with me. I'm sad that I can't talk to my mom and hear her advice on how to live with and love a man for decades more of my life. I'm bummed that she won't get to sing at my wedding, or even attend because it would be too much for her. And I'm also worried that I am going to catch flak from people who don't "get" the situation who think that it is selfish of me to not find a way for her to come.

But there is nothing I can do to change these things. I can remember with joy and love the way things used to be. I can know that Christ is with me in the range of emotions I am feeling right now, and that I don't have to deny them. I can even try to deny these feelings and just keep swimming. It's just hard to do sometimes, and darn near impossible at other times.

Mom keeps deteriorating, and because Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia are so similar (and often Vascular Dementia is accompanied by AD), I have come to believe that she is in Stage 6 of her dementia. After talking with YS today, I am pretty much convinced. And I looked ahead to what we can expect and there is more to come, but the thing that gets me the most is that she's going to lose the ability to smile. My mom, who taught me humor by her own example, and who appreciated laughing and smiling, is going to lose the ability to do these things. And I think that really fricking blows.

And at this point, I *should* say something optimistic about how the love of Jesus is with me to get me through, but I think that's candy-coating it, and I don't feel like candy-coating today. Don't get me wrong, I'm not losing my faith; not at all. I just don't think we are called to smooth things over all the time. And right now, I think to smooth things over would be to disrespect the human condition; the condition that God in Christ came to embody.

Suffering produces endurance, eh?