Redhead, nurse, sister, daughter, aunt, newly-ex-wife, sucker for lost animals, currently owned by Percy the cat and Spencer the dog. In the middle of some major changes–trying to figure out what I want so I can figure out how to get there.

A Change of Scenery

The few of you who have followed my blogging since the early days know that I am not always great at consistency.  So, my sister and I have teamed up to co-author a new blog that will hopefully improve the frequency of new material.  You can find us at http://twistedcistern.blogspot.com/ if you are so inclined.  I’d love to see you over there.  Also, Sophie isn’t my real name, and we are “coming out” at the new place.  I’ll be blogging under the name my momma gave me–Margaret.  Come on over, pretty please?

Spencer “Hangcheck” Kraft unknown-2012
His somewhat dubious parentage and background meant nothing when he was so kind, gentle and calm with my (then) 4 yo niece. His personality earned him a ticket out of the Humane Society and a trip to “Dogs R Us” before heading to his new home. He quickly adapted to couches, beds, and doggie treats. He was named by a dear friend after a street name (so glad Elm wasn’t the next intersection). He remained true to his initial gentleness–letting 3yo Jameson ride him like a horse this past Thanksgiving despite his ever increasing arthritis. He would, however, steal your food as soon as look at you, helping James form his first sentence, “Doggie eat bagel.” He loved all the cats in his life who would let him: Percy, Sidney, Boris and Sammy. He tolerated a transfer to Houston and back with all the grace he could muster (much more on the return trip, I must say). I only heard him bark like he meant it a single time, and there was a dude with a chainsaw in the back yard at the time.
Though he often impersonated a baddog, he was always A Very Good Boy.
Goodbye, Spencer. There is an emptiness in my heart and in the house without you here.

The New Year

The start of this New Year has been an emotional one.  Not necessarily bad, but I have felt a bit more towards anxious and closer to tears than usual (and my usual amount is sufficient, thank you).  There was the post from The Bloggess that sent more traffic to my little corner of the internet than I have had throughout my years of blogging, even when I was predictable.  Thanks to each of you who showed up.  You never really know how what you say is going to affect people, and I continue to be awed and amazed at what has come from her post.

I also had to say goodbye to the Best Very Bad Dog by the name of Red Baron.   He was a tiny thing when I picked him up out of the crate at the Humane Society and held him towards my then boyfriend for perusal. “Well, I looked him in the eye, so we can’t put him back now.”  So we took him home.  He was advertised as a “beagle mix,” but unless the beagle was a very sturdy type and mixed with an Irish Wolfhound, that was a guess–and a poor one.  He grew to be about 65 pounds before he got fat.  He HATED his crate and cried all night.  He ate the alarm clock and t-shirt we put inside to soothe him.  He ate my glasses while I was taking a nap on the couch.  He ate a pillow Mother had needle-pointed (after Mother had died).  He was nearly impossible to house train, and dropped out of obedience school due to lack of interest.

He was also sweet, loyal, a stealer of a stuffed Pooh Bear larger than he, and a really good nap buddy (he put his head on the pillow next to mine.  We had not lived at the same address for 10 years or so, but we still belonged to each other.  Whoever said how great the world would be if we all could be the people our dogs thought we were had my Reddog in mind.

I have also been moved to tears by the heartbreak of and the beautiful response to the fire at house this week. This put it best: “There is nothing virtual about internet friendships. I am deleting the word “online” from my phrase “online friends.”

I hope to post a bit more often, as Monica and Jenny have reminded me how fantastic being connected is. I also think it is good for me.

How is 2012 treating you?

This started as a comment on

Jenny’s

beautiful post.  I thought I should post it here as well.

I have battled depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. It is amazing to me that I still come across people at work (I’m a nurse) who will see a patient’s medication list and say, “Well, no wonder, she’s on lex*pro, P*xil, lith!um, or whichever other drug said patient might be taking.” I want to shout from the rooftops, “I HAVE BEEN ON ANTIDEPRESSANTS FOR MORE THAN HALF MY LIFE! DOES THAT CHANGE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT ME?” I do not yet feel comfortable shouting this at work, but it is something I am VERY open about with friends, family, and even people I don’t know terribly well. I do tell people at work as I get to know them, and I tell them in the same way I tell them I have high blood pressure…because that is how it should be spoken about. It is not a personal failing or weakness, it is a diagnosis.
Even with all my experience with depression and anxiety, I was fortunate enough to be without suicidal thoughts…until I wasn’t…almost 2 years ago. My marriage was ending. I felt like a total failure for the first time in my life. I spent 2 nights curled up on the floor of my bathroom weeping and thinking about how much better it might be just to take every. single. damned. pill I could find than to keep feeling the way that I felt. I didn’t line up the pills, I didn’t even open a single bottle, but holy shit was my black hole deeper and darker than I ever thought it could be.
My now ex-husband helped me get the help I needed. I will never forget how RIGHT he was regarding that…even in the midst of everything crashing in around us. He didn’t blame me; he didn’t tell me to get over it. He was on the way to work and turned his car around and came back to help me figure out how to claw my way out of that ugly, lying pit of depression. I am fortunate that I had him to help me.
I don’t think that I was ever one to blame people who committed suicide. I always knew that it had to be terrible to get to a place where that seemed like the best possible answer. As I said, I wasn’t even CLOSE to taking action, but I would not wish for anyone to feel the way I felt.
Thanks so much for what you shared. Thanks for keeping on sharing it even when you don’t want to. We are a tribe, and when you speak, you tell things that not all of us are ready to tell…and by doing that you make it easier for the next person to speak his or her truth.

There truly is no way to really describe my Grandmother than as a Proper Southern Gentlewoman. (Yes, all of those words require capitals.) She wore her hair in a bun, almost always wore a dress with a slip, and rarely raised her voice. She was a portrait of grace and class. Most of the time.

I was the eldest of her grandchildren (when you are a Lady’s granddaughter, you use words like “eldest,” you see). There are thirteen of us in all. During a big summer reunion bash, she taught us how to make “watermelon teeth.” They are hideous false teeth made from the rind of a watermelon. Her children (our parents) were both horrified and entertained.

She doled out M&M’s as if they were gold coins. I am amazed at the level of cooperation she could get from rowdy children for such a small investment. She drank Busch beer out of the can when it was just the family around. She rarely cursed, but I did think “damnyankee” was one word for many years.

She raised 6 children as a single parent. Mother was the oldest, 12, when my grandfather died…the youngest had been so recently conceived that Grandmother did not know she was pregnant when he died. We are all as different as can be, but we all respect (most of) the choices the others make. I missed a family reunion this weekend, and I am sorry, indeed, that I could not be there.

The day she surprised me the most was when I was in college. She and my aunt and cousin had come to Atlanta for a visit, so I came over from Athens. We were eating at a restaurant just chatting away. Suddenly, Grandmother got a grin on her face and said she had a joke to tell us…a dirty joke. She began to tell the joke and found herself unable to say the words out loud. Purses were searched until a pen was found, and she wrote on a napkin. I wish with all my being that I had saved that napkin. It should be framed and hung on a wall. She wrote the words “Fuck You” on the napkin. The joke was of a couple in bed who said, “…frantic pointing at the napkin…” to each other back and forth a few times. The punchline was, “This oral sex is not all it’s cracked up to be.”

The joke was not so terribly funny. What I learned about my Grandmother made me see her completely differently. She knew these words? She even knew what they meant? I have since learned other things about my Grandmother that have surprised me, but the notions revealed by her telling us that not funny joke were probably the most revealing.

After all, when I am 70 (her approximate age at that time), I doubt I will have forgotten all the things I know and find amusing now. It might even be fun to surprise the next generation sometime down the line.

I was incredibly exhausted yesterday, and a series of events led to me being at the grocery store far past the time I was able to process thoughts and make reasonable decisions. I didn’t have too many items–they all fit in the top part where a child (if I had borrowed one) might sit. At checkout, I realized that I had forgotten my reusable bags. I am trying very, very hard to train myself to use these bags, but it doesn’t always happen. Since there weren’t too many things, I asked the cashier just to let me put them back in to the cart and I would put them in the bags when I got to the car.

The bagger kid came to help, and she told him just to put them in the cart. When he started to put them in the main portion of the cart, I asked that he use the kiddie seat because it’s easier on my back. Unfortunately, I said the second part out loud so he insisted on helping me to the car. “Oh, god, that means you have to see my car,” was my response. He said, “I have seen everything except a dead body.” I promised that I did not have a dead body, but acknowledged that I had enough stuff to hide a body if I were so inclined. We got to the car and I searched in vain for the reusable bags (musta been under the body). “Oh well, just put them in the front seat.” I was making small talk with the bagger trying to distract him from the “Hoarders” episode that is my car. The grocery store near me is starting online ordering with curbside pick-up. I mentioned that back when the “interwebs were new,” some companies tried online ordering with home delivery. He said, “Oh yeah, like Webvan.” I cocked my head a bit and said that he didn’t look old enough to remember webvan. His reply was, “I even remember VHS tapes.”

Really. Really? There are “adults” who think remembering VHS tapes is now an actual measure of one’s maturity and age? I am not uptight about how old I am. I just seem to keep forgetting how young other people are in comparison.

Let me start off by saying that I know I don’t always think like most people. This post will be further evidence of that fact.

There is one type of news story that always aggravates me to the point of agitation–and one of those stories is making headlines in Atlanta right now. Last Sunday around 2AM there was a tragic accident. A 23 year-old man left his bachelor party and decided to walk home. There were a couple of problems with this decision. He was 30-ish miles from home. He had likely been drinking (yes, this is an assumption on my part, but given the “party” and his poor choices, I’m throwing it in there). He opted to walk home on the 75/85 Connector. For those of you unfamiliar with Atlanta’s highways, this is the stretch through downtown where I75 and I85 are merged. It has been identified as one of the 10 most congested areas of interstate in the country. It has 7 lanes going north, and it has 7 lanes going south. It is not for pedestrians. The young man was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. Instead of a wedding tomorrow, the family had a funeral on Wednesday.

I am incredibly sympathetic towards the family. From all reports, this young man was kind and loving. I can hardly imagine the shock and grief and disbelief they must be suffering. What I say next is in no way meant to be disrespectful to them. The news stories have quoted them as saying, “We do not understand how someone could hit him and keep going,” and, “He wasn’t just some animal, he had family who loved him.” I understand why they have said these things.

However, the other thing that I understand is how a driver who hits a pedestrian can keep driving and not stop to help. The driver’s actions were not acceptable or legal. I do not intend to make excuses for that driver. I might be able to shed some light on why a person who is generally law-abiding and compassionate might not hang around after an accident like this. I know how a driver could leave the scene of an accident like that because about 15 years or so ago, I was one of those drivers. It was 6:30 in the morning and dark outside. I was driving to work, not speeding, and I had not had anything to drink prior to getting into the car. A woman stepped off the sidewalk into the street (there was no crosswalk). I swerved and tried unsuccessfully not to hit her. It happened so fast that I didn’t even hit my brakes. The skid marks I left on the street started past the point of impact. I doubt that I will ever forget the flood of emotions in the seconds after I came to a stop. I was in shock. I was terrified. I was anxious. If there has ever been a moment in which I wanted the earth to open and swallow me whole, that was it. I’m a nurse. I take care of people. I help strangers when I can. I did not for a second contemplate leaving the scene of the accident, but I would have given almost anything in the world to have been someplace, anyplace else at that moment in time. So yeah, I understand how a driver leaves after hitting a pedestrian. I don’t think it is okay, but I totally get it.

The hours that followed were some of the worst in my life. I remember saying at the time that it was the worst day I had ever had in my life. It seemed odd to say that, and I felt that I somehow needed to rationalize how ANY day could be worse than the day that Mother had died. I still can’t exactly explain it, but I still think it is true. Thank goodness a co-worker was driving not to far behind me and stopped. A physician who worked at a nearby hospital also stopped. The police and EMTs got there very quickly. The woman was badly injured and barely conscious. There was so much blood that the fire truck had to hose down the street after she was taken to the hospital. The police questioned me and gave me no information. Since this was before I had a cell phone, I asked if I could use the pay phone across the street. I was discouraged from doing so. The television reporters showed up. One asshole had the nerve to ask me if I would answer any questions. I didn’t answer any questions, but that didn’t stop them from filming me (without my knowledge) as I sat on the curb with my face in my hands. When my boyfriend got there (my co-worker sent him), I gave him my attorney’s phone number and he went to the pay phone. I’m sure their conversation was interesting, as “my attorney” was an ex-boyfriend–not someone with whom I had a professional/client relationship. When Scott got there, he asked the questions I had not known how to ask. He established that none of the evidence showed that events happened differently than I had described. I was asked to go to the jail to have labwork drawn as “was customary when there is a serious injury.” I was not exactly forbidden from riding with my friends, but I was not given permission to do so, either. I never really want to be in the back of a cop car again–just for the record.

When I started this post, I had no idea that I would give this much detail about what happened. I thought I would just post about that feeling of wanting to get away. The fact that the details were just waiting to be told shows how that day still affects me. I am different because of what happened that day. I had PTSD symptoms and didn’t sleep for weeks. I had a panic attack that evening when I thought about driving to work the next day. I called out and spent the weekend on my self-devised desensitization program. I had been depressed before, but that incident was the tipping point for me to start taking antidepressants–which I still take to this day.

I am incredibly paranoid about crossing the street without a crosswalk or against the light–even if there are no cars in sight. When I see people in the street when they shouldn’t be, I freak out at least a little–and sometimes a lot. I will not under any circumstances have more than a couple of drinks if I am going to drive, and that has to be over time or with a meal. My life did change that day, but not as much as it might have. If I had had ANY alcohol in my system and the exact same set of events had taken place, I would likely have gone to jail. The accident was not my fault, and a couple of drinks probably wouldn’t have made it any more my fault–except in the only way that matters–legally.

I used to hear the reports about hit-and-run drivers and think exactly what the family in the news is thinking. How could somebody do that? How could they just leave and not care? What kind of sociopath does that? I feel terrible for that family. I am sorry that a young man was killed. However, unlike most people who hear that story on the news, I also feel incredibly sorry for the driver. Had the driver been drinking? Did he not have insurance? Did he just panic and leave? I have no answers. The driver should have stopped. Unfortunately, I also know that that driver (unless he really is a sociopath) must be feeling horrible. Not the same kind of horrible as the family of the man who was killed–but horrible all the same.

**Part of me wants to hit delete because this post feels too depressing…but I’m hitting publish anyway.**

Ugh! The past year plus has been one filled with changes, ups, downs, and more than a rasher of depression and anxiety. I have been cruising along quite well lately, and even got excused from therapy shortly after my layoff. I considered this to be a fairly good sign of my mental health stability.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I realized I was handling things poorly. I was irritable. I was edgy. I had very little patience for idiots (and let’s face it, we see them every day and they require much patience).

I had a tripped planned for this past weekend, and events leading up to the trip skewed my anxiety meter badly. I was visiting a friend whom I see not often enough, though, and so I plundered on with the visit. I’m not trying to be coy, but to call our relationship less than simple is putting it mildly. I was a bit worried about my stress level, but a visit with this friend usually brings out the calm in me. Let’s just say this time it didn’t work out so well. There were disappointments on both sides of the equation. Let’s face it, this being human shit lends itself to that happening periodically, no matter how much love you have between you. No matter how totally fucking awesome, caring people you both are on your good days. When this happens when a certain redhead’s tank is on Empty, and her friend’s tank is about the same, the weekend you have both been looking forward to can end up being less than stellar.

We both went to the stupid places that our steamer trunks of baggage take us when we disappoint each other. Of course, those places are diametrically opposed to each of us meeting the other’s needs. Tears were shed. Frustrations were vented. The peaceful weekend was not to be. Nothing that caused permanent damage was said. In all honesty, not even anything that needed to be taken back was said. I am incredibly grateful for that. However, when you see someone you love to pieces 2 or 3 days out of every 8-12 weeks, feeling like a single minute of that time has been wasted is magnified to an unholy level.

It’s easy to see in retrospect that we could have communicated better. We could have let each other know that we were running on fumes. We might have been adult enough to cancel the plans.  Maybe we would have been more tolerant of the other when we were disappointed and frustrated.  Maybe we would have both simply tried harder to keep the crazy in its FUCKING LOCKED TIGHT BOX where it is supposed to stay. Ahem. In any case, we failed to do that, and it makes me sad. Particularly seeing as we have a few weeks ahead before things will feel really right again. We both KNOW that it is okay, but the hangover sucks. Instead of leaving each other singing happy songs, we each left feeling we had let the other down. The love is solid. While the details are at times difficult, the love is permanent, for keeps, no questions asked, no matter what. However, when a relationship isn’t a day to day thing, it stings to know that an opportunity was missed.

***Just for the record, the things that added to the degree of difficulty with this stretch of time are as follows: financial stress, hydroplaning in a matchbox car but fortunately not hitting anything, airline reservation screw-ups leaving me with a flight at 6am and a frantic drive to work after landing tomorrow morning, pressure from external sources (unavoidable), health issues (non-tragic) for both of us, and the kicker–a redhead with an anxiety disorder who realized TODAY that perhaps the fucking prednisone she had been on for 10 days and just finished Friday just *might* be the explanation for her noticeable decrease in coping skills lately.

Here’s to a bubble bath and an early bedtime in a lovely hotel very close to the airport.  Just for the record, if you need a non-specific hotel at the last minute, try using travel*ocity*dot*com’s “super secret” deal thingie.  I got a great room for about 1/3 of the usual rate.

Here’s hoping for a fabulous prednisone-free week ahead!

So, if you had a worse weekend, tell me about it so we can commiserate.  If you had a great weekend, tell me about it so I can at least know somebody left singing happy songs.

Unfriendly Skies

I’m afraid to look to see how long it has been since my last post. I’m sure everyone who isn’t gone with think of scurrying after this post. I usually don’t talk about politics, religion, moral issues with too many people. They are topics too likely to devolve into a conversation I did not intend. I have strong opinions, but I tend to talk to people with whom the pattern of discussion is already set. People with whom disagreement does not equal disagreeable–and I know this from prior experience. Blogging isn’t exactly that, so I tend not to do that here. However, there has been a series of events that make me unable to stay quiet.

Here is the story in the words of a very dear friend…

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Racial Profiling First Hand…FWB&RAAB…

You have to read through the letter below, sent to the ACLU, United/Continental Airlines, and/or a willing private lawyer (anybody?) to get to the meaning of the acronym.

What price Freedom, indeed. If the below is democracy and freedom, you can friggin’ have it. Maybe Paul Robeson was right:
To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Vance Gilbert.

I live in Arlington, MA.

I am a homeowner, having been here 10+ years, I have a partner, and we have two 52lb Standard Poodles.

I am a 6 foot tall, bespectacled, slightly greying, 52 year old, 230 lb African-American male with a close hair cut.

On August 14, 2011, I boarded United Airlines Flight UA #3483 from Boston to Dulles on time and was seated in an isle seat #9C on an Embraer 170. I was dressed in shorts, baseball hat, t-shirt, hiking boots, and unbuttoned Jimmy Buffett Hawaiian shirt (covered with airplanes). As the door was being closed, we were told it was a full flight, meaning 70 – 80 people. I had my backpack under the seat in front of me, and my fanny pack/wallet behind my heels.

After the doors were closed the flight attendant came down the isle checking security buckling, bag clearance etc., and asked if she could put my fanny pack above me in the overhead bin. I replied to her that I’d be fine just stuffing it next to my back-pack under seat in front of me as it contained my wallet etc and that I’d rather have it near. She seemed fine with that resolution. All that was done without consternation or belligerence, and I thought nothing of it.

Now, I am a musician by trade and an amateur aviation historian, studying mostly European transport aircraft between WW1 and WW2, and some after. I was on my way to two different music festivals. When I travel I delve into reading about this era of aviation. I had taken out and was reading a book of Polish Aircraft circa 1946 and I was also looking at views of an Italian aircraft from 1921.

I think you see where this is going…

The plane went all the way out to the take-off point, in the queue for take-off. All the while I noticed a lot of phone pinging back and forth between the flight attendants. The young woman flight attendant was also crouched next to and conversing seriously to a dead-heading pilot about 4 seats up on the other side. The plane then proceeded to turn around and head all the way back to the gate. Once at the gate, the jet bridge was positioned. The Captain announced, “We have a minor issue, and we will continue our departure once it’s resolved.” He left the aircraft.

After about 5 – 10 minutes, 2 Mass State Policemen, 1 or 2 TSA Agents, and the bursar for the flight come down the isle and motion me to get off of the plane. I do not remember if they called me by name. We stepped out into the breezeway where one of the State policemen asked how I was doing that day.

I replied, “Sir, I think you’re going to tell me I could be doing much better…”

Policeman: “Did you have a problem with your bag earlier?”

Me: “No sir, not at all. The flight attendant wanted it secured elsewhere other than behind my feet, and I opted to put it under the seat in front of me. It’s my wallet, even though there’s only 30 bucks in it…And all that was done without belligerence, or words for that matter…it was all good.

A few beats…

Policeman: “Sir, were you looking at a book of airplanes?”

Me: “Yes sir I was. I am a musician for money, but for fun I study old aircraft and build models of them, and the book I was reading was of Polish Aircraft from 1946.”

Policeman: “Would you please go get that book so that i can see it?”

I go back onto the plane – all eyes are on me like I was a common criminal. Total humiliation part 2.

After a couple of minutes he says, “Why, this is all Snoopy Red Baron stuff…”

Me: “Yes sir, actually the triplane you see is Italian, from 1921 a little after World War 1…”

Policeman: “No problem here then, you can go on back on to the plane, sorry to inconvenience you…and have a nice flight”.

We were now at least, after re-queuing, over an hour late. No one looked me in the eye, flight attendants, passengers. I missed my next connection, and had to cancel that portion of the flight (fair $ value equaling ??) and rent a car ($270) plus fuel ($30) to my work (lost 1/2 wages = $100), and I was afraid to read for the next two flights.

I silently wept the whole flight to DC. I’ve never been so frightened or humiliated. I’m shaking even writing this.

How much money was lost between the airline, the other travelers? – I couldn’t begin to calculate.

How damaged am I from this experience? I’m not feeling particularly American. I’m angry, dumbfounded, frightened.

Would this have happened to the 30-ish Caucasian woman sitting across the aisle from me (who left her seat, water bottle, and book, never to be seen for the rest of the “completely full” flight)? Is it now against the law to be dark and read a book about historic aircraft?

What’s my take-away from this experience as a taxpayer, United Airlines patron, Black Man, teacher, mentor, American? I was broken hearted and speechless as I overheard my friend’s wife try to explain to her kids what happened and what he and I were talking about over dinner. They never did get why.

What do I tell your children?

Enough.

What do I do now – please advise?

Please contact me at the email above

Thanks in advance,

Vance Gilbert
Arlington, MA

AKA

Flying While Black & Reading Antique Aviation Books

 

He published this letter on his website, and it has been discussed in several online articles.  Many, many people have shown him support, but many, many other have said things like, “Well, I believed him until he threw out the race card,” and “Yeah, what happened sucks, but why did he have to go and make it about him being black?” and “I’m a white guy and if it had been me the exact same thing would have happened.”  Those people are entitled to their beliefs, I just happen to disagree.

This entire incident has me upset on many different levels. I’m upset that a friend is hurting. I’m frustrated at the paranoia that makes it seem reasonable to put up with such nonsense when we travel. I’m concerned about the fact that many people seem to dismiss his assertion that his skin color played into the events. When he says that it did, I believe him. I know enough to be certain he doesn’t look for a chance “to play the race card.” He is one of the more perceptive people I have ever met–I have seen him pick up facts not spoken many times. I realize that John Q. Public doesn’t “know” him. I don’t necessarily expect everyone to accept what he states without thought. I wish, however, that there were fewer people simply dismissing the *possibility* out of hand as if “these things” don’t happen any more

The unfortunate reality is that we still live in a society where people make decisions every, single day that ARE influenced by the color of a person’s skin. The white woman who recently asked how much she should tip the skycaps since “the black men seem to have been replaced by white college kids.”  (I’m unclear who she thought should get a bigger tip.)  The middle class parent who had never made a racist/prejudiced statement to me before who states that she has chosen to move to a different school district “so the girls won’t decide to date black boys.” The co-worker who intimates that the black staff members don’t work as hard as others “because, well, you know, they are just lazy.” So while not one of us is privy to the thoughts of those involved, eliminating race as a factor is shutting one’s eyes to a truth in our society. The “race card” is a reality that people have to live with their entire lives. If you are a black person, things happen to you and around you because your skin color. Of course, every bad thing that happens to people with brown skin is not due to skin color. However, it is an additional filter through which groups of people who have been discriminated against must view the world. I wish this were not true, but it is a truth we ignore at our peril.

I am not really looking for any kind of “result” from putting this out here.  I just know that the tears, frustration and sadness I feel mean something needed to be said.

Moving a body

I am significantly more aware and more comfortable dealing with end of life issues than most people I know. I suppose this is due to my professional experience as a nurse and my personal experience with unexpected death. I recognized at the time and continue to believe that the biggest gift Mother ever gave her children was a clear message about what she wanted about her end of life care, organ donation, and funeral arrangements. As a result of those factors, I have given much thought to what it is I want–though I have no reason to believe it will be needed any time soon. My goals are fairly simple–I want it to be inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and easy on my family. I initially thought I wanted cremation and be scattered anywhere that seemed appropriate. However, as cremation is rising in popularity, it is also rising in cost. Studies have also begun to surface that report that it has more of a negative impact on the environment than previously thought. That led me to search further.

There are many options for , but they are still thousands of dollars. For a time, though, this seemed to be the best option for me.

I may have mentioned my love for reading mysteries. I also enjoy the science of forensics–in print or on screen. I have read many books by many authors that cover the topic. One of these authors is Dr. Bill Bass and his co-author Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bill Bass is a forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He started a research program now affectionately known as The Body Farm. Anything you have ever seen or read about determining time of death by insect activity was likely discovered at this facility. They also study skeletal remains–learning every day a bit more about how to establish identity and cause of death with less and less to work with. By studying the chemical makeup of bones, investigators can identify the region of the country a person lived as a child. This knowledge can assist grieving families in gaining closure years after a death.

As you have likely guessed by now, this is where I wish to go after I die. It fits my love of science, my passion for mysteries, and my desire to help others. It is certainly ecologically sound–natural as possible. It costs nothing to donate one’s body to the facility. So, I was all set, right? Well, not quite. The one thing that would need to be addressed was the transportation. UT will pick you up in you live less than 200 miles from the facility (I don’t) and live in Tennessee (also not me). During initial calls to funeral homes, I was given the inaccurate information, “embalming is required by law to transport across state lines.” This is true in some states, but not in Georgia.

I was discussing this with a friend, and she said, “So all I need to do is get you to Tennessee and they will pick you up?” She was certain she could find a friend with a truck and “meet them in Chattanooga.” I appreciated her offer, but I had some concerns about the details. “So, you think it is a good idea to meet at the Hardee’s parking lot and change vehicles? I have concerns that you moving something that not only looks like a dead body, but actually is a dead body might attract some attention.” She reaffirms her willingness, but I decide exploring other options is probably a good idea.

So this week I made a few more phone calls. I got a few more erroneous reports, but finally hit paydirt. I found a company who will take me to Knoxville for under $650. Now all I need is to type up the information and leave it with my sister. It will require a single phone call to carry out my wishes, and that gives me a bit of peace. Have any of you given any thought to what you want and how to get it? Or does this just reaffirm (understandably) that I do not think at all like *normal* people?