Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ontario, California in late-July is pure hot, and my first night in town the only restaurants I could find for dinner were a defrocked Sizzler and, eventually, a frocked Sizzler. My hotel turned out to be a motel (not a Holiday Inn), and I think my four-day stay was about 96 times that of its typical customer. The three-hour question in the last session was a wills contest about a father who had died in the last month, and I had to take five minutes to recover after reading it.

On the other hand, plenty of friends were out there too, and we had really nice dinners Tuesday and Wednesday night. The questions otherwise fell nicely, as my three most desired topics to avoid (Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Corporations) based on what I short-shrifted in the last two weeks of studying all failed to come up. I think I slam-dunked three of the six essays, and I didn't flail about cluelessly on any question (or, at most, one). Also, I bought a hat before my head sunburn got out of control.

And yesterday I found that the Venice apartment was everything I had been told.

So, all in all, not a bad week.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I've gotten a couple of questions about donations, info that was accidentally omitted from the obituary. We are asking that donations be sent to the Donnell House and preferably to the Free Care Fund.

Everyone seems to be holding up ok so far.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It ended last night, not with a bang but with a whimper. Not even a whimper really--he literally took a breath and then didn't take the next one, and there was no more fanfare than that. MASH was on the TV, and I was working on a sudoku, while Mom was occupied with something similarly banal. I looked up, as I did periodically, to wait for the next breath, and it never came. We called in the nurses, they checked some vitals, and that was it.

People have been incredibly kind, as they generally are in these situations, and which I should try to remember in my more cynical moments. Another lesson learned is that a generalized "anything I can do for you" is a wonderful and thoughtful response, a slightly longer personalized response is even more wonderful and thoughtful still, and the single best thing you can do if feasible is to forget the general and just do something that the grieving person needs and doesn't know they need. But it's not necessarily feasible to do that, so any kind words spared (especially from people you know are super-busy, e.g. because of the biggest test of their life being a week away) are more than sufficient.

My friends have been amazing. Just amazing. That's all I can say about that.

Also, I would have bet dollars to donuts against it, but somehow I've convinced my mother that it's a good idea (.......?) [ed. note: CA Bar humor] to play a Flaming Lips song at the funeral, in addition to two songs by Willie Nelson who was a favorite of dad's, and the family's in general.

Monday, July 16, 2007

No change.

Except, of course, for the fact that I start to go completely mental after about 4 days around here under the best of circumstances, which this is decidedly not. If this were one of those shows like Ally McBeal or Scrubs where you see comically distorted fantasies through the main character's eyes, you'd have a picture now of walking around a gigantic Walmart where everyone has a mullet halfway down their back, everyone is 450 pounds and 60 and wearing short shorts, there's always country music playing and not the good kind like Johnny or Willie but the kind that's just like pop music for 15-year-old girls except with a twang, everybody's munching on a gigantic bag of extra-salty chips and fried dough, and all rules of grammar have been permanently suspended.

That would be at least a 10-12% exaggeration of everything I see around me every day when I go running errands, or just get away for a while.

The Starbucks that has music pumped in from corporate so the locals can't play pop crap, country pop crap, hair metal, or the Steve Miller Band has been my one place of refuge. Actually, one of two--the messages I get on here and via email from my friends all over the place have been the biggest refuge of all, and I thank you sincerely for that.

Now I just want to get back to civilization, the gym, Weight Watchers, the bike--my life.

But for now, no change.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I've used one of these things at least 1,000 times. They fit perfectly in your hand and have a little thumb-depressor button, and are connected by a long wire to another machine. All the other times I've used them, I've been playing quiz-bowl, holding your standard issue buzzer.

The one I've been holding over the last three days is exactly the same, except that instead of operating a lockout system, it operates Dad's morphine pump. They installed the pump on Monday, and this is one of the last precursors to what I'll euphemistically call "endgame". We can press the button as often as every 15 minutes if we interpret his mostly involuntary twitches and shudders as pain.

On Tuesday Mom called and didn't exactly tell me to come home, but didn't argue with me when I asked if that's what I should do. I was supposed to come home on Wednesday, but it looked like that might be too late.

Of course, my dad is one tough, stubborn sonofabitch, so he's still holding on tonight.

It is amazing to me what the human body (or at least his) can withstand. There is no way he weighs as much as 90 pounds right now; 30 months ago he was at 285. He has no muscle fiber left at all; his eyes are open all the time now, and when we asked why, the nurse explained to us that some patients get so weak that they can't exert the effort it takes to keep their eyes closed.

Ponder that for a moment--not having the physical strength to keep your eyelids closed, yet still being able to fight for extra hours and days of life.

He also hasn't been able to swallow since Monday. At some point in the next few days that will probably become the immediate cause of death, because he's getting no food or water now. Because it's hospice, they don't use IVs or anything of the sort. Literally the only fluid he's taking in right now is the morphine.

We are taking all of this about as well as can be expected. The long, boring hours at the hospice facility play into my needs, as I can slip off to the quiet room and practice multiple choice or essay questions for a while. I don't get in a lot of hours of study right now, but let me tell you those are some focused hours, because having anything else to think about is such a luxury.

Food habits always take a turn for the worse when I'm at home, but "fuck it" mode has totally gone into overdrive--Chinese buffet for lunch, milkshakes, baked goods that aunts and cousins send over, you name it. I'll sweat it off later, cursing every last calorie all the while. But for now, hey, whatever gets you through the night, as they say.

People have been super-thoughtful, and it is much appreciated.

Mostly, though, I just want it all to be over: I want to be able to grieve properly without being in this halfway-stage, I want dad's pain to be over, and I want to get back to my life. Yes, it's true, I have found something less enjoyable to do with my July than cramming for the bar.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Some interesting facts that you may not know about Batman:

  • The mayor of Batman is Hüseyin Kalkan, who is a member of the Democratic Society Party.
  • Until the 1950s, Batman was a small village with a mostly Kurdish population.
  • Presently Batman has a high unemployment level.
Also, apparently I'm nine years old. But someone else is eight.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Two recent consumer pet peeves:

  1. "Receipt in the bag or with you?" Now, I realize that a significant portion of Americans spend large portions of their day trying to find new, stupid, unlikely shit to worry about. I also realize that one of those people's favorite bugaboos is identity theft. But not only will I be taking with me anything that you put in my hand, but I'll also be carrying my bags. Also, it turns out that I don't need to have a lot of extra shit in my hands. So please, don't bother asking, just put the damn receipt in the bag. (This is closely related to the donut receipt phenomenon, but I don't have anything to add to Mitch Hedberg's excellent treatment here.)
  2. "Room for cream?" As a constant coffee shop patron, at first I loved this question, because it seemed thoughtful. Then I came to realize that if I said yes, I would get at most two-thirds of a cup of coffee. If I said no, I would still end up with plenty of room for cream, since I add what could best be described as a dollop. Even I say "just a little," I still end up short-changed. So I say no, and then add it anyway, and then I feel like the jerk. Also, who the hell puts cream in their coffee at a coffee shop?! "Room for skim" would be way more apropos, even if I approved of the question, which I don't.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tickets have been purchased today, so I am officially headed to Eastern Europe after all of this bar exam rigamarole is over. We're (4 of us total) flying into Prague on August 4th (leaving JFK on the 3rd) and flying out of Istanbul on the 22nd. The rest is, for the most part, TBD. Obviously, we're definitely spending a few days each in Prague and Istanbul. In between, Eastern Europe is our oyster--most likely we'll go from Prague to Budapest, and then we're still deciding whether to go down Croatia way or head to Romania and Bulgaria. Croatia is supposed to be awesome, but it's a tad out of the way unless we want to head over the Balkans through areas where there are unexploded land mines and people who haven't been told the war is over. Romania has Dracula tourism, Bulgaria has Black Sea beaches, and both are sure to have lots of ugly looking Warsaw Pact-Era buildings. Either way, it promises to be a memorable 2.5 weeks.