And another hot minute passes…

Wild Horses Statue, Providence, RI

Right, so where was I? Ciaragh was back, I was done with GARF, and life was settling down so I could get ready for my inlaws to come for a visit.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Not even close.

For those that don’t know, my mom had some sort of major neurological event around the 3rd week of June, and she has not been able to recover completely. She is in hospice care now, and we really don’t know what the next step is there.

I’m updating right now from a hotel in Rhode Island because I am attending the RID conference. I had completely let this go to the wayside with everything going on at home. I happened to look at the webi

Nope, let’s start again.

This has been the weirdest summer of my entire 47.5 years of life. I sort of feel like I’m in the middle of that groovy statue I got to photograph in Providence – only the horses are real and in motion, and if I don’t watch out I’m going to get trampled.

Over the summer, I wasn’t watching out, and I was most certainly trampled. Ciaragh was back home, and I was settling into my regular summer routine of freelance interpreting, planning for upcoming faires, and writing as much as I could whenever I could. The final draft of the second Clobberpaws book was starting to sit up and pay attention. The first novel in the Forest Wars saga was being actively edited for the…I don’t know, umpteenth time, and was on track for publication at the end of July.

And then, my sister took my mother up to see my dad’s grave on what would have been his birthday. And then there was the night about four days later that I was talking to my mother on the phone and she was slurring her words and was very confused. I rang my sister who went over there, spent the night there, and then took Mom to Emory the next day to see the doctor.

From there, she was fast-tracked into the unit that treats stroke patients, only she hadn’t had a stroke. There was no evidence at all of a stroke. And then she had a seizure and slept for about five days – as one does when one is 86 and has a massive seizure. Her advance directive said no life-prolonging measures – no feeding tubes, etc. And then she was on the hospice unit for something like three weeks, so because nothing was happening, they discharged her to her home, where she died about two weeks-ish later.

Now, none of that is about me. It’s nothing to do with me. But the aftermath is everything to do with me, my sister, and our families. I spent a good day after Mom died wondering if I was an orphan now. Is that something that only applies to children? More time than was probably necessary was devoted to wondering what would happen to my sister and me – we had been texting all day almost every day since that fateful phone call because I am a state away from them. Now that the crisis time was over, would we fade back into our typical roles, only communicating now and then?

So here I am, a month and two days from waking up to a phone call from my sister that Mom had passed in her sleep, and I’m still wondering. Still waiting. Still an orphan – I decided I wanted to own that, so I did. Still struggling to find someone to talk to on long days at home or long car rides when I usually would call Mom. Still not quite able to listen to the stack of voice mails from her still on my phone – recordings that underscore what a neglectful daughter I am for not visiting her more often.

Here I am, with a book about to launch in a week’s time, a “First Page Critique” away to the folks running the writer’s conference in September that I will be attending (in the hopes that it will be chosen to be anonymously ripped to bits by a panel of literary agents), and a big signing event in the works for November.

Here I am, suddenly winning at being a writer for at least a few minutes, and the number one person I want to tell isn’t here. I hope she knows. I hope she is pleased. I hope she is proud.

Well, howdy, Houston.

Yeah, I know that people don’t really say howdy just because this is Texas. But to be honest, my first hours in this part of the Lone Star State have been so very weird that I first thought I’d booked the wrong flight and was actually in Austin, but that weird is a good weird. This weird is like a WHEN AM I GOING TO WAKE UP FROM WHAT IS CLEARLY A NIGHTMARE weird.

I don’t think that it is Houston’s fault though… To be fair, I’m not even sure that I’m in Houston proper. I flew into Hobby because the hotel where my conference is being held only runs a shuttle to Hobby – a fact that, in retrospect, should have told me loads about the hotel. But I will get to that in a minute.

I flew Southwest for the first time and after wrangling their wifi (good gracious, I’ve been here less than 24 hours and I said wrangling) mid-flight, I find that was the only complaint I have with them. It is definitely worth it to do what you need to do to be Passenger A 1-10 to board, and make sure you can check your bag, and it’s really a pleasant airline for short haul flights. The seats aren’t as comfy as the Delta Economy Comfort that my rear end has grown to love, but the flight crew was nice and it was a good experience…at least until the landing at Hobby.

We were coming in for a landing – literally, I could read the words on the buildings – and then out fo nowhere we started climbing again. Apparently, the plane on the runway to take off was not going fast enough so our plane couldn’t land. I guess there is a first time for everything. Poor hubs was watching the flight online and said that it told him I’d be on the ground in ten minutes and then JUST KIDDING, we were circling. But we landed, and I made it off the plane, got my bags, all before my phone’s battery died. JUST.

I followed the signs (once I wandered around till I found them) to the “Hotel Shuttle Pickup” spot and waited…and waited…there was lots of waiting. The couple waiting there with me probably wished that I would go away – it should be no shocker to anyone that knows me that I am very bad at small talk. I was two clicks out from going back in the airport to regroup and charge my phone when the shuttle for my hotel arrived. Back on the plan!

Sort of.  The couple I was waiting alongside was either on the phone or on the net from the airport to the hotel (which y’all, is like 5 minutes) and talking about transplants and stem cells and how someone whose name I didn’t catch was “expendable…well, not expendable, but expendable.” I tuned out at that point. Got to the hotel and they had given my room away. Now two weeks ago I rang the hotel to let them know that I would be there on Thursday instead of Wednesday – which made their website tell me that I had to start over and the hotel was sold out this weekend. The very nice woman I spoke to said she straightened it out, just took the Wednesday arrival off and send me a new confirmation email. The man who clearly could not have cared less had he been dead told me that wasn’t the case and they were putting me across the street at another hotel for the night at no charge. Since that was NOT the point, I argued and told him I had a confirmation email. He told me it didn’t matter, he did not have a room for me and here’s the shuttle, come see us after 8am tomorrow and we will have a room for you.

Well, you can just imagine my happy face at THAT good news. So I come to the HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS – which by the way has not made me any more intelligent by my staying here – which has no restaurant. Did I mention I ate lunch in Greenville at 10:45 and was starving by that point? So I got the shuttle back across the street (which isn’t a street, it’s a HIGHWAY and very busy and loud) and tried to find the registration for the conference. The terribly unhelpful man that gave away my room answered my VERY REASONABLE question about the location of the registration for TerpExpo by saying that he only registered people for the hotel. What?

Still with me? BECAUSE THERE’S MORE.

So I’m wandering around, nearly in tears from hunger and frustration, feeling an anxiety attack building toward panic when I saw a line of people leading to food. I got in the line, but as it drew closer I found that the food in question was ice cream. There’s another group in the same hotel – a church group from Waco learning about mission trips. And best of all, they brought all three million of their children. I got out of that line and wandered around till a very helpful member of the waitstaff from the hotel restaurant took pity on me, got me a table and a menu.

Two things about that meal: The hotel serves Pepsi products and “basil cream sauce” on pasta is basically pesto.

Made it to the registration table, got myself sorted out, and made it into the last workshop of the day. All in all, I’m not that impressed with TERPEXPO so far, and the registration issue was just one of the problems. What kind of interpreter conference has that much talking without signing? I think I’ve learned that these conferences are not for me, thank you. RID seriously has nothing to worry about in terms of losing folks to this circus. I hope it’s better in other cities.

So after hours and hours of “this must be a dream” and “please, I’d like to wake up now,” I am in my room across the highway and I feel a little better. Must be the pesto…because it isn’t Houston.