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I only have two memories of my paternal grandmother:
1) when I was very little, I was sitting in the van with Gramma Hancher and my mother. Mom was driving, Gramma Hancher was in the front passenger seat, and I was in the middle back. Mom and Gramma Hancher were talking. Actually specifically Gramma Hancher was saying something, and I interrupted to say whatever thought had come into my little head. Gramma Hancher stopped talking and instead listened to whatever it was that I had to say.
Even then, as an early-elementary-schooler, I thought that it was weird that an adult, a grandmother no less, had stopped talking to allow a little kid to speak. She had deferred to me. Neither Mom nor Gramma Hancher commented on my interrupting. That was the first time I had ever noticed my interrupting habit and swore to stop it. (I still interrupt people, but at least I try not to)
2) When Lion King came out in 1994, I was seven and it completely rocked my world. So when we went and visited Gramma Hancher at the nursing home, I took along some of my Lion King stuffed animals to show her. I remember showing them to her. She took the time to listen to everything I had to say and commented on the Simba and Nala toys that had magnets in their noses so they kissed.
I have other memories, like Dad talking with Gramma Hancher about doing physical therapy and getting enough movement, or the time we were visiting and I pressed a button out of curiosity and a nurse came running (turned out the button was a nurse call button). And of course I remember her funeral. It was the first funeral I ever attended. I remember looking at her body in the casket and thinking that it looked nothing like her. I had to make myself cry over it, and I only cried because I had been taught that that was what you were supposed to do at funerals. But I couldn’t mourn this body. It didn’t look like the woman I knew, who made two toy lions kiss and listened to whatever it was that I had to say.
Gramma Hancher died before I was ten. I never knew Grampa Joe, her husband. He died before I was born. Dad says that I would have loved him and that he would have loved me. He would have taught me checkers, Dad says. But because they died when I was so young/not around, I hardly think of them as my grandparents. My grandparents have always been Mom’s parents. Gramma died when I was in my 20s, and Grampa is still around. I don’t call them Gramma Sherman and Grampa Ron, I just call them Gramma and Grampa, because that’s who they are to me.
Still, I think Gramma Hancher had an affect on me. Especially her funeral, when I looked at her face and felt nothing. I don’t want an open-casket funeral. I don’t want my body preserved, I don’t want people to see my face and think how strange and artificial it looks.
Today is the first of the three memorials for Deb. We’re doing the memorial for her North Carolina friends today. In two weeks, we’ll have the memorial in Indianapolis, and we’ll distribute the ashes on the Appalachian Trail in the same spot as his dad.
That makes me happy, that her final resting place is in the same space as her husband. Gramma Hancher and Grampa Joe are buried in the same space. My maternal grandmother is buried under a tombstone that she and Grampa bought together. But Grampa wants to have his ashes distributed in space, leaving my grandmother alone for eternity.
I was thinking today about what I want for my final resting space. Well, our final resting space.
One of my favorite stories from Greco-Roman mythology is the story of Baucis and Philemen. Apollo and Jupiter visited a town dressed as bums. No one let them stay the night except for an old couple, who were very poor, but shared everything they had with them. In the morning, Apollo and Jupiter revealed themselves, and said that they would grant Baucis and Philemen a gift for their kindness. The couple said that they were so old and that they had everything they needed, so all they wanted was to be together forever. So Apollo and Jupiter turned them into trees that were right next to each other, whose trunks were intertwined. Together forever.
I’ve heard of these tree pod urns, where you turn your ashes into a planter for a tree.
So I want James and I to be turned into trees, with a plaque (or two?). I want my plaque to read:
KELSEY HANCHER MEYERS
FEBRUARY 1987-(whatever the date of my death is)
WIFE, MOTHER, AND FRIEND
SHE WAS SMARTER THAN SHE WAS WISE
(Okay, I assume that I’m going to be a mother, and a friend, and that my family would want to put something self-deprecating on my plaque, who knows, maybe they’ll want to put something nice about me like “she will be missed” or something)
And the image will be something that reflects our mutual love of space. I love the solar system so I want something like a planetary system, a planet revolving around a sun, or two planets sharing an orbit, or something.
I don’t know what James would want?
JAMES ALAN MEYERS
JUNE 1984-(whatever the date of his death is)
HUSBAND, FATHER, AND FRIEND
A SMILE THAT BRIGHTENED THE WORLD
After a few serious conversations, James and I have reached a compromise: one cat, once I have a full-time job.
It’s the “full-time job” part that’s frustrating. I have no control over it. Literally no control. As in, there are headlines all over North Carolina reading “NC Teacher Assistants once again rally for jobs” “500+ Teacher Assistants could lose their job in two weeks” “Teacher assistants once again criticize NC legislature for budget delays”
North Carolina is not a good teaching environment. I’m considering just dropping the dream altogether. I won’t drop Latin, obviously (obviously). There’s a community of Latin hobbyists out there, learning it on their own. I’ve dipped my toes in it a bit. Maybe in the future I can pursue more Latin formally. Heck, with the right career, I could even pursue a Ph.D. in Classics. Who knows? Only time will tell.
I’ve been brushing the dust off a few other career ideas. Namely, Library Sciences and Bookkeeping. I think the next step for me is to apply to Wake Technical Community College. Maybe I’ll sign up for an entry-level course in database management (or computer sciences or something?) and in Accounting, and see which one I take to more.
I would also enter as a transfer student from Northern Virginia Community College, which is weird. It’s been so long since I’ve been a starter student.
Looking at the options, I would probably take Basic PC Literacy (for accounting) and CIS 110 (for database management) or something.
Honestly, in this area, getting involved with technical stuff is not a bad idea. I might be able to spin it into an entry-level job at one of the important companies on Research Triangle. Then I’ll be the breadwinner and I’ll be able to get two cats!
This is all just an extended way to say that compromise is terrible and I should get a cat now anyway.
“If you’d like to meet him, I’d be happy to bring him to you. I have a couple weekdays off this week.”
CAT MEETING CAT MEETING CAT MEETING
okay calm down there Hancher take a breath and explain
Jonathan’s foster mom emailed me back about an hour after my last post! She wants me to meet Jonathan!
KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY
I think I’m getting old, guys. Yesterday I encountered a teenager and all I could think of was how she was such a teenager doing inexplicably painful teenager things. “YOuths,” I thought to myself, and that weird capitalization was deliberate.
She came in with her father, who is a regular customer, and another girl, presumably her sister. She looked less than five feet tall. Her hair was gigantic, poofy and sticking out in all directions; I’ve never seen hair like that outside of an anime convention. She was dressed in a long-sleeve Pokemon shirt and short shorts. Her sister was taller than she was, and caught in the prime of teenage awkwardness, but came across as very sweet. Her sister walked straight up to the counter and asked a question about a sandwich, then ordered that sandwich, then ordered a drink. The father ordered his usual coffee. Then they looked at this teenager.
She stepped up to the counter and stared at me. Her face was somehow blank and full of antipathy. I smiled cheerfully at her and said, “What would you like?”
She continued to stare antipathetically at me.
Finally her sister said, “Tell her what you want.”
She turned her blank expression her sister.
“That sour look isn’t going to do anything to me, you know.”
So she turned one tiny middle finger on her. Her sister rolled her eyes. The girl rolled her perfect non-expression back into me. I smiled again.
“Just order a drink,” said her father.
She continued to stare at me.
Finally I looked at her father and said, “We can just take care of these two orders, and when she’s ready, we can take care of her.”
“No no, we’ll wait,” said her father.
Then, a minute later, “You know what, we’ll pay for that sandwich and those drinks right now, and when she’s ready she’ll order.”
So he paid and then the trio sat down at a table and waited for their drinks. I started the sandwich and got his coffee while the barista on bar prepared the sister’s latte. A minute or so after these had been delivered, the teenager approached the counter. She ordered a sandwich and a green tea frappuccino, which I verified. Then she paid, then she stood by the counter and stared at Kathryn until it was delivered. When the frappuccino was placed on the counter, she stared at it some more. I wondered if maybe I should say something, then decided that Kathryn was in charge of the bar and I would just be interference (this was probably not the best instinct, but it is the decision I made).
Finally the manager on duty, saw her staring and asked if something was wrong with the drink. The teenager replied that she had wanted a green tea latte, not a green tea frappuccino. So the barista and the manager apologized and started making the new drink.
The teenager took the frappuccino, set it on the table, then disappeared into the bathroom. While in there, the manager took it upon herself to take the finished latte, walk it to her table, and switch the frappuccino for the latte.
When the teenager emerged from the bathroom, now wearing more makeup, she saw that the frappuccino had been switched for the latte. She approached the counter and asked the barista and the manager to ask where the frappuccino had gone. The manager explained what she had done. Then the manager had to explain that no, the teenager couldn’t have both drinks. Because it was a bad business practice. Because we would lose money. Because if she had wanted to have both drinks, then she should have ordered both drinks. I swear the manager had to spend twenty minutes explaining this.
I found myself wondering if she had made such a fuss about ordering in front of her family because she had intended to order the “wrong” drink and then get two drinks out of us. I wondered if she really was a moody sourpuss like I had originally thought, or if she was a scammer, or both, or neither, or who knows.
The last job Claire and Eva worked before Labor Day was at a little farmhouse out in the country. Claire explained that it wasn’t the real real country, the house was only ten minutes from the county seat, but nevertheless the whole place had a very country feel. The house, with peeling paint and holes in the roof, was situated in a two-acre plot of land, marked on all sides by trees. You couldn’t see it from the road, which made it ideal for teenagers to explore and hide in.
“A hive of teenagers,” a cop sniffed.
The land surrounding the house was all grassland, overgrown. The previous occupants had laid down heavy gravel to the three-car garage; otherwise the grass would have prevented penetration by car. Claire and Eva hid their car behind the garage. A car meant adulthood. Adulthood meant legitimacy. They couldn’t appear legitimate, not here.
The house had, at that point, been abandoned by seven years. The owners had foreclosed on the house, had moved on to a small apartment closer to the county seat, where they had managed to find jobs. They were safe. The bank had been unable to sell the house, unable to mow the grass, unable to do repairs. The teenagers claimed the house was haunted. After seven years, the bank was inclined to agree.
Claire and Eva made their move on a Friday night in the last days of summer, when teenagers would feel the impending doom of September and act out, leave their homes, try to capture the last of the summer stars and the freedom of being young and broke. Claire was 23 and Eva nearly 21, but they still looked fairly young. They could mingle with the teenagers and lie about their age. It was better if they lied. Eva claimed 16 and Claire claimed 17. Eva’s hair was jagged and short, too short and too long to look cute; it was awkward and in her eyes. Combined with her cheeks, she could pass for 16, especially in the dark flashlight and candlelight they and the teenagers brought. Claire didn’t look 17, not even in the dark, with her long, confident limbs, neat hair, and wise face. Still, the teenagers accepted her as one of their own; lots of teenagers looked like they were in their early 20s. Perhaps Claire could get them beer later.
Claire and Eva sat with the teenagers and listened to their rituals. There was beer there. Eva was panicked slightly; they were adults and there was teenagers drinking beer. Claire and Eva had decided that the blatant illegality of the whole situation would make it more likely that their plan would succeed. Claire even assured her that her panic made the situation even better. Still, there were cops out there.
The cops had found them, the five teenagers, Claire, and Eva, sitting in the living room doing rituals. Some of it had been show-offish stuff with the candles. There was Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. There was a telephone squeeze game. Claire had even performed a séance (entirely fake, of course). Some of the boys scared the others, pretending to be ghosts, banging the walls and breathing on girls. But finally the cops arrived, in the dark of night.
The teenagers, being teenagers, were driven back home by a pair of the cops. Only two cops remained to interrogate Claire and Eva, who were adults after all.
“Trespassing,” said the cops.
They actually had legal permission, but Claire and Eva kept tight-lipped. They were in real trouble now. Soon it would start.
“Purchasing alcohol for underaged minors,” the cops said.
“Are there any other kind of minors?” Claire asked.
Eva glared at Claire.
“We are going to arrest you,” the cops said.
“You can’t do that,” Eva said, sounding resigned but trying to sound firm. “We pay your salaries.” The cops, predictably, looked annoyed at the comment.
“We weren’t doing any harm,” Claire added. “This old house is so broken down anyway. No one even owns the place.” Claire had been doing this longer.
“Yeah,” Eva said. “Don’t you guys have robbers and murderers to apprehend?”
The two cops began reaching for their handcuffs. The two young women exchanged glances; this was getting serious, and more importantly, it wasn’t working.
Eva grabbed at her necklace, hidden beneath her shirt. The cops jumped a little at the movement. Eva was easily able to unclip the necklace. It was a cheap necklace she had bought for $2.99 eight months ago, but it was the most handy tool in her arsenal. She held it out at arms-length, away from Claire and the cops.
“Oh no,” said Eva. “This necklace was my grandmother’s. My mother gave it to me when my gramma died. I don’t want to lose it!”
The cops stared at her.
Eva felt a pull on the necklace. Her mouth tightened with effort as she pulled back. The necklace dug into her hand. She leaned back, trying to pull them, hell, trying to keep her ground. If the ghosts pulled her towards them, who knew where she would end up?
Claire gasped. There were two ghosts, flickering in and out of her sight; not one, as they had originally thought. She ransacked her brain, trying to come up with some advice for Eva, but her mind pulled up a blank. It was Repellers who handled these jobs, and there were no hard rules for Repelling. Attractors could find ghosts. Attractors were sought out by ghosts. Repellers “only” got rid of ghosts.
Oh. There was one thing she could do.
“There’s two of them!” she shouted.
“What is going on?” one of the cops asked. Claire spared them a glance; their shoulders were wide, they were looking around in all directions. It occurred to her, then, that the lights were flickering. The candles had been blown out, of course, but the flashlights were going off and on. The headlights beaming in from outside were flickering as well.
“It’s working!” Claire shouted. She didn’t know why she was shouting; technically there was no noise. But she could feel noise, in her head, the droning and humming of mundane existence rubbing against the pocket of spirituality of the house. The proximity to the rub – just a few feet away, inches from Eva’s clenching fists – drove her to near-deafness. She rubbed her ears and shouted to the cops, “We have it under control, don’t worry!” She rubbed her temple next. She rubbed the top of her head. It was inside, trying to get out.
Eva considered moving her foot, pulling back and trying to gain harder ground behind her, farther away from the source. But there would be a moment of weakness, before she gained her ground, when she would be at her most weak. It also occurred to her that the pulling wasn’t doing anything except keeping them in one place.
Claire was shouting, which meant that they were almost there. They were so close to get rid of these guys. What, exactly, did they know about these guys, except that they always did the opposite of what anyone wanted (taking out lawnmowers, breaking hammers, drying paint in the can)? But they were doing exactly what Eva wanted. They were where she wanted them to be.
Perhaps they wanted only what they couldn’t have.
Eva held out one of her hands, where another random tool sat on her ring finger, waiting to be used. A $10 ring, found at the same place she found the necklace. Cheapo and made for teenage girls who thought wearing dark clothing made them rebels.
“I hate this ring,” Eva said. “But it’s mine.”
The ghosts swarmed her hand, swirling and rubbing her hand; it was like a hundred hand dryers set at “cool” were covering her hand at once. It was hard to keep her hand still, especially since they dropped the pressure on her necklace. But they had imbued the necklace with their esoterica now. Eva draped the necklace over her hand, then twisted it and wrapped it around her hand again. In the corner of her eye, she saw Claire begin to shake; a cop grabbed her before she fell. Eva again twisted the necklace and made another loop over her hand. She did it four more times, until there were seven loops on her hand.
Everything suddenly became still. Even the cops noticed it. Eva could hear ringing in her ears. Claire slowly stiffened and straightened in the cop’s arms. She gasped something, cleared her throat, and repeated, “Seven.”
Eva nodded. The ringing was overpowering; she wasn’t sure she would be normal for a while.
“They’re gone?” Eva whispered.
“Oh, yes,” Claire said.
I have been nibbled on by the were-hamster! When the full moon arises, I shall become a were-hamster! I shall enter the woods and feast on it!
ALL SHALL FEAR ME.
Today was my second day at Petsmart (the first was yesterday, but it was spent on training videos and two hours at the cash register — nothing worth noting). All my coworkers have been very nice so far. I think I’ll like them. I worked an opening shift. I followed Josh around for 4 hours as he explained the process of changing out and cleaning food and water dishes, followed by new filters for the massive filtration system, then food for the fish.
And in case anyone is wondering, of course I’ve already picked out pets I want. On the top of my list is a Uromastyx:
HELL YES I WANT A DINOSAUR.
Second on my list is an odd one. It’s a fancy rat — not so odd, I’ve had my eye on getting fancy rats for a while now. But. Well. This is going to sound odd.
In the back of the store, behind the EMPLOYEES ONLY door, there are two small rooms. One is a Quiet Room, and it’s specifically for new arrivals. The animals live there for a few days, just to get over the shock of movement and travel, before they go out onto the sales floor. The other room is a sick room, for animals that are either sick, pregnant, or have been injured. In this second room, there are currently two rats. One, sitting at eye-level, was bitten by a fellow rat. She will be going back on the sales floor soon. The other one sits on the bottom of the shelf, away from humans. This other rat bites. She doesn’t bite other rats. She bites humans.
All of the rodents are kept in plastic bins that you roll out of drawers that lock. They sit tight enough together that tiny crawly mice, gerbils, and hamsters can’t get out. For the most part, you can easily grab the edge of the tub and pull it out and see baby animals staring at you curiously.
But this rat.
She sees your feet approach, and she runs up to the edge of the tub.
If you stick your fingers over the edge of the bin — say, to open the drawer, in order to change out her water and food — she bites.
It’s hard to find a not-cute picture of a fancy rat. source
I completely forgot this fact when I reached for the drawer. They had me wash my hands twice and put anti-bacterial cream on the bite, and three bandaids, since I was going to be working with a lot of water. I pocketed two. The biggest bite mark is on my thumbnail, the side where her bigger teeth bit in. It’s going to take a few weeks for that to go away. The manager joked that I was officially a Petsmart employee now that I had been bitten by an animal.
Later on, I observed Josh open the drawer carefully and feed the rat an orange. She met him teeth-first. Except that now there was an orange in the way. She was being rewarded for biting the thing the first thing she saw.
“She’s not bad, after she tries to bite you. She only tries to bite you once,” Josh said. “I handled her for a little while a couple weeks ago, and she was fine.”
I could fix the biting, I thought. No I couldn’t. I don’t want to. I can’t take on another animal. But I could fix it. I’ve never had a rat. But that rat just needs to be put into a new environment and retrained. But I’m not the one to do it. But I could. If I tried. I would name her Tara and I wouldn’t give her any food or anything after I opened the cage. But I shouldn’t. I don’t want to.
But I do want to.
I got crickets for Sonny and Slinky after I got off work, and then took the crickets straight home to feed dah boyz. Because that is my life now. I feed animals. I got out a 10-gallon tank, dumped the crickets into it, and then went to get Slinky from his tank (Slinky is James’ bearded dragon).
This unnecessary frogface of evil
I pushed back the locks and slid the tank forward, then reached into the tank to get Slinky. His mouth parted.
I frowned, suspicious, then reached further into the tank. His mouth opened further, and now his tongue was out.
I put my fingers further into the tank, and now his tongue was all the way out. I withdrew my fingers — he pushed himself forward, reaching for my fingers. He thought my fingers were superworms. He wanted to eat my fingers. Well, I had already been bitten once by an animal today, there was no sense in getting bitten by another.
I went and got an actual superworm and tossed it into the tank. I placed it so that he would have to come closer to me, and then I could reach behind him and grab him while he ate the superworm.
He jumped as I put my hand inside and dropped the superworm. His eyes followed my hand as I pulled my hand out. He stared at my hands, resting against the glass. I pointed at the superworm, crawling away for dear life. “There! Get that one! There!” He jumped with every thrust of my finger, eyes staring, widely, madly at my fingers.
Frustrated, I went and got a tong — a human tong for human food. I picked up the superworm with the tong and thrust it in Slinky’s face. He was unmoved. I turned the tong to lift it out of the tank — and he saw my fingers, clutching the tongs, and jumped forward to get at them.
Oh for goodness sakes.
I got oven mitts from the pantry and lifted him up with both hands protected. He struggled, flapping all arms and his tail, trying to get a grip. I dropped him without pretense into the waiting 10-gallon tank and let him sort it out with real food.
Sonny, of course, behaved like a gentleman and I didn’t have a problem getting him in or out and he even finished up Slinky’s food once I realized Slinky wasn’t going to finish his crickets. Sonny is perfect. Sonny is wonderful. I love Sonny.
Sonny is entitled to everything he gets