There are two stages to my terror when faced with a large personal/professional obligation:
The first one of these is actually a pretty good reaction. When I am taking a matter seriously, I look it up.
Until very recently, I was constantly getting in trouble with my friends who were passionate about a subject. They'd say
"CC," (Truth be told only one set of very old friends calls me CC, but blog conventions must be honored) "This is an incredibly big deal! A is true!" and I'd say "huh." Then I'd go home, often worried, and I'd look it up and the next day I'd send them an email like.
"Hey, guess what. A is mostly true. But B is also sometimes true. So the situation is not quite so bad as you'd feared."
It turns out, it took me 37 years and change to understand, people who are passionate about things hate this. They want to focus on the black and white of the situation, and to be looking at an awful situation in its face. They want the situation to be as bad as they feel it is.
Some years ago, I lost a person who was extremely important to me over this. (No, not theCSO. TheCSO does this herself. Ours is a marriage in which being technically correct is the best kind of correct and we're both happy that way.) Anyway, this person who was very important to me got into an argument over a really silly topic and when I emailed some more information, this person who was very important to me decided not to be friends anymore because she was tired of fighting with me.
I wasn't FIGHTING, I thought at the time, I was HELPING.
I still never got my person back.
Sometimes in my dreams she calls me up and we work it out. Waking up is kind of a bummer.
Last year, I made another friend who was passionate about things. At one point, we talked it out and now when she says A is true, I am present for her in her truth because while I may have boring hair, I'm not stupid.
But back to the hair coloring.
This person I lost some years ago was something of a mother figure, and parenting is on my mind for reasons that I trust will become obvious though I haven't exactly figured out what I'm writing next because that's how this whole stream-of-consciousness thing works.
After the research phase, and I have had the research phase, ask me anything about guardianship law, comes the primping phase, in which I decide that if I am a mess inside, surely looking good outside will hide that. Even as I type, I'm aware that this is as stupid as it sounds. I kid you not, the night before my first law school class, I dropped like fifty bucks on those Isreali sea salt beauty products that they sell at the mall.
I wore entirely new clothes for both days of the bar and afterwards was tempted to burn them so I'd wear them for no lesser event. I didn't. I'm too cheap to do that and I wear unnatural fibers so the smell would have been awful.
So, yeah, when three days before my Aunt's guardianship hearing, I start checking groupon for a good deal on a cut, maybe some highlights to frame my face, that's a really bad sign.
Probate court in the District of Columbia is a very strange thing. My favorite thing about it, and I do have a favorite thing, is that they have the wills of various historical figures framed and up on the walls. I am totally not making this up. You can go to the DC probate court and see a page from Dolly Madison's will.
On Thursday, barring the unforeseen, I'm going to probate court to accept legal responsibility for my Aunt.
If you're my facebook friend, you've followed some of this. If you've been reading TheChaliceBlog for a really long time, you know her as TheChaliceRelative. Either way, she's my aunt, and she's 86* and she's not really my aunt anymore because she no longer knows some of the things my aunt knows.
She tells me I should lose weight because she's my aunt. That doesn't hurt my feelings because she's not anymore so I kinda don't give a fuck what she thinks of my physique. She has Schrodinger's personality and on Thursday it becomes my job to be responsible for her.
She's in a home that does a flawed but reasonable job taking care of her. They would like guardianship but I'm probably going to get it. I consider myself the world's okayest caregiver.
Last time she was in the hospital, I had to meet with the social worker when she was released.
"I'm what she's got," I said.
"What about your parents?" the social worker said.
"My dad's an unmedicated schizophrenic who has had a lot of strokes. My mom is occupied with him,"
"Does your aunt have any other brothers or sisters?"
"What about you, do you have siblings?"
"My brothers are not in a position to care for other people." I paused. "I'm what she's got."
It went on like that.
I'm what she's got now, and I'm not sure that the probable result of Thursday will change much of that. Mostly, it will be me doing more paperwork. I was explaining this to her last Friday and she said that it was bizarre to imagine me with that job because I was so terrible at arithmetic. She said that because she's my aunt, it didn't hurt because she's not.
Right now I'm thinking about Pema Chodron, with whom I'm obsessed right now, writing:
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest."
As the hospital social worker painstakingly drew out of me above, I don't have much of a nest as far as blood relations go. (My self-constructed nest of friends is awesome, though.)
Still, there's something to note in getting thrown out of the two twigs stuck together that is the nest represented by an aunt who is partly not. I don't feel alive and fully human and completely awake.
I feel like getting my hair cut and colored in hopes that maybe when I look in the mirror, I will see a different person, ideally one more equipped to deal with the situation.
So, anyway, I'm thinking tomorrow I will call up a few hair salons. I don't have the cash to keep up baylage and I'm fairly certain ombre is on the way out, so maybe I'll just get gloss. I don't really want to change the color. Just monkey with it a little. Give it some shape.
My hair never has shape.
I'd like to look like me, for court, but also not me.
* Non-stream of consciousness footnote: My Dad was a late-in-life accident. I was a sort of mid-life accident. Aside from making my very existence improbable, this also means that the generations in my family are kinda fucked up, which is how I have an aunt almost fifty years older than I am.