US Tour 1997: Day 33

Fifteen years ago today:

A grand tour of various incarnations of Route 66 in Oklahoma City and west toward Amarillo, with stops in Clinton OK, Shamrock TX, and other spots, plus a visit to Pop Hicks Restaurant and the Route 66 Museum in Clinton.

Original narrative.

US Tour 1997: Day 35

Fifteen years ago today:

Gallup, New Mexico. Flagstaff, Arizona. Don’t forget Winona. Kingman. And that’s it for today. The Route 66 tour continues after a flat tire in Gallup with a visit to Bedrock in lieu of the Grand Canyon…and a Wigwam Motel in Holbrook.

Original narrative.

The Ghost of October Past

I used to do these all the time but I haven’t recently. Tonight seems like a good night since I haven’t much of anything to say tonight that doesn’t revolve around (a) whininess about the fact that I’m not in Canada right now like I’m supposed to be, (b) misplaced resentment that’s making me feel a little guilty, or (c) new techniques in the avoidance of starch and sugar.

We’ve already established that October is my reflective month and that I’m not averse to reruns, so here’s early October through the years:

US Tour 1997: Day 36

Fifteen years ago today:

From Kingman across the Mojave Dessert via a very old and deserted version of Route 66, then to Bakersfield. This was pretty much the last leg of the Joads’ journey and it’s pretty close to the end for me too.

Original narrative.

US Tour 1997: Day 37

Fifteen years ago today:

On the final day, I make my way through the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Stockton, then over Altamont Pass, through the East Bay, across the Bay Bridge and back South of Market where I’d started more than a month before.

Original narrative.

Thinking out loud

After that whole month of reruns, I’m having a little trouble remembering just what it was that I used to write about. For tonight, it’s a Funky Winkerbean-style entry. Be forewarned.

Travel being my favorite pastime and my my only real vice other than food, I’ve been trying to plan a little Canadian vacation starting next Friday. It will be pretty much the last opportunity I’ll have to get away until after the first of the year. And right now, I have absolutely no idea if I’ll actually be able to go. With my mom currently in the hospital for evaluation and my dad increasingly worse for the wear (he called tonight having forgotten the alarm code), I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever be able to go anywhere again. Or to have a single fucking day that isn’t defined by drama that’s not really of my making.

I’d like my life back, please. After another few weeks of nothing but stress at work, stress when I can’t even have a night at home anymore, and being too completely worn out to do anything other than watch TV when I do get a night at home, I may be in the hospital for evaluation soon myself. This is not where I wanted (or need) to be right now. I have a great job that comes with lots of vacation time and I can’t enjoy either. And heaven forbid I should want to pursue a career opportunity out of the area. In a lot of ways, I’m really sorry I ever moved back here, not really because I don’t like it but because I feel a little like a caged animal. How sad is it that I find my middle-aged self having to lie to my parents like a sixteen-year-old just to get some time to myself?

And no, realizing that my mom feels like a caged animal everyday doesn’t really add any helpful perspective, thanks.

I know it’s wrong for me to feel so resentful about things they really can’t help, but I never signed on for this. I didn’t have children specifically because I don’t have that caregiver instinct or gene or whatever. I’m heartbroken about what’s happening to my parents but I don’t have it in me to base my whole life around it. If that makes me a rotten son, so be it. I just can’t spend the next four or five years of my life in constant panic mode being the sympathetic, saintly son–no matter how much I love my parents. And I do love them very much. Just not enough to give up everything that makes life worth living for me.

It’s a sad coincidence that I lost the primary component of my emotional support system just as all this was starting for me, so please excuse these occasional outbursts. I used to solve a lot of my problems by thinking out loud in this space. I probably won’t solve this one that way, but it may help a little.

Thinking out loud on a Sunday afternoon

I’m spending a rare moment with no family obligations (that term has taken on a whole new meeting in the past few weeks and months) getting in some basement time: cleaning up, working on assorted projects, listening to Canadian radio, etc.

Had things gone as planned, I would have probably been on the way back from my Thanksgiving trip to Canada today. That trip had to be delayed due to some work issues, which was kind of a drag because it means I’ll be going during a time when the weather and daylight are less cooperative, among other issues. But I’m really in need of a vacation tight now and I’ve rescheduled for what it my final realistic travel date until the spring thaw. I should be leaving on Friday.


Mom’s still in the hospital. Again. It’s nothing life-threatening, just another scenic detour on the Alzheimer’s highway. I’m not sure when she’ll be released. Maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. Maybe not. And I’m not sure what kind of drama–if any–will ensue with her assisted living facility when that release comes. But if there is drama, I know for sure that my dad won’t be capable of dealing with what needs to be done. So my life is on hold again. Assuming, that is, that I’m even allowed to have a life anymore.

I feel really guilty being so resentful of things that my parents can’t help. But I’m really tired and I feel really trapped–like can’t do the one thing that I really enjoy doing–and that’s making for a pretty miserable existence right now. At the ripe old age of forty-eight, I find myself lying to my dad like a sixteen-year-old and saying I have to work on weekends just to get some time to myself at home. I have in fact even lied about trips, saying that there’s a work component involved, just so I can justify dong something that needs no fucking justification to begin with. It’s kind of pathetic.

It’s really kind of starting to make me regret ever having moved back here. That sounds horrible but it’s how I feel. Had I kept my distance, I’d at least have an excuse not to be so personally involved every fucking day with every fucking decision. In person. I love my parents and I’m heartbroken about what’s happening to them. Unless you’ve been through it, you simply can’t imagine what it’s like to watch someone who raised you deteriorate into complete incoherence and lose the ability to accomplish the simplest tasks. They’re scared, their lives are quite hellish now, and they don’t have much control over it it. My mom, who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with he due to the disease, keeps talking about how she’s being punished “in jail” even though she never hurt anyone.

But I’m pretty alarmed at what’s happening to me too. I feel like I haven’t had control over my own life for the past two years or so, either. Too much of my existence has been defined by other people’s problems, needs, and decisions (not just those of my parents) and too much of my time has been spent dealing with things about which I was never really given any choice nor input. And it sucks.


Monday morning urbanity

Some random links to things urban for a Monday morning:

On the road. Maybe.

I may or may not be leaving for Canada in the morning, two weeks later than originally planned. Right now it seems “on” but I want one last talk tomorrow morning with one of the people taking care of my mom.

While in some ways I feel like the worst son in the world for leaving while my mom is till in the hospital (nothing life-threatening, just the next stop on the Alzheimer’s bus), I also realize that I can’t stop living my life waiting till she’s “better” because she’s not going to get better. And after the past few very stressful months of family and work, I need very desperately to get away and do something other than work, visit the parents, and collapse on the couch in front of the TV. Her life is not going to be impacted in any significant way by my departure. She may not even notice my absence. And this week is the only time I can really do it. So away I go.

Unless I don’t.

Greetings from Dundas Square


Have I mentioned lately how much I love Toronto? It just sort of feels like home when I get here. Of course, it’s a home I get to live in without having to commute to work or dealing with the fact that the heat doesn’t work very well outside for a good chunk of the year.

But still.

So far:

  • A really quick visit to Pittsburgh Friday night. I really need to start spending more time there.
  • Lunch with Sarah outside Buffalo and a visit to her amazing new house.
  • An uneventful border crossing.
  • Book binging and neighborhood roaming.
  • Much shawarma.


  • Lunch today with an old friend from SF.
  • More book binging.
  • More Toronto exploration.
  • Montreal on Wednesday.

Pictures when I return.

Tuesday in the GTA


It was a very soggy Tuesday in Toronto and I was extra damp after walking four blocks to a breakfast place I’d noticed last night only to find that it didn’t open until 11:00. Apparently it’s more of a bar and only serves hangover breakfasts.


  • Breakfast in Kensington Market.
  • Lots of walking and subwaying (is that a verb?) mostly downtown, Danforth Village, and the University of Toronto area.
  • Lunch at the Coach House on Yonge Street, a quite wonderful old diner in a stretch of old low-rise commercial buildings that’s probably doomed.
  • More books, and I accidentally just happened upon he final day of the University of Toronto’s annual Friends of the Library book sale. Just walked on campus, saw a sign, and there it was. Love when that happens.
  • Dinner at Falafel Queen, followed by a nighttime drive around the city.


  • Soggy trek to an uneventful breakfast.
  • Back to the hotel to do some work that couldn’t wait till after vacation.
  • Lurked around The Beach and had lunch at a diner on Queen Street East that provided a great salad and a very terse (OK…rude) waitress.
  • Revisited that bookstore on Spadina and scored some amazing stuff, including a 1959 annual report from Loblaws.
  • Dinner with a friend and former coworker from SF who’s back in his native Toronto now.

Off to Montreal tomorrow.