My Top 50 List is Better Than Rolling Stone’s Top 50 List.

Yesterday afternoon, I read an article posted by Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone titled “50 Best Songs of the Nineties.” 

In a word, it’s garbage…and I’m not talking about the Shirley Manson fronted band, either. Although, I am shocked to see the band listed at #18.

I don’t know what Sheffield was/was not smoking while coming up with this list, and I know it’s silly to get into a huff over such things because everyone is entitled to their opinions, except when they’re so amazingly wrong, it probably cut a whole in the time/space continuum and it’s all Rob Sheffield’s fault. If we all die in some sort of alien siege, you can kindly write your opinion letters to Rolling Stone’s editorial staff.

Why will my list be better than Rob’s? Because, it just will be.

Okay, probably not, but the man left out some glaringly obvious artists in favor of claiming Blackstreet with their song “No Diggity” is fit to deserve the #2 song of the ’90s. I was fifteen years old in 1996 when this song came out and recall fondly dancing awkwardly at my high school homecoming dance. I had on a pair of brown corduroy shorts, a denim shirt, and matching brown corduroy vest, and I swear I could hear the sound of the fabric swooshing over the music of Blackstreet. No diggity, no doubt.

I generally like to think the nineties were my decade, even though I was 10 years old at the start. Lucky for me, I have a seven years older brother, so through him, I unknowingly got exposed to some of the greatest music of that decade, or any decade. Some music, I would like to add, that Mr. Sheffield omitted for whatever reason. I’ve read through his list a few times now, and every time, I shake my damn head at who got left out and who got put on, and at his apparent boner for ’90s rap/hip hop.

Here I go; I’ll share his picks in bold text, and then my own. Okay!

50. Fuzzy, “Flashlight”. I have never heard this song before, I admit, so that in and of itself is reason for dismissal and shame upon the House Sheffield. I don’t care that in his article, he includes YouTube videos to watch. I will not do what Rob Sheffield tells me. I’m sure it’s one of those songs that I’ll recognize if I heard it, but it’s doubtful. My pick for #50 is “Push th’ Little Daisies” by Ween. I won’t go into a long reason why. It’s 50 because I want it to be.

49. Britney Spears, “Sometimes”. Rob flexing his edgy, alternative muscle here by not giving #49 to “Baby One More Time.” Amateur. Not picking that song is like saying you prefer The GoBots to Transformers, just to seem cool. My pick is what his should have been. You couldn’t turn the radio on in 1999 and not have this song in your face. And who’d have thunk that the pig-tailed, schoolgirl skirt wearing moppet from the video would have a major meltdown in 2007 and shave her head? I sure didn’t.

48. The Offspring, “Self Esteem”. I have no beef with this choice. I like this song. Carry on.

47. Selena, “Fotos y Recuerdos”. Call me an asshole, but I think the only reason he added this was to tip his hat to the tragically murdered singer. I’m going to counter his pick with Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody.” It’s been about 20 years, and I can still hear that baby cooing in the background. This song is actually listed further up Rob’s own, but I don’t think it deserves to be ranked that high. Ass. Hole.

46. Silver Jews, “Random Rules”. Again, never heard it. I think Rob is defeating the purpose of a Best Of list if he’s naming shit I haven’t heard of. I’m not saying my musical interests span a wide range, but come on, man. Or maybe I really am being an asshole. Whatever the case, I shun this and instead pick “She Don’t Use Jelly” by The Flaming Lips. I liked to sing that song at karaoke because inevitably, I’d hear a “fuck yeah!” from some enthusiast who had forgotten about this ditty. You’re welcome.

45. Lil Kim with Lil Cease, “Crush On You”. I’m going to be honest here. The only thing I remember of Lil Kim is when she wore that seashell pasty over her boob at the MTV Music Awards. I’ve never been a fan of this kind of music, save the occasional songs, such as my pick: Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”. It was supa! And dupa! And fly!

44. Stereolab, “Cybele’s Reverie”. Nope. How about “Superstar” by Sonic Youth. Okay.

43. Supergrass, “Alright”. Oddly enough, I respect this choice, but because this is my list, I’ll also pick Supergrass, but the song “Pumping On Your Stereo.” Have you ever seen this video? It’s entertaining.

42. Ace of Base, “The Sign”. Confession: the summer of 1994, all I did while home alone was listen to this CD on repeat while I played with my barbies. I even based a barbie story line off of “All That She Wants.” I was a weird kid. This song stays, even though I know its appearance outraged some folks. Settle down.

41. Sophie B. Hawkins “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover”. Good pick, Rob.

40. Big Pun featuring Joe, “Still Not A Player”. Two hip hop songs in the first 10. What’s up with that, Rob? Do me a favor and google “Rob Sheffield,” then giggle to yourself as you picture this guy bobbing his head to some phat beats, maybe throwing a hand or two up in the air like he doesn’t care. Perhaps a roof shall be raised. Who knows? But a big fat “NO” to this song. How about–and hear me out–“Leader of Men” by Nickelback? I know, we’ve all been taught to hate these Canadians, but honestly? This song is decent. This was pre-douche Chad Kroeger. This was pre-Avril Lavigne. This was a simpler time when we (okay, *I*) was captivated by this band. No, YOU shut up!

39. Sebadoh, “Brand New Love”. Pass. “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” by PM Dawn. Sold!

38. Geto Boys, “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”.  This is like, the 3rd song I’ve never heard. These are Sheffield’s actual words from the article: “The scariest gangsta tale ever…” You know he calls his pals “gangsta” or “playa.” I would like to replace this with “Bitches Ain’t Shit” by Dr. Dre.

37. New Radicals, “You Get What You Give”. I remember singing along to this song and feeling extra naughty when the line “we’ll kick their asses!” was sang. Oh goodness! I knew this song was junk because my dad liked it. “Right Here Right Now” by Jesus Jones is much better.

36. Portishead, “Glory Box”. Eh. Not my favorite Portishead song, but that’s okay. You can stay.

35. Sheryl Crow, “If It Makes You Happy”. Ah, Sheryl Crow. I’m actually rather impressed he picked this song and not “All I Wanna Do.” My suggestion would have either been this song or “Home,” which is off the amazing self-titled album from 1996.

34. En Vogue, “Don’t Let Go (Love)”. En Vouge’s cool. This one may stay.

33. Helium, “XXX”. I really should take a listen to songs I don’t recognize offhand because I might actually know them, but I’m not going to because I want to stick to The Man Sheffield. First, I have to admit I’m not as “in the know” with female artists. Call me a terrible feminist or what have you, but I just like more male artists. Having said that, I’m giving my #33 spot to Oleander with their song “I Walk Alone.” I love that goddamn song. It’s an anthem of sorts, I guess. Helium. Pshaw, Rob. PSHAW.

32. Foxy Brown with Jay Z, “I’ll Be”. Ixnay on the Oxy-Fay Rown-Bay. I choose “The Distance” by Cake. I’ve always loved this dude and his monotone talking throughout the songs.

31. Underworld, “Born Slippy Nuxx”. Props to the song from Trainspotting. I pick not this song, but The Brian Setzer Orchestra and “Zoot Suit Riot.” Again, mainly for nostalgic reasons; my friend Mandi and I would “swing dance” to it. Oh, how cool we thought we were.

30. Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Baby Got Back”. I didn’t have an issue to this song until I read what Rob wrote about it: “Butt of course.” I don’t appreciate that terrible pun, sir, which is why I’m substituting Tone Loc with “Wild Thing.” I can’t be certain, but I think this song is about sex!

29. Fiona Apple, “Paper Bag”. I like Ms. Apple. You best believe I sang my little heart out to Criminal on many occasions, and still do. I just don’t much care for Sheffield picking more obscure titles as compared to the most widely known singles. Look at me! I’m Rob Sheffield and I know songs! Cool story, Rob. Shut up.

28. Weezer, “Pink Triangle”. Who among us owns “Pinkerton”? Not many, I bet (I have one song from that album on my iPod, and that’s “El Scorcho.”) Who among us owns “The Blue Album”? Dude, like, way more people that Pinkerton, I guaran-goddamn-tee it. Why? Because of goddamn Undone- The Sweater Song. Because of goddamn Buddy Holly. Because of goddamn My Name is Jonas. Because of goddamn Say It Ain’t So. Because of goddamn Only In Dreams, a song I actually really like. Pink Triangle? Get out of my face with Pink Triangle, you putz.

27. Daft Punk, “Around The World”. I’m a fan of Daft Punk. I remember when this song came out and I was the only person in my small group of friends who liked it. Yes, it’s monotonous with repeating “around the world” throughout the entire song, but it’s catchy as shit. I’m not mad at his choice here.

26. Natalie Imbruglia, “Torn”. I don’t mind this pick. You may stay.

25. Harvey Danger, “Flagpole Sitta”. Here’s a long story that I’m kind of concerned I remember, but go with it: the year was 1998. My high school marching band had just got done performing in two parades that day, and because we were small town kids in the “big city,” we usually got to pal around the mall afterwards. We were in Hastings, NE at the Imperial Mall. I was thrilled because they had a Sam Goody music store. I specifically remember asking my friend Corey, “should I buy Harvey Danger, or Rammstein?” Honestly, I was scared to buy the Rammstein CD because it was unlike any other music I had in my collection and I was just adorable back then, so I chose Harvey Danger. I love that CD, and I actually still listen to it regularly nearly 20 years later. The song “Problems and Bigger Ones” is solid. Take a listen. So anyway, I guess my point is this song is fine.

24. Aaliyah, “Are You That Somebody”. Rob put her here. I put her at #47. My pick is “Volcano Girls” by Veruca Salt. Those gals are fucking amazing musicians and can shred. Plus, I like the contrast between the heavy guitars and Nina Gordon’s innocent sounding voice. Warm us up and watch us blow, indeed.

23. Oasis, “Wonderwall”. Oh, Jesus wept. There is something you should know, and that is I adored “What’s The Story Morning Glory” a tremendous amount back in my youth. I loved it. Champagne Supernover? Come on! However. I have grown and matured and find both Liam and Noel Gallagher to be the biggest fucking blowhards in all of musicdom, so they  and this song can get fucked. Let’s go with “Got You Were I Want You” by The Flys. That’s much more deserving than goddamn Oasis.

22. Mobb Deep, “Shook Ones, Part II”. No. “Sunburn” by Fuel.

21. Smashing Pumpkins, “1979”. Again, I admit I was a SP fan. I was also a dumb kid and the fact Billy Corgan insists upon being called “William” now irritates me. Move aside, 1979, and make way for Mr. Big, “Be With You.” Goddamn it, Rob.

Okay, this is getting serious now. The top 20 songs of the nineties, as interpreted by me. Shit will really get real when I hit the top 1o. Buckle up, kids.

20. Beck, “Loser”. Yes, Rob. Yes. Beck is a fantastic artist and I love the squirrely fucker. Few artists can get away with developing their sound over the years without people flipping out about it (Radiohead comes to mind here). He has gone from talking about getting crazy with Cheez Wiz in Odelay to some of the most gorgeous, melodic, gut-ripping songs in Sea Change and Morning Phase. Beck is truly a gift, and I’m glad Rob realized that, as well.

19. Whitney Houston featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price, “Heartbreak Hotel”. Egads. “Prayer for the Dying” by Seal.

18. Garbage, “Queer”. Shirley Manson will eat you alive. This one can stay.

17. Beastie Boys, “Sure Shot”. Nothing to see here; move along.

16. Sleater-Kinney, “Get Up.” Okay.

15. Outkast, “Rosa Parks.” Fine.

14. R.E.M. “Nightswimming”. Yep.

13. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, “Brooklyn Zoo”. Whew. Finally a song I disagree on. I was getting nervous! Former Wu Tang Clan’s ODB (or Big Baby Jesus or Dirt McGirt, if you prefer) is a fine enough choice, but not on this list, pal! Alice In Chains, “No Excuses.” I love AIC. I love the near-perfect harmonies of the late Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell. I love their depressing lyrics. I just love them, period.

12. The Breeders, “Cannonball”. It’s such a nineties song, but I never liked it, so buh-bye. “Break It Down Again” by Tears for Fears.

11. Hole, “Doll Parts”. The former Mrs. Kurt Cobain is tricky. While I did have a thing for Hole’s album “Celebrity Skin,” I cannot let this song be so highly ranked. If this were a top 100 list, sure, but it isn’t, so you must vacate the premises, Courtney. I nominate “Possum Kingdom” by Toadies.

Okay. Top 10 time. Ready? Let’s go!

10. TLC, “No Scrubs”. I realize most of my picks are of the alternative genre, and I’m generally okay with that, but I will give credit to pop songs when credit is due. However, I will remove TLC from the list and replace them with Mariah Carey. Literally any Mariah Carey song from the ’90s, too. The woman has incredible range to her voice and is truly talented in that regard. She’s a little cuckooburra these days, but who among us isn’t?

9. Liz Phair, “Fuck and Run”. Not so fast, Rob. Tori Amos and “Crucify.”

8. Pulp, “Common People”. How about no. How about “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode. Much better.

7. Miss Misdemeanor Elliott, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”. I ranked this song much lower so that I could present “Come Undone” by Duran Duran. A band so nice, they named themselves twice. Also, they put on one hell of a live show and Simon Le Bon makes me feel funny things in my swimsuit area now he’s matured to a silver fox, but that’s a moot point. Ahem.

6. Pavement, “Gold Soundz”. I don’t wanna. “Big Me” by the Foo Fighters. Any parody of a Mentos commercial as a music video wins in my book.

TOP FIVE! TOP FIVE! TOP FIVE!

5. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, “Nuthin’ but a G Thang”. Sigh. I’m torn, really I am…but not torn enough to remove their #5 crown and bestow it upon someone else’s head. “More Than Words” by Extreme. This song is still one of my all-time favorites, and the album which is came is one of the best ever. Sorry, Dre and Snoop. I hope you understand.

4. Bikini Kill, “Rebel Girl”. I’m going to be honest here. Ever since I hit 20 on the list, I’ve just wanted to name all Pearl Jam and Radiohead songs and fuck trying to include a wide variety, but I didn’t. So my #4 pick is Alanis Morissette and I’m having trouble picking a song. Jagged Little Pill is filthy with good picks, but my heart has decided to go with “Uninvited.” Goddamn, that song, I swear. Alanis has chops, for sure.

3. Notorious BIG with Mase and Puff Daddy, “Mo Money Mo Problems”. You’re killing me, Smalls. I’m also growing increasingly oddly fascinated by Rob Sheffield’s love of rap/hip hop. It’s just so wild to me. Anyway, how about “One” by U2? So glad you agree! Man, seriously, to not include one of the biggest bands ever in a list like this? I don’t care how obscure you try to be, you have to have U2 on the list, even if their songs don’t relate to the genre. Top 50 classical pieces? Beethoven, Back, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, and U2. That’s just the way these things work, I’m sorry.

2. Blackstreet, “No Diggity”. I want to know what was going on in Rob’s head when he decided that this song should be #2. I want to know his though process and why he feels so strongly about this song needing to be #2. I honest to goodness laughed out loud when I read this on his post. It’s so…I don’t know what. I’m convinced he got paid some sort of kickback for including this band from the band themselves. “hey, yo, Rob. Put us on your list and we’ll compensate you handsomely.” I don’t get it. I haven’t understood many of his picks, but this one truly baffles me. I am baffled. But, I’m baffled by my own choice here; not because I don’t think it’s good, because it sure is, but because I can’t decide if it should be no. 1 or no. 2. When it comes down to it, it’s my list, so here we go: “Karma Police” by Radiohead. See, I had to put Radiohead on here. I had to. It isn’t a nineties list without them, and if you notice, Rob “I’m an Idiot” Sheffield glaringly omitted them from the list, as well as the band claiming number one from me.

1. Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Why, god, why. Why. Nirvana? Here’s what Rob had to say: “The song that blew up the world. The song that defied all rules about how music worked and how much raw emotion you can cram into four chords and a crummy guitar solo. The song that kicked the future in the teeth. The song that shattered all your complacency about settling for the politics of the inevitable. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was Kurt Cobain’s challenge to the audience–and after all these years, the challenge still stands.” Okay, here’s another long story that no one but me cares about, but again, my list, my rules. I hate Nirvana. I, again, was a fan in my youth. I recall vividly being 10 years old and sitting in the passenger seat, my mom in the backseat, and my older brother driving. This was A Big Deal. My brother, at the age of 17, had given me permission to sit next to him in the front. I took this gift very seriously and paid attention to everything he did and what music he chose to listen to. The radio was playing this song that night, and I knew they had to be something special if my brother listened. I get it. Nirvana helped pave the way for grunge music, have unwashed hair, and raid your dad’s closet for flannel shirts. I get it. But here’s my beef with this: Kurt Cobain killed himself over 20 goddamn years ago, and we still treat that day like a fucking holiday. We glorify his mental illness. Sure he was talented, even I admit his tunes and riffs were catchy, but come on, man. And he hated the other bands who dared also consider themselves grunge. During a tumultuous time in the world (Desert Storm), we didn’t need this punk being a jackass, you know? I have no love for Kurt Cobain, nor do I wish to keep perpetuating everyone’s sick obsession with him. And riddle me this: why isn’t Layne Staley of Alice In Chains treated the same way? Staley killed himself, too, about 8 years after Kurt, on the same day. Where’s his being harolded as a pioneer and visionary? It’s fucked up. Fuck Kurt Cobain.

Well, after that little rant, here’s my pick and it’s fitting because this band is one that Cobain trash talked, so it gives me a sense of pleasure picking Pearl Jam with the number one song in the ’90s, and that is “Alive” from their first album, Ten. Suck on that, Sheffield.

I would like to acknowledge my hatred for Kurt Cobain is weird, because it is. But I also hate Ernest Hemingway for no discernable reason other than I read a book of his once and didn’t like it, so now I have a personal vendetta against him. I’m special like that.

And there it is, folks. My list. I know I missed some bands (Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden…so many bands I skipped…), and I’m sorry, but seriously, if I were to make my own top 50 list, it’d be predominantly alternative music, so I thought I’d spice it up a bit.

This was fun to write and to blast Sheffield in his dumb face.

As always, thanks for reading.

E

The Dead Father

What a cheery title!

I haven’t written in a few weeks, mainly because I’ve been busy, mostly because I didn’t want to put a final chapter to my story.

My dad died May 4 at 12:20am. I don’t really believe it still. I’ve caught myself trying to text him a few times, or think to myself as I’m driving one of his vehicles, “Dad’s going to be furious that I’ve been smoking in this thing.”

I miss him. I miss being annoyed by him because let me tell you what: that man irritated the shit out of me regularly. We have very similar personalities and Jesus Christ, the passive aggressiveness we threw at each other was incredible. Man o’ Friday*.

*Dad said that all the time. I have no idea where he picked it up. Once, I counted he said that phrase 10 times in an hour long conversation. It was always, “Man o’ Friday, honey! You should have seen _____ !” That’s one affectation I think I’ll take a pass on.

It’s been harder than I thought it would be not having him around anymore, but in the same breath and I am an awful, horrible, terrible person for saying this, but I’m also glad he’s gone. The last few months, weeks, days, and hours before his death were something I hope I never have to go through again.

He did not have a good death. He suffered until the end despite our best efforts to help him. He was in such intense pain and no amount of morphine helped him. He got agitated and combative towards us. The old fuck spit medication in my face. Twice. I have never slapped another person before, and I came alarmingly close when he did that to me. Instead, I regrettably poked him hard in the sternum with my index finger and through gritted teeth, snarled, “Dan Valentine, you stubborn shit!” Not my finest moment, but what can I do about it now?

I’m trying to keep myself preoccupied with things. I can’t tell you what things exactly, but things. I can say for certain it isn’t cleaning my living area. I had good intentions to clean the bathroom today and unpack my bags from when I was in Deshler…three weeks ago…but did any of this get done? Nope. I’m in bed, snuggling a pile a shit on the bed.

But that brings me to my next thought, and a bit of a tangent, so please excuse me: I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Kübler Ross model of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We pretend it didn’t happen. We’re pissed the fuck off it happened. We’d give anything to make it not have happened. We’re inconsolable it happened. Finally, we get that it happened. The end. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I have to say, I’m totally fucking NAILING the depression stage. Like, I’m excelling at it, really. If depression was an Olympic sport, by golly, I’d have a gold medal!

I’ve done some bargaining, as well; not much, but some. Some could argue my almost texting/thinking PD would be irate if I brought back his vehicle to him stinking to holy hell of stale cigarette smoke is denial, and I wouldn’t put up much of a fight. I’ve flirted with acceptance a time or two, but it didn’t amount to much. Acceptance won’t text me back and is ignoring my phone calls.

The stage I don’t know if I’ll have is anger, and here’s what I’m laying here thinking about: I have nothing to be angry at. I mean, why would I be mad at Dad? It’s not his fault he got cancer and died. We didn’t always have the best relationship, and I do believe I screamed at my father once that I fucking hated him, but I’m not mad at that now. (Or maybe I am…? My self-analysis is a bit slow these days.)

But here’s my original thought: most people who get angry, get angry at god. You know, “why did god let this happen?!” I don’t believe in god, so…now what? Can I skip this stage? Test out of it, maybe? Write a letter to a congressman or something? Click the box at the end that requests I opt out of it like being added to an email list? I don’t know! Anyway, just a thing that rambled in my head.

I did thank my dad for dying, as odd as that seems. Like I mentioned, the days and hours leading up to the end were hellacious. Between me, my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, the four of us got a collective 8 hours of sleep in 3 days. I wish that was an exaggeration. It is not. Dad ended up needing morphine every hour to keep him somewhat “calm,” so we took shifts during the night to stay up with him. When he finally died, I was holding his hand and witnessed his last two breaths, and immediately said, “oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” He needed to go and he stopped being such a fucking stubborn old sonuvabitch and finally left. I’ve never been so relieved in my life. Plus, he finally goddamned listened to me for a change! “Daddy, it’s okay to go. You need to go now.” And he did! By golly, he took my advice!

For the record, as humorous as I’m trying to be writing this, please know I’m bawling like a child. I don’t share that to gain sympathy, but rather to reaffirm that I’m not being a heartless jokester and cracking jokes because I’m devoid of any emotion. On the contrary. I’m rather shocked I am crying this hard because I was sure I had cried myself dry. Guess not! Yay!

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been there for me. I’m lucky to have you all. Thank you for food and checking in and showing up to the funeral and helping me clean records. My love for you can’t be measured.

On that note, I will stop here.

You know my closing line by now, but in case you forgot: as always, thank you for reading.

E

There’s A Shower Chair In My Dad’s Kitchen Because He’s A Massive Dork.

Buenas dias, señors y señoritas. ¿Qué tal? ¿Bien, y tú? Jajajaja!

Hey! Guess where I am! Deshler! Isn’t that new and different! Wow! What fun!

Full disclosure: I’m getting tired of coming down here. That’s awful of me to say, but good golly. I know I should enjoy the time here because chances are very likely I’ll probably never come back, save special circumstances, like high school reunions, but right now, I’m getting burned out on D Town. It is nice sitting on Dad’s front porch and as he likes to say, “watch the world go by.” I’m currently doing just that. I have coffee and being a bit of a dork and have my car stereo on so I can listen to music. I need to turn the bass down, though; it’s a little hot. Will I? Probably not because I am lazy and can’t be buggered to walk the 20 feet to my car.

***
Well, I got interrupted in writing by Dad.

He was at the farm yesterday when I got to Deshler and he spent the night out there, which got my worry wort tendency to kick in. I know he loves it out there, but it’s gotten to the point where I fret about him being out there, especially when he sleeps. I had decided that if he wasn’t back in town by 10am, that I was going to go out there to check to make sure he was still alive. Morbid? Yes, but warranted. As I  wrote earlier, I was sitting on the porch and he drove up around 8:15. I went inside to say hello and he could barely make it up the backdoor stairs. He said he was in pain again, so I gave him some morphine and put him to bed.

This shit is hard. It’s heart wrenching to see your father hunched over in pain and I can tell when it’s bad for him because his voice changes. Plus, he doesn’t exactly talk gibberish, but he just says odd things. I was getting him situated in bed and he was thanking me for helping him, and he suddenly started singing “rubber ducky, you’re the one…” Then he said, “have I mentioned I’ve been hallucinating lately?” and his dreams are super bizarre. Cool, Dad. That’s not concerning at all.

Another difficult thing is the emotional rollercoaster. One day, he’ll sound great and be feeling well, and we all think he was premature in his assessment that he has a few weeks left. We’re like, “fuck yeah! He may have cancer, but cancer is having him yet!” Then, there’s days like today when he’s in pain, weak, and starts singing Sesame Street songs and I am scared to death to leave to go back to Lincoln because I’m just certain that it’ll be the last time I see him and I start thinking about how I will need to go buy clothes to wear to the funeral. Talk about going from zero to sixty in a few seconds. It’s exhausting.

I also have the feelings of “I’ll be so glad when this is over,” which breaks my own heart because that means when it’s over, he won’t be here. That’s so hard to reconcile. It’s not like when it’s over, he’s going to wake up one morning and be free of cancer and live another 20 years. Not to make light of the situation, but it’ll be game over, man. Game over.

I really want to start drinking right now. Healthy, no? Good coping skills, E. They–and I don’t know exactly who “they” are–never should have introduced me to alcohol. Or I should be smart enough not going to the bottle to help deal with this shit, but I never claimed to be smart.

Oh, I did walk to my car to turn the bass down finally. Why I’m not listening to the music in my phone is beyond me, but whatever.

I really wish I was in Lincoln helping with the highway trash cleanup that my atheist group is doing today. That sounds way more fun than what I’m doing now. Oh well. Next time.

I’m sorry I keep writing about this crap, too. But I am my father’s child and would rather write about this than talk to anyone. Plus, in my mind, I don’t want to talk about it because how many of you have dealt with this exact situation? I’d only make you uncomfortable and feel awkward that you can’t offer words of wisdom, so if I write about it, I’m helping us both out: I can get my mind clear and hopefully, my tales will be useful to anyone who has the misfortune of having to go through this at some point with your own parents. Hopefully not, because I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone. I guess just treat these posts as the train wreck you can’t look away from.

In closing, a giant “FUCK YOU” to cancer. I was rubbing Dad’s back earlier and wondered if I could feel it under his skin, and then I wished I was like John Coffey in “The Green Mile” and could somehow remove it from him. That’d be awesome.

I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop.

As always, thanks for reading.
E

April 10, 2016

Good morning from Deshler, Nebraska 68340.

It’s been a wild last 2 days, lemme tell you what. Wild! If there’s one thing I can say about my dad is that he always keeps us on our toes, the rascal.

My brother Nate and nephew Shane drove from Idaho on Tuesday and got down to Deshler late Tuesday night due to the news Dad dropped on us last weekend about his anticipated remaining days. Luckily, Dad was put on a steroid and muscle relaxant to help aid in the pain medications he takes and that seemed to give the old man some pep in his step. The men were able to go out to the farm, shoot some guns, and help Dad move some stuff down in the basement.

Dad was feeling so well, in fact, he was able to go out to his cabin at the farm and sleep up in the loft, which blows my damn mind because well, it just does. He’s been in a constant state of pain the last few weeks, so for him to have the gumption to go out there is fantastic.

Early Friday morning, though, his fun came to a bit of an abrupt end and he drove back to town because he was in such severe pain.

Now, me being me, all last week knowing the conversation I had with Dad, I kept expecting my brother to call me some morning and tell me Dad was gone. I know, I know…I am a pro at worrying about things like that, but you can’t blame me. I was feeling a bit cocky by Friday and had plans to join the boys that night after I got off work and have a good old time with the Hoffmeyer Men.

Friday morning as I’m driving to work, my phone rings. It’s my brother. My stomach dropped into my shoes.

Nate called to tell me about Dad. Dad had called hospice around 3:30 Friday morning to see what he can do and he has a small white box in his fridge that has liquid morphine and some other medications that are used towards the end of things for terminal patients–there’s lorazepam, some anti-nausea stuff, and some other jazz. The nurse told my dad to take some morphine. The first dose didn’t help, so Nate called back and they told him to give him some more. Still nothing, but it was enough to knock the guy out, so when Nate called me, Dad was sleeping and the hospice nurse was on her way over to see Dad.

My brother’s a pretty stoic guy and tries not to let things rattle him, but when we were talking, he was definitely shaken up by what was going on, and rightly so. I wish he hadn’t had to go through that with Dad, but it happened and I’m so glad he was there. I asked if he needed me to come down to Deshler and he told me to stay put, but would call me if anything changed.

Two hours later, he calls and says I should get down to Deshler quick. The nurse had just left and gave Dad a lot more morphine. Like, a lot more. I left work unsure of what the rest of the day would hold, whether or not Dad was on his last legs. Needless to say, I might have been speeding on my drive down.

I got to Deshler about 90 minutes later and my brother and nephew are outside. Dad was obviously knocked out and snoring loudly when I went in to check on him.

On my way to Deshler, I called hospice and talked to the nurse and she told me that she thinks Dad just did far too much the last two days and it kicked his ass hard and now he was paying dearly for it. She said he was stable but put him on a schedule of morphine every 3 hours. I also had to ask her about how long she thought Dad had and if his guess of not seeing the beginning of May was accurate. She told me that when patients can feel the changes in their body, that they’re usually “spot on” abonight. Cool.

Dad got through the rest of Friday and then, yesterday morning, I had gotten up at 6am to give him his medication and he seemed better, and even told me he felt good and wanted to go out to the farm later as was our original plan for the day before the incident 24 hours earlier. I left and got coffee and donuts and when I got back, the old fart was up and sitting on the steps to the back door, a cup of coffee in his hands and I was like, “say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?” This was definitely not the man I had seen a few hours previously. I was shocked, actually. And by god, the four of us went out to the farm yesterday afternoon and had ourselves a grand old time together. I shot a rifle and handgun! I know, right?!

We got back to town, grilled food, and watched freaking Star Wars last night. I have to say, that’s one of the best times I’ve had with my family in a while, and I think it did all of our hearts so much good. Yesterday was a great day.

Nate and Shane decided to go back to Idaho and left at about 3:30 this morning and I think Dad’s pretty worn out from our day because aside from the few minutes I woke him up to take his meds, he’s been sleeping.

His time is nearing the end, but I can’t express how happy I am he got to see his son and grandson before that comes. The next few weeks will be rough, but that’s to be expected.

And there you have it. I want to apologize for blowing up Facebook yesterday with all my pictures and posts. I got a little carried away, so thank you for humoring me. Also, thank you for allowing me to write about all this lately. It helps me tremendously to do so.

Much love,
E

Tres de Abril, However You Say “2016” in Español

Good morning, all. The sun is shining, the grass is green, trees are budding, and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

As you know, my dad has terminal cancer and hasn’t been doing chemo for about 3 months now. His oncologist, I’m sure as part of her job and to give some hope and comfort to a dying man and his family, gave a very generous estimate of six months to a year left to live his life. Since he stopped chemo, he’s been dealing with a great deal of back pain and discomfort. He’s on pain medications and patches, but they aren’t fully taking the pain away, just making it more tolerable.

He tires out so easily; the simple task of doing dishes makes him have to sit down on a chair. Laundry requires him to go up and down the basement steps, so he lets it pile up a bit before he trudges back and forth. Luckily, he can still do these things for the time being, but you can tell it wipes him out. He also yells at me for trying to help, the crazy old man. I get it, though–a dying man’s act of defiance to prove he still has it in him to do these things. And I wonder where my own stubbornness comes from.

He called me yesterday afternoon and I could tell it wasn’t going to be a simple conversation, or just to chat.

Since my last visit to see him, we agreed it was time to set him up with hospice care, which means a nurse comes in a few times a week, checks on him, does vital signs and all that jazz. We also managed to talk him into having someone come in twice a week for “companion care,” so basically to sit and chat or help with light housekeeping. Oh, he was pissed at that, but as his daughter and also medical power of attorney, I strong-armed him into accepting it.

He didn’t have good news, sadly. He said his pain is getting not so much worse, but “different” and he said he is also noticing other changes in his body. He had a frank discussion with his nurse and she bluntly told him, and as he likes to say, “the leaves on his tree are starting to fall.” She told him he may not live to see May, as in he most likely has about a month left to annoy me. (Kidding, of course.)

We have a month left with Dan Valentine Hoffmeyer.

I talked with my brother and sister-in-law last night about this and my brother and nephew are going to drive from Idaho this week so they can spend some time with Pa for one last time. I’m so happy about that. Not for the circumstances that’ll bring them here, but just the fact they’ll be here.

How am I doing? Well, truthfully, I’m oddly okay. I knew his cancer was fucking aggressive, and Dad even said himself that the 6 months timeframe was liberal. And besides, I had my mental breakdown last week, so I’m much better equipped to handle this situation now. It doesn’t make it easier by any means, but it does, kinda.

As I keep saying to myself and my family, it’ll be okay. We’re going to be okay. And we will. The man’s had a good life and he’s ready to go. I’m not ready to let him go, but I don’t really have a say in the matter.

I want to write his obituary, so I’ve been trying to find the words to do so, but nothing seems good enough yet. I’ll keep thinking about it, though.

And there it is, folks.

Thank you for all the love and support so many of you have shown me and my family during the last 15 months. My heart is full and I hope I can bestow the same amount of love to you when you need it.

If there’s one thing I want from all of you, it’s that I want you to tell your family, friends, whomever has been there for you in your life how much they mean to you and that you love them. Please and thank you.

That’s all for today. As always, thanks for taking time to read this.
E

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I never want to sleep again.

Okay, that’s a lie. How about I never want to sleep for 36 hours straight again.

What’s that, you say? Thirty-six hours? Oh, yes. I went to bed Monday night around 9:30pm and save a brief half an hour I woke up yesterday afternoon to eat a peanut butter sandwich, I slept until 8:30 this morning. That’s a lotta z’s.

Why so sleepy? I will tell you: medication! Hooray!

Last week wasn’t a good week for ol’ Erin and I got put on medication. I was starting to feel pretty a-okay Friday, until Dad had an incident which prompted me to go to Deshler to care for him until Saturday afternoon. Then the fun started all over again with another anxiety attack Monday. I went back to see the lovely physician assistant, who I’m sure by now is tired of my needy ass, and she gave me a new prescription to add to my regiment. It’s called hydroxizine and is a seemingly innocuous antihistamine but is also used for anxiety. I took one of these puppies Monday night and fast-forward 36 hours later, I am awake. Sweet fancy Moses.

I called her this morning and was all, “dude.” She was all, “dude. Let’s fix this shit.” And I was all, “dude. Yes.” So, now I am hopefully adjusted to function properly again.

I hope. I’d love to feel normal again. That’d be great. Right now, the sight of the bed makes me nauseous and I never want to sleep again as I said, but damn. Can you blame me? Fucking a.

As I type this, I do feel better, which makes me cautiously optimistic. I took what was probably the 8th best shower in my life so far, and I have a load of laundry going. Mundane tasks have never felt so wonderful to do.

I am grateful for this feeling. It’s been a while since I have felt like a human being.

I know I’ll continue to have good and bad days dealing with Dad, and that’s to be expected. I mean, how does one handle the impending death of a parent without breaking down a time or a dozen? I wish there was a guide book or something, or at least something that tells me what I’ve been going through the last week and a half is totally normal, and you’re just fine, woman…but there isn’t. We all deal with this kind of crap differently. My method seems to be losing my goddamn mind. Cool.

It’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. That seems to be my new mantra these days, and I think I’m finally starting to believe that.

Or at least until my next meltdown, which I hope isn’t for a while.

Before I go, allow me to drop a public service announcement on your butts: for the love of all things, if you have any sort of depression or anxiety or lucky enough to have both, keep going even on the days you think you can’t. You can. It’s tough as fuck, but you/I can do it. Okay? Okay.

Goddamn John Green for ruining that. I can’t say it without being all “The Fault in Our Stars” now. Thanks a lot, Green. It’s like Smashmouth forever sullying “hey now!” without someone immediately saying, “you’re an all-star!” back at you. AND they ruined a perfectly good Monkees song, to boot. Fuckfaces.

Alright, I’m finished here. Here’s to better days. Much love.
E

Anxiety and You!

General disclaimer:  Chantix™ is the devil and if you have a history of depression, how about you not take this shit because it will fuck you and leave you right afterwards with a “hey, call me sometime,” but won’t actually mean it.

Last week was not a good week. I had a mental breakdown, with Chantix as the catalyst. I stopped taking it six days ago, and while feeling more normal to an extent, some of it still lingers on and had myself a lovely panic attack again this morning. Hyperventilating, shaking, my heart pounding out of my chest, the whole nine yards. What fun!

I was placed on an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, but I think the Chantix is still the alpha drug and making these new ones less effective than they should be. And I’ve played this game with SSRIs/benzodiazepines before and finding a perfect mix can be laborious and frustrating to those of us who’d love to be able to walk out the door to get ready for work and face their day without feeling like death is tiptoeing behind you, whispering his icy breath into your ear, “just give up.”

Chantix is the lone culprit here; I also know the stress of dealing with a terminally ill parent is also putting its grubby mitts into the pot. My dad’s pain got out of control this past Friday and I spent part of the weekend with him again. We started him on hospice care finally, much to his dismay. He wasn’t overly thrilled with me, my brother, sister-in-law, and his cousin ambushing him to start utilizing their services, but he can be mad all he wants. A nurse visited him this morning and already made adjustments to his current regiment, and I must confess that’s already a load off these shoulders. Dad  hates taking pain medication and would falter off schedule, which duh–caused his pain to ramp up. Hopefully now, this will help him… And us.

I was also smart enough to understand I need help, myself. Most workplaces offer an Employee Assistance program and I utilized their services already, and am not too proud to admit I need therapy to help me cope with what’s going on. For the last year, I’ve “held it together” as well as I could, but it’s starting to creep up on me and my mental state. The therapist I saw said something to me that I hadn’t realized: I’m already starting my grieving process with Dad. Plus, it’s hard being the only child readily available to him. I’m not blaming my brother and sister-in-law for anything for being in Idaho, but I kind of am (love you both, I swear). I do wish they were closer to help with Dad, to come down on weekends and sit with him, but they do their very best by calling him frequently, so I’m grateful for that. Every little bit helps.

My new job has been beyond terrific in understanding what’s going on, but they hired me for a reason–to do my damn job. I spoke with my boss this morning and while compassionate about my situation, they need me to work and I need to work. I’m going to see the awesome physician assistant this afternoon and hope she can help adjust some medication so I can get back to work. Sleeping 3/4 of the day and hiding in my basement bedroom really isn’t conducive to being a productive member of society.

I’ll be fine…eventually. Right now is iffy, but Dad keeps telling me I’m a strong bitch (I added the “bitch” part; it helps me feel more bad-ass) and can do this. And I can. I just also realize I need more help in maintaining my bad-ass-ery.

And there you have it. I’m struggling, but it’ll be okay soon.

Thank you for letting me sound off about this. Thank you for understanding depression is a cunt and I hate it. And to anyone I’m close to who is also suffering, please help yourselves, too. There is no shame in it. I’ll stand right beside you and we can do this thing together. Strength in numbers, right? Right.

Okay then.

E