Tuesday, July 31, 2007

an abundance of idiots

As disappointing as it is, I have grown accustomed to feeling as though I am surrounded by idiots, however it is increasingly disconcerting to be reminded that I also work for idiots. I'm not talking about your regular everyday, average idiots here either. No, we're talking about complete bumbling ones who aren't even bright enough to recognize themselves for what they are.

Do I seem a bit aggravated? My apologies for the rant, but the sheer stupidity of it all has me in a bit of an uproar.

Two weeks ago, our corporate HR guy comes down in an attempt to justify his position, and wastes an hour of our time going over proper phone etiquette and the need for projecting a professional appearance at all times, emphasizing that cleavage is unacceptable. (Bear with me and I'll come back to why this is relevant.)

The following day, the president of the company comes down and shares they have hired a new publisher. I cringe at the name as this woman is notorious for having been involved in a major ethics violation involving fabricated quotes. The president dances around my questioning of this woman's background, asks me to go easy on her and gets the hell out of dodge.

Oh boy here we go!

So late last week, the president comes through again, new publisher in tow and introductions are made. I tried to keep an open mind, really I did, but the woman made my skin crawl. I am blessed with a strong intuition of people's character and am seldom wrong.

Unfortunately I am not blessed with the ability to keep my mouth shut and seem utterly incapable of pursing my lips to the hind quarters of the powers that be.

Having already made up my mind that this woman, notorious for a complete lack of ethics and for throwing her staff under the bus when shit hit the fan, would NOT touch the editorial side of things, I paused before answering her one question of me, "what is it that you need from me?"

Mustering up a wry smile and what I hoped sounded like a sweet southern drawl, I responded, "well, as you can see, we have a pretty well-run operation here. I suppose I simply need for you to allow me to do my job and not call me on Tuesdays."

Yes, I know, I'm an insufferable bitch at times.

Anyway, yesterday, corporate sent down the photo they wanted me to run with the story announcing her hire. I could overlook the bright blue eye shadow, although, at the risk of offending folks, I've never seen a woman who looked good in bright blue eye shadow, but the ample cleavage spilling from the top of her low-cut, sleeveless blouse was almost more than I could bear. Her head was thrown back in a half-mocking, half-playful smile, her large, dangling earrings completing the effect. Somehow I managed to keep my thoughts to myself and prepare the photo for press.

I skimmed through the story that had been sent, noting with surprise that she was said to have received a Bachelor's Degree in Communications from Duke University.

Then, this morning I received my first official email from my new publisher. I have pasted it below for your amusement and so that we can all point our fingers and laugh. This email went out to five editors and the president of the company:

"Good Morning Everyone,

I have had the pleasure of meeting all of you expect for (name deleted to spare the innocent) who I look forward to meeting in the near future.

As we move forward through the remainder of this year and beyond it is important to that all of the papers in our group, as well as within the (name erased to spare the stupid) organization, be on the same page. Our common goal is now and has always been to produce the best newspaper possible for the communities we serve. Papers that are full of local, local, local news that our readers rely on us to provide them. To that end I have ask (name erased to spare the innocent) to head an Editorial task force that will include all of the editors in the group and will meet in (undisclosed location) once every three months. (Name erased to spare the innocent) will be contacting each of you soon to begin scheduling the first on what I hope will be many productive meetings. This is a great opportunity to learn from each other, share ideas,discuss the challenges facing community newspaper and how best to resolve them.

I look forward to working with all of you as we move forward. Please let me know if you have any questions."

(Okay, you can quit laughing now.)

My Lord, do they really expect us to take this woman seriously?

I couldn't help myself and bypassed the chain of command to voice my concern that perhaps, if she was to ever gain the respect of her editors, someone should tactfully point out the handy spelling and grammar check feature available on her computer before she sent out anymore messages. Then I spent the rest of the day laughing at the sheer idiocy of it all, hoping those involved in hiring her at least had the good grace to spend the afternoon hiding under their desks and hoping I wouldn't have to put up with it much longer!

Monday, July 30, 2007

now I need a vacation!

Sheesh...that was rough! We had a great time but I am completely wiped out!

We got on the road around 4 a.m. and were at the beach by 8 a.m. on Saturday. We ran into some heavy fog along the way that slowed us down quite a bit (well that and a biscuit run!) We had to scramble for a place to stay, which kind of caught me off guard. It usually isn't a problem to find a vacancy at one of my two favorite hotels, but for whatever reason everything was packed to overflowing this weekend. We lucked up and found a place, it was across the street from the beach, but still within walking distance of the pier (and Coke icies!) so we were good!

The weather was kind of crappy though. According to the Weather Channel, there was only a 20% chance of rain Saturday and a 30% chance on Sunday, but we shrugged that off, figuring "hey, it's summer time at the beach, of course there's a chance for thunderstorms!" Needless to say, the bottom fell out around 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon, which brought an end to our lounging around on the beach, watching the kids play in the surf.

We went on to enjoy a nice dinner, a walk on the pier and a stroll on the beach in search of crabs and "scurry bugs". (For those of you who aren't familiar with a "scurry bug", it's some sort of little critter that burrows into the wet sand as the waves rollback out. I have no idea what their scientific name is. In my family they are simply "scurry bugs".)

Of course things got wild once we got back to the room. (Notice "room" is singular!) Four adults and four children, ages 13, 11, 8 and 18 months, all crammed into one room with two double beds! For a moment I thought I'd lost my mind! It really wasn't that bad though. We were armed with plenty of doughnuts to keep the children (and the husband) pacified and enough beer and vodka to keep the other three of us calm.

The boy thoroughly enjoyed having other kids there to play with, although even he said he was extremely glad we had taken separate cars! It was amazing to see him so fearless in the ocean, which historically has terrified him. I suppose he wasn't about to let the 6 year old show him up!

Sunday was mostly cloudy, which made it easy for us to pack up and leave late that afternoon. We ran into a major traffic snarl on the way home and laughed at the folks who finally turned around and headed in the opposite direction on the interstate about .5 a mile before traffic started moving at a nice little pace again!

We arrived home about 10 last night, sans the boy, who was left with my grandmother on the way home. He'll be spending the next few weeks being spoiled silly before I make him return to the normal life of chores and rules and (gasp) school!

Now if I can just get through deadline day tomorrow, I may be able to recover from the trip and get around to paying some bills and doing laundry!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hot Damn!

Momma's going to the beach!

The husband's sister called this morning and asked if we wanted to go to the beach.

Funny thing, we'd been talking about going to the beach this week, but the A/C went ker-plooey last weekend and we weren't certain how much it was going to cost to fix it so I had not gotten my hopes up.

In fact I had an interview scheduled for Saturday and plans to do a bit of shopping with a friend Sunday. The A/C repair came in much cheaper than expected, so and I'm almost ashamed to say it, but without a moment's hesitation, I rescheduled the interview and bailed on Sunday's shopping trip. (Love ya girl, but damn, it's the beach!)

Besides, the husband's sister, her husband and their three kids are going too (in a separate car) and the boy has never been to the beach and had other kids to play with so I can hardly pass it up. Besides, it's the beach and summer is almost over.

So I'm off to shave and pack and sleep real fast cause we'll leave at about 3 in the morning, but if traffic's light (and it usually is that time of night), we'll arrive about the same time the sun is rising. Say hello to the surf and sand and sun, get some breakfast, grab a room and hit the beach!

The weather will determine what time we leave on Sunday.

Either way there won't be a lot of sleeping this weekend, and with four kids, I can't imagine it will be extremely relaxing, but hot damn! It will be fun!

a word of thanks

At the risk of sounding like a complete loser, I've got to tell you, I'm really enjoying this blogging thing.

It's the stories I love, always has been. I thoroughly enjoy being allowed to take a peek into the lives of others and appreciate their willingness to share their stories with the rest of us. Some are funny, some are sad, some simply recount the day's events, but I have found over the years that despite the wide range of voices that tell them, it is the stories themselves that bind us, connecting us to the rest of humanity.

To those who share your stories, I say thank you for inciting the giggles, provoking the thoughts, tugging the heartstrings and reminding the rest of us that we're all human.

To those of you who happen to stumble across my own stories, I appreciate your patience, encouragement and understanding as I clear the clutter from my mind and I thank you for reminding me that my voice, as small as it is, has not gone unheard.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

hope the wait is almost over

Continuing that previous train of thought...

There are certainly times that I wish I had waited a bit longer to become a momma. We were definitely not ready to have children, although I have to question most anyone's readiness for children. Is anyone ever really ready? However, we were certainly not well-prepared.

Newlyweds without a penny to our names, we already had enough on our plates, what with trying to control my husband's epilepsy and his inability to work when that failed.

I never even held a baby before the boy was born, much less ever changed a diaper or warmed a bottle. As with most everything else in my life, I was depending on a book to provide me with the knowledge I needed because my pride certainly wouldn't allow me to ever ask for help.

I wish we had been in a position to allow me to stay home with him after he was born. As it was, I worked on Friday, went into the hospital on Monday and he was born on Tuesday. I can't recall exactly when I went back to work, but I had a C-section and remember having been back at work a couple of weeks before having to take a day off to go have the staples removed.

It seemed as though every day I came home from work to discover I had missed out on a "first" — his first real smile, the first time he rolled over, the first time he held his head up. Luckily, I was able to catch his first word and even his first step. I liked to think he had saved those precious moments especially to share with me. I know that sounds silly, but hey, it made a tired momma feel better.

I never quite recovered from the pregnancy, which finally led to a hysterectomy when the boy was six. It was awfully hard to enjoy those early years. Seems as though life at the time was a blur as I was constantly working, snatching quality time with the boy when I could, my uterus clenched in contractions the whole time.

By the time he was five months old, it was clear one job just wouldn't cut it, no matter how many extra hours I worked, it wasn't enough. I was able to pick up another job that paid pretty well and was just down the road from the house, but the schedule was horrendous and left little time for enjoying motherhood.

My "day" began with an alarm clock going off around 9 p.m. Jump up, throw on some black jeans and a white tee-shirt, brush my teeth, pull my hair up in a pony tail and tie on my little black apron. Steal a few minutes to chat with the husband while cuddling the boy. Dash out the door, jump in the car by 9:30 in order to get to the diner in time for my shift to start at 10. Those were the longest nights — waiting tables, manning the grill, washing dishes and cleaning toilets, but the tips were great. My shift ended at 6 a.m., which allowed me to be home by 6:30, just as the boy was waking up. Most mornings he would already be awake when I got there, quietly amusing himself in his crib, waiting to greet me with a grin. I would feed him his breakfast and then either bathe him while I took my bath or, if I had to wash my hair, he'd sit in his carrier in the bathroom floor babbling and giggling along as I sang (rather out of tune I must add) or made up stories. After that it was off to the kitchen to wash the bottles and jars and mix up the formula and cereal and baby food combinations for the day. As soon as that was done, we'd go lay on the bed, my husband reaching over in his sleep to hold us both.

Gotta sleep fast though — the alarm clock would go off again at 9:30 a.m., time to get up, throw on whatever I could find and race up the road to the little gas station where I ran the register and stocked the shelves from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., at which time I got to go home and fall back in the bed until the 9 p.m. wake up call. Six days a week, Monday night until Sunday morning. Sunday mornings would come around and I'd do the weekly shopping and spend all day as momma until it was time to go to sleep late Sunday night. Wake up for a few hours Monday morning and then sleep all I could before that alarm went off. I only lasted a couple of months at that pace until I had to give up the gas station hours, but I missed out on a lot during those months.

Over the years, my hours became more manageable, sticking to 8-hour shifts six days a week, except for the winter months when the seizures worsened and I'd work an extra 5 hours or so every day to try to make up the lost wages. And all the while, the boy was growing, changing and waiting for momma to come home or for her to wake up or for her to feel up to going outside or getting in the floor to play.

By the time the boy was five I'd managed to find a regular 8-5 job. Damn shame he had started school by then and had to be in bed by 8 or 8:30, just a few hours after I got home. By the end of first grade I was working for the paper, excited at the idea of having a more flexible schedule and the ability to take him with me on assignments. Damn shame I was busy taking pictures of other people's children and he was busy being quiet as momma interviewed people. By the time he was in fourth grade I was the editor and he had grown used to being "the newspaper lady's son".

My boy turned 11 in June and will be going into sixth grade, his first year at the middle school. By now he has grown used to spending Tuesday nights at the office as we get the paper to press, to Saturday fish-fries and auctions and dinners. He knows that every other Monday night momma probably won't be home until long after he's gone to bed because she has to cover a commissioners meeting. He knows that she will miss Tuesday night ballgames because of deadlines and that she will most likely not get home any other night before 6 or 7. And so my boy waits. He waits for his momma to come home from work or for her to wake up or for her to feel like going outside or getting in the floor to play.

With any luck, his stepfather will be offered this job next week and by the first of November, just as the winter months begin, the boy's wait will be over and his momma will come home from work, catch up on her sleep and be ready to play.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

how young?

In response to Moonrat's curiosity.....

I've always wanted a family, so I wasted no time in starting one, getting married right after finishing high school. The plan was to get married, continue working and start college. Life had other plans though. Two months into it, I was pregnant and sick as a dog, husband lost his job, yada yada yada....

So anyway, by the time I was 19 I'd been married for a year, was a new mother and waiting tables to make ends meet. I kept telling myself it was only temporary. But year after year, kids I'd gone to school with would come into the diner after a night out in the clubs and give me the update on how great college was...all the crazy parties...then before long, all the great jobs they landed with their degrees.

"So what's new with you," they'd ask. "Written that great American novel yet?"

I'd always cringe, knowing they had no interest in the fact that my son was growing up, the car had only broken down once and we'd managed to make rent. I hated to tell them that unless you counted the lines scribbled on napkins or scraps of register tape, I hadn't written much of anything, much less the great American novel. I guess that's what always bothered me about people having such high expectations of me, it seemed I was forever letting someone down.

After I turned down countless invitations to go out partying because I had to work, or had to get home to the baby, or simply didn't have the money, folks finally just quit asking. (As if it wasn't bad enough that I'd turned down the same invitations during high school cause I had to work or was going to a debate tournament!)

Before I knew it, I was 23, still waiting tables in the same greasy little diner, had a four-year-old son and was a widow. Life was not going at all as I had planned.

I worked in a doctor's office for a couple years after that before I was able to talk a newspaper into giving me a job writing. I went to my 10-year class reunion, ready to answer that dreaded question, "so, what's new with you?"

"Well, my son is halfway grown and I'm the editor of a small town paper and yes, we own our own home."

Others in the room were still unmarried, worried they'd never get married or have kids or be able to even afford a family and home on top of their student loans and credit card debt. They were living in tiny apartments and a lot of them had moved back in with their parents.

"Want to go out for drinks after this," several of them asked.

I just grinned and shook my head. No, I needed to go pick up my son so we could go home.

How young is too young? Hell if I know. When I was 19, 20 years old, I desperately wished I had no responsibilities, nothing keeping my feet firmly rooted to the ground. Ten years later, I'm thinking I only have seven more years before my son is 18. While so many of the folks I went to school with will still be changing diapers or checking homework, I'll be going out for drinks and I may just be old enough to appreciate it!

Tuesday

It's been an interesting day.

With another deadline behind me, I took off to cover a talented local girl's performance at open mic night in a neighboring town. Since it didn't really get started until around 10, I had time for a couple of drinks. Live music, whiskey...good way to celebrate meeting a deadline! I finally know what it's like to go have a few drinks after work! (Well okay, I did go for drinks after a corporate meeting once.)

I'm starting to think I missed out on a lot of fun by starting a family so young.

Anyway, I finally get home around midnight to discover the cable on my laptop's charger is severed and now I'm in the mood to write.

*Sigh*

Oh well. The red battery icon tells me "not tonight, go to bed."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

it's hardly courage

"Oh I don't know how you do it, I'd never be able to handle it," so many people have commented over the years. They've used words like strong and courageous, yet I am far from either.

It's not very often that any of us are given a choice in what we handle and we're often very surprised at our ability to survive certain aspects of life that may confront us.

When you're in the middle of it, when you're facing that impossible situation that you always knew you would never be able to handle, you don't even think about it. You simply go through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other like everyone else.

It has been said that God never gives us more than we can bear, a phrase that I have often taken issue with. I cannot count the times I have shaken my fist at God or pleaded with Him to stop having so much faith in my ability to bear. Then suddenly, not very long ago in fact, it occurred to me that I've had it all wrong.

It is not God's faith in our ability to bear, but our faith in His ability to guide us through it that really matters.

In fact, someone sent me a phrase earlier today that is a much better explanation, "The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

just thought i'd share

The following poem was written by Adelaide Love. The words have been ingrained in my mind since seventh grade, when I first read them aloud from my granny's copy of Best Loved Poems of the American People. I just thought I'd share their beauty with you.

If you should go before me, dear, walk slowly
Down the ways of death, well worn and wide,
For I would want to overtake you quickly
And seek the journey's ending by your side.
I would be so forlorn not to descry you
Down some shining high road when I came;
Walk slowly, dear, and often look behind you,
And pause to hear if someone calls your name.

— Adelaide Love

anniversary

It was twelve years ago yesterday when I married my husband (erm, my first husband).

It was seven years ago yesterday when I scattered his remains in the Atlantic Ocean.

I suppose people are right when they say it gets easier as the years pass, although I don't think it's as much that the pain subsides as it is that you become accustomed to it. It becomes as much a part of you as the love itself. Then one day you wake to discover, not that you miss them any less, not that it no longer hurts, but that you have accepted it and are simply all out of tears to shed.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

congrats and goodbyes

Today is my publisher's last day. He's off to bigger and better things in another state.

It's a sad day for the company, only they're too wrapped up in their own petty little corporate world to realize it, yet. I'm sure once the final year numbers come in they will be forced to face it, although, even then, they will dismiss it and go about their daily business of penny-pinching and soul sucking.

I've been here for nearly five years and he is the third publisher I've worked under, which in itself speaks volumes.

Granted, I thought him to be a complete ass when I first met him. He came in; naive of the unscrupulous character of the people he worked for and towed the company line like a good little soldier.

It only took about six months for him to really come to understand what the company was all about, but unlike the others, he neither packed up his office and left or allowed himself to become a puppet. No, this man did the unthinkable.

Not only did he stay, but did so with grace and dignity, placing himself in the line of fire between his people and his bosses. Don't get me wrong, he was careful to tiptoe along the line of decorum and propriety, but he always stopped short of kissing anyone's ass, an admirable thing in itself, although I'm certain he tolerated much more than he would have liked.

A natural-born salesman and leader, he drove the numbers of his papers. While at times I not so lovingly referred to him as the "special section Nazi", I was constantly reminded that he was not asking the impossible. He knew it could be done and he knew we could do it. He had enough respect for us to listen to our suggestions and concerns and make concessions where necessary.

Over the years I came to view him not as a boss, but as a friend and mentor. He taught me the subtle art of knowing when and how to challenge authority, managed to explain why I should give a shit about an EBITDA and showed me that every now and then, numbers driven salesmen really could be good guys.

Meanwhile, I taught him how the Brownie point system worked, proved that southern girls could drink a Yankee under the table and showed him that even nice girls with no head for numbers could be ruthless.

We're a lot alike and I can't help but chuckle at the thought of the good ol' boys referring to me as the "news Nazi".

Best of luck to the best damn boss I ever had. He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

random thought

Relationships stretched taut to cover the jagged wounds — an empty effort to heal and carry on. Such strain can only be tolerated by the strongest of fabric. The lonely echo of fibers snapping under the stress of the deafening silence.

See this is why I don't drink.

it was just a pizza

My carrots were eaten today. Along with some cheese grits, a banana, and *blush* a Mr. P's pizza with extra mozzarella cheese once the paper was done.

And now I'm on to whiskey sours and ginger snaps. (Which for some reason makes me giggle, but not blush.)

I'll be sure to eat extra berries tomorrow!

Monday, July 16, 2007

opportunity

Hmm...it looks as though I may very soon be presented with the ideal opportunity to finally go to college.

I'm almost afraid to put too much thought into it. Similar opportunities in the past have had damn near tragic outcomes so not only am I afraid to get my hopes up, I'm also terrified of what sort of fucked up curveball will be pitched in my direction.

The first plan I had for college was derailed by marriage, baby and epilepsy. Plans for various certifications fell through the cracks during the early years. There never seemed to be enough money, never seemed to be enough time. I even enrolled in a degree program once, but before I could register for class, the boy's daddy died. Didn't seem like a good time to start spending so much time studying.

So now, here I am again and I can't help but wonder what kind of fucked up shit is going to come along and blow it (myself included of course).

It looks as though there is a very real possibility I am going to be able to take some time off work, or at least work part time or do some freelance editing and the like on the side — which is going to free up some time for me to start working towards my degree without shirking my responsibilities as a parent. Meanwhile, I've stumbled across an excellent program offering just what I've been searching for. Hmm...This could go so wrong in so many ways!

yum!

Yes, this "basket of food plan" could work well.

First we have to forget about the pack of cigarettes, eight cups of coffee and two Dr. Peppers I ingested today. Then we can applaud that I ate all my berries, grapes, and chicken salad although I didn't get around to the carrots or to the last minute banana thrown into the basket.

Later, I grabbed some oatmeal for dinner and I just finished munching on some ginger snaps.

Considering my normal Monday fare consists of a bag of McDonald's, a can of Chef Boyardee or a Mr. P's Pizza, I figure I did pretty well.

Damn shame I left my basket at the office.

Oh well, that just means there's already carrots, a banana and some oatmeal (that somehow I had the foresight to throw in the basket this morning) waiting for me tomorrow.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

takes a sip and grins

Hold on to your socks! I've discovered whiskey sours! This could be dangerous.

Ok, technically I think a friend of mine introduced me to them a while back, but I have just recently picked up on the convenience of the treat.

But Alice, you're a southern girl, how can whiskey sours be new to you?

Good question. I am indeed a southern girl, but hardly one of fine breeding. No, I'm more of the back woods kind of girl when it comes to my whiskey...give it to me straight, and if you've got it, I prefer the good ol' fashioned moonshine, although the early years really killed my taste for the stuff.

While I was in the kitchen, mixing up the concoction I hoped would send me into a dreamless sleep, I packed a basket of food to take with me to the office tomorrow. I was quite proud of myself for adhering to my new healthy guidelines, mostly, and packed blackberries (the biggest damn blackberries I've ever seen actually), blueberries (which the boy swears are sour, go figure), red grapes (notice all the dark fruits, they have a lot of cancer-fighting anthocyanins, which are strong antioxidants). Then, just for good measure, I threw in some carrots, veggie dip, chicken salad and sea salt pita chips. I wish I had remembered to get some celery, I might grab some in the morning. It's a shame green onions will chase everyone away, I love those.

Who knows, maybe it will be enough to offset all the caffiene and nicotine I will consume tomorrow. I wonder if whiskey, in moderation of course, has positive health benefits? *takes a sip and grins*

Thursday, July 12, 2007

funeral for Charles

I went to the funeral today.

I almost chickened out at the last minute, but I felt as though I needed to see this thing through to the end.

I'm glad I did.

I discovered Charles was a 66-year-old veteran of the Korean war, well-loved by his family and known for being a straight-shooter with a quick wit and a firm belief in God. I spoke with several members of his immediate family, who told me they had been shocked by his passing, as he had not suffered of any health problems that they were aware of.

My heart broke for his daughter, who was pretty tore up over his death. She told me that she had been so upset, thinking about him dying alone. It came as a great comfort to her to know that had not been the case.

As she sat there, sobbing into my shoulder as she hugged me, I knew I had done the right thing by going to the service. Somehow, if only for a moment, it was as though I were able to serve as a bridge between this life and the next, allowing the lady an ounce of the comfort only a girl's daddy can really give.

I'm humbled that God would leave that task to me and thankful that He did.

damn pills

See kids...this is why we really need to get out of the mindset that a pill can make us happy.

About a year ago I started taking Effexor to help prevent a complete nervous breakdown.

I had a lot going on at the time. I had taken my son to the neurologist after an apparent seizure where an EEG revealed "gross abnormalities". Considering the fact that his daddy had severe epilepsy and ended up dying during a seizure seven years ago, I was more than a bit concerned.

At the same time, just because that's how life works, I was also handed a diagnosis of cancer and had the joy of having some very delicate, very important parts removed.

Meanwhile, nearly a year into the marriage, I was discovering the "emotionally distant" jackass side of my new husband. Oh and have I mentioned I'm the editor of a small-town newspaper?

Sheesh...I was a complete basketcase! I wasn't sure if I was coming or going and it was only a matter of time before I snapped.

The Effexor, which has been known to help me over past bumps in the road, didn't seem to be making a dent this time so I decided not to bother and to just suck it up and deal with it. My resolve only lasted for a few months. Once I got the word I needed more surgery cause the first one didn't do the trick, I decided to give it another try. This time it was a low dose of Zoloft. It was amazing! I was calmer, but didn't have that fuzzy-headed, detached from all of life sensation. I could deal with that!

Then, a few days ago, they upped my dose....so now I'm sitting here feeling damn near zombiefied, which makes it pretty difficult to write with any real feeling. Oh, I'm definitely calm, but I wasn't really looking to replace the jumbled mass of emotions that threatened to send me over the edge with this odd, hollow little shell.

I'll blame it on the drugs for now...and start breaking these damn pills in half.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

how do you turn this thing off?

Sleep is not coming easy tonight.

In spite of what my "dead of night" posts may imply, I generally have no trouble sleeping, but tonight my mind is restless, filled with thoughts of everything I should have done at work, everything I need to do tomorrow and a whole litany of other things that are simply a blur.

Perhaps it is worry, or longing or the fact that my ankle itches, which puts me in mind of Winston Smith's ulcer in Orwell's 1984.

Whatever it is, I wish it would wake me up in the morning, saving my poor phone from being "snoozed" for two hours, instead of keeping me up tonight.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Charles

I helped a man die today.

Well, actually he and God didn't need my help in the dying part, but I would like to think my presence somehow eased his fear.

We were sitting in my office when we heard the first crash. Just as we got up to investigate, a white car leaped on to the sidewalk, flying past my window. We got to the door just as we heard the second crash in our parking lot. Main Street was eerily quiet as I stepped outside.

I found him, semi-conscious, strapped in the driver's seat of his car. He didn't seem to be aware of the fact I had opened the driver's side door, but his eyes rolled towards me and he lunged for breath when I spoke to him.

I glanced around quickly, looking for somebody, anybody who could handle the situation.

"Do you have a nurse there today," I called out to Lisa, who oversees a company that provides in-home nursing care.

"No, but he's (her husband) calling 911 now," she answered walking towards us.

She mouthed a question to me.

Not yet.

I'm sorry, I can't get you out right now, I don't want to hurt you, but help is on the way. I'm just going to reach over and turn your car off so you don't go any farther.

He tried to speak, but choked on the rattled sound, the color already draining from his face. His breathing halted and I stood up to look around, praying I'd see a vehicle with flashing lights. Seeing none, I bent back through the door, stroking the man's arm as I spoke in a manner I hoped came across as reassuring.

It's going to be okay, someone's coming to help. Don't be scared, it's going to be okay. Nobody else was hurt.

I prayed the man wasn't already dead. But no, there was a sudden gasp for breath and his eyes began to flutter open as he fought for consciousness, the effort creating a yellow flush that replaced the pallor of his face.

Can you hear me? Hold on, help is here, they're going to take care of you. I'll be right here.

I gave his arm a final loving pat and stepped back as a volunteer first responder ran to the car. He was quickly assisted by several more as the ambulance arrived.

The man regained consciousness, only for a moment, after being pulled on to the stretcher. The EMT told him not to worry, he'd been in a wreck, and they were taking him to the hospital.

An hour or so later an officer told me the man died en route. He said it was a heart attack.

I can't help but think the man had probably wondered why I didn't do something about that damn tightness in his chest instead of just rubbing his arm, but I'd like to think that at least he was somewhat comforted by the knowledge he wasn't alone.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

college fund

Regular visitors will notice the addition of Google ads at the bottom of this page.

*hangs head in shame*

What can I say? I've never given up on the idea of going to college, whether it's financially feasible or not, so I figured what the hell maybe throwing some ads on will add an extra 10 cents a month to that slow-growing college fund of mine.

Of course I suppose it would help if I would have placed them a bit more prominently, but really, does anyone ever click on those things anyway?

get over it

Do we ever really get over it?

I imagine it depends on the type of event in question. I have certainly gotten over many of the events in my life, but the loss of someone you love?

How do you define getting over that loss?

Is it when they no longer frequently come to mind as you go about the daily business of living? Is it when their face is no longer so clear or when their faint voices can no longer be heard, just ahead? Is it when they stop appearing every so often in your dreams, visits so vivid waking is as wrenching as death?

If so, then getting over it sounds an awful lot like letting go. Plenty of folks would tell us that's the healthiest thing to do, but when someone becomes a part of your very being, can you ever truly let go without losing a vital part of yourself?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

you mean this isn't normal?

• Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
• Shame or guilt
• Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
• Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
• Feeling emotionally numb
• Irritability or anger
• Poor relationships
• Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
• Hopelessness about the future
• Trouble sleeping
• Memory problems
• Trouble concentrating
• Being easily startled or frightened
• Not enjoying activities you once enjoyed
• Hearing or seeing things that aren't there

They call it post traumatic stress syndrome.

I've always called it life.

It makes sense, although I'm still not certain the particular events of my life could be considered traumatic, I allow that you can certainly say they have traumatized me. However I view that as more of a character flaw within myself than any measure of the events themselves. Perhaps that is where the shame comes into play — I suppose I could have handled things much better. It's been a long time, a lot of years have passed. I should be over it by now.

But should I be?

Do we ever really get over it?

It's hard to believe we do, although I will concede that we should probably be able to reach a point where the pain is no longer so sharp, the visions so vivid or the wounds so fresh.

hope rises



There's definitely something to be said for knowing for certain!

Thursday's CT scan was a piece of cake, the berry smoothie concoction I had to gulp down wasn't nearly as chalky as I expected, although it did weigh heavily on my tummy for most of the day.

After a restless night, I went to the doctor Friday who seemed as surprised as I that the CT scan revealed nothing out of the ordinary — no strange masses, clean lymph nodes — all is well. The test confirmed what I've been saying for years, the pain is mostly in my head, brought on by stress, or fleeting "ghost pains" from those years before the hysterectomy.

Definitely good to know for sure though.

And I'm very relieved to know that this cancer is really working from the outside in and that it's not lurking around anywhere else. It's much easier to accept the next few months of treatment and surgery knowing that it is not entirely futile.

*deep breath*

So, set a new quit date for the smokes (Friday will be my last day), find some black raspberries and work up the nerve to face the next few months without being too whiny!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

perfection

I suppose we all picture perfection.

What would make you happy; what do you need in order to feel complete?

I've given a lot of thought to that as we are all often asked to consider it.

My idea of perfection? Being surrounded by those I love — and them having that same sense of peace and contentment — attaining that ultimate sense of oneness.

But such perfection is found only in my mind, or in death and what awaits us all afterward, a retreat into our own minds, our own sense of perfection, which somehow binds us all together.

but it's my day off!

Why do people insist on trying to make me do shit when I actually have a day off work?

Granted, I did get to sleep in until 2, pretty impressive until you consider the fact I was up until 5. After several failed attempts of "C'mon now, it's time to get up" while sending three dogs sailing on to the bed, I was finally handed a cup of coffee and a cigarette which at least got me in an upright position.

Once I had sufficient levels of caffeine and nicotine in my system to function properly it dawned on me that I didn't have a damn thing I had to do today and I began to look forward to a leisurely day spent in my robe, book in hand, laptop, appropriately enough, in my lap.

Oh but wait, I've got laundry to put up and bills to do 'cause I didn't bother over the weekend....drag myself to the desk where I begin sorting through the piles...bills that must be paid to have roof and utilities, bills that can be put off for another week if absolutely necessary and the ever-growing pile of medical bills I will probably never be able to afford to pay. Run the figures, write the checks, realize the car insurance is late (damn DMV is sure to throw in an extra $50 on that one) and drink some more coffee. Go through the pile of medical bills to at least get them prioritized, doctors I never plan on seeing again get shuffled to the bottom while doctors responsible for my current and future care quickly slide to the top.

*Heavy sigh....Grumble about the healthcare racket...Grumble that it's a damn shame my life seems to be nothing more than columns of debits and credits, with the credits never being quite enough....Smoke another cigarette, finish my coffee and vow to start hunting for a better job, writing fellowships, whatever, anything that will change the current course.*

Get the laundry put up, staunchly refuse to begin a top to bottom house-cleaning campaign....phone rings...but I can't even attempt to answer it. We have two cordless phones in the house — one that has been sucked up by that same pesky vortex in which single socks and important scraps of paper disappear and another that refuses to hold a charge long enough to say "hello, why are you calling me on my day off?"

The missing and presumed deceased phones worked to my advantage though. By agreeing to go on a family outing to the big city to get a phone that will actually fulfill its intended purpose, I got out of having to go to the other big city to add my presence to the masses of people oohing and ahhing at the fireworks display. Let's see, go sit in a crowd of people, listening to children scream and watching happy couples cuddle or pile into the SUV and head to Wal-Trap to get a device to allow me to communicate with a bunch of people I don't want to talk to anyway? How much more American can you get? *rolls eyes*

Monday, July 2, 2007

surrender




It's amazing how the words haunt me even now, the emotion behind them still reverberating within, still wreaking havoc. It seems as though no matter how many years pass, goals are accomplished or tears are shed, I can never quite shake that all encompassing fear. — originally posted 6/21/07

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. - Aldous Huxley

Thank you Jamey for helping me express the inexpressible.

quality of life

I sit here in a fuzzy lavender robe; my head in a doughnut box, nibbling an iced chocolate cake doughnut.

Yes, quality of life is a rather large issue when considering treatment options.

I suppose it all boils down to how much shit you are willing to put yourself through.

My first husband had a seizure and drowned in the bathtub at the age of 24. Even as I mourned, my heart was relieved his suffering had ceased.

I am not one who believes I will live forever, not on this earth anyhow — as a great love once told me, "forever is a long time."

Nor am I one to believe that being diagnosed with a form of cancer somehow reduces the odds of my dying in a car crash tomorrow.

None of us are promised a tomorrow. We live so much of our lives today for something that has not been promised.

I have always said that I don't much mind the idea of dying; I just don't want it to hurt first. So it's difficult for me to decide to hurt in order to live.

Well, we did the first surgery and it didn't work, so you need more surgery. You have to do this to keep it from going invasive. Yes, we could try something else first although we can't guarantee it will work. You may also have a difficult time tolerating it as, in addition to the flu-like symptoms, it creates a burning that becomes an aching, then a throbbing that moves it's way through your entire body until you sit, every muscle clenched against the pain.

But if you can tolerate it, we may be able to reduce the extent of the second surgery.

No, we can't tell you for certain if the cancer has already begun to go invasive, we don't think it has. Yes, you could consider it playing with fire by not doing surgery now. No, we can't tell you for certain that a second surgery will stop it from going invasive or that it will not come back.


Um, ok. Is there anything you CAN tell me for certain?

You have to stop smoking, you have to take better care of yourself, you have to reduce the amount of stress in your life (oh and this is going to cost you an ass-load of money, which sucks for you cause it's going to be kind of hard to go to work everyday.)

Um, yea, I'm sold. Ok I have at least struck a compromise. I will quit smoking again, I will try this treatment again (hopefully this time we will see some marked improvement), to the extent that I can tolerate it and if necessary I will have one more surgery. After that, you people will leave me alone until you can prove to me that it is do this or die and then we will consider those options.

At least that doesn't make me feel as though things are so indefinite and that these nightmares aren't just the first of many.

Of course, the results of the upcoming CT scan could change all that.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

waiting

I have a very dear friend who says we are all waiting and that our primary purpose is to make each other's waiting a little more enjoyable and perhaps a touch easier.

I often wonder if it isn't truly that simple. We tend to complicate things so much.

This is the same friend who assures me "everything will be alright in the end...and if it's not, it's not the end."