Thursday, December 31, 2009

making my list, checking it twice

It's the last night of the year and I'm laid up on my couch with the cold from hell so I decided to take a look back at this time last year to see if I'd made any resolutions.

Nope...I never do. But I did have a short list of things I'd like to accomplish. I wonder how I did with that.

* Complete the EMT-Basic course and pass the state certification the FIRST time. I've heard that a lot of folks fail the first time but I refuse to be one of them.

CHECK! Not only did I finish with the highest average in the class, but I also had the highest score on the state test. Yay me! I've also started working as an EMT for a local service and am loving it!

* Make myself go to church EVERY Sunday (unless of course I'm sick.) As much as I enjoy going and even miss it when I don't go, I still find excuses to to go about once a month.

CHECK! Ok, I had a lot of help with this one. I started teaching one of the adult Sunday School classes and I'm pretty sure one of the main reasons they wanted me to teach was to help ensure my regular attendance!

* Blog on a more regular basis. I've gotten slack in my blogging, primarily because my mind has been filled with shit not fit to see the light of day. I have this wonderful outlet, I need to use it. Of course, this may mean that I ramble even more.

Ok, so I didn't really accomplish this one at all. Again, most of the crap that floats around in my brain isn't fit to see the light of day. Plus there are a handful of people in my life who know about this blog and yes, it does make me a bit more reserved about what I share.

* Get my teeth fixed. My teeth are a nightmare and in major need of some extensive dental work. I have dental insurance, but I'm a complete wimp when it comes to having dental work done and I'm too cheap to spend the money. I have a hard time justifying it as a necessary expense if the tooth isn't hurting.

Um, yea. I haven't taken the first step towards taking care of this one. I guess this is one that needs to be moved to the top of my list for 2010.

Let's see...what else needs to be on that list?

* Stop procrastinating so much! I always find myself behind the eight ball because I put everything off until the last minute. I really need to start trying to tackle things immediately and not let them all pile up. This goes for crap at work, laundry, chores, social obligations, etc.

* Take better care of myself...meaning at least eating better and taking vitamins. Surely I can manage that. Maybe.

On that note, I've just finished a huge glass of orange juice and am pretty sure it's time for some chocolate! ;-)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

a quick note to him

Dear,

I played pool with your son tonight. That's one of those things I don't do often because it reminds me so much of you. How is it that he holds the cue just as you did, that he puts that same spin on the cue ball, that he has that same swagger as he works his way around the table, when he never once saw you shoot a game?

I was struck by his hands, as I always am. They are definitely yours. I was struck too by his smile and his laugh, as I always am. And for a moment, a brief, fleeting moment, I felt as though you were still here.

He's happy. He knows he's loved. He loves his Momma and is fiercely defensive of me.He knows who you are. And he knows how much you loved him. He misses you and hates he never got the chance to know you better.

So do I.

I look at him now, at the threshold of manhood, still so much a child, and I think of you, of the life you deserved. I wonder, just as I have wondered a million times before, what your life would've been like had you been born to someone else, had she been able to grasp reality and not let her own insanity soil you so much. I see him in front of me, bright smile, laughing eyes and I have my answer.

He has chosen to be Baptized tomorrow. He was worried, for a while, about whether or not you believed, about whether or not you would be allowed to meet us on the other side, whether or not you were a child of God. I assured him you were...not just because of the conversations we had when you were here but because of the sense of peace God gave me as I prayed for you incessantly after your death.

You would be so proud of him...of the man he is becoming. I've explained that you believed he was the only good thing you ever did and he is determined to be the type of man you wished him to be - good, strong, kind and loving.

I miss you most during these times. I think of the sweet little kisses you gave me when he was born, the tender touch of your hand in mine as we watched him play as a baby and I wish you were here to see him now.

I wish he could know you as I do...that infectious laugh that lit up a room, that soft look of love in your eyes as you looked at him. I try so very hard to do right by you. To raise him as you wanted him to be raised. To keep you as part of our lives.

But oh, how I miss you!

It's gotten easier. I no longer cry every day. Yet still I long for your touch, to hear your voice. But I thank God every day for giving me a part of you. And I still thank Him for not allowing him to have your brown eyes. I'm not sure I could handle that.

You told me, oh so often, not to plan for you to be a part of our lives as he grew older. You were so sure you would die young. I told you, oh so often, that I simply couldn't imagine it any other way. I was so certain you would live forever. And here we are, all these years later and you are still part of my very being.

The day we married you kissed me and whispered "not even death."

I take a breath and hear those words, feel your breath warm upon my ear and I know you were right.

There are not words to express how much I miss you, how much I long to have you at my side. But I have also yet to find the words that describe how I still feel your presence, how I know you've never really left my side.

I love you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

when tiny dribbles become giant waves

So apparently The Husband was tuning me out the day I told him the secret of living peacefully with me. Big surprise there huh?

I laid it all on the table before we got married and told him to pay special attention to two keys points that were the keys to, not only understanding me, but dealing with me on a daily basis.

Point #1: I need to be loved. That's the only reason you're here. I don't need someone to pay my bills. I don't need someone to fix things when they're broke (although that would be a really cool benefit.) I need someone to love me. And since I'm a needy bitch (and this is important,) I need to be constantly reminded of that love. Don't ever, ever, no matter what else happens, allow me to believe that you don't love me or care about what happens to me because once I get that thought in my head it will be very difficult for me to shake it.

Point #2: I don't bitch about the little shit. Or at least I try very hard not to. If I'm bitching about the toilet seat being left up or the fact that your aim is horrible, consider yourself warned, there is something else bothering me. I'm not going to call you out every time I feel unloved, unappreciated or am royally pissed about some asshole thing you've done because believe it or not, I don't want to argue with you. But, (and this is important) I will lose my patience and begin nit-picking and bitching about all the stupid, inconsequential shit that grates my nerves. So pay attention, if I'm bitching about little shit, start asking me questions if you want to know what's wrong with me because I'm probably really steaming over something else.

To his credit, The Husband has at least been making a concerted effort to be attentive and to demonstrate, in his own way, that he loves me. Of course that's directly linked to the fact that his biological clock is ticking like hell and he's thinking he might just want to have a baby, but that's another post for another time.

I've been bitching about his aim for months now. I've been bitching about the dog hair all over the floor. I've been bitching about his grunting and groaning and moaning. I've been bitching about the amount of room he takes up when we sit in a booth at a restaurant.

He hasn't yet asked me what the hell my problem is. I guess he assumes I'm just pissy. I know part of him is certain I'm crazy and that my moodiness has something to do with whatever is not quite right in my head.

Perhaps he is simply trying to avoid the same argument I am. Perhaps he is just clueless. Or perhaps he just doesn't give a shit.

Either way, he's known for almost a year now that the cancer has returned. I mention its presence every so often as a reminder, hoping that somehow this time will be different. When I first mentioned the recurrence to him, I was hopeful. A few weeks passed and I mentioned it again and he had the good grace to ask if it was getting any worse. Since then? Nothing. Nada. Not a word, not a question, nothing said in response to comments I make about it.

A friend of mine offered that maybe he just doesn't want to deal with it. Maybe he doesn't want to talk about it because talking about it makes it real. Maybe.

But we've been here before. And when I asked him the first go around why he refused to talk about it his answer was very simple..."you've got to understand, I know you're probably thinking about this all the time, but that's just it, this is happening to you, this isn't happening to me so I'm not thinking about it all the time." I haven't quite been able to shake those words.

No, that's not a conversation I want to have again. The last time we had that conversation it ultimately led to me asking for a divorce. For now, I'll just keep bitching about the pissy dribbles around the toilet.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

well ain't that a kick in the balls

Figuratively speaking of course. Because I don't have balls. Although I've often been accused of having big brass ones.

But alas I've been blessed with dysfunctional lady parts. Seems like the damn things have never worked right! That's why I had a rough pregnancy. That's why I had a hysterectomy at the age of 25. That's why I've had two surgeries, countless laser ablations and several rounds of topical chemo.

And now that's why I don't even care if I never have sex again. Sex hurts. And when it hurts I look. And when I look I am reminded of the cancer that continues to fester.

(By the way, if you know me outside of cyberspace and pick up the phone to call me, don't. There's a reason I haven't mentioned it. I don't want to talk about it.)


It's been back for a while...came back not long after I healed from the last surgery. Some days it doesn't bother me at all and I don't even think about it. Most days it's a mild annoyance...a constant irritation, reminding me that all is not right in the region. It reminds me of Winston's varicose ulcer in Orwell's 1984.

Then there's days like today. A quick round of sex brings about pain and of course me being me, leads me to investigate the source of that pain. The investigation reveals everything I expected to see (from previous examinations) and confirms earlier suspicions that yes, it has clearly spread to previously uncharted territory.

I am immediately annoyed. I am then filled with that nagging, haunting sense of doom as I envision this invader creeping, slowly taking over. The fact that I have these thoughts only annoys me more. That wave of nausea washes over me. I can't speak. A piercing pain grabs my mid-section. And I wonder stupidly, for a fleeting second, if this is what it feels like to get kicked in the balls.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

don't close your eyes

They say that I must learn to separate myself from the human face of this job.

I say that if I ever get to the point I am no longer able to see that human face it is time for me to quit.

I guess that's how a lot of people deal with it though.

We find their bodies broken and bloody. We find them gasping for breath, their hearts too weak to beat. We hear the cries of their husbands and wives, their children, their parents.

We do what we can.

Some of us close our eyes, refusing to see past the flesh and bone. Some of us close our hearts, refusing to feel their pain.

But sometimes all we can do is care. What good are we to them if we lose that ability?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

relentless tide

As usual, I have a gazillion things on my to-do list, but I can't seem to check any of them off because my mind is a million miles away.

I would entertain the possibility that I had ADD if it weren't for the fact that the distractions are rarely varied. No, my attention always seems to be focused in one direction - that single, all consuming wave of emotion that begins with a sharp catch of the breath and begins to ebb with the whispered exhalation, "you have no idea how much I love you."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

damn vortex

Well hell, I did it again.

To borrow a thought from a dear friend of mine - that damn vortex! It will get you every time.

So often it seems as though there's nothing really going on in my life, yet once I suddenly catch my breath and look back, I'm like, "wow! no wonder it was so easy to get sucked into that vortex."

Things I've done over the past 2 months:

* Started teaching Sunday school. I hate the term "teacher" though. After all, in order to be qualified to "teach" shouldn't you really have a firm understanding of the subject? Shouldn't you be able to answer questions? So, I lead the Bible study discussion for my age group every Sunday morning. And I haven't burst into flames yet, which proves that whole idea of forgiveness.

* Contracted, suffered through and recovered from a nasty case of walking pneumonia. This was the second time I've had that mess. Funny thing though - I was never actually sick. At least not "sick" as in sniffing, sneezing, runny nose sick. My chest had already been hurting for a week before I got the sniffles, which only lasted a couple days. Mostly I just felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest and I couldn't quite catch my breath.

* Quit smoking. Again. Ok, it's only Day 12 and I've cheated twice, but I'm working on it. The whole pneumonia thing really scared me. It was the second time I've had that mess and this time I was downright out of breath and literally gasping for air. It occurred to me that I'd been smoking for 20 years and I was probably pushing my luck. If I keep smoking, odds are good I'll end up living my life out of breath and gasping for air. No thanks. I get the picture. I'll stop.

(Of course, I've discovered my mom is absolutely right about what has kept me from actually quitting. She told me that my problem with quitting was simply that I was too stubborn. You'd think being stubborn would come in handy when trying to muster up the willpower to do something, but I'm stubborn in a backwards kind of way. When I decide I want to smoke, I go smoke a cigarette, whether I've quit or not.)

* Started working part-time with the local EMS service. I'm still in the training phase, riding as a 3rd person provider. I was most nervous about driving the ambulance, so of course my first time driving was an emergency traffic call down a curvy road. I'm doing ok though and really think I'm going to enjoy this type of work. This gives me a total of three part-time jobs though, which makes scheduling a bit hectic. As The Boy pointed out the other day, once you put it all together it's like I work a full-time job plus an extra part-time job. I wish The Husband would reach that same realization. He seems to be trying though.

Things I haven't done over the past two months:

* Written any blogs. Instead I've been writing Sunday school lessons, grant reports, letters to friends, to-do lists (that never seem to get done)and grocery lists. I hope to get back on track with that routine as well.

* Kept up with my blog subscriptions. I've missed reading them and hope to get back into the routine although I'm not sure I'll ever get caught up on all of them. That's where I'm off to now - to see what everyone else has been up to for the past two months.

Friday, August 7, 2009

things I wonder about

My fellow blogger Maria (who has such a knack for combining incredibly funny with incredibly deep to make for a heartwarming read) has been wondering about things lately, which prompted me to do some wondering of my own.

1) I wonder why we never see birds falling from the sky, or out of trees. Birds have to die, I'm certain of it. But I've never seen a bird that died from natural causes. I've seen the ones who had very unfortunate encounters with cars, those assaulted by other animals and, in one particularly sad incident, a bird who mistook a freshly washed, giant plate glass window for an unencumbered entry to my office. (I refused to ever wash that window again for fear of it happening again.) BUT, I've never seen a bird sitting on a power line or tree limb suddenly lose the fight. I've never come across a dead bird that hadn't died of some horrific trauma. Where on earth do the go? I've been told that animals cart them off too quickly for us to discover, but I have a hard time buying that. There's a LOT of birds in this world. Where do they all go when they die and how is it that no one I know has ever seen one fall out of the sky or off a perch? A weird thing to wonder I know, but it's always troubled me.

2) Why is it that you always start to feel better if you finally call to make that doctor's appointment, only to feel worse again if you decide to cancel? I could chalk this up to the placebo effect, except the same holds true for vehicles. They never make that funny noise at the mechanics, but as soon as you leave the garage, it does it again.

3) Why is it that my husband cannot sit through a single commercial but can be sitting on the edge of his seat for an entire four hour Operation Repo marathon?

4) Why is it that men take so much pride in their ability to write their names in the snow, but refuse to practice their aim in the bathroom? (Incidentally, I recently read somewhere that if you painted a fly or some such silliness in the bottom of the bowl, they will always aim for it, thus making cleaning the toilet and surrounding area a much more bearable task.)

5) Why is it that at 5:30 in the afternoon, when everyone in town is doing their grocery shopping, there will be 15 store employees milling around but only two registers open and no one bagging groceries?

6) Why is it that I seem to be the only one in my house who recognizes when a vacuum cleaner, dust rag or broom should be used?

7) Why is that I seem to be the only one who knows how to use these fancy-fangled devices?

8) Why is it that when I'm looking for a job there's none to be found, but when I already have several, everyone wants to offer me another one?

9) Why is it that none of my dogs are confident in my ability to go pee by myself? Ok, as annoying as it can be to have three dogs escorting every move I make, it really does give me a warm fuzzy feeling to know they're that protective of me. "Oh no, woman is going to another room, ON GUARD, GO!"

10) Why is it that two of those same dogs seem to forget I exist as they fly through the woods after an unknown creature, seemingly oblivious to my demands and pleadings that they "STAY!!! COME BACK HERE!!"

11) How does my cat know I'm going for a bowl of cereal? If I even THINK about getting a bowl of cereal, she is in my lap or rubbing herself against my legs. And don't let me sit down on the couch with a bowl of cereal, because she will insist on sitting on the arm of the couch (or the back, above my shoulder) trying to shove her fat kitty nose into my bowl. If I'm not eating it fast enough for her, she'll nudge the bottom of the bowl with her fat kitty head. More than one bowl of cereal has been dumped in my lap that way. Or she'll bat at the spoon with her paw.

12) Why do I continue to sit the bowl down for that damn cat when I'm finished??

13) Why is it that the men-folk around here fuss there's nothing to eat in the house when there's a refrigerator full of leftovers that need to be thrown out because they opted to eat frozen pizzas on the nights I worked?

14) Why do these same men-folk not understand why I refuse to cook more food when there's still leftovers that need to be eaten before they go bad in the refrigerator?

15) Why do I let such crap get under my skin so bad? I know that in the grand scheme of things, little daily annoyances really don't matter. I try to remind myself of that as I feel my temper rising, but after a while I explode and everyone in the house decides I must just be cranky that day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If they're old and he's a teen, I must be middle-aged

Getting old sucks.

It's as though I woke up one day recently to discover that everyone around me has gotten old.

My great-grandmother recently turned 95, but that's not what triggered it for me. She's always been old, at least for as long as I've been around.

I think it was more that my grandmother turned 70 last year. When I looked at her one day and realized that, even though she could still pass for 50, she is now what most people would consider elderly.

That point was really driven home a few weeks ago when she called to let me know she had made her final arrangements and worked out a payment plan so she could cover the cost herself. She was calling me to let me know that I was the one she listed to receive her cremated remains.

I was only partly shocked. She and I have had that conversation before. I knew what she wanted done and had long ago agreed to ensure her wishes were carried out. But the fact that she has finally, not only put it in writing, but made firm plans, kind of took me aback.

Then, just a few days ago, my mom, who is 52, called to tell me that her doctor had just informed her that she had osteoporosis and needs to start considering treatment options. So there I am, doing a ton of research on the internet, shocked to discover that my mom, the woman who rocked skimpy bikinis in the 80s and mini skirts even in the 90s, is now frail. FRAIL!

I guess I've reached THAT point. You know the one. Where you finish raising your children, just in time to take care of your parents and grandparents. My son will start high school in another year and be ready to start college or strike out on his own in another 5 years.

I'm not sure I'm ready for all this.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

whole

I think I recognized the restaurant - one of my favorite little places at the beach. He sat across from me, laughing as we talked.

I remember thinking, even in my dream, "my God, he's whole again." His hair was long, threatening to spill into those deep brown eyes. It's been a long time since I've seen it so long.

For the life of me, I can't remember what we were talking about, but I know it included a comment about cheesy bread. But the conversation was comfortable, easy. We laughed, a lot.

My alarm clock jerked me back to this world. But I was whole again, for just a little while.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

home

The pounding of the surf reverberates within my very being, the salty breeze caressing my skin.

Home.

It calls out to me, beckoning me closer, promising forever.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

still

It is constantly in motion.

The ever present ebb & flow of the tide causing great swells to roll across the surface. Frothy waves crashing in the shallow waters, quickly crawling their way upon the shore, only to be sucked back out just as quickly.

The sand is forever shifting, the landscape forever changing, at the mercy of the tide & winds.

There is an incredible stillness about it all. A pulse that is so fast it cannot be felt to be measured.

It is endless and it is timeless.

It is where forever is found.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

there's no doubt about it...

I am a creature of habit.

The husband and I decided to try a new beach last week.

I was excited about the idea of seeing lighthouses and exploring a new island.

Well, I was excited until I got there. I don't think the long drive helped. A seven hour drive is a bit of a shock to the system when you're used to getting to the beach within 4-5 hours.

The place was gorgeous. At various points, you could see both the ocean and sound and I found myself in awe when I thought of how often those stretches of island had been under water. Given that fact, I suppose it's no wonder that the island is virtually barren of development.

I had no idea where anything was. The beach we usually visit has become like a second home to me. I know where all the cool little hole-in-the-wall bars are, where all the cheap diners frequented by locals are, where every little side road takes you.

There were no little-hole-the-wall places there and what few side roads existed led only to non-descript beach homes that all looked alike. No cute little cottages, no hot dog stands and NO DOUGHNUTS! What's a girl to do when she can't have doughnuts for breakfast at the beach???

There were plenty of pricey little apparel shops, hammock shops and shops that offered coffee and do-it-yourself beading.

It didn't even smell like beach. I'm not sure if it was the sound or lack of piers or high winds, but there was no salty spray in the air, no immediate whiff of fish, salt, sand to greet you upon your arrival. I missed that.

So, I spent a few days lying on an unfamiliar beach, on an unfamiliar island, that was 7 hours from home.

Thank God I'm leaving tomorrow for some serious "real" beach time with my aunt. We'll stop for doughnuts on the way to the hotel, walk the piers, eat lunch in little hole-in-the-wall places that may not remember your name, but recognize you from years past.

And, the minute we cross the bridge to get to MY island, my beach, we'll be welcomed by a salty, sandy, fishy scent that will linger long after we come home.

There my spirit will be revived and I'll come home recharged and ready to go. Or at least, that's been the routine.

happy independence day

"Suzie" and her husband came over tonight to help us celebrate the fourth.

She's one of the few people who understand...who was around then, who knew both of us, who really gets it.

The pictures in The Boy's room were almost enough to make her cry.

I knew she'd understand the trunk and the strange things it contains...the wallet that still stores a small amount of cash, the candy that was never eaten, the glass jar of water that manages to stay cold no mattter what the temperature.

She recognized the smell immediately. And suddenly I felt a little less crazy.

She would understand why, no matter how good this life is, I will always want something different. Why I nearly welled up in tears tonight, accepting, for the millionth time, that he wasn't here.

She understands that I am no longer whole, that a part of me died with him, that no matter how much time passes, no mattter how much things change or life goes forward, I am his wife. She understands that is who am. She knows that person.

And she wonders how I continue to be the person I've become.

I often wonder the same. And know that I would trade everthing I am, everything I have for just one more moment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

more specifically

So you're poking along, attending to the everyday business of living and you're feeling more than a bit distracted. Downright detached even. So detached that you start wondering if you're actually awake or if this is all just a dream.

I've spent the last few months like that. I'm 99% certain I'm awake and not dreaming, but I'm having a hard time "waking up" per se.

A little detachment is a good thing. It's not healthy to be so wrapped up in yourself, or in the everyday bullshit of life, that you miss the bigger picture. But too much detachment leaves you damn near useless.

Oh don't get me wrong, during this time, I've completed the EMT course and passed my state exam with flying colors, so my brain is apparently still functioning. It just doesn't seem to be relaying the message to the rest of me that I am indeed alive.

It's hard to explain. It's not quite numbness, although many of my senses certainly seem dulled. It's just...detached. Disconnected from everything around me, detached even from myself.

It makes it damn hard to write. It makes it damn hard to do much of anything beyond the absolutely necessary. I'm here. But I'm not. Hell, the thing is, I'm not even sure where the rest of me is.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I swear...

I am alive. I really am.

At least I'm 95% certain of that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

off the map

It's been brought to my attention that I'm in a weird place right now.

Indeed I am and I'm not entirely sure it's a good place to be.

A friend of mine asked me earlier today how I was doing. My response was, "well, I'm still in one piece."

But that's not entirely true.

In fact, I feel as though I'm completely unraveling at the seams and losing bits and pieces of myself all over the damn place.

Friday, May 1, 2009

fearful procrastination

I'm listening to Nirvana. I'm also remembering the mint chocolate chip ice cream waiting in my freezer. That almost makes up for the fact I'm listening to Nirvana.

People often ask, "Well what do you want to do?"

I want to sit in a cabin in the woods, reading, sleeping, eating...and writing.

Writing, truly writing, is a painful, soul-wrenching experience that leave me exhausted - hateful because I want to be left alone to get it over with.

The moment I sit down and really begin to work, it's like ripping off the bandages. I bleed across the page until I'm spent. Then I sleep.

I awake, I read, I eat. I write.

I've been putting it off. I'm not certain I can withstand the bloodshed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

*&$#%@!!!!!!

The Boy's case was continued. Because the court system is completely jacked up. As always.

I am, however, proud to know I am no more tolerant of the complete destruction of personal responsibility through plea deals, loopholes and crafty defense attorneys when it is my own son at the defense table.

I am even more proud of his indignation that he was not allowed to plead guilty today and accept his punishment.

Perhaps a few steps along that path have been right.

on being a parent

My house is surrounded by really tall trees that are full of birds this time of the year. Apparently, all the ones who like to sing really loudly are nocturnal.

This can be maddening while you are lying there trying to sleep, your mind racing a thousand miles a minute as you pray incessantly, "Please God, help me through these next few moments. Allow me the knowledge and strength to do the right thing. Instill in me the grace to be humble and accepting, even if the right thing is hard to do or gets me hurt." You replay every step you've already taken, questioning whether each of them has been in the right direction. You incessantly plead forgiveness of every misstep.

You think all these thoughts in a single second. You repeat them every 60 seconds.

Then, just when you think you have a moment of quiet, a moment of still — those birds start singing.

Soon it will grow late, and the singing will silence. The heart will still be burdened with worry and longing and fear. But the eyelids and soul will rest under the heavy blanket of faith and acceptance.

Then that blasted alarm clock will blare some music, reminding you that tomorrow is court day for The Boy. The same boy who set the trash can on fire at school. The same boy, who very much like his father, believes he is smarter than everyone else, the rules don't apply to him and to hell with the consequences, even if it means he or someone else gets hurt.

Moments like these I really miss his father. I miss not being able to say, "he's YOUR son, YOU make him understand!"

And I pray, "Please God, help me through these next few moments. He's YOUR son, allow him the knowledge and strength to do the right thing. Instill in him the grace to be humble and accepting, even if the right thing is hard to do. Allow me the knowledge and strength to do the right thing by him. Please God, help me to know I'm stepping in the right direction to help him along the right path." You replay every step you've already taken, questioning whether each of them has been in the right direction. You incessantly plead forgiveness of every misstep.

You think all these thoughts in a single second. You repeat them every 60 seconds.

For nine months, for 13 years, for his entire life.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

compassion, laughter and tact

I really like the medics I'm riding with. They have great senses of humor and are really good at the job, but seeing them in action reinforces my belief that not only do I have what it takes to be a good medic, but I have what it takes to be a KIND medic.

Don't get me wrong, they care about their patients and weren't nearly as heartless as a lot of the medics I've run across, but there were a few things that made me raise my eyebrows - things I would've done differently, things I hope I would never do.

Our first call was an intentional overdose, a middle-aged woman with a history of depression. Because of the nature of the call, by the time we arrive, the scene is crawling with volunteer first responders and law enforcement not to mention several nosy neighbors. The patient was conscious and, for the most part, alert. We walked her out of the house to the stretcher.

Eye raise #1: The woman's condition was stable so there was no real rush to transport. When we arrived she was wearing a flimsy, strappy night gown that fell about mid-thigh. The straps kept falling off her thin shoulders as we helped her to the front door of her trailer and the stretcher just outside. It was warm outside, but my instinct was to wrap a sheet around her shoulders or something before we paraded her outside.

Eye raise #2: As we walked through the trailer with her, one of the medics questioned her about why she took so many pills. She tearfully admitted that she had done it on purpose because "they had taken her grandbabies away from her." The medic responded that this wasn't the way to handle things and that doing things like this would ensure that she never saw her grandbabies again, at which the woman howled that she "was never going to see them again anyway." Once we got her into the ambulance, the medic reminded her several times that her attempted suicide was not the way to handle things, that she had to be strong and couldn't be "pulling stunts like this." He was never really ugly about it, but was extremely firm in his tone. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the woman. Here she was, obviously feeling as though there was no hope, to the point she tried to take her own life, and the entire ride to the hospital she had to listen to a medic telling her how she'd fucked up. I understand what he was trying to do, I really do, but the way I see it, this woman was about to be swarmed by doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and law enforcement once she got to the hospital - all of whom would be telling her how she'd fucked up. Seems to me, she needed at least one person who wasn't judging her. Maybe I'm looking at it all wrong, but we can treat her, transport her and be kind to her without adding to the chorus of people telling her how bad she'd fucked up because she was so miserable she would rather die than live.

Another patient was dispatched out as a breathing difficulty. We arrived on scene to find an elderly man in a nursing home who was a bit beyond "breathing difficulty." The poor man was literally drowning in his own fluid. He was conscious, but didn't seem at all alert or aware of his surroundings, although he did grunt in response to verbal stimuli. The nurses assured us that was his "normal" mental state.

Eye raise #3: As we were wheeling the patient out of the facility, the two medics were laughing and cutting up with each other. I can understand this, they weren't being inappropriate or anything, but they never told the patient where they were taking him or what was going on. I know he was only semi-alert, but just because he was not responding very well to us doesn't mean he wasn't aware of his surroundings - it doesn't mean he wasn't frightened about what was going on and it seems to me that instead of laughing and cutting up, you should be taking a minute to reassure the patient and explaining what's happening.

Eye raise #4: The laughing and cutting up crossed a line as we were leaving the facility though. The smell of carnations was strong in the lobby and one of the medics commented on it, which began a brief conversation between the two medics about how they hated the smell of carnations because it always reminded them of death. It just seemed like an inappropriate conversation to me given the circumstances and I kept hoping our patient couldn't hear them.

I think both medics felt a bit bad about it a couple hours later when we came back through the ER with another patient only to find the elderly gentleman was feeling much better, smiling and talking with two family members. Obviously that had not been his "normal" state, regardless of what the dipshit nurse had told us. It just goes to show that you should ALWAYS watch what you say and assume that the patient can hear you.

I know it's easy to judge from the "outside," but I would hope that as I gain more experience, I would continue to believe patients should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their state or how they came to be in such a state.

easier than I thought

Alrighty then, yes, I believe I can do this EMS thing.

My first ride went fairly smooth. We weren't incredibly busy, which gave me plenty of time to get acclimated and get over my nerves. We only ran four calls, all of which were pretty straight-forward and routine - an overdose, a breathing difficulty, a fall with a laceration to the face and a transport.

I've learned that no, seeing a stranger's blood and/or private regions doesn't really bother me. I don't get car sick riding backwards in the captain chair and I can keep my balance by planting me feet just right as we run emergency traffic to the hospital. I figured out the fancy monitors and oxygen set up, which are much different than the equipment we use in class. Substandard care in nursing homes has always pissed me off, but it's going to be even more so now that I will see the effects up close and personal.

While it's been pointed out that I must be a bit touched to want to get into this line of work, I managed to finish my 12-hour shift without looking like a complete dumb ass. It was a good night.

I lucked up and will be riding with the same two medics for my second ride next week. Now that I'm familiar with the equipment on the truck and have been broken in, I'll play a much more hand-on roll in patient care.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

do or do not...

I start my ride time tomorrow night and am nervous as hell.

I'm not really worried about screwing up and killing someone because I'll be riding with a medic and another EMT-B and I know they won't let me do anything THAT stupid. I am however, a bit concerned that I'll pull some dipshit move and embarrass the holy hell out of myself.

I suppose my only real fear is finding out that maybe I'm not cut out for this after all. People who should know these things assure me I'll do fine...they tell me I have the right mentality for the job. I know I'm good at keeping my cool in emergency situations and I currently have the highest average in the class. Of course I'm also the only one in class who hasn't done any ride time yet either, because I'm a chicken shit like that.

Knowing what to do and being able to do it in theory is completely different than actually DOING it! I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

how long can I last?

I'm pretty sure my husband and child have forgotten what I look like.

Well, maybe it's not quite that bad, but it's getting pretty damn close. Here's lately most of my evenings have been spent either working at the tavern or in class. This week is a perfect example. I'm in class Monday and Wednesday, doing a 12 hour shift on an ambulance Thursday night for class and working Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. So tonight is the only night I don't have to be anywhere. Of course I won't be home tonight either. I'll be taking my mom out to eat for her birthday since I didn't get to do it last week.

Meanwhile, my days are spent either studying or trying to fulfill my duties as a program manager for the county.

It doesn't look like my schedule is going to get any lighter anytime soon either. Class will not end until the end of May and I have to pull four 12-hour shifts on an ambulance and two 8-hour shifts in the ER before then.

"You can't keep going at this pace," a friend's mom admonished me, when I told her I hoped to keep the program manager job along with my hours at the tavern and work on an ambulance once I finish class.

It occurs to me that she could be right. I'm getting too old for this shit!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

warming up the old brain...me-me-me

It's been a struggle to form a coherent sentence the past few months so in an effort to get my juices flowing, I'm taking a crack at this meme I ran across on another blog, Terroni who blamed Maria.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I'm not at all certain perfect happiness can be achieved in this life. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it can't be. That's not to imply I'm some sort of severely depressed woman who has given up on finding that perfect happiness. Nope, I'm merely a moderately depressed woman who believes perfect happiness can only be found once we enter the Kingdom of God (i.e. once you're dead.)

2. What is your greatest fear?
It probably varies by day and the circumstances invading my life at the moment, but my longest-standing, deepest-rooted fears are that I will not be loved, or that once people really get to know the "real" me they will judge me unworthy of love.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
It's almost impossible to choose only one, but most of them eventually come back to my complete lack of motivation.

4. What is the trait that you most deplore in others?
Again, it's almost impossible to choose only one, but most of them ultimately come back to a lack of compassion.

5. What living person do you most admire?
I admire anyone who can roll with the punches of life without becoming hardened or bitter or losing their faith in God.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?
Food. I spend an obscene amount of money eating out because I enjoy a good meal and think the best meals are the ones I don't have to cook. It used to be pot, but then I had to become a responsible, drug-free adult. Apparently I just have a lot of "munchie" flashbacks. :-)

7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Of course, I'm severely lacking this particular virtue which may be why I like to think it's overrated.

8. On what occasion do you lie?
Most often when I'm trying to spare someone's feelings.

9. What do you dislike most about your appearance?

My teeth. I've always had horrible teeth. The alignment is awful and they are extremely weak, which has led to massive cavities in most of them. If I hadn't heard false teeth were so painful, I would have them all pulled and purchase a nice radiant smile for myself.

10. What living person do you most despise?

I most despise cruelty in general. The only person I've ever truly despised was the mother of my first husband. She was cruel and manipulative. I still haven't decided if she was merely insane or downright evil. It's taken me many years to forgive her for the pain she inflicted on him, for the chaos and conflict she created in our lives.

11. What words or phrases do you most overuse?

"certainly," "of course," "what the fuck?"

12. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Marshmallows. Well no, but they're right up there. I've been blessed with several. My son, even though he drives me to the brink of insanity. I did not realize such all-encompassing love was possible until I became pregnant. My son's father, for whom I felt such an innocent, utterly devoted sense of love for. The One, who I met when I was 13 and knew immediately he was my other half. He was the one who completed me. Even after all these years, I only feel complete when he is in my life in some capacity. The Second One, who came along long after I'd lost The One, long after I lost my son's father, right when I had given up on ever being capable of feeling such love again.

13. When and where were you happiest?

Prom night my senior year (spent with The One), for a week at the beach July 1999 with my son and his father

14. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I could muster up more motivation to get more accomplished in my daily life.

15. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The fact that my son has never doubted my love for him. Now if I could just convince him of the need to follow the rules and quit lying to me.

16. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I would hope it would be a big fat house cat who got to lay around and sleep all day, preferably with a loving owner who would let me curl up in their lap when I felt the need for affection.

17. Where would you like to live?

In a small southern town on the shore. I always feel productive there.

18. What is your most treasured possession?

My photographs and the Bible my mother gave me.

19. What is your favorite occupation?
I truly loved being editor of the newspaper, but I look forward to being able to provide real hands-on help to people in an emergency situation. I would love to become a counselor one day, a grief and Hospice counselor in particular.

20. What is your most marked characteristic?
Most likely my laugh.

21. What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty. I firmly believe honesty is paramount in all healthy relationships.

22. Who are your favorite writers?
Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe,

23. Who is your favorite hero or heroine of fiction?
Scarlett O'Hara, even though she is a selfish, spoiled bitch throughout most of the book. I love her spunk and determination.

24. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

The ones whose names no one remembers, the every day people who labored and loved and made a quiet impact on their little corner of the world.

25. What is it that you most dislike?

Feet, macaroni and cheese, the smell of cat litter (even clean cat litter) and clumps of dog hair in the floor

25. What is your greatest regret?

not going to college when I was younger

26. How would you like to die?
quick and painless, preferably in my sleep

27. What is your motto?
"The only thing I HAVE to do is stay white and die."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bless you, for it is spring

Spring has officially sprung here in the South, meaning the grass has turned a bright emerald green and everything else is budding and blooming in all shades of pink and yellow. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Of course that also means that everyone mowed their grass yesterday. Add that to the pollen dripping from the trees and ACHHOOOO!!

It's a small price to pay for bright sunny days. We need to enjoy them while we can. By the end of next month it will be hot as Hades and everything that's now bright and splendid will start to wither in the baking sun.

If I wasn't so slack I'd post some pictures.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm not dead yet, but I will be if I don't start pushing harder

"It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them."
- Isabel Colegate

Isn't that the truth! I suppose that's why I haven't posted anything recently. There just hasn't been much of anything rattling around in this mind of mine the past month that I'd want to bother anyone with...even semi-anonymous folks floating around out there in cyberspace.

That's not to say this has been a quiet month...quite the contrary actually. I'll hit the highlights and will hopefully resume a regular blogging schedule.

- Some extremely suspicious places have cropped up that lead me to believe the cancer has returned (again.) Of course it waited until after I allowed the $800/month health insurance lapse so I could continue to afford my house payment. I already know what they'll say anyway.

- The boy went temporarily stupid and set a trashcan on fire at school. Not only did he get expelled for 365 days, but he's not also facing a felony charge. He's not even 13 yet!!! This is what happens when you have a thing for bad boys...eventually you have their children. They will most likely drop it to a misdemeanor, in which case he'll get off easy. Too easy in fact. I don't know what scares me worse, the idea of him going to juvenile detention or the idea of him getting off with a slap on the wrist.

- We've been invited to join the church we've been attending regularly. It's a Baptist church and, since I did not grow up in the church, I have not yet been Baptized. So at some point over the next few weeks I'm going to be dunked in water by a pastor who promises to hold my nose. I made the silent promise to him that I would try not to break his wrist as I clung to it for dear life. I did however mention my fear that I would be the first adult in the history of the church to flail around madly while going down, terrified I was drowning.

- The same pastor left me flooded with humility during our meeting regarding the Baptism when he asked me to share my testimony and then offered that he had no doubt as to my salvation. He also asked me to serve (i.e. teach Sunday school on a regular basis.) He is an elderly man, who I am sure has seen much in this world and I have no doubt as to his ability to see clearly my imperfections. The first time I served as a substitute teacher in Sunday school my response to his question about how it went was simply, "well I didn't burst into flames so I suppose it went well." I truly believe God sent brought him and that church into my life to show me that it is indeed by God's grace and not my own worth that I was blessed with salvation.

- I have only two months left in my EMT training. So far I've maintained a near-perfect average in the class, but I'm certain my first CPR will be go much like this:
MEDIC: You have to really push hard on those chest compressions, I'm still not reading a pulse.
ME: But that's gotta hurt and I don't want to hurt him.
MEDIC: He's not going to feel it, he's DEAD and he's going to STAY dead if you don't start pushing harder!
This is a perfectly plausible scenario as so far, the only problem I've had with hands-on skills is not being firm enough. Although I did manage to whack the airway obstruction out of the infant on the first try.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

damn good husband

I would make a damn good husband.

My first husband first pointed that out to me when I was juggling two full-time jobs to keep us afloat. He would remind me of that the following year when I pushed our Ford up a hill in the snow and ice, and again the year after that when I fixed the botched "do-it-yourself" tune-up he'd tried to perform on his car.

At the time, it was a tremendous source of pride for me. I was proud of the fact that I could work hard to take care of my family. I was also proud of the fact that my daddy had taught me basic mechanics of cars, simple machinery, etc. and I wasn't afraid to get dirty. I was proud of the fact that I was self-sufficient.

Of course, that was ten years ago.

These days it just annoys me.

I'm on my second husband now and I don't want to make someone a damn good husband! I want to HAVE a damn good husband so I can concentrate on being a damn good wife.

I don't want to have to be the one that knows how to fix shit, or be the one that has to keep up with when the oil needs to be changed. I don't want to be the one who has to make all the major financial decisions or make sure the bills are paid. I don't want to be the one who has to climb up on a stool to change a light bulb because he can't figure out how to get the cover off.

Believe it or not, I can cook and clean and all that other "wifely" shit, and would love to do it more. I'd love to be an "old-fashioned wife" but I resent the hell out of someone asking me to do both!

Monday, February 23, 2009

not even a life raft could save you

Have I missed an important memo?

Did the world elect to name me as the patron saint to every self-destructive, lost and lonely asshole among us?

What's the deal, pickle?

How is it that every disillusioned, dysfunctional, self-destructive asshole finds his way to my door with the grandiose notion that I can somehow save him from himself? And why in the hell do they keep coming back????

Good hell! (To borrow a phrase often used by Maria.) Is the universe trying to tell me something about the role I'm supposed to be playing on this earth or is this the idea of some kind of cosmic joke?

Well it's not very fucking funny.

"The savior of wicked men."
Yes, some asshole actually referred to me in such a manner and then had the audacity to be slightly miffed when I told him that I'd gone out of the savior business as it was too time and emotion-intensive with very little return on my investment. Besides, I tend to leave the savior business to entities much better equipped than myself.

Here's a newsflash folks, NO ONE can save you from yourself!!! Get it through your heads! (My apologies to my readers for this angry rant, but sheesh!!) I'm so tired of hearing these guys wallow in self-pity, "well this is what the world has made me and why should I care if no one else does?" Um, hellloooo!!!! You are the only one who chooses who you are. You are not the sum of the hand life has dealt you, but are the sum of how you choose to play those cards. Don't blame the world because you made the wrong choice and don't expect me to offer anything but a good old fashioned ass kicking when you're sitting around talking about folding and walking away from the table because it's just too hard.

Sink or swim dude, sink or swim, but drowning is one hell of a shitty way to go out and I have no intention of sitting here watching you go under when you refuse to even tread water.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

rolling up my sleeves

It hasn't always been this way.

I remember a time - it doesn't seem that long ago - when the words flowed effortlessly. They would wake me in the middle of the night, insistent in their urgency to be released across a page. In the morning I would awake to find them scribbled in a notebook, or jotted on a napkin, and was thankful my muse had woken me enough to record them.

I was distracted during waking hours - one ear tuned to the world around me as the other paid attention to the whirring of words in my mind. Most days it seemed as though I were living dual lives - taking notes in biology while simultaneously scribbling a poem on the opposite page. During the evenings, when the rest of the world was quiet, I'd churn out page after page, an endless stream of verse, prose, lyrics, whatever.

Then one day I woke up and realized I hadn't written a thing in months. I chalked it up to the fact that I was busy working and caring for my son, who was a baby at the time.

The next thing I know years had passed and I'd only managed to churn out what had once been a day's worth or work.

"Am I out of words? Have I completely lost all inspiration? Maybe I'm not really a writer after all."

When grief invaded my life, it forced a surge of words. So much pain, so much anger, so many questions. It had to come out somewhere and it spilled across the page.

Soon I was working as journalist and was again writing on a daily basis, but I was no longer writing for myself. Instead I was writing for everyone else.

"Ok, maybe this is it. Maybe I'm simply destined to write non-fiction. Maybe I've just lost that creative spark."

Meanwhile the stories have been writing themselves. Scenes played out repeatedly - opening lines, entire paragraphs, chapter after chapter - all trapped inside my mind. Tens of thousands of words swirling around in a frenzy.

"Will they disappear if I don't hurry to commit them to ink?"

There's been a recent shift in the winds. Instead of sitting around, waiting for the muse to do all the work, I suppose it's time I realized she's already done her part. Now it's just a matter of me forcing myself to sit down and put it on the page. Hmmm...this could be painful!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

ugh

Every cold virus in a ten-mile radius seems to have found me this year.

That's right, I'm sick, AGAIN!

I think this is some sort or cosmic payback for all the colds I've dodged in recent years and my boasts this fall that "I hardly ever get a cold anymore."

I should've kept my mouth shut! I had a blissful week free of stuffy nose and burning chest only to wake up yesterday completely unable to breathe through my nose.

I'm wondering if it has something to do with hiding in my house for too long. Maybe my immune system got slack not having to fight off so many germs. Either way, I'm now clutching a kleenex constantly and taking an unGodly amount of anti-snot drugs in an effort to not be quite so disgusting while out working with the public.

If I refuse to shake your hand, don't be offended, I'm just doing my part to stop the spread of these little bastards!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

when taking a whiz becomes a romantic act

Ok, I think it's safe to say my husband does NOT read my blog!

Yes, that's right, "romance" was delivered via a huge teddy bear (that really is very soft and cuddly) and a funny Homer Simpson "talking" card expounding the joys of a relationship that allows you to take a whiz with the door open.

The funny thing is, I almost bought the exact same card for him, but opted for a sweet one instead.

I received no professions of undying love or anything like that, but I do have a written promise (in the card) that he will try to improve his aim.

The teddy bear hasn't kicked him out of the bed yet, but he considered it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

forget the flowers, just don't lick yourself in public

I almost feel sorry for men like my husband on Valentine's Day. The marketing folks really set them up to look like shit.

I mean really, how many guys out there are romantics at heart? Granted, I know there's a few, I've even dated a few, but for the most part, for most men, candles only come out during power outages and flowers are sent when they're trying to get out of the doghouse.

It almost pains me to think of some of these men. They are expected to muster up some romance one day a year and I can't imagine the pressure. Us women have it lucky. We're just expected to don some particularly alluring lingerie and offer up the goods. But the menfolk are expected to wine and dine and romance us...for a lot of the men I know, that's like asking a dog to not lick itself when you have company. It goes against its very nature!

So guys, take it from a woman...this year, don't bother picking up teddy bear from the drug store or spending a fortune on flowers and perfume and candy and cards. Well ok, a card is always a good idea. Trust me guys. Romance can't be bought at the five-and-dime or even at the ritzy jewelery store. If your woman wants romance, and they all do, give it to her straight, in a fashion more in keeping with your nature...make sure you're clean and smell good and the instant you see your lady love on Valentine's Day, pull her face to yours and kiss her like you mean it, like you'd drown without the feel of her lips against yours and then look her right in the eye and ask simply, "have I told you lately how much I love you?" Never take your eyes off hers as you tell her that she is the most beautiful woman in the world and you find her utterly irresistible. Tell her that you thank God every day for her. Tell her all the things you never say when you're vegged out in front of the game, or stressed after a long day of work.

THAT'S romance! THAT'S what your woman wants from you. That teddy bear will end up in a closet somewhere within two weeks and those flowers will wither and crumble. But over the next year, every time she gets annoyed because you haven't taken out the trash or have her on mute so you can hear the game, she will remember those few minutes when you told her exactly how you felt. She'll remember the touch of your hand on her face, the touch of your lips, the look in your eyes when you said those words. And she just might not yell at you for licking yourself next time you have company.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

stirrings

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous for the past two days. It's almost as though mother nature took pity on me and decided to give my spirit a little taste of spring!

Oddly enough, I'm not taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and spending time outside. Instead, it's at least motivated me to throw open a few windows and clean my house!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Houston, we have a problem

It's much more than writer's block.

It's a complete system failure.

I've often joked that I hibernate in the winter, but these past few months have been so strange. I've just been completely out of sorts. I'm not really depressed, nor am I overly anxious or stressed or upset. I'm not really anything. And that's the problem.

I'm just kinda here. Kinda numb. It's as though I've switched completely to auto-pilot. I go through the motions and that's about it. Hell, even my motions are limited. I've done as little as humanly possible and still seem exhausted by the effort.

Maybe I am depressed, although I don't feel particularly blue. I've been here so many times before. I've always snapped out of it. Yet each time, it frightens me, as if I'm afraid I won't emerge from the fog.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

grab the fire extinguisher

My lungs are smoldering.

I've spent the past week coughing, trying to dislodge an elephant that has taken up residence on my chest. My cough has gotten so severe I have now been exiled to sleeping on the couch so my husband can actually get some sleep.

It's one of those nice dry, barky coughs, that leaves your respiratory tract groaning under the friction. I'm pretty sure that friction has caused a few sparks that torched my lungs last night. They're smoldering this morning, a dull achy burn.

And yes, my stupid ass continues to smoke.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

get a move on

It's an absolutely gorgeous day - one of those warm, sunny days that has you momentarily fooled that Spring has arrived.

I should be outside trimming my rosebushes, or even better, moving them both. Instead I'm cooped up in the house washing clothes and trying to recover from a nasty chest cold.

The sad truth of the matter is that even if I weren't sick, I still wouldn't be outside. I'd still be in the house, not doing a damn thing, unable to muster up enough motivation to do anything more.

Life is passing me by as I sit here, accomplishing so little, wondering where my energy and motivation have gone.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

keep writing

I recently heard from an old teacher of mine, my speech and debate coach actually. A brilliant, witty man who challenged me intellectually and showed unwavering faith in my abilities. Not only did he teach me how to speak (and speak well) in front of a room full of people, but he also taught me how to walk in high heeled shoes.

When I graduated, he gave me a copy of the book "For Writers Only" and inscribed it with the following words, "Keep writing! I am so proud of you. You can and will do anything you want to do!"

I wanted to get married and have a family. I've done that.

I wanted to write for a newspaper. I've done that.

I wanted to run a newspaper. I've done that too.

I wanted to write a book. Hmmmm...guess I need to get started on that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

why can't frumpy be glamorous?

I wish I could be more stylish. Always have. But it's just not me.

I have several friends who always look as though they just stepped off the cover of a magazine.

My best childhood friend, whom I've renamed Suzie for the purposes of this blog, is one of those women. Her hair is always perfect, stylish and chic and her makeup accentuates her best features. Her clothes fit just right in all the right places and she always looks so well put together. She doesn't even have to spend a lot of money doing it. She can take bargain finds from Family Dollar and make them look like a million dollars.

I don't have that gift.

Growing up, I used to love watching her get ready as she meticulously applied her make-up and fixed her hair. Even now, I perch on her bathroom sink and watch her.

I would love to look that stylish when I go out, but I always seem to fall short. Frumpy is probably the best way to describe my look. I feel most comfortable in jeans and tee-shirts. Even when I get dolled up, folks may say I clean up well, but I could never pass for stylish.

A lot of it is the fact that I hate to spend time on beauty rituals. I enjoy my sleep and most days I crawl out of the bed, brush my teeth, run a brush through my hair and throw on the first thing I grab out of the closet.

When I do take the time to look a little better, I feel like a complete phony. Curl my hair, apply some make-up and I feel more like a silly little girl playing dress up than a fabulously stylish woman comfortable in her own sensuality. Especially lipstick and fingernail polish. I hate wearing them both and while I may occasionally smear on some lipstick, I never paint my fingernails.

There are times, when I dress more like a stylish, trendy kind of woman instead of the frump that I am, that I can look in the mirror and say, "yes, I like that, I look nice." But the moment I walk out the door I feel as though I'm crawling in my own skin as though everyone around is looking at me shaking their heads and thinking, "who does she think she is?"

Suzie has tried for years to get me to come out of my frumpy little shell, but as much as I sometimes think I'd like to be that stylish, trendy put together kind of woman, I think I'm much happier being comfortable in my own skin.

Of course all that being said, I'm really excited about getting my hair cut tomorrow by one of my super stylish friends! Maybe she'll be able to add a touch of glamor to this old frumpy bag!

discontent

"You seem content," he wrote.

I replied that yes, I've managed to find a measure of peace.

I wanted to scream, "NO!! I'm nowhere near content!"

But of course I couldn't do that. I couldn't tell him that I had only felt truly content for two brief moments in my life, both in his presence. I couldn't tell him that I was certain that even that sense of contentment would have proven a mirage if given enough time.

And I couldn't tell him that I realized a long time ago that I would most likely never be content, although I still struggle to accept that realization.

I don't suppose this constant sense of being discontent, of being unfulfilled, is entirely a bad thing. I often believe it is that incessant search for contentment that keeps me pushing, keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.

Of course it's also what keeps me awake in the middle of the night.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

aha!

I bet I have the full attention of the men folk in just a few minutes.

I'm headed to the kitchen to fire up the griddle so I can cook bacon and pancakes. Nothing like bacon to get the attention and undying devotion of men folk...and dogs.

UPDATE: I had the attention of my men for the full 30 minutes it took them to wolf down dinner. On the up side, my dog has now joined me on the couch even though she didn't get a single crumb of bacon!

background noise

So I'm sitting here being annoyed, which seems to be the norm these days. It's weird, I've been fluctuating between a state of calm, closely akin to auto-pilot and a crawling out of my skin sensation that makes me want to strangle everyone around me.

The husband and the boy are watching football. Again. When they're not watching football, they're playing a football video game. So much for getting any relief once football season finally ends. I do at least have my Saturdays back now that the college season has ended, but it's amazing the crap they will find on TV in order to avoid having an actual conversation or doing any chores. Ugh!

So I sit here, in an effort to spend "quality time" with the family, my work laptop in my lap since my wireless card in my personal laptop is on the fritz. I figure I should at least make the effort to be in the same room, but it seems as though we're still worlds apart. So, instead of being holded up in my cave, where I usually go to hide when I don't seem to exist to anyone else living in this house, I'm sitting on the couch in plain view, playing Stack 'Em and Scrabble on Pogo.com, the voices of the announcer and the menfolk of the house providing the background noise.

I suppose I should be grateful that I have background noise. But sometimes it's easy to forget how much I hate the silence.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

one fuzzy little sheep, two fuzzy little sheep...

I should be sleeping.

I have a long day tomorrow starting bright and early.

But instead of sleeping, I've been laying in bed for three hours, my mind insistent on keeping me awake. If it were afternoon instead of after midnight, I'd be out like a light.

My husband on the other hand, started snoring as soon as his head hit the pillow. I'm jealous.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

you may incur a small processing fee

The letter finally arrived.

I'm taking down the Christmas decorations and doing laundry - a sudden flutter of activity as I begin to process all I've been told.

distracted

I should be working.

I should be taking down the Christmas decorations, or cleaning this house, or finishing this book I've been reading since Thanksgiving.

Instead I'm practically sitting on the damn mailbox. Waiting.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

disconnected

I'm feeling a bit bitter today.

Fortunately for those who must deal with me, it's not really a bitchy bitter, but more along the lines of a disconcerted, "you dipshit" bitter, tinged with just a touch of sadness.

I suppose most of us have come across that "one great love." You know the one - the moment you meet them you know your life will never be the same - the one you recognize immediately as an intricate part of your destiny - the one you know you will love forever.

I met mine when I was 13. He is the one who introduced me to the boy who would become my best friend who would become my husband.

He was also the first one to break my heart. Repeatedly.

He was a complete fucking asshole to nearly everyone around him, one of those troubled, tortured types I always seemed to have a thing for. He was distant and cynical, always sure to keep everyone at arm's reach. He seemed to have a soft spot for me.

The first conversation we ever had ended when I hauled off and smacked the shit out of him. Our second conversation ended with him grabbing my hands and kissing me. We spent the next year holding hands and arguing.

Then, my freshman year, he disappeared without a word, whisked away with his family to another state. I was crushed. Still to this day, it's all I can do to keep from tearing up when I hear that damn computer generated voice drone, "we're sorry, the number you have reached has been disconnected. If you feel you have reached this recording..."

It would become a pattern. Over the next couple of years, as we both struggled through adolescence and each moved a number of times, he would reappear, only to suddenly disappear again, without a word. My letters would go unanswered, phones would be disconnected and I was left wandering what horrible fate had befallen him. At that time in my life, I was absolutely starved for love. Each disappearing act dealt a heavy blow and I was torn between loving him and hating him.

By the beginning of my senior year, we seemed to have struck a balance. In fact, that was one of the happiest years of my life. He was still two states away and we hadn't seen each other since freshman year, but he managed to stick around for the full year and we both ran up enormous phone bills talking almost daily.

I will never forget that Christmas, staring at the lights on my grandmother's tree as we shared a long, hushed conversation filled with plans and promises. We were in love. He wanted to marry me. I wanted to have his children.

I can still see the dress so clearly in my mind, high neck, fitted bodice, a soft cream antique lace, long lace sleeves that came to points and hooked around my middle fingers and what seemed like hundreds of pearl buttons.

Spring came and with it the senior prom. I don't think I really believed he would come until suddenly, there he was, standing in my grandmother's living room, my Papa helping him to straighten his tie. I think I spent the first 30 minutes in the bathroom barfing.

Once I got over my nausea, we enjoyed one of the most magical nights of my life. There were teary goodbyes the next afternoon and assurances that it would only be a few more months.

But, a lot can happen in a few months. I was terrified of moving to the side of a mountain and he was terrified to leave it. It's ok, we'll figure something out.

Then, suddenly, a phone number dropped into my lap. My best friend, the one who'd held me so softly as I cried in those months after that first disappearing act, the one who had pledged to love me forever in spite of my insistence that there was simply no room left in my heart.

We had lost contact with one another after my first move. Great Love's sister (who had dated him for a while) actually called me one day not long after my move in hopes I knew how to find him. We promised each other if either of us spoke to him, we'd share the other's information. That was two years before I found fate had planted him 20 minutes away from where I was living.

All hell broke loose and it broke loose quick. Phone calls were suddenly filled with arguments and jealousy. "I don't want you calling him because I know he's in love with you, he always was."

But he's my FRIEND!! Why can't you understand that??

I called of course. He sobbed at the sound of my voice. Explaining as he composed himself that the sister had gotten in touch with him two years earlier and told him I had died, committed suicide actually, which was believable enough given my state of mind at the time.

I was livid. Even all these years later, I don't know that I've ever been more angry in my life.

My world was suddenly filled with accusations, denials...heated arguments that probably would've turned violent had we not been separated by two states.

Then came the ultimatum. "Choose, me or him. I will not share you."

The wedding dress was left in the little shop, the final two payments never paid.

For me the choice had been clear. Best Friend became my husband. I would only speak to Great Love once more over the next seven years. I was five months pregnant and my husband was suddenly terrified of becoming a father. He told me he wasn't sure he was really in love with me at all. That night, I stood sobbing in a gas station parking lot dropping dime after dime into the pay phone to make the long distance call.

I didn't tell him I was pregnant, nor did I tell him we were fighting. He begged me to tell him where I was, to let him come get me.

"Just tell me if you ever really loved me."

I could have sworn he was crying when he assured me that he always had and always would. I hung up, dried my tears and drove home.

My husband eventually snapped out of it, assuring me he truly did love me, although it would be years before I forgave him for ever placing that doubt in my mind and in fact, I'm not sure I fully forgave him until after he died.

Over the years as we battled his seizures and his depression and his self-destructive ways, I carried an enormous sense of guilt. I loved them both with all my heart and felt I was somehow betraying them both. My husband had once told me, a couple of years after we got married, that the two of them had made a pact in high school. They each promised the other that whoever ended up with me would love and care for me well. I had chosen to spend my life with the one and I assumed I would spend my eternity with the other.

When my husband suddenly died, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd somehow fucked it all up and gotten it completely backwards. I remember being so angry with him for leaving, so angry that neither of them had kept their promise.

Two years later, I was facing a hysterectomy, and still haunted by the notion I'd somehow fucked up fate. I was in an off cycle of an on-again off-again relationship so I decided to give Great Love a call.

It just so happened he would be in the state with his mother and brother in a few weeks. We met for a weekend in the mountains. It was pure bliss. It was decided we'd give it another go.

"But, if you're in my life, you need to be IN my life, don't leave me hanging around waiting several months to hear from you."

He promised. True to his word, he sent a heartfelt email the day they returned home.

True to his nature, it would be several months before I heard from him again.

No, I'm sorry, I've been down this road with you too many times, I'm not doing this shit again. While you've been wrapped up in your own little world, mine fell apart and Mr. On-Again Off-Again was the one who helped me put it back together - all he's asking for is a fair chance and I owe him that.

He made no bones about it when he informed me he didn't want to be my friend. It was all or nothing, which did I choose?

Again, my choice seemed clear, the greatest love on earth isn't worth squat if there's no friendship there to back it up.

I wrote to him every year on his birthday for the next several years, but of course I never received a response. Needless to say, Mr. On-Again Off-Again and I finally called it off for good and I met my current husband.

I wrote once more, to tell him I had remarried.

His birthday rolled around in November and as always, I thought of writing, but I didn't. But this year was different. This year I couldn't shake the nagging sense that something was wrong, of "needing" to write to him. So, just before Christmas, I sent off a letter to his last known address, not expecting a reply.

"I think of you often and hope you are well. I am well and happy and continue to pray you have finally found a sense of peace in your life. Blah blah blah."

Imagine my surprise a few days ago to get a call from his mom. Apparently, a year and a half ago, his famous temper and a night of heavy drinking left him with a bullet in his leg and a mandatory three-year prison sentence for assaulting a police officer. I can't say I'm surprised. Quite frankly, I was certain he'd self-destruct before he was 21 and I'm almost ashamed to admit I was confused and angry as hell years later when I realized my "safe" choice had been the one to self-destruct and die while he was still plugging right along.

His mom filled me in on the years that have passed - his hateful, needy wife who now has a boyfriend, the giant rift she caused between he and his brother. The sister who's been diagnosed as manic depressive. And how happy he was that I had written. He asked her to call me, because "she's my friend, she's always been my friend. She'll write to me, but will you make sure it's not going to cause any problems with her husband?"

Mmm-hmmm....so now that he's at absolute rock bottom with no one but his mom to give a damn, NOW he wants to be my friend.

Of course I will write to him, because I still love him just as I've always loved him, but no, it will not cause any problems with my husband because I've already made that choice. Twice.

This time, any choice made will be his...have me as a friend or have me as nothing. At this point in my life that's all I have to offer. At least you know my number is never disconnected.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

a random glimpse

My mind is not cooperating, but in keeping with the whole "blog more often" thing, here's a random glimpse into the recent going-ons in my world:

* The holidays were a bit tense as both my mother and grandmother had hefty doses of the blues. I set about to enjoying the season anyway, without them. I made enough sausage balls, cookies and cheese rings to feed a small army, but apparently the folks in my house eat more than a small army.

* I still have not taken down my decorations. This is one of the drawbacks of having an artificial tree. If the tree's not turning brown, shedding and creating a serious fire hazard, there's no big rush to take it down. I love the lights and the coziness of my den when it's decorated for Christmas so I figured I'd enjoy it a bit longer. I've promised The Husband I'll take them down this weekend. Yea, we'll see how that goes!

* It seems to have been raining non-stop for the past few days and my dogs insist on tap dancing through the mud every time they go outside. Luckily their muddy little paw prints seem to be contained in the laundry room, but there's not much that can be done about the scent of wet dog hanging over the house. Uggh! There's a reason most people refuse to allow long-haired dogs to live inside. Those mutts better be glad I love them!

* I received a call last night from the mother of a very dear friend whom I haven't heard from in ages. It seems as though his temper and a good deal of alcohol cost him a three-year stint in prison. I'm sure I will write more about this once my mind has fully absorbed it and mulled it over a bit.

* I have begun an EMT course and am confident I have the people skills, compassion and self-control to do the job. I am not, however, at all confident in my ability to ever be able to find someones pulse in their wrist! I am equally unsure of my ability to drive an ambulance in the snow and ice. This will surely be a recurring topic over the next six months.

* I have become very attached to someone who was previously a mere acquaintance. A series of candid conversations through email has inspired a friendship that I hope will last for years to come. It's funny how two people's worlds can exist so close to one another for so many years and then one day they collide, allowing you to discover how similar your struggles have been and reminding you that "good peoples" really do exist close to home.

* I've managed to re-organize my massive walk-in closet, but for some reason my desk is still covered with paper, books, notebooks and various folders that are probably filled with work I should've done months ago.

* Good things always seem to happen right about the time I've quit looking for them. I'll explain this one later as well.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

I've never understood the fuss about New Year's. It's not as though anything really changes other than the last two digits of the number signifying the present year. Tomorrow will simply be a continuation of today, much like today has been a mere extension of yesterday.

I suppose I can easily enough grasp the symbolic nature of it all. A fresh start, a celebration of having survived another year, blah blah blah. I will at least concede that it's a great time for cleaning out closets and reorganizing and, of course, it's an excellent excuse to consume massive amounts of alcohol with friends.

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, partially because of my "take it or leave it" attitude regarding the milestone, but mostly because I don't see the need to set myself up for failure.

Of course, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not really that much of a goal-oriented person anyway. I don't set long-term goals for myself, I simply decide to do something and go out and get it done.

But in an effort to get into the swing of this New Year's thing, here's a short list of things I'd like to accomplish in 2009:

* Complete the EMT-Basic course and pass the state certification the FIRST time. I've heard that a lot of folks fail the first time but I refuse to be one of them.

* Make myself go to church EVERY Sunday (unless of course I'm sick.) As much as I enjoy going and even miss it when I don't go, I still find excuses to to go about once a month.

* Blog on a more regular basis. I've gotten slack in my blogging, primarily because my mind has been filled with shit not fit to see the light of day. I have this wonderful outlet, I need to use it. Of course, this may mean that I ramble even more.

* Get my teeth fixed. My teeth are a nightmare and in major need of some extensive dental work. I have dental insurance, but I'm a complete wimp when it comes to having dental work done and I'm too cheap to spend the money. I have a hard time justifying it as a necessary expense if the tooth isn't hurting.

**********

As long as we're at it, I suppose I might as well go ahead and recap the primary lesson I learned in 2008:

* There's no need in worrying about that which you cannot control. My logical self has always known this, but I never really applied it to my own life until this year. Leaving my job, a second surgery, extremely tight finances - things that would've all had me in basketcase mode in years past - seemed to roll right off my back this year. Granted, I was often stressed about how we would pay the bills, but I paid what I could with what I had and refused to let it get to me.

***********

As I look around the world at the beginning of this new year, I have a very difficult time mustering up any grandiose hopes for peace, prosperity or progress. It seems as though there are more people hell-bent on destroying each other than interested in cooperation.

Our own country is gripped in the throes of bipartisan fear-mongering that has rendered our government virtually incapable of of any real change, although it can be assured, the beast that was intended to be by and for the people will continue to bleed us all dry to finance continuing greed and corruption.

Somehow I have still managed to retain a belief in the basic goodness of man. It's sometimes difficult to do when I see how man treats one another. One has only to look at the comment section of any news story to see the hate, distrust, cruelty and often utter stupidity that festers in the hearts of so many others. Sometimes I begin to wonder if the human condition has deteriorated so much that it is beyond the point of salvation. Civility seems to have gone out the window and in this "me first" society, it's sometimes hard to remember that there are still people who care. There is still kindness, compassion, generosity, love and integrity in the hearts of many of our neighbors. You just have to look past the surface scum of our society in order to see it.

So as we venture further into this new year, I am doing so with a loving heart. We're all we have on this earth and I'm hopeful 2009 will see more of us reaching out to take the hand of those beside us.