Saturday, November 13, 2010


We went to Nebraska last week for my Aunt Maggi's 90th birthday party. All my cousins came in from Illinois and my sisters were both there from out of state. It was good to see everybody.

On the way up, I listened to a lot of Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth and was feeling all Zenned up by the time I got to Lincoln.

It took about 2 hours to be catapulted back into age 10. The older the both of us get, the more capable my mother is of making me feel inappropriate. Maybe I am gaining some enlightenment by virtue of the fact that I can see what's going on, for a change. I dunno but I handed my personal remote control to each of the family members, respectively, to allow them to push however many buttons they desired. And I reacted. Only, not really. I restrained myself.

At one point, I looked across the room and Freddy was staring back at me, wide-eyed like he was fixing to see a shanking when my mother hissed an admonishment regarding her "good china". I had simply pointed out that she had, mistakenly I assumed, placed the "good dishes" under the plants she'd brought in off the porch and which now sat on the livingroom floor. Each with a good plate underneath the pot.

"Those aren't 'good dishes'," she spat. "I'm putting them through the dishwasher as often as I can to get the gold to come off them so I can use them in the microwave." And then, in case I didn't get the point, "I was mad at your Dad when he brought them home in the first place."

And you have to know me to understand the effect these words had on me. I adore old things. I can't afford good antiques but I frequent "junk" stores whenever possible. Last year after the tornado hit our town (and our house) I made a trip to Nebraska early that summer, stopping at jillions of antique stores. I know now that I was in a grief reaction, reacting to the loss of so many old houses and huge trees in our town, but I loaded my car with antiques that trip. It started when I went to local junk stores in search of a stained glass window to replace the one destroyed in our bathroom. I discovered I felt safe surrounded by all that old stuff that'd survived for so many years and felt that maybe everything wasn't gone, after all.

Interestingly, that summer in Nebraska, I didn't buy just old things but old kitchen things, things that looked like the ones we'd had when I was a kid. The meaning of that isn't lost on me. A tin flour scoop like my Grandma used when baking. A set of brushed aluminum canisters. A pair of heavy kitchen shears like my Grandma's. A pink, metal cake carrier that I took an ass chewing from my mother about even then. The stuff made me feel safe. And like I had some control over my life. Which of course I wasn't and didn't. But it was worth a hundred bucks or so to get some relief for a short time.

So to disrespect family glassware to me is to spit in my face. And crazy or not on my part, my mom knows that when she does it. And that's why she does it. And that breaks my heart. I know she's old and I'm lucky to have her around to irritate me but it still hurts.

So lots of stuff like that on this trip, old family dysfunction, and I feel a little beat up right now. And not anxious to go back anytime soon. And I think I'm gonna quit inviting my mom to come live with us. I may have to face the fact that she and I are not compatible and leave her to my sister or brother to take care of her. As much as I'd like to be the kind of selfless person who takes care of their aging parents, I may have to throw the flag on having her under my roof.

Still, it's nice to be back in the midwest where church people go to eat at the taverns in little towns after church on Sundays.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Otter Memories

My experience with drumming started in 1997 when I attended a retreat at the home of a friend's. She asked myself and another woman to come and do a segment talking about our experience in 12-step groups. I wasn't into what I then referred to as the New Age bullshit my friend was all about but we went and spoke. After we spoke, another woman did a segment on Native American spirituality. She did a guided meditation that she called a "journey" in which we traveled to the top of a mountain and met an animal who brought us a lesson. She told us stories and

I can't remember what we did first but at one point we "drummed". They had several handheld drums there for those without a drum of their own. And in the dimly lit livingroom of that big, rough-cut lumber house in the woods in Arkansas, that group of women drummed together. It was just a simple rhythm but all in unison and as I drummed along with them something profound happened to me. I still don't really know what it was. The power of being in rhythm with all of those other women. The same heartbeat, as I later learned the drum beat signifies. I don't know what it was but I was totally hooked. In a time, that woman, Lyn, and a couple other women and myself began to meet once a month at Lyn's house in the woods nearby. But first I gotta tell you about Lyn.

Lyn is larger than life. A female John Wayne. She is tall but it's not that that makes her stand out. She has long, thick, beautiful, now gray hair worn in the traditional butt cut so favored by us older gals. Her eyes are a peircing gray-blue color. I'm not sure of her heritage. She claims Irish and Native American though she looks as Irish as Mickey Rooney (he is Irish, right?). But she has a presence. Just something that takes your breath away when you see her. Her spirit, I guess it is.

She lived, as I said, in the woods in a log house her husband and she built themselves as in, cut the trees down and skidded them out of the woods and skinned the logs, etc. They take off work every year for the entire month of November to hunt and it is during this time that they stock up all the meat they'll use the coming year. On their property, they had a combination art studio and woodworking shop out of which came the most beautiful creations. They could do anything. There wasn't a thing those two couldn't do. One time at another get together, one of the gals in the drumming group asked if anybody had heard from Lyn. Another gal spoke up, "Yeah, I called her today. She was skinning a bear."

She was my hero. And I wasn't alone. The group slowly grew. Women were drawn from all different directions and stations in life. And everyone who was suppose to be there, was there. I never missed it except once in October when the moon was full and the sky was incredible and I was on frigging vacation somewhere. I swore I'd never again miss one. Just to know people like that existed was a privelege. I adored them. We'd have a huge potluck before the drummings and she'd always cook something scrumptuous like beans only they weren't like any beans you ever ate before. Or elk or deer or black-eyed pea cornbread that made you wanna slap your mama. We'd all cut up and laugh and tell smart-ass jokes and then we went to the livingroom in front of the fireplace or, and this was my absolute favorite, outside to the fire pit.

Someone would smudge us, usually the one who cried so much. "Woman Who Cries", we called her for fun. She would light a bundle of ceremonial white sage and then blow it out, keeping it smoldering and, one by one using a fan of turkey feathers, she fanned the smoke over our bodies from head to toe, back to front to cleanse us and prepare us for communion with God which we called "Grandfather". And once the smudging began, no more fooling around. We fell silent because it was sacred time. Sometimes Lyn would lightly beat a rhythm on her large, Buffalo drum while we waited for the rest to prepare themselves.

Then, all smudged and sitting around a circle one by one we voiced our prayers and whose ever turn it was, would begin the drumming. We all used the same rhythm except once in a while a new person would come and do something different. But whatever the rhythm, the rest would join in and drum along with them, carrying our prayers to heaven on the sage smoke. We moved around the circle, continuing until everybody had said all the prayers they had and then we quit. Most times, and again this was my absolutely favorite thing in the world, at some point in the night Lyn would say, "Okay ladies, get comfortable" and that meant to grab a pillow or something to use to lie on the floor with your eyes closed because she was getting ready to do a lesson. It was always an Indian story about the roots of a pine tree versus an oak tree or about the directions or some woodland animal and they all carried lesson. I found out later, despite the fact that the lessons were structured and organized, she rarely knew what she was going to say until the words came out of her mouth.

Of course, Lyn had made her own drum beater. The stick was wrapped in leather that was cut into long fringes. At the ends of each fringe she'd attached little hollow metal balls and when she referred to the rain or a storm in a story, she'd rattle those fringes over the drum and it sounded like rain hitting something. It was absolutely magical.

Sometimes I'd bring my guitar and sing songs that seemed to me to fall far short of the mark but that everyone at least pretended to enjoy. Woman Who Cries started leaving early when I got my guitar out and I developed a little paranoia about that and quit bringing it but it was nice for me when I did.

The evolving group had many different souls and belief systems and all were welcomed. Each month someone could, if they wished, do a presentation to teach about their spiritual beliefs. One gal did a lesson on Buddism explaining what it was and how she applied it to her life, etc. Another did Judism. I shared about AA.

Sometimes Lyn had communion. Most nights, we'd ask if anyone wanted to "sit in the middle" which meant to sit in a chair in the middle of the circle and have us pray over them. In my head I called it "laying on of hands" because some of us touched the subject as they sat in the chair. Some nights we'd do two or three women. It was a beautiful time.

Every square inch of her home was decorated with something beautifully Lyn. The whole place reeked of she and her husband's talent and respect for the land and for God. Just being on the place felt like going back in time. I honestly felt like I had a glimpse into another place and time. When they killed a deer, she took tobacco out of a leather pouch she carried around her neck and did a blessing and thanked Grandfather and the spirit of the deer, for the sacrifice made for them.

Lyn's belief in God was palpable. She was one of those people who don't ever seem to have any doubts. She just lived and breathed belief. And so did I, back then. It was so easy to believe when you looked into those big, blue eyes. The earnestness. The integrity. And somehow, she gave me and all of us hope. Somehow. That's why we all love her so damn much.

We patterned ourselves after a group of Native American women Lyn told us about who lived around the turn of the century called The Otter Society. They gathered together to pray for each other and the country and leaders and, like us, anything and everything. And they did healings. So we called ourselves The Otter Sisters.

Occasionally, we'd meet somewhere else. Once we met at a nearby falls in a recreation area and drummed. We often met for a sunrise "service" on Easter morning or the day before, and we'd drum in the sunrise together up on some mountain in the cold mist, usually.

I don't know what happened. Things changed. The group got really big for a short time and there were lots of new people. Some of them, I didn't like and I don't think I was alone. But when a group gets big like that, it can't be all things to all people.

All I can say is that we all went in a little different directions. Or maybe it was just me. And I wish it was different. I miss those times so much.

Sometimes in the middle of a drumming, Lyn would walk by and throw a big handful of white sage into the campfire and I can't begin to tell you what that smell does to you. It just shoots you off on a rocket to the 1800s, or something. I still carry a little smudge stick of white sage in my vehicle and often light it while driving in the woods. The smell takes me back to that log house in the woods and that campfire and those women beating those drums under the moon and more stars than you've ever seen in your life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sucks to Be Me

I'm sort of ambling around, aimlessly today. Yesterday was my last day of work at my job. I was surprised how hard it was to leave. The people I worked with in our local office, as well as our regional supervisor, are phenomenal. I don't think I've ever worked with a better bunch of gals. And nobody irritated me, not one of them.

Four weeks of notice is too long. I can change my mind 90 times in four weeks. When I got up yesterday I wasn't sure I wouldn't call my supervisor sometime during the day and tell her I'd changed my mind and wanted to stay. And even now, I get a funny, panicky feeling when I realize I no longer have a key to the office and can't drop in up there to make a copy or fax something anytime I want to. Weird.

There seems to be a thing in my brain that makes me focus, not on what is possible in the current situation, but whatever is no longer possible. A glass half empty sort of glitch in my psychic wiring. I've always been like this. So instead of the euphoria I'd anticipated at the ending of the commitment to a full-time job that felt tremendously meaningless while performing it, I now wander around the house wondering what to do with myself.

I didn't sleep well last night. I recall waking up once with the image of one of my co-workers in my head, followed by an overwhelming sense of loss at the realization that I won't be working with her, any longer. I won't be walking over to that desk to visit with her on Monday. I wish I was different, I really do. And yet, maybe this is a normal grief reaction. I'm not confused about missing the work I did. Or of being a part of the organization I worked for. But there's a kind of Steel Magnolias-type of commaraderie inherent with a group of women in an office. And I miss that when it's not a part of my life.

So, as usual, I have no idea who, what or where I actually want to be in this life. Back in July when planning all of this, I vowed to be ready when October rolled around. I would have a solid business plan backed financially by a sizable savings account. And oddly enough, it's not the money I'm worried about. I'll easily make a living and I do have a little savings. But it's a Catch-22. When I'm in a full-time position, I want to be dead. I honestly start thinking about how nice it might be to be struck down in the street by a FedEx truck (they're bound to have good insurance) rendered disabled and forced to stay home and blog all day. And I know my true path lies in some such vocation. But the second I'm released from this commitment of mainstream employment and free to pursue my "dream life", I turn into a tearful, needy, lost soul, longing for socialization. I didn't expect this, I don't know, depression? I expected euphoria.

I've probably picked the wrong day to quit eating sugar.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I made it through my last supervisor's meeting and board of director's meeting. It's all down hill from here. I have tomorrow and 3 more weeks after that until the divorce is final on me and full-time employment. Tomorrow is casual Friday and I'm off on Monday. I'm gonna rock this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


God, I'm tired. I'm so tired, I dreaded taking a shower and washing my hair tonight. I had 5 hours of sleep last night and the boss was in the office all day long, today. I do like her, though. She's like me, only smarter. I took 3 Valerian and a Melatonin before my shower and now I need to go to bed. The supervisor's meeting is tomorrow. Just shoot me, fuck it.

Is Anybody Out There?

I don't believe in God the way I used to. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just sort of evolved. I used to be very sure what I thought in that area and now I'm not sure, anymore. More on that in a later post but for now, just know that He (She? The Universe?) came through for me, yesterday.

As I said before, I quit my job Monday. I put in my 2 weeks notice and then found out I had to give 4 weeks because I'm such a big deal in the office, so that's what I did. I love to quit jobs. It's my favorite thing about work. But I still second guess myself a little, no matter how bad I hate the job I happen to be quitting at the time.

So yesterday I'm driving to work and I start praying. I say, "God, please show me if I'm doing the right thing". It's a weird thing about sort of brushing the edge of agnosticism, in my case anyway. I just decide that I can allow myself to consider the fact that I might not believe in God anymore because I have so many doubts and see so many conflicts in that whole arena, and the next thing I know, I'm praying. It should also be mentioned that it's then, that moment I allow myself to consider not believing anymore, that I feel a warm Presence right next to me. I mean really feel it. Not on my skin but a strong sense of it's presence. Like maybe my own having to understand it all is distancing me from Him. So I still pray and I did so yesterday on the way to work.

About 10 minutes before noon, my boss calls me and says she's headed down (our corporate office is 85 miles away) and to have Nurse X in the office when she gets there. Nurse X is a model employee. She's been there for 20 years full-time, longer if you count her part-time years. Never a hint of a problem out of her. Builds up huge banks of paid time off and loses it every year rather than take it and go on a vacation. Does anything you ask her to do. Never a write up in 20+ years. Always hands in her paperwork on time without being asked. I couldn't figure out what was going on, and neither could anyone else.

My boss arrived at 1pm accompanied by the HR person. They called Nurse X into my office and fired her. They had a "disciplinary action" form with some off-the-wall, straw grabbing bullshit cited on it, made her sign it and walked her out to her desk to pack her belongings. No warning.

I have my theories what it was about and none of them have anything to do with her. Corporate bullshit's what it boils down to. Economics. My boss and HR knew it, too. They looked like they were about to throw up. I sat there and cried while they did it. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. When I walked her out to her vehicle I told her to get a lawyer. She asked me what can a lawyer could do. I said, "Just get one. He'll tell you."

You can imagine what the office was like the rest of the day. After my boss left, we all sat around in a daze and tried to figure out what to do with it in our heads. Tried to figure out who's going to do her work. Wondering what has happened to fairness and just-ness.

Guess that answered that question.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cephalalgia Sentiments

I'm having headaches almost every day. It's gone on for about 2 1/2 months and I'm beginning to decompensate. I've quit taking my hormones in case they were contributing. Then I quit my St. John's Wort. Then the suicidal ideation began. Just a little, I mean. Is it wrong to hope it's a brain tumor?

I went to a headache clinic last week. It was sort of my worst nightmare in terms of western medicine in that the doctor was clearly not an advocate of alternative medicine nor a student of nutrition. We're gonna do these tests and give you this medication and you may forget what to call a ballpoint pen but you'll still know what it is, so don't worry.

Um, no thanks.

I'm gonna quit my job tomorrow, instead. I've been thinking about it for a long time. I had a concrete plan and then tried to talk myself out of it. All these jobs are like my ex-husband. If he had been all bad, it would've been so easy. Same thing here. I'm hoping the headaches will quit when I do.

The other day at work I thought about getting my purse and keys and leaving and driving to Walmart and buying a bunch of real basic clothes, jeans, t-shirts, cotton underwear, socks and boots, some drinking water and food and driving out to our cabin, throwing my cell phone(s) out the window on the way and just staying forever. I figured Freddy would eventually find me and when he did I'd tell him I'm staying there and whatever he wanted to do would be fine. Stay, go, sell the house and cars, declare bankruptcy, I don't care, but I wasn't leaving. I have a wringer washer and tubs out there. Mental note: add clothesline to the Walmart list.

I get a little excited sometimes when I hear about someone committing suicide because I think, if they had stopped just short of kicking the stool out from under their feet or pulling the trigger or swallowing the pills and had, instead, taken that desperation and applied it to something else, what might have happened? How magical could their lives have turned out? I think we paint ourselves into a corner, thinking we have to be a certain way and when we aren't, we refuse to consider alternatives because they don't fit our idea of what life was suppose to be like. So we redouble our efforts and fight against our inner voice and sometimes, we kill ourselves. Or we drink. Or take Vicodin enemas. Or we have migraine headaches. It's not that I don't know what's going on here.

So what is my alternative on the way to climbing up onto the stool with the cord around my neck? What do I do, instead? I guess I quit the best job I've ever had because even it doesn't please me. I'm telling you the truth, if I lived in a big city where nobody knew me, I'd apply for a job as a dishwasher and when I got sick of it I'd go get another one. Or I'd clean houses for a living. I used to do that and I miss it a lot. I was really good at it, like massage therapy. So far, those seem to be my gifts. And what if they are? What if that's it? Would pissing away my nursing license in favor of cleaning houses and doing massages for the rest of my life really be that much worse than working in a good paying, respectable job wondering how much longer I was gonna be able to fight the urge to cut my throat?

In 2002 I was working two ER nursing jobs and drowning in credit card debt. I felt like I was running as fast as I could and could still feel myself losing ground. I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up the pace and I didn't know how I was going to pay off my debts without losing my house as a result. I started waking up in the middle of the night scared to death thinking about it. In the Spring, I got bronchitis and had to be off work for a week. I was very ill sleeping 20 hours a day. It was during that week, finally getting some rest and being able to think for a change, that I figured out what to do: quit my full-time, lowest paying job of the two and increase my hours at the part-time, higher paying one. It was simple but I couldn't figure it out until I was forced out of the game for a week. They call pneumonia the old man's friend. Bronchitis is sorta like that for me.

It's a frightening prospect, following your heart. It's not like there's any evidence it's gonna turn out okay. It's more like stepping out of a 6th story window and trusting you'll figure something out on the way down.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Milky Way

I spent the entire day yesterday and a lot of Saturday writing in my journal. It's how I process life and when I can't do that, I don't cope so well.

I wrote and wrote and wrote just stuff in my head. Stuff I'm thinking about and haven't had the time to assimilate. And I brainstormed on scratch paper various scenerios; jobs, budgets, lifestyles, plans, cabins, gardens. I got it all out. All the stuff that's been building up. I'm like Hazel's rooster.

When I first moved to Arkansas and met my friend, Hazel, and once I got a telephone, Hazel and I use to talk on the phone for hours at a time while we crocheted or embroidered or lapquilted together in our respective homes. We'd often talk 4 hours at a time covering all the bases in the process. One such night she told me this story.

She had a rooster who stood, she said, by the door to the henhouse at night and as the hens were going in to roost and he'd "screw every one of them" as they passed through the door. She confided, "If I thought I had that shit to look forward to every night I'd kill myself". Clearly not a student of anatomy and physiology, she claimed that before she got the hens, the rooster was so full of "come" that it backed up and turned his eyes all milky-looking. Hazel's from Texas, if that helps at all.

Anyhow, my eyes get all metaphorically milky when I can't journal and I cleared that up, to a degree, this weekend. Wrote it all out, cleared the air, wiped the slate clean, purged myself. A mental colon cleanse, if you will. Today, driving to a meeting 80 miles away, I realized what I do, a lot.

I know what I want to do. I know the life I want. I don't need to brainstorm or journal or undergo hypnosis to find out what it is. I've known since I was 10. I want to write. It's what I do. It's what I'll do for the rest of my life, whether I ever earn any money at it, or not. I write. But I don't believe down deep that it's possible to make a living doing what I want to do so I figure out other things that seem more possible and I agree to "settle" for those things. Massage school was one of those things. And, like all the other things, massage is a noble pursuit. But it's not my passion. It's something I like a whole lot and enjoyed doing when I did it and still do, sometimes. But it's a job. Like the job I have now. And like organic farming or goat milking or soapmaking would all turn into, eventually.

My job pays really well. I get to wear nice clothes and don't have to deal with drug addicts or drunk people or really very many assholes at all. But it's not my passion and I know it and I know what is. And I know I'm not living up to my potential until I follow my heart. I know I'm not gonna be satisfied no matter what until I follow my heart and do what I'm suppose to be doing.

There's a back road on the way to the town where the meeting was held today and I frequently take it in favor of the main highway. Today as I drove that road with the bright blue wild flowers in the ditches that I don't remember ever seeing before and all the swallow-tails and blue birds and old barns and cows in the pastures, I thought about what a fucking shame it is that so many people feel like they're in prison because of their jobs. I had the sensation of looking at it all from a place of confinement. Through bars. I was right there but not really. Not able to experience it because I was going from meaningless task to meaningless task in my job today. And my job's not bad, I keep saying that and it's true. It's a damn good job, the best job I ever had, but it's not me. It's not the real me and the older a woman gets, the less willing she is to spend her time in pursuits that are meaningless to her. We don't have the hormones for it.

It occurrd to me that I have to let go of all the other bullshit. I have to let go of all the other ideas and cling only to my passion if I'm ever going to do it. If I continue to vacillate between 5 or 6 different directions, directions that are merely substitutions for what I really want, I'll never go anywhere but this same spot. And as I said, it's not a bad spot. It's just not where I belong.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I couldn't sleep last night, to save my ass. I tried everything. Hot bath, Valerian, Melatonin, milk. Nothing worked. All that crap at work was swarming around in my head. You know when something gets just stuck in your brain, like right behind your forehead in your frontal lobes and you can't pry it out of there for anything? The only thing that stops it is either sleep, like that's gonna happen, or a shock of some kind or resolution. So, that's pretty much what got rid of it for me today. Resolution. So I'm still in the home health game for another day, at least, and I didn't call in sick, which is a miracle considering I had about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. I'm going to take a bath and go my ass to bed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Same Circus, Different Clowns

Ya know, I've put off posting because even I get tired of listening to my bullshit. But the blog muse continued to torment me until I'm back here, signed in, and once more bearing my flawed soul before all of humanity.

I think I'll just assign this as my signature: I hate my job at _______ and I wish I could quit and be a writer or an artist or an organic farmer. If it weren't for my nursing job, I'd be so much happier. If I had balls I'd quit this fucking job, etc.

So, here's the condensed version. I quit my job in the ER in February, took another job at a home health agency. Desk job. Almost no patient contact, which is best for everybody involved. Big problems in the office but I'm trying to wade through it and most days I don't hate it.

Then yesterday, the new secretary we hired a month ago came in and quit. Just when we got her trained and she had started to do some stuff, now she's quit. And I should mention that she is a nurse who took a secretarial position with us precisely for the same reasons I hate nursing. So she took this job in the office and stayed approximately 4 weeks and quit. To go back to nursing. Fucking nurses, I swear to God.

Somehow, that made me start thinking (pretending here that I don't think about it every, single day) about following my bliss and how if I had the balls... (see above). And I don't hate this job, most days. This week, yeah, but usually I sorta like it. But it still feels like a fucking cop out. Like I'm taking the coward's way out, and I am. Good money. Damn good money. Way more than I was making before. And it takes about 5 minutes of making more money to have to have that much from now on. And I knew that would happen. I had the big talk with myself when they told me how much they were gonna pay me, about how I wasn't gonna let myself think I had any extra money and how I was gonna pay stuff off with it and get ahead so when I started hating the job I'd be in a better position to quit. Only, you can't pay much off in 3 months, it turns out. Especially when you go to Best Buy and buy a new, digital video camera.

And there's another story. Late one brain-dead night, I happened upon this hysterical video on You Tube and it changed my life, ya'll. I mean it. I got all empowered over it because it's like watching a movie of me and my ex-husband and somehow it made me feel all validated, or something and it just lived on in my head. And somehow I got that all mixed up with the idea that if I bought a video camera, me and my BFF Bobbi could make some kinda movies and put them on You Tube or somewhere online and express my creativity and maybe be able to quit my job and live on adsense, or something. No, really. You know, it's just something I do in my head. So anyhow, I charged the camera. Put it on my credit card so now I get to pay that off instead of making an extra house payment.

I quit my massage business in October. I've been doing a few, tenacious souls in the meantime but mostly not doing massage, to speak of. Last month, I canceled my website. And today I called the 800 number to try to get my web address back.

I had this same thing happen when I was married, once. I thought he was the One. And so did everybody else. They all thought I'd finally found a nice guy. Well, he wasn't. I now refer to him as, "The Nazi". Terrible person, really, but at first he seemed so great and we got married after a short time that I'd prefer not to put a number to in an attempt to preserve a shred of my dignity. But we shouldn't have. Gotten married, I mean. I told myself I wasn't going to get another divorce, no matter what, and that I'd need to figure out a way to make it work and so I tried. That was the year I had my first migraine. There was never a better year to start having migraines than that year, I promise. But I wouldn't let myself admit it wasn't working. The thing is, my mind couldn't be completely repressed and one day I found myself packing my stuff in my car without ever having made a decision to leave. I packed the whole car full and I could pack a car, let me tell you. I could pack a horse trailer full of stuff in a car back then, I'd had so much experience. I packed the car and then I unpacked it because I didn't think I was really leaving. Until I did.

It's the same thing, here. I'm trying to tell myself I'm okay. It's not my choice, exactly, but it's a good paying job and it's not in the ER and I can do it and the next thing I know, I'm calling Homestead and asking for my domain name back.

Anyway, my husband is going to blow a rag if I tell him, "Oh, you know all that money I made for three months that I was gonna be helping you pay stuff with? Well, that's not working out so well, after all." So I'm not gonna admit it to myself right now. Right now, I'm gonna go take a nice, hot bath and go to bed and hope tomorrow is better. And actually, it probably will be. But if I just had those much better it could be.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pinball Wizard

Remember pinball machines? Glass-lidded wooden boxes in which a silver ball bounces maniacally from side to side before eventually making its way to the hole in the front, dropping forever out of sight? I am that ball. And nursing is my glass-lidded box. And the hole, I suppose then, is death or retirement. Or as I'd like to think, being finally able to quit nursing to pursue a career in writing.

I don't relish my role as the silver ball and wouldn't outwardly admit it to people who know me, personally, not wanting anyone to recognize it for what it is, "it" being my behavior. But I know it's the truth.

I'm what I refer to as "rapid cycling" right now. There are nurses who stay in the same job for 35 years and then there are those of us who feel the need to move from job to job, "cycling" if you will, in an attempt to avoid inevitable and rapidly-approaching burnout. Fortunately, this particular profession accommodates this method of self-preservation, by virtue of the ever-present nursing shortage, ensuring there will always be another nursing position to which to run. As burnout increases in a nurse not unlike myself, she tends to make the rounds of available nursing positions in ever increasingly rapid succession. Hence the term "rapid cycling". The fact that the term is also used in the categorization of bipolar disorder is not lost on me, I might add.

I applied for a job today. It's kind of a biggie. Probably the biggest I ever had, making the most money and with the most responsibility. But it's management, not field nursing or acute care. It's home health. There are no emergencies in home health. None. If there is an emergency, it gets diverted to the Emergency room at the hospital. Where I will no longer be working. That is, if they hire me.

A job interview is decidedly different when you're applying for a management position, I noticed.

Can you tell us about a time when you had a bad run in with a supervisor and how you resolved it?

There was this one time, in that exact office (I worked there in the past, a long time ago) when I was pretty angry and tossed around a lot of the "F"-word when addressing my supervisor on particularly hot summer day when I was getting a divorce and some major appliances went out and then I had a flat tire on the way back to the office that I wasn't sure wasn't somehow done intentionally by my soon-to-be-ex-husband. When I got to the office I got some bad news about not being able to do some work I'd been counting on for extra money (now to use to buy tires) and I lost my shit. So today I told the interviewer...

I've never really had a bad run in with a supervisor.

And all of this being said, I really would do a hell of a job in that position, I think. I think I could retire from that job. As I said, I worked there before and it was the best job I ever had in my whole career. I quit after 5 1/2 years to go back to the ER because I was dating an emotionally unavailable predator I met on the internet and it took 10 hours driving time to see him in Texas and I thought that would be easier to do if I worked 3 days a week and not 5. In six months, the bloom now off the rose, I tried to come back and by that time, they were downsizing and, eventually, everybody there got fired or quit. The office is a fraction of the size it was then. And the benefits are not nearly as good, as in most places right now. But it's still good money and it's a desk job and, damn me, I think I'm ready.

I don't have to tell you that I came out the hero in every one of those scenarios the interviewer asked me to place myself in and then tell him and the other supervisor about. I can be very creative when when the need arises. And I do have some really good points that are gonna make me a damn good supervisor if they offer me the job but I didn't get the opportunity to tell them about them because I was too busy making up stories to go with the questions they asked me. They were all based in non-fiction but had to be embellished upon in order to make me look competent and effective.

I may not get the offer but I think I've made my mind up that I'm going to make a change. Again. I'll probably wait for an opening in the other home health (the one that's putting my old one out of business). I just have such a need to root for the underdog. Give me a good old bleeding lost cause, any old day. I'll go down with the ship. By then I'm sure I'll be ready for another job change, anyway, and that'll keep me from looking so much like that silver ball.

I really can't wait to fall through that hole in the front.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Shades of Garbo

Freddy says he's going to the store in a little while. I've been waiting with bated breath since then for the few minutes he's gone.

When I get off my three 12-hour weekend shifts, I got nothing left for the world. I need to be quiet and self-absorbed for at least the next day, or so. I already prostituted myself out by agreeing to do two massages tonight, which I knew was a bad idea when I did it. I knew I'd regret it, wishing instead to just be able to veg out on the bed with my laptop. But okay, just two hours and I get paid for it, they're not gift certificates, so I'll make a little extra money. And not till late in the afternoon. So then my daughter calls this morning and her babysitter is MIA and she needs us to watch the kids tonight. I love my grandsons but those little boys kick my ass. But I said, okay. That's not till 3.

So he finally comes and kisses me good-bye, Freddy does, and leaves. I swear to God, it's not 5 minutes later and even though I know it's impossible, I distinctly hear footsteps in the livingroom headed toward the bedroom where I sit, blogging, on the bed with my laptop.

Who could that be?
I ask myself, incredulously. He just left and I didn't hear the door reopen. When in walks my 25-year-old daughter.

"In a week I'm gonna be ghetto rich!" she says.

"What? Where did you come from?"

"I've been here, you psycho. I'm getting $3400 back on my income tax,"


"I'm getting....."

"No. How'd you get in here? I didn't hear the door."

"I've been here. I've been in the computer room doing my tax return. I got here about an hour and a half ago."

Jesus H. Christ.

Is it just me? Out of an entire day, I have maybe 20 minutes of time to be alone without anybody asking me questions or turning on a television or walking through the bedroom to take a pee in the toilet directly in front of me when there's a perfectly good one down the hall, out of my earshot, and my adult daughter shows up, seemingly out of the frigging air doing her tax return. Fuck.

And while we're on the subject, does anybody else pretend to be asleep when their spouse is in the room in an attempt to discourage interaction? I mean, just keep their eyes shut, like I do, for just a little longer after they wake up, just until he goes out of the room and shuts the door and then breathe a sigh of relief because they don't have to answer any questions or express any affection?

I just want to be alone, sometimes. I don't wanna talk for a few hours after I get up. Is that too much to ask? And maybe 20 minutes alone while my husband goes to the store? I mean, I love the guy, I'm nuts about him and he's older than me and I know he's gonna die before I do and I'm gonna wish to hell he was here up my ass as usual but right now I just wish I could have about 48 hours alone.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Who here has ever rushed to the Emergency Room after throwing up one time? If I live to be 100 I will never get this. And I swear on my mother's grave (wherever that ends up being cause she's alive and well, so far) a woman came in today who had pelvic cramps and low back pain. Her period had started. Today. And she came to the ER without even having taken a Motrin. And, not unlike this video I happened across today, she had the same problem in the past. About a month ago.

How can this be happening? And yet, it's every single day I work. Every single one. I keep thinking I missed something, like something happened since I was a kid and people had common sense. And every, single day I have more and more trouble not responding in a manner that would lead to my termination.

Like today. A young couple brought their 6-month-old baby in. He'd apparently fallen off the couch and hit his head on the floor. It was carpeted and the baby wasn't hurt. But judging by the degree of marijuana smoke on the parent's clothing, I wasn't surprised he rolled off. And when I came to the part of the nurse's note asking about 2nd hand smoke, I almost said, "It's obvious the baby is exposed to 2nd hand smoke because you two smell like a flash fire at an Amsterdam cannabis cafe " And would that have been so bad? Really? I mean, what kind of retaliation could I have possibly expected? Are they going to go to the CEO's office on Monday and tell him the nurse was rude by commenting on the pot smell on their clothing?

I'm thinking a lot about taking an ER position in a large teaching hospital ER 130 miles from here. In a big town. You know, where everybody isn't related to everybody else and not so many people wear camoflauge. I put in an online application tonight. It's funny because when I updated my application I discovered I'd applied at that facility at exactly the same time of year in 2008.

My boss got fired, that time. I was heartbroken. And really, really mad. But in the end I didn't feel good about bailing out because I was angry. Not a good ending. So I stayed. Another 9 months.

The trouble is, I no longer want to be a nurse most of the time.

And all of that being said, there I've gone again and focused on precisely what I don't want to attract in my life, thereby ensuring I'll get more of the very same. I so suck at the Law of Attraction for which I hold such high hope.

Tomorrow we go away. Back to the cabin in the state park. And first, to a larger town to go shopping for groceries at a particularly gourmet grocery store in that vicinity that one of the ER docs told me about. We'll check into the cabin and unpack and then we'll go on north to the big city and the gourmet food and then, afterward, we'll come back and start a fire and spend the next 4 days reading and hiking and sleeping and soaking in the tub and doing some art, I hope.

Oh, and the jigsaw puzzle.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

play day

I almost bought a new camera, today. I mean very nearly, as in ordered one and applied for the interest-free credit and got approved and clicked on SUBMIT ORDER. And then I chickened out and canceled it. I hope. Instead of charging $1300 on a new credit card, I downloaded the owner's manual for the camera I got for my birthday 2 1/2 years ago and printed it out. Then I went home and played.

This is Calpurnia.
Although the next two photos are very poor quality, I like them because it makes Maggi appear ghostly.

Sometimes I really love my life.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lain Kali Tengok Nila

Okay, so I'm randomly going through blogs again this morning to check out what's out there like I said in the previous post and I find this fucking thing. This is some funny shit. What is it about people who speak foreign languages cursing in English that is so damn funny? Started my day off just right. Protein shake, Tylenol, St John's Wort, Claritin, little Asian girl posting some really awkward swear words. Makes life worth living. Next is coffee. Then a real, live hair appointment and it's on to Hot Springs (me and Bobbi). Just hope we don't run across any barbaric fucktards out there (waves of laughter resuming). "But hey, the honk was a looooooooongg one"! Oh my God, I'm never gonna get out of my seat.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Herpatology and the Domestic Arts

Another day pissed away in hedonistic pursuits. Slept till 9:30, which I know isn't late for me but you don't. Got a massage. Ate 4 cupcakes. You know, the usual. Oh, and surfed the net looking for websites I like and might someday wish to emulate.

I've been thinking a lot lately about an alternate career. Something involving more sitting on my couch and not so much of this healing the infirm. At this point, it's strickly a fantasy but it will eventually become a necessity.

I fantasize about a bed and breakfast. I really love entertaining. The whole thing; cooking, dressing up, decorating. I love it. That's why I usually need to be institutionalized right after Christmas. I overdo it. Too many late nights baking cookies. While we're on the subject, there is little I enjoy more than being up in the kitchen really late at night, everybody else in bed, in preparation for a holiday dinner. I am in heaven those nights. I put Martha Stewart on tv (if she's not on satelite, I plug in my old, homemade VHS tapes from the old Martha Stewart Living show) or just some old movie on TCM, and I cook. With the dinner not until the next day, or maybe the day after that, there's no pressure. Nobody is going to ring the doorbell in a minute wanting to be fed. I still have a good night's (or half a night's) sleep before all of that.

But back to the B&B fantasy, there is no real attraction at my house with which to lure the public. Nor is our small town much of an attraction, particularly since the tornado turned the woods across the street, as well as a good part of the whole town, into what looks a lot like Hiroshima. We do have a little-used cabin on 20 acres with which we could do something along those lines. Not a B&B exactly 'cause, don't you have to live there? But some kind of retreat place and I could cook and bring it out there and do massage and spa treatments on the premises. Something like that. And it's pretty
out there and, so far, no tornado damage.

There's probably a way to make money out there renting it out on weekends (while I work) if nothing else. It's a cool place, built of strawbales. That's an attention grabber. But then, there is that huge, black snake who sheds his/her skin in the loft. Any snake extermination suggestions? Then again, I did see an article in National Geographic about a high end spa in the west that offered snake massages. Hmmmm.....(tapping chin with forefinger)...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is This Heaven or Just Alabama?

I'm doing what I've sworn off and here it is after 2am, again. The thing is, it's the only uninterrupted time of the day. The only time nobody is calling or stopping by or when I'm suppose to be doing something else, aside from sleeping. So it's natural that I gravitate toward middle of the night hours. I always have.

I watched To Kill a Mockingbird again tonight. I will never tire of it. What an incredible film. And book. My absolute favorite. I've watched it so many times, over so many years that I've become confused about my relationship with Gregory Peck. Is he a family member of mine or simply somebody I've seen on tv? Like Andy Griffith and Aunt Bea, his voice sounds as familiar as my own Father's. And as comforting.

In fact, there is something about old movies in general that I adore. Despite the ability to differentiate fact from fiction, I feel as though I'm glimpsing another time, when watching them. Only really seeing into the past and not a movie set, either, but back to a real moment in time, long since lost. As if the children's bedroom in the Finch house, where Jem lie on the bed following his Bob Ewell debacle, were the one in my Grandmother's house on 27th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska when I was a little girl. But it feels that way. It was just off her livingroom. And it's the same with the porch, the big, old trees on the street, the wallpaper behind the panel door where Boo Radley hid in that bedroom. And my hair was cut exactly like Jean Marie Finch (Scout) who I've always had mixed up with my niece, Angie. They are one and the same, Angie and Scout and me, I guess, by virtue of my haircut the first 10 years of my life.

If there is a heaven and if by some mix up I get to attend, I will have a seat in that porch swing beside Boo on the front porch of the Finch house on that October night, Bob Ewell lying in the woods across town, a butter knife stuck up under his ribs. Or even Grandma Fricke's house, Lawrence Welk playing in the livingroom and me trying on plastic wigs. I'll take either one.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Janus: God of the Doorway (and possibly closets)

January is the most curious of months. I want to sleep and soak in the tub and sip broth from rustic, hand-thrown pottery bowls. And is it just me or does everybody open their refrigerator and, although it looks like this, not be able to find anything to eat?
All that damn food and nothing to eat (except for Cinnamon Roll-flavored Yoplait Light that I just retrieved and am eating after spotting it in the above photo).

Freddy likes to leave the Christmas decorations up through January 6th, the second Christmas. Before he came along, decorations were cleaned up, the floor vacuumed and everything put away by 10am on Christmas morning. But I respect his wishes and now I leave them up. The only time it bothers me is when I'm in the living room and then the urge to take things down is almost more than I can stand. The Monday after Christmas I just took a couple Christmas pot holders and a Christmas hand towel into the laundry room and threw them in with another load of clothes. That's all. When we do take the decorations down, which I wasn't doing until the 6th, there's always something that needs to be washed and air dried and that takes time so I thought I'd get that little bit of it out of the way. On Tuesday, the same thing, only this time it was a few of the Santas I had in the cabinet in the livingroom. I just put a few of the Santas in the spare room. And then I put them into a bin. Wednesday, the placemats and a couple of candles. New Year's Eve I went ahead and took the garland off the fence and porch railing, just in the back of the house and only after dark. Well, and in the front, too, eventually. But that was all.

Monday, January 4th, I took three ornaments off the tree. Just three. A glittery reindeer and two red balls. That's all. Tuesday the 5th, I gathered every candy cane off the tree and put them in a bowl. But something about removing those candy canes opened a door that I could no longer close and in the course of an hour, every ornament, every icicle, every string of red beads was off that tree and in the bins with the lids clicked into place and stacked in the metal shed in the yard. But I didn't take the tree down and I didn't remove the lights. I made it through the 6th! I kept my resolve to respect my husband's wishes! I mean, right? Didn't I? (Why do I feel like the Grinch?)

I should say here that my life occurrs in increments of 4 days, Monday through Thursday, as I work 12-hour shifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the hospital and have no energy to do anything but take baths and put on makeup and pack my lunch those days. So the 6th was yesterday, Wednesday, making today Thursday, the last day of my life this week. And I went out of town yesterday (another blog) so I didn't take down the tree. The danger with that is that I have an internal switch. A toggle with two settings: On and Off. That's it. Nothing else. No other options. On or Off. So, by taking the day off from un-decorating yesterday, I inadvertantly flipped my switch to the Off position. And the tree still stands. Just the tree and the lights.
Only God knows how long it will stand there. Last year it was February.

And then there's the organizing obsession. I'm not that kind of person any other time but in January, something about putting away Christmas decorations makes me suddenly want to organize the years and years worth of clutter in my house. This year, we had a guy build shelves in the closet. I had Freddy buy lumber in June for me to build those shelves and finally this week we had Chad, a nice guy who helps us (a non-procrastinator), built those shelves. This is what the closet looks like, now.
And...are you ready?.....the floor looks like this!
You'd really have to have seen it before. The closet floor has never looked like this (except briefly, immediately after the tornado when it was covered with about 2 inches of water and there were no walls or ceiling and once when the room was first added to the house). My children will think I photoshopped these images but I swear they're authentic. My closet is organized. Every Mother Earth News, every Martha Stewart Living, every National Geographic, every Country Living magazine is stacked in order of months (okay, just the Country Livings are in monthly order, but still!). The shoes are lined up on a shelf. And the shelves are all painted. Believe me, I'm as shocked as anyone.

And the weirdness continues. Earlier this week, I went to Walmart and bought two bookshelves. Those bookshelves were very nearly my undoing, as it turned out. The first casualty was when I loaded them into the cart. Note to self: Always put the lightbulbs into the cart after loading the heavy items. But besides the broken glass (and they were those $8.39 halogen bulbs, too, damnit), I may have bulged a disc lifting the boxes into the cart. When did those things get so heavy? I gotta start doing Pilates, or something. Then I brought them into the house by myself (a nice young man loaded them into the back of my vehicle for me at the store but he wouldn't come home with me). But the kicker was when I was sitting on the floor with the contents of the boxes scattered all around me on the floor and some of the long boards standing up, leaning on the foot stool. As I looked at something to my right, the tallest of the boards to my left fell over, striking me in the left side of my face, right above my eye. I'm pretty tough, though, so once I quit crying I finished putting the shelves together and now we have these (note the empty shelves on the bottom right).

Every single book we own has a home. No more sideways stuffed books and double stacked books that have to be moved to gain access to those in the back. One book at a time so all the titles are clearly visible at all times. They're not organized by subject, yet, but that's another week.

Tomorrow it's back to the ER. My work here is done.