17 May 2018

It's Like She's Trying to Win a Contest

I have an Office Space level coworker who is unfortunately located right next to me.  Fortunately, she isn't here every day because otherwise this would be unbearable.  However, the small pockets of time that she is is LONG.

Here's a little timeline:

  • Came in muttering
  • Took out breakfast from plastic bags and banging of spoon for what felt like ten minutes
  • More muttering
  • Wadding up paper while throwing it away
  • Oh good, the phone.  This probably is inferred but she is also a loud talker.
  • This person is an ice and gum chewer and a lick/scrape every possible bit of yogurt from a cup kind of person. 
Usually I have music playing but I didn’t start it today because I am leaving soon. This both amplifies and yet quiets her.  However, she will usually sing along to the music even though I have it on barely audible to anyone but me.  (I’ve tested, and asked, to make sure)

  • Oh, the yogurt scraping has begun. 
  • Moved onto apple slices in a plastic bag
  • Sad, tiny little angel baby came in with a teacher and she never even acknowledged them.  They were directly behind her.  Who ignores sad tiny humans!?!?
  • Muttering again…
  • Oh, I almost missed mentioning the haptic sound of her phone when she apparently sends novella sized texts
This isn’t happening now but will most assuredly happen:
She prescreens webinars for staff.  With.The.Speakers.On so all of us can hear it.  It’s usually birth-to-five based so imagine jenky-happy music and kids giggling.  Not disconcerting at all.

Why doesn’t she wear headphones, you ask?  Sometimes she does but then…because there’s always a But Then…she has a tendency to dialogue with the webinar or sing along or and I’m sooo not kidding: clap her hands.  It’s like the headphones forces the other parts of her body to be louder.

And the fact. FACT, I say, that every food she eats is wrapped in plastic and crinkly wrapping that apparently takes escape room level timing and skills to unwrap. (imagine opening candy in a quiet theatre)  Oh, and the fast food soda cups...sigh. She is not only an ice chewer but a slurper as well; accompanied by the ever soothing sound of the straw scraping against plastic.

In case you worry that I might be melodramatic, I must also mention the day that she was listening to music through her headphones and shall I say so were we.  It was so loud.  BUT THEN and I swear to gawd this is true: she began to sing The Backup Vocals.  The "Ooh" and the "Aahhs" and Whoaaasss" parts. 

Which then brings us to the slinky.  Yes, there is a slinky. Of course there is a slinky.

It was suggested to her to use a slinky (and we hate that person) when she feels herself stressed and/or overwhelmed.  One day, when she was unfortunately here all day, the slinky was employed throughout the day.

Oh, and most of the time during all this: I have earbuds in.  I can still hear her over the earbuds.

The slinky makes us all mental and this is where I realized I forgot to tell you that human is a mentor/instructor for the staff.  One would think self-awareness would be a required qualification, but what do I know.  I’m a data geek.

Anyway. The got.dammed slinky.
She begins to shhhlink….shhhlink…shhhlink.
This is not enough for our protagonist. 
She then stands and paces/circles in her cublicle.  12 foot square space at the most.
Shhhlink…. Shhhlink… shhhlink… shhhlink
Now add humming.  Shhhlink hmmmmm  shhhlink hmmmmmm
She begins to pace the entire office.  There are ten cubicles in this room.  Paces the entire office.
Shhhlink hmmmmm  shhhlink hmmmmmm Shhhlink Shhhlink Shhhlink

Then there is a decision made that it must be shared with the entire building. Out she goes, and down the hallway where you can still hear Shhhlink Shhhlink Shhhlink Shhhlink

This generated a very special sticky note:

Now I recognize that I have my own issues, I'm an alphabet soup of issues. I am far from perfect.  I realize this all could be overly noticeable by me just because of said issues.  

Until the slinky story.   The slinky story squashes any contrary argument.

It's like she's trying to win a contest.

13 May 2018

For the Not the Moms

Having been raised by wolves, as I've regularly described my childhood, other women stepped up to make sure that I was parented when my parents couldn't or didn't know any better.

As a very young kid, it was my mom's best friend.  As I was a trauma birth, she was the one who cared for me the first month plus of my life.  In fact, she made sure I was taken care of the first part of my young life. She sees me as the daughter she never had. 

My paternal grandma helped too while she was alive.  She died when I was five, but I still remember her babysitting and making sure that I was spoiled and had what I needed.

During grade school, my mom became a volunteer firefighter with a group of stay-at-home moms.  Those women also stepped up and made sure I was okay over the years. 

Mostly I remember my high school best friend's moms.  At sixteen/seventeen, I was working, going to school, paying bills, and driving.  I was an adult mostly but I still felt their watchful eyes on me. They made sure I got home, school, or to work on time, had what I needed, fed me, answered my questions.  Parented me when I needed it. 

So, today I'm giving a shout out to those moms who take care of kids who aren't theirs.  Not the foster moms or the step moms.  The moms who just take in the friends of your kids without a thought.  You might not think they notice but they do.  You  may think it's nothing or a little thing but it's not.

I appreciate every meal, every hug, every correction, every thing they did to step up and fill the gaps. 

12 May 2018

You're Not Invited

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, admittedly one of my least favorite holidays. 

I'm not close with my mom and Kevin's mom is super way not the same mom that I met almost thirty years ago.  This whole palliative care thing has changed the relationship to a caregiver instead of parental one. 

My mom did the best that she could but woo boy, the mistakes that were made were huge ones.  The older I get and experience with kids and grandkids, the more I see it.  Aging in this instance is not helpful.  "What the eff were you thinking?" is what mostly occurs to me.

I'm not motherless, but it kinda feels like it.

I'm usually okay with the not having kids thing.  However, I've noticed that it has bothered me more as I've aged.  We are not going to have kids and grandchildren to care for us when we are old.  It's going to be just Kev and I.  Sure there are a dozen nephews and nieces but we know that that is not at all the same.

In the weirder moments, I wonder about past relationships, all of which now have children, and wonder what that life would have been like. I've miscarried three times in my life.  Twice was a blessing because carrying Satan's babies was not something that should ever happen.  I shudder to think that I would have a 28 and 29 year old right now and would be forever tethered to him. 

But then I comment "Our luck we would have gotten sacked with a kid LIKE THAT." while watching Young Sheldon and I realize that perhaps it's for the best.

Then there are the folks who try to make it better. Bless their hearts. (shaking my head)  "You have a fur baby!  Look at all the kids you helped raise during your career.  You're a godmother."  These are all things that I've heard.

These are all things that make me want to punch you in the throat.  These are the things that makes Kevin verbally dive in front of to deflect whenever he can.  I understand that people are trying to be kind but just don't.  It's not the same and no perspective is going to make it the same.

Days like this are like not being invited to a classmates birthday party when you're in elementary school.  You don't know why, you're feeling left out, and you can't understand the experiences that everyone who attended had.  Their stories aren't relevant to you.  It's an inside joke, you had to be there kind of thing.
 My advice is to say nothing. Treat it like another day. Know that people like me are gutting days like this out.

So, tomorrow I get to sleep in and Kevin will bring me coffee.  We'll spend some time next door but that's not different than any other day.  We'll visit my mom while my siblings are there and hope it won't be awkward (it so will be, but we hope)   Kevin will offer to take me to dinner or buy me stuff or both.  He will markedly not comment if I choose to watch Grey's Anatomy all.damn.day. 

And he will probably post something horribly awkward, funny and inappropriate on social media. My favorite was"Happy You're Not A Mom Day!" one year.  Leave it to us to make it uncomfortable.

09 May 2018

Post Apocalyptic Hometown

It's been about a year since I started this new job. I know, right? A year that I envisioned would never end and that I would be miserable the whole time.  A year that I swore would be temporary.

Well, I just signed a letter of intent for the next school year so the second year of my contract is officially enacted.  It feels odd that it's been a year already and it feels odd to sign a contract to commit to another year. It makes me a little panicky but it's mostly good.

As you see, I still have hesitancy about this whole thing and I guess it boils down to the returning home thing.  I've mentioned before that I totally understand why writers have their protagonists return home so often in their storylines.  It's a thing.  A real thing.

I left town over 25 years ago and didn't really look back.  Sure, I drove through town or whatever but I really didn't spend any real time there. I left for two reasons: 1) my personal safety and b) new and more opportunities elsewhere. Well, three reasons: life.

During that time away, it seems I metaphorically sealed up this town and kicked it back to the dark, dusty corner of my memory to be forgotten.  Now I'm here every day during the work week and it's real. No avoiding it although I have been in absolute denial. Until recently.

The epiphany happened for me while Kevin was watching The Walking Dead:  I'm working in my Post Apocalyptic Hometown.  Everything looks similar but it's not the same.  People have changed,some people are gone or dead.  Everything is different yet in some ways the same.  I can kind of see what has happened during my absence but other stuff remains a mystery. Post apocalyptic.

I've had to acknowledge some zombies along the way and that hasn't been super fun.  Fighting zombies rarely is, from what I've gathered.

Yet for all the differences 25-ish years have made, there are still moments and memories attached everywhere. Every.Doggoned.Where.   I believe I'm mostly past the jarring "Oh that horrible thing happened there" and tend to focus more on the positive happy memories that do exist here.

I've kind of methodically visited different spaces, like testing the soreness of a bruise. The place where we all hung out before everything fell apart, the park where I used to sit and have lunch, houses of old friends who haven't lived there in years. These little field trips have allowed the happier moments to rise up and snuff out the ugly ones, mostly.

It's happy/sad now. There's comfort in some of these memories yet I need to not be sucked into a melancholy nostalgia either, searching for how it used to be and trying to recreate it. I have to adapt to this new place.

Yet, the invisibility still continues. I haven't told my friends who are still here that I'm back working in town yet. (Yes, I suck. I own this)  I haven't visited my family, but those have other reasons attached. I'm still a little vigilant about my whereabouts and probably always will be because a permanent restraining order still exists.

In the meanwhile, I will keep moving forward and pushing my boundaries outward until this Post Apocalyptic place becomes a new normal.  I continue to slay the zombies and rebuild.

06 May 2018

This Will Make a Good Story at the Memorial

Any time  that I mention that my homelife is exactly like the television show Everyone Loves Raymond I get one of two responses.  Usually it's an "awww, that must be so nice" or an uncomfortable chuckle.

I will say that on the whole, it is fine.  I've written about it before so I won't rehash too much.  It's like being part of the Witness Protection Program because your every move is noticed.  Late for work? Washing your car? Got a bill in the mail? Just bought something at the store?  Yep, they know. 

Last weekend was the first nice weekend the Pacific Northwest has had in, no word of a lie, eight months.  In the seventies, puffy happy clouds, if any, in the blue sky.  Perfect day.

On Sunday I just wanted to work in my garden in peace.  I wanted to pull weeds, rake, and assess what plants wintered over and which needed replacing.  Also, I had some flower seeds to plant.  What I'm saying is that I had plans.

Kevin was already working in his shop because he is active the moment his eyes open, bless his heart.  (I mean that in the most Southern way possible)  I went to our back door, which looks at the garden and you can see the corner of the shop.  I looked and sure enough, there is Kevin's dad and his brother. 

I literally muttered "Eff me."then closed the door and went back into the house.

Now, Kevin's dad has been working really hard in our yard this past week.  He's redoing the lawn and he's loving it because our house and yard is kept really nicely and we leave him alone.  Years ago, Kevin and I made the agreement that even if he does something we don't like, we are to SHUT IT and not mention it. The reasons for this are two-fold: firstly, he's 80 and loves to help.  Secondly, Kevin's brother is awful to him and criticizes everything his dad does yet doesn't lift a finger to help. So, he loves to work over here.  And Lucy is his favorite but I'm off topic. 

I gave it a few minutes and peeked out our bathroom window, which looks upon the entire shop.  See? Witness Protection.  Everyone was gone so I made a break for it, gathered my tools from the shed, and got to work.  At one point, I had to go back to the shed, next to the shop.  Kevin was returning from his parents house and sighed heavily, as he's prone to do these days.  I leaned against him for a moment and said "I just wanted five minutes peace.  That's all."   I looked at him and realized that I was Singing to the Choir. 

I decided to just quietly hang out around Kevin to support him and frankly, it keeps his brother away. (long story)  My work can wait. Kevin needs a buffer.  All of a sudden I can hear music from next door.  A good 200 feet and one house and one enclosed car trailer away.  "Apparently we're listening to REO Speedway this morning, Kev." 

He went into his shop and all of a sudden Luke Bryan is on blast.  Passive Aggressive Response, for the win.

Eventually, I got to work in the garden. I am the brother repellent so my work was done there.  Kevin's dad worked on the other side of the house from me.  I'm guessing Kev might have told him that I needed space, knowing I had ready access to gardening tools.

All in all it was a nice day, eventually we all got to do our thing in harmony.

Now, you're thinking "What's wrong with that? It sounds kind of nice." 

This is where I tell you that Kevin's dad doesn't always have good boundaries.  He has broken into the house WHILE WE ARE IN IT to get the keys to our truck. (we share it with him...another long story)

On Sunday morning, it turns out that while Kevin had returned to bed with me, IF YOU GET WHAT I MEAN, Kevin's dad had walked through our yard, past our bedroom windows to work in the yard.  Multiple Times.  Just kill me. 

I console myself with the thoughts of "Someday you're going to miss this" and "This will make a good story at the memorial"

01 May 2018

Gmorning Gnight - Poetry Month

It's Not About Holding His Hand

Many people watched in delight as He Who Shan’t Be Named was caught on video trying to get his wife to hold his hand at a state dinner.  Initially, I too found delight in the rejection and embarrassment.

Then someone on the twitter mentioned to rewatch the clip, but only watch her expression.  I wish I didn’t.  It was no longer entertaining to me.  It became heart-breaking and to sound like a Millennial, I found myself a little triggered. I now view her a survivor of domestic violence who is still unsafe. 

Now, this is where I say that yes, she has made choices that has put her into the situation she is now.  But there is no way that she could have guessed how she would end up in the global spotlight.  We also don’t know what prompted her to make those choices. And really, none of us are faultless in making choices that have landed us in unhappy situations.

The desperation and insistence that she hold his hand for appearances and not affection is something I’ve experienced.  It creates an emotion unto itself: frustration, humiliation, dread, and sadness all intermix.  It’s not about affection, it’s about ownership, control, and appearances. 

But what sent me over the edge was his nod when she finally acquiesced.  That nod gave me chills.  I’ve seen that nod. That nod meant “Good girl for obeying.”  It meant “There will be consequences.”  It meant “See? I still have control.”  It makes me nauseous, still, thinking about it.

So I have to give grace to someone whom I’d really rather not.  Sadly, I found that we are part of a kinship of being in an unbearable situation with little control or even hope of a different outcome.  

To make it so much more worse, he is the face of America right now.  That makes it difficult to get up in the morning, for sure.  Here's what I suggest:
Hold the hands of those you love. Make a donation to a shelter. Volunteer. Smile at strangers.  We're all in this together.  Find some grace.  That's how I get up in the morning.

Oh, and eff.that.guy.  I almost forgot that part.