Sunday, November 23, 2008

In the Blink of an Eye

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."  Dr. Seuss

My son's long-anticipated birthday party has now come and gone in (what seems like) the blink of an eye.  So much work goes into these things even if you have the party somewhere other than your home.  Phone calls, scheduling, invitations, e-mails, buying items for goody bags, assembling the goody bags, ordering the cake, buying the partyware, picking up the cake, picking up "extras" i.e. candles, etc.  

We took nine little kids to see the Disney movie "Bolt", play video games and have cake and presents.  I should've realized that five and six year olds don't stay put like they should.  They don't listen.  They don't always use their manners.  And they use the restroom about four times an hour.  But the best thing is how they are very accepting of one another.  One child might be shy, another a bit wild, and the rest somewhere in between.  In the end, they are a good group of kids, and they are all friends.  

My son was very gracious and had pretty good manners - even after having caffeine and sugar - and he thanked each friend for the present.  He even thanked my husband and I for the party on the way home.  But one of the best moments of the day was given to me by one of my son's friends.  He is a very quiet little boy who rarely speaks.  When you talk to him, he turns bright red in the face and looks down.  He seemed to have fun and played video games by himself.  I payed extra attention to him because he was so introverted.  When I gave him back to his Mom at the end of the party, his Mom asked him if he had fun, and he said, "Mom, it was the best!" This made all the preparation worthwhile.  

Another little friend was returned to his Mom, and the mother told him to tell me "thank you".  The kid walked up to me, smiled and burped.  The mother was mortified.  I'm so glad my kids aren't the only ones who do stuff like that!  

I will try and put pictures in the next blog post.  

I am tired.  

"A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway."  Fr. Jerome Cummings 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Computer Games

I showed my son how to play a SpongeBob game on the computer this morning.  My score was 200.  He started playing and made it through three levels.  His final score was 8,700.  

I'm not sure when his skill level on these computer games surpassed mine, but he's now teaching me how to play them.  

It seems like this happened awfully fast . . . he's not even six yet.  

** Mental note to self:  No video games for Christmas.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Disgruntled Consumers - Vent Here

Just a tip for Sales Associates at retail stores this holiday season.  If I approach you to ask a question about finding merchandise, please do not:  

a)  Refuse to look at me in the hopes that I will just go away.  

b)  Act really pissed if I inconvenience you with a question.  

c)  Give me a simple "no" answer to my request without any attempt to locate the desired merchandise or, at the very least, a polite "I'm sorry, we don't have that in stock."  

d)  Act really pissed if I say "excuse me" and attempt to get around all the crap you have piled in the middle of the aisle while you are visiting with your fellow associate instead of doing your job.  

e)  Look around halfheartedly and say, "I don't see it" with a crabby look on your face and walk away.  

Or (my favorite), 

f)  Throw me a dirty look, stomp off to supposedly find what I'm looking for in the "back room", and then never come back.  Then, when I track you down, tell me that you thought I "would've figured out" that you didn't have the merchandise when you didn't come back to tell me yourself.  

I'm not going to mention store names here, but it starts with a W and ends with a T.  I have lived in this town for over nine years now, and I have yet to be asked by an associate at this store if they can help me.  In that nine years, I have only come across two friendly associates at this store.  Even the "greeters" ignore customers as they walk in this store.  

What the hell???  Every other store is bending over backwards this holiday season to help customers.  I was at one of your competitors this morning, and five sales associates asked if I was finding what I needed.  One elderly employee who was stocking shelves apologized that she was in my way.  At a children's clothing store in a nearby town, sales associates are greeting customers at the door and offering personal shopping assistance - including getting on a phone and trying to track down desired merchandise.  

W-----t, you stress me out, and I hate you.  You are a blight in the field of retail, and you piss me off so badly that I may never return to your store.  You suck, and I hope the competition kicks your a**.  I know I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that happens.  

Just sayin' . . . 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dear Mr. President Obama

My daughter's Sunday school class wrote letters to President-elect Obama.  Kaitlyn was chosen to read her letter aloud to the whole class.  The church is going to send the kids' letters to the President-elect.  Here is what her letter said:  

"Dear Mr. President Obama:

Congratulations on winning the most votes in the election.  

Please listen to God and make good choices.  

Please stop the war in Iraq and save our troops and our tax money.  

Good luck being President, it is a hard job.  

Sincerely, Kaitlyn"

I think she did an excellent job.  

"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Building Bridges

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  Lyrics from "Closing Time" by Semisonic

The older I get, the more the past haunts me.  Maybe this is something that happens naturally over the years.  Maybe we just become more introspective with age.  Lately, I see my life as a woven fabric - people weaving in and out of it and becoming part of the fabric itself.  Their stories are part of my story.  And in my memory, we will always be bound together.  

A couple weeks ago, my brother-in-law called to invite us to our goddaughter's 16th birthday party.  We had been estranged from this brother for many years.  Years when we had children, bought homes and forged careers.  We were happy to hear from him after so long, and were looking forward to this chance to reconnect.  

As we drove back to central Wisconsin, the memories came flooding back.  Times we babysat for our goddaughter.  Family holidays spent together.  The passing of family members.  Good times.  Bad times.  And today was an opportunity to pick up some pieces and, hopefully, start to rebuild some bridges that had been burned.  

It is hard to reconnect with people even if you share a past.  For me, the entire day had the feel of being in a kids "jumper" castle.  I was never quite sure of my footing as I made my way around from person to person and joined in conversations.  We had to introduce our kids to their uncles and aunts and cousins which gave me a feeling of sadness for all the time that has been lost.  The kids would look from person to person with interest.  They were trying to figure it all out - same as the rest of us.  

My brother-in-law has gone through some major life transitions.  He is divorced, recently bought a new home, and has a new person in his life.  He is starting over and moving forward and, fortunately for us, brought the rest of us into his new world for the day.  I spoke with him briefly throughout the day.  I saw a person with whom I was so familiar who had changed so much.  I like his girlfriend.  I am adept at "reading" people, and I could not read her.  She is very personable and direct yet quiet.  I imagine it must have felt awkward for her - being among all of us while we were talking about things in our common past - yet she smiled and listened to the old stories intently.  I get a good feeling from her, and she appears to be very good for my brother-in-law.  

It was a good day.  Our goddaughter had 16 candles on her cake.  She opened presents while surrounded by her family.  We are all older, wiser, and have more lines in our faces now.  We are the same people even though our family dynamic is always changing.  We have picked up new threads and have started weaving them in with the old.  Our bridges may lay in pieces, but the pieces are still there for us.  We are stronger together.  

It was a very good day.  

"What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories."  George Eliot  

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I have one Christmas gift to knit, one to sew, and then I am done with my Christmas planning and shopping.  I just have to get a Christmas card made, buy some Christmas stamps, wrap a couple of gifts, bake some cookies and do the decorating.  


Nanner, nanner!  

Monday, November 10, 2008

Redefining Normal

"Where do we go from here?  It seems so all too near.  Just as far beyond as I can see, I still don't know what this all means to me.  I don't know where to go.  I don't know what to do.  And I don't even know the time of day.  I guess it doesn't matter anyway.  Life is so strange.  Destination unknown."  Lyrics from "Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons

I feel detached from everything lately.  I had a dream last night that I was in a small wooden boat out on a lake that was attached to a dock with a rope.  I just sat in the boat looking at the foggy shore where people were wandering around aimlessly, and they didn't take note of me out on the water.  I didn't yell to them, and I felt no need to leave the boat.  I was content to sit there breathing and watching and floating aimlessly.  I felt strangely at peace while the people on shore were in complete chaos.  I remember wanting to sever the rope that attached the boat to the shore, and then I woke up.  

It was the strangest dream that I've had since the one where I had a conversation about my daily life with John Lennon.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had a dream that I was walking arm-in-arm with Bobby Sherman (a teen idol from the '70s), down the street singing "Easy Come, Easy Go" and everyone was wearing lime green socks.  I am the Queen of Weird Dreams.  A title of which I am very proud.  

I think some of the weirdness has been brought on by the neverending illness I've experienced over the last month.  First the head cold from Hell.  Then I got this horrible rash/blisters/hives wonderfulness which made it impossible to leave the house without a veil.  Now, I have a hacking cough which gives me headaches.  Not even my go-to remedy of apple cider vinegar, lemon, honey and water will get rid of it.  I've taken to using my son's Albuterol nebs so I can get some sleep at night.  

The second day of the rash/blisters/hives, I made an appointment to see a doctor.  I couldn't see my doctor, or, probably she didn't want to see me because she and I do not get along.  I stick with her because she was the one who finally got to the bottom of my hypothyroidism and the binding antibody problem with my blood tests.  She is extremely bright, competent and professional.  She doesn't like me because I do not take her advice in certain matters, and she told me that she finds my mindset completely irrational which is bothersome to her.  I told her to take a number because everyone finds me irrational and bothersome.  I thrive on it.  She has not "recused" herself as my physician, so I think she must like a challenge.  

The day of my appointment, the clinic was busier than I've ever seen it.  I figured it was just because I looked like a leper and didn't want to be seen by anyone.  The women at the reception desk became very quiet and looked down or at their keyboards when I announced myself and produced my insurance card.  The huge waiting area was packed with people.  I sat down across from an older woman who was there with her daughter and two young grandchildren.  The old woman stared at me for a few minutes while I flipped through a magazine.  She finally leaned down and stared up at me and said, "What happened to your face?  Did a man do that?"  I had absolutely no response to that, and just sat there looking at her.  "My man beat me so bad once that my face looked like hamburger."  I started to feel woozy.  I looked at the woman, and I could see a deep scar above one of her eyes, and her nose looked odd.  I told her "no", and she crossed her arms in front of her, twisted her mouth to one side and said, "Hmmph."  Like she didn't believe me.  I couldn't look at her anymore because my mind just couldn't process her.  

Just then a young man came in, went to the reception desk, and took the only empty seat which was right next to me.  He was male model beautiful.  I am talking magazine cologne ad beautiful.  I squirmed in my seat trying to be invisible.  The old woman kept staring at me.  Somewhere, somehow, I had crossed the threshhold into Purgatory and was being punished for all my previous sins in life.  

I had to wait for what seemed like forever.  It was hot in there, and I wondered when exactly this clinic that I'd been coming to for over nine years had taken on the look and feel of a free clinic.  I looked around and remembered the first time I had ever come here.  It was to confirm my positive home pregnancy test back in 1999.  I drove up in my two-door car and was wearing a Liz Claiborne steel blue pantsuit.  It seems like forever ago.  And now here I was wearing sensible shoes with "Mom" jeans and a faded yellow sweater that had been washed too many times.  I was itchy, feverish and miserable.  

I was finally called by a nurse who stood a head taller than me and was very large.  Her name was Heather, and she had bright bleached blonde hair and a sunburn at this time of year - ?!  When she was going over my medications and medical history, she burped.  I decided to find it charming.  Then the doctor came in.  She was an older Chinese woman with white hair pulled straight back off her face in a bun.  Her eyes were so black, you couldn't see the pupils.  She was very serene.  She did the usual poking, prodding, ear and throat checking.  She stood back and said, "I don't know what's wrong with you."  I begged her to give me something to clear up my skin.  I told her, "I can't go on looking like this."  This was the complete truth of the matter.  I could handle feeling lousy.  But I could not stand looking like this.  She looked at me and tilted her head and said in her broken English, "You look like yourself, just not as good.  You see?"  I felt like sobbing and started biting the inside of my cheek to keep from screaming.  She said she needed to consult with another doctor, and she would be right back.  

She came back with my doctor who seemed very taken aback to see me sitting there in all my miserable glory.  She said, "Wow, you look awful."  I resisted the urge to slap her.  They took a throat culture, they stared at me, and they came to the conclusion that I either had an allergic reaction to a component in my flu shot because I had a low-grade fever when I got the shot; or I had been run down and got a viral infection because my body had been fighting the cold and the flu vaccine, and I somehow came into contact with a virus.  They had to leave and get the results of the throat culture.  None of this made sense to me, but I really didn't care.  I asked them if they could tell me exactly when I would look better.  My doctor smiled an evil smile and nodded her head.  I now officially hate her.  Or maybe I just hate the fact that I have been exposed as the vain, silly and superficial person that I really am.  

The Chinese doctor returned.  I didn't have strep throat, so she couldn't give me any antibiotics.  I could expect to feel and look better in 7 to 10 days.  Other than that, she couldn't help me.  I thanked her for her time and left.  

Since then, I've felt a little bit better every day, though the coughing and headaches have made me a bit tired.  I often wonder why this was part of God's plan for me right now.  Each day has been a struggle just to keep up with the laundry and dishes and basic things around the house.  I am very crabby around the kids who seem to find every way they can to irritate me.  

I looked in the mirror this morning.  I can still see pink spots on my face from the blisters, but you can't see them at all when I put on makeup.  I can pass for completely normal again when you can't see the scars.  

I think of the woman in the waiting room who had been so badly physically abused in the past.  I wonder if she had ever sought out help.  She looked completely normal unless you looked at her close enough to see her scars.  Sometimes there is no explanation for the predicaments in which we find ourselves.  There is no quick fix for some things.  Time passes, our wounds heal, we hide the scars.  Life goes on.  

That's the lesson that I've taken from this predicament.  I realize that this illness isn't worth complaining about anymore.  No matter how bad I feel, there are people who have much bigger problems.  We're all just trying to find "normalcy" and make our way through life as best we can.  

"Physical ills are the taxes laid upon this wretched life; some are taxed higher, and some lower, but all pay something."  Lord Chesterfield