Friday, December 31, 2010

Stories.

One of our neighbors stopped by the store.

"Hey, Steve!" I called out. He said, "Are you and Tim all set for 2011?" I laughed. "2010 did not ask for permission, and you know, I don't get a notion that 2011 is going to ask for permission either. It's just going to barge in and set up whether I'm ready or not."

It's very difficult for me to look forward without looking back. I am glad for where I'm at, and how far I've come. I helped an elderly man out the door and loaded up his chicken feed for him. His wife said, "Oh, this is embarrassing for him, but he's just had a pacemaker put in, and I am not going to let him lift because the doctor told him not to." And he grumbled. He did not like standing there while a woman loaded his chicken feed. At 83, though, I told him, I thought that he deserved a break. "I feel great," he grumbled. "I feel like I could be lifting chicken feed." And I grinned at him. "You listen to me," I said. "I'm throwing this chicken feed around like it's nobody's business, and two years ago, I couldn't have done that either." I waggled my finger at him. "You just mind the doctor and your wife. It'll make your life a lot easier." He was curious, and so was his wife. "Why couldn't you lift chicken feed?" and I said, "I had cancer. I had to take it easy for a few months, and I did. Cancer was a season. Now that season is finished." We talked about faith. We talked about hard times. We talked about getting over it. I said, "Now, I'm loading your truck and feeling grateful to God that I can. So let me." And they did.

That's how it is, isn't it? We all move in and out through the different seasons of our lives, and we help each other as we are able. Once again, I think how cleverly designed this world is, that our stories are completed by the stories of others, that our stories complete their stories. Those stories? They're meant to be told.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Damn.

We were supposed to have company in on New Year's eve. Tim's brother and wife and their little boy. However, I'm pretty hoarse. No cold symptoms to go along with it, just sound perfectly awful, and I think that I scared poor Dawn off, mostly because Brady already is running a fever. She certainly doesn't need a sick baby to bring in the New Year. I am very disappointed, because we were looking forward to watching Brady opening his Christmas gifts. What terrible timing for this 'thing', whatever it is. Tim and I sat looking at each other. Cara's friend is coming in for the evening, but the last thing they want to be doing is 'hanging with the old folks'. "Maybe we could go see a movie," Tim suggested. "Meh. We could, I suppose." I said.

So, that is what we will do. I'll make homemade pepperoni rolls for everyone for tomorrow night, and Tim and I will go take in a movie, and probably make it until midnight, and then we will sleep in late on New Year's day.

PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(*coff* *wheeze*)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Dog Story

I walked back into work today, and Jeremy grinned. "How's your head?" he asked. "Well," I said, to jerk his chain some, "I didn't know whether I was coming in today or not." He got a surprised look. I continued: "Yeah, it doesn't seem right that you show up for work after you've gotten canned."

Anyways, remember that couple I told you about? Their dog died? Well, they were in tonight, and much to my surprise, they had a new white shepherd type dog, a puppy, timid, five months old, a spitting image of their old dog. They just happened to contact a friend up in Potsdam. He had some dogs he was raising for sled dogs, but he had this one that was not going to work out. She was too shy, of people, of other dogs. He didn't want her. The couple took her immediately, and it was a five hour trip to get her. They brought her in the store, just like their old dog, and she clung close to her new owners watching us warily. I gave her a cookie. She smelled it, interested, but too afraid to take it from my hand. I gave it to her owner.

Everyone stood jawjacking as the dog waited patiently. Gary said, "She'll get used to the store in a hurry. You're in here all the time." The man says, "She's had a lot to get used to. She never was inside a house before. She sure does love sleeping in the bed!" We laughed. I said, "Well, it will help socialize her, being in a store, around people. It'll be good for her," and the woman agreed.

They took their time in the store, but finally, they came up to the counter. They had dog food, and a new purple collar, and a new leash. Kyra was still timid, but curiously she nosed the credit card machine, and when a woman came in line behind them, the dog walked up to her and quietly studied the woman with intelligent eyes. When the woman spoke to her kindly, she nosed her hand. Her owners looked on, amazed at the changes happening already.

I watched this small drama playing out. The man said to the woman behind them, "I think that you're the first person she's ever voluntarily greeted," and he told the story, about the dog that died, about the dog that has come into their lives. "I did not think we wanted a new dog, but you know, it just wasn't comfortable not having a dog." These people will love this new dog with all their hearts, and this new dog will become as irreplaceable as the dog they had. You can see it happening already. Broken hearts will mend. A timid dog will learn to trust. Two owners are learning a new animal. One animal is learning a new life. A working dog becomes a beloved pet. It's magic really, and looking on, it made me smile.

We don't have television any more, but we did when Cara was home, before the big switch to digital. One of Cara's favorite shows was 'Grey's Anatomy'. She has several seasons of it on DVD and her brother got her another season for Christmas. She's having a marathon session of Grey's while doing a jigsaw puzzle, and hearing the theme song takes me back to when she was in high school, and I was a mother. It makes me sad a little, and glad for what she has become, too. It's a strange thing, a reminder of what was, and what is. Let me finish this post and share another evening with my grown up child.

Oh, hey, you all need to follow Bush Babe's blog. They are having some serious flooding in Australia. Jeanie's dealing with it too. Queensland is getting nailed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

So, today, I was at work, and it was freight day. I was lifting a case of dog food to a shelf when the cardboard tray buckled, and one of the cans slipped free and hit me on my forehead. It stunned me at first, and I saw stars, but it was really a very minor thing and within sixty seconds, I was clear headed and looking back at everyone looking at me. Bob went off to get a bandaid. Ike and Dave decided that it should be reported, and so it was. Ike made the call, and then he spent probably 20 minutes answering what seemed like fourteen hundred thirty eleven questions. I sat there answering the questions he couldn't. Finally it was done. Ike hung up the phone looked at me very seriously. He shook his head. "Gees," he said, "It might have been easier to just shoot ya." I about fell out of my chair laughing.

Really, we have the best crew. We laugh as hard as we work.

And when we were done laughing, we got right back to it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

I worked Christmas eve, and it was a long day. Busy, just like it has been. A tiny little red haired girl pushed a guinea pig toy up on the counter. I said to her, "So are you going to wrap this and give it to your guinea pig for Christmas?" She solemnly nodded. Then she said, "Mommy said we gave our dog the best Christmas present we could give her," and I cheerfully said, "So what did the dog get?" and her little lip quivered and she said, "She's not suffering no more. We had her put to sleep." Dear God. One more dead dog story is going to push me right over the edge, I swear. As Hal and Bob would say, "Darn sinuses!"

It's been a nice Christmas day, a quiet one. Presents and kids, and quiet times doing puzzles and laughing together. We watched a couple videos. I'll write more later. Right now, I'm headed for bed. Dylan heads back home tomorrow, and we have another party tomorrow evening.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Stupid

I don't usually have supper at work. That's okay. But yesterday, it was busy, I got called in early, and I had to take a supper break. I needed to get out of the store for a little, so I got myself an iced tea and a sandwich. The iced tea was good on my sore throat. I drank it all down. I even got a second one.


I got home from work last night knowing that I had to get my hinder to bed. I had the morning shift. I went to bed and tossed and turned and tossed and turned. I do this to myself on an astoundingly regular basis. Maybe I should write it down, or tattoo it on my arm. "I cannot drink caffeine after 6 PM. I cannot drink caffeine after 6. I cannot drink..."


Only one more day before Christmas.


Gads.


Hope my caffeine this morning works as well as the stuff last night.


Duh.

This is my gift to the world. I sure am making you feel lots smarter than me, huh?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Minute Preparations

The store manager called and said, "So what are you doing?" and I said, "Why? The store busy?" and he said, "Get down here..." and I said, "Well, you'll have to give me an hour." He said, "Why?" and I said, "Because I'm in my pajamas, okay?" and laughed. He said, "What are you doing still in your pajamas?" (it was 1 PM) and I said, in a very defensive way, "Hey, I'm wrapping presents, okay?"


I got myself showered and dressed, out the door, and into work. It was busy alright. We had our busiest day since Black Friday.

I was at the register, when Ike paged me. I had a phone call on line three. It was Cara. "Where's your debit card?" she wanted to know. She was picking up Tim's Christmas gift for me because I had to leave for work early. "I've got it," I said. "I left you cash on the coffee table." A customer said, in a hopeful way, "So did you leave me cash on the coffee table?" and the line laughed. Business was non-stop, one customer after another, after another. We all were in high spirits, playing pranks on one another.

My sister and brother-in-law stopped by the store with a huge batch of homebaked cookies and bread and a pumpkin roll. That was an extremely welcome gift. I was trying to figure out how to fit in the baking, and suddenly discovering that I did not have to...well...that was a relief.

I cannot believe that tomorrow is Christmas eve already. Dylan will be here by the time that I get home from work. I have an entire weekend off, and I am looking forward to it.

Well, let me get myself (and my cold) off to bed. Only one more day until Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two more days until Christmas.

I got my Christmas cards practically done. The far away ones won't get there in time, but, hey, the Christmas cards are just about done. Cara and I whipped the tree up today. I got home and discovered that she'd set up the nativity and the Christmas village as well. That was nice.

When I went to work today, I saw a couple regular customers. They usually have a big white dog, a very vocal dog, almost like he's trying to talk. They love that dog. He goes everywhere with them. Anyways, they were in the store today, and, oddly, their dog was not with them. I was in the process of reaching for a dog cookie, when I realized the dog was not there. I must have looked confused. The man said, "He died yesterday morning. His heart just stopped." And the woman stood by him with a quiet face, and the tears welled in her eyes. Yeah. You know what happened next. I'm offering my condolences with tears of my own. They left with their purchases. A coworker came over with a puzzled look. "Where's their dog?" I explained that he'd died. Dave said, "You're kidding..." because the dog had just been in the day before yesterday. I heard him head back to find Gary. "What?" Gary said. "That big white one?" and Dave said, "Yes." Gary said, "Well that's a damn shame," and Dave said, "They never went anywhere without that dog."

That's the kind of place I work at. A place where news like that makes us all feel sorry.

'Tis the season...

Yesterday, I went Christmas shopping with Cara. When you have a kid as particular about her clothes as Cara, you do NOT want to buy her clothes for Christmas. Well. Not clothes of your own choosing, anyway. If I think something is cute, you can bet the ranch on the fact that Cara will think it's awful. So shopping went like this: "I really need a book to study for the GRE." (This while we are standing in the middle of Waldenbook, coincidently, right in front of the GRE study guides.) I reach down for one. Cara says, "Not that one. The Barron one. And I'd like a Korean dictionary." Then I said, "Leave the store please," and then I picked out the books and took them to the register. Then it was on to clothes shopping. I'd pick something out and her little lip would curl. "No, Mom. Nobody wears something like that." I look bewilderedly about me. I am surrounded by people that are wearing stuff just like that. I did pick one little outfit for her. I got a gift receipt. I'm sure she'll take it back. And then we were supposed to meet at Aeropostale, but I ran into someone I knew, and blabbed for a minute. I also ducked into a store to check on something. By the time that I got to Aeropostale, she was not there. So I shopped around, and I saw a hoodie that made me think of her right away, so I bought it. Without her permission. I was waiting patiently in front of the store for her to come back, and she finally did, carrying coffees for the two of us. (That was nice.) "I found a sweatshirt," she said. Clutching my bags, I said, noncommitally, "Oh?" and she said, "Yes. I'll show you..." and she headed into the store. I followed. She headed to the back corner of the store where I'd selected her sweatshirt from. Looked good. She headed directly to the corner where the rounder I'd got her shirt from was, and I was thinking, "Hah! I nailed this one!"....and then walked right past it to another shirt hanging on the wall. "This one," she said. "That's nice," I said, flipping through the sweatshirts on the rounder, and holding up the one I'd purchased just minutes before. "This is cute..." and she said, "Kind of sparkly, don't you think?" I blinked at her. She'd just bought a sparkly tank to wear under a argyle sweater. Shopping for her is confusing. I simply sorted through the bags in my hand, and handed over the Aeropostale bag. "Exchange it," I said, and went out front to drink the coffee. It was almost time for me to go to work, so we headed out of the mall. On the way home, I gave her my debit card, and told her to pick out the rest of her stuff and put it in the back room to be wrapped.

And so my Christmas shopping is done.

I don't know what was wrong with my thinking, but yesterday, I labored under the delusion that it was Wednesday. All day. I started the day by taking the pills in the little compartment labeled 'W'. I walked out the door and went shopping with Cara. On the way home, Cara's cell rang. I was late for work. They'd changed the schedule, they told Tim. I was supposed to be there at 1. I was confused. I checked my book. I was not supposed to be there until four, according to what I'd written down. Since it was already 2:30 and we were a long, long way from home, well, I was going to be late. I drove along wondering how I could have made such a mistake. I didn't have time to figure it out, because I was rushing from the time that I hit the front door of the store. I said, "Gees, I am so sorry. I don't know how I screwed this up. I checked it before I left the store last night, just to make sure...I thought it said four." I worked all night, and then left at 9:30, went to the Walmart. Tim was taking beef on weck for his Christmas party at work. I needed horseradish. Then I headed home, put the beef in the crockpot, and visited a little with Cara and went to bed, worrying a little about how I was going to fit everything into one day. Dylan's going to be home on Friday. I haven't even gotten the tree up yet. Tim got home from work, and he climbed into bed saying, "Um. I don't need that beef until Thursday," and blearily I said, "Well, today is...oh...gees...today is only Tuesday." Dear heavens this is a crazy time of the year.

Back to the Christmas cards. Today is Wednesday, and I've still got a tree to decorate, presents to wrap, and...man.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Legacy

You know what the best feeling is in the whole wide, wide world? IMHO? It is knowing that your child conducts him/herself with honor, and that this has been done with no knowledge or input from you. That your child possesses principles and courage to stand behind those convictions.

Today, I had a glimpse of what I am leaving this world, and I can tell you that it is beautiful. Just beautiful.

Monday, December 20, 2010

thoughts wander

It's no secret that I enjoy the dogs that come to the store. There is one exuberant Newfie who comes into the store. He knows the drill. He knows that when he comes to the checkout, we'll give him a biscuit from under the counter. So I saw this big fellow heading down the aisle, tail wagging, tongue lolling, I reached down and dug out one of the large sized dog biscuits. I was waiting for him. I leaned across the counter to speak with him and give him his cookie when unexpectedly, he leapt up and gave me a big slobbery kiss on my face.

I love dogs. I do. I love that they know me, and they are glad to see me. Really.

Despite all of that, I must say...um...ick.

Cara is home, and her friend helped her move her things back home. She'll be home until March, when she heads to Korea. That will be nice. She'll need a job. We sat up talking until 10 last night (late night for me), and then I went to bed and I slept soundly until well after 8. It's been a long time since I woke up feeling as if I'd had enough sleep.

Two friends have been 'officially' diagnosed with cancer this week. Bad cancers. Man. It just seems like that stuff is everywhere. Just everywhere.

Only four more days 'til Christmas. Dear heavens. I have so much to do...

Update

Well, that young boy we tried to help out? It did not work out. Lesson to be learned here, I suppose. When someone tells you that they've been living in a tent, this means that they've probably made some poor decisions. He was a compulsive liar, blatently disrespectful of the other tenants and any rules. He was a video game addict with little ambition.

We've never evicted a tenant before, but he was a security issue, and we were concerned. Evictions can take a while, and he simply stopped paying rent as soon as he knew he was evicted. We had every landlord's worst fear. Tim is a follower of Dave Ramsey's radio show. He told the boy, "We'll pay you $200 if you are out by this weekend." The decision flies in the face of all that is fair and reasonable, doesn't it? But the benefits were that he was out by this weekend, he did not damage the apartment, (we were worried about that) and that we saved a bundle on legal fees too. Since he had stopped paying rent, we stood to lose much, much more.

Valuable life lesson learned. If a person is in a dire situation, look at them closely. You may see why.

Tim and I have both talked about this. We will never again take in a tenant because we feel sorry for him. Bob B? Yep. You can say, 'I told you so.' *waits humbly*

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not all of them are salt of the earth.

Here's a bad story from Tractor Supply. There is a fellow who considers himself a big shot in the local agricultural arena. He hires transients to pick his stuff. He has two elderly locals who help him all year around. I won't do business with him because he also hires kids to pick for him. He works like this: He pays by the quart, but when the kids hand their quarts to him, he says, "These are not full quarts." He then combines the contents of the baskets, heaping them full. In this way, he gets about 1 1/3 quarts of produce picked for the price of a quart. Before he put the produce out to sell, he removes that mound of berries, and replaces it into other baskets, turning that 3 quarts of berries back into 4 quarts of berries. Like I said, I do not do business with the man. There are plenty of folks around who are ethical and good. I will not deal with a crook who steals from the pockets of the people who work for him, yet he is quick to pull the "I'm just a simple farmer who loves the land" routine when it benefits him. He takes. He does not give back.

He is a very heavy man who has been unfailingly polite to me. He calls me 'dear' and he calls me 'honey'. This sets my teeth on edge because I think that he is an odious man, but what can I say? I call people 'hon' too, and I suppose that it could be just a habit. I give him the benefit of the doubt and just stay very guarded with him. I don't like him.

In any case, he was into the store with the elderly lady who helps him, a woman who is in her seventies. She is always poorly dressed and dirty and tired looking, and it bothers me to see her. He came up to the register, and set his things up, and said to his helper in his very important way, "Lift that up for her," gesturing to a sack of feed. I quickly said, "No. That is not necessary. I can reach," and I walked around the counter with my pricer and got the bag. He was getting some Christmas shopping done too, and I rang him up for those things, and in his careless, nonchalant way, he pushed his check at me, and called me dear. I smiled because I am paid to do so, and began to process his check. I said, in my careful voice, "I will need your ID for such a large check," and he said once more in his important voice, "Run out and get my wallet from the truck," and the elderly lady shuffled off into the cold.

I think of the words that Christ said with his own lips: "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." I know that He was referring to situations just like this one. I know this.

I watch them leave. The shuffling elderly lady pushes the cart behind him as he waddles importantly to the door. I am a licensed lay reader in the Episcopal Church, something that used to matter when I was an Episcopalian. Now I am a Methodist and it does not matter at all. But when we processed into the church, there was a pattern. The priest followed us all. His position at the back of the procession was 'the position of honor.' Unwittingly, the important farmer has got that part right. And that made me smile.

What's the opposite of salt of the earth? Pepper?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Data Collection

My next appointment at the cancer center is in early February. I'm considering going off Tamoxifen. If anyone reading this has done so, would you please contact me via e-mail? There is a link on my profile. I am collecting data right now and would like be able to speak with others who have been in my shoes.

Thanks.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Little Kids

Today, a mother and daughter came in and bought a 'creeper'. The daughter said, "So how are we going to sneak that in the house?" and the mother admitted that she did not have a clue. The daughter dashed around and came back with a king size KitKat bar. She opened her little purse and paid for it. She said to her mother, "I tell him I have a surprise for him in my room, and then I'll give him the KitKat, while you sneak his present in." The mother smiled at her daughter. "You think that will work?" she asked. "Yep. Dad's EASY. He loves KitKats," and off they went plotting away.

One of our farmers came in with his little boy, and when I saw them next, they were at the register and the father was saying, "Now, you remember, this is our secret." And the little boy opened the blue velvet jewelry case to make sure the earrings were still inside before reaching up to set them on the counter. Gary was at the other register helping out, and the little boy watched him closely as he rang up the the jewelry. Gary asked who he was buying the jewelry for, and he said, "Mommy!" and he was excited. I looked over. "Gees, Gary, I think that might be just about the luckiest mom in the world," and the little boy nodded in agreement.

I remember when the kids were small and the excitement of all of those secrets. I also remember the Christmas eve that Dylan leaned close to me and said excitedly, "I can't wait for you to open your microwave." I really miss having kids around. A lot.

Santa at Tractor Supply

Yesterday, it was about the cutest darn thing you ever saw in your life. A little boy, maybe three, three and a half was in deep conversation with his grandma, clutching a tractor that he wanted. Grandma said, "Well, you need to talk to Santa, and tell him what you want..." Our little pippersqueak stood there clutching a box, with an unconvinced look on his face, trying to decide if he should press the issue, or whether Santa was actually watching him. So I leaned across the counter and rested my chin on my hand. "You know," I said in a very confidential tone, "Santa does come in to Tractor Supply. I was pretty surprised, but there he was, Santa Claus himself, right here. He comes in when there are no children in the store." And the boy looked at me, eyes wide with the wonder of such a thing. He said, very seriously, "Well, when you see him, tell him that Cole wants this tractor..." I said, "I surely will. I will tell Santa."

Oh, my gosh. It was so stinking cute it made me grin all day long, every single time I thought of it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I worked today, and I made it by the skin of my teeth. I'd managed to get stuck in the driveway, at the end, where the snow plow leaves that 'hump' of snow. I dashed back to grab the snow shovel, and dug my tires out. I tossed the shovel under the pine tree, hopped in the car, and "rocked it" out. I backed up, got a new start, and made it out of the driveway. I ran to the store, and Jeremy was waiting, a little anxiously. It was just him and me for the morning. We had two people out sick. If I would not have showed, he'd have been on his own and that would have been a nightmare. I burst through the front doors. "Sorry, sorry, sorry! I got stuck and had to dig myself out." "No, you're here, we're good," and I kept on running past him to punch in and grab my vest.

The customers were great though. A woman asked me where our rain gear was, and I directed her. "See that umbrella back there?" and she turned to me with the biggest smile on her face. "Yes," she said. "Yes, I can and last month, I couldn't have seen it." After being told that nothing could be done for her vision, she headed down south for a second opinion. It was worth the trip, because now she can see.


I was waiting on another customer, and she commented about how busy it was. "It is, but you know what? People are awfully patient. This is a good place to work, and I even am enjoying the Christmas rush." The man behind her looked at me. "That's because you're dealing with farmers," he said. "Not everyone who walks in the door is a farmer, but you get a lot of 'em."
I smiled. "You're right. I've always said that the people that I deal with every day are the salt of the earth, and it makes all the difference in the world." It does, too.


Remember Mr. M? He popped into the store today. "I really liked your last article," he said. "It reminded me of my dad." He then went on to tell me that every hunting season, he still wears his dad's hunting vest, a way to keep his dad close when he hunts. I looked at him, white headed, a beard that would make Santa jealous. It's like that, I guess. You hold those you love in your heart, and they are there for always. I'm not sure how long Mr. M's father is gone, but he's an old fellow himself, so I'm assuming quite some time, yet still, he honors him. I got a lot of feedback about that article. It was about men, and sons, and hunting, and the circle of life. Men were reminded of their own fathers, and the remembering made them glad. I'm glad to know that I live among such good people.

There was a woman in the store today, and she hollered at her child from the moment she walked in the door until the moment she left. Not abusive. She just yelled. He didn't listen. She got louder. He didn't listen any better. It was so awful that when she got in line, customers just stepped back and let her go first. She smiled at me, and continued calling her boy, who continued to ignore his mother. I wondered that she didn't simply stop yelling and go back and pick him up. He was no older than three. If she can't control him now, she's going to have her hands full when the child is 10. She finally left, still yelling at her kid (who was still ignoring her...)

I saw Mr. L. and he was buying some hardware. I suggest that he might want to consider a different Christmas present for his wife, Debbie. He said, "Nope. Debbie would rather go to a hardware store than a department store any day. When she proposed to me, I snapped her right up for that very reason!" I laughed. His wife did propose to him. She'd told me that herself, and it made me laugh when she related the story. He said, "I was just glad that she didn't want me to change my name." They are the nicest, most ordinary people you ever want to meet despite the fact that they live in a mansion that looks like an old victorian style mansion, however it is so state of the art that the windows close themselves when it begins to rain. It's got a library that is three stories high or some such thing. But the two of them act like anybody else.

I got my grades. 3 As and 1 B, and much to my surprise, a C. But it's okay. I had that one coming, I suppose. I'd run out of steam, and I simply didn't study for the final, at least no nearly as hard as I should have. I knew that, going in there, but darn. I thought I knew my topic a little better than that. But I passed. That's good enough. It's been a stressful semester with a lot of stuff going on.

Close Call

You know how sometimes you don't even realize how close you came to disaster, because the disaster actually had not happened? Well, consider this. Yesterday was the last day of school for me. I had three finals starting at 8 AM. The weather has been horrible, so basically, my intention was to be prepared for anything. I set my alarm for 5:30. I went to bed, and I slept surprisingly soundly. I woke up at 5:10 and immediately thought of the weather. I leapt from the bed to check the driveway and discovered that we'd gotten more snow, so I decided to simply get up and get going, and allow myself some extra drive time. I needed it too. The roads were bad on the way to school and they were bad coming home. (I stopped to check on a young man who had flipped his Jeep.)

I had my lovely relaxed afternoon, and I went to bed a little bit early. I was tired out. A lot of excitement this week. I sat down on the side of the bed and reached for my alarm clock. That's when I realized just how close I'd come to disaster. My alarm was set for 5:30 PM. If I had not waked up early, I would have overslept. The alarm would not have woke me up.

I'm very grateful for those small miracles of my life.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Joy

I am sitting at the computer desk at 2:19 PM in my flannel green plaid pajama pants and my lastest thrift store find - a lovely oversized Woolrich sweater, green wool. I have a rather large glass of wine beside me that I am sipping.

Here's the wonderful thing. Classes are done. Those finals are out of the way. I was shocked to find that I may have screwed one up, badly, but I don't think that I'm anywhere close to failing the course. I picked up the last of my graded assignments and read the teacher's comments walking down the hall. On a paper I'd written on goal setting, the comment was: "I appreciate your honesty, candor, and willingness to look at yourself. However, I want to tell you to be kind to yourself, allow mistakes, and to experience joy."

I pondered that as I headed to my next final. That final was a hand written essay. I do not compose well with a pen and paper. I need the computer. My fingers fly as quickly as my thoughts, and I rearrange paragraphs and rechoose the words, I study it, and change it again. To write with a pencil, to formulate what you are trying to say and then write a coherent essay...well...there were lots of erasures. It's not my best work. Writing is not how I think. I need a key board. Remember that essay? That last one that I had agonized over for a couple weeks, finally rewriting it after work, sitting up until 3 AM to finish it, heading to school at 8, and then doing a days worth of classes on little sleep? The essay, if you care to be reminded, was on the marginalization of men. That teacher had commented, "Maybe it's the pendulum thing; it swings farther in reaction that it will when things settle down. Great paper." And I received my final A in the class.

I finished that written essay for the final exam, and then I headed out the door to the last exam of the day. I was supposed to have taken that on Monday, but could not. I had arranged to take it on Tuesday, but school was closed, and so I took it today, because tomorrow, I have to work. When I finished that, I walked to the library to e-mail Tim and let him know I was on my way home. I then walked out into the heavy snow, and I went to my car, and for the last time this year, drove home from college.

I thought on things as I drove. The teacher's comments, school in general. I take school very seriously, but there is another part that perhaps the teachers do not see. There is joy there, real joy in me. Joy that I can, and am, doing this thing. Joy that while I am learning a profession, I'm also learning a heck of a lot about myself. I have been encouraged by the honest assessments of my teachers. I have begun to view myself as a writer, because they tell me that I am. One teacher's quiet discussion made me see, for the first time in 53 years, that my job is not to be the 'mother of the world.' I don't have to take care of everything, or fix everything, or help everyone. All these things...they bring me joy. So much joy that I've got tears, and it's not the wine.

On Monday, I missed class. I had a court appearance to determine negligence in a 3 1/2 year old car accident. I was terrified, because strange decisions come out of the court room, things that make no sense to me. Although I had been rear-ended by a truck, that driver insisted that I'd not had my turn signal on. That impact pushed me into the path of another truck, and I was hit once again, at 55 mph. It was a violent crash, and still, all these years later, turning left in heavy traffic sometimes leaves me shaking.

What do I know about myself? I know that I use my turn signals, consistantly. It was an awful feeling, to be accused, but not able to do more than to offer up a weak, '...but I always use my turn signals...it's my habit to do so. It's one of my pet peeves..." I listened to the young boy who had been behind me say that he had not seen my turn signal. However, he also stated that he did not see any brake lights, at the same time insisting that I'd slowed so suddenly he did not have time to react. He wound up his testimony with the words, "I looked up, and I was on her..." His attorney insisted that he'd 'bumped' me, and that I chose to drive into the path of the truck. It began to seem a little like Alice in Wonderland. His lawyer even argued that the swamp I was visiting was 'waaaaaay over here somewhere,' as if my choice to be on this road was the cause of the accident. Long story short, it was determined that the negligence was not mine. This nightmare is now behind me. There's another joy, right there, although, I feel dreadfully for the young man.

I had, for the first time, the opportunity to speak to the man in the truck that had hit me head on. I said to Mr. G, "I feel sorry for the young man. You and I, we've a lifetime of dealing with hard times. I've a notion that this is Mr. A's first experience with hard time, and I don't think he has the experience to keep this in perspective. This is probably very traumatic for him, way more for him than it even is for us." Mr. G. agreed, which led us to a talk about hard times and what is learned from them. There was joy there, too. Not just in the verdict, but also from the conversation itself. In the excited hug and squeeze that I got from my own lawyer when the verdict was read, and my head dropped in thanksgiving. In the big sweeping hug that I got from Mr. G's lawyer. "We knew it," he said, "We knew that this was not your fault." I did not see young Mr. A or his bristling angry mother leave the court room, but my prayers went after them anyways.

All these things...there's joy here, real joy.

I sit here, and the trial is done. The semester is done. I have a glass of wine, and you know, I can do what I like. If I wanted to take a nap, I could. If I wanted to work on my column, I could do that. If I want to read a book, I can do that too, for the weather outside is truly frightful, and this lady is not leaving the house tonight, because she does not have to do that either. This is my night. I am free to do what I choose, and the luxury of that, oh my God! the luxury of it brings me such great joy I can not tell you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Burned Out

Cannot bring myself to study any more or care any less. I am ashamed, but it's the way of it. Totally burned out.

School is Canceled

The weather warning for today.

A LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF LAKE- EFFECT SNOW ARE FORECAST THAT WILL MAKE TRAVEL HAZARDOUS. LAKE- EFFECT SNOW TYPICALLY FALLS AS NARROW BANDS OF HEAVY SNOW WITHIN A LARGER AREA OF LIGHTER SNOW. SNOWFALL RATES OF OVER AN INCH PER HOUR ARE LIKELY UNDER THE HEAVIER BANDS. VISIBILITIES VARY GREATLY AND CAN DROP TO ZERO WITHIN MINUTES. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL... KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT... FOOD... BLANKETS AND A CELLULAR PHONE IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

They canceled school for today. Normally, this would be a good thing, but it's finals week. Erg. I wanted to get them out of the way.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Breathe

It's been a stressful time in my life. Period. And suddenly, shockingly, one of the biggest stresses has been lifted from my shoulders.

Just gone.

I walked out today into the snow, and for the first time in a long time, I looked up. I looked around me. It was snowing again, but this time, this time, it seemed beautiful, and I drove home in it.

Just two more days, and I am done with this semester.

And then we will begin to celebrate Christmas.

Today at the Tractor Supply

Yesterday, I worked. It was a fun day, like always. I really do get a kick out of that job, out of the people there (the customers and the employees too). No funny stories to relate, not really, just a simple gladness, on the part of everyone. I saw friends there. Doug came to the front of the store carrying two gas cans.

"No," I said, "You are not getting gas cans for Patsy for Christmas! Might I suggest a nice piece of jewelry?"

Doug got a confused look on his face. "Well, I've already bought her all the power tools I want."

We saw Dave and his boy. They've had flooding where they live. I knew that because I saw his wife the day before. We talked about jobs. Everyone is working, but there is this sense that everything could change in a minute. Do you suppose we'll ever get back to the point where people can simply rely on their jobs again?

I saw kids with their fathers buying gifts for their mothers. I saw kids with their mothers buying gifts for their fathers. I pointed out barn boots for kids to one woman and the next thing I know she was on the cell phone and getting sizes for half the county, seems like.

We had our Christmas party for the store, and that was fun too. Lots of laughing. Good food. I delivered gifts from Santa. There are so many good stories from that store. Like the time that Jeremy went to the freezer to get his mac and cheese for lunch, and discovered it was gone. Stouffer's mac and cheese is the 'bomb' apparently, and so when he found the empty package in the garbage, he went ballistic. He strode out on the sales floor and demanded of Gary, "What'd you have for lunch?" Gary replied, "A baloney sandwich and yogurt." Jeremy replied "Okay..." and headed off to Bob to ask him the same question. Bob said, "I went home for lunch," and Jeremy stormed off to find Jessica who was on the register. When he posed the question to her, she said, "Oh. I had mac and cheese. It was the best mac and cheese ever...man...that stuff was good," and she went on for some time while he stood in total shock and disbelief. "YOU ATE MY MAC AND CHEESE!!!" he finally hollered in frustration. It seems that Jess had brought some frozen meal for lunch, and grabbed Jeremy's in mistake, not remembering exactly what she had grabbed that morning to bring in. As Mark put it, with a sigh, "Yes, there was quite a bit of drama about that mac 'n cheese." All I know, is when Jeremy told the story one freight night, all of us were howling, about wetting our pants. He was still pretty irritated about it.

Ike got a pack of bear claws, for the most creative late-to-work story ever. He'd caught a bear in a trap. Mark got a package of metallic sun glasses in shapes. He has quite a job keeping an eye on us and I never fail to get nervous. When I get nervous, I do dumb things. This means, if I'm going to do stupid things, it never fails that the boss is standing right next to me. I thought if he went incognito, wearing sunglasses, I wouldn't know it was him, and I'd stop doing dumb things. The cashiers got 'Tension Buster' Celestial Seasonings tea. It's been very busy and hectic at the store, and at the end of shifts, we generally head to the office with our drawers looking like war refugees, haggard and stressed and ready to go home. Bob-the-builder assembles stuff. I thought perhaps he went through withdrawal when he left the job, so I got him a jigsaw puzzle. Gary. Dang. That man knows everyone in the county by name it seems like. And they know him. I got him an address book. Around and around it went, laughing, telling stories prompted by the gifts. It really was a fun time.

When we were done, we played a rousing game of 'Fact or Crap', which was a lot of fun, and then the party was over.

By Wednesday, finals will be over, and it will be time to focus on Christmas. I haven't done one thing. Not one thing. No wrapping. No cards. No cookies. The to-do list is getting longer and longer, and not one check mark on it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today at Tractor Supply

Today, at Tractor Supply, we were busier then you can possibly believe. I worked steadily, and the customers never stopped. I left at 6, an hour later than usual, and still we were busy. It was a fun day, none the less. People were good natured, and there was a lot of laughing. People loved the pooping reindeer at the check out counter. They are little plastic reindeer which 'poop' chocolate candies. That made people laugh. I said, "It ain't Christmas until the reindeer poop." I sold quite a number of them.

Like I said, it was busy, and suddenly there was a break in my line, just for a moment. Then a man on crutches came swinging into my aisle. He was about 3, 3 1/2 feet tall, one legged, and I think that he may have been walking on the knee of the one leg remaining. I immediately thought 'IED' and 'war wound'. The thing was, he was beautiful, really, a good looking young man, bearded, big brown eyes. And in those eyes, there was not one bit of self pity. Not one bit. He bought some clamps for a battery. He was cheerful, and a talker, like me. When I went out into the parking lot later, I saw him working on a car. Then he hopped into it, and he drove off.

You know, I watched this, and what I felt was mad. Unaccountably mad. I was angry for what this young man lost, even though it didn't seem to bother him. Something else also made me mad. I thought of all the able bodied young men I know, who find excuses for themselves, feel sorry for themselves, complain constantly about their bad breaks. "It's not fair. It's not fair." They're 'getting screwed.' That young man knew about bad breaks. He also knew that life is what you make it. It would do us all good to stop right this minute, and consider that.

Today, a man with a bandaged face came to my register with his wife. I looked at him and said, "Tell me, did you fall? Tear a tear duct, and split your forehead?" And his one uncovered eye surveyed me in surprise. "Yeah," he said, cautiously. "Your boy was in here to pick up your layway yesterday. He said you didn't want to go to the hospital until he got home from work. I ain't going to tell you what he called you either, but he was darn worried about you." And the man smiled as his wife said, "I know what he called him." I said, "Well, I'm glad you're up and around." His wife said that he had not only split his forehead and torn that tear duct, but that he'd also torn one of the eye muscles. I told them, "I can tell you that when your boy was describing the injuries, every single person in line winced, me included." His wife was studying me as I talked and handed their bags to the husband. Suddenly, she asked me my last name. I told her. She grabbed my arm. "I read your articles and they are so wonderful. They usually make me cry." She was quite happy to meet me. They walked out of the store, and I heard her telling her husband about me. I heard him say, "Yeah, what about it?" and she hissed, "That's her," and he said, "What? That woman? She's the writer?" and she said, "Yes!" and then they were out the door. It used to embarrass me. I never knew what to say, but now I guess I'm used to it. Yes. My name is Debby and I'm the writer.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This and That.

Got another test knocked out today. I think that I did okay.

We're bracing for another storm to hit beginning Saturday night. Oy. I'm about tired of winter.

A young couple came in tonight, she very, very pregnant. "When's the baby due?" I asked, and they said, the 19th. They live far out in the jing weeds. I said, "Wow. I'll bet you're keeping a close eye on the weather..." The man explained that they had a good four wheel drive, and that he'd also finished his emergency responder's class. "If I have to, I can deliver that baby myself!" he said. His wife said, "Um. No." They headed out the door laughing. "Bring the baby in sometime," I said, and they said that they would.

Today a woman came in and bought a bunch of gift cards. I commented that somebody was going to be happy at Christmas. She said, "Our farm got hit by the tornadoes last summer. People came from all over to help. We're remembering them this Christmas." And she got that emotional look that people get when they've come through a hard time and discovered how great people are.

A little girl came in with her Grandpa. They did some Christmas shopping for Grandma. The little girl made everyone in line laugh, when she announced, "Last year my grandpa bought jewelry for my grandma, a necklace and some earrings and SHE NEVER EVEN WORE THEM ONCE!" And she got a very disapproving look on her little face. "This year I picked the necklace out, that's how I know she'll wear it."

That's today. Headed to bed. Morning comes early.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


This is heavy snow. Driving in this stuff makes me nervous.


This, my friends, is a white out. You will see that you cannot see much beyond the hood of the car. Driving in this stuff makes me sick to my stomach.
*****

This morning, they did have school after all. I was driving in, and went to make my left turn. I heard the hiss of the anti-lock brakes, and the car continued on past the road I meant to turn down. "Well," I said, "Why don't I just take the scenic route this day?" So I turned off the turn signal and continued on, just like I had meant to do that. The route is a little longer, and surprisingly, it was quite icy compared to my usual route. I made it to class about five minutes late.




On the way to school today, I sweated bullets once again about that essay. To my mind, I wasn't sure if it proved my case, and so I worried. I finally gave myself a little mental 'shake', and said, "Listen. It is what it is." For whatever reason, this essay just about killed me, but I know for a fact that I gave it my very best effort. I figured that it was a good solid B, most likely, and once again, I told myself "A B is not a bad thing. Grow up!" I saw a woman from that class in the hall earlier in the day. She looked sick. Really, she looked like I felt, so I stopped. I said, "Well, are you ready for today," and she said, "No." And I said, "Me either." I told her about my late decision to totally rewrite it. She said, "You're kidding!" I said, "No. I'm not. So I'm pretty sure that this is going to be my worst essay, and I'm sick about doing the thing in front of the class, but I can tell you for sure: I'll be darn glad to have this class done and over." Turns out that she's writing two essays simultaneously. The one due today, and the one due maybe three weeks ago. I stared. "Your essay for your presentation is not done?" and she said, "I've never turned in a paper on time." I was shocked. "Really? Do you get in trouble?" and she said, "No." Huh. Who knew? Ah, well. It's done.




In any case, I gave my presentation about the marginalization of men, and wound up with "Devaluing half a population kept women captive for hundreds of years. Now freed, we must keep our eyes open that the same devaluation doesn't make captives of the other half." And I headed to my seat. A young girl said, "You really should think about going in to the field of psychology. You'd be good at it." That was sweet. The teacher said, "She really does a marvelous job, and that surprised me too. At the end of the class, I said to Mrs. B., "Thank you. I really enjoyed this class." She said, "I really enjoyed having you in my class. The older students really stimulate discussion." I'll miss her. And the class.



I have four more projects due, and then I'm done. I can count them on one hand. That's exciting.

It's done.

Holy guacamole, Batman. It's done. I got the darned 'persuasive argument' done. Last night, after I went to bed, I could not sleep. It was not right. I was just convinced of it. This afternoon, after lunch, I decided to redo it. The whole paper. The whole subject. I got my material. I left the library. I went to work, and when I got home from work at 8:30, I sat down and wrote me a paper.

The lady at the library advised me not to change at the last minute. I really thought that I shouldn't either, but then it just seemed the more that I thought about it, the less choice I had. So I redid it. It is done.

It is now 3 AM. I have to get up at 7. I'm going to bed all you fine people.

PS. It's snowing again. What do you wanna bet me that tomorrow school will be closed. After I sat up all night writing this paper.

Gah!

Here's a funny story for you. This afternoon, I walked out of the library, all sick about this paper. It was snowing so hard it was like a white out. I stopped, and thought, "Gees, I've got to drive home in this mess. It was heck getting here this morning and now, it's going to be heck getting home." Even as I stood there thinking my grumpy thoughts, a young man bursts out the door. He holds his arms skyward and twirls a little and says, "Isn't this beautiful? Just like a winter wonderland." I looked at him, and, people, I'm telling you, for a brief moment there were homicidal tendencies in my heart. I laughed out loud, and said, "What? Are you nuts? The only wonder I've got is if this will stop," and we laughed together walking to our cars.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Here's your Weather Watch Wednesday, BB!

This morning, much to our surprise, we woke up to another 10 inches of snow. Tim wants you to know that this is the fifth day that he's been out shoveling and plowing and each time he's been moving at least six inches of snow. The forecast? 12 more inches by tomorrow morning. He says that we'll have to begin shoveling the roofs off. Just for measuring purposes, that white board running beneath the roof? It's six inches wide.
The driveway has been plowed or shoveled every day. Couldn't guess that from the pictures, huh?


That 'hump' in the middle of the trellis. That's the top of my bird bath, filled with snow. The thing is probably 18 inches high.
No. They have not canceled school. Let me get going.
PS: It's still snowing.
So. What's it doing in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm getting there....

Did not take pictures today.

Did take one final exam. Am confident that I did not 'bomb' it.

Did work on my paper today, for several hours. I am sure that it's presentation will not go well. It discusses what I refer to as the 'lost boys,' those young men who are, age wise, young men, but behave more as little boys, irresponsible, petulant, unmotivated, expecting to be taken care of and whining bitterly when they are not. My paper compares their attitudes against the attitudes of those who have come before them. How was that lost? What has changed? I think that it is a sound paper. Not spectacular. It will not be a popular paper because as much as I stress the fact that these 'lost boys' are a subgroup, that not all of this generation is lost, my listeners will listen to this paper and feel angry and misunderstood. I can't come up with anything else, however. Not at this late date. It is due on Thursday. I've got about six pages of an eight-to-ten page paper written.

I did not stay for my last class. The weather was getting pretty blustery. After spending most of the day in a computer lab, my legs were so cold that I could barely stand the pains. I made an executive decision to come home and work there.

Tomorrow, I will go back to school, and I will hit that paper hard one more time. Hopefully, it will be done. I will go to my class, and begin studying for a final on Tuesday. Wednesday, I have a final essay to write (they begin with the citations. If there is an error there, you've failed, and they don't even read your exam. I then have one more final exam, and (finally) I will be done. Wednesday afternoon, the semester will be officially done for me.

On one hand, that doesn't seem like such a long time. On the other hand, it seems like it will never get here.

Well, let me get back to it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow. Snow. And more snow.

We've gotten about 12 inches of snow in the last 24 hours. That was added on to the 8 inches of snow that we had laying on the ground since Saturday. It shows no sign of letting up. The schools were all closed in our county, but they did not close the college. I weighed the situation carefully, and decided that since my road was plowed, I would make the trip. It got worse as I went, and by the time that I got to the town where the college is, the roads were truly awful. Worst of all? The college parking lot needed to be plowed so badly that people were getting stuck. They should have closed the campus. After class, I drove back home, in white out conditions for probably half the trip. By the time I hit my neck of the woods, it was about an hour before I was supposed to go to work, so I did not bother to even go home. I got a hair cut, and I went to work. It's still snowing. By the time that I came out of work, I had another six inches of snow to brush off my car. I drove up our hill with my heart in my throat. It was snowing like crazy, and visibility was virtually nil, but you didn't dare stop lest you never get started again.

They are calling for another 4-10 inches in the next 24 hours. Watching it come down, I'd have to say that's a conservative estimate.

They closed the campus tonight. If it doesn't stop, I can't imagine that they'd have school tomorrow.

Yeah. Tomorrow, I'll take pictures.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Today, I was able to go to church for the second week in a row. I've given up my Sunday School teaching spot, because it is just too frustrating to have to find a sub if I'm working. I gave up worship leader for the same reason, and it's been bugging me. Those things are part of my own identity. I've been a Sunday School teacher for most of the time that I've attended church, and it feels strange not to be one. In any case, I was able to teach class today, and I do enjoy the kids. I've known most of them since they were wee and now some of them are in high school. There's one boy whose voice has changed. Each time that he speaks, it startles me a little. But the class was lively, and fun, and short too, since we are practicing for the Christmas pagent as well. As the kids left, I lingered a little, to water our plant. As one of the boys headed out the door, he called out, " 'Bye. Love you!" and then stopped. Surprised. He hadn't meant to say that. I looked at him. I've known him since he was a pippersqueak, and now he's as tall, or maybe even taller than me. A little flustered, he said, "Well. We're all family. It's okay, I guess." I looked at him, with my watering can in hand, and I said, "I love you too." He flashed me a smile, and then was on his way.

I will miss those little interactions.

Dang It.

Gees. I'm just struck by a great big bolt of stupid. I'm trying to write another flipping debate. I'm so everlastingly sick of debates. I can debate another person. I am tired of debating myself. I've begun this stupid essay a dozen times, and it doesn't work. It simply doesn't work. I began again tonight. It doesn't work.

I stopped. I am discouraged. I couldn't find my corkscrew (Cara?) but Tim bought me another while he was downtown. He knew an emergency when he saw it. I had three glasses of wine tonight, while weeping over "The Grapes of Wrath".

Now I am tired. A little drunk. But I have a topic.

Too tipsy to write it though.

Dang.

Late Edit: And did the 'Essay Writing Elves' come in the night to type busily and complete this project for me, leaving it laying on my computer desk? No. They did not. Stupid elves. I know for a fact that the shoemakers aren't keeping them that busy. And just how many cookies does the world need?

And the topic still holds up when scrutinized in the dawn's early light.

Thank goodness.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Well, F-Day must come next...Friday!

Our company will be leaving today. It was a nice visit. He went to class with me, and then we stopped for lunch on the way home. Even though we do not see each other regularly, there is a comfortableness between us, and we can sit and talk for...well...just about forever, I imagine. We've never run out of words yet.

I had to work last night. An elderly couple came in the store. When I'm cashiering, I have to remain within view of my register, but he came walking up and said, "Where would I find your nuts and bolts and stuff like that?" I said, "Walk down this aisle right here, and you see that big banner at the end of that aisle coming off the left? The one that says 'hardware'?" I assured him that if he walked down that aisle, he'd find more nuts and bolts than he knew what to do with. And they laughed a little and headed off. I was puttering around, facing things, keeping a close eye on my register just in case it began to do tricks or something, and the couple headed back up front.

The man held up two large bags of washers and said, "Well, I got a washer or two..."

I said to his wife, "Do you suppose now he'll do laundry?" in an interested way.

She assured me that he would not.

I sighed and said, "Well, if my Tim ever did the laundry, I'd be thinking someone else was wearing his pants that day." And we laughed together.

After I was done at the store, I needed to head over to Walmart. Cara had come home the previous night, and then, after everyone had gone to bed, she'd gotten in her car and headed off the hill. She'd sat up late, talking with our visitor. He'd mentioned an old picture of the two of them, taken back when she was about three. They were walking away from my camera, hand and hand on the beach, his head inclined towards her as they talked. Their bond was there from the beginning, truly, because Cara had that particular picture in her room. So she'd sneaked out to the Walmart at well after midnight and she got that picture copied, got a card and a nice frame for it. I had to stop in and pick the picture up.

So I'd stood in line with my envelope and its sweet contents. I heard a jocular voice from the back of the line. (Why is it that every Walmart has 142 registers, but never have more than three open at any given time?) Anyways, that voice called out, "HEY! It's the lady from Tractor Supply!" I craned my neck, peering around the people between us. It was my new friends from the store. "Honestly," I said. "Apparently, you folks will shop just about ANYWHERE." And the line laughed. We exchanged a few retorts standing in line, having a good time calling back and forth and making general spectacles of ourselves while the line laughed with us. Finally, it was my turn, and I paid for my things. "Well, I suppose that there are some things you can't get at Tractor Supply, like food, maybe, so I'll overlook this little faux pas, but I expect to see you back at Tractor Supply." And they told me that our store was one of their favorites. I nodded and said, "Good..." I picked up my envelope and headed out. I stopped, and turned around to the cashier and said in a loud but confidential tone, "You need to watch those two back there. They were in MY line just a couple hours ago. They are trouble, plain and simple." And the line laughed once more, my new friends the loudest of all.

I came home with the picture Cara had made. It was such a sweet picture. One man stooping slightly to hold a little girl's hand as they walked along the beach. I remembered the Little Mermaid swimsuit very well. It didn't fit into the frame Cara had picked up but I had two matching frames, and I gave those to him. You see. that morning, I'd taken a picture of the two of them walking through the swirling snow to her car. She had to head back to college. They'd been walking away from my camera, holding hands, and talking still, his head inclined towards her. It was such a sweet picture, and the changed seasons made me want to cry.

Friday, December 3, 2010

E-Day, the day after D-Day

Yesterday, I went to class. It was D-Day. We handed in those assignments one right after another until the only thing left was our presentations.

Each group was supposed to do three presentations. There were two of us. So I said to Procrastination Girl, "Who's doing the final presentation?" She looked at me in her passively helpful way and said, "Really, it doesn't matter to me. I can do it." I knew full well that she did not want to, not really, because she's nervous about speaking before groups, but I'd asked her straight out. She did what she has done from the start of this project. Offer to help, and then not follow through. I'd written the whole report. She'd corrected some equipment names but hadn't even bothered to respond to the final e-mail with the finished report. She made a poster. As she sat there looking wide eyed and anxious, waiting for me to take the final presentation, I just thought, "No." So I looked at her and said, "Well, if you really don't mind, it would be a relief if you took the third presentation. Thanks. I appreciate it." And I went back to my desk and sat down.

I suppose that it was not fair. I'd been supportive and nurturing and encouraging right along, and to suddenly change gears so to speak, to not be affected by her helpless anxiety wasn't fair. Still, when it came time for presentations, I heard my name being called by the teacher. I looked over. The teacher asked, "Are you presenting twice?" I said, "Well, I was under the impression that Rachel was doing two..." and the teacher said, "That was supposed to have been decided..." and I thought things that I could not say. Rachel stood there with an anxious expression on her face as the teacher made the decision in my moment of speechlessness. "Debby, you're presenting twice then."

Arg.

But it's done.

And it feels good to be done.

One more week of class.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

D-Day

December 2nd. It's here.

My projects are due. (check)

Done. (check)

Ready to be handed in. (Check)

Presentation ready. (check)

House cleaned. (Well, it's better...half a check)

Bed in spareroom cleared, ironing hidden in my 'office'. (check)

Ham and potatoes and onion simmering in the crock pot with a stick of butter, ready to be made into a cream of potato soup tonight when I get home from school. (check)

Company coming. (check)

Cara coming home for the evening. (check).

Really.

I'm about as ready as I'm going to be.

Well.

Except for the fact that I'm sitting here at the computer in my bathrobe, still finishing my coffee.

Other than that, though, I'm ready.

Company

So, yesterday, I was cleaning the house, ripping stuff apart, rearranging furniture and dusting big time. I heard a crashing out front of the house, and I thought 'Oh, good, the snowplow's going through.' But I didn't hear the rest of the rumbling that one expects to hear when the snow plow goes by. So I stopped what I was doing and looked out the window to see a Suburu stationwagon driving through our yard. He'd lost control on the road, and tore through the stones around the garden that surrounds two large oaks, missing those oaks by no more than a foot. He'd shot past the trees and out the other side of the garden. Shaken, he drove to the driveway and stopped, getting out to survey the damage.

I put on some boots and headed out. "Are you okay?" I asked.

He looked shocked. "Yes. I thought I was going to hit those trees head on. Scared myself." He looked at the yard. "I never expected that the plow would not have gone through yet."

"Yeah, I know, I started off for school, but the roads were bad enough that I simply turned around and came back home. That was more than two hours ago, and it's still snowing. Is your car okay?"

He looked under his it. "I can't believe that I didn't tear something up. I figured I'd be losing all kinds of fluids after plowing through those rocks. It seems alright, though. I really can't believe that after all that, I'm still going out hunting." He looked around and said, "Hey, I'll be back in the spring to fix those rocks back the way they were."

"Nah. Don't worry about it. I can set my own rocks back. I'm glad that you're okay."

He said, "Well, I guess I'll go hunting then. Maybe I'd better slow it down."

"Sounds like a good idea to me." We waved and I headed back for the house as he headed back to his car.

That's life in the boonies.

The road still is not cleared off.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snow Day

It's been raining here for the last two days. Raining hard, too. This morning, that rain has turned to snow, and it is coming down hard. I went out and swept the snow off the car and started it, early too, allowing myself extra time for the inclimate weather.

Heading out, the slush on the roads was bad and things were slick. When I got to the road that takes me off the hill, one look told me, "Yeah. Not today."

I turned around and headed back. Although I could have taken another route off the hill, the detour would have taken extra time. It was late enough that I'd probably have been quite late for that 50 minute class. I sent an e-mail to the teacher explaining what had happened. Probably for the best. I've got a lot of stuff I can be doing in this house. Let me get up from this computer and do it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

*cough* *splutter* *gasp*

Today, I put the finishing touches on four projects due Thursday. I have one presentation to finish up. I got my test back, and it was a B. I have to tell you that I was not even upset about that. There is way too much going on right now. I'm dancing as fast as I can. I have to write a 10 page essay this weekend. Two exams by Tuesday. A friend who has just found out that he has cancer is coming in for a couple of days. I am sure this will be an emotional visit. Another friend with metatastic breast cancer finds out the results of some important tests on Friday. But next week is the final week of classes. I am strongly considering skipping the final exam for English Comp and just taking a B. I am so everlastingly tired.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Be Vewy, Vewy Qwiet...

Tim got up very early to drive to Mike's house and go hunting. Tim loves hunting. So does Mike. Is it genetic? Evidence in this house seems to point to 'yes'. Mike could not go hunting because he'd taken his doe and buck during archery season. That's what happens when you get way too good at your hobby. So he took his father out to a 'hot spot' he'd scoped out with a trail cam before the season started.

I got home from school to see Tim's truck back. Mike's truck was also in the driveway.

"That's a good sign," I thought to myself.

I got out of my car and noted that Mike's deer cart was mudded up.

"That's a good sign," I thought to myself.

I walked past Tim's truck and peeked into the bed. His tow strap was there, and it was blooded up.

"That's a good sign," I thought to myself.

I walked into the house and Tim said, in a careless way, "Grab the camera. I want to you to get a picture of my nice doe."

I looked at him. "You can't fool me," I said. "You got a buck and it's a good one. That's the exact same line you pulled on me when you got that one," and I nodded at the buck on the wall."

Mike said, in a mournful way, "Nah. It's a doe."

I said, "Nope. It's a buck."

And they both said "Doe," one more time. And I answered "a deer, a female deer, re, a drop of golden suuuuuuun..."

"That's a good sign," I thought to myself as I got the camera.



Yep. They were lying to me. Tim got a very nice buck.
Mike is a good deer guide.



The deer had a broken antler on one side, so it is not something we'll be paying to get mounted and hang on the wall. I laughed and said, "Gees, Mike, you think of everything, don't you?"

Goals

Busy, busy, busy.

One of the papers that I've been working on is my own personal goals. We had to write them up a few weeks back. Now we are looking at them once again. Have they changed?

Mine have. Interestingly enough, I'll discard most of mine. I've discovered that I am not difficult to get along with. I need to adjust my expectations of others perhaps. I also need to adjust my expectations for myself. I also need to be careful not to fall into the mothering role. I have taken the advisor's words to heart, and I've really started examining not only my classroom performance, but my life.

Know what? I have discovered that I am not the root of all trouble. I've also discovered that I am likeable. Sounds stupid, but I did not know these things about myself. Am I perfect? No. Do I have to be? No. Is anybody? No again. I've set down a lot of guilt this semester, guilt that I've been carrying around for many years. Sometimes, I sit by myself and I watch people, and I do not wonder what they are thinking when they look at me. It doesn't matter. I smile at them, and there is no fear in it, no self doubt.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Elsie

Remember that pink scarf? Elsie, the knitter, came into the store yesterday for her birdseed.

The first time she'd seen me at the register, she'd peered up at me closely and said, "Are you that Debby who writes in the paper?" I'd said, "Yes," and she said, "I love your stories. I often read them and think that I should call you. It just seems like you'd be so easy to talk to." She was lonely. I could tell. I'd told her to feel free to call me, and then promptly thought no more about it. She had though. I'd written a column about that pink scarf for the paper. The gist of it was that I thought that I'd learned a valuable lesson from cancer, about the importance of people in my life, yet as soon as I got back into the serious business of living, it happened once more: I was so busy that I didn't have time for visiting, and for phone calls. I had a stack of cards on my dining room table waiting to be filled out (hi, Jayne...) but no time to do it. I was studying and working and...well...then an elderly lady walked into the store with a scarf that she had knit thinking of me. Fringed, thinking of me. Driven to the store, thinking of me. The gift is dear to me. I was touched. I was also shamed at my own busy-ness. I vowed once more not to forget the importance of the people in my life.

Yesterday, I greeted her with a big smile. "Hi, Elsie!" and she smiled shyly. "Thank you for your article. I was so surprised." I told her that every word of it was true, that that pink scarf reminded me of something very basic, something that I seemed to have a hard time remembering. I thanked her once more for my scarf and for the gentle lesson that God had given me through her busy little hands.

We clutched each other's hands, for just a moment, and then she had to go. There were customers waiting.

Everyone needs to feel like they matter, and I went back to work vowing to do better at remembering that.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day Dreams


A couple days back, over at BB's, I left a comment about a picture of her cow, Bay Lulic and the little calf that she'd fostered. What a strange world the internet is, that I should know the name of a cow in Australia. But BB commented back: "I think I would trust you on a tractor… and I don’t think its the SLIGHTEST bit odd that you know the name of our cow. We share a set of drinking glasses, don’t we??"
We do.
These ones. I saw them in an antique store in Allentown, when I went to visit Dylan after chemo. Due to a unfortunate flare up of practicality, I hadn't bought them. By the time I was driving home, I was regretting that decision. At the beginning of the whole cancer thing, I had said, "One day, after this whole cancer crap is done, I'm coming over there to raise a glass with the women of Granite Glen." And bless their hearts, they all thought that was a great idea. When I saw those glasses in the display case, I'd automatically pictured us raising those glasses.
The story didn't end there. Cara was so outraged that she went to Allentown to spend the weekend with Dylan and track those glasses down. She did, and she brought them home.
While Cara was home for Thanksgiving, she looked through BB's Calendar. She said, "When are you guys going to Australia?" and I said, "May or June of 2012, I guess. After I graduate. Depends on the timing of the certification exam." Cara said, "Don't wait. Go now. It would be terrible if you couldn't go for some reason." She was careful. She didn't say it.
You know, I consider myself a pretty lucky person, and I am enjoying school and work and life in general. Australia waits, like some far off dream, and it is fun to think on it, make plans. I look at pictures, read stories with my chin in my hand and a smile on my face and imagine what it will be like. In fact, Thursday night, the kids got on orbitz, and we priced tickets, talking about it. It was fun to day dream, to talk about renting a car and driving around.
I guess that's the difference between the young and the old. "Go," they urged. "Go right now." I expect to get there one day, but I'm content to bide my time, making pleasant plans, dreaming dreams. It will unfold as it is meant to unfold. Those wine glasses wait too. They've been sitting on a shelf in a unused bedroom. Sometimes I go in and look at them, dust them off, hold them gently, look at them and daydream some more. Just the idea that half a world away, someone else thinks on them, and daydreams too, well, that means more to me than I can say.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Today was the big Black Friday festivities. For anyone living outside the US, yesterday was Thanksgiving, which always falls on a Thursday. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it is the traditional kick-off to the Christmas/holiday shopping. They were predicting that the credit card system would be very slow today, because they were expecting 217,000,000,000 credit card 'hits' in the United States today. Billion. 217 of 'em. Yikes. This is why I have only gone shopping on Black Friday twice in my life. I'd rather eat grasshoppers than deal with that kind of crowd. The one time that we did go, we went specifically to get a computer that was on sale. I took the kids. It was darn scary. There were so many people and all of them impatient and cross and aggressive. People yelling at each other and grabbing stuff out of each others hands. Yeah. Pass the grasshoppers, please.

Our store was set to open two hours early, at 6 AM. There are two registers, and usually, only one of them needs to be run, but because we had some great sales going on, there were two cashiers opening this morning, and we were supposed to be there at 5:30. I got there a few minutes early, and much to my surprise, there was a line outside. I went to the front of the line, and knocked to be let in. Jeremy opened up and let me in. "We're opening up early," he said, "Hurry." Yikes. I ran. The doors opened and it began.

We worked non-stop, ringing up one customer after another, two cashiers, lines stretched back to the service desk in the middle of the store. It stayed that way all day long. Credit cards transactions got slower and slower. At 9, the West Coast was starting their "Black Friday" shopping, and the credit card approval system slowed to a snail's pace. A card would need to be reprocessed a dozen times or more before it actually went through. For the most part, customers were patient. One customer told me, "I just made up my mind that today is not a day for hurrying." And so we went through the customers one after another, after another. Some customers thought that it was our store with the problem. "No," I explained. "It's the national system. Everything was fine until California woke up and started shopping. Somebody want to call California and tell them to go back to bed?" I also tried to remind them of the season. "George Bailey said 'every time that you pay in cash, an angel gets his wings.'" One woman looked at me, with a wrinked brow. "George Bailey said that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." I grinned at her, and said, "Trust me. It's when you pay in cash," and the woman said, "Noooo," and her acquaintance said, "She's being funny. The credit card machine is not working..."and the woman looked at me and said, "Oh. I gotcha now." And everyone laughed. So we laughed our way through the day, and it was okay. It went by very quickly.

We had a few grumpy butts (really, I think that I could have counted them on one hand) but like I said, most of the customers were good natured and patient, laughing and joking in line. Carts were in short supply, but customers shared, even going out of their way to help other customers. I liked that. Our customers really are the salt of the earth, and even on Black Friday, I was happy to be working at Tractor Supply.

Thanksgiving and Waterworks and Black Friday

It was a nice Thanksgiving. It was small, but it was okay, because I honestly think that it was my worst Thanksgiving dinner yet. I just didn't have enough time to do great things. Plus I tried a new stuffing recipe, which I didn't care for all that much. The pies were good. Meh.

Anyhow, not everyone was home, and although I was glad for the faces round the table, I was also missing the ones that weren't. At one point, Cara walked in on me and said, "Oh, gees. DYLAN! Code Waterworks! Code Waterworks in the kitchen!" They're a pair, the two of them.

We all watched Toy Story 3, which made them laugh and snort and call one more Code Waterworks. The boogers. It's just hard not to think of Winnie the Pooh..."No matter where he goes, somewhere there will be a boy and his bear playing in the 100 acre wood." I cry everytime I read that, but it's still nice to think that those children are still there, somewhere, in those adults who keep calling 'Code Waterworks!'

I also whipped Dylan in Scrabble.

It's 4:34 right now. I've got to get ready for work. Black Friday has officially arrived. I'll betcha some stories come out of today's adventure!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This and That and Happy Thanksgiving!

Last night, I went to bed late, because I stayed up to study for that test after I got home from freight night at the store. I was wicked tired, but I stayed up to refresh the information in my mind. I went to bed late, and then I was awakened early by the unusual thunder and lightning storm. I went in to class early, to give myself a little more time to 'brush up' on the information. "Grades aren't everything," the teacher had said, and I've been trying to take her words seriously. This morning, I was not nervous. I was just tired. That's all. She handed out the test, and I began to carefully mark my answers in. I did not look ahead, nervously trying to gauge the difficulty of the test. I just took it. One question at a time. I did well. Not spectacularly, I suppose. I'm not sure that it was an A, but I did well. When it was done, I did not go over it and over it. I took a cursory glance but then I handed it in, and I left the class room. Grades aren't everything. I went by myself to the cafeteria and celebrated with an 'everything' bagel and a tea, and sat by myself people watching and enjoying just sitting.

We had a brief class after the test, from 10:30 until 12:00, and then I went into the computer lab to work on a paper.

I met Procrastination Girl. She needed my assistance. I was encouraging, but I did not fall into the trap of being over helpful. She looked at me helplessly, and I said to myself, "She is a peer, not my child. She is a peer, not a client," and I told her that she was on the right track. Then I sat down and began putting a paper together on the tensions in Korea. Cara is my child, not my peer, so I am allowed to wish that she wasn't going to Daegu for the spring semester.

I was dragging, but I wrote my paper, and then I messed around on line. I thought of Kelly, who's lately described herself as feeling blue. I sent her a 'Booyah!' text, and she hied herself to her computer and we had a nice chat as I waited for that class to start. I had so much to do at home. Dylan and Cara will be home tomorrow. I needed to clean. I needed to start cooking for Thanksgiving. But being responsible, I had that last class.

Long and the short of it? We filed into class, and our professor walked by looking confused. Last week, she'd given us this class off, some free time to work on our papers. Problem was none of us remembered her saying it. We all looked at each other in amazement, handed in our papers and filed out of the classroom. I could have left at noon had I only known!

I got home an hour early. I got a lot of housework done, and it felt good. I spoke to a friend on the phone who's just discovered that he has cancer, making plans to meet. Tim and I went shopping tonight and got groceries. I have tomorrow to make pies, to bake bread, and to putz around the house. I am so looking forward to this. Tomorrow night, the kids come in. It's going to be small, just four of us, but it will be fun.

Funny story? I heard on the radio today that the smell of pumpkin pie is a powerful aphrodisiac for men. That surely puts a different spin on the story of the young man and the pumpkin pie candles, doesn't it?

Another funny story? Remember Merrill the chicken? I saw his "mother" the other day, and we greeted each other. She looked tired too. Turns out that Merrill has learned to crow, and does so very early in the morning. She smiled ruefully. I imagine that Merrill is on his way to becoming an outdoor chicken like most other chickens. However this story goes, I hope that he gets to take his stuffed chicken with him, and that he has a night light at night. Mostly, I hope that he gets to listen to books on tape once in a while, sitting on his stuffed chicken, making little 'chuck-chuck' noises as he turns his head this way and that, listening to the story unfold.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you here in the US. The rest of you? What the heck. Give thanks anyway.

Ain't It Funny

"I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder. How far off, I sat and wondered..."

Yeah. Okay. I did not even sit up in bed. I just laid there half awake, stupid with my tiredness and thinking "Mighty peculiar weather we're having for this time of the year." It is, too. We've had snow, but no more than a dusting. To have a thunder storm at the end of November? That is peculiar.

"...started humming a song from 1962..."

I remembered on morning when I was just wee, and we lived in Fredonia New York, and I was eating my breakfast at the little formica table, white with gold sparkles. I was getting ready for school, and the radio was playing "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah..." and it was pouring. The thunder and lightning outside scared me and I was crying because I was afraid to walk to Wheelock Elementary school in the thunder and lightning.

Somehow that child has become a middle aged woman. Quit laughing... That's what they tell us in 'Life Span' class. I'm middle aged. Imagine the joy of sitting in that class surrounded by young whippersnappers as the teacher talks about menopause and hot flashes. Most of the kids carefully don't look at me. That is the most aggravating class. I cannot, to save my soul, make higher than a B on her tests. Have you ever taken a test and then got it back, and begin to go over your questions, and find that the question has shapechanged? That one word leaps forward that did not leap forward on test day, and suddenly the whole question reads differently? Gah! Frustrating. I got an 82 on the last one, and it was my lowest score yet. I walked out of the classroom trying to figure out how I could do this differently. I go back several times and re-read the test before handing it in. It doesn't seem to help. "Do you have trouble with her tests?" I asked another student. She looked over. "These are the trickiest tests!" So it's not just me. 1/3 of the class got an A or a B. 1/3 of the class got a C and 1/3 of the class got a D or an F.

So this morning, I laid in bed listening to the thunder and lightning half awake, a middle aged woman. I looked over to the clock, and thought, 'in just an hour, I'll have to get ready for school'.

"Ain't it funny how the night moves?"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where I Wasn't

Interestingly enough, someone said to me, "I saw you up on the hill."

'The hill' is a euphemism. It's where my family is from. I looked at the person curiously. "No. It wasn't me." I haven't been up there since I did mosquito work for the county and that is more than a year ago. I know where I don't belong, and I stay away. It's a remote road and it's really not an issue. I don't have any reason to be on it.

"Really?" The person wrinkled his brow. "I could have sworn that it was your car."

I answered again, "No. It was not me."

He answered, "Huh," and explained to me that this car looked just like my car.

I answered once again, "No. It was definately not our car."

It's interesting. I know where this has come from. I know what prompted his questioning. I should have asked when 'he' was supposed to have seen me so that I could have told him where I actually was. But when you make a decision not to fight with a family, the truly freeing thing is that you no longer feel as if you have to make excuses or to offer up alibis.

I went back to my business, knowing, once more, after all these years, that my choice was the right one. While there's freedom in it, there's sadness too, but you know, it is what it is and it's still my fault even when I'm no where around.

Dream Interpretation

It will be nice to have my five day weekend from school. Last week was pretty tumultuous, and between school, schoolwork, work and housework, I was drowning. When I went to bed, I slept hard, not waking up if Tim got up to feed the fire. I could not rouse myself when there were two bears treed in the back yard. Tim came up with regular 'live-from-the-scene' reports and I moaned into my pillow, "that dog will never stop barking if those bears don't come down!" and "I'm tiiiiiiired," and eventually my husband shot the one in the cherry tree with the BB gun, and he came flying out of the tree and, seeing him moving out, the other scrambled down and took off right behind him. Fine by me. The dog got bored at all the quiet, and went home. By the time that Tim got in the house and checked the fire, and came back to bed, I was sound asleep once again and never even heard him.

So I've been working hard, and sleeping hard and not a lot of anything else. I don't have time to read the newspaper any more. I've finally given in and have my laundry sitting in the living room. That way I can stop and fold laundry for ten minutes, and then go back to work. Doing the big tasks in short bursts is the only way for me to get things done any more. I just don't have a lot of time to spend in one place. (Unfortunately for you folks, I am a very fast typist...)

In any case, after the latest drama in the world of group projects, after all the agonizing and feeling terrible, after seeing my advisor, after digesting her sensible advice, after going to work, and then working intensely on one of my projects, I went to bed and I dreamed a dream.

"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again."

Okay. No. I didn't.

I dreamed that I was making a dish for a pot luck supper, and I drove to someone's house in a terrible storm. When I arrived, the hostess did not have her part of the meal made, and so I stood at the window watching the storm as she rushed around the kitchen. The trees were being whipped about in the wind. One closest to the window bent more and more, so close that I could hear the tree actually creaking as it was bent in the storm. I thought to myself, "If that tree breaks, it will come right through this window," but I stood there and watched it, curious at what would happen next. And then I woke up.

Boy. If only I could figure out what that meant.

The potluck supper = group project.

The unprepared hostess = my class mate.

It made me laugh a little, the transparency of this dream, and I fell back asleep once again, pondering on the fact that although the tree outside the window bent and creaked, she did not snap and break.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Figuring It Out

I got very discouraged earlier in the week. Two team projects, two problems with team dynamics, and I find myself wondering if what I've been told all my life is true: am I impossible to get along with? Is it me?

I had so much on my plate, and I feel like crap. I've got a unit test on Tuesday. Although I thought I was done with writing essays, I'm not. I've got an 8-10 pager, another argument. I'm juggling the job, which is still a wonderful break from school for me (how odd that a job should be that...a place to relax, to enjoy myself. But it IS). I'm trying very hard to get as much school work done as possible before the kids come home for Thanksgiving. I want to be able to enjoy that day, but each time that I feel as if I am making progress, a new project is added to the pile.

This week, after the awkwardness with Procrastination Girl, I hit a new low. It just occurred to me that if it is true that I'm an awful person, well, I might just as well forget about college, because I'd never be able to function in a team. I tossed and turned Wednesday night, and finally I made up my mind to go speak with my advisor. I didn't know even how to begin, and much to my surprise, I got choked up. Teary eyed. I tried to explain why I was there, and I cried.
I tried to explain how awful I felt about this latest thing, even though I know, for a fact, that I had every right to be aggravated, even though I know for a fact that I behaved professionally and did not get emotional. Still though, still, there was a scene that had people turning to watch the drama unfold, and I was ashamed.

The teacher is good. She pointed out one thing that I had not seen. At one point, I said, "I don't want to be telling her, nagging her, reminding her, what she needs to do. I'm not her mother." And even as I said it, something clicked. The teacher said, "But you took her on because you felt sorry for her. You began to mentor her. You began to make decisions designed to make her comfortable, to put her at ease, to make her feel better. You began to nurture her..." and I finished the sentence. "Just like a mother would." And the teacher smiled.

I guess that's an important thing to know about myself. That I am always going to have a tendency to take care of others. That might be alright for my clients, but it is not an appropriate way to interact with my peers.

The teacher also pointed out that I was a strong student with a lot of life experiences. She said that no one could make me feel guilty unless I let them. She also commented that really, I might want to consider cutting myself some slack on the grades, that a 'B' was above average. All those things I knew, I guess. It's just good to hear them from another person.

"Listen," I said before I left. "If you ever see me interacting with others in a way that I might want to reconsider, please shoot me an e-mail or pull me aside. She said, "That's good to know. I'd have done it anyway, but it's good to know that you're open to that."

I walked to my car in the cold, and I thought about things. I felt better. She told me that I was a survivor, and I was a survivor because I had no other choice than to be one. That's true too, I suppose, although, really, I'd given her a very small view of my life. She didn't feel that it was me, although she did bring up a couple things that I might try to do differently. I felt better.

When I got home, I got down to work. In the past two days, I've gotten three projects nearly done. Tomorrow, I will work on our written report, and our presentation. I'm feeling productive again. I'm hopeful.