Monday, May 31, 2010

Venting

Too. Much.
I can't possibly retain all of this.
It. Is. Too. Much.
Stooooooooooopid Anatomy and Physiology!
*sigh*
Back to the books.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quiet

Tim has set his Camaro in the front yard with a 'For Sale' sign. He says that he won't be sorry to see it sell, but I wonder. His first car was a Camaro, and he's almost always had one. When we married he had a Super Sport and a Z28. He sold the Super Sport, but I thought that he'd always have the Z. He had big plans for that car.

I watched him with it tonight, the hood up in the yard, listening to the engine, tinkering, stopping to rev the engine, and I cannot help but feel sad. I drove that car once. I stepped on the gas and the thing threw gravel everywhere as Tim laughed and said, "Listen to those horses bark..." I got out of the car and I said, "I will never drive that car again. Mama better stick to the Taurus." And I never did drive it again. Neither did Tim, not much. He's a family man, a worker. He didn't seem to mind, but I saw that dreamy look he'd get when he heard the rumble of a muscle car, and I'd think, "Some day, when things are easier, he'll be anxious to have a car like that again." Yet now the Camaro sits for sale in the front yard. I realize that he is putting everything on the line to get his wife through college. I'm humbled by that more than words can say. I cannot fail.

With such a husband, I cannot fail.

Sleepless Night

I've been awake since 2:30 in the morning. Spent that time wisely: trying to get back to sleep. It did not happen. I think that I need to give up caffeine. Or at least cut back (she says as she takes another sip of coffee). Anyways, so I was laying in bed, alternately throwing the covers off and then shivering and groping around to pull them back up over me, and my mind was doing the wandering that minds tend to do at o'dark thirty in the morning.

I thought about my friends, especially about two of them who are struggling with major illness. I pray to be useful to them. I think about Mary, who was so useful to me when I was sick, and now she's finished hospice training. I am glad for the people whose lives will be touched by her, because she is remarkable. Yesterday, a friend and her daughter walked over and visited. It was good to see them again. Mostly what was nice was seeing them happy. The bitterness has receded. The divorce is done, and as she makes a new life for her daughter and herself, she's becoming happy again. That made me glad too. It had become hard to be around her, hard to say the supportive thing. Our visit last night was like old times. I thought about Tim and me. I worried about work. (My cigarette count was like 20 packs off, and it's been bothering me. I like to do a good job). So I lay in bed, flitting between yesterday and years ago, from one place to another, from one face to another. Finally the alarm went off, just as I was dozing off.

I'm thinking of giving up caffeine, but this is not the morning to do it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Accomplishment

I had a very productive day yesterday. I got five pages worth of A and P homework done. I've got to tell you that made me feel great. I worked for three hours straight getting it done. What a sense of accomplishment. I love to study. I do. I love the confidence I feel when I feel like I've 'got it'. It was a big homework assignment, and getting it knocked out of the way was such a huge relief. It kind of tickles me in a way. I've got so many things to do for that class. The lab practical on Tuesday. A quiz for lecture on Tuesday, and then Wednesday a huge test, chapters 1 through 6. (Remember that class just started Monday. We will be tested on those six chapters after just five lecture days!) Just a few days ago, I was looking at this workload, and I was very, very afraid. I didn't see how I could even accomplish this much work. Just a few days later, I'm tackling this stuff, knocking the work out one step at a time. The fear is gone. I'll be very glad when this class is over, because it is a LOT of work, but I'm doing it. I'm getting it all done. Sometimes, I amaze myself.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Weigh In

Drum roll please. I have not lost anything. Not a thing. My new classes run from 8:45 AM until 1 PM Monday through Thursday. It is a 35 minute commute each way. I have to eat breakfast on those days or I would never, ever make it. If I have to work after school, it makes for a long day. At this point, I have not figured out how to fit in exercise. I've got to sit down and figure out a plan that will fit into this new schedule.

I've been thinking about my friend's blog post. She talked about being called 'sweetie' by young store clerks. Since she is doing the whole chemo thing again and has lost her hair, she wondered if it were because she looked pitiful. As a person on the other side of the counter, I thought about that. I have a lot of customers. Our store is busy. I am a blabber of the very worst caliber. Just ask Amanda, or Sophie, or Barb, or Kelly. My heavens. I could carry on an animated conversation with a stump. Anyhow, I've been thinking on this. Do I address people as 'sweetie'? And I think that I do. Young folks mostly. And you know who eats that up? The tough looking young men. I call them 'sweetie' or 'hon' and in a lot of cases, they seem to get a charge out of that. They'll look up from that sullen place in which many teenagers seem to reside, and they will say something, and then I'll say something back, and next thing you know, we're having a nice little conversation that doesn't involve a cell phone and texting. The elderly, well, I call them sir and ma'am. It's just my way. I would not dream of calling an old man 'sweetie'. Stuff like that could be misinterpreted, and I don't even open that door. I joke and laugh with them, same as I do everyone else, but they are never called sweetie, not by me. Older women? Well. They are ma'am, but if I have struck up a friendship, I might use a term of endearment. It might be 'sweetie' even. But it seems to me that there are women who you can call sweetie, and women that I would not dare to use the word on. Interestingly enough, I don't strike myself as a person who others would call sweetie.

The one thing that I would venture to say is this. Whoever was on the other side of the counter looked up and saw WhiteStone. Just that fact alone is remarkable. I'm often waited on by people who scarcely look at you. She saw an older woman, with a scarf. She may have surmised 'chemo patient'. Maybe she did feel pity. But she tried to be kind, and God knows, kindness is in pretty short order in this world. I try to bring the same thing to my own counter.

It has been a rough week here. A couple friends have each received some very bad news, and although I would like very much to be helpful to them, I'm so busy that I've scarcely time to make phone calls to them, let alone stop by to be helpful or to say the helpful thing. I feel badly about that, especially since each of them have been such encouragers for me. We are again without a pet. Buster has returned to his 'mother', home from Nashville. I haven't even had time to talk to her about her trip. As nice as it was to have an animal in the house, it's good that Buster has gone back home. Karen would have had a fit if she knew that he'd been tree'd by the neighbor dog.

Last night we had company for supper, which was nice, just relaxing. She also lent me a bunch of material for Anatomy and Physiology, and assured me that I'd make it. That was good to hear. Then we sat down and watched a movie that Cara had picked out. '500 Days of Summer'. If you have not seen it, I recommend it. It is a sweet movie, funny, captures perfectly a young man's first 'grand passion'. I loved it, and I have to say, Cara can pick some lulus when it comes to movies.

On that bright note, it's back to the books.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anatomy and Physiology

Today was a 3 hour class lecture. We have a three day weekend, which means we have Monday off. We have a practical in lab on Tuesday. We have a quiz on chapters one and two in lecture on Tuesday. We have a major test on Wednesday covering chapters one through six (inclusively). We also have a forty point homework assignment due on Wednesday. It's a lot. It's a whole lot. But today I looked around me and I saw that I am not the only one who was scared out of her mind. Almost everyone was sitting there with tense tight faces. The teacher said, "You all have the same look on your faces at the beginning of this class, but really, Anatomy and Physiology has actually killed very few students." I looked squarely at her and said, "Yeah, okay. How many of those students simply kill themselves?" After she stopped laughing, she assured us that that did not happen either. She's funny, and today, for the first time, I saw this class as I'm supposed to see it, I think. It's going to be hard, but I'll make it. I drove home, and for the first time this week, I was not a little sick at the thought of Anatomy and Physiology.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

*cough* *splutter* *gasp*

We dissected rats today. Went better then I'd feared. Simply gotta do what ya gotta do. So, Ellen and I took our rat all apart. One group had a rat with a tumor on its liver (and livers are huh-yuuuuuge, which I never realized, or maybe forgot). Our rat was okay, except for the whole being dead and preserved thing. It was fairly straight forward (and no, I did not get pictures...). Then it was on to lecture, which was a dance through chemistry. No slow dancing neither. No sirree. My brain felt like these people moved.



Ionization and cations and anions and solutions and colloids and mixtures and emulsions, the periodic table, and much, much more. The three folks behind me just finished with chemistry last semester. They got into a spirited debate about the London dispersion or some such thing, debating with the teacher who was contradicting (in their mind) what they'd previously learned. Two things: I felt lucky that I'd taken chemistry 38 years ago and had no conflicting information to argue with what I was trying to stuff into my poor brain at the moment. I also felt an overwhelming urge to stick my fingers in my ears and begin to chant 'Lalalalalalalalalalala....' as fast and as loud as I could, because the last thing I needed was to try to follow a conversation that used words that I did not absolutely need to know. But, I was mature. I did not do that.

We don't have class this Monday, due to the Memorial Day weekend. I'm kind of okay with that, but we found out today that we are expected to make that day up on Friday. Again, okay with that, but letting us know this information ahead of time would have made my availability for the work schedule just a little different. Gaaaaah!

So I'm overwhelmed and I'm worried (good news, I think that I did well on my test.) We're being tested on six chapters on Wednesday. Practical on Tuesday. It's crazy busy.

Thanks, Kelly, for your call. I was just about to sit down with my books. You provided a bright spot in my day, and I thank you for that! Your southern accent was just a refreshing as a glass of iced tea. (Side note: I do not drink my iced tea southern style. Double lemon, no sugar for me please). Well. I'm babbling. Time for me to hit the books.

*whimper*

Natch

I have my first A and P test this morning. I really think that I'm ready. Did you know for instance that the elbow is referred to as olecranol, while the front (anterior) of the elbow is refered to as the antecubital area. And then the knee cap is the patella, but the back of the knee is referred to as the popliteal area. The big toe is the hallux? Carpels are the wrist and tarsals are the ankle. It goes on and on. We have a six chapter test next Thursday for lecture. (Erg.) One of the women from my class said that she was afraid of what was coming at us. I said that I could not even see that far ahead, being so busy with what's right directly in front of me. So it's going to be a busy, busy time.

Anyhow, I've been getting out of class at one and going directly to work. I get off work at eight and then come home. Eat something, and pretty much go to bed. Last night, I had a call to make. (I actually have several of them to get caught up on, and I feel guilty as all heck.) Anyhow by the time that I got to bed, it was nearly ten. I fell asleep directly but then woke up at two, to smell the roast in the crockpot needing water. So I got up and added water, and headed back to bed. And lay there going over terms in my head. 'The forehead is referred to as the frontal. The chin is mental. The cheeks are buccal, except if you're talking about butt cheeks. Those are gluteals.' I dozed off, but woke up several more times. Finally at five, I said to Tim, "Gees. I might just as well get up. I'm not going to sleep. Those are apparently the magic words. I fell asleep, soundly asleep, and slept until Tim woke me up at 6:30 and said, "You'd better get moving." And into my pillow, I wailed "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm too tiiiiiiiiiiiiired!" I'm not a baby though, and after 10 minutes of squalling, I got myself up. I feel better now that I've had my coffee.

This is my day of reckoning. I reckon that I'd better begin it with a shower. I hate to say it, but really, I'm feeling pretty good about the test.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Holy Fetal Pig!

Today was the first day of Anatomy and Physiology. I have class from 8:45 to 1 PM Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It looks like this course is going to proceed at breakneck speed. We have our first exam Wednesday. We begin dissection on Wednesday as well. (We will be dissecting a fetal pig, a rat, and a heart). During the lecture portion, I scribbled furiously, but was shocked to find that I could not keep up.

It's interesting, the people that you meet. One woman is there because she's found herself, shockingly, divorced at age fifty. She wants to be self sufficient. On the other side of the table are two young girls who spent most of the lab chatting about one girl's upcoming nuptials. At the end of our table are three women who have already failed the course once. I was surprised at their blase attitude. One said she was only 1.35 points off from passing. The other said she had a 69. "They don't cut you any slack," two of the women complained. The Chinese girl at the end of the table speaks halting English, which may have accounted for failing the course. A couple middle aged guys at the next table were nursing students, back in school after a long stint with unemployment. I should have sat at that table, I think. In fact, a woman at that table struck up a conversation with me after class. They are there to kick A and P's butt, and so am I.

Despite my determination, I walked to the car feeling a little sick inside, and I drove home scared witless. Before I got all the way home, I'd made up my mind. Failure is not an option. It simply isn't. We cannot afford to pay for this class twice. I'll be working pretty hard here. Posting might get a little irregular. Bear with me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mother

You know, I feel bad about what I perceive as my 'failures' as a mother. I missed things. I sometimes grieve about things, certain in my heart of hearts that things I could've, should've been a better mother. I've come to find that most parents have their own private griefs and sorrows. Hindsight is 20-20, all of that, and I thought that all parents have this wish that they could go back and do it all over again armed with what they know now. At least that's what I thought, that we all saw our shortcomings clearly as parents.

Yesterday, in the store, a mother and her daughter came in. It was impossible to tell how old the girl was, at least initially. She was wearing makeup, a lot of it. A ton of it. A tattooed boy was standing at my register, the mother and daughter in the register next to mine. The boy and the girl knew each other and struck up a loud conversation. The girl said, "I just got thrown out of the mall by security. My mom had to come and pick me up." And I watched the mother laughing and shaking her head ruefully. Based on that clue, I would guess that the girl was not yet 16. The conversation continued on a little, crudely. Rudely. The mom continued to laugh and shake her head. As they headed out the door, the girl called in, called in from the door she was exiting, "Hey, text me, okay. And not 'Wanna f**k?' " And the mom waited for her daughter, laughing still.

How stupid. How shamefully stupid.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

For Karen

Karen, this is your cat...
...and this is your cat on 'nip.

Questions?


Buster

Bill has often touted the therapeutic effects of owning a good cat. Since the loss of my good dog Buck, he has commented that I should run right out and find myself a cat. Like yesterday. The thing is, I am married to Tim. Tim is a strict believer that animals live outside and people live inside. I'm not a fan of this plan.

In any case, we have a friend. Karen has probably the most tender heart of anyone I know. This is why she has nine cats. These cats come to her. I imagine that there is a kitty radar thing going on, that word has gotten out in the local kitty population, so when a cat is in trouble or needs assistance, he hies himself to Karen's house, where he is promptly taken in, hauled to the vet to be spayed and neutered, and then lives a life of relative ease in her big house. Now, if you prescribe to Bill's theory, anyone with nine cats should be so calm that they can barely rise from the chair, but Karen? She's not that calm. She's a lot like me. We are the master of the bug-eyed, panicked look. That's us. It's what we do.

But I digress.

Today is Karen's birthday. (Happy Birthday, Karen! *waves wildly*). She has people to watch her animals while she is gone off to Nashville to visit her son (hi Tyson! *waves wildly*). There are the two cats with spinal bifida. There are old cats. Young cats. Cats that get along, cats that don't get along, cats that hold their own in kitty conflicts, and cats that can't. She said, despairingly, 'I cannot expect people to remember who gets along with who, or who lives where...' This is how it has come to be that we have a guest in our house. We have Buster, her laundry room cat.

Buster is a tuxedo cat who has managed to charm the socks off two out of three people in this house. (Tim is still holding out. Cara and I have succumbed). His ears are 'funny' because he came to Karen in the middle of last winter, pitiful and half frozen. The vet had to cut away his frostbitten ears. Now Buster came to us with a list of instructions. Karen worried terribly that he might go outside and be eaten by coyotes, a fate that regularly befalls cats in our neck of the woods. Truth be told, we were concerned about this thing as well. Buster is, after all, a town cat. They are different from country cats, because, well... you know...a country cat can survive.



Well, anyways, so we've got Buster, and we've been taking good care of him. He's fed and he's watered, and he's been studying this new bunch he's living with. He seemed fairly quiet in his quiet, studying cat way, but then the weather got warm, and we threw open the windows in celebration. He took to sitting on the hope chest at the top of the stairs watching the backyard intently through the screen, his head popping left and right, his tail twitching, his stubby half ears wheeling around as he watched the birds and the chipmunks. After a couple hours of this, he exploded in frustration, and came flying down the stairs, leapt upon the counter (taboo!) sending dishes and an open container of cinnamon flying. I screeched and he tried to change direction. I caught the glass bowl before it tumbled from the edge of the counter. This was only day two of his stay, and I knew that he had to go outside for a while, because Lord knows, if Tim saw him acting like that, he'd kill him for sure. The coyote threat was still simply a possibility. So I popped him unceremoniously out the back door and he sat on the deck in delight. He roamed around the yard. He explored the garden shed. And then he came back inside. He went out a bit later. He came in a little after that. He went back out, and then, he came back in, and then...well...you get the picture.

Anyway, in the midst of all the in and out stuff, Buster has become a happy kitty, a lap kitty, a purring kitty. I can see that Bill was correct, that a good cat can have a calming effect on a person.

But I have to go. Buster wants back out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Grades

Final grades are in. I got straight A's. A perfect 4.0 grade average.

Wow. Best birthday present ever!

Friday Weigh In

Well, I dropped over that one pound mark. I'm back down to having lost 17 pounds again. I'm glad to be able to say that. I wore some capris and a top that I hadn't worn since last summer, and I could tell. The top was loose and comfortable.

I went down town yesterday. I was headed to a writer's seminar. I received an invitation in the mail some time ago. It was nice, with wine and crackers and cheese and strawberries and wonderful little desserts which I spent the evening trying to avoid. It was nice to sit and listen to an author talk about writing. A large portion of the talk covered writing the truth, but Reg Darling took pains to say that the truth was your perspective. He also talked about how a complete lie can be told telling nothing but the truth. I thought of Salman Rushdie's books and how the truth can be told using nothing but fictions, and silently agreed.

It was nice to sit there and talk about writing like it was real. I don't know how to say it better than that. It was nice to sit with people listening to the story of another respectfully. I listen to the stories of others, and I became part of their story, even as they became a part of my own, and the story swirled easily around us, and between us, and from us, gathering us all up in its threads. When it was done, my friend and I walked back to her house in the evening light, the words flowing easily and comfortably between us, the common threads in our own stories weaving us together, forming a friendship.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Apology

It's been a pretty rough time lately. A discouraging time for Tim, and because I love my husband, it becomes a discouraging time for me. It's hard to know the right words, and sometimes it simply doesn't matter what I say. He's upset and he's negative. I do understand why. It is frustrating to watch the field you've worked in all your life simply 'dry up' and disappear. But then to find yourself unable to switch fields because your potential employers see you as someone who will leave to go back to the higher paying jobs as soon as you get the chance, well...the fact is, this is a tough time for Tim. This is the longest that he's ever gone without working and he's getting upset about it all. So, I've been trying to say the right words and the encouraging words but I've also been studying hard and fretting over finals, and distracted, so I don't think that I've been all that supportive lately.

An interesting thing happened. While we were preoccupied, something happened. I was done wrong as the saying goes, a virtual 'slap' from a corner that I would have never expected a slap to come from. I was shocked wordless. I spoke with the person, and told her that what she had said was not true. That's all really. The following day, I got a call. There were tears, and the person said, "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I've been thinking about it a lot, and I feel awful about it. I should have never said that."

I waited, but there was no 'but'.

I make no secret of it. Tim and I are surrounded by some very angry people, and our experience with apologies is, "Well, I'm sorry, BUT..." and then the person goes on to tell you exactly why you 'had it coming', so to speak. An apology that doesn't apologize for anything. An apology that doesn't make you feel better, although it seems to comfort the apologist.

But this time, there was no but. There was an apology that was heart felt. I was comforted by the words, and I was able to say, "I'd like to just get past this..." and she said, "I would too," and so we did. By the time we hung up the phone, we both felt better.

It is such a simple thing to say 'I'm sorry,' but when the words come from the heart, it can make a profound difference. Hearing them makes a person feel like she matters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bitch

Maybe I'm just in a negative mood. I don't know. I received a phone call from the cancer center that I have an appointment tomorrow morning, first thing. 'Um,' I asked, 'when did that happen, because I was not aware of it.' Turns out that it happened last fall. I can tell you what happened. I didn't have this year's calendar up, so it did not get written down. I try to be organized, but long term things like that...pllt. I never remember them. So, yeah. It's my fault. But if you're going to do reminder calls, maybe a little more lead-in time might be useful. Anyways, I told her that I could not make it tomorrow. I've already got one doctor appointment in the afternoon. I've got an interview for a scholarship right after that. I've got company coming for supper. I just don't need one more thing on my to-do list. She asked me if I wanted to re-schedule.

I stood there holding the phone to my ear, and unaccountably, I was just frustrated. 'No,' I said. 'I don't want it rescheduled because there is no point to it. The scans are done, and I am being told that we're waiting to see. There's no sense in coming in and having insurance pay for me to hear it one more time.' She said, 'Well, I'll just note that you're having no symptoms.' I'm tired. It's cold and it's damp and my joints give me worse problems when it is cold and damp. My breast throbs as it has been throbbing when I went in last month and was told that there's nothing to feel. Suddenly, I was just tired of all of it. It's not her fault. She's a nurse there. Protocol is not determined by her. But I said, 'There is no point in going to see this doctor and being told that we are waiting and seeing or that I have nothing to worry about. I already know this. When I have new tests done, then we'll have something to talk about, but until then, there is no point to making appointments.'

I hung up the phone, and I felt like a bitch. Nobody tells you how you endure these post cancer months. How do you be both 'vigilant/proactive' and 'wait and see' simultaneously? Tumor markers worry me, but they are not to be redone until June. I have an appointment after that. Self exams? Heck. I've got scar tissue and pains and I can't tell what is the new normal from what might just be abnormal. I tell myself that the mammogram showed no change. I'll just wait and see, just I'm supposed to. The fact that no one seems to understand that a patient might find this time just a wee bit stressful is more than I can take sometimes.

Side note: I saw a friend down town, and I jumped from the truck to visit with her as Tim looked for a place to park. I asked her how she was doing, and she said, "I quit the tamoxifen. I could not get into the cab of the heavy equipment for the joint pain." (She and her husband have owned an excavation company for years) She looked square at me. "It's about quality of life too, not just quantity. I just told 'em, I wasn't taking it any more. I feel great. It's been about two weeks and I feel great."

I walk away, stunned at her courage. I know that I can make the same choice. I also know that I won't. Man. So any of you got any survival tips out there?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gloomy Day

Tim did not get the job. The human resource person should not have posted the job. Tim was a bit shocked to suddenly find out he had a job. After such a long stretch, we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and glad for it. To find out that he doesn't have a job after all was a heart breaker.

Tim is a very quiet person, but what I have always loved about him is his optimism. He can always find the silver lining in any dark time. I got home from work today to see him slumped in a chair at the dining room table. "I don't have a job," he said, flatly. "I'm sorry," I said. The silence stretched. I put lunch on the table, and said, "Listen, Tim, it will work out. It always does. God has plans to prosper, not harm us." Silence. "Really. It will be okay." No response. "Tim? Really, do you honestly think that you'll never work again?" He looked at me. "I'm starting to wonder..." "Listen, I'm trying to be encouraging here. It will be okay. What is the worst thing that is going to happen? We've always dealt with hard times before, and we've come out of it okay."

He ate and left the house quietly.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My final final

I took my last final. Who got a 100% on her math final?
Yeah.
That be me.
*skips off*

Nothing

So I was at work Saturday night, and it was busy, and you just sort of hit 'a zone' where you just automatically work the register. "Is that it for you?" "Are you using this as credit or debit?" "Thank you and I hope you have a nice rest of your day!" And I was going along. A very tanned man set his Sobe on the counter, and I asked "Is that all for you today?" He fixed me with such a look of utter disdain. He did not reply. I looked at him a little surprised.

You know, I find myself wondering about how people see me sometimes. I know that some people like me a great deal, and do not hesitate to tell me this. I know that others, well, not so much. But this man here, I knew what he saw when he looked at me. He saw nothing. I was simply nothing. A minimum wage worker in a gas station who was not even a blip on his radar. A couple minutes later, a customer came in and said, "Man! did you see the limo pulling out of here?" I hadn't.

Still, I thought about that face. If you all ever find yourself looking across a counter and thinking the person is nothing, well, I'm not.

And just knowing that is a real step up for me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Keeping our Chins Up.

Turns out that Tim might not be called back to work after all. He won the bid, and it was posted that he was coming back. He was told to take the drug test, which he did...and then, nothing. He has been calling Human Resources for several days now, but has received no call back. He finally called the guy in charge of the department. Turns out that there is some confusion about who's got the job. We have no idea what is going on, and I have to tell you, this news is discouraging for both of us. We should know something by the end of the week.

Tim's problem is that he's a very good machinist. There are not a lot of machining jobs left. He would be traveling over an hour to get to work for this particular job, and he has been laid off from the place twice already. It is what it is. He had hoped to get some sort of maintenance job. He's done all the work on our apartments, and is very good, electrical, plumbing, general home construction, all of it, really. However, when he applies for these sorts of jobs, the interviewers say, "Well, as soon as you get a machining job, you'll be leaving us." Actually, he wouldn't. He wants a job close to home, and something steady. Machining? Not all that steady. He's been laid off probably a dozen times since we've been married (12 years next week). He tries to explain to them that he is trying to change fields, but so far has not managed to convince them. A good machining job pays very well, although any more, they are scarcer than hen's teeth, so every prospective employer seems to automatically believe that Tim would follow the big bucks. Not so much. At this point, we're just wanting a secure job with benefits.

It's a time for prayers, but really, sometimes it's hard to keep my chin up. I keep telling myself that in a couple years, I'll be able to get a decent job, and I'll be able to provide those benefits. Once I've got a decent job, Tim can quit working for someone else and be his own boss, working on apartments. When I have a decent job, we'll probably see a lot more of each other than than we have for our entire marriage. We've almost always worked more than one job each, and have always coming and going, usually on different shifts. 'Just two more years', I keep telling myself, and I'll be able to get a decent job.

It seems like such a looooooooong time away.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Weigh In and Celebrations

First of all, the Friday Weigh-in shows that for the second week running, I've not lost any weight. The good news is that I haven't gained any either. The scales continue to wobble downward ounce by painful ounce, but not enough ounces to matter. For the past couple weeks though, quite honestly, all time has been devoted to studying. I've done very little real exercise, so I'm not really all that surprised.

One thing that I learned this past semester (and not from any book, either, thank you very much) is that I am very good about accomplishing goals, once my mind is set to it. That's a pretty cool thing to know about yourself. Applying that to matters outside the book, I find that I am not so concerned about those scales as I used to be. It is not at all that my determination has faltered. I am still every bit as determined to lose the weight. The idea of those fat cells excreting their tiny amounts of estrogen to any stray cancer cells that might be floating around, well...that's a powerful visual. So my eating habits have adjusted, and if I exercise in conjunction with that, well, I lose weight. Simple enough. I know that the weight will be lost. After all, I've set my mind to it.

However, I've been hitting the books hard. A flurry of tests followed up by the finals meant that the past two weeks have been, academically, a challenge. Before that, Tim and I were struggling for a couple very sobering weeks as we sought to sort things out. I had to have my dog put down. It was a lot of emotional stuff, and I can tell you that one very positive thing came out of this. I was pretty successful at avoiding my tendency to comfort myself with food. There was one week that I had three candy bars in one week (ouch) but for the most part, I was able to clearly see what I was doing when, stressed, I found myself standing at the check out line looking at a Hershey's bar with almonds. In most cases, I was able to say firmly to myself, "Self: that candy bar is not going to help in the great scheme of things. In fact, if you eat it, you will feel worse about yourself before you even get that last bite of chocolate swallowed." It still was a real struggle to pull myself away from the siren song of the Hershey bar, but I almost always did. That's a success, I think.

So I grow a bit each time I tell myself no. I grow a little each time that I accomplish something. I'm amazed. Great opportunities have come to me, and I cannot even begin to tell you about them, because I don't want you to think that I am boasting. Tim's weathering this hard time too. He's always been quiet and passive, and I did not realize the amount of shame that goes along with that. The biggest challenges of our marriage come not from within, but from the outside. I was shocked beyond belief to watch Tim take yet another unreasonable phone call. The last thing I heard was "YOU LISTEN TO ME..." and Tim said, "No, I don't have to listen to you," and he hung up the phone. The phone immediately rang again. Tim was still holding it in his hand. I could hear the shrill screaming from across the room. And Tim said, "This is harassment. Do not call here again," and hung up the phone. And she did not. My husband walked out of the door with a new confidence in his step as well. As his confidence grows, as my confidence grows, the pieces of our marriage begin to fall back into place like jigsaw pieces being assembled by a hand greater than our own.

So, yes, these past few months have been a hard time, but we are reaping rewards beyond what we could have imagined. Tim gave me a card for Mother's Day that began with "I'm so blessed to have found the love of my life," and you know, I looked at the words and I believed them. Felt them, too. I hung that card on the wall of my study room, right next to the letter that informed me that I have been accepted into the OTA program. Both of them make me feel equally good about myself.

Someone (Bob?) commented that they were glad that I'd taken the time to celebrate yesterday, even if it was only a bagel and coffee. Yeah. I celebrated more than that. When I got home yesterday afternoon, Cara and I went out. We rented a video, but this time, we spent the money and got a new release. I stopped for a bottle of wine. And we all sprawled around the livingroom and laughed over a stupid video that turned out not to be worth the extra money charged to rent a new release. We had popcorn. Tim and I looked at each other comfortably and happily from opposite ends of the sofa, and a three way conversation flowed easily. I drank my wine, and the celebration was not happening around me, it was happening within me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Right Where I Belong

I got the letter yesterday. I've been officially accepted into the Occupational Therapy Program.

I got the call today. I'm proceeding on to the next step for a very nice scholarship.

I finished two classes today. I think that I did well on the tests.

I have 36 hours of work next week. The extra money will be nice.

I have one more class and I have a whole weekend to study for that math final.

Today, I sat in the college dining room after my psychology test. It was an awesome feeling to be done with that class, and to know that I'd done well in it. I celebrated with a coffee and an everything bagel, and I listened to some maintenance men talking. They talked about a program that they watched on the History Channel. They talked about so-called 'green buildings'. One of the fellows talked about an algebra class he had taken. They were older fellows, but they greeted students cheerfully, comfortably, no evidence of 'generation gap' at all. It just kind of tickled me. Some places, maintenance men can be pretty rough guys. These guys were not.

I sat there in the college dining room today, and I felt unburdened and I felt free. I felt competent and intelligent. I ate my bagel and I drank my coffee, and studied my careful notes for the test in my next class. I listened to a student playing a guitar, and the talk swirling around me, and I felt as if I were right where I belonged. The fact is simple: left to my own devices, I never would have dreamed that I could (or should) go back to school. I cannot help but be moved at the thought that I am only here because people around me recognized a potential in me that I could not see in myself. I think of Tim. I think of my teachers. I think of other students. I think of all the friends that I've got cheering me on and I feel really truly honest-to-goodnessly blessed.

You all ever get the feeling? Where were you?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Signs that You've Studied Too Hard

This morning, I got up and began studying for my psych final. I was hitting it hard. Hunkered over my books, writing and studying, and writing some more, closing my eyes, reciting, opening my eyes and checking, writing some more. The house was quiet. Tim was already down at the apartment working. He's about finished with it, and is eager to see it to completion. So I sat in the quiet house and I studied my brains out. About 11:00, I heard a sound and froze, listening intently. I heard it again. There was no doubt. Someone was in the house. Shocked, I stood, with my pencil in hand, unsure of what to do. I heard the sound again, and pinpointed it. Cara's room. And finally remembered: Cara got home last night. I'd forgotten how late that girl can sleep.

I went on studying. At that point, I suppose, convinced that I was stupid beyond all belief, I studied even harder. I studied and studied. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I made up a set of note cards with 60 terms on it. I wrote some more. About three o'clock in the afternoon, I closed my books and began to clear the table. I was tired, but I also felt good. I felt as if I was ready for that test. I flexed my fingers, having a big time case of writer's cramp. My hand hurt, my arm hurt. I massaged my arm a bit and then froze yet again. That night's final essay was a 'blue book' essay. It would be written in long hand in a small blue composition book. *moan* Luckily, spending some time with my hands submerged in warm dishwater helped a lot. By the time that I got to class, I was ready to write again.

I will be so glad when tomorrow is done. I have two tests. Then I have one more final Monday night (math) and I'm done. Well. For a week anyway.

Let me get my hinder to bed. 5 AM comes early.

Lynn Redgrave

I'm not a celebrity watcher. Still, the news that Lynn Redgrave had died peacefully after a seven year battle with breast cancer came as a bit of a shock to me. I knew that she had cancer. I knew that she had done a series of pictures on it. I thought it was very brave of her. I remember thinking at the time, "I don't think that I could do that," and years later, I didn't. I dealt with cancer and there are no pictures. Well. Very few of them, anyway. And I'm clothed in all of them.

Anyways, you know, cancer leaves a person with all sorts of questions, and I try mightily to squelch them. I mean, I get off track sometimes, and I worry about things, but mostly, I simply try to forget about it. Put it in the past, in its own little compartment and simply not think about it anymore. It's hard because I'm also trying to be vigilent about my own health. There's a line in there, I suppose, but it gets blurred sometimes. So, I stumble, and then regain my footing, stumble again, regain my footing. I read about Lynn Redgrave over at Paula's and I remembered when I first read the news. "She died after a seven year struggle with breast cancer.' There is something a little shocking in reading the stark words, the plain unvarnished truth. Breast cancer can kill you. *blink* The knowledge is there, in that little compartment right along with all the rest of it. It always has been there, I suppose, but it comes as a shock to read the words anyway. Reading about someone who has died always seems to unlock that little compartment, and all that crap comes tumbling out. For an instant I am drowning in what-ifs, but then I take a deep breath, put all that stuff back into its little compartment, say a little prayer, and get on with living. That's the only way I know to handle it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Coming up for air!
*gasp, cough*
Takes deep breath, goes back under.
Okay. Who's the wise guy playing the theme from Jaws?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kids

Dylan has ordered his first new vehicle. He is very excited. "I didn't know that haggling could be so much fun!" Seems that he got a number of dealerships involved, each one insisting that they could give him the best deal. "Now all of 'em hate me," he said, unperturbed. Well. Now the fun part is over. The red Jeep Wrangler has been ordered and will be in at the end of the month. The window sticker will list all the options, just like usual, but it will also read "Made for Dylan Powers". He's pretty excited about that, too, with plans to display it. But he must wait. He called last night. "It's going to be a looooooooong month," he complained. "Suffering is good for the soul," I said. "No. I'm pretty sure that it is not," said Dylan. "Yep. You're going to survive this," I said. "Surprisingly, Dylans are not all that patient, turns out," he said. "I noticed that some time ago," I said. "Maybe this experience will help." So somewhere in Allentown, a young man waits. Not all that patiently, turns out. I expect that I will get a number of grumbly sort of phone calls. Since he's not all that regular about staying in touch, I'll take 'em.

Mike popped in to drop off a card. We missed him. He was on his way to work. We were on our way back home from church, but we saw him Friday night. He got a nice turkey, a big one. He was getting his pictures developed, so we were able to admire the fine bird right away.

Brianna and Buddy seem to be doing okay in Indianapolis. They had a quiet day. They've discovered a Thai restaurant. They seem to be enjoying life where they are at, and I am glad to hear that in her voice when she calls. I pray for them every single day.

Cara drove home with another carload of stuff. She stopped into the store, briefly to give me a hug and to talk with her friends Colby and Alyssa, and then she was off again, too. I'd have thought she was a figment of my imagination except that she brought home a box of dirty dishes from her dorm room and left them by the sink. (Thanks for that, Cara.) She will be home tonight, for the rest of May, and then she heads back out. She's working in 'Upward Bound'.

It's strange being the mother of grown ups. Makes for sort of a 'virtual' Mother's Day. But it does my heart good to see them all active and pursuing their own lives, making their own choices. I'm a lucky mother.

Today is the first day of finals week. Last final will be next Monday. If you don't hear much from me, well, you'll know what's up.

*takes deep breath and dives in*

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Life in the Woods

This morning we got up to see trash scattered far, far into the woods. This year's bear is quite clever with garbage can lids. We did not hear him come calling, probably because the high winds were stirring up a ruckus of their own.

Oh. And yes. This morning, looking out the hall window over the roof of the back porch, there was a light coating of snow.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone reading. And if you are not a mother, you just pass that along to your favorite mother.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Waaaaaaah!!

We've been getting some real thunder and lightning storms. We've got a cold front moving through and hugely high winds. There is a chance of snow tonight. I'm trying to be brave, but that annoying high pitched whine you're hearing? Yeah. That would be me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Weigh In.

Boy. I am tired this morning. We had a pretty awesome thunderstorm the night before last. Our power went out. I had a psychology test the following morning, and was afraid to fall asleep. The battery back up on the alarm was dead, and I was worried about oversleeping and missing the test. So I began the day tired. It's a busy time. I'm coming up on finals week, and at this point, I am just anxious for it to be done.

Anyways, I was tired yesterday. Tim and I grouted a ceramic tile floor, worked late. Watched a movie, and stayed up just a little later than usual. About...a boy. Endearing little movie. So, anyway, I'm still tired this morning. But I've got to get out the door and go to work. Without further ado, the Friday weigh-in has me at one pound more than I weighed when I fell off the diet horse. So that's not as bad as I had feared, I guess. Onward and upward. Or downward. Whatever. So my total is 16 pounds for the year.

And I still want those straight As.

Bob commented on the last post, and it was good to hear from him. Bob lives in Nashville, where all the flooding is going on. He's got a blog post up if you want to wander over to read it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Perspective

Well it was bound to happen. I got a psych test back today. It was a B-. I was so surprised I cannot tell you. It is the first time that I've got less than an A. I was trying to be philosophical about it all as I went back to my seat. Erin, who sits next to me, gave me an ecstatic look. "I got a B-!" she said.

Perspective is a darn funny thing, isn't it? I mean, I know it is not a big deal, but dang. I felt much better when Joe sidled up. "What did you get?" Turns out he got a B- also. He was as disappointed as I was.

Here's something that's good news no matter how you look at it. Tim's back to work.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cautionary Tale

You know, sometimes the only way to get things done is to multitask, and so this morning, I was multitasking. Actually, what I was doing was swishing my mouthwash around in my mouth while I put on my shoes in the livingroom while reading a blog, all in an attempt to get out the door for an early appointment. And then, out of nowhere came a big and sudden sneeze. Trying to stifle it, I managed to spray a fine mist of mouthwash out of my nose and on a nearby wall. Also soaked my bangs, and blew a tremendous snort up the sleeve of my denim shirt. I got a lot done this morning before I left for my appointment. I even made time to get out cleaner and a rag and wash down the wall. How productive is that?!!! However, in thinking this all through, I have decided that there is a reason that people gargle in their bathroom, and I have decided that I, too, shall stick to gargling in the bathroom. Although the house does have a minty fresh smell to it...

Anyways, this has been a public service announcement.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Recipe for Serenity

Count your blessings. It really does help. I've really got a lot to be thankful for. Thanks to Judy for holyexperience.blogspot.com.

Take exedrin PM at bedtime. It eases the joint pain. I also fall asleep more quickly, and sleep more soundly. I wake up more rested. That helps. When I am tired and stressed, the bone pain seems worse (or maybe I don't tolerate it as well). I've been tired and harried and it has been kicking my tail. This morning is better.

Bill also commented yesterday: 'I type with one hand only, because my black cat Jim is curled up against my chest in the crook of my other arm. He is utterly serene. And when he is with me like this, I am more serene, if not serene, than I am at other times.So, there you. As I have been telling you - if serenity is what you want, get a cat.' That made me laugh out loud, but I remembered other times, reading on cold winter nights with a purring cat on my lap, a ticking clock in the background. I could see that Bill had a very valid point as well.

Count my blessings, take drugs, get a cat.

See? I can be serene too.

(Without resorting to chocolate, NW...)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Serenity

I have nine days between the end of spring semester and the beginning of summer semester. I will be taking Anatomy and Physiology. It is a killer course, meeting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 - 11:45. Thursday is labs. Last night, I was laying awake in bed dreading that. I'm such a schmuck. Really. I'm doing way better in school than I ever expected, but still, now that finals loom, I get this sick feeling that I might find myself flunking them, and proving, for once and for all that Tim's confidence in me is misguided. I worry about the money we are spending on this schooling. And then my mind moved on to worrying about kids. I know that this is a hard time for them. I wish that it could be different, but I also know that we learn great lessons during hard times. Still, it is heartbreaking to watch. Is Tim going back to work? That's such a long drive to Olean from here. And it is second shift which means that he will be driving back late at night through the remote Seneca reservation. No cell phone service. Our cars are old. Tim is good about keeping the cars running, but he's been working on an apartment. What time he does have, he's been using to go over the car that Cara will be getting, once she's home for the month of May. It is standard shift, and she's never driven standard before. I lay in the dark and my mind dances from one concern to another.

Why do I do this?

I take a deep breath, and I say a prayer, and as I roll over to get comfortable, Tim, still sound asleep, rolls with me. It makes me shiver to envision a lifetime of sleeping alone in front of me. Yet we were calmly discussing this. And my mind begins to dance off again. Firmly, I stop it. I shut my eyes, and I think that I actually fell asleep.

Have you ever met a person who is serene? I want to be serene. How do you get that way?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shameless Plug

You 'meet' interesting people blogging. I knew that Jill was involved with a group called Dunava. I knew that their specialty was music from the Balkan area. They've released a CD. You can listen to a sampling of their music. II have never heard anything quite like it. Take a listen to As Ja Merr and tell me that it isn't one of the most beautiful things that you have ever heard in your life.

The Bear Facts

Yesterday was a busy day. We worked on an apartment. I painted. I scrubbed out kitchen cupboards, I mowed the lawn. We broke for lunch and went to Wendy's. Kathy was sitting by herself at a table, so we unceremoniously joined her, and talked and talked while I ate my side salad and drank my large ice tea (unsweetened, with double lemon). I was finishing up when I saw Lindy walking by the window, so I ran out the door and jogged to catch up. We visited while we walked, and then we went our separate ways. I walked the six blocks back to the apartment, while she headed back to work. When we were done there, we headed home where more mowing awaited. I was just about done when the belt broke. That perturbed me, because I love a mowed lawn. Mary gave me five dogwoods to plant, so I puttered around doing that. Tim clipped hedges. Tim received a surprise call from the company he was laid off from (the one before the last one). He has a drug test on Monday morning. We never expected that he'd get called back from there, so that was a bit of excitement. He also decided that we should grab a sub from Subway for supper. We called our buddy Mark to see if he wanted to join us. He'd hit a major milestone in his life back in February, and we'd been trying to treat him since then. I told him it was nice that he simply agreed to come along. We didn't have to hit him over the head and kidnap him after all. We blabbed about this and that. We ran into the Chases who greeted us with hugs. We admired the Yeagle's new car. Just a pleasant evening, warm and summery.

We went to bed early last night. I was tired, having tossed and turned the night before, not falling asleep until well after midnight, up well before five. Last night, I went to bed and I fell soundly asleep, the breeze warm and comforting from the open windows, and the big windchimes on the back deck sounded like far off church bells. At one point, Tim leapt from the bed. I heard him muttering something. The neighbor's dog was going nuts out back. I was honestly so deeply asleep that those things sort of registered, and I fell soundly back asleep even as the racket from the backyard continued unabated. It was our first bear of the season. He snagged a bag of garbage from the trash can, and carried off to a tree where he tried to ignore the dog's apoplectic barking fit. Tim watched him from the back deck. The bear eventually ambled off, looking to dine at a place that offered better ambience. Tim collected our garbage before the dog hauled it off to yet another location. He eventually came back to bed. I woke up just enough to hear him talking about the bear. I fell soundly back asleep. I woke up to hear the dog carrying on yet again, but the bear was evidently not there for dinner this time, and the garbage stayed put. I fell back asleep.

Ah. Wednesday, it was snowing here. (I was whining.) Friday it was hot and beautiful. The bears were out. This is how the season changes in the woods.